Add new comment

Submitted by AWL on Sun, 12/06/2011 - 22:06

1. Taaffe dismisses the AWL's influence in the labour movement. How would he explain the fact that in one the SP's so-called "fighting unions" - the RMT - an AWL member, Janine Booth, hands-down beat a Socialist Party member, Lewis Peacock, in the recent election to represent Tube and TfL workers on the national executive? This despite the fact that Lewis is part of the largest RMT branch on the Tube, engineering. The SP ran an essentially "defend the RMT as it is" campaign, while Janine argued for the union to be transformed from top to bottom. The background to this is that the influence of the AWL, and of the Tubeworker bulletin, has grown substantially, while the SP's influence on the Tube has stagnated and declined.

2. Of our students, Taaffe says: "On the other hand, their representatives in the student field are notorious as consummate opportunists, willing to bloc and trade with anyone so long as they can capture official positions in the student structures." He provides no evidence for this - naturally, since it is an invention. You'd think that the leader of a group whose members have become uncritical cheerleaders of the RMT leadership and lashed up with the former Blairite bloc in PCS would be more careful about throwing around such accusations. In the student movement, the SP, despite having a relatively large number of student members, has been utterly marginal in the revolt against fees and cuts because of its sectarianism (refusing to work in any broad coalition, instead just making propaganda for its own 'Youth Fight for Education' front). Still, when the opportunity presented itself they lashed up with the NUS bureaucracy, straining every muscle to stop the 29 January London demo - in the event, 10,000-strong - from happening because they were involved with a TUC youth demo in Manchester (see the NCAFC website here for an explanation). This was odd, because in the event their presence in Manchester was minimal - much less than that of the NCAFC, which they had denounced for calling the London protest (see here for a report of Manchester).

3. Taaffe says Militant was persecuted by the Labour Party for being an effective revolutionary force, while we - being "ineffectual" - were ignored. This is an odd argument: does that mean that the German Social Democrats were revolutionary tigers, since the Nazis persecuted and destroyed them? But it is also factually wrong: Militant was not only tolerated, but had a strange symbiotic relationship with the LP bureaucracy for most of two decades (see here). And despite what Taaffe says, we were banned - in 1990 - and quite a few of our members expelled.

Sacha Ismail

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.