Tuesday, April 26, 2011

From Bob's archive: George Galloway, racial nationalist

I'm still off-line, so here's another one from the archive (lightly edited), from September 2006. It seemed appropiate in the current moment, when sections of the left are romaniticising Gaddafi as an "anti-imperialist" hero.


HP posted a link to a recent interview with George Galloway in the Morrocco Times.
“I am for Morocco's position (on the Sahara issue), and I always have been”, he said, stressing he is against “the balkanisation of the Arab region”.

“We should not balkanise the Arab region … I am against the partition of Morocco,” added the British deputy, affirming that “there is no room for small entities”.
This is a great example of Galloway's volkish ideology: he dreams of a world neatly partitioned between a few great nations (the Arab nation, the Slav nation, the British nation*, etc) led by their respective fuhrers (Saddam, Milosovic, Galloway, etc), who intuitively embody the volks' racial essence, so effectively that democracy is not needed. (In this world, of course, there would be no space for rootless cosmopolitans like Jews or Bosnians.)

Reading it reminded me that last summer, when I got his book out of Deptford Library, I wrote the below, which I never got around to posting.

As you know, I have been having the delight of reading George Galloway’s memoir, I’m not the only one.

One thing that strikes strongly me in the book is Galloway’s tendency to see the world in terms of primordial racial categories. If humankind were a village, he says, it would look like this: 57 Asians and 21 Europeans, 30 white and 70 non-white, and so on. And this is really how Galloway views the world: neatly divided into essential, distinct racial categories.


For example, he expects Russia to stand by Serbia – as fellow Slavs. John Negroponte becomes a “brute Roman”, “in loud Godfather garb”. A “People’s Europe” must stand up to the Martian Americans (or is that Venutian?). Britain must recapture its essential spirit of democracy: “Forward – to the British Democratic Revolution!” (He continues: “Only then will Britain be able to hold up its head in the world. We can be a force for good.”)

In these passages, he falls into a line of reactionary thinkers, from Hegel and Thomas Carlyle, to TE Lawrence and the Arab-loving antisemitic architects of the Balfour declaration, to Samuel Huntington, who see the world in terms of racial destiny – or kismet as Galloway likes to call it.

Not surprisingly, then, Galloway actually advocates anti-Americanism.
“Anti-Americanism – by which I mean the rejection not of the American people themselves but the role of its government and its military around the world – is sweeping the young generation and will be the prevailing mind-set, the most powerful ideology, of the first half of this century.”
Of course, anti-Americanism is actually precisely the hatred of the American people themselves, even when it is motivated by (a blinkered perception of) the role of its government and its military.

Anti-Americanism – like Pan-Arabism, Pan-Slavism and the other nineteenth century causes Galloway espouses – is a racial nationalist ideology. Like Huntington's clash of civilizations thesis and Bernard Lewis’ orientalism, it replaces political analysis with racial teleology. By focusing on race, nation and civilization, the myriad differences and tensions that mess up these abstractions are obscured.

Similarly, Galloway’s obsession with the Arab world (or “Oriental” world as he calls it) is a Western fantasy of an exotic other. Indeed, he un-self-consciously uses the word “exotic” several times when talking about his love of Palestine. He proudly quotes a description of him as “the left’s Lawrence of Arabia” and imagines himself on p.37 as a foreign legionnaire fighting in the Palestinian struggle.


This kind of racial nationalism and Orientalist exoticism has become an all too common replacement for genuine internationalism in today's "anti-imperialist" left. Solidarity with the oppressed requires a form of political imagination that goes beyond these kind of Boy's Own mythologies.


*In my original version, I wrote "the Scottish nation", but Will pointed out Galloway's opposition to Scottish nationalism, another instance of his antipathy to small-nation "Balkanisation".

28 comments:

skidmarx said...

anti-Americanism is actually precisely the hatred of the American people
No, that's you choosing to be schooled in the Humpty-Dumpty School of Lexicography again. Forget the reasons he gives for his views on the American government, it must be something else.

I did find myself slagging off Galloway over Morocco once, though thinking back on it, finding myself on the same side of the argument as one Terry Fitzpatrick gives me pause for thought in retrospect.

is that Venutian?
Isaac Asimov wrote an article about this once. If you want the same case in Latin as for Martian you end up with something like "Venereal", his preferred option was "Kytherean". [Oh, did I mention that however much I may dislike the policy, foreign and domestic, of succesive US administrations, I've always loved large amounts of American culture, and read more Asimov as a kid than just about anything else. But then he was born in Russia, so I guess that doesn't count].

