Nov 16 2010

RCN Statement on the decision of George Galloway to stand in next year’s Holyrood elections

George Galloway has decided, with the backing of Respect in England and Wales, to stand as an MSP in Glasgow in next year’s Holyrood elections. This decision would apparently have been taken with or without Respect’s support. It amounts to little more than an attempt at carpet-bagging, following his removal from the celebrity spotlight, when he failed to retain a Westminster seat last year.

Galloway’s articles in the Daily Record show his likely political trajectory. He hopes to follow Ken Livingstone and be re-accepted into the Labour Party. He is selling himself to Labour voters in Glasgow as somebody with a high personal profile in contrast with existing Labour MSPs. Galloway’s most likely obstacle is probable jealousy over his celebrity status amongst the existing lacklustre leaders of the party in Scotland.

The attempt to promote socialist projects around celebrity candidates, whether Ken Livingstone, Arthur Scargill, Tommy Sheridan or George Galloway, has done nothing to advance principled and deep-rooted socialist organisation in these islands. Galloway’s particular claim to fame on the Left has been his spirited opposition to US imperialism. However, he has a record, not of being a consistent anti-imperialist, but of holding an ambivalent relationship to various regimes (e.g. Saddam’s Baathist Iraq and Ahmadinejad’s Islamic Republic of Iran), which are not opposed to imperialism in principle, but only to their lowly position in the current global order of things.

Domestically, Galloway has placed far more importance upon cultivating links with Islamic communal leaders, than with being held accountable either to socialist or working class organisations. Notoriously, he rejects the idea of  ‘a worker’s MP on a worker’s wage’ and believes that MPs should be paid twice as much.

Politically Galloway is opposed to ‘a woman’s right to choose over abortion’. Through his deeply entrenched Left British unionism, Galloway opposes any meaningful self-determination for Scotland. He still nostalgically hankers over the fate of another unionist and imperial state – the USSR – which still, in many ways, provides his ideal model.

Galloway has every right to stand in the Holyrood election next year. Genuine socialists have every reason to oppose him.

Socialist Resistance

The RCN has criticised Socialist Resistance in the past for its failure to address George Galloway’s articles in the Daily Record supporting the Labour Party in the Glasgow East by-election in 2008. Therefore, we welcome the stance Socialist Resistance has now taken over Galloway’s decision to stand in Glasgow in next year’s Holyrood elections.

Republican Communist Network, 15.11.10

Socialist Resistance on the issue
:

Why we are against Respect organizing in Scotland

After a week in which George Galloway said he was under pressure to stand in next year’s elections for the Scottish Parliament, Respect’s annual conference on November 13 voted, 59 to 15, to organise in Scotland. That resolution, published below, makes Socialist Resistance’s position inside Respect untenable. Resistance supported the establishment of Respect in England and has been central to the party’s leadership and work since then. As we explained in the leaflet distributed to the conference, because Resistance supports the Scottish Socialist Party the decision to organise in Scotland in competition to the SSP is a deep error by Respect, one which weakens Respect’s democracy and neglects the importance of Scotland’s struggle for self-determination.

The following amendment was passed by a large majority at Respect’s annual conference on November 13.

Conference notes that:

1. There will be elections to the Scottish Parliament in May 2011
2. These elections will be conducted under a form of proportional representation in which some MSPs are elected from a list
3. Respect has not organized in or contested elections in Scotland in the past because of the hegemony of other parties to the left of Labour
4. This hegemony no longer exists
. In the context of unprecedented cuts by the Condem Coalition and disappointment with the Labour and SNP, there is now an opportunity for Respect to contest elections to the Scottish parliament with a realistic prospect of success

Conference therefore believes

1. National officers should start preparations for Respect to contest elections to the Scottish Parliament
. Preparations should include immediately registering Scottish Respect as a description that can be used in Scottish elections and seeking to recruit residents in Scotland to Respect.

This is the text of a leaflet distributed by supporters of Socialist Resistance in Respect who now feel that our situation in the organisation is now untenable.

We are strongly opposed to the proposition that Respect organise in Scotland, as proposed in amendment E to Motion 1

Socialist Resistance has supported Respect since its inception in 2004 and previously supported the Socialist Alliance. We supported George Galloway’s letter which sought to democratize the leadership of Respect and backed the majority in the ensuing split in the organisation in 2007. We put the resources of our newspaper at the disposal of Respect. We understood that George and Salma, given their role in the anti-war movement had a vital contribution to make in building a political alternative to New Labour.

