Guest post from Ger Francis. (A response to Ger has been posted by David Hughes in the comments below, this contradicts some details of Ger’s account, but Ger’s substantial political point that Salma was removed as speaker at the planning meeting is not contradicted. Ger’s further response to David Hughes is here, we stand by this story as factually correct. )
Apparently, last night’s meeting of the Executive Committee of the Birmingham Trades Council was faced with a strange report. This came from the planning committee it had established to organise a conference on fighting privatisation in the West Midlands.
The minutes of the committee’s last meeting strangely failed to mention that of the three speaker invites initially proposed, the proposal to invite Salma Yaqoob had been voted down.
Noting that the committee had three SWP members present, including the local organiser Pete Jackson, many members of the Trades Council smelt a rat and asked for an explanation. The President, leading SWP member David Hughes, had also been present at the committee meeting but seemed unwilling to strongly defend the decision, simply repeating the formula that only trade union activists involved in the struggle should speak.
The rest of the Trades Council thought linking up with one of the only Councillors in Birmingham fighting privatisation would be a good thing, so after various attempts to let the matter drop, it was agreed that the Trades Council should write to Salma, inviting her to the conference. This took place with only one person opposed, David Hughes.
This incident shows that the sectarian trend in the SWP is becoming ever more pronounced and is spilling over to infect their united front work.
On the same night in Oxford SWP Central Committee members Martin Smith and Wyman Bennett, leading organisers in the Unite Against Fascism protest against Holocaust denier David Irving and BNP leader Nick Griffiths, refused to call George Galloway, the only MP on the protest, to speak to protesters from the UAF platform.