Sunday, September 16, 2007

Respect: things can only get better?

Most people would have served Thatcher a cup of hemlock to hasten her demise and a chance for her to see her old mucker, Pinochet. Instead Gordon Brown gave her PG Tips (or whatever the quality of tea they have at No. 10) and spent chatting for a couple of hours. I imagine they were exchanging tips in how to screw the workers.

Just how far will Gordon Brown go…?

Inviting every Tory on the block as an adviser, private equity pals and not a socialist in sight. Brown is marking his territory by pissing on the Left. His self-styled government of “all talents” is going back to an old-fashion concept of politics. It echoes an 18th century understanding of political parties where groupings of the ruling class were looser and informal. Unlike modern day political parties, the 18th century style of governance was much more fluid and made up of coalitions of individual members of the ruling class. They were closed from and not amenable to ordinary people.

Overall they were out of touch and democracy was a pipedream: rather like what we have with Gordon Brown. And his further attacks on LP democracy only further emphasise this.

We are gearing up for LP conference with the union leaderships, at the moment, against these proposals. Public sector workers possibly striking over pay claims, the impact of the credit crunch on the economy (which is an attack on the working class because borrowers will pay for it through higher interest rates and low interest rates for savers). It is all heating up for Brown.

Therefore the best place for socialists is the LP. There is a fight to be had with the LP and also with the union bureaucracy. What amazes me somewhat is that comrades prefer to battle it out in Respect. Alan Thornett’s piece in Socialist Resistance gives a list of modest proposals. One being: “We have to accept that Respect is a start, but only a start in building a genuinely broad left wing alternative to New Labour.” And, “It must have clear socialist politics”.

That fact that Alan is still arguing for this after 2-3 years of Respect is amazing though unsurprising. My view is that if you still have to reiterate the same old demands year in then if it aint happening now then it kinda won’t! How can Respect have the capacity to build, grow and recruit when it is run by two unstable political forces that piss on democracy and transparency? And of course we are seeing the tensions betweens these two forces at the same time as attacks on the working class increase.

And there’s a prospect of a faction fight come the conference in November. How is that appealing to disillusioned lefties? If perhaps Galloway gets his way and the SWP become marginalized then will the bland progressive demands, ironically, disappear altogether?

The SWP opted for a popular front style operation and have accommodated to and capitulated to religion. Instead of fighting for socialist policies (like the SA, for example) they have simply sold-out though they have initially offered a couple of sops to appease the discontented (Lesbian and Gay rights, woman’s right to choose). Also, why does Galloway go on about Gay Pride in his letter? Why has Respect not broken out of its ghetto?

Respect’s composition is based on two conflicting political forces, religion and socialism. It gives rise to instability and this exposes why the popular front is utterly disastrous in this situation. It will inevitably lead to implosion and destruction.
And comrades, what is so wrong with secularism, something in the past socialists had no problem supporting?

The Left in Respect believes that some left alternative to Labour will draw the masses towards itself. The International Marxist Group in the 1970’s used the expression “revolutionary pole of attraction” to sum up this thinking. It does not work. The experience is similar to Ground Hog Day; the SLP, the Socialist Alliance, the Campaign for a New Workers Party and of course Respect.

The lessons are never learned and there is no analysis of why this method fails. Just charge into the next grouping hoping this will be the One. It never is. The same template is used possibly with minor alternations; stuck in the same sectarian mindset with some democratic centralist group running the show with the argument that it is plural and socialist yet it stays stunted growth wise. There’s no cool analysis or balance sheet written about these experiences instead we have a “fools rush in” mentality. No wonder this fails whether it is the SA, SLP, CNWP and in all probability Respect.

Surely we need to adjust our political interventions by rethinking our strategy such as what are people out in the big wide world interested in? Not to hector and lecture people about the revolutionary party etc.

I wrote some months ago why Socialists should be in the LP and got earache from the comrades outside the LP who, funnily enough, didn’t convince me to leave the LP.

My conclusions remain the same.

"Why hang around outside when you could be inside fighting with other socialists and making a big noise in British politics?"

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