Just because Galloway uses caricatures for effect doesn't mean his whole worldview need be reduced to them (why I'm spending much time defending him Christ knows).

bob said...

Jumping in quickly. I've edited my anti-americanism passage slightly, because I think I was confusing before.

Personally, I think it is idiosyncratic to define anti-americanism in the way GG does, and not idiosyncratic to define it the way I do. What do other people think?

Even if we accept GG's definition, any kind of serious anti-capitalist or internationalist should be able to see that it would not be a good thing if it were to be the "prevailing mind-set, the most powerful ideology, of the first half of this century". (When he wrote it, on the other hand, it seemed like his prediction would be sadly true. Events in the middle east in the few months have, I hope, shown that more important ideologies - democracy, freedom, social justice, feminism - might still animate young people globally.)

Levi9909 said...

GG says, "Anti-Americanism – by which I mean the rejection not of the American people themselves but the role of its government and its military around the world"

The post says, "Of course, anti-Americanism is actually precisely the hatred of the American people themselves"

Where is this latter definition to be found. Is it a "working definition"? Can we find it in the works of the former EUMC? Have university students' unions adopted it as their guide for what may or may not be said about American foreign or domestic policies? Is it a standard dictionary definition? Is it manifested when people say that the genocide of the American Indians wasn't nice, was racist even?

Anti-Americanism might not be the smartest of terminologies because it can be misconstrued and, of course, there are people unscrupulous enough to attribute meanings to words that their speakers never intended as in this post. But GG says what he means by anti-Americanism and there is no reason to doubt that that is indeed what he means. And as far as I know there is no standard definition for the expression anti-American or perhaps Bob could provide a link to one.

And then there is the "blinkered perception of the role of its [America's] government and its military. Blinkered by what? Blinkered against what? The light?

bob said...

I don't see anti-Americanism as a form of racism, but it has certain similarities. For instance, it makes all Americans collectively responsible for the unpleasantnesses, both big and little, perpetrated by some Americans and/or by the American government.

Of course, the American state has committed lots of horrific crimes, and it is not anti-American to point them out. But those crimes are not the whole story of the American state, let alone of the American people.

Levi9909 said...

So are you saying that GG is anti-American in the way that you define it in your post and your latest comment or if he was wrong to use the term anti-Americanism to describe where he stands with regard to "the role of its [America's] government and its military around the world"?

Ta

bob said...

Good question. If it was simply that GG was anti "the role of its [America's] government and its military around the world" then I wld say that was an odd, idiosyncratic and inappropriate use of anti-americanism for a political sentiment that I partially share. However, I think (or, at least I think I do) that GG is actually anti-american in a more profound way, but possibly not in the most extreme way.

I don't hear too much of the contempt for American people that I find common among European leftists and liberals coming from GG. But I do think that he understands geopolitics partly through an Evil Empire kind of lens, in which the bad things in the world are the fault, not of capitalism or neoliberalism, but of the US-Israel axis. He often uses the questionable phrase, "American hegemony" for this. (Here again, I think, he has a kind of Clash of Civilisations worldview, a reverse Huntingon position, that goes with the racial nationalism. This view contradicts not just genuine internationalism, but also any kind of mature materialist or anti-capitalist politics.)

This clash of civilisations kind of anti-americanism easily blurs into a support for the enemies of America, even when they are horrendous, as in his support for the Iraqi "resistance", Hezbollah, etc, or his defence of the 9/11 attacks as based on justified hatred.

In his interesting interview with 3rd Estate a while back, he explicitly criticised the enemy-of-my-enemy position, giving his opposition to the Burmese dictatorship in evidence. But actually I can think of very few examples where he distances himself in any way from America's enemies.

bob said...

Just looked up my post on the 3E interview and found I made many of the same points there already:
http://brockley.blogspot.com/2009/10/galloway-and-tyrants.html

skidmarx said...

Actually when he talked about Burma on his Talksport show several years ago, he admitted ignorance and expressed a very ambiguous position.
But I think you're generally wrong on everything else. He doesn't seem to be to defend the 9/11 attacks, though he may seek to explain them. Supporting Hezbollah etc. vis-a-vis their enemies is basic anti-imperialism, it doesn't imply backing for every dot and comma of their programmes, any sort of mature materialist politics requires recognising that imperialism isn't some disembodied force, but has actual people, many of them American, behind it.It's not racial nationalism, it's not the clash of civilisations, it's populism that sometimes has a radical edge.

