Morbid Symptoms – Time to Move On!

“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interval a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Antonio Gramsci, The Prison Notebooks

Well it has been a rough old ride the last few weeks. This blog has had 25136 unique visits in the last four days, and 97021 unique visits during October. (Multiple visits with less than a half hour between them only count once.)

Yesterday I made a mistake of abusing one of the posters here, calling him or her a fuck-wit, after they had abused me, and they had also spread a libel about Linda Smith. But as moderator I should have shown more self discipline. I apologise to all the readers.

Generally I have tried to moderate with a light touch. But I am also only human, and the accumulated effect of attacks on my integrity is irritating.

It has offended me for example, that Dave Renton, someone who knows me personally has accused this blog of printing lies about the requirement of the parliamentary estate for George to stop sub-letting the Respect office. I have seen the original letter from Terry Bird, Director of Operations of the Parliamentary Estate to George Galloway’s office requiring that George “immediately take steps to put this right”. There was no lie.

It has annoyed me that there have been accusations that I made up the story about the rebel Respect/SWP councillors being in talks with the Liberal Democrats. All I did was report what the East London Advertiser had learned from their own sources, which has now been confirmed to Dave Osler by the Tower hamlets Liberal Democrats. Of course, this is an extraordinary twist, and it is hardly credible that the SWP CC are behind such negotiations. But the fact that the story has appeared in the main local newspaper in the area where Respect has its most significant electoral base is proof of the damage caused by the four councillors, and the story in the Advertiser was as a direct consequence of the press conference organised by John Rees, the National Secretary of Respect.

I have been very disappointed to read attacks by SWP members on the personal integrity of Salma Yaqoob, Ghada Rhazuki and Linda Smith in the comments over the last few weeks. It is quite clearly impossible to continue political cooperation with people in the same organisation when personal relations have broken down to this level. It is time to move on. There are now two distinct political visions of Respect, the proof of which is more successful will not be decided by a splenetic exchange of abuse on a blog, but by the real test of events.

These are a few of the comments that have abused me or this blog in just the last few days.

sometimes it appears that any crap is ok to throw at the SWP

this place is now (maybe it always was, I haven’t been here long) just somewhere to come and bash the SWP, so I’m going to dip out.

This blog is full of anti-SWP rhetoric, though I now know what bile is.

Andy – because you write 99% of drivel attacking the SWP… umm really you appear driven by hatred of the SWP.

this has now frankly got to the point of crass stupidity which to be fair to Andy it has been very consistent in being

Andy doesn’t hang around slinging mud and lies against the SWP

you just recycle other people’s rubbish about pacts with the Liberal Democrats

Lets face it this Blog is the nest of anti SWP bile

anything to keep his profile up and attack the swp

On a wider note what has united the anti socialist section of RESPECT is Hatred of Revolutionary socialism.

Not just foul. But apolitical and absurd.

this is what you do, turning a sparse analysis into just another attack on the “control freakery” culture of the SWP. It is incredibly politically weak and really has one root – your own obsessive hatred of your former organization

shame on you Andy Newman …. What a joker you are…. you political creep

You have no politics, buddy, no politics but that of the old left intrigue. You have the political stance of witch hunter general.

Andy, you will act as a mouthpiece for any old shit. Your last comment was truly desperate.

97 comments on “Morbid Symptoms – Time to Move On!

  1. Logan's Jog on said:

    You’re right Andy – time to move on. Regardless of whatever anyone (including myself) says about the SWP, their future will become apparent only with time.

    Many of their activists seem convinced that there will not be a split long-term – which means that they will continue to use the Respect name for as long as they can. I for one hope there can be so reconciliation – while leading personalities are crucial to inspiring activists and giving any organisation a boost on a national scale, and as such I would much rather line up with Salma, Linda, Ken Loach, GG etc than the SWP’s personalities, I don’t want any future disagreements between leaders to split the movement further.

    Well done for apologising for the “fuckwit” comment – I apologise to anyone I may have insulted. It would be better if we all put our energy into real-world politics away from the net, and used blogs like these simply to thrash out ideas. Our enemies are Labour, and the BNP, not each other – it is precisely because I want any future progressive movement to not make the same mistakes the 20th century Left have been prone to, that I dislike the SWP CC’s behaviour, and their activists’ refusal to put Respect first.

    I’d like to contribute to a thread that actually addresses the criticisms GG made in August… regardless of whether he was hypocritical or not in making them, he had a point that things need to change. Let’s talk about what happens beyond the 17th.

  2. Well Andy, I think that this blog has made a heroic stand throughout the crisis and congratulate and thank you for that. Now we can hopefully look forward to the future and the building of a true democratic, pluralistic coaltion, beginning at the Respect Conference at Bishopsgate on 17th November http://www.respectrenewal.org

  3. I routinely delete abusive comments on my blog, whether directed at me or someone else. Ditto for trolls, right wing attacks, etc. No need to apologize for doing so. It makes for a better comments section.

  4. The difficlu thing with this debate Bob, is if I had deleted all the comments with some abuse in them we would have lost 95% of them!

  5. Logan's Jog on said:

    What we need to do is assess the current situation. On the 17th four major Left groups will be meeting but all in different places.

    1) How did this come to pass? We need to be open and honest about all of the personalities involved, and that includes Salma, GG, Rees, German – all of them. Let us at least find common ground on how we arrived at this split. We also need to look at why the Labour Left (as represented by the LRC) have historically tried to fight for socialism within Labour, despite the evidence showing that this has almost always been a project doomed to failure.

    2) How can we unite the Left into one electoral party? I personally believe there needs to be one major Left party, like in Germany, or we will never get anywhere. Within this party we need to be able to disagree on some things as long as all debate is geared towards making the party an electoral success. How can we get Respect, SWP, SP, and the Labour Left into ONE party? Is this even possible? How can we convince the Labour Left they are wasting their time? How can we get SWP members to become part of a much larger and broader party, without making them feel they are sacrificing their principles by leaving the SWP? How can we get the CNWP to say “Maybe this isn’t going to get us anywhere?” I also do not think that coalitions and united fronts work; it has to be a party. The SWP should be invited but only if they will put the new party ahead of their old one.

    3) How do we avoid movements being split by disagreements among their leaders? I think the only way is to have a more active and empowered activist base. Respect has fallen prey to in-fighting amongst leaders because it never had its own activist base but relied on one of its groups to do the hard work on the ground.

