Why I have a problem with the SWP


by Sunny
28th December, 2010 at 6:15 pm    

In the past few weeks I’ve taken minor pot-shots at ‘trots’ and the SWP, which annoys the hell out of a contingent of my Twitter followers.

They accuse me of wanting left unity while being sectarian, which sounds plausible in that context, but needs some explanation. There are a few things that annoy me about the SWP and, sometimes, their related factions (don’t ask me to name them all):

1) Going too far, in a tendency to join in an alliance with people who go completely against left-wing values / ideals. The hero-worship of people such George Galloway, who praised the Iranian regime when it was cracking down on student protests, is a prime example. Also in the past, groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir.

2) Being protest parasites. Sure, I get that the SWP lot spend money on banners, but it annoys the hell out of me when they try and brand protests and events organised by others with their own placards.

That isn’t a selfless contribution: that’s like saying if you volunteer in a charity you want it written down and proclaimed loudly. Their people did it at UKuncut protests too (conveniently placing themselves in-front of pictures) – it looks shameless and completely opportunistic.

3) Entryism. Tales of SWP people trying to take over successful left organisations that didn’t follow their line are everywhere. It smacks of opportunistic control-freakery and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be criticised.

4) Ignoring other left movements. People at the SWP and other similar organisations believe that only class politics matters. Sure, class underpins a lot of outcomes but it is not the sole driver of people’s behaviour. By that, I mean that people on the far-left completely ignore (and ridicule) other movements such as feminism, environmentalism, civil liberties etc.

The upshot seems to be that you’re either fighting the class war comrade or you don’t really understand politics and you’re a bourgeois sellout. This simple narrative isn’t just frequently wrong because it fails to understand the intersection of movements, but it really is sectarian and patronising.

Just because I don’t spend half my day ruminating about what Marx said on a particular development doesn’t mean you understand politics better. Really – it is that straightforward. And if you ignore other movements then frankly you don’t understand how broad the left is.

5) Sectarianism aimed at the centre-left. People on the far-left want unity with people with agree with, but not others who might not be as radical as them. The thinking goes: ‘if you’re not as radical as us then you’re part of the problem‘. Their line of thinking is that people within the Labour party are sell-outs while they are the only true defenders of the working class.

People who think there is very little difference between (post Tony Blair) Labour and the Conservatives either know very little about national politics, or stay so far out in the political fringes that everything else looks like a vaguely similar blur. I’m not sure that attitude makes them an effective proponent of ‘left unity’.

I find this as sectarian as people on the centre-left who dismiss those more radical than them.

* * * * * * * * * * *

That said, I don’t go around saying the SWP aren’t really part of the left and are ‘sell-outs’. They are part of the left even if I don’t regard them as particularly important or effective, despite their past organisational effectiveness.

I just don’t like their way of working, and saying this is no different to saying I don’t like the way the Labour party conducts its internal democracy. Or criticising Phil Woolas, or their take on civil liberties etc.

Unfortunately there are too many childish lefties on Twitter who think any criticism of the SWP is akin to blasphemy and spend hours / days / months call you “part of the problem”. There are plenty of good reasons to call out the SWP, and if their defenders can’t take the criticism they shouldn’t really be in politics.

[PS - post written rather hurriedly as I've got a ton of stuff to do, but as I'm trolling socialists on Twitter, I though it was worth getting out there quick]


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  1. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  2. J-P Stacey

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  3. maevemckeown

    @sunny_hundal on why he dislikes the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv, @leninology on why he's a member http://bit.ly/hDrz08


  4. londonbessie

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  5. paulinewooding

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  6. nickehbee

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  7. Kate Smurthwaite

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  8. gertiepink

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  9. timsowula

    Five great points I totally agree with. RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  10. nicobobinus

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  11. mmackenzie74

    Good post by @sunny_hundal http://bit.ly/ficMrv. Particularly agree with point 2


  12. seansmchale

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  13. seansmchale

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  14. smallcasserole

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  15. smallcasserole

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  16. shakeystephens

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  17. shakeystephens

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  18. Naadir Jeewa

    Reading: Why I have a problem with the SWP: In the past few weeks I’ve taken minor pot-shots at ‘trots’ and the … http://bit.ly/gDoAed


  19. Aaron Peters

    http://bit.ly/ec5W5J its great we are have a genuine debate on the left re. strategy. We ALL have something to learn from each other.


  20. Jack Walker

    RT @aaronjohnpeters: http://bit.ly/ec5W5J its great we are have a genuine debate on the left re. strategy. We ALL have something to lear …


  21. Dave Plummer

    Reading comments on @Sunny_Hundal's SWP post. I'm sitting so firmly on the fence re. SWP it's getting vaguely sexual: http://bit.ly/fpQhjE


  22. Rosa

    http://bit.ly/ficMrv Yes! PLEASE stop using SWP placards, original ones are so much better! (now imagining Shaun Wright-Phillips placards..)


  23. sara huws

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  24. B Shenanigans

    RT @aaronjohnpeters: http://bit.ly/ec5W5J its great we are have a genuine debate on the left re. strategy. We ALL have something to lear …


  25. The Fat Councillor

    RT @aaronjohnpeters: http://bit.ly/ec5W5J its great we are have a genuine debate on the left re. strategy. We ALL have something to lear …


  26. Karis

    RT @aaronjohnpeters: http://bit.ly/ec5W5J its great we are have a genuine debate on the left re. strategy. We ALL have something to lear …


  27. Why I Have a Problem With the Liberal Left « Everybody Hates a Tourist

    [...] I Have a Problem With the Liberal Left Inspired by this post from Sunny at Pickled [...]


  28. Annie B

    RT @aaronjohnpeters: http://bit.ly/ec5W5J its great we are have a genuine debate on the left re. strategy. We ALL have something to lear …


  29. Sophia R. Matheson

    Pickled Politics » Why I have a problem with the SWP: … don't really understand politics and you're a bourgeoi… http://bit.ly/e2FwK6


  30. Out of England

    RT @sunny_hundal takes SWP apart http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  31. Jacob Richardson

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  32. Bethany W-Bradley

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Why I have a problem with the SWP http://bit.ly/ficMrv


  33. Allan Siegel

    Pickled Politics » Why I have a problem with the SWP http://t.co/G2JYDrD | SWP are classic left opportunists from day one; unity wreckers.


  34. Charity: transferring the guilt of the rich onto the poor | quiltingpoint

    [...] Hundal has been objecting recently to claims from the left (he associates them with the Socialist Workers’ Party, [...]


  35. Denny

    #2 is why I don't like them. RT @MissEllieMae: Just read @sunny_hundal's SWP post http://bit.ly/hfLPFB


  36. Helen Lambert

    Me too. RT @denny: #2 is why I don't like them. RT @MissEllieMae: Just read @sunny_hundal's SWP post http://bit.ly/hfLPFB


  37. sunny hundal

    @peterpannier here http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/11251


  38. My two pennies worth | Steampunk Shariah

    [...] two pennies worth December 29, 2010 | Posted by Julaybib Sunny Hundal, writing on Pickled Politics, appears to have a problem with the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), and no doubt my supportive [...]




  1. BenSix — on 28th December, 2010 at 6:20 pm  

    Tales of SWP people trying to take over successful left organisations that didn’t follow their line are everywhere. It smacks of opportunistic control-freakery and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be criticised.

    I’m no fan of the swuppies but it’s only fair that you give examples. I’ve heard plenty of tales about UFOs, resurrections and good Bono songs.

  2. Matt Heath — on 28th December, 2010 at 6:28 pm  

    @BenSix: “One” is quite a good song if it’s not being drowned under histrionic U2-bollocks. I was quite surprised to discover that when I heard Johnny Cash’s version.

    +1 on need for concrete examples of entryism.

  3. FiremanSam — on 28th December, 2010 at 6:33 pm  

    They turned up at the LFB strikes and demonstration, getting in the way of everyone. They weren’t wanted there. At least their papers make good kindling.

  4. Dave — on 28th December, 2010 at 6:42 pm  

    Spot on, the antiquated caricatures that are the SWP have to shoulder a lot of the blame for the electoral failure of genuine left wing politics in the last decades. When the opposition have clowns like them to poin to as examples of socialism, it just makes their job that much easier

  5. Helen — on 28th December, 2010 at 6:49 pm  

    I don’t think you’re ‘part of the problem’ but I don’t share your homogenised view of the SWP.

