That SWP stunt

May 23, 2010 at 12:48 am (Champagne Charlie, SWP, unions, workers)

Nothing wrong with it in principle, but…

…either the SWP stunt today was intended to disrupt the Unite/BA negotiations, or it wasn’t. If it wasn’t, then what exactly was the point?

Crucially, did it have the support of any of the Unite/BASSA members involved in the dispute?

High drama: Joint General Secretaries of the Unite Union, Tony Woodley (centre) and Derel Simpson (behind him, right) talk to the Socialist Workers' Party protesters

SWP blogger Lenny “Seymour” Tombstone’s account is simply bollocks on stilts:

“What I can assert with reasonable confidence is that the protest did not disrupt negotiations…”

Yet more evidence that these people (the SWP) are simply not serious. And don’t understand the meaning of the word “solidarity” (as opposed to “substitutionism”).


  1. charliethechulo said,

    From the ‘United Left’ email list:

    “Can anyone argue that the best result for our BASSA Comrades in
    struggle would be one that sees their demands met by BA; particularly
    those surrounding revocation of travel perks, reinstatement of members
    sacked and a quashing of any charges placed on members who spoke out
    on the strike?

    “The trade union movement won a great victory in the courts earlier
    this week; and, Unite’s negotiating team continues to talk to BA at
    ACAS in the hope of resolving outstanding issues positively for our
    members; thus averting strike action.

    “So, in order to ‘assist’ with the negotiations some hundred or so
    protestors this afternoon invaded the offices of ACAS confront Willy
    Walsh and successfully manage to scupper the talks.

    “As most of us are aware Walsh’s game plan is to smash the unions in
    BA; such stunts as these, I believe, play right into his hands. How
    will Willy Walsh being harassed by idiotic protestors go down with the
    general public; the very group we need on-side if the strikes go

    “In my view this protest was an act of wilful self-indulgence by a
    group of individuals, accountable only to themselves and their
    increasingly meaningless organisation.

    “Nice one ‘Comrades’!”

  2. Will said,

    I have watched this on the interents and that.

    good onn the swper thickos. better than nothing.

    Sometimes it is better to do nothing thgann something tho but. and that.

    Williee vWalsh — better to have hin killes.

    Just saYING like.

  3. Will said,

    Charlie the boss class lackey “take me up the arse” soonds like a pissant type of cunt who wood like to be the never ending sort of filth who sits in his own shit for monthgs on end.

    a CUnT in othewrv werdws.

  4. charliethechulo said,

    Judge for yourselves…

    Nobody on the left would condemn the SWP stunt (except Newman, obviously:…but was it useful?

  5. charliethechulo said,

    If you really want to help the BA strikers, then contact the BASSA branch for a speaker, or to discuss solidarity action:

  6. charliethechulo said,

    …and now “Lenny- Lenin” Seymour ( even has to rebuke one of his own comrades over this business (making some half-way sensible comments in doing so):


    rich :

    Wasn’t at the conference, but comrades from my branch were, and I’ll get my report from them, ie not the papers, not SUn, etc. I don’t know the ins and outs of the decision, but I’m not going to be defensive about it, either – full support. Reason? If we know nothing else, we know that the current mode of opposition to cuts/job losses, etc, is not adequate. The message sent out by this demo is that there are some people who aren’t scared of the bosses, and that the general fightback is on. That’s a good thing.

    lenin :

    rich – if you don’t know the ins and outs of the decision, how can you give it “full support”? I think it would be important to know whether any Bassa workers actually approved of this action, whether the decision to undertake it was supported by anyone other than SWP members, and whether in fact the intended outcome was a break-up of the talks, etc. This is ABC stuff, it’s important to how we relate to the union movement, and it’s important to whether wider layers of the working class draw the conclusion that we are a bunch of ultra-left jokers who hijack other people’s struggles without reference to their wishes. Just because the current mode of opposition is “not adequate” doesn’t mean a small group of activists can speed things up independently of the class itself – that is substitutionism, and it is precisely this method which the SWP has recently repudiated.

  7. Jack Haslam said,

    What was it Trotsky said about the inability of an organisation to establish a proper relationship to the class reveals itself most clearly on the trade union question?

    This stunt is as nutty as the SWP opposing the construction engineering strikes last year.

  8. skidmarx said,

    Congratulations to Charlie and even Will on being among the least red-baiting and most comradely over this issue.

    To answer Charlie’s point, they don’t seem to have entered the negotiating room, the point was to protest against the cuts, both by BA and the capitalist class and government in general.

  9. Steve said,

    I tend to agree with skidmarx, these protests were against the coming cuts by the capitalist class. That is what was written on many of the placards, sheets. Is this to be criticised?

    Seems to me many are jumping to conclusions in order to demonise the SWP. Which to many so called leftists is an end in itself.

  10. How to screw things up SWP style « Raincoat Optimism said,

    […] see also: Dave Osler; John’s Labour blog; Shiraz Socialist […]

  11. Dr Paul said,

    This episode reminds me of the student-style stunts that my old lot, the Revolutionary Communist Party, used to indulge in, in the hopes of raising the group’s media profile and hopefully gaining a few recruits. I guess that with the RCP having given up on stunt politics for silly contrarianism, the field has been left open for someone else to start playing about. I’m just surprised that it has taken so long for it to happen.

  12. Steve said,

    “I’m just surprised that it has taken so long for it to happen.”

    I guess the economic breakdown and the coming assault on the working class may have something to do with it.

  13. charliethechulo said,

    “Seems to me many are jumping to conclusions in order to demonise the SWP. Which to many so called leftists is an end in itself” – no, Steve. It was a stupid, substitutionist stunt that has done *nothing* to help the BA strikers. This blog hasn’t joined in the widespread denunciation of the SWP that has swept across the leftist blogosphere following this stunt…but that doesn’t mean we don’t think it was fucking stupid (as do a large number of SWP’ers, including Seymour and their leading Unite members as far as can be judged).

  14. Steve said,


    Ye I think Shiraz were restrained in their criticism but they still jumped to some conclusions, my ire was more at the socialist unity crowd. I don’t think Seymour thinks it was ‘fucking stupid’. For the record I think it was great but I understand some of the criticisms. The article linked to by Skid above should have many on the left hanging their heads in shame.

  15. sackcloth and ashes said,

    ‘Congratulations to Charlie and even Will on being among the least red-baiting and most comradely over this issue.’

    Skidmarks, I’m sorry to break this news to you, but you’re not a socialist. So please fuck off and leave the building now.

  16. skidmarx said,

    sackcloth and arsehole – you see nothing, you hear nothing, you know nothing. I’m glad to break the news to you that you are fucking stupid.

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