  6. Oh nice to know that my comments here are represented as abusive. Perhaps a reflection of the control freakery that is much commented on. Quite incredible red baiting and demagoguery. Shameful.

  7. John G, that is pretty poor as an example of red-baiting and a further example of just how desperate you are becoming as you know there was never any witchunt

  8. Logan's Jog on said:

    Can we not just move on from all the accusations of red-baiting and abusiveness, John Game? Andy’s said his piece about the matter, now surely we should spend our time discussing constructive proposals to bring the Left together, i.e. Socialist Unity?

  9. This is ridiculous. Andy again insults everyone he disagrees with and then tells us its time to move on (might he not have quoted the rolling abuse of the other side to which many of these comments were a response?. When even someone like Dave Renton gets accused of being bad mannered you get a fair idea of whats going to happen to disagreement in this brave new world we’re entering.

  10. Halshall on said:

    I understand on very good authourity that the comments made about ‘Linda Smith being a ballot rigger’ are an outright and deliberate piece of lying black propaganda; put out publically by a leading (ie: c.c. )member of the SWP in presumably a calculated ‘big lie’ technique.
    Enough ordinary SWP members were taken in by it to send her a mass of abusive e-mails; all completely unwarranted and very distressing to her.
    If this is indicative of the low level of mendacious mudslinging that party has descended to then who can believe anyhting from that source.

  11. “there was never any witchunt”

    Yes there was. It was evidenced on saturday at the party council when john rees broke ALL the rules of the left and of the movement but putting the boot into linda smith.

  12. Dave Renton on said:

    Andy, I had intended not to post on this site again, but I will make one last and final exception given that you have referred to me directly by name.

    You will find dotted around the blog positive accounts of the role you have played with this website over the past 3 years. You will find at one point a reference to a brilliant mini-generation of socialists, by which I had and have in mind yourself Ian D and Mark P, people who I met and believe I know, people further who I like and admire. I don’t think I’ve ever been half that effusive about the people I agree with in this current dispute.

    I do genuinely believe however that you made two mistakes in the last week. I think you were wrong to republish the ELA story in the way you did.

    I hate taking categories from the law, but in this case they’re useful. The law distinguishes between the general principles of libel (i.e. a journalist who publishes a story without properly checking the sources libels its target) and reportage (where the interest of the story is not its truth but the fact that someone says it: eg “Clinton says Obama is an alien” is reportage and not libel, because the interest of the story is not Obama, but the madness in this case of Clinton). Your ELA story wasn’t reportage – you weren’t criticising the ELA – and therefore you should have done more to check it before printing.

    The New Statesman discovered this point 15 years ago when it reported a rumour that John Major was having an affair, which they described as false (they still got sued and still lost). I’m not saying that the law is right, just that it isn’t good journalism to print something you believe an balance to be false. Saying “this is probably untrue” doesn’t stop it from being libel – or to use a non-legal language – just poor practice as a journalist.

    I think the second mistake was to republish Kevin Ovenden’s email. It’s obvious to anyone reading the email that George was under no pressing duty to force the Respect National Office to close. Yes, he may well have been invited to end a sub-lease arrangement, but if you look through the past records of those Parliamentary officials, you will see that the purpose of this prohibition is to stop MPs from claiming money for their private offices and then making more by hiring them out to their own political party. It’s called double accounting or (another non-legal term) fraud. There may be reasons why parliamentary officers would be particularly keen to ensure that this MP didn’t have that allegation hanging over him at that time.

    George had the option of allowing the National Office to stay where they were and of ending the sub-lease, e.g. as I pointed out in my email by continuing the relationship as a license rather than a lease, or by not charging the National Office rent. Either would have been reasonable, for a limited time, while the office found new premises. This must have been obvious to an individual as familiar with the law as George Galloway. Or he could have asked among his close allies a barrister such as Nick Wrack.

    One of the reasons why I think you were wrong to republish the email is that it didn’t justify George’s immediate eviction of the National Office: in fact it made him and his entourage look like liars. Purely on tactical grounds, that wasn’t going to persuade anyone that John Rees and the others should have been evicted.

    You write: “It has offended me for example, that Dave Renton, someone who knows me personally has accused this blog of printing lies about the requirement of the parliamentary estate for George to stop sub-letting the Respect office.” I accused Kevin of lying in his email to John Rees. Kevin has now asked to speak to me about that, which I now hope to do off-list. If, as I am sure is likely, he persuades me that I was wrong to write that, then I will say so publicly.

    Finally, I hope nothing I’ve added here has added to the tone of mutual denunciation which seems to characterise relationships on the left at the moment. I really can’t say often enough how much I admire you and have liked the blog. I disagree with you in the present – that much is obvious – but I really hope that you and I can work together in the future and (more to the point) that the people we each see as our allies can learn to do that too.

    For socialist unity (if with a lower case): always.

  13. “It’s obvious to anyone reading the email that George was under no pressing duty to force the Respect National Office to close.”

    You’re right, he wasn’t. I know this for a fact.

  14. Alex Nichols on said:

    Shame about the level of abuse you’ve received Andy. I thought “J.J” exhibited the level of abuse he did because he couldn’t deal with the arguments rationally.

    Although I don’t necessarily go along with all of your politics, I think you’ve put a tremendous amount of work into this blog and this whole episode has been on of the most creative political uses of the internet I’ve seen.

    Rather than feeling threatened by that, people on the left should recognise that this offers an opportunity for greater democratic debate and eventually, making the correct decisions and acting on them.

    Hopefully, this will also create a situation where sectarian factionalism becomes a thing of the past.

    Well done.

  15. Rees physically stopped Hoveman from entering the office.

    why hasnt anyone got anything to say about that?

  16. Canadien on said:

    “this is what you do, turning a sparse analysis into just another attack on the “control freakery” culture of the SWP. It is incredibly politically weak and really has one root – your own obsessive hatred of your former organization”

    Well, it’s nice that I made the top ten. However, it is a case of selective quoting, which makes it seem as if the first sentence is a general attack on you. Rather, it was a rebuttal to the point you made that I was missing the point by focusing on an “institutional and organizational” critique – to which I replied, in this particular instance, “this is what you do.” I stand by the comment that it was a politically weak analysis, or perhaps theoretically weak would be more specific.
    I accept that the final clause about your obsessive hatred of the SWP, etc. etc. should have been qualified as a suspicion on my part, based upon what you write and your attitudes. But this is certainly not an unreasonable claim in the present context.
    Where I have crossed the line and been called on it – as Kevin did on – I apologized. Where I made an error in ascribing something to someone – Logan’s Jog – I also apologized.