    The phrase ‘protest parasites’ is really snide. It’s unnecessarily cynical to question the motives behind anyone attending a protest, beyond their support for the cause. Why not accuse bloggers who protest of merely being their to promote their own journalistic careers? :P

    Not to mention that a number of protests I’ve attended have been organised and funded by SWP members, sometimes in their roles as trade unions or members of anti-fascist organisations.

    Every movement has its extremists, its ideologues and its annoying bastards and while the SWP may seem to attract more than its fair share of vocal examples, I think they’re being unfairly judged here, and I don’t know what this sort of criticism is meant to achieve besides making people feel unwelcome at protests where we need as many people as possible.

  6. Tom — on 28th December, 2010 at 7:22 pm  

    Point (4) is the important one. Not only is it patently untrue, based on my experience, but it really says more about the weakness and sectarian attitude of your own position. So, er, thanks!

  7. douglas clark — on 28th December, 2010 at 7:41 pm  

    Didn’t the SWP take a leading role in the ‘Stop the War’ protests against the Iraq War?

    Was that a success?

    Not really. I have rarely seen a movement collapse as quickly as that.

    They couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery.

  8. Refresh — on 28th December, 2010 at 7:45 pm  

    Sunny, your post could have been written 25, 20, 15, 10 years ago. That alone should tell you that there will have been many protest organisers who will have been thankful on the day for the banners and the numbers.

    In general I agree with Helen, and with BenSix’ request.

    The FiremanSams of the land these days will only protest when it affects their own working conditions, and yet even then they find people coming past offering support. How does Firemansam think the message gets out?

    Yes lets debate politics, but for goodness sake don’t dismiss the delivery of banners, the organising of coaches, the passing of supporting resolutions, the collections and of course post-demo reporting. And almost invariably, the entertainment.

  9. Sunny — on 28th December, 2010 at 7:51 pm  

    Why not accuse bloggers who protest of merely being their to promote their own journalistic careers?

    Heh – nice try Helen, but as a blogger I’m there to help promote the protest to a wider audience.

    you may think ‘protest parasites’ is snide, but that is genuinely how many of us on the left think of it. I have no problem with them helping or contributing if they feel like they should get involved. But why the need to brand it as SWP if you’re just being selfless?

    When I go to a protest I don’t go around carrying a banner saying ‘this is a Liberal Conspiracy’ protest – because it’s not.

  10. Sunny — on 28th December, 2010 at 7:56 pm  

    Refresh: How does Firemansam think the message gets out?

    Refresh – do you know about the controversy what he is referring to?

  11. Adam S — on 28th December, 2010 at 8:11 pm  

    Totally agree on the “protest parasites” front. At the “I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist” gathering last year they were there hawking their rag and prancing about with anti-Blair banners (2 or 3 years after he’d left office). The whole point of the protest was a specific demonstration about photography and the affects of anti-terror legislation on it.

    Their attempts to turn it into something more overtly political were quashed, most of them didn’t have cameras and seemed to be unaware that it was more of a gathering than a full-on protest.

    They’re a total joke. At Universities across the UK they are a complete laughing stock, even within other left-wing societies. They look like mentalists and they drag the whole of the left down with them with their retro-extremism.

  12. Helen — on 28th December, 2010 at 8:12 pm  

    I have no problem with them helping or contributing if they feel like they should get involved. But why the need to brand it as SWP if you’re just being selfless?
    ________________________________________

    Again, I don’t agree with imposing conditions on or ranking the motivations of people who attend protests, that way madness lies. The branding argument is weak – at most protests you’ll see banners, t-shirts and placards of any number of organisations, and the odd black flag. If the SWP can photobomb protests then there’s probably not enough generic protestors there in the first place.

  13. douglas clark — on 28th December, 2010 at 8:12 pm  

    Refresh,

    What’s the total membership of the SWP? What does Helen, or Ben Six or you have to say about the complete failure to understand the mood of those that protested prior to the Iraq War?

    The problem is that the extreme left always thinks it grasps the moment and it inevitably fucks it up.

    It is what they do. And they stumble along, without the faintest idea except to parasite onto the next public outcry, claim leadership and fuck that up too.

    Y’know what? The complete lack of analysis by the SWP and the rest of the extreme left has you folk coming on here and asking for examples!

    You have got to be joking.

    Your failure to analyse anything yourselves. That which is outwith your own wee exclusionary box, y’know the one you have painted yourselves into, is beyond belief. It is frankly outrageous to expect anyone to follow a bunch of morons that only have a vuvuzela as a strategy.

    The world ain’t going to fall into your hands by default.

    Y’know where Marx got it wrong?

    He assumed that the people that would lead would have two brain cells to rub together. Unfortunately he was wrong.

  14. Ken MacLeod — on 28th December, 2010 at 8:24 pm  

    They don’t brand protests as SWP. They print placards for anyone to take, with their logo on it, just as most parties and campaign groups involved in protests do.

    Two quotes from the departed on that:

    Tony Cliff (then leader of the SWP): ‘I’m very happy when people tear “Socialist Worker” off the top of our placards! It means they know who we are, they don’t like us, but they still like our slogan!’

    Trevor Carter (long-time CP trade unionist, at a noisy poll tax protest in the 80s): ‘I’ll say this for the SWP, their placards always catch the mood of the moment.’

  15. barry — on 28th December, 2010 at 8:25 pm  

    “But why the need to brand it as SWP if you’re just being selfless?”

    Well they’re obviously not being selfless – and I don’t think you’d ever find the SWP saying that. They’re trying to build a movement and the fact you do see them on every protest and picket line suggests a level of dedication to building this movement which may be uncomfortable to some people.

    Almost all of this criticism boils down to people saying, “why do they need to appear at our demos?” Helen at 20:12 has it right when she says,

    “If the SWP can photobomb protests then there’s probably not enough generic protestors there in the first place.”

    There’s a huge disconnect in this old argument. On the one hand, the complaint is they have the ability to totally consume and derail every significant protest or movement; and on the other, you can write, “I don’t regard them as particularly important or effective”.

  16. Helen — on 28th December, 2010 at 8:28 pm  

    Ok, which is it, do the SWP jump on any bandwagon or are they ignoring movements such as feminism & environmentalism?

    Douglas, I don’t know where you’re coming from about the Iraq War. However, I’d ask Sunny what the STW movement had to do with the class struggle that he says is the only concern of the SWP.

  17. Sunny — on 28th December, 2010 at 8:30 pm  

    Again, I don’t agree with imposing conditions on or ranking the motivations of people who attend protests, that way madness lies

    No one wants conditions being imposed – but to think this isn’t an organised attempt to take over other protests / movements is, I think, somewhat naive. It isn’t just some random guy bringing his own banners (which I would welcome). We’re talking about an organised attempt to do this.

    Also – I’ve pointed out several examples of tactics / activities / characteristics that annoys others on the left.

    People are of course welcome to ignore my points (as several have done, and taken instead to ad hominem). But to deny that these tactics don’t put people off is simply rubbish.

    The most important point was #5 I felt.

  18. dave — on 28th December, 2010 at 8:40 pm  

    “hero-worship of people such George Galloway, who praised the Iranian regime when it was cracking down on student protests”

    Pretty sure the SWP had split with Galloway before these particular comments and took the oposite line(you didn’t put much thought into this did you?). Anyway it seems odd to critisise them for working with a patently left wing xe Labour MP despite there disagreements with him, as ‘hero worship’. As for ‘working’ with Hizb ut-Tahrir. Evidence please? I think youl find that the SWP debated them a few times and oposed a blanket ban on them, not the same thing.

    2) “Being protest parasites.”

    Aside from the work the SWP patently put into building protests, people are surely entitled to hold their own banners arnt they? Otherwise what are you saying. Anybody getting out an anarco syndicalist flag should be shot?

    3) “Entryism. Tales of SWP people trying to take over successful left organisations ”

    Tales? How about your experiences? Which successful ‘left organisations’? I can think of plenty of campaigns where the SWP have worked with people they are quite far from (Defend Council Housing , ANL) and don’t ‘control’ (unions for a start, CND etc).

    4) Ignoring other left movements.
    To say the SWP have ignored feminism,environmentalism, civil liberties is just odd. Ever heard of Paul Foot?

    “The upshot seems to be that you’re either fighting the class war comrade or you don’t really understand politics and you’re a bourgeois sellout.”

    Have you ever actually been to see an SWP member publicly detate with someone they disagree with (Labour,green or otherwise)?

    “Sectarianism aimed at the centre-left. People on the far-left want unity with people with agree with, but not others who might not be as radical as them.”

