A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Galloway on Respect

None other than George Galloway himself has written an 8 page critique of Respect. It seems that all is not as comradely as it could be.

You can read it all here: http://www.cpgb.org.uk/worker/686/galloway.htm

The astonishing thing is that a politician of Galloway's experience should seem surprised that the SWP - who after all are Leninists who practice democratic centralism and a vanguard party where "cadres" exploit "fodder" - have tried to control and dominate Respect just like they have every other front group they have ever set up, or campaign they have taken over.

Key quotes:

  • "Ealing Southall ... just a few weeks before, marked the lowest point in Respect’s three-year history. The failure to harvest even the vote we had secured in just one ward of the constituency in the local elections 12 months earlier was a sharp reminder that what goes up can come down and should shatter any complacency about the London elections next May."
  • "Respect is not punching its weight in British politics and has not fulfilled its potential either in terms of votes consistently gained, members recruited or fighting funds raised.
    The primary reasons for this are not objective circumstances, but internal problems of our own making."
  • "Despite being a rather well known political brand our membership has not grown. And in some areas it has gone into a steep decline. Whole areas of the country are effectively moribund as far as Respect activity is concerned."
  • "There is a deep-seated culture of amateurism and irresponsibility on the question of money. "
  • "People pop up as staff members in jobs which have not been advertised, for which there have been no interviews and whose job descriptions are unclear and certainly unpublished. One staff member was appointed at a meeting at which that same staff member was present, making it obviously embarrassing for anyone to query whether they were the right person for the job, whether they could be afforded or why the job should go to them rather than someone else."
  • "at the selection meeting for our Shadwell candidate two members of staff were openly proselytising for one candidate and against another - including heckling - and even after the decision had been taken. This undoubtedly contributed to the exceedingly poor involvement of the wider membership in the subsequent election. No paid member of staff attended the Shadwell victory celebrations and when I asked one of them if they would be attending I was told ‘no, I will be watching the football’."
  • "There is a custom of anathematisation in the organisation which is deeply unhealthy and has been the ruin of many a left-wing group before us. This began with Salma Yaqoob, once one of our star turns, promoted on virtually every platform, and who is responsible for some of the greatest election victories (and near misses) during our era.
    Now she has been airbrushed from our history at just the time when she is becoming a regular feature on the national media and her impact on the politics of Britain’s second city has never been higher.
    There appears to be no plan to rescue her from this perdition, indeed every sign that her internal exile is a fixture."
  • "Then there is the practice of the creation of false dichotomies between candidates for internal elections. Neither Oliur Rahman nor Abjul Miah nor Haroon Miah is Karl Liebknecht. And Sultana Begum is not Rosa Luxemburg. Yet in internal election contests these four contested in Tower Hamlets the divisions between them were deliberately and artificially exaggerated and members mobilised about “principles” which never were. This has led to deep and lasting divisions which show no signs of healing in the current atmosphere."
  • "Relations between leading figures in Respect are at an all-time low and this must be addressed."


Anonymous Labour supporter said...


11:00 am, September 07, 2007

Anonymous David Floyd said...

This is fantastic stuff but yes, the instinctive reaction is, who did he think he was forming a party with?

It'll be interesting to see what happens if/when the Trots split from the communalists.

3:55 pm, September 09, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

I'm tempted to ask how a party consisting of the SWP, Muslim fundamentalists, and the disillusioned could ever hope to be a coherent left-wing alternative

7:02 pm, September 09, 2007

Anonymous Katie Hanson said...

Galloway's comments about Lesbian & Gay Pride are also fascinating:

"the Pride intervention...occupied a great deal of the organisation's time (I personally was telephoned three times to be asked if I would make it, and others report similar pressure)"
He really didn't want to go, did he? And guess what? He didn't.

"Instead of a simple encouragement for members to attend – with a logical emphasis on LGBT members and young people – several members in elected office were subjected to a high-handed 'instruction' from the national office to take part."
Galloway fails to say why an emphasis on young people is logical. If he'd ever been to Pride, he might be aware of the very wide age range of the participants.

"It would be a serious mistake to read off someone's commitment to equality from their willingness to be dancing on the back of a truck on the Pride parade."
Who said anything about having to dance? Or, indeed, to have a float? Most of us take part in the usual way - by marching behind a banner.

"The intervention at Pride, where we gave away merchandise rather than sold it, lost £2000."
So is Galloway's objection to Pride about money or because he thinks it's a bourgeois deviation? If the latter, he has more in common with the SWP than he perhaps realises - when I first went to Pride in the 1980s this is how they (the SWP) were still describing the fight for lesbian and gay rights.

4:52 pm, September 10, 2007

Anonymous David Floyd said...

"So is Galloway's objection to Pride about money or because he thinks it's a bourgeois deviation?"

He doesn't necessarily care either way about Pride.

He figures, correctly, that Respect has more chance of winning seats on the back of socially conservative Muslim votes than through the votes of Trotskyist Lesbian and Gay people.

It's supply and demand.

6:11 pm, September 10, 2007

Anonymous Ravi said...

David Floyd said...

"He figures, correctly, that Respect has more chance of winning seats on the back of socially conservative Muslim votes than through the votes of Trotskyist Lesbian and Gay people.

It's supply and demand"

If you check out his voting record (theyworkforyou.com)you can see he has spoken about gay rights, and has on his radio show remained antihomophobic even when confronted by religius zealots (both muslim and christian).

9:26 am, September 11, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

You would have thought that the idea of going to pride would have been to try and recruit some LGBT members.

But as katie points out, most of us have far more sense than to touch the SWP with a bargepole!

6:31 pm, September 11, 2007

Blogger Merseymike said...

... to be fair, Galloway himself has a pretty good pro-gay voting record, and I think he may well have a point with his specific complaint. Its not as if Respect were providing a public service - surely only those who genuinely want to go should do so?

But thats not how democratic centralism works....

6:34 pm, September 11, 2007

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