    However, I think this doesn’t apply in this case – especially given the level of ad hominem argument floating around in here re: the SWP. Sadly, I think the fact that you focus on the statements of your opponents and don’t mention a single instance of one of the outrageous statements by your supporters (“silly little girl” comes immediately to mind. Some of Ian D’s abusive, almost threatening missives also pop up) demonstrates the lack of self-awareness which has accelerated the present crisis to the point of a split.

  17. well said post #19

    it’s very interesting – i think the internet is going to collapse the control-culture of the sects. swp members, and those of other groups, will have no excuse – they can have information now and read other viewpoints. the ccs are not in control. all bureaucracies will be threatened by the net. a free flow of information, reports, debate etc. will really open things up. of course the bureaucracies will try and supress the flow of information, to ‘rubbish’ the internet and so on, but they will fail.

    forwards to a future where all organisations on the left are open and democratic!

    ks

  18. Logan's Jog on said:

    No one is perfect. Andy may have made a tactical error re-printing the ELA story but whether or not he did depends on your political point of view: if you are genuinely interested in where the SWP rebel councillors will go from here because of the wider ramifications for the Left, then it is good that all sources of information are utilised; if you want to hide all possible criticism of the SWP and pretend they are the only victims in all of this, then of course the story should not have been printed.

  19. Ger Francis on said:

    ‘I think you were wrong to republish the ELA story in the way you did.’

    I find it remarkable the amount of verbiage that has been generated about Andy’s decision to reproduce a story already in the public domain. Of course he was right to run it. And the story is not fictitious. Discussions did take place between the ex-Respect Cllrs and the Lib Dems. Saying so does not mean however that the SWP approved or even had prior knowledge of such talks. As for the hue and cry over the office…it’s status had changed but that’s not the main issue for me. Imagine if members of the SWP used their national office to orchestrate a split inside the SWP, what do you think the response would be? Think they might be denied access to the building? Dave Renton should drop the victimhood, it’s getting tiresome.

    Overall this site has been an invaluable resource to anyone wanting to get access to a side of the Respect debate absent on other sites due to what Johng misnames as ‘Leninist moderating.’

    Andy is right; it is time to move on. The dye is now cast. Either ‘divorce’ will take place amicably via negotiation or it will take place forcibly via the courts. There may be some more trashing around till the 17th but the game is up. Act accordingly, pick your sides, leave the rest up to the electorate.

  20. Logan's Jog on said:

    It has been a good few weeks, as an outsider being able to see what both sides have been saying, and being able to make my mind up. It is just sad that the leaders themselves were not open about what was going on until it became inevitable things would leak out into the wider interweb. GG admittedly made the first move back in August, and the SWP should’ve been more open about their response, rather than purging Ovenden, Wrack, Hoveman, etc. But what’s done is done, and it’s good letters and articles showing both sides have been re-printed here.

    Now can we discuss the way forward? 4 Left groups – SWP, Respect, SP, and LRC – all meeting on the same day. How to unite them? That is the question.

  21. Tawfiq Chahboune on said:

    Andy, although you did not say what your accusers accuse you of, most of the stuff slung at you would be actually compliments.

    It might as well be said, so here goes. The SWP is a vanguardist sect (which idolises a mass murderer and anti-socialist) run by “intellectuals” who probably couldn’t get a proper job and so found themselves spreading the ravings of a dimwitted thug. Although you didn’t say that, I’d say that being abused for that is a compliment.

    So the “intellectuals” can carry on raving and do nothing constructive, unless it happens to somehow be in tune with some sort of weird Bolshie version of history. Our comrades around the world can be killed and “capitalism” allowed to destroy the planet because anything other than Trotsky-style fruitcake prescriptions are followed.

    But let’s not forget his Gorgeousness, George Galloway. A “Stalinist social democrat”, as a comrade once described him, who jets off around the world telling dictators how lucky their tortured peoples are to have them at the helm.

    The wonder is that such a zany “coalition” of weirdos lasted more than five seconds. I don’t take any pleasure in saying that I saw it coming a long time ago. A conversation here with Rees and a conversation there with GG, and you just knew that nothing good would come out of it.

  22. Logan's Jog on said:

    And that, Alex, is not (quite) the answer.

    I think choosing a theme song (team song?) for a united Left should be the last of our concerns.

    We would just end up arguing all over again.

  23. Only probably in the first instance in struggle e.g round the Karen Reissmann strike- sorry to bang on but as someone once said patiently explain.

    I think only really in building basic solidarity around class issues- strikes against privatisation, anti deportation, postal strike solidarity, anti racist struggles, anti war and so on and so on and asking, asking, and asking again for help and support from unions, from political organisations, from work mates, from anyone and everyone and getting organised.

    So if it really is time to move on let’s see a concentration on basic class solidarity issues as a steppong stone to other possibilities- not to not to have the deabtes and discsussions- we should- but to anchor them.

  24. Kevin Murphy on said:

    Ger Francis
    “Imagine if members of the SWP used their national office to orchestrate a split inside the SWP…”

    Or imagine if those who have repeatedly accused the SWP of orchestrating a split in RESPECT had the intellectual integrity to admit that ultimately it was their minority NC who chose to split RESPECT against the wishes of the membership.

