:: Thursday, October 30, 2003 ::

South British politics at the Crossroads?

George Galloway is to stand in all European seats in England and Wales next year. He will head a broad anti-war coalition involving the likes of George Monbiot and with strong components from the Stop the War coalition, the muslim community and the Socialist Alliance.

This is a positive step relative to the weak and divided left which fought the Brent East by-election and which failed to capitalise on the massive anti-war movement. Galloway provides a useful figurehead around which to rally.

It is also positive that this coalition will not be standing in Scotland. In Scotland we were able to bring the anti-war voters onboard with the SSP (and the Greens did the same thing). I think we showed that you can build a new party at the same time as progressing the anti-war movement.

George and the new coalition have no plans to launch a party. This probably suits both him and the likes of John Rees of the SWP who spoke alongside him in London. Both have different ideas. Galloway wants to reclaim Labour, Rees wants to build an electoral front which will channel recruits to the "revolutionary party", the SWP of course. Neither have a perspective to build a new workers party in the mould of the SSP which is democratic and pluralist. The SSP requested a speaker at the "British politics at the crossroads" rally, but were politely refused, presumably the north part of Britain is not at the crossroads.

George made this clear in The Guardian today.

"We will not be a political party, but a coalition around which we hope many will rally - some perhaps only for the day, merely lending us their votes - to show the true colours of the British people. Who knows, maybe the results will be cathartic within the Labour party itself, and help to spark the long-heralded -and much to be hoped for - "reclaiming" of the party by those with Labour's best interests and traditions at heart, notably the trade unions, who must play a central role."

George also sought to politically differentiate himself from some of those sharing the platform with him. Or at least that is how I read the following from his speech (reproduced on Aljazeera)

"My socialism is not that of "bloody revolutionists" or foreign ideological importations. It is rooted in this land and in its traditions of liberty, dissent, co-operativism and trades union action and it is open to every freeborn British person , every faith, all men and women on equal terms. Politics is about schools, hospitals, roads and jobs as well as about grand theories of democracy, rights, foreign affairs and free trade."

And what role will be played by the likes of RMT General Secretary Bob Crow (who was billed as a speaker in London) and Mark Serwotka of the PCS who are keen to launch a real left alternative party and who have the muscle of the trade unions with them? Also left out were the likes of Dave Nellist of the Socialist Party, who could surely head a West Midlands list for Europe. The SP have their own sectarian hang-ups but would be likely to try to seek some kind of electoral agreement if they won't come on board entirely.

One step forward, two steps back? No, more like one step sideways. The same plan with different faces and a slightly different angle.

:: Alister | 11:32 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | |


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