    Again how does this tally with pretty much any united front the SWP is involved with? They can work with Peter Hain or CACC ot LRC. How does this tally with your assertions?

    Any one would get the impression you never leave the house and are having some inner crisis regarding your social democracic beliefs.

    Yes someone making a concious decision not to be in the Labour Party probably is I supose making an implicit statement about the Labour Party. That doesn’t mean they are out to denouce you as a class traitor.

    Relax the SWP are falible and occasionaly dogmatic but they are not the enemy.

  19. Waterloo Sunset — on 28th December, 2010 at 8:49 pm  

    In the past few weeks I’ve taken minor pot-shots at ‘trots’ and the SWP, which annoys the hell out of a contingent of my Twitter followers.

    They accuse me of wanting left unity while being sectarian, which sounds plausible in that context, but needs some explanation

    All that’s fair enough. But it then means you can’t really complain about those of us who take potshots at ‘middle class liberals’ as we have an equal right to find them annoying, as you do the SWP.

    Why don’t you just accept you like bitching and gossip? It’s fine. So do I. And the Weekly Worker have made a whole paper based on that very principle.

    I find this as sectarian as people on the centre-left who dismiss those more radical than them.

    Or those who condemn people who smash windows on protests?

    This is the problem with the whole ‘left unity’ meme you’re currently pushing. We all have certain values and tactics we draw the line on. Unity in action where possible. But criticise freely and passionately. And I say that as someone who finds the SWP as annoying as you do.

    Going too far, in a tendency to join in an alliance with people who go completely against left-wing values / ideals

    Like calling for a Lib Dem vote you mean? (Or is that the unfair kind of ‘potshot’?)

  20. douglas clark — on 28th December, 2010 at 9:17 pm  

    Helen @ 16,

    Douglas, I don’t know where you’re coming from about the Iraq War.

    No.

    You don’t.

    So let me spell it out for you.

    ____________________________

    I was totally against the Iraq war. It was dirty imperialist bullshit.

    (We’ll let what I think should have been done about Saddam Hussein for another time and you almost certainly will not agree.)

    As far as I can tell the SWP took a leading role in organising a series of rallies across the UK. And millions of people turned out for them.

    Including me.

    I walked through Glasgow and stood at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre and listened to some people talk and then we all went to the pub. Blair was suppposed to be inside, but of course he wasn’t. Flew away in a helicopter hours before.

    And what did the SWP manage to make of the protest, say 200,000 people in Glasgow and over a million in London? And many more nationwide.

    Sweet fuck all.

    Because the people on the platform couldn’t grasp that moment, they wanted to see it as a revolution when it wasn’t.

    It was about something specific. It was about not wanting to go to war. There were all sorts of people there that day, and they were certainly not about to become electrified by a shower of SWP speakers.

    The lack of forward thinking by so called protest leaders deflated the campaign and the lack of a large opposition is perhaps the reason the government felt able to take us to war. That, Helen, is how pathetic and wrong I think your tactics were.

    You had no right to assume that we were a captive audience, yet you, or your friends thought that that was yet another main chance for socialism.

    It wasn’t. It never was. It was anti war. No more, no less.

    Perhaps it’s the only way you idiots can talk, but it really, really doesn’t work…..

  21. Richard — on 28th December, 2010 at 9:33 pm  

    Trotsky was a murdering swine. Trotskyites try and disown Soviet tyranny by calling themselves anti-Stalinist and condemning the USSR despite the fact that the Bolshevik regime overseen by Lenin and Trotsky was extremely unpleasant.

    That is the primary reason why the moderate Left needs to disown them.

  22. Helen — on 28th December, 2010 at 9:34 pm  

    Douglas, I’m not and have never been a member of the SWP.

    I’m just bemused at the hatred and ridicule they inspire. Every protest I’ve been on, every campaign group I’ve been a member of, has always had people who I’ve disagreed with, whose motives I’ve been unsure of, or who I considered a bit clueless and an embarrassment – be them dole claiming anarchists, trust fund socialists or careerist young politicians who’ve watched too much West Wing. I’ll tell them that to their faces but I don’t see the point in complaining about them publicly, they’re not the enemy and it’s completely counter-productive.

  23. Helen — on 28th December, 2010 at 9:40 pm  

    And I don’t think you can blame the failure of the entire anti-war movement on the choice of speakers at a rally.

  24. dave — on 28th December, 2010 at 9:41 pm  

    Douglas wants forward thinking

    Come on then Douglas enlighten us- direct action, new political party, general strike, vote Liberal.

    Whats the solution?

    Ask 1million people to fart in the same direction

    Jesus

  25. Carl — on 28th December, 2010 at 9:57 pm  

    Rihard #21;

    There is theoretical justification to back up your comment, from Council Communist, and anti-Leninist intellectual Paul Mattick, who once said on the topic of Trotsky:

    Trotsky … had no choice but to maintain the revolutionary ideology in its original form against the degeneration of Marxism indulged in by the Stalinists. He could afford this luxury, for he had escaped the iron consequences of the social system he had helped to bring about. Now he could lead a life of dignity, that is, a life of opposition. But had he suddenly been brought back to power, his actions could have been none other than those of Stalin’s which he so despised. After all, the latter is himself no more than the creature of Lenin’s and Trotsky’s policies. As a matter of fact, “Stalinists” as a particular type are, so long as they are controllable, just that type of men which leaders like Lenin and Trotsky need and love most. But sometimes the worm turns. Those Bolshevik underlings elevated into power positions understand to the fullest that the only insurance for security lies in imprisonment, exile, and murder.”

    In short, owing to his banishment from Russia, Trotsky had the unique position of condemning Stalinsim, but supporting hierachical structures (or so was the opinion of the libertarian socialists at the time such as Mattick). It is Mattick’s opinion that Trotsky would’ve been just as tyrannical as Stalin, and for those naysayers who say one can’t speculate on something which didn’t happen, Mattick argued that Stalin was simply a creature of Lenin and Trotsky’s own policies. Stalin was Trotskyism made flesh.

  26. douglas clark — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:13 pm  

    Helen @ 23,

    I don’t think you can blame the failure of the entire anti-war movement on the choice of speakers at a rally.

    Perhaps not. The original draft of my post blamed the entire fucking war on these idiots.

    Let me be as clear as I can be about this. You may disagree, you may argue it is a counter factual, but you’d have to answer these questions:

    a) How did a genuine expression of disgust for Blairs warmongering get pricked like a balloon? I am a reporter of the people I stood alongside that day. There were kids and old folk and frankly, on the Glasgow demonstration alone more people than exist in the SWP. And that number becomes insignificant when compared to the number of folk that marched in London.

    b) What happened next? Was there a coming together of anti-war protesters for a second round? Was there fuck. And why? Could it have been that the top end of the protest fell apart and alienated everyone that had stood their ground that day?

    c) Why was that? Did some over eager wankers assume that they had gained the revolution when all they had actually seen was an anti war demonstration?

    It is my contention that left wing radicals haven’t a clue.

    What’s your thoughts?

  27. douglas clark — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:19 pm  

    dave @ 24,

    If I had answers I’d give you them. But as they’d only get a brain dead ‘Jesus’ out of you, I might not bother.

    What I do know is ,that the SWP is no answer to no question.

    Happy now?

  28. dave — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:19 pm  

    What happened next?

    Well for a start the war started and the biggest co-ordinated direct action ever took place across the country (organised through stwc as one of the agreed actions of the Florence Social Forum)

    Did you take part in these douglas?

  29. Tom — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:24 pm  

    @douglas clark – the Stop the War Coalition didn’t collapse quickly at all. It did fail in its main aim, to stop the wars, but it also helped bring a million out in protest. In many ways, this proves that SWP and other left groups should be more radical in their approach.

    Look: the war was illegal and wrong. You and I knew that. The million people on the march knew that. The SWP knew that. Labour knew that. The BBC knew that. The marches failed PRECISELY because they lacked the threat of revolutionary vigour or anger that you seem to think the SWP presumed. In Spain, 90% were against the war and millions marched. No one listened. No SWP there.

    To blame the failure of those marches to change government policy on the SWP is sectarian and divisive. Those marches failed because the government never felt threatened. And this government won’t unless protests like the ones we’ve seen over the last few weeks continue and intensify.

    @Carl “Stalin was Trotskyism made flesh” – you criticise Trotsky’s ‘support for hierarchical structures’ and yet support the PLP? I’m sorry but that seems entirely contradictory.