    Kevin Murphy

  25. reply to #25

    i’d suggest as a starting point respect renewal invite the rmt, pcs, fbu, sp, cnwp, lrc, ags, sa, slp, cpb et al to send visitors to the conference.

    at the very least a non-aggression pact and negotiations to avoid electoral clashes should be possible.

    i think galloway is a problem. he is not universally popular on the left to put it mildly. proving that the post-swp respect holds gg and other representatives to account will do a lot of good in encouraging others to join in. also, a turn away from opportunism would be welcome.

    it’s also important that respect renewal takes an open approach to other forces, and it looks like it might be going to do this.

    i think the calling of an open conference for working class representation that invites all those interested to attend could be a good step forwards.

    what do others think?

    ks

  26. martin ohr on said:

    Andy in your roundup of abuse you missed this one: “oh for fuck’ sake, how much AWL input are we going to have posted here. You have you own paper, and your own blogs, can’t you use them”

  27. RedRaph on said:

    Andy is a bit battle weary he’s put a lot of articles up on the site, he’s made a lot of posts and had lot of posts on his posts. A lot of the posts come from very polarised positions. On one side there are the SWP loyalists defending the party line. In old days you only came across criticism of the SWP in rival papers or internal publications or internal bulletins. There was the occasional debate but most of the SWP membership never saw their leader’s positions being challenged. The internet has of course changed all this and the rank and file of the SWP are now being exposed to alternative ideas.

    On the other side of the debate are mainly anti-SWP and there opinions are shaped by years of being in the SWP or trying to work with them. There is frustration at the essentially destructive role, the way people are wasted as they go through their organisation. They way they drive people away from campaigns and socialism. We’re anti-SWP because they make the establishment of a more just, equable and rationale society more difficult. That doesn’t mean you don’t work with individual SWP members in campaigns although that is extremely difficult in Scotland given the nature of the split in the SWP.

    What I don’t like is the personal abuse or dismissive comments. Arguments should be answered by argument. But he is to be commended on the site and he generally handles disputes well. He’s views I generally agree with – an example of how ones thinking can evolve when the iron fist of control is removed. The site gives us a sense of what the broad tolerant socialist party we so badly need could be like.

  28. “Respect, the proof of which is more successful will not be decided by a splenetic exchange of abuse on a blog, but by the real test of events.”

    Good point and this really is now my last post of the night. I’ve written to George Galloway MP asking for a public statement of support (I also wrote McDonnell becuase he did an EDM for Fremantle strikers and John Leech as he is my constitunecy MP nd Tony Lloyd as he is a Manchester MP) Can some of the obsessive bloggers – I know I was one for a day or two- also write to their MP and may be Galloway to get things moving on this.

    Good night for now

  29. Ger Francis on said:

    Kevin Murphy

    I forget. Rees did not appear at the press conference in Tower Hamlets to announce ‘Respect indepenants’ nor did the two SWP councillors. And the fact that they have split with the rest of Respect group does not constitute a..hmm..split. Whatever. We can go round on this if you want but it does not alter the reality of the split between the SWP and practically everybody else inside Respect. As for ‘intellectual honesty’. The overwhelming bulk of the ‘delegates’ at the rigged SWP conference will be SWP members, who will have been told beforehand what way they are going to vote. So cut the sanctimonious crap about ‘letting the members decide’, please.

    As the best agony aunts say, the best way to get over relationship breakdown is to quickly move on. On the 17th there will be two conferences. The SWP will be at one, the rest of us will be at the other. Those who enjoy abusive relationships can stay with the SWP.

  30. Canadien on said:

    “The SWP is a vanguardist sect (which idolises a mass murderer and anti-socialist) run by “intellectuals” who probably couldn’t get a proper job and so found themselves spreading the ravings of a dimwitted thug.”

    Nice – now there’s a political argument for you. I’m convinced!

  31. Martin Ohr #33

    I was wrong to swear after Sophie Buckland commented of the site, especially as her contribution (while wildly ultra-left) was polite and well enough argued. i apologise to her – please pass that apology on.

    However, in the comments preceeding Sophie’s I had had the following abuse from AWL supporters and others who agree with them about the HOPI affiliation.

    Andy … You belong with the sieg-heiling Jew killers of Hezbollah.

    shame on you Andy Newman. What a joker you are., you political creep.

    Andy: with every desperate, wriggling excuse, you come closer and closer to being an apologist for the Stalinists who run the STWC…and for the hideous, anti-working class regime that oppresses our comrades in Iran. Sorry to have to put it so bluntly, but your arguments really are shameful.

    Surely you would know, radiant genius and teacher of communism, who lights up the shining path of socialism to mankind through his correct opinions?

    As for Andy: my gawd! I hadn’t realised that you are, in fact, a popular-front Stalinist.

    What utter crap.

    Come back from planet stalin and debate the issues rationally.

  32. Canadien on said:

    Ger: “the reality of the split between the SWP and practically everybody else inside Respect. As for ‘intellectual honesty’. The overwhelming bulk of the ‘delegates’ at the rigged SWP conference will be SWP members, who will have been told beforehand what way they are going to vote. So cut the sanctimonious crap about ‘letting the members decide’, please.”

    Ger – do you also read tarot cards? Clearly voting is beneath contempt when there are more efficient ways to divine the will of the membership (by watching the actions of the great leaders). Besides which, then you don’t have to worry about those robotic SWP members voting against your wish lists – because there’s nothing to vote on!

  33. Logan's Jog on said:

    ks – 35: I agree about GG. He is in some circles as disliked as the SWP. But he is also immensely popular to many, and, unlike anyone else on the broad Left, has a huge media profile that can be used for constructive purposes. We need to make sure he does not try to order the Left around, and that he is but one among many important leading figures. I think enhancing the roles and profiles of Salma Yaqoob and others who are relatively new to the game and don’t have as much political baggage in the mainstream, and harnessing the talents of people like Ken Loach – he could possibly make films promoting the party’s ideas, TV ads, documentaries, that sort of thing.

    I agree with inviting all the big unions to discuss what to do next. We need to ask them what they would want from a proper Left party. We also need the CNWP to sit at the same table as all of these people.

    I dont think GG would always be able to dominate any movement he is in. He can do his thing and the rest of the party can do theirs, as long as he does not fuck up again like with Big Brother. What an idiot he was, that time.

  34. KS @ 32

    I would be very, very surprised if we (the Socialist Party) does not send a team of comrades along to the Renewal conference, and as there’s a debate with the LRC scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Socialism 2007, hopefully a speaker or some sort of rep will be along from Renewal.

    On an unrelated point, in previous years Socialism has served as a Mecca for the ultra-left sects, who attend our seminars and denounce the SP for its deviations from their oh-so correct programme. I just wonder with four events taking place, what will be prioritised?

  35. Logan's Jog on said:

    “However, in the comments preceeding Sophie’s I had had the following abuse from AWL supporters and others who agree with them about the HOPI affiliation.”

