The CPGB on Vestas: ignorant or sectarian?

Submitted by AWL on 13 August, 2009 - 10:51 Author: Sacha Ismail

The Weekly Worker, published by the so-called "Communist Party of Great Britain" group, generally focuses its coverage obsessively on the activities of the far left. That fact is well known, and proudly defended by the CPGB. When the Weekly Worker does report on events in the class struggle, it is almost always through the lens of the left's involvement, or at least heavily peppered with references to the left.

The Weekly Worker's reports on the Vestas struggle (here and here) therefore make interesting reading.

Even if one ignores the various minor semi-errors, the reports come across as journalism in the bad sense of the term, reporting from a distance by people who have clearly had no involvement in the fight at Vestas, and moreover have no feel for such struggles. That is not surprising: the CPGB is well known to disdain activity in workplaces and in the workers' movement as "economistic" (except when done by its one or two trade unionists, who it allows to free-lance with no real relation to the rest of the organisation).

What is more striking is that the coverage makes no reference whatsoever to the role of the left.

Again, that could be a matter of ignorance, of not really knowing what is going on. But it could also be because articles written in the normal Weekly Worker manner would be forced to recognise the extensive role of Workers' Climate Action, in which Workers' Liberty members play an important part. (For more on WCA and AWL members' role in initiating the Vestas struggle see here on this website and here in the Guardian.)

This is classic CPGB - promoting themselves as incredibly principled and consistent, but actually switching and bending in the most crudely opportunistic fashion for organisational advantage.

What a crap organisation.

Comments

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 08/19/2009 - 15:31

Sorry, but I think that both these comments are silly, the one by "Sworker" much more so than Lawrie's.

To start with you, Lawrie - For goodness sake, there are literally dozens of articles on this website that look at the issues at hand with Vestas. (It would have helped if Sacha had put the link to them at the top: I have done so now.) This is one brief comment on what one left paper has to say about it. Do not measure it as though it were something it is not.

But "Sworker", honestly! In the middle of a recession, with thousands of workers letting themselves be chucked on the dole without even a protest let alone a fight, some workers actually do fight back, and in an industry that makes it relevant to the whole future of the planet, and your priority is to tell people to calm down and not get too excited. Jeez, do you not think we are up against enough doom-mongers without you chiming in?!

Tell you what, stay in your armchair, and when we're on the very edge of revolution, we'll give you a call.

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 08/19/2009 - 22:47

Ever heard of the idea of "just transition"?

When the miners went on strike, and the left wholeheartedly championed them, it wasn't - at least not in our case - because we were tremendous fans of coal-burning power stations. It was because the strike was not about coal as a choice of energy, but about a national union and a hundred thousand-plus-strong section of the working class defending themselves, their communities and livelihoods and organisations, from the Thatcherites' assault. Beyond that it was the cutting edge of the struggle to stop the Thatcher government in its tracks, and bring it down.

A workers' government might well have phased out coal - but in a completely different way from how Thatcher did it, providing decent alternative jobs and support and in comradely negotiation with the miners and their representatives.

In fact, as well as being desirable in itself, a victory for the miners was the best possible scenario for having a debate in those communities about the desirability of coal-fired power production. Just as many, many miners' ideas on race, sexuality, gender etc were transformed by the strike, so could their ideas about energy have been.

This not just speculation - look at the 1970s when Lucas Aerospace workers came up with "conversion" plans to transfer their skills to making something socially useful, eg public transport and water turbines rather than 'defence' technology. Or the New South Wales Builders Labourers' Federation, who, apparently against their own immediate interests, mobilised their members to stop environmentally damaging construction projects.

In other words, you can do both - both support workers in environmentally or socially damaging industries in their struggle to defend themselves and extend their rights; AND agitate among those workers to win a majority for progressive change. In fact the two things go together.

Sacha Ismail

Submitted by AWL on Sat, 08/29/2009 - 15:10

In a letter to this week's Weekly Worker (August 27), CPGB member Jim Moody writes:

"Contingents were literally ferried in by the Socialist Workers Party as well as the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty - operating under its Workers’ Climate Action front. The SWP’s Jonathan Neale and the AWL’s Martin Thomas were on the spot marshalling supporters."

According to the letter, Jim Moody lives on the Isle of Wight ("Jim Moody, Isle of Wight").

Let's leave aside the false description of Workers' Climate Action as an AWL front. Once again, the CPGB fails to acknowledge the role of socialists in helping to initiate this campaign - and implies some sort of parasitic relationship between the workers and the left groups who have been involved.

Not something you can accuse the CPGB of - as they have barely been there, if at all.

Yes, Jim, we got the ferry to the island!

Sacha Ismail