Jul 15 2013

THE PERILS OF UNITY

Eric Chester (RCN) takes a critical look at the proposed Left Unity Party.

Eric Chester

Eric Chester

The Crisis of Capitalism has led to a polarisation of political viewpoints, as a widening segment of the working class feels the devastating impact of the downturn in decreasing wages and benefits, and the rapid deterioration of social services. The Labour party has failed to meaningfully respond to the crisis,  having become yet another electoral machine, tacking and manoeuvering with no goal beyond taking power,  and distributing patronage. As the disillusionment with the Labour Party deepens, a substantial number of working people are ready for an alternative to mainstream politics.

The right wing has already gained support, as can be seen in terms of a sharp rise in the UKIP vote with its populist appeal to nationalism and xenophobia. In this context it is understandable that there has been a push toward left unity. The most salient case in point, the creation of Left Unity, sparked by Ken Loach’s nostalgic documentary chronicling the welfare state of the late 1940′s.  Left Unity does not claim to be a Socialist organisation.  Its claim is to reform capitalism by reviving the welfare state, a goal to be attained by pressuring the establishment.  In many respects, left Unity is a throw back to the early days of the Labour Party.  In the 1890′s, the Independent Labour Party made the conscious decision to submerge their perspective of a gradual road to socialism into a broader party, promoting Social reform, one that would not be socialist, but would have links to the trade unions.

Continue reading “THE PERILS OF UNITY”

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Jan 09 2012

ENGLISH REPUBLICANISM – history for today (3 articles)

ENGLAND’S DEMOCRACY –  ST. PAULS TO ST. MARYS

(The following piece has been written by Steve Freeman of the Bermondsey Republican Socialists for the Occupy Times)

 

“I think the poorest he that is in England has a life to live as the greatest he……and I do think that the poorest man in England is not bound in a strict sense to the government that he has not put himself under.” These words of the republican Leveller, Colonel Thomas Rainsborough, addressing the Army Council on 28 October 1647 at St Mary’s Church in the Putney, still speak to us over three hundred years later.

The struggle for democracy has continued ever since, by revolution and reform, with victories and defeats. Far from ending the struggle for democracy, capitalism has steadily generalised it across the world. As Banks and Corporations exploit their power so people revolt and seek democratic solutions. International finance and people’s democracy stand as mortal foes.

The latest phase, the Arab Spring, began in Tunisia and spread to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria and recently appeared in Moscow and China. This triggered the Occupy movement in September 2011 which hit the headlines when people began to occupy Wall Street. ‘Occupy’ has become an international protest movement against financial capital and social inequality which has spread to over ninety five cities including Madrid, New York, London, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, and Paris.

At first sight the Occupy movement seems distinct from the political and democratic struggles in the Middle East. It would be wrong simply to contrast the Arab democratic revolutions with ‘Occupy’s’ economic demands. Whilst the movement’s slogan “We are the 99%” refers to the distribution of income it expresses democratic values. It has been rightly described as a “democratic awakening” – if not yet Spring at least the end of hibernation. The central feature of our movement is participatory democracy in “General Assemblies”.

This takes us back to that historic and revolutionary, if largely forgotten, general assembly of the New Model army in occupation at St Mary’s church Putney. In 1647 the active section of the England’s young people were armed and organised in the New Model Army. Each regiment elected its own ‘shop stewards’ known as the agitators. As the first civil war ended the army became effectively a people’s parliament or republic, inside the defeated Stuart monarchy.

This parliament or general assembly met to debate a new constitution. The republican Levellers proposed an “An Agreement of the People” in opposition to the Army’s ‘Grandees’ – landowning generals – such as Fairfax, Ireton and Cromwell, backed by the wealthy City bankers and merchants. History has shown the Levellers were right but Cromwell and the City had the might. Soon they used it to suppress the Levellers, and the Diggers, who in 1649 began to occupy land at St Georges Hill in Surrey.

England has turned full circle. Today’s young people are not in a revolutionary new model army. But its students and ‘redundant’ youth are rebelling on the streets. Occupy has been led by young people trying to peacefully occupy the City in solidarity with similar protests across the world. The forces of the Crown barred the route to the Stock Exchange and we ended up camped outside St Paul’s. Now, like some Macbethean witches prediction, it is time for St Paul to meet St Mary.