My previous comment seems to have been lost in spam again, I want to note that the latest Atzmon patform-sharing scare reflects very badly on the standards of research of Greens Engage, Modernity and Harry's Place, none of whom checked with John Rose or the Stop The War Coalition to see if they actually had anything to do with it before writing that they did; stupid comment of the week does go to this from Max Dunbar:
"Still no evidence however that the STWC has nothing to do with this."
[I think he's still expecting to find WMD in Iraq given there's no evidence for those]. Some respect to Raphael Levy and Sarah AB for seeing the obvious. Still haven't had a chance to ask anyone from the SWP about the earlier Atzmon stuff, Levi, but this time they, and German, seem to have been of one mind on this.

skidmarx said...

Yeah, they seem to appear and disappear.
While I'm here, on the Iran and Galloway link: the point about his view of democracy as it relates to Iran is probably the strongest,but I think there is a tremendous case for siding with barbarous regimes against the US not against their own people when they do find themselves in opposition to imperialism. Galloway may well step over the line into being an apologist for Iran, but again, without wanting for a minute to defend the regime in Iran against internal change [Extra explanation only necessary for idiots who'll want to quote this as an apologia for despotism], there are worse things in the world.
There is a country in the Middle East where the majority politics have at least the flavor of racial nationalism. Please say if you can remember which one I'm thinking of.

On Respect, I remember that there was a constant barrage of abuse against the SWP through to after the split that because it had not insisted on certain progressive ideas not being a pre-condition for membership of Respect, it didn't believe in those things itself, so I tend to look at a similar accusation against Galloway partly in that light. I did argue that Galloway's basis of support post-split was based on an undifferentiated cross-class appeal in the Muslim community, which tended towards the socially conservative, but it's not like he is an advocate of women's oppression.
A Bert Trautmann documentary was on TV earlier, in which he said that "the English are a special people. This is a special island", which I thought was rather sweet, rather than that he was a bad racial nationalist(in two countries consecutively).

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Skidmarx

I remember that there was a constant barrage of abuse against the SWP through to after the split that because it had not insisted on certain progressive ideas not being a pre-condition for membership of Respect it didn't believe in those things itself

Well, specifically, Lindsey German said that gay rights shouldn't be a shibboleth. And that wasn't just about Respect membership, it informed policy. After support for gay rights was dropped from the Respect 2005 manifesto, Lindsey German spoke at Respect conference to oppose a motion that "Conference regards it as unacceptable that our manifesto for the general election did not contain any reference to the defence of LGBT rights".

That isn't to say I think she or the SWP are personally homophobic. I'm sure they aren't. (I don't recall anybody actually claiming otherwise, though I accept the HP types may have). But it is undeniably the case that the SWP overtly opposed gay rights being part of the Respect platform for reasons of political expediency.

I did argue that Galloway's basis of support post-split was based on an undifferentiated cross-class appeal in the Muslim community, which tended towards the socially conservative, but it's not like he is an advocate of women's oppression.

I'm sure he doesn't see himself as such. Hell, not even the "men's rights" nutters would see themselves as advocating the oppression of women.

But he describes himself as "strongly against abortion". Being a savvy politician, he normally expresses this by not turning up to votes. When he has got involved in the issue, it's been on the anti-choice side; he voted for Alton and put his name to the "Review Of Abortion Legislation" EDM in 2006. (The latter was put out by the anti-choice lobby).

So, on the issue of women controlling their own bodies, he at best abstains on whether women should be oppressed and at worst actively colludes in oppression.

bob said...

I'm not around this weekend much to rescue things from the spam queue. Comments with links tend to get sent there, as do long comments, comments with abusive language, etc. Sorry.

skidmarx said...

WS - But it is undeniably the case that the SWP overtly opposed gay rights being part of the Respect platform
Yes
for reasons of political expediency.
Or because they thought that forcing everyone in Respect to defend gay rights by making it policy might prevent many young Muslims from joining, not because they were necessarily hardcore homophobes, but becuase they have a range of views that aren't hardcore support for gay rights. A pity, but when uniting around opposition to the Terror against civil liberties was so important for the left, not an unreasonable thing not to make a condition of agreement.

skidmarx said...

