Who Can Speak For The People In The Leaders’ Debate

By Ian Drummond

It seems the main drama of the run-up to the election is going out more with a whimper than a bang tonight, a debate less of the Magnificent Seven than the Seven Dwarves. And what a pantomime it’s been, from the interminable debates about debates to the final dog’s breakfast of a resolution. The Presidential debate was fudged and thus dodged last week, substituting robust ideological debate between the only possible Prime Ministers with what almost seemed a bad marriage, in which they passed through the same rooms without saying a word to each other, on a day where Richard III of all people emerged as the most sympathetic character on live, event television. Now there seems to be no logic or fairness to which leaders and parties are and are not represented in the only proper national debate.

The primary blame must lie with Cameron, whose hypocritical cowardice and attempt to dodge scrutiny came across as plainly as the plum in his voice. That he fought off a head to head with Milliband to the bitter end, rather than grabbing it with both hands as a solution to the dilemma of Nigel Farage’s eclipsing of Nick Clegg, either gives the lie to his main campaign theme of denigrating the Labour leader as an incapable figure of fun, or else speaks to an extreme lack of confidence in his own case. Instead he demanded the inclusion of the Greens, then the broadcasters, as if in a game of poker, called his bluff then raised both of them the SNP and Plaid Cymru.

So tonight we’re left with a hodgepodge of parties of varying size and significance, some national to Britain and others nationalists wanting to leave Britain, with other parties both nationalist and national of equivalent size and significance left out. And crucially, at a time when politics has never been crying out for it more, no one to speak out clearly and decisively against the Westminster elite and its various iron clad consensuses from austerity to war, not because no such party or leader exists but because they have been excluded.

Of course Cameron’s Green manoeuvre could be seen as an attempt to give Labour a UKIP problem of its own and outflank it to its left, but to imagine Cameron was ever happy to see his record subjected to the kind of forensic scrutiny a serious left representative could bring to bear is to give him too much credit, given his attitude even to debating Ed Milliband. In fact it may have just been a stalling technique, but another, deeply cynical explanation surely became apparent to many after Natalie Bennett’s infamous “brain freeze” moment, or in the interview where she implied membership ISIS and al-Qaeda should be legal as long as the members didn’t break the laws against violence. A distinction without a difference if ever there was one, catnip to the anti-“PC gone mad” bigots, and the most asinine argument imaginable in defence the beleaguered Muslim community, almost 100% of whom have no interest in joining ISIS, while the handful that do have no interest in setting up a legal organisation even if given the chance. And a gaffe that could now be used against her whenever she makes a sensible and potentially very popular point against austerity. So while the Greens are to the left of the Labour leadership on a range of issues, and have been having a successful few months’ recruitment, to imagine they’re about to emerge as a British Syriza or Podemos is pretty far-fetched, and to be blunt the fact they replaced the very talented Caroline Lucas with Bennett as leader, so soon after a bloody battle inside the party just to establish the leader role, is symptomatic of why that is. On a side note the Greens aren’t even a national party but officially the Green Party of England and Wales, and instead of taking a principled position either way on the monumental issue of the Scottish referendum deferred to the Scottish Greens who joined most of the trendy left in an unprincipled tailing of Scottish nationalism.

Which neatly brings us to the broadcasters first addition to the field, and there’s no doubt that the Scottish National Party are newsworthy these days. In fact they fit the bill for “Labour’s UKIP” better than the Greens, and in fact will most likely do far more damage to Labour than UKIP will to the Tories. The irony is that just a few months ago one of their main arguments for leaving Britain was the inferiority of first past the post to the Scottish Parliament’s proportional electoral system, but now that same hated Westminster system looks set to give them almost every seat in Scotland for 45%of the vote and of course they don’t seem to mind but rather pretend to speak for all Scots. It’s true that their new leader is to the left of her predecessor, though she’s shown this more so far by dropping his Thatcherite policy of cutting corporation tax than by any great initiative of her own, and it’s also true the SNP leadership is to the left of the Blairite leader of Scottish Labour but then so is Ed Milliband, which seems to be the main reason Jim Murphy returned to tics in the first place. So despite adopting ferocious rhetoric on austerity, and being a far slicker political machine than the Greens, the SNP can at best be seen as temporary and slippery allies by those they are now courting south of the border.

A look at their now 8 years in government in Scotland, with barely a redistributive measure in sight, zero money put aside to fight austerity in the coming year, Tory cuts including the vile bedroom tax passed on (until they were forced reluctantly to use the powers of devolution against it) and friendly relations with the likes of Donald Trump and even Rupert Murdoch after the hacking scandal, shows that whatever else the SNP are they are no socialists. And on the iconic red line of Trident Sturgeon has both ruled out and left open the possibility of backing down more than once; it may yet be that Trident will be to the SNP as fees were to the LibDems. In any case any attempt to reform Britain as a whole will always be a poor second for them to the true aim of splitting it and leaving the English working people to fend for themselves, if against a strengthened Conservative Party then so be it. Ominously for the future of the country the Tories and SNP are already feeding off each other to get support in the election, and the Scottish-English chasm this is opening up will always be more of a prize for the nationalists than any progressive policy or even power at a British level.

That the SNP, given the post-referendum political earthquake in Scotland, were included may be understandable. That the broadcasters then included Plaid Cymru, and nobody else, is inexplicable. While Scottish politics has been transformed by nationalism in recent times, Welsh nationalism remains stagnant, with devolution and a brief coalition with Plaid having actually strengthened Welsh Labour. Wales is now one of the most stable, least decisive battlegrounds of this whole unstable and unpredictable election. The Plaid leader Leanne Wood is an estimable person, a self described socialist, but isn’t even a legend in her own manor of Wales let alone in the country as a whole. There has been no surge in Plaid membership, and they’re about as unlikely to differ from the SNP at this point, given the affinity and imbalance, as the Scottish Greens would have been to add anything genuinely different and significant had Patrick Harvie been included alongside Natalie Bennett. That Plaid have been included while none of the Northern Ireland parties have been is one of the biggest examples of why the debate is such a mess. The Republicans and Unionists in Norhtern Ireland may agree about very little, but the DUP and Sinn Fein, at the very least, would both be right to see themselves as more significant than Plaid, both in size and by being in government. And most importantly of all perhaps in the size of their Westminster contingents, especially as the DUP may yet prop up a Tory government just short of a majority and almost did last time, had Cameron not come too far short. The rest of Britain might like to see who would be calling the shots in that most reactionary of several possible outcomes, in fact it may well affect some people’s votes.

The broadcasters’ final gaping omission is even more serious, in that an all-Britain party and leader that met all the criteria so inconsistently applied elsewhere is not appearing, despite being the only one who could truly hold Cameron and the Westminster elite to account, without the complications of the Greens and the not so hidden agendas of the nationalists. George Galloway is the greatest orator of his generation, his every appearance on Question Time an event; it’s a point of consensus even by those who don’t like him that no-one else could have done what he did at the US Senate, and Alex Salmond paid him a backhanded compliment in the Scottish referendum by refusing to debate him. More importantly for this debate, his party Respect has exactly the same amount of MPs as the Greens and until the defection of two Tories had far more than UKIP. Unlike Plaid it is currently going through a surge, with councillors defecting from Labour and all ex-Respect councillors returning (a feat no other party has managed on such a scale as far as I know, not that UKIP for one would want to given the way it usually parts company with its councillors!), new bases being set up such as in Halifax and George’s own re-election against a shambolic Labour party looking more assured by the day. The real reason the Westminster bubble apes the Scottish separatist in refusing to debate him looks suspiciously like fear and bias, but that doesn’t look like it will be able to stop a second Bradford Spring.

What it will stop, regrettably, is the debate audience hearing a coherent and incisive alternative to the discredited mainstream, on a raft of issues now set to be overlooked or reduced to an almost parodic false dichotomy. On domestic politics and the national question on this island this will perhaps be easiest of all to see, with the SNP (and Plaid), and Cameron and Farage, creating an impression of Thatcherite Britain/England versus left wing Celtic separatism. The case Labour should make and used to be good at making about class solidarity across medieval imaginary borders may yet be namechecked by Milliband, but however well he puts it his party is now hamstrung in Scotland by the disastrous decision to fight the referendum jointly with the Tories. Scotland and England, and working people the world over, really are better together, but Labour and the Tories really were not. George Galloway on the other hand played a decisive role in the campaign to save Britian, independently of the sclerotic and disastrous official No campaign. His Just Say Naw tour reached tens of thousands of working class and left wing Scots, pointing out the practical holes in the SNP’s vision of independence, the Thatcherite nature of Salmond’s key pledges, the ugliness that petty nationalism was creating and the wider labourite case for workers’ unite across this small island. Although Gordon Brown’s late intervention was definitely also significant, the semi-official history that makes him the sole saviour of the union, let alone gives credit to the Better Together campaign which perhaps did more than the effective Yes campaign to turn a 70/30 initial split against separation into 55/45, is self defeatingly wrong to airbrush out both Galloway’s contribution and the politics it represents. While the working class, anti-establishment nature of his battle for Britain may preclude being offered a knighthood for his role in saving the country, he certainly deserves better than to have the Labour candidate of all people use his campaign to keep Scotland in the union and not doom the north of England to perpetual Tory governments as a reason to vote him out in Bradford.

On his speciality of foreign affairs, far from making the anti-war movement look silly by talk of legalising ISIS and al-Qaeda if only they’d be non-violent, George Galloway was until very recently the only person in frontline British politics warning against ISIS at a time when the Cameron government wanted to bomb Syria in an effective military alliance with them. Respect’s position in defence of minorities sees it often crudely labelled a Muslim party, yet it was for a time Respect almost alone in British politics that stood up for the minorities, including Christian minorities in the lands where Christ himself lived, now threatened with annihilation by jihadis funded mainly by the West’s allies in the Gulf, such friends of liberty as Saudi Arabia. While Churchill was feted as “the man who was right”, put in the Cabinet and shortly became Prime Minister when his warnings about the Nazis turned out to be true, Galloway’s prescience on ISIS was airbrushed from the political narrative when our leaders belatedly came round to the understanding that they were seriously bad news. When he tried to bring his experience to bear by warning against playing into the hands of ISIS again by giving them the bombing campaign they were effectively asking for, he was heckled by both sides of the House of Commons, one MP even saying they “didn’t want a history lesson”, while Jacqui Smith on This Week acknowledged his point that the Iraq War had killed a million people by saying it was a different issue, and so presumably didn’t matter!

In fact it seems like a theme in George Galloway’s political life that his prescience, because it upsets the establishment, ends up being held against him. On Iraq there are now few people who would argue against his main point that it was an illegal immoral unwinnable war, yet his ferocious opposition to Tony Blair’s warmongering still sees him treated as persona non grata by much of the political mainstream, even as Blair himself becomes more and more of a liability to Labour. On Palestine his campaigning of now 40 years standing for the rights of the Palestinian people has never seemed more obviously correct, as Netanyahu wins an election in Israel on an openly racist campaign and increasingly cuts ties with almost all international players bar the rabid wing of the US Republican Party. Yet instead of being hailed for being right all along, Galloway is first brutally beaten in the streets by an extreme Israel supporter without a single public condolence from any mainstream politician, then attacked on Question Time as an anti-semite by a loaded audience, with the chair and other panellists complicit. This despite his being, as on ISIS Syria, pretty much the only British politician to call out the fascist nature of many of the west’s allies in the Ukraine, final solution nostalgics now in the government coalition of a land where much of the final solution took place. Even his robust defence of Julian Assange, the issue that proved most controversial for him on the left, and saw him traduced by the Scottish Green leader without context or decency as a rape denier in front of thousands of schoolchildren in the biggest debate of the independence referendum, has recently become far harder to fault him for as the new Swedish government has itself backed down and agreed to question Assange in London after all, as they could and should have at any time since 2010.

Given all of this it’s no wonder the establishment, both political and media, would never willingly invite him to their party, as he is so very well placed and inclined to spoil it. And to do so on behalf of working people, of all colours, creeds and all parts of this small island. That real labour, socialist and anti-imperialist tradition, not separatist nationalism dressed up as old labour, is the alternative Britain needs, and in excluding the former while over-representing the latter the broadcasters put our fragile union more at risk. Just as well then that big media companies are trusted about as much as politicians these days…

197 comments on “Who Can Speak For The People In The Leaders’ Debate

  1. I think this is unfair:

    ” Welsh nationalism remains stagnant, with devolution and a brief coalition with Plaid having actually strengthened Welsh Labour. Wales is now one of the most stable, least decisive battlegrounds of this whole unstable and unpredictable election. The Plaid leader Leanne Wood is an estimable person, a self described socialist, but isn’t even a legend in her own manor of Wales let alone in the country as a whole.”

    The problem that Plaid has is one of success, I remember discussing this when I interviewed Leanne when she stood for leader. Plaid have achieved the party’s immediate aims, over a number of years, of Welsh language parity, devolution, and they secured a referendum as part of the One Wales coalition agreement that secured increased powers for the Senedd.

    Wales is a very different political landscape to Scotland, in that Welshness and the Welsh language has a very assertive and distinct cultural footprint, which is institutionally underwritten by S4C, bilingualism, and the use of Welsh language at all levels in the education system (it is possible to start at primary school and go on to graduate with a degree without ever being taught in English), but support for independence is very low indeed, around 3% even as an aspiration (to put that in perspective, similar to levels of support for Cornish independence).

    It is entirely to Plaid’s credit that they have been a consistently left of centre party – the only party in Westminster to oppose the Falklands war for example – while maintaining a predominatly rural electorate.

    But the question is raised, what is Plaid exactly for any more? And Leanne has a very difficult job in squaring that particular circle.

  2. My thoughts on the leadership debate:

    Ed Miliband – Competent, confident, and sure. Came across as moral and decent. Definitely grown in stature these past few weeks.

    Leanne Wood – Passionate, authentic, and human. Great comment re austerity on backs of the poor.

    Nicola Sturgeon – Played a blinder. Very strong.

    Natalie Bennet – Disappointing, lacked gravitas and lost the plot when she veered onto protecting wildlife, etc.

    Nick Clegg – Failed the Bob Monkhouse test re faking sincerity. Spoke as if the last 5 years didn’t happen.

    David Cameron – As expected.

    Nigel Farage – Out and out scumbag. He unravelled and his comment re HIV plumbed new depths of disgust. Man is an insult to common decency.

  3. Ian Drummond on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Fair point Andy, though my central point stands that Plaid isn’t having a surge like the SNP or indeed Respect. Perhaps I should have said Welsh separatism rather than Welsh nationalism was stagnant, even some members of Plaid aren’t pro-independence. From a Scottish perspective the Welsh mix of cultural self determination, Labour dragged to the left and no appetite for a messy divorce looks pretty enviable I must say…

  4. Omar on said:

    I think Labour better face the fact they’ll have to do a deal with the SNP to get back into power after Nicola Sturgeon’s performance. I always knew that Labour would have to be dragged leftward from an external party as the Blair years have rendered the left-wing inside the party largely toothless. Maybe a Labour/SNP coalition will allow the Right in Labour to be challenged more effectively and openly ?

