I have been musing on the politics of Respect, the Islamist/Trot alliance which is contesting a whole bunch of seats on an anti-war ticket, notably Bethnal Green down the road, where the awful anti-abortionist George Galloway is standing against the slick and untrustworthy Blairista Oona King, and oddly unprepared to denounce the anti-semitism of some of his supporters.
Youths allegedly wearing Respect badges stoned King and various elderly people who were laying wreaths on the site of the first V2 strike, which killed a number of people, most of them Jewish. It’s not just that Galloway didm’t rush to condemn this, it is also that he was not there helping lay the wreath himself.
( You always smell a rat when someone argues, as Respect has, that their opponent probably slashed their own tyres. Yes, George, and it wasn’t your mate Saddam who massacred the Marsh Arabs; they were just having a domestic and did it to themelves…)
Famously, Lindsey German, one of the Socialist Worker Party leaders who crafted the alliance out of which Respect was born, described ‘gay rights’ as a shibboleth which was not going to stand in the way of working with Muslims to whom they are anathema. People on the Left have rightly condemned her for this, but don’t seem to have paid attention to what she actually said, which is even more interesting.
What she said was “‘I’m in favour of defending gay rights,’ declared Lindsey German, the SWP leader. ‘But I am not prepared to have it as a shibboleth, [created by] people who won’t defend George Galloway and regard the state of Israel as somehow a viable presence.’ ”
Now, the linkage between gay rights and support for Israel is not an obvious one, and even I, aged as I am in iniquity, when I read her full words, did not register them at first. And then on one of the long walks where I do my thinking I remembered.
Back in the early days of GLF, the SWP, which was in the process of being formed out of the old International Socialism, expelled various of its members who got involved in GLF and refused to withdraw. Asked to justify this in Leninist terms, their ideologue Tony Cliff explained that Lenin was opposed to the presence in the International of the Jewish Bund, a Communist party which spent much of its energy promoting Jewish rights. The party must be one, said Cliff, and there is no room for diversion from concentrating on the revolution and the coming to power of the working class.
As a veteram of those days, Lindsey German is clearly thinking, at some level, of Cliff’s arguments, because why else link gay rights and Israel. I just see this as an interesting clarification of where she is coming from and mourning the wasted time of all those queer brothers and sisters who thought the SWP could ever be their natural home…
I’d like to vote in a way which protests against the war, but without making unsavoury political alliances in the process. And don’t get me started on why I am not going to vote Liberal Democrat…