But were a resolution to organise Respect in Scotland to be passed at this Respect Conference this would make our situation in the organisation untenable. We are against such a resolution being adopted on a number of grounds:

1) A controversial change of a long-held policy that Respect does not organise in Scotland should not be introduced a week before the conference and with no discussion at the National Council or in the branches.

2) The only purpose in organising in Scotland would be for Respect to stand candidates in next May’s Scottish Parliament elections and in subsequent parliamentary and local elections. Respect has no policy positions on the specific situation in Scotland, particularly the issue of devolution and self-determination an issue around which there would be several different positions. To go into a Scottish election with no debate on key political issues would be fundamentally wrong.

3) There are already two left parties in Scotland standing in elections and they intend to continue doing so, namely the SSP and Solidarity. The SLP also stands in elections in Scotland. The last thing the Scottish left needs is another left party standing in those same elections and dividing the left vote still further.

4) In Respect there have always been different views on which party to support in Scotland. We support the SSP. If this conference were to adopt a position on organising in Scotland and to fight elections SR members would be in an impossible situation. For a party to have members who advocate voting for a different party would be untenable – both for Respect and for SR.

5) Underlying this issue is an important political question; namely the right of the Scottish people to self-determination, including the right to independence. Therefore we reject the idea of English based parties organizing in Scotland.

6) We still haven’t managed to build Respect on an England-wide basis – a decision to stand for election in Glasgow will inevitably lead to the de-prioritisation of Tower Hamlets.

We therefore urge the leadership and membership of Respect to avoid this course of action and to reject the proposal to organise in Scotland, avoiding both the undemocratic nature of such a decision and its consequences for the unity of the organisation.

Socialist Resistance, 13.11.10

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9 Responses to “RCN Statement on the decision of George Galloway to stand in next year’s Holyrood elections”

  1. Raphie says:

    Socialist Resistance (SR) was initially an isolated minority within Respect which was dominated by the SWP, Galloway and Salma. This was an undemocratic clique who did not want a properly functioning democratic party with functioning branches and a regular newspaper. It opposed from the start Galloway’s stance on gay rights and women’s rights and an MP standing on an average worker’s pay. It opposed his appearance on Big brother and successfully opposed Respect supporting officially Solidarity in Scotland. That argument that one the last issue was that there a diverse range of groups and individual within Respect who had different positions on the split and some who may even support Labour in Scotland.
    Galloway’s call for support for Labour in the Glasgow East by election was made on an individual basis and not on behalf of Respect. SR supported and called for a vote for the SSP and the SWP supported Solidarity in the same election.
    In the run up to 2010 when Salma raised the argument within Respect of supporting Labour where Respect was not standing, SR fervently opposed it in written and spoken word.

    I would be good if Allan acknowledged SR’s long standing principled position within Respect as well as its last stand and put into context it’s so called “indiscretion”

    Comradely Greetings
    Raphie de Santos

  2. Raphie says:

    Socialist Resistance (SR) was initially an isolated minority within Respect which was dominated by the SWP, Galloway and Salma. This was an undemocratic clique who did not want a properly functioning democratic party with functioning branches and a regular newspaper. It opposed from the start Galloway’s stance on gay rights and women’s rights and an MP standing on an average worker’s pay. It opposed his appearance on Big brother and successfully opposed Respect supporting officially Solidarity in Scotland. The argument that won the last issue was that there was a diverse range of groups and individual within Respect who had different positions on the split and some who may even support Labour in Scotland.
    Galloway’s call for support for Labour in the Glasgow East by election was made on an individual basis and not on behalf of Respect. SR supported and called for a vote for the SSP and the SWP supported Solidarity in the same election.
    In the run up to 2010 when Salma raised the argument within Respect of supporting Labour where Respect was not standing, SR fervently opposed it in written and spoken word.

    I would be good if Allan acknowledged SR’s long standing principled position within Respect as well as its last stand and put into context it’s so called “indiscretion”

  3. Allan Armstrong says:

    The RCN statement, which Raphie refers to, “welcomes the principled stance Socialist Resistance has now taken over Galloway’s decision to stand in Glasgow in next year’s Holyrood elections.” I hope that anyone reading this could not take it as anything other than supportive of Socialist Resistance’s stance.