  5. Ian Drummond: From a Scottish perspective the Welsh mix of cultural self determination, Labour dragged to the left and no appetite for a messy divorce looks pretty enviable I must say…

    I think that is a good point. and both Wesh Labour and Plaid have behaved as responsible, grown up politicians.

  6. jim mclean on said:

    Why deal with the SNP, they know if the pull down a minority Labour govenment like they did in 79 they woul be destroyed as they were in 79. Besides ED should be going all out for the English vote, if UKIP drain more from the Tories than Labour, who knows.

  7. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Jim McLean – this harping back, and whinging, to the SNP from 1979, I was there, I see here and elsewhere on social media by supporters of the Labour Party completely misses the historical point. We are in a completely different economic and social epoch. The reality is there is no comparison to 1979 because for one thing the SNP are no longer the “Tartan Tories”, as they were in the 1960s/70s, and the Labour Party is no longer a working class party. You all need to wake up and smell the new situation in the social and political landscape of Scotland and Britain that will take place after the General Election and stop acting like political dinosaurs. For socialists in Scotland the central issue, while defending the right of nations and minorities to self-determination – including the right to independence – is the burning need to build new mass working-class parties with socialist policies and fighting trade unions across all parts of the UK and beyond. There is no solution to the problems facing the working class under capitalism. The unity of the working class is even more crucial in this volatile and changing. I leave an article, I would be grateful if it could be published to stimulate political debate, by the National Secretary of the Socialist Party Scotland, Philip Stott, about Scotland and the General Election and its impact on British relations.
    http://www.socialismtoday.org/187/scotland.html

  8. Vanya on said:

    #7 If the SNP are serious about getting the most progressive result possible for the whole of Britain from the forthcoming general election, including resisting austerity, they will inevitably have to make compromises on the independence question.

    Given that (a) Scotland in fairly evenly divided on the issue, and (b) a progressive federal arrangement between Scotland, England and Wales is the best solution in reality, this would in fact be a good thing.

    As for your position:

    On the one hand, you clearly believe that the key issues in Scotland are class ones, related to similar issues in the rest of Britain (not to mention other countries), which is presumably why you have broken with Tommy Sheridan on the question of the SNP in spite of the nice things you say about them, but on the other you can’t bear the thought of being seen outside of the nationalist upsurge, even though what you actually argue for is outwith the central demand of that movement.

    Going on about the right of Scotland to self determination in this context, as if this is a big deal is bemusing, because I don’t know anyone who actually says otherwise.

    I may be wrong. If so, who actually says that Scotland should be forced to remain in the UK even if the Scottish people in a majority were to vote for independence? Was that referendum an academic exercise?

    If you think a federal arrangement would be best, why not argue for this as a clear position distinct from independence?

  9. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Vanya – you know my political position as a member of the Socialist Party Scotland and that is for “for an independent socialist Scotland as part of a voluntary socialist confederation with England, Wales and Ireland as a step to a socialist Europe.” It was pilloried on here during the discussion before the Referendum and now doubt will be ridiculed now and in the future until it becomes a material idea by the working class in Scotland.

    I/We do not support a Federal Britain on a capitalist basis just as I/We do not support an independent Scotland on a capitalist basis so I will not be advocating, or arguing for, a federal arrangement within Britain. What is being said within the some circles of the ruling class, who are terrified of the break-up of Britain, that some arrangement along a capitalist federal constitution with a British parliament as a final arbitrator, like the House of Lords, is a better solution than a break up and all its consequences on the national question in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which will rebound into the South.

    The irony is that all those people who have joined the SNP since the Referendum vote joined because they considered it was the easiest route to Independence which would mean to them an end to the conditions of austerity. Every week when I am out in the street or at political events, I was outside the SNP conference last Saturday on a STUC/STUSC demo talking to the delegates and that is what is continually being said. So yes self-determination is a big thing in a very distorted way it is a means to end austerity; but that will not happen under a capitalist SNP government in Scotland or working with Labour, if Labour is the biggest party after the election, on a British scale. The SNP leadership since the September referendum have said that a new referendum is not on the cards in the next five years, that outcome I believe could be decided by the class dynamics in Scotland rather than the new people who have joined the SNP. The new people have very little political voice in the SNP and it is under the control of a pro-capitalist leadership who will, and are, carrying out cuts at a national and local level.

    I believe I have said elsewhere about Tommy Sheridan so I post The Socialist Party Scotland statement for you to read. However, without sounding insulting, which I am not intending to be, you and many of the comments here just do not understand the dynamics that have taken place since the referendum and it has nothing to do with what you say as “you can’t bear the thought of being seen outside of the nationalist upsurge, even though what you actually argue for is outwith the central demand of that movement.” As socialist we explain that there is no solution to the problems facing the working class under capitalism, and actually Tommy Sheridan and the majority of the Left in Scotland do argue that point, and that is why we are building and campaigning for Scottish TUSC in this General Election, the Scottish Elections in 2016 and the Scottish Local Elections in 2017. STUSC are both an anti-austerity coalition and a pro-socialist coalition and we argue that the SNP is the opposite in both these cases and once those thousands of people who have joined the SNP have seen through experience there will be a sea change in political consciousness in Scotland. That is why the Socialist Party Scotland advocates an independent socialist Scotland as part of a voluntary socialist confederation with England, Wales and Ireland as a step to a socialist Europe.
    http://socialistpartyscotland.org.uk/2015/03/14/why-socialist-party-scotland-has-left-solidarity/

  10. Factory Whistle on said:

    Jimmy Haddow says “You all need to wake up and smell the new situation in the social and political landscape of Scotland and Britain that will take place after the General Election and stop acting like political dinosaurs.”

    A man who’s a member of the CWI cult suggesting that others are “political dinosaurs”

  11. Vanya on said:

    #9 “…I/We do not support an independent Scotland on a capitalist basis.”… which of course would have been the result of voting “yes” in the referendum.

    So your logical position would have been to abstain or even to vote “no” . The least logical position would have been to vote “yes”.

    Remind me of what your position was.

  12. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    [Admin note: well well well, we allow Jimmy back to post here, and what does he do? Exactly what he always does: copies and pastes directly from Socialist Party articles and claims it’s his own work. Jimmy we’ve told you: when you speak with your own voice, you’re welcome here. But when you assume the mask of a cult, dishonestly acting as if you’re writing your own words when you’re doing nothing of the sort, we won’t allow it through.]

  13. Vanya on said:

    # 12 Thanks comrade.

    #9 Also Jimmy, do you have an answer to my question about self-determination?

    When you put this forward as a demand, who exactly are you arguing against?

    Precisely, is there anyone who argues that the Scots should not have the right to decide on whether they should be independent from the rest of Britain?

    And if so, who are they?

  14. Uncle Albert on said:

    John: Nicola Sturgeon – Played a blinder.

    Nicola Sturgeon has blown Labour’s tough on immigrants/tough on benefit claimants/tough on the unemployed approach clean out of the water. She has shown that, by forefronting social justice, a party can achieve mass appeal.

    Labour’s elite will no longer be able to credibly insist on an election strategy that relies on UKIP/Tory-determined triangulation and pro-corporate positioning presented by any one of the Blairite clones that populate Labour’s shadow cabinet.

    Well done, Nicola.

  15. Vanya on said:

    #18 How much campaigning were you doing while you were boring everyone stupid about tank production or the caliber of weapons fired during thr Kartyn massacre?

    You arrogant dickhead.

  16. anti-idiot on said:

    Who can speak for the people? I don’t think it will be TUSC.

    This picture shows Warrington TUSC and Merseyside TUSC campaigning together against Ed Milliband, someone who in TUSCs eyes is one of the biggest traitors against the working class.

    Look at the picture. That’s all TUSC could get together. 6 people.

    https://twitter.com/TUSCoalition/status/584389507648249856

  17. Vanya on said:

    #15 I didn’t cut it (not that I ‘m admin).

    I bet if you did simply tell me whether there are political forces who oppose the right of the Scottish people to decide to be independent and, if so, identify them, that this would not be censored.

    If that really is all you posted then the admin are well out of order. In fact, if you give a straight answer to my question in your own words and it gets removed I will stop commenting on this site myself in solidarity with you.

  18. SU admin on said:

    Vanya: If that really is all you posted then the admin are well out of order.

    His comment was replaced by an admin notice.

    Jimmy did exactly the thing that got him deleted before: he wrote a post full of “I” stuff, but all you had to do was put random parts of it into google to see that he had copied and pasted verbatim articles from his cult.

    Again, to be clear – the problem is when someone comes on here pretending to be an individual when they are not posting as an individual. It is dishonest and cult-like behaviour and it’s not welcome here.

    When Jimmy posts his own words, he is welcome.

    He has yet to comprehend what we keep telling him. He thinks that because he *believes* the same things as his cult, he can pass off their articles as his own work. That’s not how it works.

    We don’t let anyone use this blog for that. Another member of a tiny cult started doing the same thing, and we deleted his (it’s always men) posts as well.

    As you later said Vanya, you would want Jimmy to answer in his own words. If he does that, he has nothing to worry about.

    But this blog’s admins have shown dozens of examples of Jimmy pretending to be writing on his own behalf when he has actually copied and pasted wholesale; in the cases where we’ve deleted his comments, around 99% of the content has a direct lift from his cult newsaper, with the words “Socialist Party” replaced with the word “I”.

  19. jim mclean on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,

    I fear the SNP, I fear an Independent Scotland because we have reached a situation where the majority of Scots within the UK can have that citizenship taken from them by a minority. The SNP are the Tartan Tories, their austerity attacks on the poor are hidden. As a kinship carer I am awarded financial help from my local authority. The SNP are taking this help away from me without an utterance from left or right. In some areas of Scotland families, usually grandparents like myself, will be losing up to £180 per week, although in my case it is considerably less. Now lets examine free prescriptions, no money was directed towards the local health boards to pay for this I believe and it comes the general budget and therefore leads to a collapse of services and quality in the frontline. Does this make sense, I can get a packe of paracetamol from a cutprice supermarket for around 32p. Or I can, as many do, get it free from Boots the chemist under minor ailments legislation at a cost far exceding this 32p. The SNP talk bullshit about zero hour contracts while forcing local authorities and HE establishments to implement them as they slowly starve them on cash through their obscene council tax freeze. The are killing the poor, hammering the weakest and you are kissing their arses as they pump what little money there is towards the middle classes. One thing, in 1979 the SNP were right of centre civic nationalists, now they work within the construct of “race” at all levels. Scottish Labour has a lot of solid footsoldiers, unfortunately the officer corp are not up to it. I wish I lived in Eastwood so I could vote Tory just to piss Murph off. That would be my portillo moment.

  20. Vanya on said:

    #23 I think you can trust me to be pretty sure that you didn’t censor him for giving me a straightforward answer in his own words.

    Come on Jimmy, it’s not that difficult surely?

  21. SU admin on said:

    We have always enjoyed Jimmy’s posts when he talks from his own mind, experiences and life, not by re-posting a CWI article with “we” changed to “I”.

  22. Uncle Albert on said:

    jim mclean: Scottish Labour has a lot of solid footsoldiers, unfortunately the officer corp are not up to it.

    Where I live, down south, most solid foot soldiers were chased out of the party during the New Labour era. Some, who I knew personally, left after a lifetime of active support for Labour and never received as much as a ‘thank you’.

    I remember discussing this (when Brown was PM) with my CLP. “We don’t need door-knockers anymore,” I was assured, “we have money in the bank and when we want to communicate with the electorate we can take out adverts in local press.”

  23. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 24 – Jim McLean – you address this rant at me! Your point is……what?

  24. Vanya on said:

    #28 Not rocket science.

    You defended the SNP when Jim attacked them, saying they have changed for the better. Jim’s explaining why he doesn’t agree.

    Now perhaps you could answer my question.

    To remind you, (a) does anyone believe that the Scottish people should not have right to independence if they choose it?, (b) if so, who are they?

  25. George Hallam on said:

    Vanya: How much campaigning were you doing while you were boring everyone stupid about tank production or the caliber of weapons fired during thr Kartyn massacre?

    Enough to get on TV.

  26. Vanya on said:

    #30 But you could have done so much more though George had you not spent all that time commenting on here.

    What a waste.

  27. jim mclean on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,

    God almighty, it was not a rant, I am hurting because of SNP policies my family is hurting. Beneath the facade the SNP are what we know they are, Bourgeois Nationalists, with little thought of the WC. I have expressed my concerns, I was actually trying to open up some sort of discourse with you outwith the STUSC / CWI discourse. No attack on you, just offering a chance to chew the fat in relation to the largest party in Scotland. Independence is an irrelevance really, the SNP are not.

  28. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Christ almighty Jim McLean do you honestly not know me know through this blog. I am a socialist, not a left nationalist like Colin Fox from the Scottish Socialist Party or Tommy Sheridan from Solidarity; or a bourgeoisie nationalist like Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond, et al. I believe in since 1995 the building of a new workers’ party and the socialist transformation of society in an independent Socialist Scotland as part of a socialist confederation with the rest of the component parts of Britain and Ireland. Why would I want to discuss a discourse that is out with the means of building a new workers’ party through Scottish TUSC and the building of the ideas of socialism within the anti-austerity and workers’ movement inside Scotland and the rest of Britain and through-out the world. Get real will you. I am on the streets every week arguing against middle class and working class people who consider that the SNP are the way forward against austerity and the creation of a different society, I was at the STUC and Scottish TUSC demonstration outside the SNP conference last week against their austerity policies in Scotland, and I am arguing the only way that can be achieved concretely is the creation of an independent working class political representation which has a pro-socialist policy. You do not accept that; that is fine but I do not need to, what is the words you use, “chew the fat” about a capitalist political party I am campaigning against. God almighty I despair at the theoretical ignorance and political low level of some of the contributions on this website. I suggest that you read my posts on seven and nine and the commentaries I posted with them to understand my personal and political position, and for Vanya’s benefit on the national question as well, . After all as the 1970s feminists used to say, quote, “ the personal is political”, unquote.

  29. Vanya on said:

    #30 “…The reality is there is no comparison to 1979 because for one thing the SNP are no longer the “Tartan Tories”, as they were in the 1960s/70…”

  30. jim mclean on said:

    Vanya,

    Point is they have moved from right wing civic nationalists to ethnic nationalists, I can’t work with that.

  31. John Grimshaw on said:

    Vanya:
    #28Not rocket science.

    You defended the SNP when Jim attacked them, saying they havechanged for the better. Jim’s explaining why he doesn’t agree.

    Now perhaps you could answer my question.