Steve Freeman (Real Democracy Working Group)

THE ENGLISH QUESTION

British-England needs to address its own democratic deficit and national identity 

In autumn 2014 Scotland will have a referendum on the issue of independence which may lead to the break up of the UK. Such a major shake up of British politics would end British national identity as we know it. Of course the SNP is hardly a revolutionary party and Alex Sammond is no Lenin. He has been at pains to calm fears of the ruling class – Scotland will remain under the British monarchy and continue to pay its dues to the Bank of England. It will be a great place for multinationals to do business.

Salmond told an audience in London on 26 January that an independent Scotland would be “a beacon for progressive opinion south of the border”. He pointed to free university tuition fees and free medical care for senior citizens and more would come. An independent Scotland would exit NATO and the nuclear submarines would leave their base in Faslane. Friendship between Scotland and England would be “reinvigorated”.

In this scenario there is nothing for progressive politics in England to worry about. A liberal-social Scotland would be little different from today. Perhaps cast adrift from Tory England it would move more to the left. May be this would waken the English working class to fight for better deal. Either way the left in England has surely enough generosity of spirit and democratic internationalism to wave good bye.

Tory England is not going to take this lying down. The old dog will not give up without a fight. Public opinion in England is already being primed with resentment. There is plenty of dormant chauvinism to be mobilised as witnessed on radio phone-ins – ‘the Scots are like welfare dependents being subsidized by taxpayers down south, these ungrateful recipients of state handouts are damaging all of us’.

The SNP has its own answer. The Scottish state can rely on North Sea oil and doesn’t need taxes from England. But there are massive debts, over £1 trillion, to be divided up. This redistribution of wealth will drive the inevitable battle. Czechoslovakia broke up peacefully but the battle for Yugoslavia fuelled a violent aggressive nationalistic-fascism. Whether a break up will be progressive or not depends on the state of class struggle.

The Yugoslav scenario does not seem likely at the present, not least because England and Scotland have a different history to the Balkans. However, we must not be too complacent or think that some kind of national-fascism could not gain momentum. Future politics may seem an extension of current trends, but sometimes it undergoes sharp and unexpected developments. Flagging up an unlikely scenario is not designed to create fear but constitutes an appeal to the left in England to take this matter with the utmost seriousness.

National question

The UK is a multi-national state whose British national identity was forged over three hundred years ago. England is the largest country with the greatest population and resources, particularly its wealth creating working class. The national question concerns the interrelations between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and crucially this is not simply about external relations between nations, rather it is bound up with internal demands for democracy, sovereignty and a new national identity.

The struggle to redefine Scotland’s democracy and identity will stir up the forces of both reaction and democracy within Tory England. Last summer’s riots show that everything in the English garden is far from ‘rosy’. The alienation of young people in England is clearly connected to unemployment and the lack of real democracy which is reflected in relations with Her Majesty’s Constabulary.

The England question is very important. As yet it is neither recognised nor theorized by the English left. Yet to ignore it is to leave a major political opportunity for organisations like the English Defence League. The fascists are quick off the mark when it comes to reinforcing “Englishness” as a racial and religious stereotype which can be mobilised against perceived threats whether from Europe, Muslims or disloyal Scotland.

 

Tory England  

England is a Tory country and not just when the Tories are in government. It is built-in to our class based institutions and “British-English” identity. This includes the Tory monarchy, House of Lords, the Honours system, the constitution of the Crown and our history as an imperialist power. Official history identifies national icons such as Queen Elizabeth 1st and Sir Francis Drake defeating the Spanish armada, Nelson defeating the French at Trafalgar, the Dunkirk spirit and the battle of Britain.

The “British-English” have been one of the world’s most war-like nations over the last three hundred years. This dual identity under the British Crown is symbolised by the Union Jack, (aka the butcher’s apron), the flag of St George and the national hymn of praise “God Save the Queen”. However, in the last twenty years growing democratic demands from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have seen a search for, and the beginning of, a reinvention of the Englishness of St George.

