Sunday, May 22, 2005

Weekly Worker #577 May 19th 2005

Weekly Worker#577 (May 19th 2005) has another George Galloway front page, headlined 'George Galloway turns the tables on his accusers' with the accompanying story, 'Imperialism in the dock' on the back-page. WW starts by defending Galloway against the withchunt and pointing to embarrassing revelations about US involvement in evading the UN oil for food programme. WW takes Galloway's victory over the ill-prepared senators as a victory for the entire anti-war movement. The story also refers to Socialist Worker's 'exclusive' demolition of the forgery against Galloway and promises to Continue their critical defense of him against 'imperialist machinations'.

Elsewhere in WW an article on 'End the drugs war' aligns Respect with the other parties in calling for a 'war on drugs' that WW rejects.

In 'It's democracy, stupid' Dave Craig of the RDG unsurprisingly argues that the election shows the his previous perspectives and predictions were right and that we need a republican socialist party. The general outline of his analysis of the election seems pretty sound. Dave (but I keep on wanting to say Steve) focuses on the huge array of left candidates, most of whom did rather pathetically.
"Finally, we have the crisis in the socialist movement. In 2001 the left stood 303 candidates, including 98 for the Socialist Alliance. This time the number fell to 187. Even if we leave aside Respect, there was a huge array of candidates competing for the left vote. These include the Scottish Socialist Party (average vote: 2.01%), Socialist Labour Party (1.15%) Socialist Party (1.57%), Alliance for Green Socialism (1.02%) Democratic SA (0.64%), Socialist Unity (1.01%), Communist Party of Britain (0.55%) and the Workers Revolutionary Party (0.35%). The Independent Working Class Association (2.13%) and the Walsall DLP (2.3%) stood one candidate each. Nobody can disagree with Peter Manson's comments that “what is striking is the decrease in support for the left” (Weekly Worker May 12).

"The one set of results that stands out against abject failure are those scored by Respect. With one MP elected and eight votes above 5%, including 27%, 20%, 19% and 17%, Respect has something to crow about. The Socialist Workers Party's Party notes argues that the main lesson is that Respect is now in a completely different league from anything else the left has produced in this country for 60 years. The party is following this up with 'Winning is just the beginning' branch meetings.

"However, as has been noted, 17 Respect candidates got below 5%, including 12 below 2%. This unevenness is quite startling. In these areas Respect is doing no better and sometimes worse that the Socialist Alliance scored in 2001. The factor that seems to explain this result is the concentration of muslim voters in certain constituencies. Bethnal Green and Bow provides an obvious example. Janet Alder's 6.4% in Tottenham was the exception because it did not rely on a muslim vote."

Steve goes on say that Respect isn't a longer-term project that can unite the left, but a 'castle built on sand - possibly quicksand' as the possibility of Galloway doing a Livingstone and returning to Labour is raised. I'm not convinced by this: the distance between Galloway and the Labour Party establishment is too enormous and too bitter. Anyway the argument continues:
"The conclusion from this is that socialists should not put all their eggs in the Respect basket. Socialists must organism independently of Respect. But at the same time Respect cannot be ignored, nor should socialists fall back on a sectarian attitude of dismissing it. Nothing could be more blinkered. Respect has established itself and will no doubt gain credibility from its undoubted achievements. It is not a matter of making nit-picking criticism. We have to develop a criticism of Respect’s overall strategy.

"The left is now divided into a Respect and a non-Respect left. This is how the Weekly Worker presents its analysis in speaking of the 'dismal results of the non-Respect left' (May 12). What should the non-Respect left do? The first thing is to unite in creating a socialist alternative to Respect. The SWP views the non-Respect left as hopeless, inveterate sectarians who are incapable of unity. In so far as that is true, the non-Respect left might as well give up and close down."


But there is a ray of light, so long as the rest of the non-Respect left agrees with the RDG!
"Certainly the non-Respect left is not in a position to launch a new mass workers' party. But it is in a position to build a pro-party alliance. There is only one candidate for this and that is the Socialist Alliance. This can become the vehicle for uniting the non-Respect left. The SA still represents the most advanced socialist unity initiative over the last decade. We need a new Socialist Alliance, not a repeat of the old SA, closed on February 5. We need to learn lessons from the failure of the SA. We need a republican SA which is capable of relating its politics to the crisis of democracy."

Other things.
In a typically mega-long centrespread on 'Secularism, what it is and why we fight for it' Jack Conrad goes on and on about secularism, mostly in order to have another go at the 'opportunist' errors of the SWP and Respect, finding differences between Chris Bambery and Alex Callinicos.

Another long piece is devoted (again, what's going on?) to republican socialist criticisms of the current course of Sinn Fein and the IRA. The title, 'Ideologically wrong, tactically stupid' is taken from Bernadette McAliskey (

There's a report on 'Left unity in NZ' by Phil Duncan, talking about the 'Anti-Capitalist Alliance'.

And finally in 'Spontaneity and consciousness' Alan Stevens continues a debate with the miniscule forces of the International Socialist League about the United Socialist Party.


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