    To remind you, (a) does anyone believe that the Scottish people should not have right to independence if they choose it?, (b) if so, who are they?

    Well…I don’t know anyone on the left or on the centre who thinks that the Scots shouldn’t have independence if they wanted it. Hell yes even Lenin would’ve agreed with that position. But since I’m hardly the most knowledgable about the British left that doesn’t mean to say there aren’t some wackos out there. The right/far right is presumably a different case. That being said just because the scots have the right doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. I disagreed with a yes vote in the referendum not because I’m pro Union like the labour leadership but because I beleive in a United working class not the sowing of nationalist illusions. Also because I don’t think the Scots were ever oppressed (with the exception of the Highlanders but a lot of the oppression was done by other Scots) I see no need for socialists to support the creation of a new nation state. I think Jim MacClean’s point above illustrates some of the reality of these SNP “new socialists” on the ground. Which brings us to the oddity of the SP’s position. Vote yes but don’t agree with a capitalist Indepedent Scotland? If Scotland had’ve voted yes did they expect a Socialist revolution straight away afterwards?

  32. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,

    Hi Jimmy Haddow. I have no doubt your sincerity as a socialist and a TUSC campaigner, but read my comment to Vanya above. I don’t understand how the SP think they could square the circle on the national question…specifically in this case Scotland. calling for a yes vote meant a capitalist dominated Scotland. Why not call for abstention instead and carry on campaigning for the issues that matter thus attempting to place yourselves in a better position whatever the referendum decision.

  33. Vanya on said:

    #38 Exactly. Putting forward the demand for self determination including the right to independence in this discussion seems a little formalistic given that it doesn’t seem to be the issue.

    Of course when Lenin was writing about it, posing self-determination as a demand of the socialist movement, the Tsarist Empire was holding huge swathes of people within its borders and giving them no choice in the matter..

    #39
    What it does have the effect of doing is giving some credence to the concept of Scotland as an oppressed nation, which is the sentiment that runs through the narrative of the nationalist left (even though most of them refuse to acknowledge this), and even though the CWI explicitly reject its immediate goal, an independent capitalist Scotland.

    The most sensible position for the working class and progressive movements of England, Scotland and Wales is progressive federalism.

    This issue has been posed already in Scotland and Wales and is now being posed again in England, specifically in Greater Manchester, where the government and the combined local authorities are attempting to foist pseudo-devolution on the local population, leading to demands for a referendum and a democratic debate on real devolution.

  34. Uncle Albert on said:

    jim mclean: they [the SNP] have moved from right wing civic nationalists to ethnic nationalists

    I find myself wondering how the SNP’s alleged ‘ethnic nationalism’ differs from Scottish Labour’s commitment to “work for the patriotic interest of the people of Scotland.”

    However, if I had a vote in Scotland, I’d vote for whichever anti-austerity party has the best chance of gaining influence. This seems to be the most promising way to develop a consensus against the LibLabCon’s punish-the-poor agenda.

  35. jim mclean on said:

    Uncle Albert,

    Not much difference, but the difference is Labour are jumping on a bandwagon and the changes in the SNP are coming from the membership not the leadership, sad really on both cases.

  36. jim mclean on said:

    Vanya: The most sensible position for the working class and progressive movements of England, Scotland and Wales is progressive federalism.

    Been my favoured option for a while.

  37. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    A quote from Kevin McKenna’s article, see below, in the Guardian:
    “The tragedy for the Labour party in Scotland in this scenario is that, for the first time since its formation, its usefulness as the preferred vehicle for social change will have been deemed to be obsolete by its own people. In the face of such a profound shift in a people’s social and political consciousness, slogans such as “Vote SNP, get Tory” or “The biggest party always forms the government” are as worthless as two blows on a ragman’s trumpet.

    “The SNP have yet to prove, in eight years of government in Scotland, that they are a radicalising force. Their promise to create a more socially progressive society is being taken on trust. A heavy toll will be exacted if, in five years’ time, the landscape of Scotland’s society hasn’t altered significantly.”

    Even before the next General Election the SNP will prove they will have not altered the Scottish landscape because they will demonstrated that they are no different to the other establishment parties and the task of the Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is to provide an anti-austerity and pro-socialist pole of attraction for the coming few years.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/05/scotland-snp-revolution-terrifies-main-parties

  38. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    POST 40 says “The most sensible position for the working class and progressive movements of England, Scotland and Wales is progressive federalism.” Pseudo-Stalinist verbiage if I have ever heard. No such thing as a progressive federalism; it is either capitalist or socialist, in other words it is a class federalism. Of course I support a socialist federation that is why as a socialist I will campaign for an independent socialist Scotland as part of a socialist confederation of England, Wales and Ireland as a step to a European socialist federation, etc, etc etc. As I said I despair at the extremely low theoretical and political level of some of the contributions on this thread.

  39. Vanya on said:

    #45 Was the independent Scotland on offer in the referendum last year capitalist or socialist?

  40. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    What is with the inane and vacuous question Vanya, think my for yourself, I have given you enough clues; anybody would think you are an internet troll? Of course you may not be an internet troll but an Empiricist, that is having no theoretical knowledge but only seeing what is in front of your nose by experience, which means you can never see the bigger picture. Read the socialist material I have provided for you and work it out yourself, I am not going to spoon feed you, that is not what political education is all about; even though in the post-modernist theoretical world that is what they think it is!

  41. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,

    You support Scottish independence – but you don’t want an independent capitalist Scotland

    You want an independent socialist Scotland – but you don’t believe socialism in a single country is possible.

    You don’t want a progressive federalism of England, Scotland and Wales – but you do want a socialist federation of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

    And YOU despair at OUR failure to understand you?????

  42. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Posts 48 and 49 – LOL. I have to watch what I say from now on or I may stray into “cultish” behaviour and be banned for it. Reflecting on my previous post Vanya about the Empiricistic thinking you are displaying, what I am trying to say to you that a more deeper analysis that is required just is not allowed, so that is the reason why I am directing you to reading the commentaries I have posted by the Socialist Party Scotland. The fact is Vanya, the fixed questions you ask need a deeper analysis which will reveal the various contradictory tendencies which underlie even the most fixed, solid and immutable social questions which eventually will lead to them being transformed into their opposites. In order to get a real understanding of social and political life it is necessary to take things, not just as they are, but also as they have been and as they necessarily will become. All your queries, and now Karl Stewart has stuck his oar in, are perfunctory on the surface in front of your nose questions that cannot be answered in pithy SUN style observations. For example, what was the Independence Referendum about? What it started as, was not what it ended as. What is started as was a section of the Scottish political capitalist elite and ruling class wanting a bigger piece of the cake and it ended up being used by the Scottish working class victims of austerity to use the referendum as a weapon to hit back at the political establishment. To understand this is not explained in a few words. So what I am going to do is leave you an article from December 2012 on socialism and the Scottish referendum for you to read and digest. I suggest you read it because it answers many of your questions in a rounded out way as all social questions should be looked at.
    http://socialistpartyscotland.org.uk/2012/12/02/socialist-party-scotland-and-the-independence-referendum/

  43. Vanya on said:

    #50 The problem is Jimmy that I don’t believe that reading that piece you link to will answer the first question I asked you. The second was obviously rhetorical.

    More to the point, I always suspect that when someone refuses to give a simple answer to a simple question it’s because they don’t actually know what it is.

    Perhaps if you were to say, “the answer is ‘x’, and this text will explain why,’ I might be more tempted to read it.

    By the way, now I’ve quoted your defence of the SNP against Jim McLean’s attack on them any comment?

  44. Jimmy Haddow: you ask need a deeper analysis which will reveal the various contradictory tendencies which underlie even the most fixed, solid and immutable social questions which eventually will lead to them being transformed into their opposites.

    Do all social questions turn into their opposites? Or just some of them? And do they then change back into the opposite of the opposite, in a negation of the negation sort of way? If so, how can we tell what stage any given question is at? By the time we think of an answer to the question, it may have turned into a different question. Or the opposite question. Or something.

    At times, I’m really glad to be an empiricist…

  45. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    POST 51 – The obstruction you have Vanya is that you are not willing to learn about something you do not understand which leads to your one-sided and short-sighted Empiricism. On the contrary I am involved in Scottish social life and discuss day in day out with working and middle class people about the political and social events that are taking place in Scotland. I am also involved in actual political activity in Scotland, which includes discussion within in the Socialist Party Scotland; that is the reason my turns of phrase in my writings are misconstrued as being anything else than my words. So quite frankly I DO know what I am talking about and you DO NOT. That is why I ask you to read the commentaries I post so maybe you will learn something about the momentous events that have taken place over the past 30 months that have changed the political character of Scotland which will feed into the political and social character of Britain after the election. At this moment I do not know how the result is going to pan out, but whatever happens it will speed up or slow down the Independence process and debate and speed up or slow down the building of an alternative independent working class party. But whatever happens I will be involved in the political processes with the Socialist Party Scotland and Scottish TUSC to help both aspects come to fruition.

    As for your comment on trying to understand my comment in post 7 which is answer to Jim Mclean’s comment really does indicate that you have not got one iota of political, and theoretical, understanding of the events in Scotland. I was NOT defending the SNP, as a socialist I would not do that, I was explaining to Jim McLean the view, that he clearly has that today is an entirely different economic, political and social epoch to the last time there was a parliamentary accord between the SNP and Labour. The fact is today because of the independence referendum the political topography in Scotland has so radically changed that it looks like the Labour Party will lose the majority of its seats to the SNP; all that is an explanation, an analysis if you like, not a defence. Clearly, Jim McLean is one of these people, like you, who think nothing has changed from before the referendum let alone from 36 years ago. The reason you cannot see that is because, dare I say it, your low level of theoretical and social political consciousness; which is the reason I continually ask to read the material I put out. Maybe once you have done that and you have question I will answer them to your satisfaction within the framework of this blogs criteria. You can read them or you cannot I do not give damn, my real political work is on the streets of Scotland attempting to make Scottish TUSC and my party a pole of attraction for social change against austerity and the capitalist system.

  46. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,
    So, to sum up your viewpoint:
    1. For a “yes” vote in the Scottish independence referendum.
    2. No to an independent capitalist Scotland.
    3. Yes to an independent socialist Scotland.
    4. Socialism in a single country is impossible.
    5. Scotland should join a voluntary federation consisting of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

    Your second point directly contradicts your first, Point 4 directly contradicts Point 3 and Point 5 directly contradicts Point 1.

    (Point 5 also bizzarely and without any explanation whatsoever, seems to casually suggest some kind of “socialist” reconquest of Ireland).

    Conctretely, materialistically, you have created a circle of self-contradiction. A complete and utter illogicality. That’s why everyone’s laughing at you.

    But when someone takes the time and the trouble to patiently point this out to you, rather than just laugh at you,, you respond with something vaguely reminiscent of someone attempting a poor imitation of 1980s-style Healyite abstractionism.

  47. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    POST 52 – Francis King my short answer will be YES when you asked this question “Do all social questions turn into their opposites?” The speed and length of the changes will be decided by the social forces of contradictions that impinges on a particular social question. When you say this “And do they then change back into the opposite of the opposite, in a negation of the negation sort of way?” I do not see the social question in this category, I see the negation of the negation as developing through the various contradictions which appear to annul or negate the previous social fact, not in the Durkeimite sense, or theory or form of existence only to be negated in its turn, but not to go back to its previous form, but another new form instead. The point is social movement is a process, not a collection of separate points, and that social process is that everything changes it comes into being and passes away and yes one needs to study and analyse the social process examining it from all sides in order to determine the inner contradictions and necessary laws of motion which govern its existence. That is why I am not an empiricist……

  48. jim mclean on said:

    Francis King: At times, I’m really glad to be an empiricist…

    Shorly after his arrival in Mexico Trotsky stated “Pragmatism, empiricism, is the greatest curse of American thought. You must inoculate younger comrades against its infection.”

  49. SU admin on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: that is the reason my turns of phrase in my writings are misconstrued as being anything else than my words

    No Jimmy. SU has provided proof again and again – admins have taken your words and shown them against the contents of SP news articles and leaflets, and you have directly copied and pasted things.

    If you truly believe you haven’t, if you truly believe that you just happen to use exactly the same hundreds of words in one post, then our accusation of ‘cult-like activity’ are clearly true.

    Every other person is able to put their beliefs through their own language system. But apparently, using your own words, you just happen to come up with exactly the same turns of phrase that your cult uses.

  50. SU admin on said:

    Here are some examples:

    Jimmy, posting on SU: Socialist Party Scotland fights tirelessly against cuts and austerity and for reforms that will benefit the working class. Whether it’s helping to build mass campaigns to defeat the poll tax, the bedroom tax or advocating that the trade unions organize a 24-hour general strike to defeat austerity. We will support all measures that strengthen the position of the working class.

    Socialist Party website: Socialist Party Scotland fights tirelessly against cuts and austerity and for reforms that will benefit the working class. Whether it’s helping to build mass campaigns to defeat the poll tax, the bedroom tax or advocating that the trade unions organise a 24-hour general strike to defeat austerity, we will support all measures that strengthen the position of the working class.

    and

    Jimmy, posting on SU: Wednesday 5 February 2014 will go down as a watershed date in the year-long struggle against the hated Con-Dem bedroom tax. The vote in the Scottish parliament in favour of the Scottish National Party (SNP) budget for 2014/15, negotiated with the Labour Party, contained a provision for £35 million to top-up the discretionary housing payment fund in Scotland.

    Socialist Party article: Wednesday 5 February will go down as a watershed date in the year-long struggle against the hated Con-Dem bedroom tax. The vote in the Scottish parliament in favour of the Scottish National Party (SNP) budget for 2014/15, negotiated with the Labour Party, contained a provision for £35 million to top-up the discretionary housing payment fund in Scotland.

    and

    Jimmy, posting on SU: This huge victory for the anti-bedroom tax movement is the culmination of months of activity, protests, public meetings and demonstrations. The Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation, with Socialist Party Scotland members playing a central role, applied intense political pressure that forced both the SNP and the Labour Party in Scotland eventually to carry through many of the central demands of the campaign.

    Socialist Party article: This huge victory for the anti-bedroom tax movement is the culmination of months of activity, protests, public meetings and demonstrations. The Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation, with Socialist Party Scotland members playing a central role, applied intense political pressure that forced both the SNP and the Labour Party in Scotland eventually to carry through many of the central demands of the campaign.

    Just to remind you, Jimmy claimed “my turns of phrase in my writings are misconstrued as being anything else than my words”

  51. Jimmy Haddow,

    Everything in human society continually changes, develops, evolves. That much is obvious. And political and economic struggles influence the rates and directions of those changes. It’s this assertion that things must somehow necessarily “turn into their opposites” that makes no sense whatsoever to me. Because empirical observation tells us it just isn’t so – even in those rare cases where the notion of an “opposite” of a complex social phenomenon is potentially meaningful.