There is of course another England. This is unofficial England, ignored, unloved and uncelebrated. It is a people’s England created out of the long struggle for popular democracy and sovereignty. This is an England fought for by the Levellers, Chartists and Suffragettes. It has many of its own heroes and martyrs including for example William Cuffy, the black republican and leader of the London Chartists who in 1848 was fitted up by the Crown’s ‘agents provocateurs’ and exiled to Australia.

The Peoples Flag

The Scottish referendum raises the question of what kind of England we live in. There is a democratic deficit in England, highlighted by the Scottish parliament’s reforms on student fees and welfare for senior citizens. It is time for Old Tory England with its British-English identity to be abolished. A new democratic England will redefine itself as republican, multi-racial, internationalist and secular country. To do this it must draw on our own popular democratic traditions which put the social and collective interests of the working class majority first.

The resurrection of English radical traditions can be symbolised by flags and banners. The flag of England’s democracy is a tricolour which symbolises a republican and secular country. It is the recognition of a future England refounded on the sovereignty of the people. The three vertical stripes of red, violet-purple and green represent the values of liberty, equality and solidarity.

The historical roots of this flag go back to the Levellers, the democratic republican party of the English revolution. Levellers formed the most advanced pro-democratic wing in the New Model Army. Their colour was sea green. The tricolour connects with the Chartist flag (red white and green) and the suffragettes flag (green, purple and white). These colours identify with the most important struggles in England that have shaped our parliamentary democracy.

Taken separately, the three colours highlight a future England which recognises the rights of working people who produce the wealth, the rights of women to full equality and the recognition of the global environment for the future of the planet. There has never been a time when the left in England needs to show it has new ideas, new slogans and new policies that point in the right direction. Clearly the Scottish question tells us it is not a new flag we need but a new country. But symbols matter and a people’s flag which reminds us of our radical democratic traditions shows at least we are starting to think about them.

Steve Freeman and Phil Vellender 

 

 

also see:- http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2011/10/10/2nd-republican-socialist-convention-london-february-13th-2010/

 

 

THE REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT OF THE 1870s

Greenwich in South London has been declared the first Royal Borough in 80 years. In the kowtowing tradition of his party, Chris Roberts, the Labour leader of Greenwich Council, is organizing a celebratory reception. But the area, indeed the whole country, has a vastly different tradition – the struggle against the feudal anachronism of the monarchy and for a secular, democratic and social republic.

A highlight of this struggle was the republican movement of the 1870s. The fall of Napoleon III at the hands of the Prussians, and the proclamation of a French republic, led to a revival of interest in republicanism in Britain. Republicanism had flagged since the demise of Chartism as a national movement. The leading Chartist, George Harney, had called one of his papers the Red Republican. This is where the first English translation of the Communist Manifesto appeared.

Across the country over seventy republican clubs were formed. Mass demonstrations in support of republican France were held in Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park. In September 1870 a new paper The Republican appeared. Its slogan was “Labour-The Source Of All Wealth”

In 1872 an Irish political refugee and member of the First International, John De Morgan, arrived in Middlesbrough.  He became secretary of a committee of Yorkshire Republican Clubs. This committee sent out a circular to all the clubs in the country calling for a National Conference. William Harrison Riley’s International Herald had amongst its aims, universal suffrage, land nationalization and the liquidation of the national debt. (Riley was later editor a Sheffield paper The Socialist and was a political influence on Edward Carpenter.)

G. W. Foote, secretary of the London Club, which had been formed on May 12, 1871, stated that sufficient steps had not been taken to make the conference fully representative. (Foote later became founding editor of The Freethinker and was imprisoned for blasphemy.)

Nevertheless the conference went ahead in 1872, with twenty three clubs represented. James Linton’s blue-white-green republican flag was adopted (Linton had been a contributor to the Red Republican). A National Republican Brotherhood set up with De Morgan as secretary. Riley joined its council.

Charles Bradlaugh, president of the London club and founder of the National Secular Society, attacked the NRB in his weekly paper the National Reformer. He accused De Morgan of absconding with the funds of a Manchester temperance group and said the NRB was a “treasonable conspiracy” The London Club passed a resolution saying the NRB was an illegal association. This was circulated nationally by Foote.

De Morgan in turn accused Bradlaugh, in the International Herald, of being an informer. Bradlaugh threatened libel action and the NRB’s paper changed its name to the Republican Herald.

