27 Oct 2007

More on RESPECT crisis

I have seen things that I can no longer accept.
I have heard things from meetings I have been at described in a way that I don’t recognise.

No longer will these things be done in my name.

For the reasons that I have set out, as from this moment I am resigning from the SWP.

This is from the resignation letter of Jerry Hicks a longstanding Bristol member of the Socialist Workers Party....the split between the SWP and most of the rest of the RESPECT Party is causing huge interest and gossip.

I am keen to see greens, socialists and progressive Muslims and plenty of other sections of society work together but I guess like most on the left I have not been confident that RESPECT would hold together....if a broad, pluralist, democratic party comes together out of the current rows the Greens ought to find ways of working with it towards shared goals of ecology, social justice and no war. However I think that the most likely outcome is more division of the left, with two RESPECT Parties but lets wait and see.

Certainly in Scotland...greater cooperation between the Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party would have been great but the SSP split over Sheridan...don't get me back on to the Leader debate!

This one will run and run...


Charlie Marks said...

Ah, the leader debate. Good luck with that.

Having built up Galloway, the SWP leadership are furious that he has criticised the political culture of Respect. That the whole thing kicks off because Galloway writes a letter shows how mistaken it is to have a leader - though in this case he was right, of course!

The Sheridan trial, the split, and the acrimony teaches us that copying the model of leadership doesn't even deliver electoral success because it leads to an undemocratic political culture.

Neil said...

Derek I have given your Blog a link on the Respect Supporters Blog under 'Best Blogs/Web Sites' in the side colume.

I feel that people like yourself in the Greeen Party and democratic socialists in Respect should work together as much as possible and its a shame this has not happened up to now (not for the want of trying on the part of Respect I do believe).

On a point of detail : George Galloway is not the leader of Respect (nor would he claim to be), he is a 'respected' member of the Executive Committee (Officers Group) and the National Council and therefore part of a 'leadership group'.

For what its worth I do not think Respect will split if the SWP can accept or be forced to accept that they cannot and will not be allowed to control Respect or its committees (they deny they are doing this ofcourse).

The full SWP resignation letter from Jerry Hicks can be found at:


Neil Williams

Liam said...

Neil's right about more collaboration and I think we are definitely seeing the start of that. Derek has contributed articles to Socialist Resistance and we are working with Green trade unionists in the CACC TU conference very productively.
As for two Respects that won't last. One will function as a small party and the other will be wheeled out from time to time as a sectarian front.

John said...

The SWP are not soley to blame, despite what certain people here are saying. The accusation is pretty disingenous and totally ignores the faults of the other side in this argument.

Here I would quote Glyn Robbins who says:

"For as long as I’ve been involved in the labour movement (over 25 years) there has been a neurosis about the SWP that, at its most extreme, almost requires medical treatment. I am sorry to say that there are some people within our movement who are far more interested in fighting the SWP than our enemies. I believe this is once again being demonstrated in the current crisis."


Like Glyn, I am not in the SWP, however I am a Respect member and I am not so blinkered that I cannot see how much hard work the SWP - leadership and rank and file - have put into Respect over these last few years.

Where would the party be without the contribution made by them on the ground? Anyone who has helped out in Respect's election campaigns will know that the vast bulk of those canvassing/leafletting/running such campaigns are from the SWP. (Even where the candidate standing has not been the preferred choice of the SWP, which has happened on several occasions.)

Perhaps those who have been quick to attack the SWP simply do not know this?

It is also quite irresponsible of certain Respect members to be quick to go on the attack during this crisis - you should take a more balanced view, try to understand all sides of what is taking place, and make a plea for unity. Especially if you are claiming to represent Respect on the internet in an 'official' capacity.

I do sincerely hope that both sides can resolve this matter and that a stronger RESPECT emerges - it would be hugely unfair to all members and voters who have put their faith and hard work into it since its formation in early '04, if Respect were to collapse because of arguments between leading figures.

If a split can be avoided and a stronger Respect does indeed emerge though, it would be fantastic to have the solidarity of the Greens - something that I think most Respect members have wanted since the very beginning.

Charlie Marks said...

I agree with John. I don't think all the blame lies with the SWP and I sincerely hope that there isn't a split by the SWP.

Anonymous said...

Dear friends,
I am writing to you from Cyprus. I have followed from afar the development of Respect because it was (is?) one of the most inspiring attempts to raise the left to the standing it truly deserves, after many many years. It is from all over Europe that people have been following its progress in hope for a positive example. Elections are quite significant in bringing the left to prominence. But politics is even more so. What are the arguments please? Why do I get the feeling that when some people mention the SWP they do so as an argument in itself? What I can know from here is that the SWP has been one of the most consistent producers of theory and activism over the last half-century or so. That in its absence Respect would not have been so successful, if at all. This fact I feel should inform more your discussions. What is at stake is so serious for the entire European left to be treated as a mere issue of predisposition and antipathy. The SWP controls too many committees I read? I get the feeling that what is actually argued is that the SWP is too involved in the Respect project. One cannot have it both ways. Socialists are not to be viewed as mere donkeywork people. What will Respect do without the SWP (and other socialists I presume) is a far more pertinent question you should be addressing. I fear that your “principled anti-sectarianism” may lead you further down the road of exclusion and fragmentation. Why not next have a go at George’s cultural antics (Respect is the name!) or Alan’s Trotskyism?

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