Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

RESPECT - Split now inevitable?

Is a split up of Respect, perhaps into two organisations both fighting over the name, or two new organisations, or the SWP and a "Continuity Respect" now inevitable? It certainly seems so from the latest news and Internet postings. Earlier in the week the situation in Tower Hamlets where four councillors have resigned from the Respect group on the council led by Cllr Abjol Miah, spilled over into the national crisis in the organisation. Respect National Secretary and SWP leading light John Rees backed the councillors who had walked out on the Respect group but played down any suggestions that the SWP were about to split from the organisation. However, in the Morning Star a "spokesperson" for George Galloway, Respect's MP was reported as saying that

"By his presence at the press conference and support for these breakaway councillors, John Rees, and with him, the leadership of the SWP have declared that they are splitting from Respect. He is openly talking about backing candidates against Respect candidates. The SWP leadership by its actions has walked away from Respect. In no sense can Lindsey German therefore be considered the Respect candidate in the forthcoming London elections."

The four councillors are said to have formed a Respect (Independent) group on the Council.

Writing in today's Morning Star Ann Douglas says that the events herald the "death of Respect" and suggests that the planned November national conference of Respect "certainly will not take place" as the two sides cannot agree on the composition of delegations. The paper's editorial, clearly concerned that the feuding will spill over into the anti-war movement, pins the blame firmly on John Rees and the SWP, as reported here.

Meanwhile Socialist Unity Blog reports that the rebel councillors are said to be in talks with the Lib Dems. These posts on S.U.B. come after they published this forthright attack on the SWP from Respect leading lights Salma Yaqoob and Linda Smith.

Very interesting times, with shifting alliances and currents in movement, no doubt with dubious elements working in the background just as we could dimly discern in the events on the Scottish left last year.

Let us hope that with the situation over Iran hotting up and the Brown government planning further neo-liberal assualts on workers and authoritarian assaults on human rights, the parts of the left that have looked to the Respect project as a way forward can re-establish their priorities.

On another note, sorry to read today that my Green colleague Cllr Matt Sellwood is giving up blogging for now - but thanks go to him for linking to my humble efforts as an alternative on the left of the Green Party.

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At 8:42 pm, Anonymous WorldbyStom said...

In a way it points up the difficulties intrinsic to 'new' formations on the further Left. The turn to the Lib Dems is a bit strange, although it's a coalition, not a merger. Though now I think of it that would be entertaining. Sort of. Perhaps time for the GP to roll out the welcome carpet for those who might be interested?

At 3:32 pm, Anonymous a very public sociologist said...

I could be wrong, but I'm not sure many people in Respect, at least those with far left backgrounds, would take up Green membership. This is not having a go at the Greens, but in my experience the way Greens organise and what they expect from their organisation is very different from what socialist activists expect from theirs. But who can say? Jim Jay made the journey from the SWP to the Greens, so it's not impossible.

With the turn to the LibDems, supposing it is true, it will be an alliance of convenience rather than any political rapprochement. It will give them access to more committees and resources than would otherwise be the case as an independent Respect group. Whether it's wise to cosy on up to the LibDems for this I'll leave others to judge.


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