Prophets of Doom

Martin Spellman mspellman at
Wed Feb 27 16:15:49 MST 2002

 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?

	Despondency is to be without hope and while there is life there is always
hope -- hope springs eternal! Neither would I accept that my post was
'negative' rather that it is accurate. We are in a dismal situation and
should recognise that. This is the first problem in 'getting yourself home':
to assess where you are so you know what direction to take. Otherwise, to
continue the metaphor, you will be covering ground but getting further away
from your objective.

	Some of our problems are that:
* the LP is still seen as the alternative to the Tories, rather than as
another neo-liberal, actually anti-working class organisation
* many socialistically inclined people are still in the LP and see winning
it back from within as what needs to be done
* the trade unions still support the LP financially and view it as a
political vehicle when it is actually anti-union
* trade unions, which ought to be the first support for working class people
are in a bad way, with the legally repression and bureaucratic deformations
they have suffered over the past 25 years. Strike actions and elections of
'left-wing' General Secretaries do not change this.

	There may be hope for a left-wing alliance outside the Labour Party but I
don't think the Socialist Alliance is IT or ever likely to be. There have
been a number of unrealised possibilities in recent years: such as the
Chesterfield Conferences; the formation of the SLP (if this had attracted
substantial working class support the political situation would be very
different) but they have petered away to nothing.

 It's going to be harder for the SA to
> break-through in England, but changing events elsewhere might favour them.
> If they can keep plugging away on localised, community-based actions their
> turn will come - but it'll take dedication. 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.

	'Keep plugging away', 'your day will come', 'keep at it' -- all you've got
to do is live long enough. 'Two elections' puts things 10 years away: I
don't think the SA (for one thing) will be around that long. 'Polarising
effect will force their internal contradictions...' -- this, to me, is all
baseless, over-optimism. The wishbone will not replace the backbone as the
saying goes.

	What's my alternative? That was Thatcher's jibe: TINA - there isn't one.
But there always is at least one and often several to be had. I think once
the actual problem is analysed the solution is usually straightforward but
we are miles from that position. It's not all gloom: the peace movement over
Afghanistan was very encouraging and the masses were involved. But as that
war now *seems* to be over this has dissipated. There have been the
anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation movements, the problems of which have
been discussed on this list. And not forgetting the anti-poll tax campaign.
So there is potential there all right.

	It is interesting how my post compliments Brian Cahill's, whom I have never
met. He obviously knows more about the internal wranglings in the SA than I
do. I just don't see how a direct socialist challenge at election times,
supported by various celebrities is going to work. It would be good if there
was something really nasty, heading Blair's way, brewing in the trade unions
but if there is I am unaware of it.

Martin Spellman

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