  52. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jimmy Haddow can you explain to me why the SP thought that campaigning for Scottish Independence in the context of a capitalist independence campaign would lead Scotland closer to socialism. Obviously I understand your point that the campaign though a failure has involved a lot of people in politics that previously weren’t and I understand that the SLP is in the process of shooting itself. This given that you don’t believe in socialism in one country and you don’t believe in nationalism. And when the independence campaign started you couldn’t have known that it was going to involve all these people. You see to me Jimmy this position to smacks of opportunism. But I could be wrong.

  53. Vanya on said:

    #61 I don’t think you are wrong.

    Don’t expect an answer from Jimmy H though,other than to scold you for your poor command of dialectical materialism.

    #58 Maybe he wrote all the SP Scotland stuff. Maybe he IS the SP Scotland?

  54. Francis King: Everything in human society continually changes, develops, evolves. That much is obvious.

    But throughtout all that change Peter Taaffe ALWAYS stays general secretary of the Socialist Party, and Socialist party members always buy their clothes at Milletts.

  55. Vanya on said:

    #61 I don’t think you are wrong.

    Don’t expect an answer from Jimmy H though,other than to scold you for your poor command of dialectical materialism.

    #58 Maybe he wrote all the SP Scotland stuff. Maybe he IS the SP Scotland? Or maybe they keep nicking his words?

  56. jim mclean,

    Jim, you clearly fail to grasp the full potential of the dialectical method. JH may have started as a serial cut-and-paster without a single original thought in his head, but by cutting and pasting from a variety of disparate sources, a world-outlook which is uniquely his own begins to emerge. Thus unoriginality is transformed dialectically into its opposite, originality. It really is a most beautiful thing to watch.

  57. Francis King: Thus unoriginality is transformed dialectically into its opposite, originality. It really is a most beautiful thing to watch.

    Are we sure that JH is a real person, and not just a very specialised spambot?

  58. Uncle Albert on said:

    Francis King: this assertion that things must somehow necessarily “turn into their opposites” that makes no sense whatsoever to me.

    That’s because you’re not Marxist enough.

    An example of this dialectical turnabout was provided in the 70s by Jimmy’s late mate, Ted Grant.

    Interviewed on TV by Labour MP Bryan Magee (who was also a philosopher and so knew a thing or two about fancy wordplay) Ted Grant denied that Militant operated a political structure independent of the Labour Party. Therefore any alleged entryism didn’t exist.

    Soon after the interview an account of a discussion between senior Militant figures was related to me. Grant, having blatantly told a lie, explained that he told the lie as unconvingly as possible. He hoped that prospective Militant supporters/members would recognise this and want to join.

    In the telling of a lie Grant believed he had, in fact, told the truth.

  59. jim mclean on said:

    Francis King,

    Well I shall cut and paste with a few tweeks.

    So there are differences between Scottish nationalism, Zionism, Antisemitism or Trotskyism. It would be an oversimplification to say that all forms of nationalism are the same, even in their mental atmosphere, but there are certain rules that hold good in all cases. The following are the principal characteristics of nationalist thought:
    Obsession.
    Instability
    Indifference to Reality.
    Actually have this page bookmarked sad case that I am.
    http://orwell.ru/library/essays/nationalism/english/e_nat

  60. jim mclean on said:

    Even stevens in the Scottish debate, skeletor held his own against Queen Nic and the main thing to come out of it will the SNP and Labour combine to keep Cameron out of Downing street. Risky if the Tories are the largest party, not sure how that would go down in England, especially as UKIP are in meltdown in the polls.

  61. Jellytot on said:

    jim mclean: UKIP are in meltdown in the polls.

    Ukip’s one and only aim, it seems, is to get Farage elected in South Thanet, which it may or may not do. I still reckon he and Carswell will get in.

    More generally, a lot of the Tory vote, that had previously supported Ukip in the Euros, will start to drift back when faced with a possible Labour win next month.

  62. jim mclean on said:

    This opposite thing can also fully justify UKIP’s belief that immigrants are systematically screwing the benefits system while stealing your Job. (Source Daily Thump)

  63. Jellytot: a lot of the Tory vote, that had previously supported Ukip in the Euros, will start to drift back when faced with a possible Labour win next month.

    Out on the doorstep last night in Swindon, it was clear that the UKIP former Labour vote is coming back to Labour, at least where Labour is fighting hard in a marginal

  64. Vanya on said:

    #53 Ah well Jimmy, clearly I’m not going to get an answer from you, and I as Ihave no intention of reading the stuff you’ve posted unless I do, we’re going to end up going round in circles.

    On the question of the SNP what you said in response to Jim Mc was obiously a defence of them against his attack, but whether you accept that or not is pretty irrelevant, others can judge that for themselves.

    Finally in a sort of twisted way I quite like the idea that you feel that you’re in better qualified than me to comment on a country where you live and are politically active and I don’t and am not. But how it helps your argument I fail to see.

    After all, the same applies to Nicola Sturgeon, Jim Murphy, or for that matter Jim Mclean, all of whom could say the same thing not only to me, but to any CWI member from anywhere other than Scotland who argued agains them.

    But it does make a refreshing change from the idea for example that reading a CWI tract about some country on the other side of the globe qualifies you to attack the political leadership of its working class movement.

  65. jim mclean on said:

    Andy Newman: Out on the doorstep last night in Swindon, it was clear that the UKIP former Labour vote is coming back to Labour, at least where Labour is fighting hard in a marginal

    The reality is it is a choice between Cameron and Milliband as PM, no ifs or buts.

  66. #80 – That is the choice of who is Prime Minister after May 7th – but is that choice good enough? Do we want the same ‘lesser of two evils’ choice for generations to come?

  67. KB Player on said:

    Loads of praise about George Galloway here. Anything to say about his views on forced marriage?

  68. Tim Vanhoof on said:

    Vanya:
    #45 Was the independent Scotland on offer in the referendum last year capitalist or socialist?

    Breaking up a major imperialist power that has murdered and enslaved millions for 300 years was on offer.

  69. #83Spliting up that imperialist power into its two main component parts willl help who exactly?

  70. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot: Ukip’s one and only aim, it seems, is to get Farage elected in South Thanet, which it may or may not do. I still reckon he and Carswell will get in.

    More generally, a lot of the Tory vote, that had previously supported Ukip in the Euros, will start to drift back when faced with a possible Labour win next month.

    Actually Jellytot I have just returned from Rochester yesterday. Went to do a little sight seeing. On the road through the Medway towns it was noticeable that the only big posters we saw were the ones with Farages muppet face grinning. On Rochester high street Carswell’s office was about four shops down from the Tories. No sign of Labour. The Greens were out leafleting so I had a quick chat with them. He of course asserted that they were going to win but none to convincingly. When I asked him if Carswell’s was going to win he said he thought so after a certain amount of thought. He implied though that he would rather the Tories.

  71. John Grimshaw on said:

    jim mclean: The reality is it is a choice between Cameron and Milliband as PM, no ifs or buts.

    Well we could get a minority Labour government propped up by the SNP.

  72. John Grimshaw on said:

    KB Player:
    Loads of praise about George Galloway here.Anything to say about his views on forced marriage?

    And I wouldn’t be very happy about the way Galloway and MacKay have laid into the Labour candidate in Bradford. Apparently his statements are being referred to to the Parliamentary practices committee.

  73. John Grimshaw on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    My apologies Jellytot I am getting my Recklesses mixed up with my Carswell’s. Interestingly contrary to what the Green candidate was saying yesterday the Daily Mail is running an article today saying that Farages has
    Tried to bury a poll saying that Reckless will lose to the Tories. An anonymous UKIP source is quoted as saying that they don’t particularly care because no one likes him?

  74. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Election 2015: Labour’s Ed Balls says no guarantee to exempt Scotland from cuts
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2015-scotland-32283497
    From the BBC website: oh dear will the SNP sign up for this; of course they will because in the end of the day the SNP and the Labour Party are capitalist parties masquerading under the cloak of being parties of the ordinary person. What tosh! I say vote Scottish TUSC where they are standing the only political anti-austerity and pro-socialist party in Scotland.

  75. Andy Newman on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,

    Was it Sidney Webb who said that the opposite of socialism is individualism.

    Your answer is remarkably individualistic, given that TUSC cannot form the government, then your approach is all about you, how you feel, and how your small affinity group will fare

  76. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 94 – but I used my own individualistic words to write the comment, so it will be individualistic from your opinion. Nevertheless, I believed that I had to prove to you, from another thread, that Labour had said they would institute cuts by continuing the Tory austerity programme and here is the evidence. What I have found Andy is you continually kick the messenger rather than face up to the fact the Labour Party in Government, both at a national level, in the future, and at the local level are no different from the Tories. Nevertheless, it will be good if Labour does win because it will speed up the process of the concrete experience of a Labour, and possibly SNP coalition, still carrying out cuts, and of the trade unions as a collective body turning their back on the Labour Party and forming their own political representation. If they go through the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition or not is not the issue; what is the issue the trade unions will form that independent organisation and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and the Socialist Party as well will become involved in it in some form or another. The above statement does not mean I am advocating a vote for Labour because I am not; and I am not advocating a vote for the SNP either. You should read my letters to the East Lothian local newspapers where I condemn both the Labour Party and the SNP for their austerity programme. On how the Scottish TUSC will fare as far as votes are concerned will be very very modest. I do not consider any seasoned socialist sees it any different. But once again that is not the issue in this year’s election but it is part of the process of laying the ground for next year’s Scottish election and the Scottish Council elections in 2017.

  77. Andy Newman on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: the Labour Party in Government, both at a national level, in the future, and at the local level are no different from the Tories.

    Are Labour promising to repeal the bedroom tax, abolish non-dom status, crack down on tax evasion, abolish zero-hour contracts and abolish fees for employment tribunals.

    Are the Tories promising to extend inheritance tax, sell off social housing, and privitise the NHS?

    These are not the same

  78. Andy Newman on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: so it will be individualistic from your opinion

    No it is individualistic becasue it doesn’t look at the collective approach of seeking to change the government, and instead looks at how you subjectively feel about the parties.

  79. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: On how the Scottish TUSC will fare as far as votes are concerned will be very very modest. I do not consider any seasoned socialist sees it any different. But once again that is not the issue in this year’s election but it is part of the process of laying the ground for next year’s Scottish election and the Scottish Council elections in 2017.

    At the risk of boring readers, you’ve been standing candidates on the basis that we need a Labour Party Mark II for 24 years now Jimmy.
    Again, at the risk of boring readers, you should, by now, be beyond thestage of “laying the grond work” for future elections.

    Good luck to you and your candidates, but please, please, if you once again failr to make an electoral impact, reconsider your strategy. Give it some serious thought, re-assess your perspectives and your political analysis of the current period.

    Maybe even consider whether having the same general secretary for 50 years is healthy?

  80. Uncle Albert on said:

    Karl Stewart: re-assess your perspectives and your political analysis of the current period.

    It’ll be interesting to see if Scottish Labour is prepared to do the same.

    All the polls I’ve seen indicate that Labour is in danger of losing dozens of seats in Scotland. It would be far-fetched to credit this astonishing achievement – going from the mainstream to the margins in one electoral cycle – wholly to the wrong-headed Better Together campaign.

  81. jim mclean on said:

    Uncle Albert,

    Started well before the BT campaign just look at Holyrood, and it is not the SNP that are winning the WC vote but Labour have lost it, they can recover, in fact they will recover, but not in time for the General Election. We also have a situation where the majority of the working class vote Labour and they still get hammered as the Tory and LibDem voters vote SNP.

  82. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    From George Monbiot in the Guardian – Labour’s (quote)” promise to cut the deficit every year commits it indefinitely to the Conservative programme, with differences of degree rather than direction. This means cuts. Balancing the books, the manifesto says “will need common sense spending reductions”. There’s another Tory frame; the “common sense” that has seen benefit claimants driven to suicide. Whose common sense insists on eradicating the deficit, rather than sustaining public services… Even the two protected services will decline under Labour austerity. “ (unquote)
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/14/labour-bean-counting-hope-courage-deficit-voters?CMP=share_btn_fb
    As I have said above Labour is no different to the Tories only by a degree and in Scotland the SNP’s austerity is just a few degrees behind Labour. Why – because they all are prepared to accept the logic of austerity because they accept the logic of capitalism? (Scottish)TUSC as a collective organisation does not accept capitalism and therefore does not accept austerity and for that reason it will continue over the coming years; because there is no other alternative other than building a new workers’ party which started as an idea 20 years ago and after going through various starts have developed into the pre-condition for a new form of working class representation.

  83. Jimmy Haddow: (Scottish)TUSC as a collective organisation does not accept capitalism and therefore does not accept austerity and for that reason it will continue over the coming years; because there is no other alternative other than building a new workers’ party which started as an idea 20 years ago and after going through various starts have developed into the pre-condition for a new form of working class representation.

    What on earth does “after going through various starts have developed into the pre-condition for a new form of working class representation” even mean?

    Please list the ‘starts’, and please explain the theory behind this ‘development’. Please then explain what you mean by “pre-condition”.

    You think “building a new workers party” started as an idea 20 years ago? Have you got no concept of history at all? Just yesterday I was looking at old photos of the Sheffield music scene, and on the wall of one room were posters from one or another socialist group, with the headline “Build an alternative to Wilson”. The idea of needing a new party of the working class has been around a long, long, long time.

    But for you, it’s only when the Socialist Party decided a new workers party was needed. That’s when your history starts.

    But back to your words above. You – like every single Socialist Party member who speaks about this (weird, huh?) – insists that Tusc is only in the early stages of making a new workers party. I could buy that, but as everyone – including you, now – has said, your organisation alone has been doing this for over 20 years.

    So why the lie? Why has Tusc now “developed into the pre-condition for a new form of working class representation”? What happened?

    And why won’t you ever answer the simple question: in what way does building a new Labour party make things any different to the old Labour party?

    Of course, this is all beside the point that Andy made earlier, that you aren’t even talking about winning enough seats to get into government. You’ve got no actual ambition to change the world. You’re talking about being only in opposition to capitalism, not defeating it, overthrowing it, changing it or otherwise collectively taking power and doing something about it.

    What would Tusc do if it got enough MPs elected to form a government? Declare “we do not accept capitalism” and then bam, it’s socialism?

    It goes like this:

    1) Stand in a few hundred seats and get 1-3% of the vote every time
    2) ?
    3) Mass party of the working class

    I’m not even sure why I’m posting. I think I find it truly offensive that groups like yours suck the life out of the movement, churning up deeply passionate people and getting absolutely nowhere for decades.

    It’s a travesty of what you call “socialism”, for you to continually put your own cult’s needs above the actual betterment of society, the actual creation of a world fit for all of us. You don’t even care about that. If you did, you would start with a basic bit of honesty.