WS - there was a vote in parliament on abortion around the time of the Respect split, and I can recall the SWP ragging on Galloway for not bothering to show up when Respect policy was to vote against any change.
This might amuse:
http://www.gregpalast.com/galloway-deadly-anti-abortion-threatsrnfrom-republicans-favorite-leftist/

almost as much as today's word veification:"buggers"

bob said...

There is a country in the Middle East where the majority politics have at least the flavor of racial nationalism. Please say if you can remember which one I'm thinking of.

I have absolutely no idea what this is a propos of, as it has no logical connection to the preceding argument. I am not really sure what “majority politics” are either. But I have a few ideas about what country you could be talking about. Is it Iran, whose propaganda outlet employs GG, and whose 49% of the population are not ethnic Persians are subjected to, says Amnesty, “an array of discriminatory laws and practices. These include land and property confiscations, denial of state and para-statal employment under the gozinesh criteria and restrictions on social, cultural, linguistic and religious freedoms which often result in other human rights violations such as the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience, grossly unfair trials of political prisoners before Revolutionary Courts, corporal punishment and use of the death penalty, as well as restrictions on movement and denial of other civil rights”? Or perhaps you mean Turkey, staging post for many of GG’s Middle Eastern initiatives, a state founded on the cleansing of Christian ethnic Greeks and the genocide against Armenians (a genocide it continues to be illegal to discuss in Turkey), which continues to discriminate against its minorities and denies Kurds basic cultural rights let alone self-determination? Or maybe you mean Morocco, whose royal family and imperial expansionism GG has frequently endorsed, whose king recently said “We shall not give up one inch of our beloved Sahara, not a grain of its sand", a policy that has seen thousands displaced from the Western Sahara? Or perhaps Gaza, whose democratically elected Hamas government, supported from GG’s dodgy NGOs, has made life increasingly unbearable for non-Muslim Palestinians? Or do you mean Bahrain, whose sizable Shia population and the oppression they face have only received attention from the Western left in the last couple of months? Or maybe one of the other oil-rich Gulf states which help bankroll many of the same causes as GG, whose economies are completely dependent on temporary migrant labour from East and South Asia, both for construction and domestic service, a massive army of people living effectively as bonded labourers with absolutely no civil rights or political voice?

bob said...

On the Respect experiment:

There is nothing wrong with muting particular political concerns, even if dearly held, in order to work in close alliance with specific groups of people on particular single issue campaigns, such as opposition to a war or defeating the BNP or halting an environmentally devastating road-building campaign. However, Respect was not a single issue campaign, but an electoral vehicle which needs some kind of comprehensive programme on a range of issues, even if these are fairly minimal. An MP or councillor elected for Respect would have a vote in parliament or the council on a whole range of issues, not just The War. The question, then, is which issues are “shibboleths” for a broad-based coalition that socialists could endorse? Are women’s rights and gay and lesbian rights important? The SWP, after some hesitation, decided these are lesser rights, second order issues, distractions from the real issues, and that it was OK to campaign for politicians getting elected who not only didn't care about these rights but in many cases took a reactionary position against them.

On racial nationalism:

Skid tries to make the argument that what I am calling racial nationalism is actually just populism, and that there’s no difference between the examples I cite and any mention of e.g. “the English people”. This is a fair point. Lots of people occasionally make comments along the lines of “the English people are---“, “the Arab people are---“ etc, but couldn’t really be called racial nationalists.

But reading Galloway’s book, it struck me the frequency he made statements that strongly ascribed particular attributes to whole peoples (the heroic Arabs etc), how frequently he resorted to ethnic characterisations of individuals (Negroponte as a Roman etc), how often he prefaced a political value with a national qualifier (not the democratic revolution, but the British Democratic Revolution etc).

It is also striking how he un-interested he is in infra-national unit (“small entities” he calls them), like Western Sahara, Scotland or Kurdistan: he always aims for the pan-nationalism: pan-Slavism, pan-Arabism, Britishness. And absolutely present in almost every page of the relevant chapters is a fascination with the Arab world, which he explicitly calls the Oriental world, a fascination that is completely romantic and exotic, and very reminiscent of someone like Lawrence of Arabia, Lloyd George or Glubb Pasha. Combine this with his love of Great Men: charismatic, often uniformed, usually moustachioed leaders who somehow carry the spirit of their people.

