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(July 9 2004)
24 May 2006
Respect - a reply to the SWP
THE SOCIALIST, the Socialist Party’s weekly newspaper,
carried an article in issue 439 by Judy Beishon on Respect’s
election results (see below). Some, particularly the Socialist
Workers’ Party (SWP), the backbone of Respect, objected to the
following statement in the article: "Respect declares that
their twelve council seats in Tower Hamlets are ‘one more than the
BNP in Barking and Dagenham’. This would be a cause for great
celebration by the left as a whole, if it had been achieved on a
clear class-based programme. But instead, unfortunately, Respect
could unconsciously further the beginnings of a polarisation based
on racial division, by not countering the growing perception that it
is a ‘party for Muslims’."
The SWP made its objection in its ‘Party Notes’, which it
distributes internally within their party. Why have they not
publicly taken up the Socialist Party and others if they feel so
strongly about our criticisms and, it seems, those of Bob Crow (of
the railway workers’ union RMT)? The increased number of
councillors for Respect is an important political development. It is
related, in our view, to the manifestation in this election of a
certain racial polarisation (See article in June 2006 issue of Socialism
Today ). Socialists should do nothing, even inadvertently, to
widen this divide, which is not wide or unbridgeable at present.
This was the concern of the Socialist Party in raising the above
criticisms of Respect and the SWP.
In their notes, the SWP wrote: "We have to take these
arguments on and should not be defensive in the slightest. These
people consciously ignore the excellent results of comrades like
Jerry in Bristol, Maxine in Sheffield and Albert in Harlesden. Our
candidates are not just Muslims – Olli Rahman, one of our
councillors is a PCS activist, Abdul Sheik a councillor in Newham is
an ex-shop steward at Fords in Dagenham and two of our key
candidates in Newham are RMT members (Bob Crow didn’t know this!
That may be because he didn’t look beyond our candidate’s
Are the criticisms of Respect and, by definition, the SWP made by
the Socialist Party and Bob Crow inaccurate and unfair? The simple
aphorism, ‘show me who your friends are and I’ll show you who
you are’ applies in politics. In the 2004 European and London
Authority elections, the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), as
Clive Heemskerk pointed out in the July/August 2004 edition of
Socialism Today, "gave selective support to Respect, claim[ing]
that support for Respect amongst Muslims was higher ‘in the five
regions where MAB specifically recommended Respect candidates…
endorsing the Muslim bloc phenomenon’. (MAB press release, First
step in the right direction, 17 June 2004)."
Our article went on to state: "MAB’s aim is clear, to
establish ‘a Muslim bloc’ to bargain for the ‘best deal for
Muslims’ from any party, including pro-capitalist ones, rather
than to join a drive for a new mass workers’ party that could
address the needs of all sections of the working class. Respect, by
portraying itself as ‘the party for Muslims’, unfortunately has
not challenged this approach, which will advance neither the real
interests of workers who are Muslims nor aid the development of
We also pointed out that if Respect represented a turning away
from Labour, now a capitalist party, by Asian workers towards a more
developed class consciousness, this would indeed be a positive step.
But, unfortunately, under the leadership of George Galloway and the
SWP, Respect has so far not acted as this bridge to a new workers’
party, but reinforced the idea of ‘Muslim interests’ completely
separate from those of other sections of the working class. Neither
the SWP nor George Galloway repudiated these criticisms at the time
nor do they in their current statement.
Despite the protestations of the SWP it remains a fact that all
the successful candidates for Respect were Asians. The SWP did not
get a single member of its party elected in 2006 and now has just
one councillor in Respect’s ranks, Michael Lavallette in Preston.
He was elected in 2003 under the banner of the Socialist Alliance.
The fact that some successful Respect council candidates were PCS
activists, for instance Oliur Rahman in Tower Hamlets, does not,
however, alter the political character of Respect.
During the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland and now there were
shop stewards in the ranks of Sinn Fein, some of whom were effective
in the workplace, often representing workers from both sides of the
religious divide. Some of these workers believed, no doubt, they
could appeal to Protestant workers on a political level because of
the industrial positions which they held. But the perception in the
eyes of Protestant workers of Sinn Fein as an organisation based on
one section of the Catholic community made it, and continues to make
it, impossible for this organisation to reach over the religious
divide to workers on the other side. That can only be done in
Northern Ireland through a new mass workers’ party, bringing
together Catholic and Protestant workers, which rejects the
sectarian policies of the main parties on both sides of the divide.
The Socialist Party in Northern Ireland has tirelessly worked for
this goal at a time, by the way, when the SWP at times acted as
uncritical supporters of Sinn Fein.
The situation in Britain is nowhere near that of Northern Ireland
at the present time. But the Northern Ireland of 35 years ago was
not what it is today. Before the Troubles, Catholic and Protestant
workers came together in the Northern Ireland Labour Party, which
managed to win 100,000 votes in the 1970 general election. Despite
its limitations, this represented a bridgehead for the beginnings of
a process for cementing class unity. Unfortunately, this prospect
was shattered through the ‘troubles’ and the resulting sectarian
polarisation which scars the lives of workers in Northern Ireland
The lessons of this conflict and how it began, as well as other
examples from history of how the labour movement sought to overcome
religious or sectarian divisions, is lost on the leadership of
Respect and particularly the SWP. The fact that some non-Asian, SWP
members, received reasonable votes in the circumstances, is to be
welcomed. But this does not undermine the perception among broad
layers of the working class, not just ourselves, that Respect is
narrowly based on one section of the community, including the
perception by many Asians, Muslims in particular, that it is ‘their’
party. Respect itself did nothing to refute this.
‘Save the NHS’ platform - a clear class issue
Contrast the approach of the SWP and Respect to the successful
campaign of Jackie Grunsell in Huddersfield. She stood on a ‘Save
the NHS’ platform, a clear class issue, which cut across communal
divisions. We wish that Respect had positioned itself and campaigned
in the same way because, as we explained in the socialist, if
these electoral victories of Respect had been on a clear class
programme and perspectives, the left would have welcomed this as a
starting point for a discussion on a new mass workers’ party. Of
necessity, this would also involve a discussion on the need for a
federal approach towards a new workers’ party, something the SWP
However, despite our criticisms of Respect and George Galloway,
we would still hope that, through a discussion – which involves
honestly dealing with political differences – the basis could be
laid for a common approach to assembling the forces of a new mass
workers’ party in Britain. Because of its origins, its appeal to
one section of the community, as well as its limited programme and
internal regime, Respect – if it continues on its present
trajectory – will not be able to break out of its present
17 May 2006
Dangers in Respect's development
RESPECT STOOD over 150 candidates and got 16 elected: 12 in Tower
Hamlets, three in Newham and one in Birmingham. The victories of
candidates standing against the Iraq war, privatisation and the
other neo-liberal attacks of New Labour and big business are
welcome. However there are also strong danger signs regarding
All of their winning candidates are from a Muslim background and
won predominately on the basis of Muslim votes in areas with high
Muslim populations. Winning support from working-class Muslim and
other Asian, black and immigrant communities is an essential task of
left and socialist parties. These communities face some of the worst
housing conditions, jobs and unemployment in Britain and also suffer
the consequences of increased racism.
