Looking left

Submitted by AWL on 12 September, 2005 - 12:20

A wry look at the ins-and-outs of the left...


Sadly I wasn’t able to pay £100 to attend the CPGB’s “Communist University” summerschool this year, but according to the AWL comrades who attended it was highly entertaining.

Those highly principled publishers of the Weekly Worker had organised a debate with us on the general election contest in Bethnal Green and Bow as the plenary session on the Saturday afternoon of their school. Attended by almost 22 people, including several members of the Stalinist Turkish Communist Party, this session was entitled “Galloway or King” (the Labour MP defeated by George Galloway in the General Election), a title as misleading as the discussion that followed. Despite speaking for more than half an hour on the AWL’s attitude to Galloway, the CPGB’s Tina Becker completely forgot to mention little issues like his political links to Ba’athist Iraq and his receipt of funds from the governments of Pakistan, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The CPGB’s fantasy attitude to Respect was summed up by their guru John-Jack Bridge-Conrad, who argued that Galloway’s shameful record isn’t decisive, since lots of other people are “dirty” too and anyway he “only has one vote” in the Respect coalition. Since the CPGB has as many as 20 votes in Respect, the future of working-class politics is in safe hands. . .


George Galloway’s Stalinist attitude to free speech and his sympathy for right-wing religious authoritarianism was on full display on a special edition of Question Time at the end of August, where the godly MP attacked author Salman Rushdie for daring to suggest that his anti-religious satire The Satanic Verses could be reproduced as a television series.

Galloway argued that TV executives should be “very sensitive about people’s religion” and “would have to deal with the consequences” if they did not show sufficient sensitivity. “You have to be aware that if you do [offend people’s beliefs] you will get blowback. You should do it very carefully, especially if you are a public service broadcaster.”

“Is that a threat?” was Rushdie’s quite reasonable response. In 1989, the theocratic rulers of Iran imposed a fatwa condeming Rushdie to death daring to criticise their religion; Galloway is following in their disgraceful footsteps.


Galloway has taken time out from his busy schedule of being hailed in Weekly Worker, opposing free speech and preparing to launch himself in America to make another attack on the Scottish Socialist Party. He was quoted in the 30 August edition of the Times as saying that Respect will stand in the next Scottish Parliament elections if the SSP “continues to decline”.

This comes after an interview with the Mail on Sunday last year in which Galloway called on MSP and former SSP convenor Tommy Sheridan to leave the party and attacked the organisation’s leaders as “Trotskyite apparatchiks”. No doubt the Mail appreciated these anti-communist sentiments and will not be too unhappy if Galloway stands against the real socialists in Scotland.


I noticed that Solidarity has not carried anything on the SSP’s campaign against the victimisation of four of their MSPs for protesting in the Scottish Parliament at its failure to guarantee the right to peaceful protest during the G8 demonstrations in July. The MSPs who took part will be suspended for the whole of September, with their wages and allowances stopped for a month and all contact with the public blocked. All this was imposed without a hearing and without any right of appeal.

The SSP has launched a campaign against this blatant attack on the working-class movement and the right to protest.

See: www.scottishsocialistparty.org.uk


Ken Livingstone is still entangled in the scandal caused last February when he called a Jewish reporter for the London Evening Standard a Nazi concentration camp guard. He now faces a hearing in December by the Standards Board for England, a watchdog body for local government, which has the power to ban Livingstone from public office for up to five years.

The incident with the reporter seemed at first to have been what Livingstone says it was, a matter of Livingstone, tired and emotional after a social gathering, giving vent to his deep loathing for the Evening Standard. At first he abused the reporter as equivalent to a Nazi war criminal. The drunken train of thought here was that the Evening Standard’s stablemate, the Daily Mail, had supported British and other fascists in the 1930s. (The Standard was not linked to the Mail then.)

When the reporter responded that he was Jewish, something else clicked in Livingstone’s brain — the urge to kick the Jew in the crotch, to be as offensive as possible. He then compared him to a Nazi concentration camp guard and his work for the Standard to concentration camp guarding. Nasty, but also silly and ridiculous.

It was what happened afterwards that turned it into a politically serious incident. He refused to retract or apologise to the reporter.

Livingstone has a long history of involvement with some of the rabid “Anti-Zionists” — in practice, anti-Jewish — segments of the pseudo-left, notably with the defunct Workers Revolutionary Party. He is now surrounded by “political advisers” from that segment of the psuedo left — the one time leaders of the International Marxist Group (a pseudo-Trotskyist group). They now go collectively under the name of “Socialist Action”.

Somehow we doubt that an attempt will be made to ban Livingstone from public office. Even so, he should apologise to the Jewish reporter.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 22/09/2005 - 08:59

This article entirely misses the point. You say you doubt that any attempt will be made to ban Livingstone from office, but where is your evidence for this? In fact that is exactly the process that is now underway.

Livingstone's comments offended some people, although no one has seriously made the case that they were anti-semitic. But offending people ought not to constitute an offence serious enough to get you barred from office. Unless an elected politician is guilty of a criminal offence it is hard to see how anyone can make the case that an unelected body should be able to remove them from office mid-term.

The AWL got the Livingstone question wrong six years ago when you vacillated about whether to support him when the Blairites were trying to stitch him up. You even ran an article saying that you could not choose between Jeffrey Archer and Ken Livingstone, although you subsequently ran a 'Socialist Campaign for a Livingstone Victory' that was more useful to Dobson's campaign than it was to the left.

Now Livingstone faces another bureaucratic mechanism that could see him blocked from office, and once again you dodge the main point.

The issue here is who chooses the mayor of London. Livingstone was elected by Londoners and only Londoners should decide who their mayor is.

The Standards Board for England and the Adjudication Panel are unelected New Labour quangos that ought to have no role in deciding whether an elected politician stays in office. As night follows day such bodies will be biased against politicians of the left..

The whole Standards Board process is the worst kind of New Labour bureaucratic imposition. The AWL should come out unequivocally against this process and stop sitting on the fence.

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