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'. It was, presumably, in this spirit that the Newham SWP branch held a public meeting last night on "the united front".
Since I was keen to argue for SWPers to draw lessons from their mistaken alliance with Galloway and turn to the socialist left, I decided to go along and talk to their comrades. The AWL is keen to promote the maximum unity of revolutionary socialists to fight for working-class politics. Unfortunately, the SWP made this task rather difficult.
At 7:15pm, quarter an hour after the meeting was supposed to begin, the room where the meeting was meant to be held was still empty. Yet the timetable on the wall, last week's Socialist Worker and the receptionist at Stratford's Bryant Street Methodist Centre all confirmed that I was looking in the right place.
However, to my surprise, the receptionist told me that sometimes the SWP don't actually come until 7:30pm. True, the AWL's meetings aren't always well-attended and don't always start on time, but I doubt any of our organisers would fail to turn up to a public meeting they had built within half an hour of its advertised start time.
I stood outside the front door, my Socialist Worker unfurled in the hope of catching the attention of the SWP organiser when she or he arrived. But three handfuls of cashews and thirty minutes later, there was still nothing doing.
I checked all the other rooms. There I found a church service, a group called "interventions" and something which looked like a martial arts class. I had never been to an SWP forum before, and guessed that it might look a bit different from an AWL meeting, so I checked with the guy leading the martial arts class a couple of times just in case.
But no. At five past eight I buggered off home, thinking that such a poor attendance (zero) rendered unlikely any practical application of the united front tactic.
Still, since against all evidence the SWP branch is purportedly so active as to hold public meetings in this same room every week, I shall be returning to Bryant Street Methodist Centre next Wednesday.