However, the extreme difference between Respect's election
performance in those areas compared with areas with relatively few
Muslims is striking. Virtually all of Respect's results in towns and
cities such as Plymouth, Portsmouth, Cambridge, Liverpool, Newcastle
and Oxford were very much lower (around 2-300 votes) than their
votes in areas with high Muslim populations.
On its website, Respect declares that their twelve council seats
in Tower Hamlets are "one more than the BNP in Barking and
Dagenham". This would be a cause for great celebration by the
left as a whole, if it had been achieved on a clear class-based
programme. But instead, unfortunately, Respect could unconsciously
further the beginnings of a polarisation based on racial division,
by not countering the growing perception that it is a 'party for
The white working-class BNP voters of Barking and Dagenham will
only be won away from the BNP by a left party that puts forward a
class-based alternative. It is not so much a question of what
Respect's election material says, but of what it doesn't say. While
it puts across opposition to NHS cuts, council house privatisation,
the war in Iraq and other welcome positions, it does not
consistently include a class-based appeal to all sections of the
As the Socialist Party has repeatedly warned, it is necessary for
socialists to stand clearly and firmly on a fighting, class-based
programme that can unite working people from all sections of
society. In Kirklees, standing for 'Save Huddersfield NHS',
Socialist Party member Jackie Grunsell won a council seat with 2,176
votes and a majority of 807, by appealing to both white voters and a
significant Asian minority electorate. Victorious Socialist Party
candidates in Coventry and Lewisham have also appealed to all
sections of workers in those areas.
Another major challenge Respect now faces will be in living up to
expectations to improve the lives of people in Tower Hamlets. Some
of its new councillors there have a record of fighting privatisation
and cuts, but as the second largest political group on the council
they will soon be tested at a new level.
The housing, welfare and other urgent needs in that poverty
stricken borough cannot be solved with the money presently given by
the government and raised in local council tax. So Respect's
councillors will be faced with the choice of supporting cuts in some
services, increasing council tax, or of mobilising all sections of
the community into a major campaign to demand the necessary
resources from the government, as Liverpool's socialist councillors
did in the 1980s.
Respect has already shown - particularly through the behaviour of
its MP George Galloway - that its public representatives are far
from accountable to the party. This, combined with the fact that
many of its new councillors do not come from a socialist background,
is cause for concern in Tower Hamlets.
What is needed, is a united, campaigning team of councillors,
opposing all cuts and leading and basing themselves on the struggles
of workers from all religious and ethnic backgrounds. Only in this
way can a successful campaign be launched against the New Labour
government and council attacks on living standards and for the
resources necessary to transform people's lives.
discusses with Respect
Article from The Socialist March 2006
LAST YEAR the Socialist Party wrote to Respect, asking for a
meeting to discuss how our two organisations could best collaborate
in the task of overcoming the lack of political representation for
the working class. As a result, we were invited to meet Respect on 7
March. Judy Beishon reports.
Introducing the discussion, Hannah Sell restated that the
Socialist Party welcomes every positive step towards working-class
political representation. She went on to say, however, that although
we welcomed Respect's electoral successes, such as George Galloway's
victory in the 2005 general election, it is clear that Respect is
not at present developing into a sizable, effective force that can
represent all sections of the working class.
It has not developed into a force even equivalent to other
formations such as the WASG in Germany, the Left Bloc in Portugal
and the Brazilian P-SOL.
One reason is Respect's political approach and programme. It is
important, for instance, to recruit Muslim workers to a new workers'
formation, but this must be clearly based on a programme of
working-class unity across all sections of society. Otherwise, there
is the danger that divisions will be exacerbated, rather than unity
being developed towards formation of an effective mass force.
Unfortunately, the approach and material used by Respect, which
has achieved its electoral gains primarily by work in Muslim
communities on the issue of the Iraq war, has laid it open to the
perception of being a party predominantly for Muslims, with the
corresponding dangers this can bring. The Respect representatives at
the 7 March meeting dismissed our points on this issue and, without
presenting evidence, argued that Respect has broad appeal beyond the
Another reason for Respect's failure to develop as a vehicle of
working-class political representation, and the fundamental reason
why the Socialist Party has been unable to join Respect and argue
for our ideas from within, is because Respect is not organised on an
inclusive, federal basis.
It claims to be a coalition of different organisations and
opinions rather than a centralised party, but a large majority at
most of its meetings and rallies are members of the Socialist
Workers' Party (SWP). So on Respect's constitutional basis of
decision-making by 'one person, one vote', the SWP is able to decide
the outcome on most issues, from overall policy to the selection of
Many trade unionists, left activists and community campaigners
amongst others, are very wary of a 'coalition' which can be
manipulated behind the scenes by a single organisation. This is the
more so for workers who have had direct experience of the past
policies and methods of the SWP.
Because Respect does not have a genuinely federal constitution
that would have ensured that major decisions are taken on the basis
of agreement between the key participating organisations, or that
would have prevented the dominance of any single organisation, it
has prevented wider layers from joining.
Over time, with an influx of new workers and youth into one (or
more) new formations, federation-based constitutions could be
changed through democratic discussion and debate to structures
appropriate for the larger size, tasks and degree of political
agreement of the organisation.
But it is premature at this stage in England and Wales to have a
'party-type' constitution, especially considering the present level
of left and trade union forces involved in the necessary processes.
Unfortunately, the three Respect representatives at the 7 March
meeting made it clear that Respect would not reconsider the basis of
its present constitution. SWP member John Rees, Respect's national
secretary, said that its structure is already federal, as there is
no 'party political agreed position' and its members can campaign
for their own ideas. But such a broad political entity requires a
corresponding organisational federalism, which Rees does not
The other Respect representatives present, Tower Hamlets
councillor Oliur Rahman and International Socialist Group (ISG)
member Alan Thornett, said that the Socialist Party should join
Respect, but also believe no fundamental changes to be necessary.
