The Tide Turns

November 3, 2007 at 10:57 am (AWL, Galloway, Respect, sectarianism, SWP, voltairespriest)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAs you will all be aware, we at Shiraz Socialist have taken the principled decision to support the SWP in their battle against right-wing forces for control of Respect. We believe this to be the right thing to do in spite of our political differences with the organisation and our personal contempt for more than one of its individual members. Therefore it is with delight that I can report the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty has followed our lead on this issue and come into line behind the forces of Rees, German and the SWP. In short, the AWL is now supporting the left in Respect.

This is the text of the AWL’s proclamation, reproduced here in full:

As against George Galloway and his close friends, our sympathies in the split now taking place in Respect cannot but be with the SWP.

We protested when the SWP trashed its alliance with other socialists, in 2003, rallying its members behind the demagogue Galloway on the false principle that telling lies to boost Galloway was a small price to pay for scooping a few more anti-war activists and militant Muslim youth into the SWP. We can’t be other than glad that the SWP is now breaking that alliance, so discreditable for the whole socialist left.

Short of a miracle, the split in Respect is now pretty much an accomplished fact. It has gone public in the mass-circulation press, in the Observer on 28 October and the Guardian on 29 October, and the Galloway faction has already said that does not recognise the forthcoming Respect conference on 17-18 November as validly constituted. Now it is just a matter of who comes down on which side.

Our objection to Galloway is not that he is “a maverick” (as some on his side of the Respect split admit), nor even his performance on Big Brother. They are his links (for the most part openly admitted) with Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and with governments in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Pakistan; and his links with the Muslim Brotherhood (around the “Cairo Conferences”) and other Islamic clerical-fascist groups.

Galloway is indeed, as he says himself, “not as left-wing as you might think”. The best he has ever been is a Stalinistic Labour soft-left. Inside the Labour Party he was never even left-wing enough to join the very tame Campaign Group. Not only is he strongly opposed to abortion rights, he used the major press interview he had in the 2005 general election campaign to emphasise that stance.

He took a stand against the US/UK invasion of Iraq? Well, so did Saddam Hussein’s deputy Tariq Aziz. And Galloway admits that he had close friendly relations with Aziz, visiting Baghdad roughly every month in the decade before the invasion for talks with top officials of the regime. What distinguished Galloway from the many other MPs who opposed the invasion is that he did it from a position tainted by his association with the Saddam regime.

To break with Galloway is good. But the SWP Central Committee has done it in such a way as to maximise the number of good-willed but naive socialists – including long-time and prominent SWP members – thrown onto Galloway’s side.

To do the job properly the SWP CC would have to tell the truth about Galloway.

They would also have to tell the truth about the Muslim Association of Britain – courted persistently, though mustly unavailingly, by Respect – namely, that it is the British offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest and biggest clerical-fascist movement in the Middle East.

They would have to tell the truth about the fascistic regime in Iran, about the treatment it has given to trade unionists like Mansoor Ossanloo.

But to do that the SWP CC would have to condemn itself. Instead it has conducted the struggle against Galloway entirely by appeals to SWP loyalty; administrative discipline against SWPers who can’t see why they should not continue on the pro-Galloway political line of the last five years; and rather bleating appeals for sympathy on the grounds that the SWP (in control of the Respect party machine and probably the absolute majority of the Respect membership) are being “witch-hunted out”.

So to SWP members and sympathisers, and socialists in Respect, we say: break with Galloway. But also: do it politically! Then settle accounts properly with the SWP leaders who drew you into this demoralising, destructive mess!

On behalf of Shiraz Socialist, I would like to thank the AWL for lending their support to the SWP in their hour of need. I am sure that a personal thank you from the Central Committee of the SWP will follow forthwith.

Support the SWP!


  1. tim said,

    Spiv in control.