    I reckon there are some who claim to be on the left but have consistently undermined any popular left mobilisation. AWL and HOPI are some of these, and it is better they are ignored and have no part in any future Left formation.

  36. By the way, it is interesting to make a comparison with Big Brother and the current crisis in Respect.

    The SWP leadership have played their hand so disastrously that they have driven almost every other leading figure in Resect into opposition to the, a significnat layer of the SWP’s membership oppose them, and many non-SWP activists aroungd the country.

    Is this because George is a machiavellian genius, who has outfoxed the SWP with a cunning trap?

    Hardly, Galloway was out intrigued and outplayed on Big Brother by Preston and Chantelle, who between them have the intellectual prowess of a pot plant.

    the truth is there was no witch-hunt – or more accurately this must be the first time in history where an organisation (the SWP) has managed to witch-hunt itself out of a bigger coalition!

  37. Alex Nichols on said:

    # 28 “And that, Alex, is not (quite) the answer.”

    Oooh, I don’t know. There have been very few expulsions or splits in the East St. Band. Patty Scialfa has been married to Bruce for yonks and even Gypsy Steve van Zee came back in between spells on the “Sopranos”.

  38. Logan's Jog on said:

    Andy surely if we want to actually move on, we should stop laying into the SWP for what they have done? I am annoyed at the CC’s actions but there are still many good SWP activists who, if they see more accusations levelled at their leaders, will simply side with their leaders out of loyalty and ignore the arguments many on the other side have put forward? Let us prove, with action and not words, that the other side is right and where the future is, so they will see the SWP CC for what they are, and do what the rest of us, and so many SWP activists I have known, have done: leave them behind.

  39. Logan's Jog on said:

    Ah but think about how Springsteen’s early hits, such as “Born in the USA” were misinterpreted as jingoistic patriotic anthems, rather than the scathing critique of American policy that they were! We would be wise not to repeat his tactical errors

  40. no.41
    Do you know anymore about this ie. have there been discussions in the party about attending? I was wondering whether this may happen.

  41. Logan's Jog on said:

    -41: AVPS that picture on your frontpage reminds us all of happier times. For added effect, you should edit in a tear down the middle between GG and JR/LG

  42. hi again,

    #40 i agree with you.

    #49 i can’t see why they wouldn’t send a few visitors and agree to negotiate a non-aggression pact as a minimum.

    i think respect renewal should write to all the other groups mentioned as well as the unions. this shows that they are more open and friendly than the swp-led respect was.

    does galloway want more trotskyists on board though? does he want them to raise the workers’ wage and other ‘tricky’ issues? maybe galloway, and some of the councillors, would prefer to keep all critical voices outside? do they want a left opposition proposing even a basic socialist programme to their more populist and reformist one?

    there are many in respect renewal who want to regroup the left in a new broad democratic party. is that the same for galloway and the cllrs though? sure, they’d like the cpb on board, what about sections of the labour left or trotskyist left though? i have to say i’m not convinced. the way galloway deals with critics from the left, even those who raise issues skillfully and fraternally, does not inspire confidence.

    when the left in respect renewal raise galloway’s wage and expenses, lack of socialist or class content in public material, democratic accountability of representatives, defence and extention of abortion rights etc. etc. then how will galloway respond?

    anyway, there is an opportunity for a new party to be launched. the rmt, pcs, fbu, respect renewal, cnwp, sp, cpb, ags and others need to start discussions, look towards calling a conference etc. etc. and hopefully something can be agreed upon, even if short of unity in one party. some coalition or pre-party might be possible. even if just a few of these components can unite that will be a step forwards.

    fraternal greetings,

    karl s

    http://www.foranewleftparty.blogspot.com/

  43. Victor on said:

    #45 ok your on. If within 6 months Salma and George are acountable to democratic constintuency parties of Respect Renewal I will join. Seriously. If Abjol Mia can articulate some kind of basic leftist message and demonstrate that his group can build anti war anti neoliberal politics in Tower Hamlets, that is inclusive of Gays and Women, them the SWP will have been proved conclusively wrong. It would all have been about pluralism and not an attack on the left. End of.

  44. Jason: moving on shouldn’t mean a flight from a major question of British politics to an analysis of China, as significant as it may be. There’s radicalisation in Britain. I don’t accept that we need to go back to a primitive accumulation of class organisation.

  45. I’m glad to see Dave Renton being accused of ‘victimhood’ as well. Apparently you don’t have to be in the SWP. Just disagree in some way.

  46. Matt S on said:

    Andy,

    I think you have largely been a model of restraint over the last few weeks. Well done!

    Matt Sellwood

  47. johng plays the victim card while opining on the victim card. come on John. deal with the politics

  48. Ok then, moving on

    Perversely it might not even be a bad thing to have four different conferences of the left on the 17th November. Right now is a real watershed if you look at British politics and the left.
    1. New Labour has failed to relaunch itself under Brown.
    2. The Tories are at their strongest in the polls for 15 years.
    3. The Lib Dems, after posing as a left alternative to Labour since the late 1990s and storming through Labour’s heartlands in a series of council victories is now in the doldrums
    4. The US economy may be about to go into recession and there is certainly an economic downturn ahead
    6. Whatever prospects there may have been to “reclaim” Labour as claimed by some in the unions have been definitively scrambled
    7. The left in the Labour party has been more thoroughly marginalised than almost any time in the party’s history and there is no sign on the horizon that any radicalisation in the short to medium term will go through that party.
    8. The split in Respect has created a crisis over the nature of any broad left of Labour project.

    Political cards have all be radically reshuffled in a very short time. The simultaenous holding of the four conferences will allow each current an opportunity to show how if at all it relates to this. In time honoured routinist fashion? (business as usual) in sectarian fashion? (refusal to place the broader interests of the class above their own organisatios). Or showing some fresh thinking and a desire to build real unity based on trust and working in action together. It may well be a useful snapshot of where things are going from here. In six months or a year we can then make a judgement about how the different lines of march matched up.

  49. well while much of the left appears to be disintergrating – ssp, solidarity, respect, swp and what’s laughably called the labour left the green party goes from strength to strength. Anyone looking for an organisation committed to ending free market capitalism and to changing the world should stop flogging those dead horses and join us (many socialists already have)

    http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news

  50. It is a valid point that MPs cannot rent their office space – paid for through Parliamentary expenses – to local party machinery.