Alan Thornett even argued that Respect needs more centralisation
rather than less, despite the fact that his group recently produced
a public statement criticising lack of accountability and democracy
Most of the measures they have supported are being implemented,
especially following Galloway's Big Brother performance, which
clearly revealed to Respect members the need for accountability of
public representatives. But the changes being made will not solve
Respect's problems, or alone lay the basis for it becoming a larger,
The Respect representatives accepted that Respect is still 'in
formation' and is not therefore the final word on a new workers'
party. But when invited to sign Respect up to the Campaign for a New
Workers Party (CNWP), they did not do so, though they agreed to
raise it at their next national council meeting and will send a
speaker to the 19 March conference.
July 9 2004
Votes At What Price?
An open letter to members and supporters of the Socialist
Workers’ Party (SWP) from the Socialist Party
The ideas of any socialist organisation meet their real test not
in conference halls and lecture theatres, but in their ability to
advance the struggles of working-class and young people
It is easy to claim to be a "revolutionary
party" standing in the Marxist tradition, but quite another to
prove in practice that you possess the ideas and methods
which are best placed to win a mass audience around to the need for
a socialist society, and to translate such a mood into a movement
capable of challenging capitalism.
Regrettably, the recent actions of the SWP betray a fundamental
lack of confidence that a significant layer of the working class can
be won to a clear, socialist programme.
Socialists and the anti-war movement
The movement against the war and subsequent occupation of Iraq
undoubtedly had a tremendously radicalising effect on millions of
people across the UK and worldwide, and united people of all ages
and ethnic backgrounds in a inspiring wave of popular protests
against the imperialist aggression sponsored by Bush and Blair.
We recognise the importance of building a broad Stop the War
Coalition which welcomed the participation of all those who opposed
war, and the significant role of the SWP in helping to initiate such
Yet although successive demonstrations and meetings provided a
platform for all kinds of speakers (pacifists, liberals, religious
speakers, and capitalist politicians…), organisations which put so
much energy into building the movement were consistently denied the
right to put forward a specifically socialist position.
SWP leaders spoke only in their capacity as Stop the War
Coalition officers, and restricted themselves to generalities which
even the most liberal elements would have struggled to disagree
This was in no way accidental, but instead the product of a
mistaken belief that putting a socialist analysis to the fore of the
movement would have narrowed its potential support. By contrast,
Charles Kennedy was allowed to reap the benefits of addressing the
February 15th demonstration, without being challenged on
his willingness to support imperialist aggression if sponsored by
the United Nations.
But do you really need to be shame-faced about putting forward
your socialist ideas? Isn’t the clarity of our ideas a positive
pole attraction for those who are looking not just to have their own
ideas echoed back to them, but who are searching instead for genuine
Indeed, if a bold socialist lead had been offered, this would
certainly have increased pressure on the trade union leaderships to
organise co-ordinated strike action against the war. This would have
been a major step forward for the anti-war movement, and could even
have brought Britain’s participation to an end.
‘New’ Labour and the political vacuum
Whilst Tony Blair’s support for the war on Iraq was, for many
people, the final straw in persuading them to leave the Labour
party, its support in working class areas had already been
haemorrhaging for a over a decade.
As the 1980s saw major workers’ struggles end in defeat, and
with the collapse of regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe,
the Labour leadership was able to carry through massive attacks on
the socialist component which had long been an important, though
never dominant, feature of the party.
Many of the most active socialists were subject to witch-hunts
and expulsions, democratic processes were scrapped, and the
long-standing commitment to public ownership in Clause IV of its
constitution was ditched in favour of support for the "dynamic
market economy". In short, the whole class nature of the Labour
party has undergone an irreversible seismic shift, to the point
where it has now become an out-and-out capitalist party committed
pushing through neo-liberal attacks.
With all three ‘main’ capitalist parties now sharing the same
fundamental agenda, thousands of workers and young people
understandably feel alienated from electoral politics.
There now exists a tremendous need for a mass workers’ party
and we support all steps towards establishing the foundations for
such an organisation. This is why the Socialist Party helped to
found the Socialist Alliance, which we hoped would bring together
genuine left forces under a common umbrella in order to offer a
united challenge to New Labour, a project unfortunately stifled by
the approach of the SWP.
Despite this setback, we are still supportive of any initiatives
which advance the emergence of a force capable of representing the
masses of working people. In particular we argued that the February
15th demonstration, which saw 2 million people on the
streets of London protesting against the war, would have been a
tremendous opportunity to launch such a formation.
Regrettably this opportunity was missed, but when Respect was
formed we maintained a sympathetic and constructive approach,
recognising that this was another opportunity which could have
accelerated momentum towards a new workers party. To this end, the
Socialist Party took part in discussions with Respect during the
first three months of this year.
However, in the event we concluded that we were unable to join
Respect at that point as we had a number of disagreements with the
approach Respect was taking, both on programme and democracy.
However, we hoped that our concerns would prove unfounded and that
Respect would develop positively.
Unfortunately, the European election campaign confirmed our worst
fears about the political direction of Respect. Completely
misunderstanding the reasons for its failure, Lindsey German claimed
(at Respect’s founding conference) that the Socialist Alliance
failed to attract sufficient support because it was too socialist,
since any explicit mention of socialism ‘inevitably’ narrows the
potential electoral support.
They try to present the idea of boldly presenting socialist ideas
before the working class as the discredited strategy of an
"old" left, incapable of breaking out of its small
enclaves of support. This false argument is exploded by the recent
results in the Euro elections, where Joe Higgins of the Socialist
Party polled 5.5% in Dublin on the basis of a socialist programme,
exceeding even Respect’s best performance (the 4.8% achieved in
London by George Galloway).
The Politics of RESPECT
Whilst the vote Respect received was good in some areas,
particularly Galloway’s 91,175 votes (4.84%) in the London Euro
seat, nationally their vote in the European elections averaged 1.7%,
or just over 250,000 votes.
This undoubtedly disappointed the leadership of Respect, who
exaggerated their electoral potential. For us, however, the issue is
not the vote as much as the means by which Respect achieved it.
For socialists, elections are just one occasion (by no means the
most important) to raise a programme of political demands which
builds upon and takes forward workers’ struggles, exposing the
contradictions of class society and demonstrating the necessity of
breaking with capitalism.