Riley now declared himself in favour of communism. Physical force would be needed to establish it he said. “The National Republican Brotherhood is striving for a Social Republic”, he wrote.

A leading member of the NRB was Thomas Smith, its treasurer and a Nottingham member of the International. In his pamphlet, Letters On The Commune, he wrote, “The first principle of the political revolution was the emancipation of the conscience, the freedom of the mind, and in the social revolution the first necessity is universal education…” He advocated the abolition of serfdom and the equality of all before the law, the emancipation of women, common ownership of land, the abolition of war and class domination.

De Morgan defined his own republicanism in an article in his De Morgan’s Monthly in September 1876, “I take it that Republicanism can be summed up in a sentence, viz that intellectual ability, ability in conjunction with moral conduct, or moral conduct alone, ought to receive the prizes of life, and no other possessions should be regarded meritorious…In practice, an entire reconstruction of society…the undeserving rich would become poor and the undeserving poor comparatively rich.”

In 1872 De Morgan visited striking Barnsley weavers offering to organize a dramatic event for their benefit.

Early in 1873, the London Republican Club, the London Patriotic Society and the West Central Democratic Society issued a circular calling for a conference to set up a National Republican Association. Forty delegates gathered in Birmingham among them Victor Le Lubez, representing the Greenwich and Deptford Secular Society. The name chosen was National Republican League. Only moral and legal means were to be used. The NRB denounced this as constitutional monarchism.

A third organization, the Universal Republican Association, was set up at a three day conference organized by the Eleusis Club in Chelsea. Among its members was Dan Chatterton, a one man revolt against gin and gospel, monarchy and capitalism. He suggested Queen Victoria be redeployed as a washer woman.

Meanwhile the Prince of Wales became seriously ill with the typhoid that had killed his father Albert. It was suggested Bradlaugh had poisoned him. On the anniversary of his father’s death he miraculously recovered. A thanksgiving service was held in St Paul’s. Pamphlets circulated saying his illness was an invention. Reynold’s News denounced “the mean, toadying spirit of so called loyalty.”

But after this the spirit of republicanism and the national organizations gradually faded out. Bradlaugh eventually became a MP for Northampton and De Morgan emigrated to America where he became a writer of fiction.

In 1874, Hackney secularist and printer, George Stranding, started The Republican Chronicle. He advocated a Metropolitan Republican Club as the forerunner of a new national organization. A conference was held at the Patriotic Club in Clerkenwell (nowadays Marx House) but it bore no fruit.

In the 1880s the cause was taken up again by newly formed Socialist groups in particular the Socialist League of William Morris, Eleanor Marx and Belfort Bax. They nicknamed Victoria the Empress Brown and alleged that after Albert’s death she found solace in the company, and possibly the bed, of her Scottish servant, John Brown.

While Keir Hardie was a republican, the Labour Party he helped to found clings to the monarchy like a manic dog. As we approach Mrs. Windsor’s Diamond Jubilee there is a need for a republican socialist movement, which can learn from the struggles of the past.

 

Terry Liddle

(Some of the information in this article is taken from a pamphlet The Republic Must Come First published by the South London Republican Form and republished by Black Cat Press. Copies can still be had £2 post free, cheques payable to E McArthur, from BCP c/o 83, Sowerby Close, London, SE9 6EZ)

 

 

 

 

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Oct 10 2011

2nd REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST CONVENTION, LONDON, FEBRUARY 13th, 2010


Due to an oversight this report was not placed earlier on the Emancipation & Liberation blog

 

The second Republican Socialist Convention was organised by the Socialist Alliance [1] in London on February 13th.  In its initial conception it was ambitious. With a General Election looming in the UK, the organisers attempted to bring together figures from the Left who might be offering an election challenge this year.  Those invited included Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT and someone from the Socialist Party, both involved in the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition [2], Robert Griffiths from the Communist Party of Britain (and formerly of No2EU), Peter Tatchell of the Green Left, and Colin Fox, co-Spokesperson for the Scottish Socialist Party (as well as Tony Benn, now seen as somewhat of a ‘national treasure’ by the British Left). They were all to be asked how they saw the relevance of campaigning on political or democratic issues, especially the demand for a republic. The series of apologies given, some undoubtedly genuine, whilst others more probably sectarian in motivation, highlighted the over-ambitious aims held by the organisers.