    I note that Islington North Labour Party is not allowed to share their office with the one Jeremy Corbyn rents. Islington South CLP however owns their own building, and therefore the local party rents the office space to Emily Thornberry…

  51. Left Respect, Declined SWP on said:

    You quote me as saying:
    “This blog is full of anti-SWP rhetoric, though I now know what bile is.”

    After I said:
    “This blog is full of anti-SWP rhetoric, though I know not what bile is.”

    Abd you quote me as having contributed to “a few of the comments that have abused me”.

    Abused you? Please. Do you want my pity?

    I do pity sectarians, but I pity more those they disenfranchise through their destruction of radical movements.

    This blog author appears to be able to dish it out, but complains when I simply observe (and I stand by this observation) that “this blog is full of anti-SWP rhetoric”. It is. Do you deny that?

  52. Well Nas I don’t think having victimology competitions is politics. I don’t think most people will think its a good thing that there are four conferences. Most will think it Life of Brian. Or on the other hand Toys out the pram.

  53. re #59 the greens

    unfortunately the greens are not an option. they have no class analysis, no class content in their programme… and thus no class appeal. sure, some socialists in the greens want to end capitalism. how will they do this without the power of the organised working class at the head though?

    most greens are not socialists and do not want to end capitalism. their coucillors are inconsistant to say the least. if the greens ever got near real power they would soon sell out like their european friends.

    i would also add that despite a high paper membership they seem v unorganised and v inactive apart from in a few locations.

    i don’t mean to attack, just trying to explain why most socialists, and more importantly the organised working class and a mass of individual workers, will not join the greens now or ever.

    i very much hope that the left-wing of the greens will join a new broad socialist party in the future and make an important contribution towards building it and developing policy.

    best wishes,

    karl

    http://www.foranewleftparty.blogspot.com

  54. the digger on said:

    Come on Ger, for someone so ensconced in eletoral politices you must understand the difference between resiging a whip or having it removed compared with leaving a political party.

    Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot both had the whip removed but remained Labour Party members and Clare Short resigned whip and remains a Labour Party member. Clare Short has since considered retaking the whip now Brown has been coronated.

  55. Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot were not in a party that was in the process of a split. There’s a massive difference. The Respect councillors did not split over differences of policy, unless someone can tell me otherwise. And I am pretty sure that Bevan and Foot were not supported by their National Secretary or Party Leader who organised, attended and spoke at a press conference with them.

    Any analogy between these situations is ridiculous and the term ‘clutching at straws’ springs to mind

  56. The rebel councillors have also constituted themselves as a formal seperate political group on Tower Hamlets council in opposition to Respect.

  57. “Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot both had the whip removed but remained Labour Party members and Clare Short resigned whip and remains a Labour Party member.”

    When will you understand the difference between a mass party – a party of government – and a tiny, new party that only has a few councillors?

    its odd that you want to compare respect councillors resigning the whip with a labour mp resigining the whip.

    its just not comparable. but then, you knew that already.

  58. Ger Francis on said:

    Re post 62. Maybe, maybe not. Certainly for those organising the Respect Renewal conference there is a strong sense of liberation in the air. The SWP conference will be a farce, the delegates will be 99% SWP, and observers will be bussed in to give the appearance of something real and vibrant. But when the conference is over, where then? Does the SWP really want to get locked into a fight over who is entitled to the Respect name? While there is virtually no public/voter association between the SWP and Respect, the exact opposite is the case with George, Salma, Ken and Respect. Does the SWP really want to go to court and fight it out? If so, all the hyperbole and paranoia about a witch-hunt will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Up to now our side have issued no public statements or press releases specifically attacking the SWP. As regards the public domain this dispute as been largely confined to a few left-wing blogs. Contrary to those who see the chain of events as part of some plan to break with the SWP, this was not the original intention behind George’s letter. In light of the fact that tensions could not be addressed behind the scenes, we hoped that by bringing them into view of the membership it would act as a break on Rees’s behaviour. At the time nobody on our side anticipated the SWP would go completely insane, and that their reactions would propel the dispute in the direction of a split. Even if you thought there was no basis in the implied criticisms of the SWP in George’s letter, even if you thought the proposal of Nick Wrack as National Organiser was some attempt to split the SWP, the politically smart move would have been to roll with the punches, listen to the concerns, and take measures to address them. Even if your intention in so doing was completely disingenuous, it would have taken the wind out of our sails. Instead, the SWP strapped on their helmets and got busy digging their trench, lobbing hand greandes and making enemies. With hindsight, whereas we never considered a split, I think the SWP were always prepared to drive a split momentum because they calculated that they would be able to isolate George. They thought he would not have the temperament for a fight and would walk instead. In that regard they misread him and made one gigantic tactical blunder. The anti-George card has spectacularly backfired against them except with the ultra-left among their own ranks and beyond.

    If the past six weeks are anything to go by, if this escalates further it is not difficult to see where it will end up. A very public dynamic will kick which will have at its centre something like ‘Respect hijacked by far-left cult’. This will be damaging for the left, but most of all it will be highly damaging for the SWP. There are those of us who, while we have lost all respect for the SWP leadership, have enough regard and friendship for its members to want to avoid that happening. Whether it does so or not however will be determined by the SWP. The split is a reality. Respect will not be put back together for the foreseeable future, it at all. If it a new relationship can be re-established, it is only imaginable under very different terms. Negotiations had already have taken place, which acknowledged where things were at. The smart move would be to reengage with them, if only out of an instinct for self-preservation.

  59. Non-SWP Respect socialist on said:

    Does anyone else find the tone of things like #69 really quite disturbing? There’s an underlying sense of “you think you’ve seen a witchunt? You ain’t seen nothing yet”.

  60. At least one partial way of avoiding this from happening is to put all or a great deal of energy into fighting on common terrain- not least of which a the momen is an important test case for trade union rights in Manchester around the Karen Reissmann strike (that Andy has posted articls on twice in the last 24 hours).

    It is also in a sense a test case of how far the SWP-Respect and how far the other Respect can mobilise support for a very important struggle- the prime importance of course is to win the strike.

    Apparently Galloway has made a statement in support of this. It would be good to have a link or the statement posted it up here.