    However, SSP members who attended the Convention of the Left in Manchester know that I raised with prominent Socialist resistance members, Terry Conway and Stuart Richardson, the issue that SR had not issued a public statement about Respect member, George Galloway’s pro-Labour articles in the ‘Daily Record’ . This as not done in any hostile way – just some advice that letting Galloway get away with this was likely to have future consequences – and so it has turned out to be! Once again, though, as in the split which occurred in Socialist Resistance’s ranks over ‘Tommygate’, Socialist Resistance has come out on the ‘side of the angels’, a principled position which I have publicly recognised in the past, and am more than happy to repeat again today.

    Therefore, the reference to a past RCN criticism, which has been in the public realm, was to indicate that the RCN and Socialist Resistance are now in public agreement – surely something to be celebrated. Thanks also to Raphie for outlining Socialist Resistance’s principled positions over other issues, where the RCN and Socialist Reistance would have been in agreement.

    Comradely greetings,

    Allan Armstrong

  4. Raphie says:

    I think my post may have been edited to take out the part where I said; “The RCN have not taken issue with Colin Fox’s statements at recent meetings on Afghanistan where he has said the second world war was a just war and that the armed forces should be withdrwan from Afghansiatin and returned to the UK where they can carry out their social usefull role”. I have been at these meetings as has Allan but for tactical reasons did not challenge Colin although he was talking from an SSP platform. I consider Colin’s remarks to be far more dangerous than Galloway’s call for a vote for Labour in Glasgow.

  5. RCN says:

    Hi Raphie, I did not edit your comment. When I emailed round the RCN list to let them know of your response I pointed this out as I noticed you had included extra info in the internal SSP sites. I presumed you were keeping the criticisms of Colin internal and not publishing them on a public site. Happy to publish unedited political criticism of anyone – including the RCN. The only comments blocked are abuse/spam.

  6. Allan Armstrong says:

    A slightly strange comment from Raphie here! Raphie thinks that Colin should have been criticised by the RCN for stating that the “second world war was a just war” at public meetings. Yet Raphie didn’t criticise this himself “for tactical reasons”!

    I can only comment on Edinburgh where I was the only RCN member at the SSP public meetings, which Raphie also attended. I chose to make a different political contribution, along the following lines.

    It was excellent that the SSP had a consistent record of opposing the Afghan War right from the start {immediately demonstrating at the top of the Mound when the war was launched}. However, if mass demonstrations of millions couldn’t stop the Iraq War, then the election of even a few socialist MSP’s was unlikely to have very much effect. Furthermore, unlike the mass demonstrations in response to the Vietnam War, which coincided with massive industrial unrest, particularly amongst Black American workers, we face a much more browbeaten working class here today.

    However, the current growing concern of the ‘top brass’ in the military over disaffection amongst the ranks was one very hopeful sign. We had even seen this from returning soldiers on the stalls, and others who were even prepared to attend SSP public meetings on the issue. Trying to make direct contact with soldiers is a risky business and you need to be very careful to avoid the draconian penalties for encouraging ‘mutiny’. However, this is perhaps an argument that should be taken up in the wider anti-war movement. I also raised this at an SSP National Council meeting in Glasgow.

    The RCN doesn’t have any agreed position on the Second World War. We are united around a much more limited set of platform points than traditional Trotskyist organisations, where (in the past?) you had to agree with all the decisions of the congresses of the Bolsheviks, the CPSU and Third International up to 1923, then the Left Opposition and Trotsky’s ‘Transitional Programme’. However, I understand that even Trotskyists were divided over the Second World War.

    I have certainly used historical precedents in many of my political contributions, but funnily enough I don’t remember using the Second World War as an example. I wouldn’t take any definite position until I had examined the issue in some depth. I do feel fairly certain that from the point of view of the various ruling classes that the Second World War was an imperialist war (and I would include the Soviet bureaucracy in this too).

    However, from the point of view of those facing Nazi occupation (particularly Jews, Gypsies and Slavs) this was a war where they faced extermination or enslavement; whilst those countries colonised by the Allies, but now occupied by the Axis powers, faced the reimposition of US, British, French and Dutch imperial occupation, oppression and exploitation. So, it appears to me in these areas that the main issue was independent class organisation for national liberation and social emancipation. However, I would be more than happy to modify this if I am provided with better arguments backed by real evidence.

    I have given my reasons for addressing a different issue at the SSP meetings. However, I would also not agree with Raphie over Colin’s historical argument being more dangerous than Galloway’s very current and real political manoeuvring on behalf of the Labour Party. I also strongly suspect that Galloway would also call the “second world war a just war”, but in his case especially where it was led by Stalin! Also, unlike Colin, I can’t imagine Galloway ever deigning to do anti-war work on the streets, or perhaps not until he got some financial or other reward!