    Like, you would be willing to answer this question: “Why do you keep saying that Tusc is the early stages of a new workers party, when you’ve been doing the same thing under different names for 20 years?”

    Try an honest answer to that.

  84. Uncle Albert on said:

    jim mclean: they (Labour) will recover

    How do you think this will happen? Labour policy is determined by an unaccountable elite and the absence of internal democracy prevents the LP from refreshing itself as a matter of process. Also, from what I hear, the LP in Scotland is so diminished they refused to release the allegedly humiliatingly low voting figures from the SLP leadership election.

    Labour’s defeat in Scotland makes any recovery more difficult as MPs such as Katy Clark may lose their seats. Clark was the only Labour MP to vote against the Tories ‘Charter for Budget Responsibility’ austerity measure.

    The social under-pinning that ensured Labour’s prominence in Scotland is all but gone. Miliband himself led the push to renounce the collective link to the trade unions following the cooked-up Falkirk crisis. Labour’s demise north of the border appears to be the natural death of a party that has lost its purpose.

  85. Uncle Albert: Miliband himself led the push to renounce the collective link to the trade unions following the cooked-up Falkirk crisis.

    How much do working class voters generally care about how the link with the unions manifests itself, or even if there IS a link to the unions? After all, the SNP is doing well amongst such voters in spite of the fact that Labour’s link, in spite of all the attacks on it, is still vastly greater than their’s.

    And being linked to the RMT didn’t help TUSC in Eastleigh, where their prominent RMT member candidate got fewer votes than the number of RMT members in the local train station (I won’t mention Elvis).

  86. jim mclean on said:

    Uncle Albert: How do you think this will happen? Labour policy is determined by an unaccountable elite and the absence of internal democracy prevents the LP from refreshing itself as a matter of process.

    This has not stopped Labour recovering in England from a low of 27%, the figure Labour is at at present in Scotland. Those who are celebrating the possible emergence of a one party system in Scotland should open their eyes. One sad bit of evidence, just as those who opposed seperation had rfeservations about putting posters in window and wearing badges in fear of retaliation in the run up to the GE die hard Labour voters are not putting posters in their windows, Police Scotland have upped protection on Jim Murphy as they fear attacks and political offices are being vandalised as Nicola Sturgeon fails to reel in the boot boys.

  87. Tony Collins: I think I find it truly offensive that groups like yours suck the life out of the movement, churning up deeply passionate people and getting absolutely nowhere for decades.

    I might have some sympathy with this position, but for one thing. What is the alternative? On another thread a few days ago Karl Stewart argued for working in the Labour Party to “wage that struggle where there are tens of thousands of members”.
    Now if it is true that TUSC and its predecessors haven’t made much progress over twenty years, that is equally true of those who have been trying, over a much longer period, to move the Labour Party to the left.
    I joined the Labour Party in 1960. The party was incomparably more left-wing then than it is now. The right wing – Crosland etc – argued vigorously for greater equality, and the left, headed by the likes of Michael Foot, was a force to be reckoned with in debates over nationalisation and nuclear disarmament.
    So let’s be honest about both sides of the equation. I’ve lived through every Labour government since 1945, and the one thing that is clear is that each one was worse than its predecessor, and I have no great hopes that Miliband will reverse the trend.
    So while there are undoubtedly legitimate criticisms to be made of TUSC, I am a little suspicious when they are made by people inside the Labour Party who are exercising very little self-criticism.
    Over the next generation human civilisation faces a very deep crisis – economic, social and ecological. Only radical policies can turn the tide and I have no confidence that the Labour Party can develop towards such policies. There used to be a slogan “Vote Labour without illusions.” I shall be voting TUSC without illusions.
    It is very easy for those in the Labour Party to point to the weakness of the far left alternatives, and very easy for those outside the Labour Party to point to Labour’s inadequacies. How we can actually progress is a rather harder question but maybe, once the election is over, we should devote some of our efforts to thinking about it.

  88. Uncle Albert on said:

    Vanya: How much do working class voters generally care about how the link with the unions manifests itself

    If I was still a member of the LP I would have voted to end the collective link. That part of Labour’s history is as good as over so we must face reality as best we can and move on.

    We’re just going to have to wait and see how the LP moves on – most likely, I’d guess, by becoming what it appears to want to be: an SDP-like party of the centre-ground; as such it could eventually enjoy a reasonably large constituency, particularly in southern England.

  89. Andy Newman on said:

    Ian Birchall: I’ve lived through every Labour government since 1945, and the one thing that is clear is that each one was worse than its predecessor,

    What does that even mean? By what criteria were they “worse”?

    Are you saying that working people in 2010 were worse off than working people in 1950? Are you saying that employment rights were worse in 2010 than in 1950? Are you saying that legal equalities are worse?

  90. If we were to draw up lists of significant social reforms and improvements brought in under each of the Labour administrations, what do you think it would show? The achievements of the 1945-51 Attlee administrations and the 1964-70 Wilson administrations could look quite imposing. I wonder how the achievements of Wilson-Callaghan administrations of 1974-79, and of the Blair-Brown ones of 1997-2010 would compare?

  91. Andy Newman on said:

    Francis King,

    By 2010, there were 41000 more teachers and 120000 more teaching assistants than in 1997, 80000 more nurses and 44000 more doctors, and 4.5 million families received tax credits of an average £65 per week.

    There was meaningful devolution to Scotland and Wales, the abolition of Clause 28, the introduction of civil partnerships, Sure Start, paternity rights, improved maternity rights, a right to Trade Union representation at work, a statutory route to union recognition, the minimum wage, expansion of the NHS, the school building programme, the working time directive, working tax credits, family credits, and more. Not to mention an end to the war in Ireland, and the start of a meaningful peace process.

    There was the Equality Act 2010, the Climate Change Act 2008 that introduced the first legally binding commitments to reduce carbon emissions to 80% of the 1990 base line by 2030.

    Whatever else was wrong with Blair and Brown, Britain was a better and fairer country in 2010 than it was in 1997.

  92. Andy Newman on said:

    Francis King: Wilson-Callaghan administrations of 1974-79

    Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
    Sex Discrimination Act 1975
    Race Relations Act 1976
    Trade Unions and Labour Relations Act 1974
    Repeal of Industrial Relations Act 1971

    It made the workplace in particular a less discriminatory and safer place.

  93. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman,

    I think Ian Birchall is pissed that the Labour Party, when in government, didn’t see fit to institute the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

  94. Uncle Albert on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Ah yes, for treason. That was motivated by self-interest: Blair offended the Crown by committing Her Majesty’s Armed Forces to a war of aggression.

  95. jim mclean on said:

    It is my understanding that the death penalty can still be confirmed through the English appeal courts or Privy Council in relation to Jamaican crimes, can’t remember which one.

  96. Andy Newman: What does that even mean? By what criteria were they “worse”?

    I should have known better than try to have a serious discussion in the middle of an election. Andy is only interested in point-scoring – that’s what canddiates do. I’ll go away and let you get on with your canvassing.

  97. Well and good, Andy. How do you think those achievements stack up against the ones of 1945-51 and 1964-70 though? Leaving aside the foreign policy questions, my abiding impression of 1997-2010 is one of a largely wasted opportunity, given the fact that Labour had 13 years with a good working majority throughout. Of course if they had tried anything too radical, they could have lost that majority much quicker, but still…

  98. Andy Newman on said:

    jim mclean: It is my understanding that the death penalty can still be confirmed through the English appeal courts or Privy Council in relation to Jamaican crimes, can’t remember which one.

    That is outwith the England’s own legal jurisdiction, I believe, It is that the highest court of appeal for some Carriibean countries is still here. For sensible reasons actually, of them being small countries that don’t have the same legal infrastructure.

  99. Karl Stewart on said:

    Ian Birchall,
    Don’t be disheartened by a bit of scepticism Ian. It would be a real pity if you stopped contributing to this site, I enjoy your posts and comments.

    You’ve put forward a view and it’s been challenged – we on the left need to develop the ability to argue and disagree while remaining in the same place.

    The fact that we so often don’t stay in the same place to argue and disagree is a large factor in why we’re so fragmented and consequently ineffective.

    I know Jellytot’s a bit of a grump. He always responds to any ambitious ideas with the same “I suppose you want immediate proletarian world revolution then” but come on Ian, you’re not being threatened with expulsion here, just challenged on the opinions you’ve set out.

    As to your point about Labour governments getting steadily worse, firstly it’s worth remembering that no-one under 50 will have any memory of Labour governments before Blair, so to analyse them is more of a historical matter for most people.

    As to the Blair government, it’s a mixed bag isn’t it? Of course there’s the illegal invasion of Iraq – a war crime of enormous proportions. Also the military intervention in the former Yugoslavia. But let’s also recall the Atlee government’s imperialist intervention in Malaysia, not to mention Korea.

    On the domestic fron, there were a lot of progressive policies, as others have set out. Along with set backs and disappoitments and letdowns.

    But there’s a similar mixed bag in domestic policy too, when compared with the two previous Labour governments I think.

    So I don’t see a pattern of continuous decline.

    On the question of a left electoral alternative – I’m not opposed to this in principle. My point is that the specific “Labour Party Mark II” model doesn’t work.

    And frustration at SP/Mil people pretending that this is a new strategy when they’ve had this strategy for 24 years.

  100. Andy Newman on said:

    Francis King: my abiding impression of 1997-2010 is one of a largely wasted opportunity, given the fact that Labour had 13 years with a good working majority throughout.

    There is a paradox, which is the disconnect between political vision and policy.

    If you look in detail at what was achieved in terms of actual things done, particularly in Blair’s first term, then it is suprisingly impressive, with hindsight.

    The difficulty is that

    i) Blair’s political vision was essentiallly a liberal one, that sat uneasily with the labourist agenda, so there was not a natural warm feeling from traditional Labour supporters
    ii) the government at the time sought to underplay waht it was doing, so as not to spook the Daily Mail
    iii) there was an acceptance of a number of neo-liberal nostrums, that tainted and compromised achievements

    For example, in both the fields of NHS and education, the Blair government delivered more expansion than Wilson ever did, and in education, more than Attlee. However, this was tainted by PFI, and in education by a bewildering churn of new policies, often lacking any clear evidence base. In education in particular, expansion of the teaching profession, hundreds of thousands of new classroom assistants, refurbishment and new schools went hand in hand with a dismissive lack of engagement with the teaching profession itself, and disregard for academic opinion about how children best learn.

    I think there is also a diffeence of perspective. The combination of the minimum wage and working tax credits directly boosted the living standards of millions of low paid people, and working tax credits allowed women to escape a benefits trap. For professional or better paid people who didn’t experience this, it is harder to appreciate how good this was.

  101. Andy Newman on said:

    Ian Birchall: I should have known better than try to have a serious discussion in the middle of an election. Andy is only interested in point-scoring – that’s what canddiates do. I’ll go away and let you get on with your canvassing.

    No, it is a serious point I was making. When you say that Labour governments were each one worse than the last, what is your criteria?

    Because, in terms of practical outcomes for ordinary working people, you can look at every Labour government and say that there were a number of improvements made during that period.

    For example, the troubled Wilson/Callaghan government did deliver health and safety legislation, and equality legislation that are so much taken for granted now, it is hard to imagine that we ever didn’t have them.

  102. Andy Newman on said:

    Francis King: Of course if they had tried anything too radical

    Devolution to Scotland and Wales seems to have been radical enough – look what’s happening now.

  103. Ian Birchall: I might have some sympathy with this position, but for one thing. What is the alternative? On another thread a few days ago Karl Stewart argued for working in the Labour Party to “wage that struggle where there are tens of thousands of members”.

    I want to be clear Ian – I am literally only talking about Jimmy and his organisation’s method of doing things. My politics are truer to the original SWP vision than the SWP got, but of course as you well know, being a marxist doesn’t always mean thinking we must have a marxist party right here right now, it can mean going in many different directions.

    I am happy with some of the things people are doing. But the TUSC/Left Unity model is the old sectarian “people need an alternative and we are that alternative”. When Socialist Party members get involved in local campaigning, they never do it as TUSC, they do it as Socialist Party. When I was in the SWP, if we did work around a strike, we did it as SWP members, never ever ever as Respect members. It’s sectarian. If we believe people need an alternative, why do we not take our own words seriously?

    So, my comments are narrowly about the self-deceit of far left organisations, the way they deceive their members, the way they use recruits etc. The core politics, I’m with them. The method is cultlike.

    I feel very lucky with my SWP experience. I joined when I was already a militant trade unionist with my own record and my own credibility – I was a “win” for the party. I always knew they needed me more than I needed them, which meant I never got caught up in cover-ups and twisted logic. I argued hard with people about the demagoguery of the leadership, I pointed out that surely we need a materialist analysis of our own leadership. I was lucky – I didn’t get too deeply involved.

    But I’ve seen, we’ve all seen, the damage done by far left cult mentality. It’s still going on. If you follow social media, the political damage is incalculable, with so many people clearly burned out by their experiences.

    That’s my problem. Not a genuinely held belief in the need for an electoral alternative, not a committment to overthrowing capitalism – no, my issue is always with the method and the damage it does.

  104. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jellytot:
    Andy Newman,
    I think Ian Birchall is pissed that the Labour Party…,

    Are you from the USA Jellytot?

    Just wondering because over there they say “pissed” when they mean “pissed off” whereas when we Brits say “pissed” we mean “drunk”.

  105. Ian – also I don’t think Andy was point scoring. It’s a really good question that deserves a serious answer. In what way has every Labour government been worse?

    I ask because I think it’s a really complicated question: ideologically, they’ve driven hard to the right of course. They’ve moved with the centre of global power to the right, and there’s plenty of policy evidence (including the decision to stick to the Tory benefit cap, which will mean the end of social housing completely in the UK no matter who wins). But I think it’s still worth exploring the argument, we shouldn’t just assume everyone will nod their heads and say “yep, worse, worse”.

    You’re in an ideal position to give a serious answer to that.

    (Everyone, please follow that link to the article which pretty comprehensively shows that the Tory benefit cap really will destroy social housing. I get why Labour thinks it needs to do what it does, but they have really not understood the financial implications of the benefit cap, let alone the moral ones – it will end the ability of social landlords to provide homes)

  106. Andy Newman on said:

    Tony Collins: I get why Labour thinks it needs to do what it does,

    politics is a rough game. I get the impression the party has signed up to Trident replacement just to neutralise a Tory line of attack.

    I am interested though that the fine print of Labour’s position is to support Trident renewal “as long as that is the policy of the Royal Navy”

    There is some wriggle room there, for example, whe push comes to shove would the Navy rather have a fleet of support ships and some planes for their two new Elizabeth class carriers?