  30. Waterloo Sunset — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:31 pm  

    Carl #21

    The best modern arguments I’ve read against Lenin and Trotsky from this kind of perspective Stalin didn’t fall from the moon (anarchist) and Remember Comrade, If Red Action Are Right Then We Are Wrong (Marxist).

    However, I could be wrong, but I suspect that Richard’s use of the “moderate left” means he’s not coming at this from a libertarian socialist perspective. More from an objection to anything that moves beyond the idea of tinkering with the symptoms.

    There’s also a valid question of how relevant Russia, Spain etc. actually are to the current political climate in the UK.

  31. douglas clark — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:33 pm  

    Y’what Dave?

    Well for a start the war started and the biggest co-ordinated direct action ever took place across the country (organised through stwc as one of the agreed actions of the Florence Social Forum)

    Really?

    Well that made a hell of a difference, didn’t it?

    Just stop shitting me dave. We, you and I, coming from different backgrounds, different ideas, made no difference whatsoever.

    That, sadly is the truth…

    You are – the extreme left – sitting next to your mousetrap waiting on the whole edifice of capitalism to fall into your lap just because. Snap! Oops, missed again. let’s wait another dozen years….

    It ain’t going to happen dave. Quite apart from anything else, you don’t have the cheese.

  32. Waterloo Sunset — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:35 pm  

    Oops, wrong link to Red Action. This is the right one.

  33. Refresh — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:43 pm  

    Douglas,

    I am not a member, never have been, so can’t answer your question on membership numbers.

    What I do know is that whilst everyone talks of splits as if it only happens to others; no one admits to their own contribution to the divisions.

    On the anti-war movement, your explanation to Helen was quite useful to me, as I’ve seen you complain about it before without quite comprehending your concerns.

    Yes I am afraid what you observed in Glasgow and after is no different to anything else organised and run on the broad left – and therein is the clue – its a coalition of opinions.

    As for the analysis, strange though it seems, AFAIK you are fully behind the SWP view: “It was dirty imperialist bullshit”.

    You should do what I do, take the facts and do your own analysis. And if it coincides with someone else then you have a potential coalition. It cannot be across all issues at all times.

    As for Galloway, he did entirely the right thing and gave Blair a slap in the face. What else could or should he have done?

    Once the war is underway, the second front is always the home front – and marshalling every media outlet to take out the anti-war movement was inevitable. Against that, the least you can do is become involved locally knowing that you are not alone.

    And as you will know local activism has its own persona, something else you have to contend with and for you to navigate.

    I am sure you could also draw some parallels with the miners’ strike and greenham common to name two. I seem to recall Heseltine being extremely smug about how he undermined CND prior to taking delivery of the cruise missiles.

    Only this time we had a government in power traditionally expected to oppose wars of agression being the agressor; a Murdoch media, the Telegraph run by Lord Black, a castrated BBC (post-Greg Dyke). And Charles Kennedy peeling away after the first shot left the muzzle.

    Had the million strong (+200,000) been members of an organisation and all the internal politics been ironed out only then could you have expected a different outcome.

  34. Waterloo Sunset — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:47 pm  

    Douglas @ 31

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume everything you say is true. (And while I think you’re overstating the case, I do actually think the SWP bear the lion’s share of the blame for the collapse of the anti war movement as a meaningful social movement).

    Surely that suggests that the whole left actually needs to reconfigure and rethink its tactics, not just the far left? I don’t see any successes coming from the moderate left either. And the SWP might be a bit shit, but that doesn’t get anyone else off the hook. This is a problem across the left. And yet the moderate left are still parroting the same old “vote Labour and lobby your MP” stuff they always have.

    As a starting point, how about we compare and contrast the anti poll tax movement and the anti war movement? Obviously, one worked and the other failed. If we can at least thrash out some possibilities on why that happened, we might be able to learn something and move forward tactically.

  35. douglas clark — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:50 pm  

    Tom @ 29,

    Jesus Tom, I admire your pastiche on what happened. You say:

    the Stop the War Coalition didn’t collapse quickly at all. It did fail in its main aim, to stop the wars, but it also helped bring a million out in protest.

    Absolutely true. No arguement. But it collapsed immediately after that, did it not, or are we in for some historical revisionism that I missed, a la dave @ 28, which, I am sorry to say didn’t have any sort of impact at all?

    Look: the war was illegal and wrong. You and I knew that. The million people on the march knew that. The SWP knew that. Labour knew that.

    Absolutely right. That is what most folk thought at the time. I agree.

    Then you jump to this pish:

    The marches failed PRECISELY because they lacked the threat of revolutionary vigour or anger that you seem to think the SWP presumed.

    Look, I was on that march. I was anti war. Did you think for one moment that I was pro revolutionary vigour? I don’t even know what that means, and please, please, do not try to educate me in Marxist Leninist bullshit. It was clear that there was a moment and you guys blew it. It was not for revolution, it was for no war. There is a difference. A huge fucking difference. One that your analysis can’t, or won’t handle.

    It is why modern day communists couldn’t argue their way out of a wet paper bag. They are, to realistic politics, what libertarians are to the right.

  36. Jenny — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:54 pm  
  37. oldtrot — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:56 pm  

    It frankly beggars belief that one moment you’re complaining about being labelled a sectarian, and the next you’re calling the SWP ‘protest parasites’.

    Quite apart from the de-humanising language (and coming so swiftly after the ‘cockroach’ comment of recent days I find that frankly disturbing) it is saying, erroneously, that SWP participation in protests is purely selfish and cynical. Does it not occur to you that SWP members are also furious at the cuts? That none of them are nurses, or care workers or teachers or pensioners or students too? Pure playground politics. Enough with the name-calling, it’s getting old.

    The charge of ignoring other movements is strange. What would you have the SW do? If they try to participate, it’s a matter of moments before someone rather like, well, you, starts throwing accusations of entryism, You complain about SW being everywhere, except when you’re complaining about them not being everywhere. And anyway, there have been scores of discussions, articles, seminars from SW over all the subjects you mention ever since I can remember. Not involved in Civil Liberties? Does the slogan ‘No Justice, No Peace’ not ring a bell? Simply not true. And while others chase single issues, the SWP put workers at the centre of their politics. That is why you will find no better strike coverage than in the back of SW.

    Sectarian? Well yes, sometimes. I know I was when I was a member, usually in response to this sort of attack, or telling a Socialist Party member what I thought about trying to ‘reclaim’ the Union flag for the left (???) during the first Iraq war, or telling a Labour councillor advising striking firefighters to ‘wait for Blair’ her fortune. Yes, I would get pretty damned agitated when right-wing feminists were slagging off trade unionists, or when an environmentalist told me that the miners deserved it because they had polluted and “raped his Mother[Earth]” ( I kid you not). When some bonehead from Living Marxism was arguing against supporting ambulance drivers, because demanding a NHS was asking favours from the State I admit I might have had a bit of a rant. And winding up Stalinists was sometimes too much to resist.Nevertheless, during my time the impression I got at the time was generally one of being on balance more on the receiving end of sectarianism.

    Finally, I think you’ll find in practice that SW has a pretty clear view about national politics. They just don’t fetishise it, that’s all. It is a nonsense to say they don’t recognise that there are LP members who are good people, but it cannot be denied that the purge of the Labour Left started by Kinnock, and the marginalisation of the remnants by Blair makes it a very different party to that of Ben and Foot.It will be some time before the Labour Party grassroots recovers to anything like its former strength, if it ever does.

    In the meantime a critical gap has opened up on the Left at a time of a massive surge in struggle, mandating new discussions on organisation, strategy and tactics. As the discussion between Penny and Callinicos has shown, the SW is more than prepared to enter into critical but highly constructive dialogue.

  38. Refresh — on 28th December, 2010 at 10:57 pm  

    Sunny,

    ‘Refresh – do you know about the controversy what he is referring to?’

    Firemansam didn’t mention anything specific – what did he have in mind?

  39. Refresh — on 28th December, 2010 at 11:04 pm  

    Douglas Clark,

    And what puts me off most about discussing politics on the left is arcane references to Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky.

    As for Marx, I have a fight to pick with him. Remember this one fact, his analysis is entirely based on experiences of an industrialising Europe – no specific understanding of different societies and cultures.

    He needs to factor in the rest of humanity if and when he reincarnates.

  40. earwicga — on 28th December, 2010 at 11:21 pm  

    This just seems like a load of wank to me.

    There are one group of people who are ‘over’ idealistic, another group who are ‘over’ pragmatic and then there are the Coalition who are putting in place policies to make the poor homeless and kill them.

    What is the point of this Sunny? Is it because of the attempted coup within the NUS? What is it?