The Convention Chair, Steve Freeman, introduced Peter Tatchell as a ‘republican in spirit’. He made a useful contribution to start the debate. Peter outlined his proposed ten points for the republican reform of the British constitution. As with most of the British Left, the ‘Six Counties’ was missing from Peter’s contribution. He did think, though, that a federal Britain could solve the National Question in England, Scotland and Wales.

There was a formalism about the republican principles Peter advocated. This was because Peter had not analysed the real nature of the British unionist and imperialist state we were up against, and the anti-democratic Crown Powers it had its disposal to crush any serious opposition. Nor did Peter outline where the social and political forces existed to bring about his new republic. In particular, he did not really consider the role of republican challenges to the UK state, emanating from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Unfortunately, Peter had to leave for another meeting, whilst time for further discussion was curtailed, so Colin Fox was then left to put the SSP’s socialist republican case in somewhat of a vacuum.

Colin pointed out how the MP’s expenses scandal has shown how unrepresentative they have become. James Connolly reminded those who aspire to represent working people ‘Rise with your class not out of it’. Some 650 MP’s or ‘representatives’ are elected to Parliament. So why are they so unrepresentative? It has been subverted by the neo-liberal consensus. Being an MP has become a career not a cause. Parliament is full of lawyers, businessmen, bankers, accountants and lecturers and that’s just the Labour side!

In 2005, the Queen opened her new £440m Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood in Edinburgh. The SSP MSP’s decided not just to boycott the event, but to organise an alternative. The SSP gave its support to the Declaration of Calton Hill. Socialist republicanism is at the heart of the SSP’s politics.

The Convention then moved quickly on to the last morning session, introduced by Mehdi Kia (co-editor of the Middle East Bulletin). Medhi provided an overview of the events in Iran over the last 8 months. Initially he addressed some of the myths surrounding the recent presidential election and provided reasons for rejecting them. These included suggestions that the election was not fraudulent, that the protestors are mainly middle class, that this is another “velvet” revolution orchestrated by the US, that it is led by the reformists, and that the Iranian regime is in some way anti-imperialistic.

He went on to point out that the protestors come from a variety of backgrounds, the slogans are continuously changing and becoming more radicalised, the movement is in its very essence democratic and anti-imperialist, and within it is a growing secular republican movement (rejecting the Islamic republic) with increasingly radical slogans. He concluded that under the immense repression of the regime the tactic of street demonstrations has only limited potential and unless the various movements (women, youth, nationalities and workers) co-ordinate more effectively and adopt different tactics the movement will not succeed in its more radical aims.

The afternoon session was meant to introduce the perspective of ‘Internationalism from Below’ – England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales – which had united the contributors to the first Republican Socialist Convention held in Edinburgh on the 29th November, 2008. The SSP International Committee had to apply some pressure for this issue to be taken seriously by the London organisers. They accepted, given the prevalence of Left British Unionism in England, that a debate was indeed needed between representatives of this tradition and speakers from both Left Nationalist and ‘Internationalism from Below’ viewpoints.  A mixture of the shortness of time, the lack of non-English contacts held by the Left in London, and various apologies limited the scope for this debate on the day.

Instead, Steve Freeman spoke about whether there was a National Question in England, beginning by considering the flags and anthems at the 1966 world cup, the Scotland-England rugby match in 1990 and the Euro football in 1996 when the flag of St George became prominent. The National Question involves issues of political institutions (parliaments etc) and identity. Whilst the National Question was recognised for Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the Left had not examined the related situation in England.

Steve considered that a British nation had been created after 1707 through the wars with France in the 18th century. He saw the UK as one nation and four tribes – the British-English, British-Irish, British-Scots and British-Welsh. Now the political institutions and the identity of the British English were being questioned. There was no British-English National Question in the past but now there were signs of an emerging crisis of politics and identity. From this a new English politics and identity could emerge. How should the Left relate to this?