  7. Raphie says:

    The Fourth International was not divided of the Second World War but some groups that emerged after the war opposed the FI’s line of supporting and building the resistance movements. They argued I think wrongly that the FI was supporting an inter capitalist war. The FI rightly opposed war against Germany, Italy and Japan which was inter-imerialist war. It is this war that Colin supports as just. Resistance against the Nazi occupation was a just but not the global international imperialist war. We have no idea how things might develop in the present crisis but Colin’s line would be one of complete class betrayal completely disarming the working class. It was this line of the social democracy during the Second World War that made it easy to demobilise what was in effect an insurrectionary movement on France, Italy and Greece and allowed for the welfare state settlement in the UK. This cover of a far against fascism allowed the UK in particular ant-colonial revolutions in the Asia. In my view the line of a just war against fascism is much more dangerous to calling for a vote for Labour in a Glasgow by-election. Mandel’s excellent “The Meaning of the Second World War” is being republished in the spring. I will review and summarise for the SSP as part of the debate on what is the nature of fascism and “just was”.

    And as for Colin’s campaigning on the Afghan war I find it totally opportunist, frontist and populist. It is a cynical use of the horrific war. I have repeatedly called for us to build a broad democratic campaign on the single demand of “Troops out of Afghanistan Now” bringing together all those that agree with that demand. They are ignored because it does not serve his purpose. I refuse to be used as fodder by him anymore. It will be interesting to see now that the SNP have pulled the rug from under our feet by calling for troops out by the end of 2011 what Colin will now campaign on week after week. Maybe issues that actually relevant to the working class week by week. Maybe there be some democratic discussion about what we should campaign on and come inclusiveness?

  8. Raphie says:

    Some typos corrected

    The Fourth International was not divided of the Second World War but some groups that emerged after the war opposed the FI’s line of supporting and building the resistance movements. They argued I think wrongly that the FI was supporting an inter capitalist war. The FI rightly opposed war against Germany, Italy and Japan which was an inter-imperialist war. It is this war that Colin supports as just. Resistance against the Nazi occupation was a just but not the global international imperialist war. We have no idea how things might develop in the present crisis but Colin’s line would be one of complete class betrayal completely disarming the working class. It was this line of the social democracy during the Second World War that made it easy to demobilise what was in effect an insurrectionary movement on France, Italy and Greece and allowed for the welfare state settlement in the UK. This cover of a war against fascism allowed the UK in particular to put down anti-colonial revolutions in the Asia. In my view the line of a just war against fascism is much more dangerous to calling for a vote for Labour in a Glasgow by-election. Mandel’s excellent “The Meaning of the Second World War” is being republished in the spring. I will review and summarise for the SSP as part of the debate on what is the nature of fascism and “just was”.

    And as for Colin’s campaigning on the Afghan war I find it totally opportunist, frontist and populist. It is a cynical use of the horrific war. I have repeatedly called for us to build a broad democratic campaign on the single demand of “Troops out of Afghanistan Now” bringing together all those that agree with that demand. They are ignored because it does not serve his purpose. I refuse to be used as fodder by him anymore. It will be interesting to see now that the SNP have pulled the rug from under our feet by calling for troops out by the end of 2011 what Colin will now campaign on week after week. Maybe issues that are actually relevant to the working class week by week. Maybe there might be some democratic discussion about what we should campaign on and come inclusiveness?

  9. Allan Armstrong says:

    I haven’t been at any branch meetings or SSP Conferences where the demand for a broad democratic campaign around the single demand for ‘Troops out of Afghanistan Now’ was raised. Nor have I seen any branch resolutions to this effect.

    However, there is unlikely to be any opposition to Raphie taking his suggestion into the existing Anti-War Movement. If there turned out to be any political opposition, Raphie would be assured of my support over this, just as I supported the Maryhill amendment on the Afghan War at last year’s conference.

    Unlike Raphie, though, I do see the Afghan War as “actually relevant to the working class week by week”, and a quite suitable topic for SSP agitation. I have also been on recent SSP stalls addressing fuel poverty. I doubt that the local SSP branches would have any difficulty finding another issue if British troops were actually removed from Afghan soil – something which would require a bit more than an SNP call for troops out by the end of 2011!

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