  41. Carl — on 28th December, 2010 at 11:34 pm  

    Tom #29

    It’s no contradiction for me to outline a council communist criticism of Trotsky, as you are aware I support the Labour Party because I believe in the parliamentary road to socialism, that is not to say that I detest the top down structure of the party (which you will know many in the party also campaign against) and nor should it stop me borrowing from the council communist toolbox from time to time.

    Waterloo sunset #30

    Cheers for the links, will give them a go.

    Nobody would or could suggest that the moderate left are libertarian socialists, that would be absurd, but it is possible for the moderate left to utilise their arguments, as I hope I’ve done above.

    And as for Russia and Spain, I’d say they are particularly relevant today; with Russia we have three important tendencies from which many arguments arose: dictatorship of the proletarian; reformism; left libertarianism. With the student movement today for example, they are asking themselves: do we need leadership, do we need the NUS, should a radical sect enter into less radical unions; do we put pressure on government through union or should we take to the streets/use direct action to voice our demands; do we even need union leadership or can we go it alone without the “dithering” Aaron Porter. What the students are going through is a similar triad to that aforementioned argument in Russia.

    As for Spain, I’ve spelt that out here [http://thoughcowardsflinch.com/2010/12/17/so-called-left-wing-unity-and-the-spanish-civil-war/]

  42. douglas clark — on 28th December, 2010 at 11:45 pm  

    Refresh @ 33,

    I shall take that under advisement as they say.

    I just get a tad angry at people assuming stuff about who or what represents an anti war movement. You say to me:

    As for the analysis, strange though it seems, AFAIK you are fully behind the SWP view: “It was dirty imperialist bullshit”.

    You should do what I do, take the facts and do your own analysis. And if it coincides with someone else then you have a potential coalition. It cannot be across all issues at all times.

    Point, maybe. Contrary to what you say, I think I am ploughing my own furrow here. I did not respect or admire the SWP. For instance, I consider Saddam Hussein to have been a nasty bastard. I think Blair was right in assuming that sanctions would not have brought him down. I thought the child death rate was intolerable and a ‘V’ sign from Saddam to the West – see if I care he said to us.

    I think the CIA fucked up royally in claiming to back a revolt and walking away. It was entirely possible to pull down that regeime without a Western soldier entering the country. Well, later maybe…

    A decent bit of negotiation with Turkey could have seen the Kurdish North protected by NATO quite quickly, then supporting the South aganst the centre, well you know the rest.

    This might have taken years, but we would not have prostituted ourselves in the way the USA did. And we did.

    I doubt that that is SWP philosophy, but there you go.

  43. Alfie North — on 28th December, 2010 at 11:47 pm  

    My priority at present is opposing the cuts from the real enemy. I’ll leave you to your comedy act. Pathetic.

  44. swp member — on 28th December, 2010 at 11:55 pm  

    Sunny sez: Just because I don’t spend half my day ruminating about what Marx said on a particular development doesn’t mean you understand politics better. Really – it is that straightforward.

    At least the occasional bit of ruminating about Marx stops one making egregious political errors like, oh I don’t know, endorsing the Lib Dems in the election like you did Sunny.

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/05/01/the-guardian-endorses-the-libdems-and-im-with-them/

    And before that the Tories!

    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/2064

    Coming from you, all this stuff about us being ‘protest parasites’ and so on is so much nonsense. What was the last protest you organised? What was the last strike you led?

    Oh, there wasn’t one, because you’re just a fake-left poser.

    *But*, that said, this is completely untrue:

    People on the far-left want unity with people with agree with, but not others who might not be as radical as them.

    Just look at any of the campaigns the SWP is involved in. Stop the War. Unite Against Fascism. We frequently work with figures far to our right – even, shock horror, members of the Labour party.

    We debate with them, they debate with us – then we work together to take on a common enemy. Simple.

  45. douglas clark — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:26 am  

    Alfie North @ 43,

    Oooh! The real enemy?

    Who would that be Alfie North?

  46. earwicga — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:30 am  

    Why is Alfie pathetic douglas? The ‘real enemy’ isn’t each other, no matter how much you wish to make it so and swear and shout about it, it is the architects of the cuts. Alfie is correct, and it is you who is actually being pathetic on this thread.

  47. earwicga — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:33 am  

    And you just changed your comment as I was responding to it. Typical!

  48. Refresh — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:48 am  

    Douglas Clark,

    No one on the left had any time for Saddam Hussein from the day he was anointed by our favourite agency. Recall that he was on a par with Suharto; killing people on the left and trade unionists in their hundreds of thousands. So it would be grossly unfair to even imply there was any support whatsoever for him – even though its a popular ruse for those who supported the agression.

  49. douglas clark — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:53 am  

    Ah…

    earwicga,

    I don’t think I have said Alfie is pathetic. However, as far as I can tell Alfie’s sole post here is @ 43:

    Alfie is an aggressive wee man, earwicga:

    I’ll leave you to your comedy act. Pathetic.

    as have been most of the SWP types around here for a wee while.

    You have a brain earwicga. At least give me the courtesy of reading what I have to say, absent the sweary words if it upsets you so much.

    It is my opinion that these folk couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery. No matter what you might think to the contrary.

    Or do you really think that the SWP led the Stop the War movement to a victory?

    Funny sort of victory. Bit like Dunkirk really….

    No, worse.

  50. douglas clark — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:54 am  

    earwicga,

    Well stop being so fucking quick on the trigger!

  51. Refresh — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:55 am  

    earwicga,

    I agree. Its too much, I can only assume Sunny was bored.

  52. earwicga — on 29th December, 2010 at 1:00 am  

    douglas –

    It is my opinion that these folk couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery. No matter what you might think to the contrary.

    I don’t think it bears any relation to the cuts to housing benefit for example. I don’t think it matters. I have no view on the SWP, but I do have a view on cuts – they will kill people. Anyone who fights against them is doing the right thing.

    I really don’t get the point of this spat, or this post.

  53. douglas clark — on 29th December, 2010 at 1:02 am  

    Refresh,

    It seems to me you are a good person who has got themselves caught up in a load of bullshit about what really matters. It seems to me that ethics matter, not politics and certainly not any sort of politics that hides itself behind a good ethical line and may have a different or indeed other agenda.

    That is the question you ought to ask yourself.

  54. earwicga — on 29th December, 2010 at 1:06 am  

    And right on cue, I turn to Twitter and read this: Prince’s Trust: Young unemployed ‘face mental problems’

    (douglas – there was no comment, edited or deleted ‘between 49 and 50′ by me or anyone else. Don’t start on me, I’m seriously not in the mood for it)

  55. earwicga — on 29th December, 2010 at 1:08 am  

    Too ‘quick off the trigger’ again. You have edited whilst I responded a second time.

  56. Refresh — on 29th December, 2010 at 1:18 am  

    Douglas Clark

    ‘It seems to me that ethics matter, not politics’

    How can I disagree? Not BS. It was for that reason I posted my #48. Have another look at your #42, I was responding to the bottom half, which presumes goodwill on part of Bush snr and the agency at the time of the first gulf war.

    And also have a look at this

    ‘Robert Fisk: Oceans of blood and profits for the mongers of war

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-oceans-of-blood-and-profits-for-the-mongers-of-war-2145037.html

  57. damon — on 29th December, 2010 at 1:28 am  

    I’ve never liked the SWP. I went to a rally of theirs once in Hackney – where Tony Cliff was speaking, and found their finishing off with singing the Internationale … with people raising their fists in the air, totally embarassing.

    They aren’t building anything either. They just have a constant turnover of people they are able to attract for a while. There must be half a million people who’ve been around the SWP at some time.

    They think they are going to lead some world proletarian revolution. That makes them fantasists.

  58. douglas clark — on 29th December, 2010 at 1:29 am  

    earwicga,

    I don’t think it bears any relation to the cuts to housing benefit for example. I don’t think it matters.

    Neither do I.

    but I do have a view on cuts – they will kill people.

    Agreed. It is utterly wrong. But it is this bit:

    Anyone who fights against them is doing the right thing.

    That I disagree with. My enemies enemy is not my friend. Boring, to me, obvious, to me and true, to me.

    You have to at least ask yourself whether or what someones political party is actually about, at bottom, before you assume that they are truly on your side.

    If your aim is to overthrow capitalism and replace it with socialism then what compromises are they willing to make to bring that conflict to a boiling point? How many folk will they allow to die before the tipping point is reached, and how many thereafter?

