The Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) has finally gone public on the impending split in Respect, the coalition it set up with George Galloway MP in early 2004.
An editorial in Socialist Worker, posted on the web on 23 October, claims:
Galloway has begun to attack the core of the left in Respect. He has decided that the political vision which has sustained the project no longer fits... Inside Respect a campaign has been launched against the SWP in an attempt to drive us out... Galloway has announced that he does not want to speak at Respect meetings where SWP members are present.
Missing from the editorial is any suggestion why Galloway should want to do such bad things. In fact Galloway has never been anything better than a Stalinist-minded one-time Labour "soft left" with dodgy connections (admitted) to the Saudi and Emirates monarchies and successive Pakistani governments and to Saddam Hussein's hideous regime in Iraq.
The SWP leaders know that, and have known it all along. Only, they can't say it, because for five years they have been dishonestly boosting Galloway as a great anti-imperialist and a good socialist.
As a result, they can give no more credible account of the row in Respect than that Galloway is trying to "drive out" the SWP. How could he do that, when the SWP controls the machinery of Respect and probably has the absolute majority of Respect's small membership of about 2000?
"We need to defend Respect as a project that has socialism as a central part, that will not make endless concessions in order to win votes, and that stands up for democracy", says Socialist Worker. Some SWP members will remember how the SWP trashed the Socialist Alliance, ditched socialist approaches in elections in favour of the claim that Respect were the best "fighters for Muslims", and steamrollered the rejection of mildly-worded pro-secularist motions at Respect conference with the allegation that they were "Islamophobic", all with the excuse that this was going to get the SWP into the political "big time".
Meanwhile, there are signs of conflict within the CPB (the rump Communist Party of Britain, the force behind the Morning Star newspaper). Galloway has long been keen to get the CPB in to Respect, and some CPB people are keen too.
The Morning Star carries a monthly column from Galloway. But on Monday 22nd it carried a long letter denouncing Respect, and Galloway in particular for his anti-abortion line. "If Respect does support an attack on abortion rights or any reduction in the time limit, we should demand that the SWP and others break with Respect. It is impossible for the left to support a party with such a position.
"Respect was founded on two wrong positions - the belief that religion could in some way be progressive force and that right-wing Islamist movements were in some sense left wing".
There have been other signs of conflict in the CPB. For example, at the Unison conference this summer the CPB put out a leaflet not only stridently supporting the motions for a boycott of Israel, but specifically insisting that the boycott must include breaking links with the Israeli unions. In the same union conference season, leading CPB member Mary Davis spoke strongly for an amendment at UCU conference, moved by an AWL member, opposing a boycott.
CPB member Andrew Murray signed the Stop The War Coalition's letter refusing affiliation to the left-wing campaign Hands Off The People of Iran because it criticises the Iranian regime; yet Mary Davis has supported British trade-union aid to the unions in Iraq.