The programme we put forward should always be aimed at raising
the confidence and level of understanding of the working class.
Far from intimidating potential working class support, such a
bold, confident approach would demonstrate the relevance of
socialist ideas for confronting the problems which millions of
ordinary people worldwide confront on a daily basis.
This also means doing everything possible to encourage the unity
of the working class. That is why our sister organisation in
Northern Ireland has always fought for unity of the Catholic and
Protestant working class.
In Britain today, the reactionary policies of Blair and New
Labour are fostering division. Respect’s intention may not have
been to exacerbate those divisions, but the road to hell is paved
with good intentions.
Respect’s average vote disguised low results in many parts of
the country, which were combined with several notable votes in
inner-city areas with large Muslim populations.
In the City and East London constituency, an area with the
highest concentration of Muslims in the country, Respect polled
15.03%. Across Birmingham the average vote was 7.4%. These votes
were mainly based on sections of the Muslim communities in those
areas voting for Respect.
If this had been achieved by appealing to working-class Muslims
on a class basis, it would be a very important positive achievement.
There is no doubt that on this basis Respect could have won the
support of significant section of Muslims who had been radicalised
by the war on Iraq and the anti-war movement but also, as one of the
poorest and most oppressed sections of the working class, by their
conditions of life under the New Labour government.
For example, according to the 2001 census, the unemployment rate
of Muslims is more than three times that of the general population
and is the highest of all faith groups.
One in seven of economically active Muslims are unemployed,
compared with 1 in 20 for the wider population. Of course, we are
entirely in favour of trying to win Muslim voters away from New
Labour and the other capitalist parties.
By itself, however, this is not enough: British Muslims, no less
than any other oppressed group, are looking for convincing answers
to the problems which are generated by capitalism on a global scale.
As socialists, we can offer a comprehensive explanation of why
the war, terror, imperialism and exploitation which blight the lives
of Muslims across the world are rooted in the capitalist system.
But equally, we need to win support for the idea of a socialist
alternative, and appeal to all workers, regardless of race or
religion, on the basis of their common class interests in standing
united in the fight against the power of global capital.
However, Respect made an opportunist, rather than a class, appeal
to Muslims. A specific leaflet aimed at Muslims was produced which
described Respect as "the party for Muslims". Under the
headline ‘George Galloway – fighter for Muslims’ it said:
"Married to a Palestinian doctor, teetotal, he has strong
religious principles about fighting injustice. He was expelled by
Blair because he refused to apologise for his anti-war stance. Our
Muslim MPs stayed silent or supported the war. Who do you want to be
Whilst it is right to acknowledge Galloway’s vocal opposition
to the war, and to attack Muslim MPs who failed to take a similar
stance (although he seems to have excused Mohammed Sawar, MP for
Glasgow Govan, saying he won’t stand against him in the next
election because he is a Muslim), the rest of this statement is a
highly opportunist attempt to appeal to Muslims on the basis of
While socialists defend the right of all to practice any religion
they wish, or to practice none, without suffering discrimination or
oppression, that does not mean we stand in political solidarity with
all Muslims. Does Respect consider itself the party for 5,400 Muslim
millionaires in Britain, many of whom made their money by exploiting
other Muslims? Or for Mohammed Al Fayed, the billionaire owner of
George Galloway himself compounded Respect’s mistakes when he
stated his personal views on the question of abortion, saying that:
"I’m strongly against abortion. I believe life begins at
conception." And that because he believed "in God. [He
had] to believe that the collection of cells has a soul."
Immediately afterwards these comments were enthusiastically
welcomed by the Muslim Association of Britain (which backed Respect
in several areas of the country). Galloway has every right to a
personal opinion on the question of abortion.
However, the lack of proper democratic procedures within Respect,
means that his maverick positions become hard to differentiate from
the platform of the whole organisation.
Given the lack of any Respect policy on the issue, and the
failure of the SWP members who were Respect candidates to publicly
put their own opinion on the issue (they claim to support, in our
opinion correctly, a woman’s right to choose when and whether to
have children) the effect of George Galloway’s exaggerated profile
often gave the impression that Respect opposes abortion in all
While this may have increased Respect’s vote amongst a section
of Muslim voters, it will have also repelled many women that Respect
should have been aiming to attract.
If Respect gains by being seen as a Muslim party, which does not
address the needs of other sections of the working class, it could
push other sections of the working class away and reinforce racist
and divisive ideas.
Following this strategy in future elections it could foster
dangerous divisions within the working class between Muslim and
By contrast, a sizeable new workers’ party which both
campaigned in a class way on both the general issues and against
racism and Islamophobia could begin to cut across racism and
Ironically, far from "broadening" the appeal for a mass
electoral force on the left, Respect’s strategy actually narrowed
A new mass left formation cannot be built on one issue, or by
appealing to just one section of the population. While Respect’s
formal programme did include demands against NHS privatisation,
tuition fees and on other issues, the material they put out in the
election concentrated almost exclusively on the occupation of Iraq.
This was undoubtedly a key issue in this election, but for the
majority of working-class voters it was not the only issue. Rather
Blair’s lies to justify the brutal war on Iraq acted as a
lightning rod for all the other crimes of New Labour.
Important sections of working people, who could have been
attracted to a new left alternative which both fought against the
occupation of Iraq and on other issues like tuition fees,
privatisation and cuts, were simply not touched by the approach of
Respect. Many white working-class communities, alienated from the
policies of the capitalist parties, were nevertheless left cold by
In the North West Euro seat, for example, even with a large
Muslim electorate, Respect polled nearly 10,000 less than the fringe
nationalist English Democrats.
Regrettably, this might be used against the left by trade union
leaders who want to maintain links with the Labour Party. "It’s
no use", they will claim, trying to take on the main parties
– better to try (and fail!) to exert pressure from within.
Nevertheless, with New Labour increasingly coming into conflict
with large sections of the working class, this argument need not
carry the day. This fact that the FBU has voted to cease paying a
political levy to a Labour Party intent on attacking its members pay
and conditions under the cloak of "modernisation", is
clear evidence of this.
Fighting for a Socialist Alternative
We believe that it is high time that socialists stopped
apologising for their beliefs, hiding them away in order to keep
anti-working class forces on board, and started arguing for our
ideas in a confident and open manner.