  107. John Grimshaw on said:

    Ian Birchall: So while there are undoubtedly legitimate criticisms to be made of TUSC, I am a little suspicious when they are made by people inside the Labour Party who are exercising very little self-criticism.
    Over the next generation human civilisation faces a very deep crisis – economic, social and ecological. Only radical policies can turn the tide and I have no confidence that the Labour Party can develop towards such policies. There used to be a slogan “Vote Labour without illusions.” I shall be voting TUSC without illusions.
    It is very easy for those in the Labour Party to point to the weakness of the far left alternatives, and very easy for those outside the Labour Party to point to Labour’s inadequacies. How we can actually progress is a rather harder question but maybe, once the election is over, we should devote some of our efforts to thinking about it.

    It’s a shame that Ian has gone away because I think he raised some interesting points. I don’t think, like Karl, that he should be so easily offended. Obviously those people on this site that are committed to the LP will defend their position. I would expect no less and I think Andy does a creditable job in doing so whatever I personally think. I suspect that more mainstream LP supporters wouldn’t even bother with this site which means it is a particularly useful place to have debates where the question of the attitude of the Left to the LP is being brought into a starker than normal light.

    In the area where myself and I believe Tony lives (Bethnal Green and Bow) the question of who to vote for has caused some debate. The LP sitting MP is a Bangladeshi woman in a heavily Bangladeshi populated area (variously between 35-45%). She is not particularly radical, although she did resign her front bench place. In my view she is certainly a minor improvement on the one before Galloway, Oona King. At the same time we also have a TUSC candidate standing (Glyn Robbins) who is a solid Left campaigner and fairly well known. He may have been in the SP some while ago but is not as far as I know anymore. When last I spoke to him he made it quite clear that he wanted to run a campaign that avoided the sectarian nonsense that Tony has earlier pointed out. Obviously he has very little chance of getting elected but then winning is not the only reason for participating in an election.

    So I have a question for Ian. Who should I vote for? I don’t believe that you can just say vote TUSC with no illusions. First, TUSC and the LP are not the same thing. The LP is a largish centre-ish party still supported by blue collar unions and unofficially by some white collar unions, and will still receive a large number of votes by working class people who don’t want to see Cameron back in power. TUSC is a very small left of centre organisation dominated by a particular sectarian group of the far left which has on paper policies which I would be much happier supporting. Now given that Rushanara Ali will almost certainly get elected round here I could vote TUSC without any danger of causing an upset and my conscious would be salved. But what, I would ask Ian should I do if TUSC were standing in a much more marginal constituency? Like say Hampstead and Kilburn? Also however much I like our TUSC candidate was it wise to stand against Ali (i.e. a black woman) when it may have been better to pick a better target for limited resources. I also have issues with the “pop up” nature of TUSC.

  108. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: There is some wriggle room there, for example, whe push comes to shove would the Navy rather have a fleet of support ships and some planes for their two new Elizabeth class carriers?

    Labour has no intention of getting rid of Trident even though a large number of us think it’s a waste of money. It sounds to me that the small print you refer to is a crafty way of leaving it to the professionals and not sounding “political”.

  109. Uncle Albert on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Andy Newman: politics is a rough game.

    There are plenty of opportunities for getting one’s nose rubbed in visceral reality, particularly at the count.

    Have you prepared you speech yet, Andy, how will it go? Perhaps:

    “The people of the Chippenham constituency have spoken. We must now listen and learn…” ?

  110. Jellytot on said:

    Karl Stewart: Are you from the USA Jellytot?
    Just wondering because over there they say “pissed” when they mean “pissed off” whereas when we Brits say “pissed” we mean “drunk”.

    Apologies Karl – bad habit – I lived in Canada for many years where many “Americanisms” like this have seeped into their speech (although thankfully not their spelling) and I must have picked this up there. I’m a Londoner born and bred.

  111. Ian Drummond on said:

    KB Player,

    He’s against it, like all decent people. Btw what do you think of the political positions that I “praise”? Not just his brilliant longterm advocacy for the Palestinians, which I sense you might have a point of view on, but also the fact he was one of very few in the mainstream or on the left to warn about ISIS and the Ukrainian fascists from the start…

  112. Feodor on said:

    Andy Newman: I think there is also a diffeence of perspective. The combination of the minimum wage and working tax credits directly boosted the living standards of millions of low paid people, and working tax credits allowed women to escape a benefits trap. For professional or better paid people who didn’t experience this, it is harder to appreciate how good this was.

    This is a very good point. I was brought up by a single mother. Tax credits made a huge difference in our household. My mother went from constantly worrying about making ends meet, to feeling a certain security, a certain comfortableness even. I don’t think we were alone, either. I’d wager my experience was shared up and down the country. Despite all its faults, the Blair government deserves a lot of credit for this.

  113. Feodor: I’d wager my experience was shared up and down the country. Despite all its faults, the Blair government deserves a lot of credit for this.

    I don’t doubt your experience. Yet the evidence seems to suggest that the low-paid are less likely to vote and that areas with concentrations of low-paid have the lowest turnout. So those who have apparently benefitted most from the Labour government are less likely to show their gratitude by voting.

  114. Feodor on said:

    Undoubtedly a bit of a paradox there Ian. I wonder how much turnout among the lowest paid is affected by the fact that they are probably–definitely?–the income group which moves around most, meaning they constantly have to re-register to vote. Moreover, ‘areas with concentrations of low-paid’ tend also to be Labour strongholds. Everyone knows who’s going to get in, so why go to the effort of voting?

  115. Andy Newman on said:

    Ian Birchall: So those who have apparently benefitted most from the Labour government are less likely to show their gratitude by voting.

    This is certainly true.

    It is interesting to consider why. Perhaps the increasing professionalisation of politics, where too many Labour politicians simply look and sound indistinguishable fromTories, and are out of touch with ordinary voters. (I don’t mean what they say necessarily, but how they say it)

    Perhaps the triangulation by Labour around swing voters

    Perhaps the number of people within the labour movement who continually talk about Labour betrayal?

  116. Jimmy Haddow: The TRADE UNIONIST AND SOCIALIST COALITION election broadcast:

    Jimmy Haddow: The only real poll is on 7th May

    Jimmy, it’s noticeable how you never reply when I ask you a really serious question about your method and actions.

    I’d like a serious reply to my post before you say more stuff please. Here is a copy of it so you cao easily respond:

    Jimmy Haddow: (Scottish)TUSC as a collective organisation does not accept capitalism and therefore does not accept austerity and for that reason it will continue over the coming years; because there is no other alternative other than building a new workers’ party which started as an idea 20 years ago and after going through various starts have developed into the pre-condition for a new form of working class representation.

    Tony Collins: What on earth does “after going through various starts have developed into the pre-condition for a new form of working class representation” even mean?

    Please list the ‘starts’, and please explain the theory behind this ‘development’. Please then explain what you mean by “pre-condition”.

    You think “building a new workers party” started as an idea 20 years ago? Have you got no concept of history at all? Just yesterday I was looking at old photos of the Sheffield music scene, and on the wall of one room were posters from one or another socialist group, with the headline “Build an alternative to Wilson”. The idea of needing a new party of the working class has been around a long, long, long time.

    But for you, it’s only when the Socialist Party decided a new workers party was needed. That’s when your history starts.

    But back to your words above. You – like every single Socialist Party member who speaks about this (weird, huh?) – insists that Tusc is only in the early stages of making a new workers party. I could buy that, but as everyone – including you, now – has said, your organisation alone has been doing this for over 20 years.

    So why the lie? Why has Tusc now “developed into the pre-condition for a new form of working class representation”? What happened?

    And why won’t you ever answer the simple question: in what way does building a new Labour party make things any different to the old Labour party?

    Of course, this is all beside the point that Andy made earlier, that you aren’t even talking about winning enough seats to get into government. You’ve got no actual ambition to change the world. You’re talking about being only in opposition to capitalism, not defeating it, overthrowing it, changing it or otherwise collectively taking power and doing something about it.

    What would Tusc do if it got enough MPs elected to form a government? Declare “we do not accept capitalism” and then bam, it’s socialism?

    It goes like this:

    1) Stand in a few hundred seats and get 1-3% of the vote every time
    2) ?
    3) Mass party of the working class

    I’m not even sure why I’m posting. I think I find it truly offensive that groups like yours suck the life out of the movement, churning up deeply passionate people and getting absolutely nowhere for decades.

    It’s a travesty of what you call “socialism”, for you to continually put your own cult’s needs above the actual betterment of society, the actual creation of a world fit for all of us. You don’t even care about that. If you did, you would start with a basic bit of honesty.

    Like, you would be willing to answer this question: “Why do you keep saying that Tusc is the early stages of a new workers party, when you’ve been doing the same thing under different names for 20 years?”

    Try an honest answer to that.

  117. amnon on said:

    Tony Collins:
    Jimmy, it’s noticeable how you never reply when I ask you a really serious question about your method and actions.

    It’s a travesty of what you call “socialism”, for you to continually put your own cult’s needs above the actual betterment of society, the actual creation of a world fit for all of us. You don’t even care about that. If you did, you would start with a basic bit of honesty.


    Try an honest answer to that.

    Well, you may get more answers from Jimmy if you were a little less abusive.

    You are no longer in the SWP, comrade. And outside the SWP, in the wider Labour Movement, a fraternal approach would get you further.

    If I try to dig beneath the venom of your posts, and the utterly baseless accusations of dishonesty, your two criticisms of TUSC and the Socialist Party are firstly that we have been doing in for a while, and that secondly we have not yet achieved the kind of electoral breakthrough that our co-thinkers in Seattle or Ireland have achieved,
    or that Siryza achieved in Greece.

    In my mind your criticisms are not really criticisms.

    Yes, we have been arguing for the need for a new workers party for many years – since the Labour Party abandoned clause IV. We have been consistent, and we have been tenacious. And we will continue to be so, for as long as it takes.

    You (wrongly) claim that we get 1-3% every time. But we have had many low votes in the past, and may well get more in the future. But we won’t abandoned our beliefs
    if we loose some elections.

    You ask how we will increase our support.
    I think that getting a party political broadcast and a little bit of coverage in local and national media will help bring the alternative to Austerity and the ideas of Socialism to more people. But it is the experience of a Labour government inflicting misery on working people through continued austerity which will lead many people to look for an alternative.

  118. jim mclean on said:

    amnon,

    Those who try to be fraternal to Jimmy are given short thrift, I, much to his delight won’t be bothering to comment on any of his posts.

  119. amnon: Well, you may get more answers from Jimmy if you were a little less abusive.

    You are no longer in the SWP, comrade. And outside the SWP, in the wider Labour Movement, a fraternal approach would get you further.

    Ah, yet another Socialist Party member whose conception of history only starts when he decides it does.

    What you’ve failed to do is ever consider the dozens of strongly fraternal attempts I and others have made on here to talk to Jimmy in his own terms, in a really friendly way. As someone else said above, Jimmy treats such attempts merely as opportunities to insult.

    You’re just wrong. We’ve *all* tried being seriously fraternal, but Jimmy has no interest in responding in the same way. So, we are left with the bare unvarnished truth.

    Please, don’t call me “comrade”. Don’t you see how utterly absurd it is to go round calling people “comrade” just because they might’ve read some Marx? Honestly, grow up a bit.

    It’s interesting that you think you’ve scored a point by saying I’m no longer in the SWP. As a man in my 40s, I’ve spent far more of my life outside the SWP than inside it. But your horizons are *so* narrow, you can only assume that my attitude towards Socialist Party members comes from some sectarian thing through being in the SWP.

    Wrong again. I think the Socialist Party is a cult. I mean, the same general secretary for 50 years? Is that a joke? Every single member using almost identical words, to the point where Jimmy doesn’t even see that he copies and pastes Socialist Party articles and changes “we” to “I” – he honestly believes it’s his own work. That’s cult mentality.

    Just because you think you’re all Marxist and Mass Workers Party doesn’t make you so. I think your organisation chews people up and spits them out, having ruined their ability to be good activists. The SWP is the same.

    It’s not really interesting to me that you can’t see it. It’s part of the cult mentality that you would assume that there’s something wrong with the person criticising you. But as I said, if you even spent a few minutes reading this site over the years, you would’ve seen just how much effort I’ve put in to being fraternal with Jimmy, and how every attempt has been rebuffed. That you can’t see it is a reflection on you, not me. To this day, none of us have got answers on our most basic questions from Jimmy. We’re still trying to get him to explain things in his own words, and he still refuses.

  120. Karl Stewart on said:

    Mao was general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1935 until his death in 1976, which is 41 years, Joe was general secretary of the CPSU from 1922 until 1953, which is 31 years and Peter Taafe has been general secretary of the SP/Militant/RSL since 1965, which is 50 years.

    It is a very, very, very long time to have the same leader.

    Do our SP comrades think this is healthy?

  121. Karl Stewart on said:

    First time I was told that was from a formerly long-standing SP/Mil member and I just thought he was kidding me, or maybe bitter about his past.

    But it is true, he’s now even passed Kim il-Sung’s length of party leadership (1945-1994) – the only people I’m aware of in history who have ruled longer than him are King George III and Queen Victoria.

  122. Karl Stewart: the only people I’m aware of in history who have ruled longer than him are King George III and Queen Victoria.

    George Meany was a full-time union official for 57 years, so there are still targets ahead.

  123. Andy Newman on said:

    John,

    It is more tragic than 50 years of failure. The first 20 years gave the false impression of progress and success, before they hit the limits of what could be achieved with their flawed model.

  124. Andy Newman on said:

    amnon,

    To be fair, I have only just realised that you earlier comments were not by Jimmy Haddow, as they were so similar in style, sentance construction, vocabulary and content.

  125. It appears that the latest missive from Labour Party HQ requires the term ‘Her Majesty’ to be used when referring to the monarch. Interesting.

  126. I am a former SP member and election candidate in Sheffield and I am now a leading Green Party candidate in the same City. I have friends in the SP who I care about and respect, but they call me an anti-Union Tory in their propaganda which has caused some issues! I have asked them a few questions about the SP and the lifetime leadership of Peter Taaffe (who I like personally). It is clear that he has a North Korea style grip on leadership that will only end on with his death regardless of circumstances.

    The one question I would like to ask SP members here is this ; The Green Party members elect it’s leader’s, full time officers, our national and local election candidates. The SP membership elects no-one. Why?

  127. Another good question – presumably the SP are calling for a vote for Peter Pinkney in Redcar. TUSC are not standing there.

  128. John Grimshaw on said:

    John: 50 years of failure is no laughing matter. :)

    Maybe the British Left needs treating a bit like education. The next government could set a new inspection body. Lets call it OfLeft. It could set annual targets and introduce inspections triggered when it was clear that the Left wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do!

  129. George Hallam on said:

    John Grimshaw: The next government could set a new inspection body. Lets call it OfLeft. It could set annual targets and introduce inspections triggered when it was clear that the Left wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do!

    Where can I get an application form for the post of Chief Executive?
    I will be completely impartial.
    I can start on the 1st September.