    Locks changed on Respect Office:

    Dear Members,

    Respect has been locked out of its head office. Overnight the locks were changed on the Respect national office. This action excludes most National Officers, the national office staff and the majority of Respect members who support them from their own organisation’s headquarters. In recent days Respect branches all around the country have overwhelmingly voted in favour of the Respect conference going ahead. This coup is obviously meant to prevent democratic debate continuing in Respect and to rob the membership of their own organisation. The immediate effect of this action is to prevent Respect from intervening effectively in today’s NHS demonstration. The Respect coalition nationally pays over half the rent, rates and bills of the office which is shared with the constituency party. We call on all Respect members to demand that Linda Smith, the chair of Respect, and George Galloway reverse this disastrous course of action. Please protest to, Please send a copy of your protest to
    Yours in solidarity,
    John Rees, national secretary
    Elaine Graham Leigh, national treasurer
    Councillor Oli Rahman, Tower Hamlets
    Councillor Michael Lavelette, Preston ——

    The spiv had the perfect alibi.
    He was at Talksport.

  2. Miles said,

    Tuesday night’s Respect public meeting in Manchester will be interesting.
    For background see

  3. modernityblog said,

    will the meeting be held behind closed doors ? 🙂

  4. Darren said,

    My flabber is gasted.

    I bet the SWP is chuffed to bits that the AWL has came out in its favour.

  5. modernityblog said,

    Full split now!

    Galloway and Co are organising a “Respect Renewal” (sic) conference on the same weekend as the planned one, as a spoiler, the SWPers are getting stitched up like kipper, how very predictable !

  6. twp77 said,

    Everyone’s welcome to join us on the 17th instead:

    The LRC’s 2007 national conference ‘The Next Steps for the Left’ takes place at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square on Saturday 17th November.

    You can register online for the event on the LRC payments page.

    Speakers so far confirmed include Murray Benham (WDM), Tony Benn, Katy Clark MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Jane Davidson AM, Kate Hudson (CND), Joe Marino (BFAWU), John McDonnell MP, Mark Serwotka (PCS), Jon Trickett MP, Matt Wrack (FBU). We are also proud to welcome Alexander Ulrich, a member of the German Bundestag, representing Die Linke – the new Party of the Left in Germany.

    This one-day conference is open to all trade unionists, Labour Party members and supporters of democratic socialism. A great chance to come and debate the future of the Left!

  7. modernityblog said,

    I see that SU blog has started deleting poster’s comments?

    taking another trick from the SWP’s guide to freedom of speech?

    how very predictable, Lenny would approve

  8. Lobby Ludd said,

    I am sure that the SWP is thankful for your support and looks forward to useful collaboration in the future.

  9. Darren said,


    why seek to tie Socialist Unity blog in with Lenny’s blog? Simon’s Place deletes comments all the time.

  10. Eins teilt sich in zwei « Entdinglichung said,

    […] sich manche noch darüber streiten, wer Schuld hat oder auch nicht, und wer von beiden Fraktionen weniger schlimm ist, hat der Galloway-Flügel (die selbsternannten “Erneuerer”) gezeigt, dass er ebenso wie […]

  11. Jim Denham said,

    Modenity: your auto-translator thingummy is needed again!
    Btw: we should make it clear that Shiraz’s position of critical but unconditional support is the majority line: there is, however, a minority which takes a revolutionary defeatest position.

  12. modernityblog said,


    if you don’t understand my comments just email me I’ll explain them at length** 🙂


    Third camp is the one with this, and I notice that the sectarians on SU blog can make any type of stupid comment about you AWLers, but you’re hardly allowed the right of reply, still I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised given the people and the politics involved?

    as for the German, it is more sarcasm

    **Hint: most of my remarks are made in jest

  13. Darren said,

    Thanks for the generous offer Modernity, but I’ll pass.

    I’ve set my heart on watching ‘Ally McCoist – the Goalden Years’ on DVD this afternoon.

  14. Waterloo Sunset said,

    What this dispute needs is some Galloway/Rees slashfic.

  15. modernityblog said,

    there’s a storm going on at SU blog:

    #22 “I don’t usually use abuse, but you really are the most stupid sectarian fuckwit I have come across on 35 years of left politics ”

    #28 “come on jj you shit-stirring yellow streak of piss. Tell us what you are insinuating.”

    terrible, very un-comradely!

    I hope that the moderation policy deals with the culprits! However, I somehow doubt it

  16. twp77 said,

    Jesus – I haven’t seen abuse like that since Will left us! Although it has to be said his insults were far superior to this drivel…

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