What is needed is for the trade unions and genuine forces on the
left to make a clean break from Labour, and issue a call for the
setting up of a new mass worker’s party to represent all those
people who feel betrayed by New Labour.
This would not be a retreat to "old Labour", or a
Labour party mark-II but, rather, we would argue for it to adopt a
programme which did not sow illusions in the capitalist system, and
to put forward instead a clear programme of class demands in order
to build support for a socialist alternative.
The Socialist Party is committed to working in unity with other
left groups, trade unions and individuals who are serious in their
desire to bring into being a party which would represent the
interests of working-class people.
Socialist ideas are not interesting topics for a discussion
circle or a "Marxist forum": their importance today is
determined by the extent to which they are relevant to advancing the
day-to-day struggles of working class and young people.
It is time to ditch the electoral opportunism promoted by the SWP
leadership, and start building a movement based on the unity of
working class people – from across racial and religious divides -
in fighting to overthrow a capitalist system which creates
relentless war and exploitation in the interests of profit, and
replace it with a socialist alternative.
June 17 2004
Respect And The June Elections
RESPECT - THE Unity Coalition was formed by
George Galloway MP and the Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) at the
beginning of the year. It stood in elections for the first time on
The Socialist Party took part in discussions
with Respect during the first three months of this year but
concluded that we were unable to join at that point as we had a
number of disagreements with the approach Respect was taking, both
on programme and democracy. However, we hoped that our concerns
would prove unfounded and that Respect would develop positively.
Unfortunately, the European election campaign
confirmed our worst fears about the political direction of Respect.
The vote Respect received was good in some areas, particularly
Galloway's 91,175 votes (4.84%) in the London Euro seat. Its vote in
the European elections averaged 1.7%, or just over 250,000 votes.
This undoubtedly disappointed the leadership of Respect, who
exaggerated their electoral potential.
For the Socialist Party, however, the issue is
not the vote as much as the means by which Respect achieved it. For
socialists the programme we put forward should always be aimed at
raising the confidence and level of understanding of the working
This means doing everything possible to
encourage the unity of the working class. That is why our sister
organisation in Northern Ireland has always fought for unity of the
Catholic and Protestant working class.
In Britain today, the reactionary policies of
Blair and New Labour are fostering division. Respect's intention may
not have been to exacerbate those divisions, but the road to hell is
paved with good intentions.
RESPECT'S AVERAGE vote disguised low results in
many parts of the country, which were combined with several notable
votes in inner-city areas with large Muslim populations.
In the City and East London constituency, an
area with the highest concentration of Muslims in the country,
Respect polled 15.03%. Across Birmingham the average vote was 7.4%.
These votes were mainly based on large sections of the Muslim
communities in those areas voting for Respect.
If this had been achieved by appealing to
working-class Muslims on a class basis, it would be a very important
positive achievement. There is no doubt that on this basis Respect
could have won the support of significant section of Muslims who had
been radicalised by the war on Iraq and the anti-war movement but
also, as one of the poorest and most oppressed sections of the
working class, by their conditions of life under the New Labour
For example, according to the 2001 census, the
unemployment rate of Muslims is more than three times that of the
general population and is the highest of all faith groups. One in
seven economically active Muslims are unemployed, compared with one
in 20 for the wider population.
However, Respect made an opportunist, rather
than a class, appeal to Muslims. A specific leaflet aimed at Muslims
was produced which described Respect as "the party for
Under the headline "George Galloway -
fighter for Muslims" it said: "Married to a Palestinian
doctor, teetotal, he has strong religious principles about fighting
injustice. He was expelled by Blair because he refused to apologise
for his anti-war stance. Our Muslim MPs stayed silent or supported
the war. Who do you want to be our voice?"
While it is right to advertise Galloway's
undoubted anti-war credentials and to attack Muslim MPs for failing
to oppose the war (although he seems to have excused Mohammed Sawar,
MP for Glasgow Govan, saying he won't stand against him in the next
election because he is a Muslim), the rest of this statement is a
highly opportunist attempt to appeal to Muslims on the basis of
While socialists defend the right of all to
practise any religion they wish, or to practise none, without
suffering discrimination or oppression, that does not mean we stand
in political solidarity with all Muslims.
Does Respect consider itself the party for 5,400
Muslim millionaires in Britain, many of whom made their money by
exploiting other Muslims? Or for Mohammed Al Fayed, the billionaire
owner of Harrods?
George Galloway himself compounded Respect's
mistakes when he stated his personal views on the question of
abortion, saying that: "I'm strongly against abortion. I
believe life begins at conception." And that because he
believed "in God. [He had] to believe that the collection of
cells has a soul." Immediately afterwards these comments were
enthusiastically welcomed by the Muslim Association of Britain
(which backed Respect in several areas of the country).
George Galloway has every right to a personal
opinion on the question of abortion. However, given the lack of any
Respect policy on the issue, and the failure of the SWP members who
were Respect candidates to publicly put their own opinion on the
issue (they claim to support, in our opinion correctly, a woman's
right to choose when and whether to have children) the effect of
George Galloway expressing his personal opinion was to give the
impression that Respect opposes abortion in all circumstances.
While this may have increased Respect's vote
amongst a section of Muslim voters, it will have also repelled many
women that Respect should have been aiming to attract.
New workers' party
THE VOTE-winning strategy adopted by Respect is
potentially very dangerous. The Socialist Party has long argued that
New Labour today is another party of big-business, no different in
essence to the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.
We campaign for the building of a new party -
that brings together forces such as socialists, trade unionists and
the anti-war movement - and puts forward a socialist programme.
The recent decision of the FBU to stop funding
New Labour shows the potential for trade unionists to begin building
such a party. A formation led by George Galloway, particularly if it
had been launched from the platform of 15 February, when two million
marched against the war, could have been an important step in the
direction of such a party.
However, Respect, formed after the high point of
the anti-war movement, has so far not brought a new workers' party
any closer. At the founding convention of Respect, Lindsey German of
the SWP argued that the Socialist Alliance had failed because it was
too explicitly socialist and that Respect would succeed for the
This argument was mistaken, as the Socialist
Party was able to demonstrate in the Euro election in Dublin,
Ireland - where Joe Higgins received 5.5% of the first preference
vote on a socialist programme. We were able to do the same in
Coventry where we contested fourteen council seats and received an
average of 16%.
In fact, far from broadening Respect's appeal,
its leadership's approach narrowed it. A new mass left formation
cannot be built on one issue, or by appealing to just one section of
the population. While Respect's formal programme did include demands
against NHS privatisation, tuition fees and on other issues, the
material they put out in the election concentrated almost
exclusively on the occupation of Iraq.
