Real socialists versus Respect

The latest issue of The Socialist
"The Socialist Party has championed the idea of a new party for more than ten years. In this time we have had the experience of the Socialist Labour Party, set up by Arthur Scargill, heroic leader of the miners in their battle against Thatcher. However, he unfortunately insisted on exclusive conditions for membership and activity in this party. Consequently, it has been sidelined.

That unfortunate experience was repeated in the Socialist Alliance - which Militant Labour (now the Socialist Party) originally helped to set up - when the Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) entered it. Instead of opening up, they actually narrowed the structures of the Alliance, so only those who marched to the drumbeat politically and organisationally of the SWP could remain.

They have, unfortunately, repeated this experience with 'Respect' in alliance with George Galloway. The basis of this party is too narrow, appealing in the main to one section of the population, some Muslims, many of whom have deserted Labour because of the Iraq War and have cast around for an alternative.

At the height of the antiwar movement the Socialist Party discussed with George Galloway and expressed our preparedness to launch with him and other left organisations a broad, left party, so long as it was open, democratic and specifically socialist. Such a party could, at the height of the antiwar movement, have attracted broad swathes of left forces.

In discussions with us George Galloway indicated that he was thinking of the Albert Hall - which holds 6,000 people - for its launch. Nothing came of this project but after his expulsion from the Labour Party, together mainly with the SWP he launched Respect.

Contrary to the impression he has given in some of his public speeches, the Socialist Party did not turn its back immediately on this initiative but waited, as some other leftward-moving workers also did, to see what this formation's political character was and, crucially, what kind of structures would be set up.

Our suggestion, shared by others, for the setting up of a loose federal structure that would allow discussion, debate and action was rejected by Respect. In particular, at the national conference of Respect a proposal to allow 'platforms', as is the case in the Scottish Socialist Party, was also refused when it was suggested by some lefts who looked towards Respect initially.

These are amongst the reasons why Respect is unlikely to make a significant breakthrough amongst broader layers of the working class. "

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