Sunday, 25 November 2007

Respect Annual Conference 2007

The Respect Annual Conference took place on 17 November. Over ninety people on the list of observers were asked not to attend as there were too many people for the hall. I was one of them, although I did manage to get in for a little in the afternoon. Which is why I have not posted about it before. You could do no better than to read the post on Lenin's Tomb:

I have watched the videos of both the Respect Annual Conference and the Respect Renewal rally. Galloway spoke for over half an hour. He started by saying he didn't want to just bash the SWP. Then he spent the rest of his speech doing just that. In between he said how great he, Salma Yaqoob, Linda Smith and Ken Loach are. He seemed to miss the point that parties, like movements are built by activists not just a few 'great' leaders. I guess that explains why he idolises Castro and Chavez. He also criticised those that have characterised the split as 'left-right'. He wilfully misunderstood the concept arguing he is not right-wing. No-one has accused him of being right-wing. You can be on the right of an argument in a left-wing organisation in just the same way as you can be on the left-wing of the Tory Party. Lenin (the real one, not Lenin's Tomb) once described himself as being on the far right of an argument in the international about working with reformists, but no-one would accuse Lenin of being right-wing. (Actually lots of people would accuse Lenin of being right-wing, but no one on the left).

John Rees, Mark Serwotka and others, by contrast, gave a political analysis of the present situation and the way forward and there was considerable discussion of the situation in the unions, the war, Gordon Brown and next year's GLA elections. A new National Council was elected, as was the Chair (Oli Rahman), National Secretary (John Rees) and National Organiser (Elaine Graham-Leigh). There seemed to be a general feeling that we could now move on, that the mood of the conference was more explicitly anti-capitalist than previously and that people felt inspired, re-invigorated after the damage of the last few months and determined to throw everything into next year's GLA elections.