From those wonderful folks who brought you the Socialist Alliance…and Respect…

September 24, 2008 at 12:08 am (Champagne Charlie, left, Respect, SWP)

Lenny “Seymour’s Tomb” Fuckinidjeet,  tells us:

Meanwhile, Red Pepper has reported from the Convention of the Left. It seems to have gone well so far:

A contributor from Permanent Revolution caused even more consternation when he said: ‘the elephant in the room … [pause for dramatic effect] … is Respect. It collapsed, that’s the truth of the matter. And before that we had the Socialist Alliance.’

‘Why did they fail? We need to ask the question or we risk repeating their mistakes.’

Then Lindsey German was up, doing a decent job of tranquilising that elephant. ‘We can all put our hands up to what we’ve done wrong,’ she said, ‘but there’s no point in sitting here and saying 20 years ago we fell out over this question or two years ago we fell out over that question. We have to find a method of working that unites us and doesn’t divide us.’

Nick Wrack, from the other wing of Respect, shared the sentiment. ‘I’m prepared to debate and discuss what went wrong,’ he said, ‘but what is far more important is that there is more that unites us than separates us.’

‘The working class out there is facing a terrible situation and it’s going to worsen. We don’t need to make differences over tactical issues a dividing line at this moment.’”

Where have we heard this before?

And would you buy a second-hand political programme from either “Comrade” German or “Comrade” Wrack? And do you believe that either of them give a flying fuck about the “situation” of the “working class out there”?

No: neither do I.


  1. modernity said,

    yeah comrade Wrack, “The working class out there is facing a terrible situation”

    and out here, we are sick and tired of would-be leaders, ex-student politicos, well to do barristers and assorted shite hawks

  2. Red Maria said,

    Well it’s funny you should mention that. I was going through some old copies of Tribune and found a stirring peice circa 2003 about the Socialist Alliance. Reports of its demise were wide of the mark, the standfirst declared emphatically, it was ready to sweep all before it and deliver the fatal blow to Nu Labour. It was penned, I believe, by one, Nick Wrack. Where is he now?

  3. davidbroder said,

    “I’m prepared to debate and discuss what went wrong… but”, i.e. “I’m not prepared to discuss it”.

    The problem is not only what “divides” us, but what the SWP et al claim to believe but refuse to stand up for. That’s what happened at the Respect founding conference: “of course I’m for a workers’ wage, but…”; “of course I’m against the monarchy, but….”; “of course I’m for open borders, but…”

    Of course, they always do this by claiming to be representing nameless, faceless “millions out there” who, of course, are deemed too stupid to understand socialist politics, and thus should be invited to join shallow “anti-cuts” or “anti-war” campaigns which say nothing about… capitalism.

  4. davidbroder said,

    A pity, too, that the PR speaker didn’t get to ask her to “put her hands up to what she’s done wrong”, might have been fun.

  5. modernityblog said,

    I think the SWP’s ambivalent attitude might relate to the conflict within the SWP, “who to back” and whether or not the SWP can take over or asset-strip the Convention of the Left?

  6. David Ellis said,

    Still, can’t be as bad as excusing bombing Iran can it?

  7. Ed M said,

    Well, you read the comments on that article and you see a certain amount of confused ambivalence – I guess that’s because they haven’t been spoon-fed a line on post-Respect strategy yet by Martin Smith, and no-one wants to risk getting thrown down a flight of stairs by speculating about it beforehand (“NO ONE SECOND-GUESSES THE MARTINATOR!”). But there’s also a certain amount of people saying things like “let’s put all this rancour behind us”, or “you can’t deny that people in RR have moved to the left” etc. and suggesting that the best way forward is to sheepishly approach people in RR, apologise, and start a new ‘united front of a special kind’ with them.

    As if the lesson to be drawn from Respect is that next time, the basis for unity has to be even broader, fuzzier, and less bogged down in ‘shibboleths’ like “class” or “politics”.

