Prophets of Doom

Nigel Irritable nigel_irritable at
Wed Feb 27 12:57:35 MST 2002

Domnall said:
> First, I would like to say I agree with many of the
> points made in relation to the post by Martin (and
> for once, even Brian Cahill). The despondency
> which filled Martin Spellman's post was very
> negative, however. If Labour is
> terminally lost (and has been for at least a decade)
> and there is no hope for left-wing alliances outside
> that party - what is your alternative?

Martin is correct to see that the Labour Party is
terminally lost. On the subject of left-wing
alliances, the matter is less clear cut.

There is no hope for the "Socialist Alliance" in much
the same way that there is no hope for Globalise
Resistance or the ANL in their particular fields. At
any given moment it will do as SWP organisational
needs dictate and that will preclude it from making
any real impact.

That doesn't mean that there is no role for genuine
alliances of socialists. There is still a need for
broader bodies which will allow left cooperation and
which will hopefully act as some kind of pole of
attraction, without giving ultimatums, to groups of
workers moving into struggle.

> The low votes registered by the SSP (they were all
> under 10%) are not totally discouraging in  my view.
> It's a pity there isn't a Scottish voice
> on this list, but I reckon their vote is going to
> increase in the next few elections.

The SSP is an interesting case. I was in Glasgow six
months ago and at that stage the organisation was
still growing rapidly. Since then, its membership
growth has stalled as have its opinion poll ratings.
There is a strong emphasis being placed on the
possibility of the party picking up seats in many (if
not all) of the regional lists in the next Holyrood

They are being over optimistic but not entirely
unreasonable. They may well pick up a couple of extra
seats (a little over 6% of the vote over a region is
needed). The question is, where can they go from

The SSP, building mainly on the work of Scottish
Militant Labour particularly over the poll tax, have
some solid roots in working class communities, most
notably in Glasgow. They play a leading role in a wide
range of community campaigns and are well respected.

On the other hand, membership isn't growing fast
enough (and at this stage it has to if they are
serious), the Youth organisation is a joke, their
weekly newspaper is losing money hand over fist and
there isn't that much money to lose. The SWP entry has
created some friction within the organisation (over
full timers, paper sales and the ANL fiasco in
Sighthill) and has had the dual effect of adding to
the number of activists available while scaring off
unaffiliated and Labour Party lefts.

> The SA vote was quite low

It was very low, but still could have been an
encouraging start. I don't think that much can be
expected now, though. Apart from losing their 6
Councillors and many of the few candidates who got
respectable votes last time out, they also have a
dreadful electoral strategy. The SWP prefers to
concentrate on leafleting and postering rather than
canvassing and talking to people. They also prefer
supposedly "high profile" candidates to well known
local campaigners. Regardless of the politics, that
will prove disastrous.

> If they can keep plugging away on localised,
> community-based actions their
> turn will come - but it'll take dedication.

And if muck was chocolate we'd all be fat. The
Socialist Alliance will not keep plugging away at
community politics because that kind of activity is
alien to the "sell the paper and recruit" sectarians.
The only two organisations with any serious approach
to community base-building, the Socialist Party and
more recently Red Action, have been forced out. A
quick prediction: At the end of the Council elections
in May the Socialist Party will have a few
councillors. Red Action's Independent Working Class
Association will come close in the couple of places
they stand. The SA will have nothing.

> Labour will look a lot more ragged after another two
> elections - and they will start to become a bigger
> party. The polarising effect within the Labour party
> will force their internal contradictions to resolve
> quicker - this might finally force a
> realignment.

I'm afraid that you are being far too optimistic.
There just isn't enough of the Labour Left remaining
to force any real split. And what little there is
wouldn't touch the SWP with a long shitty stick.

[on the FBU]
> But that's not the end of the world, it'll bring
> about contradictions within their relationship with
> Labour too.

More generally, the relationship of the unions to New
Labour is vital. The left has to push for the opening
of the political funds to candidates supporting Union
policies. We can get a lot of support on that issue.
Many trade unionists are outraged that their
leadership is still feeding the mouth that bites them.
The question of outright disaffilliation is also
important, but much harder to get anywhere with at the

> Thanks to 'trainspotting' Magnus for the reference.
> I didn't know there was another daily - things are
> twice as good.

You probably wouldn't say that if you had read the
Newsline. :-)
More seriously, that it is still produced is nothing
short of miraculous. It has much higher production
standards than the Morning Star, and also goes in for
Sport and TV pages. The organisation which publishes
it, the rump WRP, only has a few dozen activists.

Is mise le meas,
Brian Cahill

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