  130. stephen marks on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    Very many years ago I knew a Healeyite with a sense of humour. He suggested that far left groups could fund themselves by issuing Post-Revolutionary Bonds, to be redeemed at par after the revolution if the issuing organisation ended up in power. The bonds could trade on the market in the interim fluctuating in line with the latest paper sales and membership figures. I told him I didn’t know how many decimal places you would need to calculate the percentage of par value at which they would find a market!

  131. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    POST 142 – Tony Collins, et al, I have answered many of your questions in one form or another in the past but they have been deleted; or slandered as cultist and not worth the paper they are written on; or roundly abused as lies when they are political statements you do not agree with but are not seriously prepared to discuss due to your innate ultra-left sectarianism. You can take the person out of the SWP but you cannot take SWP out of the person.

    Whether you like it or not politically in April 1995, the dropping of the Socialist Clause – Clause 4 Part 4 – from the Labour Party constitution meant the cementing the ideas of profit and privatisation into the heart and soul of the Labour Party and it became another capitalist party. We in the CWI have argued, debated, since 1995, not 24 years as some contributors erroneously think, for a new workers party. After the ending of Clause four part four was taken there have been a number of attempts to form the precursor – or stepping stones if you like – to a new party of working class representation, as the Labour Party was. There was Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party in which, I and, the CWI became involved in; then the Socialist Alliance; and the Scottish Socialist Party and even Solidarity, all of which the CWI was involved in. None were new workers parties but pre-formations, if they were not dominated by one left wing group or another. That is why the Socialist Party has consistently argued that a new party and/or pre-formation would have to be open and democratic, allowing an element of federalism in the sense of the rights of platforms and tendencies. It would need a firm trade union base to hold the decisive balance of power in such a party. Unfortunately, when the Socialist Labour Party was initiated Arthur Scargill could not or would not see this. His narrow perception of a party with himself in the dominant position led to the alienation of one layer after another once the SLP was formed. Eventually, it was reduced to insignificance.

    Similar attempts initiated by the Socialist Party, such as the Socialist Alliance, also came to grief it is true. This was because of the specific sectarianism of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and its allies. They wanted to impose a uniform organisational structure in which they would effectively have a veto over election candidates. Additionally, the Respect party, which the SWP set up with George Galloway and others, was narrowly based on the Muslim community, did not have a clear socialist and working-class programme and orientation and collapsed. I wonder if Tony and Andy where in the SWP during this period and it is the reason they tar all working class socialist groups with the same brush and cannot see trees for the wood.

    An occasion to chart a new course was provided when Bob Crow and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), together with the Socialist Party and others, organised the No to EU electoral alliance in 2009 and out of that developed in January 2010 the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, TUSC. TUSC’s structure- agreeing on core anti-austerity and pro-socialist policies – to contest elections but allowing different socialist, community, trade union organisations and individuals to retain their own political independence has encouraged various left groups and former Labour Party members to work with and be part of an organised political group to the Left of the established political parties. The point is the Socialist Party have never said that TUSC or any of the former groups over the past 20 years have been a mass working class party; we have consistently pointed out for a mass working class party to develop means that millions of working class people have to be involved in it and that is not the case at this moment. The reason for that is due to on the one hand of the craven capitulation of the trade union leadership, apart from a few notable exceptions like Bob crow and the RMT and the PCS, leadership, and labour Party leadership to the ideology of capitalism; and the ideological effects of the collapse of Stalinism which has provided the source for the thought that neo-liberal capitalism is the only viable economic and social system. As per the vast majority of Labour Party MPs voting for the continuing of the Tory austerity programme a few months ago. However, that will change over the coming years with an austerity Labour in power propped up by a lite-austerity SNP and the development of TUSC into a larger style working class organisation.

    Post 142 continues with this garbage (quote)” It’s a travesty of what you call “socialism”, for you to continually put your own cult’s needs above the actual betterment of society, the actual creation of a world fit for all of us. You don’t even care about that. If you did, you would start with a basic bit of honesty.”(unquote) .
    As a former shop steward for the EETPU, AUEW and UCU I have continually fought for my members, ie reforms, for their betterment and never said wait until we have socialism. As a socialist activist I have fought tirelessly against cuts and austerity and for reforms that will benefit the working class. Whether it’s helping to build mass campaigns to defeat the poll tax – for which I was jailed for in Canterbury Prison in May 1991 and expelled from the Labour Party – the bedroom tax – which I help to organise an anti-bedroom tax group in East Lothian with non-Socialist Party members – or advocating that the trade unions organise a 24-hour general strike to defeat austerity. I, and the Socialist Party Scotland/CWI, will support all measures that strengthen the position of the working class. At the same time as socialists we consistently explain that under capitalism all steps forward for working class people are temporary. If forced to give concessions to a mass movement with one hand, the logic of capitalism is to seek to take it away with the other. This is not an argument for not fighting for improvements in working conditions, wages etc. What it does do is underline the need to link the fight for reforms in favour of the majority with the need to break decisively with capitalism and to fight for socialist planned economy.

    Quite frankly Tony, and Andy, you talk drivel about the CWI and the Socialist Party and you do not want a genuine debate about the way forward for the working class because all you want to do is debauch anybody who wants to change society. I am quite confident this will never see the light of day on Socialist Unity but I have had the time today, after I have done my job seeking, to answer your questions my way, not the way that you want to manipulate the answers.

    Yours Comradely, Jimmy Haddow, member of the CWI for 35 ye

  132. Andy Newman on said:

    Jimmy, I am sure that you are a ovey bloke in real life, and internet debate brings out the worst in people. I of course am the exception to this, as I am much more charming on the Internet, and in person, I am truly objectionable.

    Anyway:

    Jimmy Haddow: the development of TUSC into a larger style working class organisation.

    Jimmy Haddow: with the need to break decisively with capitalism and to fight for socialist planned economy.

    Three questions.

    i) Do you think that the working class has changed over the last, say 70 years, in such a way that your preconception of what the working class is, how people in society conceive of themselves in terms of class consciousness, how much more diverse the working class is, and how people focus on other identties and collectives? Don’t these complicate matters enormously for you?

    ii) in the modern world, of globalisation, international division of labour, increased power of multiationionals, higher technical threshold for manufacturing, etc, that the problems that always existed of a “socialist planned economy” might be even more difficult in the 21st century?

    iii) Do you think it worth reflecting that the CWI and SP are not so much rooted in eternal truths and values of the labour movement, but rather perpetuating habits and modes of thought and organisation that were very specific to the British labour movement between – say – 1965 and 1985?

  133. Vanya on said:

    #162 “There was Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party in which, I and, the CWI became involved in…”

    No Jimmy, you may have been involved in the SLP, but the CWI was not. I know because I was one of the first people to join and heavily involved myself in its first two or three years.

    The CWI made it a condition for joining the SLP that they be allowed to organise within it as part of a federal structure and when this was ruled out the SP was formed and also the Socialist Alliance, (modelled on the Scottish Socialist Alliance) which at that time was mainly the SP and the Weekly Worker, with a number of well known left individuals.

    As for a trade union base, that’s exactly what the SLP tried to develop. Sadly part of its degeneration was that Scargill was only able to attract one region of the NUM as an affiliate and then used a block vote, modelled on the original Labour Party, to defeat political opposition. Bob Crow and other key elements in the RMT were centrally involved in the SLP at the beginning, while not being able to persuade their union to affiliate.

    “Additionally, the Respect party, which the SWP set up with George Galloway and others, was narrowly based on the Muslim community, did not have a clear socialist and working-class programme and orientation and collapsed.”

    It may have escaped your notice but the Respect Party still has an MP, and holds the balance of power on Bradford Council. Funny collapse, certainly when compared to the CWI or TUSC for that matter. As for being based on the Muslim community, when Galloway was elected in Bradford West he received a majority of the votes in each ward of the constituency, including those with a non -Muslim majority. Unless you hold the view perpetrated by the far-right that cities like Bradford are majority Muslim it would not be possible for any party to win the kind of majority that Galloway won merely by basing itself on the Muslim community.

    In fact Galloway and Respect appear to me to be involved in many struggles within the Muslim community. His victory was in part due being associated with a struggle against a reactionary patronage system which had previously benefited the Labour Party by mobilising a communal block vote.

    In any case, after years of attending meetings of conferences of left organisations where ethnic minorities were in a tiny minority if not completely absent (including when I was in the Militant Tendency), I tended to see the number of such people attracted to Respect and playing a leading role in its structures as a refreshing bending of the stick.

    I don’t personally believe that Respect has the capability of developing a significant base beyond Bradford and that is one of the reasons I am no longer involved, but if you want to talk about political currents “collapsing”, particularly in a relative sense, I suggest you look closer to home.

  134. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: We in the CWI have argued, debated, since 1995, not 24 years as some contributors erroneously think, for a new workers party.

    You first stood an independent candidate against the Labour Party in 1991, 24 years ago. She was Lesley Mahmood and she stood in Liverpool Walton as “Real Labour”.

    A year after that, in the 1992 general election, 23 years ago, you stood Dave Nellist as an “Independent Labour” candidate against Labour.

    Both Mahmood and Nellist were serious candidates with real support within the constituencies – I think both of them had the majority support of local CLP members at the time – and it’s a great pity neither of them won.

    I suppose one could argue that these two examples were similar to Ken livingstone’s 2000 candidacy in terms of being able to claim some real legitimacy.

    And perhaps it’s not surprising in the circumstances of that time that your tendency then resolved on a strategic perspective of building a completely new “Labour Party Mark II”.

    My objection is your consequent “fossilisation” of this strategic perspective – your complete and utter denial of the concrete reality of this current period, your dismissal of the very, very poor electoral results you keep getting (none of which are anywhere near the levels achieved by either Nellist or Mahmood in 1992 and 1991, which, although electorally unsuccessful were at least electorally competitive) your ludicrous argumetns about “sowing the seeds of the future” – all point to your having elevated this strategic perspective to the status of a permanent point of principle.

    As I’ve said a couple of times, I hope you guys do well in this election. But all I’m asking is that, if you poll as poorly in this election as you have been for the past decade – don’t you think you should engage in a collective strategic re-assessment?

  135. amnon on said:

    Karl Stewart: As I’ve said a couple of times, I hope you guys do well in this election. But all I’m asking is that, if you poll as poorly in this election as you have been for the past decade – don’t you think you should engage in a collective strategic re-assessment?

    Absolutely not. We are not promising anything in terms of the number of votes we will get this time round. But we have raised the ideas of a fighting socialist alternative to Austerity to many people and had some useful coverage in the media.

    Our electoral opportunities will come after we have been the experience of a Labour
    government continuing the Tory’s brutal cuts, and attacking the very people who voted for it.

  136. Karl Stewart on said:

    Question: “If you poll as poorly in this election as you have been for the past decade – don’t you think you should engage in a collective strategic re-assessment?”

    Answer: “Absolutely not”

    But how do you hope to move forward if you won’t even consider the possibility that, along the way, there may be a need to collectively re-assess your strategic perspectives?

    Concrete material political conditions do change from time to time and they require that we re-assess and adapt accordingly.

    For example, your original assessment that we needed a Labour Party Mark II, which you arrived at way back in the early 1990s, was a change from your previous position – it was a colective re-assessment.

    The Labour Party Mark II position was arrived at through collective discussion and debate within your organisation based on vigorous discussion and debate between different perspectives – each of the different positions, and the eventual policy agreed upon were based on analysis of material, concrete conditions of the time.

    But today, you’re ruling out any future discussion, debate, or potential re-assessment of your current perspective – it seems as if you’ve elevated this present strategic orientation to the level of permanent political principle.

    Are you saying that all the necessary thinking has now been completed?

  137. amnon on said:

    It is not the first. But all indications are that it will be the worst.

    The leadership have made no secret of its Austerity plans.
    So many people do know what to expect. That is why
    Labour has failed to pull ahead of the Tories in the polls.
    But others will give Labour the benefit of the doubt.
    For the time being.

  138. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: Whether you like it or not politically in April 1995, the dropping of the Socialist Clause – Clause 4 Part 4 – from the Labour Party constitution meant the cementing the ideas of profit and privatisation into the heart and soul of the Labour Party and it became another capitalist party. We in the CWI have argued, debated, since 1995, not 24 years as some contributors erroneously think, for a new workers party. After the ending of Clause four part four was taken there have been a number of attempts to form the precursor – or stepping stones if you like – to a new party of working class representation, as the Labour Party was.

    I thought the internal debate within Militant, which resulted in the “Open Turn” and the departure of Grant and Woods etc, took place in 1991. You seem to be presenting your “Open turn” as a response to the 1995 Labour Party decision to ditch Clause Four.

  139. John Grimshaw on said:

    amnon: It is not the first. But all indications are that it will be the worst.

    On what basis Amnon do you think it will be the worst? Worse than Blair? Or worse than MacDonald? I think maybe you can’t be certain about your assertion especially when the leader of the LP is often under attack from his own right wing of which Blair is a significant part. This isn’t to say that I have any illusions in the LP, they are just what they are. Rather I think that it is some of the comrades in the SP who have illusions. Ironically given their anti-Labour stance when before they were pro-Labour. The LP MK 2 formulation means that you are precisely still holding a candle for some non-revolutionary half way house parliamentary road to socialism, doesn’t it?

    As it happens round here in Bethnal Green I have decided to support the LU/TUSC candidate who I have known for some time. He is not a member of any left organisation but I think he might’ve been in your mob some years ago. The reasons for this are twofold. First he is a genuine and sincere person with a lot of local knowledge and a base in housing which of course is a big issue round here. Whilst not describing himself as a revolutionary, he just says I am a socialist, he is nevertheless to the left of the sitting MP. He is also anti-sectarian which is no bad thing. Secondly, as I discussed with him yesterday he is not going to come anywhere near Rushanara Ali. Were this any sort of marginal I would not want to campaign for any candidate that would let the Tories/UKIP in by default. In my view we have to use the election to profile socialist views and build for the future. Whether of course that can happen is up to us.

  140. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    POST 170 – Yes indeed the Open Turn relating to Scotland only took place in 1991, and I was involved in that debate in the south east of England, which developed the establishment of SCOTTISH MILITANT LABOUR. But the establishment of MILITIANT LABOUR in England and Wales did not take place until March 1993. The destruction of the once workers’ party, – despite it having a bourgeoisie leadership of Britain – the Labour Party, finally took place in April 1995 after a long period, I would suggest from 1981 with the defeat of Tony Benn in the Deputy leadership and given an impetus after the defeat of the Miners’ Strike in 1985, of right wing victories; and the two issues while related are entirely different.

