Talks will continue this week to see if the most unprincipled electoral bloc of all time can be stitched together for this May’s Scottish Parliament elections: George Galloway and “Solidarity – Scotland’s Socialist Movement”.
Until last week it had seemed that Galloway would stand as a (or the) “galloway4glasgow” candidate, while Gail Sheridan would head the “Solidarity” slate for the elections. But then Sheridan announced that she would not be standing for election.
(Galloway had been unwilling to stand on the same slate as Sheridan as he had wanted to avoid spending an entire election campaign answering questions about Tommy Sheridan’s trial and imprisonment. This was a rational calculation on Galloway’s part.)
With the Sheridan factor taken out of the equation, Galloway’s bag-carriers met with representatives from “Solidarity” just two days later in order to discuss the possibility of a single electoral slate.
According to Galloway’s spokesman, it was a “very positive meeting”. And it was certainly positive enough to justify another meeting, on 5th February, which will also involve the Scottish “Trade Union and Solidarity Campaign” (TUSC).
Why would such a bloc be rotten to its Gallowayite core?
In recent weeks Galloway has sought to distance himself politically from “Solidarity” by stressing that he was (supposedly) typical “Old Labour” whereas “Solidarity” was “far left and I’m not” and “Tommy and his friends are a bit far out for me.” But now they’re not “a bit far out” any more?
During a television discussion last week Galloway denounced the SSP’s Frances Curran as dishonest because of her previous involvement in “Militant” (which presented itself as a loose tendency but was really an organisation, the Revolutionary Socialist League, in its own right).
But the Socialist Party Scotland (SPS), which is central to “Solidarity”, is the linear descendant of “Militant”. So: Frances Curran is bad because she used to be in “Militant”, whereas the SPS’s descent from “Militant” is of no concern to Galloway?
The other organisation centrally involved in “Solidarity” is the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). The SWP has form when it comes to collaborating with Galloway. They were his foot-soldiers in “Respect”, until Galloway tired of them and engineered a split in which he came out on top. But the SWP is now prepared to throw in its lot with Galloway again?
Both the SPS and the SWP, albeit to varying degrees, raise slogans about working-class elected representatives taking only the average worker’s wage. Galloway, on the other hand, has nothing but contempt for such a “tokenistic” policy and complains that even his current income of nearly £500,000 is inadequate.
So: the SWP and SPS raise the slogan until there is a chance of having to enforce it – whereupon it becomes an encumbrance to be dumped without further ado?
“Solidarity” is an enthusiastic supporter of independence for Scotland, whereas Galloway is very up-front about his opposition to independence. But this political difference is now going to be put one side? In elections for the Scottish Parliament, where the issue of independence will figure prominently?
Such an unprincipled electoral bloc does have a forerunner – and the SPS and SWP were central to that marriage of convenience as well.
In 2006 the SWP and what is now the SPS walked out of the SSP together with Tommy Sheridan and created “Solidarity”.
This was despite the fact that “Solidarity” backed Scottish independence but the SWP did not, and despite the fact that although the SPS did back independence they had previously denounced Sheridan as a nationalist. But they were prepared to hang together in the hope that Sheridan would be re-elected to Holyrood in the 2007 elections.
They miscalculated then – Sheridan failed to re-secure election. And let’s hope that in 2011, with Galloway now playing the ‘celebrity’ role formerly occupied by Sheridan, they have miscalculated as well.