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Submitted by vickim on Sun, 05/09/2010 - 22:54

It's useful, for onself, to articulate the arguments. And it's useful also, hopefully, to those SWP members who are getting fed up with their group's twists and turns, one moment, militant, the next, pacifistic, to set out the arguments.

You mention "denunications and expulsions". The SWP is in some trouble. That's not a source of glee - unless something useful can come from the fragments. Presumably some of the fragments are already thinking along the lines in this letter. It won't have escaped the notice of the people who blocked the road to the BNP festival in Codnor in 2009 that their same leaders who initiated that action, last Saturday in Bradford forced them to remain in a police kettle while the Asian youth and assorted anti-fascists tried to get to grips with the EDL. They will know they could have made an important difference in Bradford and that they didn't.

Bradford was a score draw, I think, when maybe, just maybe, the EDL could have been beaten; it was a score draw partly because the UAF stayed put. The SWP members were disciplined and mostly stayed put as well, although most of them must have been itching to leave. (Someone said they saw SWP's Leeds branch at the Midland Hotel counter-demo.)

I hope we can work with more and more rank and file SWPers, but we're only likely to do that if we treat the SWP with the seriousness it deserves and direct some serious propaganda at it and at them.

It's also not just about the SWP. The SWP is scooping trade union money up into UAF, money that could be spent on working class anti-fascism in our communities. I don't need to point out that this money is hardly accounted for to the generous donors. When SWPers moved affiliation to UAF at my trades council, I tried to get some strings attached: a proper delegate to a proper steering committee, information about how the officers were chosen or could be removed, proper accounts showing what money comes in and how it's spent. I couldn't stop the affiliation, but I did get the strings voted. Not because people thought the UAF was suspect, but because this was all just basic stuff that we would exepct from any organisation.

(I don't believe that the SWPers who opposed my amendments actually thought they were unreasonable; they were just acting out of loyalty to their group.)

We need to make the arguments so that other people in the labour movement will hear them. The UAF shouldn't be allowed to tell stories about its own importance, and go on raking in the cash.

I went to the UAF conference in the spring. It was an utter disgrace by any standards of accountability or democracy, but hardly anyone complained. If you think we can build something by going around the UAF you have to deal with the fact also that the rest of the labour movement, left, socialists, anti-racists have such feeble ambitions for their anti-fascism. It's not just the SWP.

It's not surprising that people have lost confidence in working class anti-fascism; they have lost confidence in the working class full-stop. All this means that we have to get to grips with the UAF and its crap politics (only a notch higher than HNH politics in Bradford).

I agree, I wouldn't spend my whole time arguing with the SWP/UAF, but their status as the labour movement's official anti-fascists means we do have to spend some time orienting to them.

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