    The debate on Scottish perspectives and tasks that Militant, and eventually the CWI internationally, had from April to November 1991 was about a most fundamental issue; and that is how to win mass support for the ideas of Marxism within the working class in a changing objective situation. The tactic of the British section of the CWI, and in particular of its Scottish members, required a reassessment based on the then currently existing circumstances. This was about how to relate the ideas of Marxism to the active working class in Scotland who were NOT joining the Labour Party in the late 80s and early 90s. At that stage Militant was not calling for a new workers’ party; it was only after the ending of the Socialist Clause, Clause Four Part, in April 1995 did Militant Labour call for the establishment of a new workers’ party. Even though Militant Labour only had a few members who were still actively involved in the Labour Party we fought tooth and nail to the best of our ability within the affiliated trade unions and CLPs that Militant Labour had friendly relationships with to retain Clause Four Part Four but to no avail; because the objective conditions had changed the Labour Party milieu. Nevertheless, I would like to add that the process of bourgeoisification of the Labour Party went much further than anticipated in when we had the Scottish debate in 1991 and the CWI assessed and re-assessed the new objective perspectives and tasks all through the subjectively terrible 90s and the Militant changed its name, first to Militant Labour in 1993 after the ‘Open Turn’ in Scotland and then later, in 1997, to the Socialist Party and launched a new weekly paper, ‘The Socialist’. And I was involved in all these enthralling theoretical and practical debates down in the south east of England and I still have all the documents to all these debates as well.

  141. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,
    Thanks for taking the time to explain what was decided and when JimmyH.
    For what it’s worth, my view at the time (from the outside) was that the ‘open turn’ was the right strategy at that time and I became invoilved with the SLP for a few years.

    But I think the political objective and material conditions are quite changed compared to that period in my view and I think the election of a Labour government is the best step forward at this time.

  142. Andy Newman on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: And I was involved in all these enthralling theoretical and practical debates down in the south east of England and I still have all the documents to all these debates as well.

    Those documents may be a great comfort to you in future years

  143. Andy Newman on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,

    You see Jimmy, the process of debate and rationalisation that you describe the SP going through, is very much that of a sect.

    I don’t mean to be perjorative, I mean that in a technical sense. I wrote about this previously
    http://socialistunity.com/swp-explaining-the-paradox/

    I think part of the problem of discussing cult like behaviour is that the language is so value laden. Some of this has been deliberate, for example, discussion of “thought reform” models in professional psychiatry in the 1950s was partially informed by the idea that unwilling converts could be inducted and converted to Communism. This cold war model unfortunately dominates the sensationalist outlook of “On the Edge, Political Cults Right and Left” by Dennis Tourish and Tim Wohlforth; and can be summarized as a delegitimizing technique to isolate political radicals as “weird people who believe crazy stuff”

    That is why professionals, sociologists, social-anthropologits, psychologists and psychiatrists prefer to use the value neutral terminology of New Religious Movements (NRM) with the confusing caveat that some NRMs are not religions!

    Nor should we accept any necessary permanence or validity of the current organisation or ideology of mainstream society, just because it is mainstream.

    Pattison and Ness in their paper “New Religious Movements in Perspective” refer to a useful definition of religion (and correspondingly to secular belief-oriented organizations).

    “A religion is to be found where persons take it for granted that their own ethos corresponds to the meaning of the Cosmos” Applying this definition … we recognize three analytical dimensions: 1) the creation of an ethos , 2) a process of cosmization, and 3) the reification of ethos with cosmos.

    The relationships between ideology, ethos and belief is complex. Some cults become the mainstream ideology of society, and recast social ethos in so doing. some organized belief systems act as mainstream religion in one part of the world, but act as a sect in other parts of the world (the difference in practice of the Church of the Latter Day Saints in Utah, compared to the practice of the same organisation in the Baptist dominated Southern USA is interesting)

    Some taxonomy may help, where a mainstream religion or political movement to an extent posseses the virtue of verdicality (truth correspondence) between the belief groups ethos (their habitual character and behaviour), and their social cosmos ( the society they live in).

    The language of sects and cults developed in mediaeval religious discourse, and has been adopted by ethnographers and sociologists, but it unnecessarily pejorative.

    A sect may be regarded as a variant of the mainstream politcs or religion; and sect members may live in both the mainstream cosmos, and participate in the ethos of their group, depsite the fact that there is tension; and lack of verdicality. For example, someone who beleived themselves to be a Bolshevik revolutionary in twenty-first century Britain, could function effectively in most situations, but their political practice is orthogonal to the social and political institutions of our society, which will limit their political effectiveness outside of short term radical campaigns; and there will be a tension between their big ambitions and the groups limited achievements.

    A cult seeks to resolve this lack of verdicality by limiting their interaction with mainstream society. This can be dramatic, such as the migration of the Pilgrim fathers to the Americas. Or it can be undramatic, where cult members simply immerse themselves more and more in the routine and ritual of their religious or political observance.

    To use the example of the SWP:

    There are a number of very well grounded SWP members, who combine the basic politics of the organisation with a fairly active engagement in mainstream trade union and outwards looking campaigning activity. There is also, however, a bureaucratic core to the SWP, of the CC and full time organisers, and there is also a large layer of lay members of the SWP whose politics activity is all “party building” – paper sales, meetings, the contrived hot-house debates about theory, packing meetings of front organisations, etc.

    Harker’s testimony suggests the operation of quite a complex social interaction of an immanent cult within a sect; and it is the tendency towards cultishness from the bureaucracy that creates the bullying culture, and the haughty arrogance of those whose authority is entirely self-referential from within the SWP. Richard Seymour, the SWP’s celebrity blogger confirms this insulation from outside society: “[the CC] can offer no lead to members beyond thrusting them out into that ‘real world’ they are all completely insulated from” (emphasis in the original)

    It seems to me from the outside that the paradox of a cultish leadership kernel within a sect is as well developed in the SP as in the SWP, hence the Dearest Leader being in power for 50 years

  144. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman,
    I’d agree with much of that, but I did get the feeling, albeit from the outside, at the time (when the ‘open turn’ was being discussed within what was then Militant), that there was a real clash of different ideas and perspectives.

    But unfortunately, the immediate departure of the ‘losing’ side – people of political weight and consequence within that tendency – meant that the organisation was left with no countervailing political forces, so today, when the prospect of an LPmk2 have clearly ebbed, there doesn’t appear to be anyone with sufficient standing within the tendency to argue that case.

  145. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 174 – you see Andy the CWI/Militant/Socialist Party is in no comparison to the SWP of which you were a member of, whether it be politically, or theoretically, or organisationally so with all due honesty your thesis of a sect, which by the way is sociologically and intellectually weak, bares no relevance to my comment on post 172. I was asked a question by Karl Stewart and I was actually giving a politically, theoretical and organisational reason of why Karl Stewart was erroneous when he states that Militant/Socialist Party was calling for a new workers’ party for 24 years; nothing more nothing less. While this is your internet blog I believe you are trolling here, rather than developing a serious question to the post above.

  146. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,
    Do you agree with me that it was a great pity that the “losers” of the ‘open turn’ debate left your tendency rather than staying in at the time? Or were they left with no choice?

  147. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    POST 178 – quite frankly after 23 and a bit years and a complete sea-change in the objective political and social landscape I think your question is extraneous. But after a full and democratic debate within the ranks of Militant, and remember I was there, in which the views of the majority were overwhelmingly endorsed – not because of the charisma of one leader as Andy et al like to peddle but because it ran true to the concrete objective conditions of the time. At the special Militant conference in November 1991 the views of the minority, Ted Grant, et al, received only 7% of the votes. The minority decided to leave the Militant within a few months and that was their decision and choice. To be honest for Militant to have followed Ted Grant in 1991 – especially in Scotland and in England and Wales 2 years later, but I was already expelled from the Labour Party – and remained in the Labour Party in the 1990s and the 2000s it would have been the death knell for the CWI theoretically and politically let alone organisationally in Britain and despite all the difficulties of being an open party in an extremely subjectively difficult situation following the collapse of Stalinism. The ending of the Socialist Clause that the Blairites carried out in April 1995 was the death knell of the Labour Party as an organisation for working class representation and that is the reason the CWI in Britain has been raising the need for a new workers’ party; that is something we could not have done if we were still in the Labour Party 20 years ago. So I DO NOT AGREE with you one iota in your thesis.

  148. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow,
    With respect, I think you’ve misunderstood my point. I thopught at the time, from outside, that the ‘open turn’ was the right strategy in the circumstances – I’m not saying you made the wrong decision then.

    My points were, firstly, that I think the LPmk2 strategy has not worked, and unless there’s a real breakthrough this election, then it will clearly be time for a strategic re-assessment.

    And secondly, that it’s a great pity that those who ‘lost’ the ‘open turn’ debate immediately left. But that’s a general problem with left groups as a whole, in that they seem unable to contain differences, and unable to appreciate that this would be a source of strength.

  149. Vanya on said:

    #173 Like you I ageed with the shared analysis of Scargill and the CWI which is why, like you I joined the SLP.

    Also, like you I don’t share that analysis now. However I’m not sure that I now believe it was correct at the time to launch a new party as an immediate challenge to Labour. Certainly the Labour Party did not develop in the way it was believed that it would in a relatively short period of time, wwhatever the longer term tragectory.

    I think probably I should have done what I did recently and joined the CP.

  150. Karl Stewart:
    Jimmy Haddow,
    Do you agree with me that it was a great pity that the “losers” of the ‘open turn’ debate left your tendency rather than staying in at the time? Or were they left with no choice?

    Many of those who left had made a great contribution to our work in the past. And the issue at stake was a tactical one – where we work. We have worked
    in various different areas in different countries in different times.
    For them to elevate this question to one of principle, and leave the organisation
    they had helped to build over it, in my opinion was crazy.

    Ted Grant and his followers should have accepted that they did not have the support of the majority of members at on this question. They should have stayed in the
    organisation, reserving the right to re-open the question in the light of experience.

    The Minority’s main contention, which in their eyes justified the split was that the place for Socialists was inside the Labour Party. They went on to found Socialist Appeal, which put these ideas to the test. They still are inside the Labour Party, and, I believe, even have some councillors. So Socialist Appeal was a laboratory test of their ideas.
    Have they succeeded in winning the Labour Party to a fighting Socialist programme? Does this strategy look likely to succeed? I will leave this for the readers decide.

  151. Have any Socialist Appeal members in the Labour Party become Councillors? Is that true?

  152. Vanya on said:

    #182 So did the Grant/Woods current share the assessment of the majority that the fundamental class character of the Labour Party had changed?

    If so I agree that the question was a tactical one.

    But surely not if they continued to regard the Labour Party as a (social democratic) mass party of the working class?

    After all, the majority would not have left the Labour Party if that had continued to be YOUR assessment. (Not shouting btw, my android device doesn’t allow font variation!)

  153. Karl Stewart on said:

    Amnon,
    Thanks for those points Amnon, particularly good to hear that you do consider the “LPmk2” question to be a tactical/strategic one rather than one of permanent principle.

    I also welcome the reasoned tone of your criticisms of your erstwhile comrades who are now in Socialist Appeal – that’s not the talk of a ‘cultist’.

    Like Vanya, I’ve also recently applied to rejoin the CP and I’d be interested to hear our SP friends views on the British Road to Socialism programme.

  154. John Grimshaw on said:

    #182 Hi Amnon I’m a little confused here.

    Amnon: And the issue at stake was a tactical one – where we work. We have worked
    in various different areas in different countries in different times.

    The contribution you made above is not at all surely to do with what we are discussing. Any socialist organisation can surely work in different countries etc. whilst maintaining the view that the LP is a mass party of the working class. The two are not exclusive. What you are talking about is not a tactical issue. On the other hand a fundamental issue which would seriously affect practice would be the sort of turn that the SP majority took in the early 1990s. This would, and did, it seems to me lead to a serious change in practice. I fail to see how what later came to be Socialist Appeal could avoid a split under such circumstances.

    Amnon: The Minority’s main contention, which in their eyes justified the split was that the place for Socialists was inside the Labour Party.

    This above compounds my confusion. Having said earlier that Grant left the SP purely on tactical grounds you in the same contribution seem to imply that in fact the opposite was true.

    Amnon: Have they succeeded in winning the Labour Party to a fighting Socialist programme? Does this strategy look likely to succeed?

    No and no. But I was never 100% convinced that this is what the LP was before your turn. Certainly that this was never exactly the criteria that should be used to define what the LP is/was. Rather it was their organic links with the Trades Union movement and the illusions that the party sows in the British Working Class.

  155. Karl Stewart on said:

    John Grimshaw,
    I think there’s a need for clarity on questions of principle, strategy and tactics here.

    If someone rejected the essential principles of the SP/Militant, or indeed of any organisation, then of coursethere’d be little point in them remaining.

    If it’s just a disagreement over a tactic – then of course there’s no logical basis for leaving, it’s a case of accepting the majority view while retaining the right to re-open the question at a later stage.

    But questions of strategy fall in between those two don’t they? And I think it would probably have been difficult for the ‘anti-open turn’ people to have remianed in an organisation committed to a quite fundamental and long-term strategic perspective as ‘LPmk2’ has been.

  156. Ian Drummond on said:

    Btw Socialist Appeal in Scotland are no longer in Labour. Having, correctly imho, been part of the winning No side, they’ve now made the absurdly opportunistic turn of joining the rump scab SSP to engage with the post-referendum pro-independence “45er” surge. In fact they left Labour in the middle of Neil Findlay’s campaign for Scottish leader; I’m not in Labour myself but if I was a serious left campaign for the leadership would be the very last time to leave!

    Now, haven’t we discussed the CWI and its splinters enough 😉 And given the original focus of my article, comrades who can make it may be interested that there’s a national supporters’ push this weekend in Bradford West for Galloway…

  157. Karl Stewart on said:

    Ian Drummond: Now, haven’t we discussed the CWI and its splinters enough 😉 And given the original focus of my article

    Fair point Ian – best of luck to GG 😉

  158. Vanya on said:

    #189 Yes Bradford West is one of very few seats where my preference would not be a Labiur victory.

  159. John Grimshaw on said:

    Vanya:
    #189 Yes Bradford West is one of very few seats where my preference would not be a Labiur victory.

    Given the tactics being used in Bradford West by Galloway and MacKay against the LP candidate Naz i.e. accusing her of lying about her age of arranged marriage and the circumstances surrounding it and grubbily sending some one off to Mirpur to find the documentation, I’m not sure my preference would be for Galloway.

  160. Vanya on said:

    #191Given the complexities and my lack of detailed knowledge on the subject I’m not going to comment.

  161. John Grimshaw on said:

    Vanya,

    Fair enough. I wouldn’t expect a Man Utd supporter to understand complexity or to have detailed knowledge. 🙂

  162. Karl Stewart on said:

    John Grimshaw,
    As our Prime Minister says:

    “The great thing about this country is you can be a Man United fan and support England and Team GB – I’d prefer if you support West Ham…I ‘m a Villa fan I don’t know why I said that…”

  163. John Grimshaw on said:

    Vanya,

    I think your old man used to say “I hate bloody Everton!” Sorry guys I’ll stop the football nonsense now. 🙂