Where Now After Galloway’s Expulsion?

GEORGE GALLOWAY, MP for Glasgow Kelvin, has been expelled from the Labour Party for sticking to his principles and opposing Bush and Blair’s war against Iraq. This was a war – for oil, profits and prestige – that was opposed by millions in Britain and across the globe.

After the decision by the three-person national constitution committee, Galloway said: “This was a politically motivated kangaroo court whose verdict had been written in advance, in the best tradition of political show trials. It was a travesty of justice”.

Despite this year’s stage-managed Labour Party conference and the fact that the Labour leadership pledged to totally ignore the vote against foundation hospitals, the ‘awkward squad’ of national trade union leaders have reaffirmed their strategy of ‘reclaiming’ the Labour Party. Galloway’s expulsion underlines how mistaken this strategy is.

There is no room for socialists and principled fighters in today’s pro-big business Labour Party. Energies should now be channelled into building a new mass trade union based party that could be a focus for all those looking for a left alternative to New Labour.

Galloway has not yet decided whether to resign as MP, thereby forcing a by-election in the Glasgow Kelvin constituency in which he would challenge New Labour as an independent. The Socialist Party believes that if he did, it would be a positive step, an immediate way of beginning to rally the mass opposition that clearly exists to Blair and New Labour.

Galloway is also considering heading an anti-war list for the European elections in London on 10 June next year. Such an electoral challenge could gain substantial support in a city which voted expelled Labour member Ken Livingstone as Mayor in the year 2000. Livingstone of course has moved away from his left-wing past and is campaigning to be admitted back into the Labour Party.

If Galloway does lend the authority that he has built up as a high-profile anti-war campaigner to a new electoral force, this could potentially be a significant development on the road to a new mass party.

However, it’s important that he clarifies his position vis-à-vis the Labour Party. In The Guardian (24 October) he was reported as saying that “he hopes that if Mr Blair is replaced by a more sympathetic leader, he may yet join the party”. Appearing to face both ways would only cause confusion and undermine the vitally necessary task of building a mass alternative to the left of Labour.

It’s also important that any new electoral force is organised in a democratic and inclusive way if it is to avoid suffering the same fate as Arthur Scargill’s undemocratic Socialist Labour Party and the SWP dominated Socialist Alliance, both of which have completely failed to develop into a viable left-wing electoral alternative.