Iraq was undoubtedly a key issue in this
election, but for the majority of working-class voters it was not
the only issue. Rather Blair's lies to justify the brutal war on
Iraq acted as a lightning rod for all the other crimes of New Labour.
Important sections of working people, who could
have been attracted to a new left alternative which both fought
against the occupation of Iraq and on other issues like tuition
fees, privatisation and cuts, were simply not touched by Respect's
In most areas, outside of their increased
support in some Muslim communities, their vote was even lower than
the high water mark of Respect's predecessor organisation, the
IF RESPECT follows the same strategy in future
elections it could foster dangerous divisions within the working
class between Muslim and other communities.
If Respect gains by being seen as a Muslim
party, which does not address the needs of other sections of the
working class, it could push other sections of the working class
away and reinforce racist and divisive ideas.
By contrast a sizeable new workers' party which
both campaigned in a class way on both the general issues and
against racism and Islamophobia could begin to cut across racism and
However, it is not clear what Respect's future
will be, or even if its leaders see it as a permanent formation.
George Galloway has mistakenly raised the prospect of Respect
possibly playing a part in a process of "reclaiming" the
Labour Party and has called for the trade unions to play a
"central role" in this process, indicating that he may see
Respect as a temporary means to try and push New Labour left.
And while George has undoubtedly taken a
principled stand on the war, he is, on a whole number of issues, in
his own words, "not as left wing as you think".
This is demonstrated graphically in his recent
autobiography where he describes both Tony Benn's Labour leadership
challenge in 1981 and the heroic struggle of Liverpool City council
1983 - 1987 as 'ultra-left'.
He also argues that MPs should be paid twice as
much as their existing salaries of £47,000 per year, plus expenses.
While we disagree with George on these and other
issues, this does not mean we opposed taking part in an electoral
formation with him. On the contrary, we would have been happy to do
so in the case of Respect, provided it was based on appealing to
broad layers of trade unionists, anti-capitalists and the anti-war
movement, and had a democratic structure which allowed open and
honest discussion with the freedom for ourselves and others to argue
for our own programme.
Unfortunately, this is not the road Respect
seems to be on. Unless Respect changes direction, it will not play a
positive role on the journey to a new workers' party.
Party Election Success
2004: A Shadow Over Blair
elections: 'Kicked In The Ballot Box'
election campaign 2004
Socialist Party And The Respect Convention
LAST SUNDAY, 25 January, the founding convention
of Respect took place and agreed to launch an electoral campaign
across England and Wales, headed by George Galloway MP, for the June
European and Greater London Authority elections.
The Socialist Party attended and contributed to
the convention. We also met representatives of Respect's executive
(George Galloway MP and John Rees of the Socialist Workers Party)
two days before the convention. They made clear that they were keen
for us to join Respect and to take places on its executive.
However, we explained that, while we are keen to
collaborate, and are following the development of Respect with
interest, we do not feel able to join at this stage. Nonetheless, we
would like to support Respect in the European Elections and hope
they will also support us in the elections we contest.
We explained the reasons for our attitude in a
letter we distributed to the Respect Convention, an abridged version
of which is printed below.
To the Respect Founding Convention
The need for a mass left alternative to New
Labour has never been more striking. In the Socialist Party we have
long argued that New Labour has ceased to in any sense to represent
the interests of the working class and that what is needed is a new,
genuine workers’ party.
We have a record of supporting any serious
initiatives towards the formation of such a party including more
limited electoral alliances and pacts. For that reason we are
following developments around Respect with great interest. However,
it is not clear to us that, at this stage, that Respect represents a
step towards the formation of a new workers’ party.
Therefore, for the reasons we explain below,
while we would like to give Respect support in the European
elections, and also hope that Respect will support us in the local
authority and GLA seats we contest in June, we do not feel able to
join at this stage.
Democracy – lessons of the Socialist Labour Party and the
In general it is not possible to build support
for a new mass left formation without a high-level of openness and
democracy. The people we want to attract from the anti-war and the
anti-capitalist movement, and above all from the trade unions, will
not join a top-down organisation with a pre-determined programme and
In England and Wales this has been proved in the
negative by the experience of the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) and
the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) led Socialist Alliance (SA).
The over-centralised nature of their formal structures, neither of
which allowed any room for organisations and campaigns to affiliate,
was part of the problem.
However, it was also the arrogant approach of
the leadership of these organisations that alienated potential
support. The SWP-led SA, for example, took the position that they
were the left electoral alternative to New Labour. This was at a
time when the SA had1690 members and had won an average of 1.72% of
the vote in the 92 seats it had contested in the general
Unfortunately, what flowed from such an
overestimation of the SA’s strength was a refusal to work
alongside, or even to seriously discuss with, other left forces,
including trade-union anti-cuts candidates who wanted to stand in
elections unless they were prepared to join the SA.
Respect’s approach to date
While it is still early days, Respect, in which
the SWP also play a leading role, does not seem to have learnt these
lessons. Even for an electoral coalition, openness and democracy are
But prior to today’s founding convention there
has not been any real attempt to discuss with rank and file trade
unionists, anti-war activists and community campaigns. Instead we
have had a series of rallies addressed by the founders of Respect,
in some cases without debate from the floor.
While we do not judge the issue of democracy
simply in relation to ourselves we are concerned that the way we
have been dealt with may be an indication of Respect’s
While the Socialist Party’s achievements are
modest, the Socialist Party has nonetheless had the most electoral
success on the socialist left, with five councillors, the largest
number of any socialist organisation in Britain. We won our second
councillor in Lewisham just last month. Our councillors also have a
record of successfully defending their seats.
We also have a significant base in the trade
unions, including 17 members of trade union executives. Yet we were
not asked to take part in any of the initial discussions on the
formation of Respect. The meetings that we requested were cancelled
by the SA.
After writing to Respect in December a meeting
has taken place this week between ourselves and John Rees of the SWP
and George Galloway. While this was very welcome, it would have been
far better for us to be involved at an earlier stage.
Perhaps even more regrettable Respect called a
rally in Coventry without discussing with the Socialist Party or
asking us to speak. This is a town where we have three Socialist
Party councillors including Dave Nellist, who was previously chair
of the Socialist Alliance.