    I have a visceral hatred of Tories, but that’s what we’ve got. But I also detest folk that can’t organise a piss up, etc, etc, in response to it.

    The correct response is to fight them politically, and that can’t be too hard.

    I do my best.

    I have joined the SNP, because I think I can get what I want through the ballot box. If not, I’ll be a bit depressed, but there you go. I will not be taking to the barricades to overthrow a government.

    There has been some ridiculous talk around here and there (LC) about revolution. There is no prospect of revolution right now. This is not even near as exciting as 1968, and revolution was a tad unlikely even then…

  59. earwicga — on 29th December, 2010 at 1:41 am  

    Right douglas, so that’s the point of Sunny’s post then. Is it Sunny?

    And following on from the OP, the SWP wouldn’t be the ones organising the piss-up anyway, they would only be in the photos with their banners.

  60. douglas clark — on 29th December, 2010 at 2:17 am  

    earwicga,

    I have no idea what Sunny’s post is about. Generally, I agree with Sunny, but I have no idea whether he agree’s with my rant here or not. My views are mine. I have had very little private contact with Sunny Hundal. I have, on the other hand had a hell of a lot of public contact with him. And, yes, we disagree. Sometimes I disagree with Rumbold and Jai too. and sometimes, just occassionally, I feel I have a right to go off on a rant and see what it turns up. Is that not what you do too, sometimes?

    Frequently I disagree with you, and then you surprise me and I find myself agreeing with you, sometimes supporting – check back if you will – you.

    You are too happy to make enemies earwicga. I know we did not get off on the best of terms, but try reading what I have to say without the red mist coming down whenever you see ‘douglas clark’.

    Sometimes I see the ‘douglas clark’ and the red mist comes down on me too. But not here, and not on what I have actually said on this thread.

    That I will defend.

  61. douglas clark — on 29th December, 2010 at 2:53 am  

    Refresh @ 56,

    Cheers.

    I am not entirely sure what you are objecting to in the latter half of my post @ 42, so I have posted what I see as the latter half here:

    I think the CIA fucked up royally in claiming to back a revolt and walking away. It was entirely possible to pull down that regeime without a Western soldier entering the country. Well, later maybe…

    A decent bit of negotiation with Turkey could have seen the Kurdish North protected by NATO quite quickly, then supporting the South aganst the centre, well you know the rest.

    This might have taken years, but we would not have prostituted ourselves in the way the USA did. And we did.

    I doubt that that is SWP philosophy, but there you go.

    You say:

    I was responding to the bottom half, which presumes goodwill on part of Bush snr and the agency at the time of the first gulf war.

    Err… If you took that from what I had just posted above it, you really don’t know me despite our discussions here.

    It is pretty clear that I am talking about the interregnum between GW1 and GW11 is it not? I think most folk thought the Iraqi claim on Kuwait was a bit specious. I was in favour of GW1. Just so’s you know.

    And I’d have been in favour of it being fought to a conclusion. With the removal od Saddam Hussein 10 years earlier.

    But, that was not to be.

    It is how we treated Iraq from the end of GW1 until the start of GW2 that exercises me. We did nothing to support internal insurrection, unless you see the relative fly zones in support of the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs as anything other than covering up for lack of CIA support for their causes. Indeed in the latter case, as blood money for fucking up.

    Refresh, I do not know your politics, but standing up for people that might be crushed after you invade and withdraw (GW1) is a prerequisite of a decent foreign policy. The West didn’t do that for the Marsh Arabs and I have little or no time for folk that would argue otherwise.

    I hate realpolitik

  62. douglas clark — on 29th December, 2010 at 3:14 am  

    Ken McLeod @ 14

    They don’t brand protests as SWP. They print placards for anyone to take, with their logo on it, just as most parties and campaign groups involved in protests do.

    Two quotes from the departed on that:

    Tony Cliff (then leader of the SWP): ‘I’m very happy when people tear “Socialist Worker” off the top of our placards! It means they know who we are, they don’t like us, but they still like our slogan!’

    Trevor Carter (long-time CP trade unionist, at a noisy poll tax protest in the 80s): ‘I’ll say this for the SWP, their placards always catch the mood of the moment.’

    Is that it Ken? Two people have ever said anything in favour of SWP banners and you found them? Neither of whom can be consiered, ahem, contemporary?

  63. Turnip — on 29th December, 2010 at 4:02 am  

    Gosh, earwicga turns out to be a Swuppie fan-girl. Who would have think it?

    I like the “I’m not in the mood for…” growling, too. Quite the rrrrrrrrrriot-girl.

    Yawn.

  64. Jasmine — on 29th December, 2010 at 6:42 am  

    the antiquated caricatures that are the SWP have to shoulder a lot of the blame for the electoral failure of genuine left wing politics in the last decades.

  65. Ken MacLeod — on 29th December, 2010 at 6:58 am  

    Douglas Clark #@ 62

    Oh, I have loads more anecdotes than that!

    I think you’re missing my point, which is that the reason SWP placards appear all over demos is that non-SWP people pick them up, and the reason they do that is they agree with what’s on the placards. When there are other large organised forces on a demo, the same thing happens with their placards. There really is nothing sinister or surprising about it.

  66. problem — on 29th December, 2010 at 8:17 am  

    Why I Have a Problem with Sunny Hundal

    He told everyone to vote Lib Dem in the election.

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/05/01/the-guardian-endorses-the-libdems-and-im-with-them/

    Some political judgement there! Give me the SWP any day.

  67. Sarah AB — on 29th December, 2010 at 9:18 am  

    “Agreed. It is utterly wrong. But it is this bit:

    Anyone who fights against them is doing the right thing.

    That I disagree with. My enemies enemy is not my friend. Boring, to me, obvious, to me and true, to me.”

    Douglas – You anticipated me! For all I know the BNP might be against the cuts but I’d certainly vote Lib Dem or Tory in preference to the BNP.

    WRT left wing unity – as someone who is a little left of centre (member of the Labour Party) I think it would be illogical for me to make a shibboleth of left wing unity when I may have more in common with people who are a little right of centre than with the SWP and other far left groups.

  68. BobTheBuilder — on 29th December, 2010 at 10:26 am  

    Grow up Turnip.

  69. Refresh — on 29th December, 2010 at 11:05 am  

    Douglas Clark,

    I understood what you were saying regarding GW1, and I knew you supported it. I opposed. But my point was that you had put too much faith in Bush Snr to expect anything other than the outcome you got. And it was tragic that the Marsh Arabs did the same.

    ‘I hate realpolitik’

    There is far too much presumption of goodwill in the case of international affairs.

  70. douglas clark — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:33 pm  

    Refresh @ 68,

    Good point.

  71. Tom — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:34 pm  

    @douglas clark – My point is that government won’t budge from agreed policy unless the threat of revolutionary action is there. You think the ‘failure’ of a 1 million person march is down to the organisers? It was a total success. The failure was in not turning it into more than a march. You could have had 3 million people there, or at the student protests, but if all they do is shuffle past peacefully, Westminster ignores them.

    So once again, if the SWP were to blame for the aim of the protest movement failing, it was in not pressing harder for serious civil disobedience. The point of the threat of – dare I say it – damage to property, is that property is really all most MPs and their sponsors care about.

    Anyway, I wasn’t at the Iraq march. I had moved to Barcelona already, and attended a large march here. But I was present at tuition fees and Afghanistan marches prior to that. Damn right, the SWP took a leading role. They organised the buses, made sure we students got reduced rate travel, organised on-campus debates before the demos, and generally encouraged a new generation to take to the streets. I’m no party member (I don’t live in England, so it wouldn’t make sense), but all my dealings with the SWP have been positive and sometimes inspiring.

    I feel in the end that much of this centre-left ‘anti-trot’ attitude comes from a desire to have one’s cake and eat it too. At what point since the establishment of the NHS (when, as Orwell pointed out, Britain was full of revolutionary fervour and guns), has parliament delivered anything remotely approaching socialism? I don’t think it’s paranoid, reactionary or old fashioned to call into question the utility of supporting a Labour party that we can only imagine might be to the left of the Tories because since May it has remained totally silent. At least the SWP are clear in their aims.

  72. douglas clark — on 29th December, 2010 at 12:58 pm  

    Tom @ 70,

    Well, what with being a genuine political party and all, why doesn’t the SWP stand candidates in elections under it’s own name?

  73. Sarah AB — on 29th December, 2010 at 1:33 pm  

    *Are* they clear in their aims though Tom? I remember looking at their website a while back and it didn’t make it explicitly clear what their policies were – looked again today and that still seemed to be the case.