We have seen this sort of politics before, and where it leads. In Britain, this was the politics of Henry Hyndman, whose diatribes against the Boer war became increasingly antisemitic, and who was finally ejected from his party when he actively supported WWI, naming his new party the National Socialist Party. National Socialism is in fact exactly the name for this sort of politics, and international socialists should have absolutely nothing to do with it.

bob said...

On anti-Americanism:

Any sort of mature materialist politics requires recognising that imperialism isn't some disembodied force, but has actual people, many of them American, behind it.

I don't think that imperialism (or neo-liberalism or global capitalism, which I think are the important issues) has actual people “behind” it. Imperialism and capitalism are not plots dreamt up behind closed doors by shadowy conspiracies. They are social formations, relations of forces, structures, webs of connections. Real people are of course involved, have agency, and derive benefit. Many of the biggest beneficiaries of the way the world works today are Americans; others are Chinese CP members, Russian oligarchs, Arab oil sheikhs, Indian steel magnates. It is true, of course, that the standard of living enjoyed by the average American is greater than that enjoyed by the average resident of most Middle Eastern countries because of the unequal playing field and the history of American state power, but the massive poverty in America, a grossly unequal society, should be reason enough not to translate a critique of American capital into a hatred of actual Americans. And of course American state power has inflicted horrific damage on the world, but the blame for that can only be placed on a relatively tiny number of actual Americans. This is surely basic, elementary stuff? How can hatred of Americans be possibly politically justified without resort to some kind of essential racial-national categories?

skidmarx said...

On having no idea which country was referred to:

None of the above.

On the Respect experiment:

If they wanted to do the full-range thing, they'd never have wound up the Socialist Alliance. Galloway's election clearly shows that Respect reached some parts the SA couldn't.

On racial nationalism:

I think you've a very long way to go before you can assert that this is the best way to characterise GG's politics. Opposition to what he sees as petty nationalism can as well be understood in the context of his overt socialist internationalism.Is this really more of a scientific enquiry than a witch-hunt?

On anti-Americanism:

Who is advocating hatred of Americans? Not Galloway. Perhaps it would would be easier to describe his politics as not being anti-American in the way you want to define the term.

bob said...

On Galloway:

This is what he said about Hezbollah:

"What I am about to say is illegal in Britain. ... I am here to glorify the Lebanese resistance, to glorify the leaders of the Lebanese resistance, Hezbollah, and I am here to glorify their leader, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah. ... I am saying this to these treacherous cowards - the regimes of the Arab states: If all the Arab leaders were like Hassan Nasrallah, Iraq would be free, Palestine would be free."

"The invasion of Lebanon by Israel .. is a monstrous injustice. I side with the resistance to that injustice. Hizbollah is leading that resistance. I do not hesitate to say .. that I glorify that resistance. I glorify the Hizbollah national resistance movement, and I glorify the leader of Hizbollah, Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah."

"I want to congratulate the Lebanese resistance and their leading edge, Hizbollah, whose martyrs and heroes have achieved this great victory. And in particular to their leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, whose name now rings in joy around the world."

bob said...

If they wanted to do the full-range thing, they'd never have wound up the Socialist Alliance. Galloway's election clearly shows that Respect reached some parts the SA couldn't.

Well, the Tories reach parts the SA couldn't, but that's not a reason to wind up the SA and go into partnership with the Tories.

bob said...

Opposition to what he sees as petty nationalism can as well be understood in the context of his overt socialist internationalism.Is this really more of a scientific enquiry than a witch-hunt?

Not a scientific inquiry or a witch-hunt. Just my impressions on reading a book, and being struck again and again by the use of racial terms, by his seeing history and politics in very civilizational and nationalist terms, by his preference for big nations over little ones, and by his leader-obsession. If I had the book with me, I'd give you plenty of other examples, as they leap out of every page.

On the other hand, there were no examples of "overt socialist internationalism". Opposition to, say, Catalan, Scottish or Saharawi nationalism on the basis of internationalism is perfectly plausible - this is the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg. But such opposition would NOT favour instead the big nation. Rosa did not support the greater Russian nation or the greater Prussian nation over Polish nationalism; she was against all nationalisms. That's so obviously not socialist internationalism, that to argue it is seems clinically insane to me.

skidmarx said...