Allan Armstrong, from the SSP’s International Committee (and a member of the party’s Republican Communist Network platform), then outlined some of the lessons socialist republicans could learn from the decades long republican struggle against the UK state in Ireland. He pointed out that there was now a National Movement in Scotland that is wider than the SNP. Indeed the SNP, like its equivalent parties in Quebec, Catalunya and Euskadi, is increasingly settling for Devolution-Max, and pushing the interests of local business within the existing corporate imperialist order.

Today, the British, American and EU ruling classes are united against any move towards Scottish independence. This is why any movement to win Scottish self-determination must be republican from the start. It must be prepared, in advance, to confront the Crown Powers that will be inevitably utilised against us. Because genuine and democratic Scottish independence represents such a challenge to British imperialism and the UK state, we need allies in England, Ireland and Wales too. We need to be committed to a strategy of ‘internationalism from below’. We are socialist republicans and link our political demands with social and economic campaigns. This was the course advocated by two great socialist republicans born in Scotland – James Connolly and John Maclean.

This session prompted the most debate, which has now continued on the RCN [3] and The Commune [4] websites, and in the pages of the very Left Unionist, Weekly Worker. It was a pity that enough time wasn’t given to air this debate more thoroughly on the day.

The last session was a bit of a damp squib, since the SA had obviously seen it as an opportunity to get the same sort of unity around demands over democratic issues in the forthcoming General Election, that the Left can sometimes achieve (on paper anyhow!) over economic issues. Instead it was left to Colin Fox for the SSP and Joseph Healey, for the Green Left, to outline the nature of their parties’ proposed electoral campaigns. The absence of the other Left forces contesting the election meant the SA’s aims could not be achieved in this respect.

It was good to have a Republican Socialist Convention organised in England. It was traditional Left in its mode of organisation (platform and audience), even when there were only about 20 present, but everybody who contributed did so in a constructive manner  – yes, including those from the ‘Brit Left’! I feel that more could have been gained though if the Convention had concentrated on the debate between Left Unionism, Left Nationalism and ‘Internationalism from Below’.  Maybe the next time!

 Allan Armstrong (member of SSP International Committee)

 


[1]             The Socialist Alliance is the small organisation still left in England after the  defection first of the Socialist Party and then the Socialist Workers Party.

 

[2]             TUSC is the latest Left electoral grouping formed after last year’s short-lived No2EU/Yes2Democracy electoral alliance.

 

 

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May 11 2011

Open Letter – No Vote for Galloway

This was issued by the Manchester-based blogger, ‘Infantile and disorderly‘, on May 2.

On May 5, George Galloway will be standing for election to Holyrood. The former Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow and Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin is heading the George Galloway (Respect) – Coalition Against Cuts list. He has the backing of Solidarity, the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party in Scotland. On his election website, Galloway pledges to “oppose every cut to schools, hospitals and public services” and “fight for a parliament with the powers to tax the rich bankers and big business to help pay for jobs and decent public services”. It sounds fine, but there is no way those on the left can extend any level of support for George Galloway.

Galloway is a supporter of the Islamic Republic of Iran. When questioned at a recent public meeting, Galloway denied ever supporting president Ahmadinejad and even offered £1,000 to anyone who could prove his support. However, while interviewing the Iranian president on his Press TV show, The real deal, last August, Galloway stated that he requires “police protection in London from the Iranian opposition because of my support for your election campaign. I mention this so you know where I’m coming from.” In fact, while Iran’s 2009 election is widely accepted to have been rigged, Galloway has stated in his Daily Record blog that the electoral count “was awesome” and the million-plus protesters took to the streets because “too many people were allowed to vote” (his emphasis).

The Iranian regime incarcerates, tortures and executes political opponents, including leftists, trades unionists and leaders of the radical students’ movement. It does the same to those found guilty of “war against god”, a charge levelled at political dissidents.

Confessions are extracted under torture and duress and at times broadcast on state TV channels, including Press TV. Those found guilty of adultery and homosexuality can face the death penalty. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani (called “the so-called stoning case” by Galloway on Press TV) was sentenced to death by stoning in a court speaking a language she didn’t speak herself. George Galloway denies that homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran. On The Wright show, Galloway stated that “the papers seem to imply that you get executed in Iran for being gay. That’s not true.” He then inferred that the boyfriend of gay Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi had been executed for “sex crimes” against young boys and not for being gay.