  8. Dave said,

    Seen this?

    Maybe the line is going to switch to ‘be nice to everybody else’.

  9. modernityblog said,

    ha ha, or “we’ll try to fool some of the people most of the time, and hope others have short memories”?

    and when the charm offensive doesn’t work then will the SWP go straight back to being offensive?

    or could it be that the SWP are banking on a Tory Govt and that they can use it to build themselves up again, pushing everyone else aside whilst they shout “unity, unity”, “where’s my knife?”

  10. Lobby Ludd said,

    Well, as a disillusioned optimist it is easy to laugh at the latest unity offensive, easy and probably right. On the other hand there is the option of standing aloof and offering nothing, really, other than life in a tiny sect

    Not much different to life in a sect of one minus the paper sales and meetings.

    No leftist group that thinks it has good reason to exist separate from other very similar groups has a right to then accuse others of ‘failing to build the left’ etc, etc (or whatever, sometimes gentler, formulations are used).

    Is the solution that we all join the AWL?

  11. Ed M said,

    “it is easy to laugh at the latest unity offensive, easy and probably right. On the other hand there is the option of standing aloof and offering nothing, really, other than life in a tiny sect”

    If it was possible to operate in the SWP while holding the views that we do; if that organisation were not so totally dominated by a culture of obedience to the latest line, no matter how transparently bonkers (and lately it generally has been utterly bonkers); then there would be an argument for fusing with that tendency. But none of those conditions have been fulfilled – hopping uncritically on board with whatever the SWP does next for fear of being accused of acting like a sect would mean in practice ditching our analysis of events, and just going along with… well, in a word, Galloway.

    I mean, Ludd, are you arguing that you can’t accuse another group of failing to build the left, just because the way they try to build it is disastrously wrong? If an undemocratic left group tries to “build the left” in the most hopelessly counterproductive way, what should you do?

  12. martin ohr said,

    Ed, I see you’re named checked in this week’s weeker workly:

    AWLer Ed Maltby appeared at one
    stage to be anxious to provoke a
    physical confrontation of some sort –
    or, at least, a verbal version of a ruck’

    ‘…Maltby began to talk across me, stupidly
    claiming: “So you’re going to turn our
    stall, over are you, Mark? You’re
    going to get us removed from this
    demo and banned from the trade
    unions, are you?”’

    Is there any truth to any of this? Very bad behaviour indeed, not listening when Fisher reffers you to an authoritative article by Peter Manson, whatever next.

  13. modernityblog said,


    surely THAT is why they wrote these articles? to provoke a conflict and come out of it looking sweetly?

    much more sensible to ignore the CPGB, don’t rise to the bait, cos that’s their intent

    just smile at them, as the hapless idiots that they are

  14. martin ohr said,

    mod, couldn’t agree with you more.

    btw I’m sure they have the wrong spelling of bail-out on the front page too. They’ve gone for ‘bale-out’ I thought bale was to relating to hay only whereas bail-out could mean either to bail out water from a -sinking- boat or to pay the bail to free someone from custody. Either of these make sense.

  15. Ed M said,

    Mea culpa – I was rude to Mark Fisher. I’m very disappointed that he didn’t write anything about a) me calling his organisation Stalinist, or b) what he originally came to bother me about, viz. weren’t AWL very naughty for setting up Middle East Worker Solidarity, when HOPI already existed?

    Fisher plays a clever game – writes something totally hyperbolic (“chase the AWL from the workers’ movement!”) and then is able to turn around and appear perfectly reasonable and upset at the notion that he’d ever mean anything so awful(“we would never want to chase anyone out of anything! I meant merely that we disagree with your ideas!”).

  16. modernityblog said,

    exactly, Ed, it is a false controversy, no matter what Sean wrote the CPGB would twist it around.

    sadly, Machover is being used by the CPGB to score cheap points, as an ex-academic he should know better.

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