  74. Tom — on 29th December, 2010 at 2:19 pm  

    I’d say that a combination of this http://www.swp.org.uk/about-us

    And this http://www.swp.org.uk/theory/main

    And the content of the (admittedly old fashioned) newspaper, or the (actually rather good) monthly Socialist Review

    …make it fairly clear. But I see what you mean, I can’t find the manifesto up on the site. It definitely used to be there.

  75. Ellie Mae — on 29th December, 2010 at 2:39 pm  

    For those who have asked – my uncle has worked for the trade unions his whole life. They even gave him an award in recognition of his commitment this year. All unpaid.

    He frequently complains that SWP infiltrate every genuine movement the unions get going, take it over, and collapse it thanks to many of the things Sunny mentions above. I’ll get individual examples when I speak to him next.

    It also happened to me in Uni. I was on the CND board, which soon got taken over by SWP who wanted to stage a load of absurd protests out of a misguided believe that the revolution would come at any moment. That was 2004. Pretty soon I lost interest and the CND faded into obscurity.

    My problem with the SWP is that they are very much ‘it’s my way or the highway.’ The stuff Sunny lists wouldn’t be such an issue if it wasn’t coloured with that overarching attitude.

  76. damon — on 29th December, 2010 at 4:10 pm  

    The SWP are people to be ignored in my opinion.
    They just wish the anti Iraq war marches could have been turned into something from the 1970′s with the anti-war movement about Vietnam. But I still remember their pathetic chants from going around Berkley Square in Central London in 1991 on some anti-war march, which were: ”Hell no: we won’t go: we won’t fight for Texico”

    Pathetic.

  77. Refresh — on 29th December, 2010 at 4:55 pm  

    ‘They just wish the anti Iraq war marches could have been turned into something from the 1970?s with the anti-war movement about Vietnam.’

    Why wouldn’t that be the objective of any anti-war demonstration?

    Although Vietnam wasn’t halted until they’d killed over 3 million. Wouldn’t you rather they hadn’t killed any?

    As for chants are concerned that one wasn’t too bad – works on many levels. War for US corporate profit, war for oil – East India Company all over again.

    My preferred one was ‘Who let the dogs out’.

    Damon, are you a blog version of Forrest Gump?

  78. Yakoub — on 29th December, 2010 at 6:24 pm  

    I’ve held back on saying my piece about the British far-left because they have been at the forefront of defending Muslims against media demonization. But recently, I let rip on a certain blog, and — surprise surprise — I got machine-gunned. Apparently, there I was, thinking I was a libertarian socialist, when in fact I’m a closet Tory! If the SWP excel in one thing, it’s sledge hammer, cultish polemic. In the weeks that followed, even positive comments posted on allied blogs were not making it past the moderators.

    Here in my home town, the SWP have the highest per-capita membership outside London. Two old anarchist friends of mine went SWP when they took up posts in local goverment here because, to quote one, “it’s easier to get things done.” I’ve seen other stuff go down locally, and at Uni, of course — enough to make me permanently wary of the Trots as an organizational force, even as I continue to read and admire the comment offered by some of their bloggers.

    It says it all that, when you do voice your concerns, you get treated like some kind of malicious threat. It’s exactly the same on fundamentalist Muslim blogs.

  79. Sunny — on 29th December, 2010 at 11:10 pm  

    Yakoub: It says it all that, when you do voice your concerns, you get treated like some kind of malicious threat. It’s exactly the same on fundamentalist Muslim blogs.

    Exactly. The hysterical reaction to this blog post has been in the same vein.

    Also – apologies to everyone who thinks I’m distracting from the fight against the cuts by having the odd rant against the SWP. Clearly, the more I blog about the government the more likely they are to fall.

    What is this? A level politics?

    You really think that any blog that runs the odd post about anything other than government cuts is simply delaying the fall of the Coalition? Honestly.

    Why did I write this post? Because I have long-running complaints about the SWP which I sometimes air on Twitter. People asked me to ‘explain my problem’ – so I did. Fucking get over it.

    . At least the SWP are clear in their aims.

    Err – yeah, which is to take over other people’s campaigns or denounce them.

    Alfie: My priority at present is opposing the cuts from the real enemy. I’ll leave you to your comedy act. Pathetic.

    Please do. You’re already prolonging this government by spending time on the interwebs reading and commenting on blogs! Why aren’t you out on the streets marching every day comrade? That’s the only way to bring down Cameron!

  80. Roger — on 30th December, 2010 at 12:57 am  

    “At least the SWP are clear in their aims.
    Err – yeah, which is to take over other people’s campaigns or denounce them.”

    No. The SWP’s aim is to establish a Leninist dictatorship with them- as the vanguard of the working class- running it. They may go along with other reformist campaigns against immediate ills, but the actual success of such a campaign is not something that interests themmuch.

  81. damon — on 30th December, 2010 at 2:27 am  

    Hey Refresh, I was there on that day and I thought the SWP were a bunch of tits with their ‘Hell no, we won’t go: we won’t fight for Texico’ chants.

    If that makes me a Forest Gump, then so what?

  82. Refresh — on 30th December, 2010 at 11:09 am  

    Damon,

    No it wasn’t that. I was thinking more of you being at every event of political significance of the last hundred years.

  83. Ravi Naik — on 30th December, 2010 at 12:05 pm  

    No it wasn’t that. I was thinking more of you being at every event of political significance of the last hundred years

    heh. :) Damon really gives that impression.

  84. damon — on 30th December, 2010 at 2:05 pm  

    heh. Damon really gives that impression.

    I used to go to these marches and and events in the 90′s, just like loads of people do today. What’s the difference? Sunny does it. Laurie Penny writes breathless accounts of being at the student demos … and I was on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square on the day of the Poll Tax riot in 1990 watching the proceedings going on … again, so what?

    Maybe you’re just a bunch of provincials who’ve never been anywhere. ;)

  85. earwicga — on 30th December, 2010 at 6:44 pm  

    Lol at Damon Gump! I can just see you sitting there on the sidelines tut tutting at the suffragettes.

  86. Scooby — on 30th December, 2010 at 7:00 pm  

    What an interesting shopping list of whines, remarkably similar to the bleatings of the Mensheviks as they were led to the gulags after 1917.

  87. earwicga — on 30th December, 2010 at 7:42 pm  
  88. Don — on 30th December, 2010 at 7:42 pm  

    Scooby,

    Beat me to it.

  89. douglas clark — on 30th December, 2010 at 8:11 pm  

    earwicga @ 87,

    So who do you represent?

    The daft maoist marxist lenninist SWP faction?

    Or the equally stupid lenninist marxist maoist SWP faction?

    I think we should be told.

  90. damon — on 30th December, 2010 at 8:27 pm  

    Lol at Damon Gump! I can just see you sitting there on the sidelines tut tutting at the suffragettes

    I think that if the SWP had been around then, they would have degraded that social movement.

    I regard the SWP (Earwicga), in the way that you regard the Spiked people who used to be called the RCP.
    I don’t read the SWP output every week, and you never read the Spiked/RCP people.

    You and Sunny are closer to the SWP fantasists though I think.

    ”They say warfare we say welfare”

    That was a chant of their’s on the 1991 anti- war demonstrations.

  91. douglas clark — on 30th December, 2010 at 8:58 pm  

    damon @ 90.

    Eh!

    When did Sunny say anything like this?

    ”They say warfare we say welfare”

    I don’t recall that.

    I regard the SWP (Earwicga), in the way that you regard the Spiked people who used to be called the RCP.

    I don’t think you can say that about earwicga. Y’know, that she is a member of the SWP. At least, until she tells us which faction she is in.

    It is important, to some, whether she has been taught in a Marxist Lenninist Madrassa, or a Lenninist Marxist one.

    Heaven forfend, she might be a member of the Labour Party.

    ______________________

    Not that I agree with you either ;-)

  92. earwicga — on 30th December, 2010 at 10:08 pm  

    Very well douglas – I’m not in or ever have been in the SWP. Ditto the Labour party. Neither am I a socialist.

  93. damon — on 30th December, 2010 at 10:26 pm  

    Very well douglas – I’m not in or ever have been in the SWP. Ditto the Labour party. Neither am I a socialist.

    So what are you then? A bolshy feminist mum from Wales?

  94. earwicga — on 30th December, 2010 at 10:32 pm  

    A human being damon.

    And I’m not from Wales, I’m from SE England. Harlesden then West Sussex.

  95. Scooby — on 30th December, 2010 at 10:54 pm  

    Scooby, Beat me to it.