It’s unsurprising that Galloway publicly supports the Islamic Republic. He is an employee of Press TV, the Iranian state propaganda channel. While serving as a MP, Galloway was forced to declare his earnings from Press TV, which ranged from between £5,000 and £20,000 for his various shows.

As pro-democracy protests engulf Syria, it’s worth remembering that Galloway has previously heaped praise upon the Syrian regime and authoritarian ruler, Bashar al-Assad. Addressing Damascus University in late 2005, Galloway said: “For me he is the last Arab ruler, and Syria is the last Arab country. It is the fortress of the remaining dignity of the Arabs.” Galloway has expressed approval for other dictators too, once describing Pakistan’s general Musharraf as an “upright sort”. Far from a consistent democrat, after the 1999 coup brought Musharraf to power Galloway told The Mail on Sunday that “Only the armed forces can really be counted on to hold such a country together … Democracy is a means, not an end in itself and it has a bad name on the streets of Karachi and Lahore.”

Galloway’s Christian beliefs have influenced his views on abortion and stem cell research. He doesn’t believe in evolution. In The Independent on Sunday in 2004 Galloway said: “I’m strongly against abortion. I believe life begins at conception, and therefore unborn babies have rights. I think abortion is immoral.” He was absent from all votes on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (which included attempts to reduce the abortion time limit in the UK). His notable absenteeism extends to many LGBT issues and euthanasia. Then again, Galloway always had fairly lamentable levels of parliamentary participation. As a Respect MP, Galloway only participated in 98 out of 1,288 votes. In 2006, he claimed more expenses than any other backbench MP in parliament.

Galloway’s egoism has always been astounding. While most socialists consider it standard for workers’ representatives to be elected on a workers’ wage (not an impoverishing amount, but the salary of a skilled worker), Galloway has declared he couldn’t possibly live on “three workers’ wages”. And what else other than pure vanity can have driven an appearance on Big brother, which discredited whole sections of the left?

Finally, it’s worth remembering that Respect’s own councillors in Tower Hamlets have voted through cuts to public services.

We call on socialists to offer no support for Galloway’s election campaign.

Moshé Machover (Israeli socialist)
Torab Saleth (Workers Left Unity Iran)
Mehdi Kia (co-editor Middle East Left Forum)
Charlie Pottins (Unite and Hands Off the People of Iran steering committee)
Rosie Kane (Scottish Socialist Party)
Nima Kisomi (Iranian socialist)
Sahar G (Iranian socialist)
Suran Badfar (Iranian Socialist)
Vicky Thompson (Hopi)
Tami Peterson (National Union of Students LGBT committee)
David Broder (The Commune)
Steve Ryan (The Commune)
Barry Biddulph (The Commune)
Sinead Rylance (Communist Students)
Ustun Yazar (Communist Students)
Reyhaneh Sadegzadeh (Communist Students)
Alex Allan (Communist Students)
James O’Leary (Communist Students)
Sebastian Osthoff (Communist Students)
Komsan Duke (Anarchist Federation)
William J Martin (Batley and Spen CLP)
Elsie Wraight (Manchester Labour Students)
Rachael Howe (Love Levenshulme Hate Cuts campaign)
Karen Broady (Unison)
Ste Monaghan (GMB)
Edd Mustill (NUJ)
Dan Read (NUJ)
Pete Cookson (NUT)
Joe Broady (Bectu)
Raphie De Santos (‘The left banker’)
Andrew Coates (socialist blogger)
Michael Leversha (student activist)
Beth Marshall (student activist)
Nima Barazandeh (student activist)
Democratic Socialist Alliance (organisation).

Allan Armstrong, Nick Clarke, and Bob Goupillot, editors of Emancipation & Liberation would like to add their names to this Open Letter, but with the following reservation regarding phrase the He doesn’t believe in evolution.

Galloway does support evolution as scientific fact – see article below from ‘Daily Record‘.

http://blogs.dailyrecord.co.uk/georgegalloway/2009/02/student-critic-creates-a-fuss.html

The one thing that does not appear in the letter of protest is Galloway’s public incitement to violence against those who failed to support Sheridan in court in his attempt to use his political position for purely personal gain. We are pleased to see that Rosie Kane, who has been the subject of particularly foul abuse and attention from this quarter, has signed this letter.

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