Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Respect and Socialist Resistance (SR)

The role of Socialist Resistance in the Respect crisis has been generally overlooked. SR are part of the remnants of the International Socialist Group (ISG) who appear to have been looking for a party to dissolve themselves into. At Respect Conference after Respect Conference they submit a motion calling on Respect to become a party, rather than a coalition, with a newspaper and so on. They have formed a platform within Respect to help them achieve this aim called the Respect Party Platform. This appears to contain little more than SR members and the website is totally moribund (

At every conference they have been totally isolated as they themselves recognise ( They have constantly criticised Galloway, the SWP and everyone else for not seeing the wisdom of their idea.

I have nothing against SR as such. They are far less sectarian than all the parties of the left that remain outside Respect. But let us be clear, their idea would destroy Respect and the delicate balance of forces it encompasses. We would be forced to debate every issue, whether it is relevant to British politics today or not in order to produce a set of policies. The SWP would either have to dissolve itself, which it would obviously not do, or would at least be severely restricted in the way it could operate. This would not benefit Respect in any way. This is why it has been consistently opposed by almost everyone else.

Now however Galloway and SR are the best of friends. This is remarkable given their aims are so different. SR want to make Respect a more clearly socialist party. Galloway wants it to be less explicitly socialist. In Galloway's document from August, he can clearly be seen throwing a few crumbs to SR to get them on his side. Both see the main obstacle to their very different aims as being the SWP and so have united to try to kick them out. This is pure opportunism on the part of both of them. Both clearly think that once the SWP are out of the way they can dominate the rest. So will Respect Renewal split into two more parties with Galloway leading one and SR the other. Its certainly possible. More likely is that Galloway will win out and SR will continue to complain and be ignored.

As I have said before it is the arrogance of these people that apalls me. They talk about this being a split between the SWP and everyone else and site the number of people from the national council on each side. But what about the membership, the activists? It is these people that will decide what kind of organisation Respect will be and whether or not they want to campaign for it. And it seems clear that the majority of Respect activists deplore those that have set up Respect Renewal and will continue to campaign to keep the original vision of Respect as a broad organisation that represents all oppressed communities fighting for peace, justice and equality.

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