At the moment Respect is, in reality, an
electoral coalition for the European elections. Of course, a
coalition for one election can play a positive role on the road to a
new workers’ party, but this is not guaranteed.
If, as we all hope, Respect has success in the
European elections we have no clear idea what is planned for the
next stage. For example, George Galloway MP has raised the prospect
of Respect possibly playing a part in a process of
"reclaiming" the Labour Party and has called for the trade
unions to play a "central role" in this process.
We regard this is a mistake and will give
credence to those trade union leaders who are desperately trying to
convince their members to keep funding New Labour. While Respect
should obviously take a friendly approach to those socialists who
remain within the Labour Party, it should nonetheless use any
success it has to make a clear call for a new mass workers’ party.
A Socialist Programme
Respect’s central slogan is opposition to the
occupation of Iraq and "any further imperialist wars".
This, and many of its other demands, are very good – for an end to
privatisation, the return of the railways and other former public
services to democratic public ownership, opposition to tuition fees,
and so on.
They fall short, however, of a socialist
programme that provides a real alternative to the capitalist system
that is responsible for attacks on education, the health service,
etc – and, of course, imperialist wars.
Possibly this is because the Guardian journalist
George Monbiot and Salma Yaqoob (chair of the Birmingham Stop the
War Coalition), who are not socialists but were two of the eight ‘founding
initiators’ of Respect, opposed an explicitly socialist content.
If that is so, it was in our view a mistake to dilute the programme
of Respect in order to win the support of a few ‘prominent
It was certainly not necessary to do so in order
to fulfil the central aim of the Respect founders, of winning
electoral support from amongst those sections of society that took
part in the anti-war movement, including the Muslim community.
It is, of course, vital to try and capitalise on
the massive anti-war movement which shook Britain. The best way of
doing this would have been for leaders such as George Galloway to
have launched the call for a new party at the time of the
million-and-a-half strong February 15 demonstration, while the
movement was at its height.
Nevertheless the potential still exists to
win large sections of the anti-war movement, including Muslim
workers and youth, to a new left formation. But it is not sufficient
to appeal to Muslims as Muslim voters in elections.
Socialists should instead appeal to the class
interests of Muslims and anti-war activists, as with other ethnic
and religious groups and the working class as a whole. George
Galloway in our view is mistaken when he says Respect will win
"the bulk of progressive opinion in the country" (Morning
Star, 12 January).
This is not only because there is no evidence of
such a level of support but because ‘progressive opinion’ is too
vague a description of who Respect should be aiming to win. What
does it mean? Don’t the ‘anti-war’ Liberal Democrats for
example, whom the Muslim Association of Britain backed in last
September’s Brent East by-election, also claim to appeal to ‘progressive
In Britain today it would be possible to win the
support of broad sections of the working class on the basis of at
least the main outlines of an explicitly socialist programme. In
this sense Britain, where the working class has the experience of
Labourism, is still different to the USA, for example, where even a
left, non-socialist alternative, such as Nader, could mark a
significant step forward.
In the future, it is true, a new formation in
Britain might decide, after discussion, to compromise on the
socialist content of its programme. This might be necessary, for
example, in order to enable a significant section of the working
class, such as a trade union, to join the new formation (this was
the case with the founding of the Labour Representation Committee in
1900, the forerunner of the Labour Party), although in those
circumstances socialists would still have a duty to argue for their
ideas within the new formation.
Such a situation, however, is very different to
the current position, where a relatively small group of individuals,
predominantly socialists, have decided not to raise socialist ideas,
perhaps to keep one or two ‘prominent individuals’ on board, and
certainly with the hope that this might win broader electoral
support. In fact, it will guarantee neither.
A workers’ MEP on a worker’s wage
Moreover, even dramatic electoral victories are
only a step forward if they inspire thinking workers and young
people to join the political fray to fight for the interests of the
working class, in other words if they mark a step towards the
foundation of a new mass workers’ party. This is not
One particularly important task for a new
formation today, when the working class is deeply cynical about
capitalist politicians, is to prove that its representatives are
completely different from the money-grubbing ‘career’
In this regard it is unfortunate that Respect is
not committed to a policy of its elected representatives taking only
the average weekly income of a skilled worker (the exact figure
could of course be determined through democratic discussion). In the
past Dave Nellist, Terry Fields and Pat Wall, three Marxist Labour
MPs who supported the Militant Tendency (predecessor to the
Socialist Party), all took the average wage of a skilled
This meant they remained in touch with the
working class communities they represented , and that it was also
clear that their ‘hands were clean’. Joe Higgins, currently a
Socialist Party MP in Ireland, does the same. We also take the same
position in the trade unions. Socialist Party member Martin
Powell-Davies, for example, who is currently contesting the National
Union of Teachers General Secretary election, is committed to
remaining on the salary of a classroom teacher.
In conclusion, notwithstanding our criticisms of
Respect, we hope to work together both now and in the future to
build a socialist alternative in England and Wales.
16 January 2004
Respect Unity Coalition - what we think
THE RESPECT unity coalition (RUC) is an
initiative from George Galloway MP, the Socialist Workers' Party (SWP)
and others, centred around standing in the June European and Greater
London Authority elections.
On December 17 2003 the Socialist Party wrote to
the signatories of RUC's founding declaration (George Galloway MP,
Salma Yaqoob, Lindsey German, John Rees, Linda Smith, Ken Loach, and
George Monbiot) asking to discuss the RUC initiative (see below.)
George Monbiot replied, saying that he agreed
that the Socialist Party should have been consulted and now John
Rees, of the SWP, has replied on behalf of RUC in order to organise
a meeting with us.
The Socialist Party welcomes this opportunity to
put our point of view. We will support any positive step towards the
creation of a new mass socialist alternative to New Labour. However,
the programme of RUC is not clearly socialist.
Many of its demands are very good - such as for
an end to privatisation and the return of key industries to public
ownership, no to tuition fees, and for the restoration of the link
between pensions and earnings.
However, they fall short of a socialist
programme. Why is this? Is it because George Monbiot or Salma Yaqoob
are not socialists? In our view it would be a mistake to dilute the
programme of RUC in order to win the support of a few
While George Galloway sounds very confident that
RUC will win "the bulk of progressive opinion in the
country" (Morning Star 12.01.04) experience shows that 'big
talk' is not enough.
In any case 'progressive opinion' is too vague a
description of who RUC is aiming to win. What does it mean?
"When George uses it he presumably means
something different to Tony Blair when he does!