    It would also be good if the people who post on here so regularly could spend at least half that energy writing to MPs, union branches, visiting reinstate-karen.org and making comments there and generally raising the profile of the case.

    As Kevin Ovenden said in another thread it doesn’t address the question of political representation but unless we can win in a strike over the basic and fundamental freedom ot organise and speak out against cuts then we haven’t got much left. Any new party must be based on grassroots campaigning and strengthening of the basic organising and fighting capacity of the working class.

  61. And the repeated threat of using the courts if they don’t get their own way. Not to mention the game plan of In light of the fact that tensions could not be addressed behind the scenes, we hoped that by bringing them into view of the membership it would act as a break on Rees’s behaviour.

    So much for the letter being just George’s immediate response to the Southall and Shadwell results – and so much for the idea that it was written just for the National Council. Are you prepared to be honest about just who we consisted of?

  62. Well of course going to the courts would be utterly reprehensible- but who is going to take up the cudgels on fighting the class struggle rather than amongst ourselves?

    Or if you are really committed to fighting amongst yourselves why not do it through the tactic of who can mobilise most support for the Reissmann strike?

  63. Just to be clear, #72 was written as a comment on #70, and not on Will’s post, which I entirely agree with.

  64. Charlie #72

    I don’t know exactly who Ger was refering to as “we” at the beginning, but “we” now includes almost the whole of the non-SWP membership of Respect.

    Also on a different thread note Dave Parks, who is a good solid socialist and not a sectarian in any way, saying that the Exeter Socialists (whoch is basically the old Socialist Allaince branch) are interested in working with Respect(renewal), now that the log-jam of SWP control is broken.

    We are in interesting times – Respect Renewal can reach out and makes friends and allianes much more easiely than Respect-SWP. Not least becasue the behavious of the SWP CC over the last few weeks has ndermined trust with people way beyond the ranks of Respect.

    If there is a dispute over assets, then this could be done by negotiations, or failing that the courts. Perhaps even binding arbitration outside the bourgeois courts, some impartial labour movement tribunal?

  65. Ger Francis on said:

    Post 70. Grow up and reread.

    Post 72. ‘We’ refers to some of us in Birmingham. When we saw George’s letter we celebrated with a massive sigh of relief because we hoped it might start a process of resolving frustrations that we had with Respect for at least 2 years. Nobody in Birmingham had any input into it before it was sent. If we had we would have pitched some arguments differently.

  66. Left Respect, Declined SWP on said:

    ‘Does anyone else find the tone of things like #69 really quite disturbing? There’s an underlying sense of “you think you’ve seen a witchunt? You ain’t seen nothing yet”.’

    Yes.

  67. “The anti-George card has spectacularly backfired against them”

    That’s funny because as a non-SWP observer, and someone that has always held George in extremely high regard, it actually seems as though the anti-SWP card has spectacularly backfired – the GG faction have been left without office staff, without the properly delegated conference, and without those insignificant little people called activists.

    To anyone watching this without an agenda, this most definitely comes across as the ‘high profile members’ vs the rest. And those within the ‘high profile members’ club are therefore desperate to paint a picture of it being the SWP that have become isolated.

  68. “but “we” now includes almost the whole of the non-SWP membership of Respect.”

    Andy, apart from wishful thinking, what else do you base this on? The branch meetings that took place last week?

    Seriously, what?

  69. Ian Donovan on said:

    Resigning the whip voluntarily is obviously completely different from being deprived of the whip as a punishment short of expulsion. I’m surprised people can make such untenable arguments and think people will not see how weak they are.

    The only reason Clare Short has not been expelled from the Labour Party is that they consider it pointless since she is not seeking re-election next time. More trouble than it is worth. If she had resigned the whip with the intention of standing as an independent against Labour she would have been expelled as quickly as they could manage it.

    These councillors have resigned the Respect whip and set up an Independent Respect group with its own leader and deputy leader, a public, opposed group of councillors to the actual Respect group. Any group of representatives who resigned the Labour whip and set up an ‘Independent Labour’ group would be automatically expelled from Labour, and that would be the case even if there was no witchhunt against the left in Labour. If they were to the right of Labour and did that they would be expelled just as much as if they were to the left.

    Presumably in 2009 this bunch intend to stand for election as ‘Independent Respect’. They won’t be able to stand as Respect in any case.

  70. #69. I agree that its hard to forsee. However whilst I understand the idea of an ‘atmosphere of liberation’ I think this shows woefully poor political judgement. If only because I think, at the wider level (and Respect has always meant more then just the membership, and punched way above its weight in terms of reputation, not just nationally but globally as well) the most common reaction is one of disorientation, frustration and sadness.

    I also think that this rapid dismissal of the entire membership of Respect and their delegates as SWP stooges was not really a very smart move, which is not to say that its not very damaging. All the arguments about hidden agendas and what have you, I suspect will come back to haunt us all in different ways. The trouble is for me, that whilst its normal in these circumstances to wish failure and brimestone on ones opponents (the rather sad idea of a ‘competition’ between conferences), if this happens to either group in this, in the short term it will be very satisfying, but it’ll hardly be good news for the future long term. I don’t think there is any way to dress all this up as a marvelous success story, and I think its very foolish to do so.

    On the question of the victimisation of course SWP members will be campaigning around this issue. Its rather silly to suggest otherwise. As to spending too much time here, blame it on the fact that when this all started I was off sick with my wisdom tooth. In some senses as politically a significant a fact as the facts that have led to this political trainsmash.

  71. Mc #81

    There are no organised forces in respect backing the SWP – except for the miniscule CPGB/ Weekly Worker.

    At a national level, almost no non-SWP members of the NC back the SWP. And no organisation supporting Respect backs the SWP.

    the key branches of Respect, like Tower hamlets and South Birmingham do not support the SWP, and nor I understand do other places like North Manchester.

    Obvioulsy in small towns where Resepct is basically the SWP and one or two others, then these ones and twos may go with the SWP.

    But the proof will be after 17th November. You will be able to see how many non-SWP members are at the “official” Respect conference.

  72. My understanding is that the “Respect Loyalists” could not win a vote in Tower Hamlets Respect, even with only a third of those present being SWP members.

  73. Ger Francis on said:

    Post 79. The more embittered this gets, the more destructive it will get, the more likely it will end up in the courts. If possible, best to avoid all of that, I think.

