Just so that people don’t think I am one-sided…

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…

About rozkaveney

Middleaged, trans, novelist, poet, activist
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19 Responses to Just so that people don’t think I am one-sided…

  1. autopope says:

    Au contraire, please do explain why you’re not going to vote LibDem. (I’m currently planning to do so; if you know something about them that I don’t and that might change my position I’d like to know.)

  2. autopope says:

    Au contraire, please do explain why you’re not going to vote LibDem. (I’m currently planning to do so; if you know something about them that I don’t and that might change my position I’d like to know.)

  3. camies says:

    It is a very odd and unholy alliance to be sure. In Scotland AIUI the SWP has thrown in its lot with the Scottish Socialist Party, which seems to make a lot more sense. I do know people on the left who wouldn’t vote for Respect because it includes religious groups.
    It isn’t just queer brothers and sisters who wasted time thinking the SWP was their natural home….

  4. smallship1 says:

    If you find anybody at all worth voting for (some measure of integrity coupled with an actual chance of making a difference) I’d certainly be interested…

  5. burntcopper says:

    I’m adding to the question on the Lib Dem views.
    I’m planning to vote for them (sadly there is no Monster Raving Loony Party candidate in our district), and would like to hear views.

  6. burntcopper says:

    I’m adding to the question on the Lib Dem views.

    I’m planning to vote for them (sadly there is no Monster Raving Loony Party candidate in our district), and would like to hear views.

  7. madam_miaow says:

    No respect for “Respect”
    He who panders to the religious, patriarchal Right shouldn’t squeal ‘not fair’ when he gets swatted by the very forces he’s been happy to see unleashed on others.
    OR
    He who hold the tiger by the tail gets bit on the bum, Grasshopper.
    Pandas, tigers — the state of current British politics, it’s all power-hungry jungle stuff to me.
    Well spotted, Roz.
    Madam Miaow
    http://www.annachen.co.uk/
    http://www.annachen.co.uk/news

  8. madam_miaow says:

    No respect for “Respect”

    He who panders to the religious, patriarchal Right shouldn’t squeal ‘not fair’ when he gets swatted by the very forces he’s been happy to see unleashed on others.
    OR
    He who hold the tiger by the tail gets bit on the bum, Grasshopper.

    Pandas, tigers — the state of current British politics, it’s all power-hungry jungle stuff to me.

    Well spotted, Roz.

    Madam Miaow

    http://www.annachen.co.uk/
    http://www.annachen.co.uk/news

  9. ffutures says:

    Me too; given that where I live there is little or no chance of a Labour victory, but the LibDems might have a chance, I’m probably voting for them on tactical grounds.

  10. the_gardener says:

    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.
    Whenever it’s charged with anti-semitism, the SWP responds by making great play of the fact that Tony Cliff was a Palestinian Jew and that it is therefore impossible for it to be anything but pro-semitic. But I can remember when I was working in a local office of what was then the Department for Social Security in the 1980s, when it seemed that one out of every three trade union activists or trade union committee members was a member of the SWP (subsumed at times into an ad hoc alliance called the Broad Left to make it seem less sectarian), and I can scarcely recall a more anti-semitic bunch. When ethnic monitoring of DSS staff was introduced by management in the 1987 or thereabouts, the SWP people launched a ferocious campaign to have the descriptor “orthodox Jew” added to the form. Their claim was that this would enable management to identify instances of discrimination against same; to everyone else, it was obvious that the SWP wanted to identify Jews so that it could harrass them about Israel and Palestine.

  11. the_gardener says:

    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.

    Whenever it’s charged with anti-semitism, the SWP responds by making great play of the fact that Tony Cliff was a Palestinian Jew and that it is therefore impossible for it to be anything but pro-semitic. But I can remember when I was working in a local office of what was then the Department for Social Security in the 1980s, when it seemed that one out of every three trade union activists or trade union committee members was a member of the SWP (subsumed at times into an ad hoc alliance called the Broad Left to make it seem less sectarian), and I can scarcely recall a more anti-semitic bunch. When ethnic monitoring of DSS staff was introduced by management in the 1987 or thereabouts, the SWP people launched a ferocious campaign to have the descriptor “orthodox Jew” added to the form. Their claim was that this would enable management to identify instances of discrimination against same; to everyone else, it was obvious that the SWP wanted to identify Jews so that it could harrass them about Israel and Palestine.

  12. smileserena says:

    I don’t know the details of why some individuals may have been expelled by the SWP because of joining the GLF as I wasn’t around for it and have not heard that before. What I do know is that the SWP is a revolutionary socialist organisation that chooses it’s tactics according to the political period.
    Respect is a united front, with the purpose of bringing together people (who don’t have the same political perspective on everything) on particular issues – in this case opposing the invasion of Iraq, racism and capitalism in order to agitate. Yes, that means sharing a platform with people who have hugely different views on other issues like abortion and gay rights and I guess that must seem treacherous to some on the left but it is a political tactic and should be viewed as such. With over a million people marching against the invasion of Iraq in London, that kind of mobilisation of political sentiment needed to be channeled somewhere and if the SWP felt it right to join a united front, so be it. The SWP do not believe in reforming the system and are not looking to form the next government. Their goal is to agitate amongst the working class and oppressed groups, raise political arguments and recruit people to revolutionary idea’s.
    I’m genuinely saddened to see the SWP’s anti-zionist position continuing to be labelled as anti-semitism, what a shame.