On Galloway on Hezbollah - the Israelis killed 20,000 in the eighties, then left a murderous racially nationalist gang in charge on Southern Lebanon for a decade, and returned in 2006 to carpet bomb South Beirut. Galloway's statement seems very similar to those of socialists offering support to national liberation movements as much as an expression of pan-Arabism, let alone anything else.

skidmarx said...

On the SA: I think there's some difference between Respect and the Tories.

On nationalism: I think there's some difference between Galloway and Rosa Luxemburg.

Here is an example of Galloway praising socialist internationalism.

Levi9909 said...

Skidders - unless you're joking, the link you've given goes to someone praising Christopher Hitchens.

Interesting though that "Hitch" has omitted to mention George Galloway in his memoir.

bob said...

Re Respect: Obviously, I think there is a difference between Respect and the Tories. My point is that you cannot justify sacrificing core principles to make alliances simply to appeal to larger audiences. You need to justify it in some other way.

On Hezbollah:
Galloway's statement seems very similar to those of socialists offering support to national liberation movements as much as an expression of pan-Arabism, let alone anything else.

This may be similar to socialists supporting national liberation movements, except this is not just any national liberation movement. It is a particularly vile and reactionary militaristic and theocratic outfit with fascist roots and close connections to a particularly brutal autocratic right-wing nationalist regime in a neighbouring expansionist country.

But take a look at the form in which Galloway expresses it: glorification, martyrdom, heroes and above all leaders. This is not socialist language; it is national socialist language.

skidmarx said...

Levi9909 - that's Galloway praising Hitch:"Having praised his opponent for his distinguished record of socialist internationalism, Galloway delivered the following gibe..."
It was one of the first things that came up on a search.
I think a belief that Galloway operates on a more vulgar level than himself might be one explanation for ignoring him.

Bob,Respect - viewing anti-imperialism as a core value after the inception of the war on terror and seeing that there were a load of Muslims who would sign up to that and not to a full socialist programme seems like sufficient justification for setting it up. Trusting Galloway not to be a prick was something else.

Hezbollah - I think your assessment is well wide of the mark. And would that neighbouring expansionist country be one whose settlements in occupied territory are one of the major causes of conflict, or is your Zioperipheralism working at full strength today?

bob said...

I think the idea of an electoral alliance on the basis of anti-imperialism is a completely mad and idiotic idea. And to destroy an electoral alliance based on socialism in order to enter into one based on anti-imperialism is even more mad and idiotic.

It is true that an anti-imperialist electoral vehicle won one MP in a predominantly Muslim area with a strong tradition of communal machine politics, but this was not that great an advance given the known propensity of said MP to be a prick. Otherwise, the electoral success of Respect in comparison to the SA, or for that matter SP let alone SSP in Scotland, was not that impressive a gain considering the sacrifice.

skidmarx said...

The SP never got more than a few thousand votes (excepting Dave Nellist's first post expulsion attempt in 1992) and the SA never came anywhere near electing an MP.So it wasn't throwing away a lot (especially if you think that the real power is outside parliament). It's easy in retrospect to dismiss it all, but it did seem at the time to be a viable expression of the anti-war movement. The problem seems to me more that the limited success gave each side in Respect the belief that they didn't need the other, that the organisation was theirs solely and that they would end up with it after any split; the last bit being true for Galloway, but it was a Pyrrhic victory once it became clear that any appeal outside the Muslim community would be minimal once the majority of the party had vamoosed, as well as leaving a democratic deficit as Galloway's minority faction took over the name for its group.
Again, anyone who doesn't have the same level of opposition to Blair and Bush's wars is obviously going to tend towards the assessment of a friend of mine (who did oppose certainly the Iraq war) that all the SWP had succeeded in doing was setting up a conservative Muslim community organisation.

bob said...

Re the SP etc: if you measure success only by MPs, then yes Respect win the day by a clear 1-0 over any other comparator. If you look at percentage of vote in council elections, the picture is slightly different, and to me shows that there is some mileage, at least, in grassroots appeal to working class voters on a socialist basis combined with campaining on local bread and butter issues. Whereas as the Respect successes tend to show that you can get electoral success in areas with a large vote of a single Muslim ethnicity where that ethnicity has got a powerful clerical-patriarchal machine politics thing going, so long as the wheels of the machine remain greased, on the basis of rhetoric about The War.

Otherwise, completely agree with the rest of your last comment!