    Post 80 & 83. Real strength lies with those who have an electoral base. The SWP do not. It is from that platform that Respect can be rebuilt and renewed. For an organisation that claims nearly 6,000 members, getting only 1,000 people to sign a petition posed in the gravest terms is very poor and only highlights how weak and poorly rooted the SWP actually are. It is regrettable the way things have turned out this way, but I know which side will be more confident about the possibilities of rebuilding.

  74. 5.

    2) How can we unite the Left into one electoral party? I personally believe there needs to be one major Left party, like in Germany, or we will never get anywhere. Within this party we need to be able to disagree on some things as long as all debate is geared towards making the party an electoral success. How can we get Respect, SWP, SP, and the Labour Left into ONE party? Is this even possible? How can we convince the Labour Left they are wasting their time? How can we get SWP members to become part of a much larger and broader party, without making them feel they are sacrificing their principles by leaving the SWP? How can we get the CNWP to say “Maybe this isn’t going to get us anywhere?” I also do not think that coalitions and united fronts work; it has to be a party. The SWP should be invited but only if they will put the new party ahead of their old one.Logan’s Log.

    The answer is dont even try.The wounds are deep and the mud has surely stuck this time..stuck to the SWP CC like shit to a shovel.And it stinks!

    Hopefully this will be a seminal learning lesson for all concerned for a long long time to come, especially regarding trying to work with and accomodate a so-called Left grouping(SWP),which has it’s own agenda, it’s own terms and it’s own dirty tricks.

    Now is the time for all genuine non sectarian Socialists to learn and absorb these lessons once and for all.The SWP CC cannot be trusted.We tolerate their antics and allow them to take control of groups and movements because they are more organised, ruthless and conniving.

    We need to be better organised and coordinated inorder to bypass their sly manoevres and devious manipulations in the furture.I do not believe they are interested in struggling for socialism. Never have been never will be.They are the very antithesis of socialists and only serve to brutally sabotage any attempt at any possiblity of any such struggle.

    SWP = SABOTAGE WORKING PARTY

    Move on, of course but learn and learn well in the process.

    Where there is common ground based on a shared understanding and practice of democracy, transparency and accountability,clear agreement and trust, there lies the basis for positive dialogue and possible cooperation.

  75. Left Respect, Declined SWP on said:

    Andy #84

    ‘the key branches of Respect, like Tower hamlets and South Birmingham do not support the SWP, and nor I understand do other places like North Manchester.

    Obvioulsy in small towns where Resepct is basically the SWP and one or two others, then these ones and twos may go with the SWP.’

    The ‘key branches’ you say? According to you. You mean those packed with sexist businessmen who’ve alienated four of their own Councillors?!

    Respect has large, active, successful branches outside London and Birmingham, and I’m not talking about small towns.

    Preston and Lancashire Respect is the obvious omission to your logic. Lavalette re-elected to Preston City Council with over 50% of the vote (mass working class votes from all ethnic and religious backgrounds for a white SWP Scot). Mukhtar Master only missed out on joining him by four votes. Frequent well-attended public events. Members of all ages, colours, religions, and an apparently equal gender balance. I think they’ll stay within Respect, as many of their non-SWP members (Respect activists known from Mosque community and ex-Labour backgrounds) have signed the petition dismissed above. Elaine Abbot (branch chair, ex-Labour) was the first name I noticed on the petition. That’s the great thing about Respect in Preston. No communalism, and there’s no Galloway/Muslim vs SWP. You can’t differentiate due to the volume of socialist Muslims and South Asians.

    Do you really believe these fine comrades will leave Respect, leaving their councillor (Lavalette) behind, to follow your new ‘Respect Renewal’ splinter party? You need them, I admit; talk about too many Chiefs – not enough Indians! But I can’t see it. They’ve built something that unites the whole community of Preston and parts of the County. A successful socialist branch where Muslims and socialists are often the same people. They might not be ‘key nrahces’ to you, but they beat what’s been going on in Tower Hamlets during recent months.

  76. Left Respect, Declined SWP #90

    Cllr Lavallette has done an excellent job, and their work in Preston is a credit to the SWP.

    They have not worked that way everywhere.

  77. Adam J on said:

    In reality, the majority of Respect branches are not polarised into two factions and the idea that Respect can neatly be split into two separate organisations is silly. The SWP are also a national organisation whereas the Galloway faction is principally based in Brum and Tower Hamlets (where the SWP faction also have a base with significant figures like Kumar Murshid allighing with them). I seriously doubt whether many of Respect’s elected representatives could have got elected without the national mobilisation of the SWPs rank and file. Can Galloway get elected in Poplar without the legwork of the SWP?

    Where I live, there may be Respect members who sympathise with the Respect Renewal conference and that faction but the idea of forming a separate organisation without the imense contribution of SWP members wouldn’t be popular or fruitful.

  78. #90 – Excellent post.

    It’s obvious why there are such glaring omissions on this blog though. They don’t fit with the ‘script’.

    And it’s pretty disgusting that so-called socialists are ignoring some very objectionable behaviour (that you touch upon) taking place in TH because of their obsession with getting one over on the SWP.

  79. £74,65,76 Good. Of course there are many issues to be discussed, sorted through and eventually sorted out. There are no short cuyts. I think it wilkl only be through growing grassroots cvampaigning with completely accountable, transparent procedures with elected and recallable delkegates and an outwards focus on the class stuggle that progress can be made.

    Will and the others’ comments that this has to be related to current events such as the Reissmann strike- an important dispute that must be won- are spot on. let’s hope more contributors take this approach.

  80. interesting how the swp spent so much time “ignoring some very objectionable behaviour” though, dont you think?

    not just in tower hamlets – but john rees seemed to be happy to work with linda smith until she disagreed with him, at which point he starts accusing her of being a ballot rigger in the fbu.

    the swp leadership has brought this on itself. and john rees deserves to be known as a scab for what he did on saturday.

  81. I also wonder about the idea that the main reason to boycott Respect’s conference is really just the fear of SWP packing. I think a deeper fear might be that the kinds of issues Adam raises might sway people, and therefore damage the prospects for a post-conference split.

  82. But thats not true Point. We were apparently guilty of ‘polarising behaviour’ in response to some of these problems. We did not it was true run around shouting about it outside the movement, but thats not the same thing.