Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Won't get fooled again?

One of the delights of being a washed-up middle-aged British Trot is the unmissable opportunity to take part in the sporadic regroupment exercises periodically undergone by the far left.

I was an enthusiastic participant in the Socialist Labour Party in 1996-97, ghosting a couple of articles for Scargill himself and spending several days campaigning for the great man in Newport, Wales.

After being 'lapsed' from that organisation, it was on to the Socialist Alliance. I had real hopes for project, but the Socialist Workers' Party rapidly pulled the plug.

I haven't had anything to do with Respect, which I regard essentially a bloc between the intellectually dishonest control freaks of the SWP and a number of reactionary Islamist organisations, headed up by a Stalinist. Anybody interested can read my full views on this particular 'party' here.

By the way, I'm really disappointed that my erstwhile comrades in the International Socialist Group haven't had more common political sense than to give Respect a wide berth.

In my darker moments, I have even wondered if work in the Labour Party - or at least an orientation towards it - really is the only option left for revolutionary socialists trying to win a hearing in the organised working class.

But when I attended the RMT-organised conference to debate working class political representation in January, I wasn't surprised to see it fill the small hall at Friends Meeting House and leave 100 outside.

There are plenty of activists that would love to be part of a non-sectarian and democratic - NB: not democratic centralist - socialist outfit, capable of undertaking serious campaigning work both in the labour movement and the community.

Now the Socialist Party have come up with a cunning plan, in the shape of the Campaign for a New Workers' Party. After thinking long and hard about it - I'm not the sort of cheap political tart that endorses just anything, y'know - I have signed the launch statement.

Do I trust this lot? Well, yes and no. I went to a Hackney SP public meeting to hear what they had to say and felt my comments from the floor got a slightly frosty reception. On the other hand, I was able to buttonhole Taaffe himself in the boozer after the RMT meeting, and he did seem serious about it.

I don't think that the weight of leftwing public opinion will let the SP get away with acting like a a particularly stupid middle manager recently promoted beyond his ability, in the manner of certain others. In addition, I suppose I will have to keep my fingers crossed that some of the more deranged elements on the far left can learn to behave themselves just for once.

Anway, the campaign holds its first major national event at the University of London Union on Sunday March 19. Be there or be square.

* The Weekly Worker gives its usual inimitable take on the conference here.

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