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Submitted by martin on Thu, 03/09/2009 - 15:54

Hi Ben,

No, I didn't write "temporarily quit". I had no way of knowing whether the quitting was temporary or permanent, and offered no judgement on that.

In fact, however, in terms of what I wrote: "The SP turned up in some numbers for Vestas rallies and demonstrations [i.e. on the IoW] for a short while, then quit", the quitting (i.e., the ceasing to turn up in some numbers) has been fairly permanent. No-one from the SP on the picket line for the last week, for example, as far as I know.

I understand, Ben, that you were at the meeting on Thursday 27 August. That's good, but your contribution there (if it's reported accurately) was not helpful. You urged the Vestas workers to focus on standing one of their number in the next council elections. That is in four years' time! (Anyway, there is, and can be, no common "Vestas workers' programme" on a vast range of political issues outside the immediate industrial dispute: what programme would the Vestas worker run on?)

The idea of a broader campaign for jobs on the island is good. However, AWL has been advocating it since well before the occupation began...

I didn't allege, and don't allege, that the SP has stopped supporting the Vestas workers. I do not doubt that the various small left groups who've been unable to get anyone, or anyone much, to the Isle of Wight all support the Vestas workers despite that.

I think the picket is central. The SP used to, too. When it was trawling for votes from Vestas workers, it stated its case in terms of a "political party [that] has sent its leaders to the picket and stands shoulder to shoulder [meaning literally, I take it] with the Vestas workers".

On the food - simply declaring it "the end of the matter" cannot undo the facts:

  • that the climate-campers' initiative got food to the occupiers;
  • that the SP was wrong to sneer at that as a "stunt";
  • that the SP was wrong to counterpose general blah-blah about "mobilising hundreds of people... everywhere" to the practical initiative;
  • and that it would also have been wrong for the SP to counterpose what you now claim did the trick, i.e. leaving it to the RMT's lawyers.

Best wishes,

Martin

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