RUC must aim to win the most thinking sections
of the working class and young people politicized by the anti-war
movement. As we have consistently argued this requires openness and
A top-down approach, without genuine discussion
and debate, will not succeed in involving wider layers of the
working class, in particular rank and file trade unionists, as the
previous failures of the Socialist Labour Party and the Socialist
Alliance have demonstrated.
Unfortunately, RUC appears to be making the same
mistake. At this stage there is no evidence of a genuinely open
discussion on how to build RUC.
On the contrary, in Coventry, where the
Socialist Party has three very prominent councillors (including Dave
Nellist who was previously chair of the Socialist Alliance), RUC has
called a rally without in any way contacting the Socialist Party,
never mind asking us to contribute to the meeting!
Nonetheless, nationally and locally the
Socialist Party will engage in any discussions that take place and
do our best to argue the point of view outlined in the letter - on
programme and on the critical issue of democracy.
in the 21st Century, by Hannah Sell
- New Year Of Political Struggle, by Peter Taaffe
17 December 2003
To the signatories to the ‘Declaration for a left electoral
challenge to New Labour’:
George Galloway MP, Salma Yaqoob, Lindsey German, John Rees,
Linda Smith, Ken Loach, George Monbiot, Bob Crow, Mark Serwotka
The Socialist Party has followed your recent announcements on the
formation of the Respect Unity Coalition with interest. We are keen
to support any serious attempt to create a left alternative to New
Labour. We have long argued that New Labour has ceased to in any
sense to represent the interests of the working class and that what
is needed is a new genuine workers’ party. We have a record of
supporting any initiatives towards the formation of such a party.
In the past we enthusiastically welcomed Arthur Scargill’s
proposal to launch the Socialist Labour Party. Unfortunately the
lack of democracy in the SLP prevented us from taking part, and in
fact prevented the SLP from seriously taking off. However, we then
went on to found the Socialist Alliance in the mid-1990s in an
attempt create a democratic federal alliance, which could allow
different socialist groups and individuals to work together, whilst
at the same time preserving the rights of all those who
participated. It was with regret that we were forced to leave the
Socialist Alliance in 2001 because we had concluded that, under the
effective control of the Socialist Workers’ Party, it had become a
second cul-de-sac on the road to a new workers’ party.
We refer to past attempts to create a left alternative to New
Labour because it would be most unfortunate if any of the mistakes
of the past were repeated. For that reason we take the programme and
structures of RUC seriously, and believe it would have been better
had we been consulted during initial discussions. While our
achievements are modest in comparison to our tasks, we have
nonetheless had the most electoral success on the socialist left,
with five councillors, the largest number of any socialist
organisation in Britain. We won our second councillor in Lewisham
just this month. We also have a significant base in the trade
unions, including 17 members of trade union executives.
However, as we have not yet been asked to take part in
discussions on the RUC, and it is clear from the written material
that a lot of decisions have already been taken, we felt we had no
choice but to put our initial comments briefly in writing to you.
Without doubt 2003 led to a growth in the potential for a
socialist alternative to New Labour. Millions have rejected Labour
and there is a yearning for a left political alternative. Of the
millions who took part in the anti-war movement there is a
significant minority who, at the height of the movement, would have
immediately joined a new radical socialist force, if it had been
proposed by one of the prominent leaders of the anti-war movement,
such as George Galloway. Today the mood against the occupation of
Iraq is growing and intertwining with anger on top-up fees,
privatisation and other issues. The potential for a radical
socialist alternative undoubtedly still exists.
We are therefore disappointed that the RUC ‘declaration’ does
not put forward a specifically socialist alternative. We think this
is a mistake, at least in Britain. Whereas in the US, for example, a
left non-socialist alternative, such as Naderism, could mark a
significant step forward, in Britain, where the working class has
the experience of Labourism, the potential exists to build
considerable support for a formation with an explicitly socialist
programme. Of course, we do not preclude a new formation deciding,
after discussion, to compromise on the socialist content of its
programme. For example, this might be justified in order to enable a
significant section of the working class, such as a trade union, to
join the new formation. And of course, in those circumstances
socialists would have a duty to argue for their ideas within the new
formation. However, in the current instance we can see no reason for
not putting forward at least the general outline of a socialist
We also have other comments on the programme which we will make
in future discussions. One issue we would like to discuss is the
approach of the RUC to the Labour Party. In our view George’s
expulsion, despite the support of Tony Benn, Tony Woodley, even
Michael Foot – who expelled us in 1983 – and many other leading
lefts, reconfirms the nature of the Labour Party today as being a
million miles removed from a genuine workers’ party, or even a
capitalist workers’ party. This does not mean that we take a
hostile approach to those socialists who remain within the Labour
Party. But while we are sympathetic to any attempts to retransform
the Labour Party, we do not judge that they are going to succeed.
Therefore our priority is to campaign for a new party and we would
argue for the RUC to take the same clear approach.
We also have questions on how you intend to organise RUC. The
experience of the SLP and the SA confirm, in a negative sense, what
we have argued over the last decade – that to succeed any new
formation must be open, democratic and welcoming to new forces. We
know that you have planned a launch conference on January 25 open to
all those who have joined RUC. We understand that this will be where
the opportunity will exist to propose amendments to the programme
and structures of RUC. However, we do not think it practical or
reasonable to expect individuals or organisations who do not yet
know the details of your proposal, to have to decide to join RUC in
order to have a chance to discuss those details. If you proceed in
this way it will exclude many who might otherwise take part. We
think it would be far better to delay a launch conference a little
bit in order to allow more open and democratic discussion. A launch
conference would then be likely to involve more significant forces
when it did take place.
We would also like clarification on whether you see RUC simply as
a coalition for the European elections, with goal of getting
individuals elected, or as a step towards developing a new party of
the working class. We consider the latter to be one of the
most important tasks facing socialists in this period, and our
support for any proposal is largely governed by the degree to which
we consider it is a step in that direction. Nonetheless, even if you
are only proposing the former, we are, of course, in favour of
giving support to any candidates who offer a clear alternative to
New Labour. However, even an electoral coalition requires
negotiations and the right for all involved to discuss out, and
where necessary, criticise the programme of the coalition both
within it and in the labour movement.
This letter only outlines our initial comments. We hope it will
be possible to meet and discuss the issues further in the near
Yours in solidarity,
On behalf of the Socialist Party EC
in the 21st Century, by Hannah Sell
- New Year Of Political Struggle, by Peter Taaffe