  13. smileserena says:

    I don’t know the details of why some individuals may have been expelled by the SWP because of joining the GLF as I wasn’t around for it and have not heard that before. What I do know is that the SWP is a revolutionary socialist organisation that chooses it’s tactics according to the political period.

    Respect is a united front, with the purpose of bringing together people (who don’t have the same political perspective on everything) on particular issues – in this case opposing the invasion of Iraq, racism and capitalism in order to agitate. Yes, that means sharing a platform with people who have hugely different views on other issues like abortion and gay rights and I guess that must seem treacherous to some on the left but it is a political tactic and should be viewed as such. With over a million people marching against the invasion of Iraq in London, that kind of mobilisation of political sentiment needed to be channeled somewhere and if the SWP felt it right to join a united front, so be it. The SWP do not believe in reforming the system and are not looking to form the next government. Their goal is to agitate amongst the working class and oppressed groups, raise political arguments and recruit people to revolutionary idea’s.

    I’m genuinely saddened to see the SWP’s anti-zionist position continuing to be labelled as anti-semitism, what a shame.

  14. madam_miaow says:

    When some of us were urging the SWP in the STWC to ensure that Jewish anti-war organisations such as the Jewish Socialist Group were represented on platforms, we were met with a resounding negative. When one person, a steering committee member who happened to be a Jew, pressed the matter, practically drawing diagrams to explain why it was dangerous for Jews, as opposed to Zionists, to be left to carry the can for the war, Lindsey German told him he was being “over-sensitive” on the matter.
    BTW, the STWC was built on the spine of the Socialist Alliance, which had been working flat out, leading up to the big Feb 15th demo for more than a year following September 11 by organising and publicising the big London protests over Afghanistan and in advance of the Iraq war. Instead of putting the anti-war movement first, the SWP took the opportunity to screw over fellow socialists in the SA, squandered the million or more marchers (credit for turnout also due to the Mirror newspaper), and dismantled the Birmingham STWC — one of the biggest and healthiest in the country — resulting in principled SWP members leaving in disgust. Good account of this at: http://www.sue.be/politics/swp/
    Regarding smileserena’s “political tactics”, the SWP also relish doing another Kronstaadt, as taught in their district organiser schools. Just more “political tactics”? Depends on whether smileserena is looking down the barrel or along the gunsight.

  15. madam_miaow says:

    When some of us were urging the SWP in the STWC to ensure that Jewish anti-war organisations such as the Jewish Socialist Group were represented on platforms, we were met with a resounding negative. When one person, a steering committee member who happened to be a Jew, pressed the matter, practically drawing diagrams to explain why it was dangerous for Jews, as opposed to Zionists, to be left to carry the can for the war, Lindsey German told him he was being “over-sensitive” on the matter.

    BTW, the STWC was built on the spine of the Socialist Alliance, which had been working flat out, leading up to the big Feb 15th demo for more than a year following September 11 by organising and publicising the big London protests over Afghanistan and in advance of the Iraq war. Instead of putting the anti-war movement first, the SWP took the opportunity to screw over fellow socialists in the SA, squandered the million or more marchers (credit for turnout also due to the Mirror newspaper), and dismantled the Birmingham STWC — one of the biggest and healthiest in the country — resulting in principled SWP members leaving in disgust. Good account of this at: http://www.sue.be/politics/swp/

    Regarding smileserena’s “political tactics”, the SWP also relish doing another Kronstaadt, as taught in their district organiser schools. Just more “political tactics”? Depends on whether smileserena is looking down the barrel or along the gunsight.

  16. smileserena says:

    Thanks for the link Ms Miaow, it was interesting to read a bunch of articles criticising the SWP but sadly it just reminded me of how much the left fights within itself instead of focusing on the real enemies.
    I guess I’ll just return to my armchair then!

  17. smileserena says:

    Thanks for the link Ms Miaow, it was interesting to read a bunch of articles criticising the SWP but sadly it just reminded me of how much the left fights within itself instead of focusing on the real enemies.

    I guess I’ll just return to my armchair then!

  18. dmsherwood53 says:

    More of the same
    This election likey. My Wet dream would be a catosgraphic collapse of the ConservATIVE vote leading to the development of socialist splintwr party from Labour & so we go forth into a Left dominated future.

  19. dmsherwood53 says:

    More of the same

    This election likey. My Wet dream would be a catosgraphic collapse of the ConservATIVE vote leading to the development of socialist splintwr party from Labour & so we go forth into a Left dominated future.

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