    It’s quite striking that Sunny expresses no objection to the totalitarian and likely genocidal aims of the SWP, he merely objects to their rather uncomradely attitude towards others who are “all on the same side”, so to speak. I’m sure the SWP find him very “useful”, though. And it does provide some good ammunition for nasty right-wingers like myself to argue that the “soft left” are just the same as the “far left” under the skin, except for their tactics. More posts like this, please.

  96. damon — on 30th December, 2010 at 11:05 pm  

    And I’m not from Wales, I’m from SE England. Harlesden then West Sussex.

    Do you engage your local SWP branch in conversation outside the supermarket on a saturday morning?

  97. earwicga — on 30th December, 2010 at 11:13 pm  

    damon – if I was awake on a Saturday morning, I would most certainly not be anywhere near a supermarket. I’ve no idea if and where SWP branches are. I know where and who the Labour party people are and they aren’t very impressive. What’s with the interest in supermarkets on a Saturday morning?

  98. damon — on 30th December, 2010 at 11:28 pm  

    Maybe it’s different in Wales (and West Sussex), but the SWP branches are often seen outside supermarkets, or tube stations, or just high streets in London on Saturday mornings.

  99. earwicga — on 31st December, 2010 at 12:35 am  

    Everything is different here damon.

  100. douglas clark — on 31st December, 2010 at 12:51 am  

    Well earwicga,

    Just who do you align yourself with then?

    If anyone?

    Why did I have the idea you were Welsh? I’d not usually ascribe a minority nationality to anyone. Usually, my default position is to assume that anyone that comments here is from London. Which is fine. How the heck did I get it into my head that you were Welsh?

    Glad to see that someone from West Sussex can also see through the SWP.

    Maybe you’d care to be more critical of the idiots in the future.

  101. douglas clark — on 31st December, 2010 at 12:57 am  

    Scooby @ 95,

    You what?

    I’d have thought Sunny Hundal and a heck of a lot of folk that have commented on this thread would see you as a complete moron. There is not much relativism floating around here. The SWP are a bunch of Johnny come lately, bust your balls and ideas idiots.

    That seems to be the consensus. Right wing Tory trolls have their own crosses to bear. You, for instance.

  102. earwicga — on 31st December, 2010 at 1:13 am  

    Perhaps because I live in Wales douglas. Have done for a long time now. And I’m not from West Sussex either, as I said earlier, I’m from London.

  103. douglas clark — on 31st December, 2010 at 1:29 am  

    earwicga,

    Ah…

    Cheers for clearing that up.

    _____________________________

    So how would you describe your politics then? You know mine. I am SNP and I think most folk here would be too, absent the scottish nationalism :-)

    Free tertiary education? No nukes? No nuclear reactors? Being Green? Allegedly we are on course to be completely green in our energy by 2020 or so… So far 25% or so.

    Policy for policy we are more left wing and more sensible than any other political party apart from Plaid Cymru, who we obviously ally with. Lets face it, Alec Salmond would get knocked back at the door of any swingers club that wanted to maintain it’s reputation.

    Which is just one of our strengths….

  104. earwicga — on 31st December, 2010 at 1:40 am  

    I don’t particularly subscribe to any of the parties douglas, and my vote for the WA elections will be different to the GE as there are some very good tory candidates around and it is imortant that they aren’t voted in. Plaid Cymru aren’t completely left wing. They are much more so down south, but there are a lot of tories in there.

  105. douglas clark — on 31st December, 2010 at 1:58 am  

    earwicga,

    Thanks for clearing that up. I don’t think the SNP would fit into some folk’s idea of ‘left wing’ either. If by that, one were to mean SWP. We have become more ‘ballot box’ rather than ‘direct action’ orientated.

    Though our idea of direct action was pinching a dod of stone, aka the Stone of Destiny, from under the throne. Perhaps we gave it up because we were crap at it.

    Apparently Terry Pratchetts book ‘The Fifth Elephant’ references this high spot of scottish patriotism. Though I read it and missed it’s significance.

  106. barcuid goch — on 31st December, 2010 at 4:19 am  

    Plaid Cymru are an appalling bunch of opportunists, douglas.

    Left-wing is not exactly the definition of them in places such as Lampeter. More like Taffy Tories thereabouts.

    Their extensive political and social networks are called the Taffia for good reason, bach.

  107. douglas clark — on 31st December, 2010 at 5:40 am  

    barcuid goch,

    I don’t know a lot about Plaid Cymru, but the SNP have certainly been accused of being Tartan Tories in the past. Is there a political party exant that doesn’t, to some extent, pitch it’s message at the voters in front of it? It is a beauty parade, after all.

    If I may say so, yours is a card that folk that are thurled to left – right politics usually play. I tend to see Plaid Cymru as sensible folk, but your mileage may vary. Mine does on the issues they raise here:

    http://www.plaidcymru.org/content.php?nID=1;lID=1

    What’s not to like about keeping Post Offices, the right to have your own Welsh identifying number plate and stopping the subsidisation of the Labour Party?

    You Welsh need more powers over substantive issues, not less.

    For these are genuinely marginal. Meaning not very consequential…

    My point being that you are better than that.

    You ought to have some respect for yourselves and vote against being trivialised.

    But you are still trapped in the Left – Right tradition. It is a tad sad.

    Just out of curiosity, what is opportunist about wanting to walk away from England? Perhaps you could explain what benefits Wales has had out of the relationship.

  108. Sarah AB — on 31st December, 2010 at 6:29 am  

    Scooby – I suppose I’m ‘soft left’ and I said back at 67 that I have more in common with those slightly to the right of centre (such as Mr Sarah for example!) than with the SWP. In so far as I can judge (although they don’t have a manifesto) I would rather vote Conservative than vote SWP. What right wing (or ‘right wing’ if you prefer) parties would force you to vote Labour in preference? Or is your own adherence to the right as unswerving as you claim that of us on the left is?

  109. douglas clark — on 31st December, 2010 at 7:05 am  

    Sarah AB @ 108,

    I’d rather spoil my ballot paper than be faced with that choice!

    Tell it like it is. Scooby has accused everyone that doesn’t think like he does of being a twit:

    It’s quite striking that Sunny expresses no objection to the totalitarian and likely genocidal aims of the SWP, he merely objects to their rather uncomradely attitude towards others who are “all on the same side”, so to speak. I’m sure the SWP find him very “useful”, though. And it does provide some good ammunition for nasty right-wingers like myself to argue that the “soft left” are just the same as the “far left” under the skin, except for their tactics. More posts like this, please.

    Sunny did! That was the whole point of the Opinion Piece, or did I miss the memo?

    I don’t think it is fraternal to call folk ‘protest parasites’. That is, to my mind anyway, not a friendly thing to say.

    I happen to agree with it,

    And I have deeper suspicions about the SWP than that. However, Scooby is what he or she is. The point about the internet is to be exposed to other peoples points of view. But when you find it verging on ridiculous, what do you do?

  110. damon — on 31st December, 2010 at 1:19 pm  

    Perhaps because I live in Wales douglas. Have done for a long time now. And I’m not from West Sussex either, as I said earlier, I’m from London.

    I’m always a bit suspiciois of lefty Londoners like Billy Bragg who end up in some rural idyll.
    Every case is different of course, but you know how you notice all those backward people commenting on the Daily Mail website are often from Canada and Australia and other ex-pat places, who say how they left England because they thought the place was going ”To Hell in a Handcart”.

  111. earwicga — on 31st December, 2010 at 1:25 pm  

    some rural idyll

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Clutching at straws damon.

  112. damon — on 31st December, 2010 at 1:45 pm  

    Well, it was just a passing thought ;)

  113. douglas clark — on 31st December, 2010 at 2:15 pm  

    damon,

    Disagreeing with someones politics is one thing, getting that personal is quite another. earwicga has answered questions about herself with a refreshing honesty. I doubt she and I will ever be the best of friends because we appear to have a mutual antipathy.

    But that was a bit more than just an unfair passing thought…..

  114. damon — on 31st December, 2010 at 2:36 pm  

    Fair enough Douglas, but that thought has bugged me for years, long before I ever heard of Earwicga.
    I’m ending up despising the left, even though for years I always though that I must be a bit left wing myself.
    It’s because of a certain kind of lefty. The ones I fell out quite badly with on another website for example.

    They were regular attenders of this event, which as nice as it looks, is now to me ”pass the sick bag” territory.
    http://www.tolpuddlemartyrs.org.uk/index.php?page=photo-gallery

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