This article is part nine of a series on the breakdown of the Northern Ireland state in 1968-9 — the biggest political crisis in Britain for a very long time, and one that shaped decades of ensuing "Troubles" — and the response of the left.
Reports on two recent SWP-related events. First, I attended the Organising for Fighting Unions London dayschool in London on 2 February. Probably 60 people, probably 80% SWP.
Let's look on the bright side first. As against George Galloway and his Respect-Renewal, who are now backing "Red Ken", SWP-Respect is reaffirming the need for a left challenge to Livingstone as London mayor.
On Thursday 27 September the London Transport Regional Council of the rail union RMT voted to call on the union to "draw up lists of candidates to stand in the London mayoral elections and GLA elections in 2008.
Like it or not, the SWP is the biggest group on the socialist left. Any attempt to unite will necessarily involve them, or at least substantial numbers of its activists. Nowhere is this more true than in the student movement, where the AWL has some experience of practical unity with the SWP.
Given the SWP's split with its former ally George Galloway, along with associated Brick Lane businessmen, it is clear that the organisation is in need of allies for its Respect 'united front'.
This article reviews the way that the biggest activist-left group of the last 35 years or so in Britain — the SWP, then called IS — dealt with the biggest internal crisis the British state has seen since the early 1920s, the breakdown of Northern Ireland into civil war in 1969. It continues a series about the British left and the decisive early stages of the nearly 40 years of “Troubles” in Northern Ireland.
[This is an edited and augmented version of the text in Solidarity. It includes excerpts from the minutes of the leading committees of the International Socialist organisation, which are not in the version printed in Solidarity.]
- Section 2 of this instalment of the series
- Part 1: Why Northern Ireland Broke Down
- Part 2: The Irish Workers' Group, I S and the "Trotskyist Tendency"
- Part 3: Why Northern Ireland Split on Communal, Not Class, Lines
- Part 4: When militant sloganeering meant promoting communal war
- Part 5: When socialists looked to "Catholic Power"
And let's be honest about what our disagreements really are... If different sections of the left can work together to defend democracy in NUS, why can't we work together to present a united challenge in the elections at the next NUS conference?
11 articles on the SWP's political collapse into a decade of alliance with Islamic clerical fascism. Solidarity has commented on the SWP's ongoing political collapse at each stage.