What’s eating Toby Abse? In his letter published in Solidarity 303 (13 November), Toby accuses me of writing an article that “reeks of McCarthyism” and claims I am part of an “authoritarian bureaucratic manoeuvre” within the broad-based Save Lewisham Hospital campaign.
Firstly, read the article that Toby says “wreaks of McCarthyism” and make your own mind up (“Lewisham: our plans to go on winning”, Solidarity 301, 25 October). It’s a 1,200-plus word piece on how the South London Hospital Campaign, and within that the AWL, built an impressive broad campaign and what we plan to do over the coming months.
Towards the end of the article I refer to a small but active local group called People before Profit (PbP). Most readers will not have heard of it. I described the group as having until recently played a positive and useful role within the campaign.
I noted that they are a group made of ex-Communist Party members and similar. They are. Toby may well find it hard to reconcile, but the leadership and many of the members come from a tradition he does not feel politically comfortable with. My advice to Toby is to sort himself out.
At the last general meeting we passed a set of standing orders. This “authoritarian bureaucratic manoeuvre” means we are better able to manage the business of the campaign. I don’t know where Toby’s been operating for the past several decades but standing orders are commonplace.
Maybe the big issue for Toby is that PbP will no longer be able to turn up on the night with a load of mates who don’t normally take part in our meetings, with a motion that few people have seen, and try to steer the campaign to suit their narrow electoral needs.
At the last general meeting PbP were exposed as having registered their group with the electoral commission using the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign name in three different configurations, putting their own sectarian needs ahead of the broad campaign. They never brought this to a general meeting to ask permission, or to try to persuade the campaign it was the right thing to do.
Toby makes no reference to this is his letter and made no effort to explain or defend this, or denounce it if he disagrees, at the general meeting.