today’s ‘left alternative’ members’ bulletin announces the resignation of socialist workers’ party leaders john rees and lindsey german from the national committee of the swp’s post-respect electoral front. no political explanation has been given for this move, although it is clearly part of the swp’s attempt to shift direction after their electoral debacle in may.
much as they played up their political differences with george galloway’s ‘respect renewal’, the swp in fact stood in the may elections on a near-identical platform: the “party” put forward a manifesto of warmed-up social democracy and soggy reformism, and did not even stand under their own name. once ‘respect’, then ‘the left list’ and now ‘the left alternative’, the swp’s electoral turn has never been anything other than opportunist and populist, vacillating between communalism and ‘bread and butter issues’ and thus failing to provide any answers at all to the crisis in working-class political representation and the left’s lack of ideas.
after failing to get swp councillors elected via respect and thus deciding to break with galloway, the swp has now turned to new panaceas. not only has it drawn up a minimalist ‘people before profit charter’ with no roots in any real trade union struggles, it has turned to a brand of anti-fascist ‘activism’ which has no strategy for stopping the bnp other than calling them ‘nazis’ and lacks any class politics… but which is useful for giving swp members ‘something to do’ and shoring up the group’s base.
the ‘left alternative’ and expensive electoral campaigns will be abandoned. maybe rees and german will be turfed out of the leadership of the swp itself – although this seems unlikely. even replacing them would just be rearranging the deckchairs on the titanic, however. note that there has been no public discussion of this fresh change in direction by the swp, and no explanation is given for it. this is not how marxists behave. rees, german and other swp leaders will want to change course but save themselves, and they will succeed unless the swp membership take a long, hard look at their organisation and its direction, and fight for class-struggle, revolutionary politics.
below we reproduce the relevant section of the ‘left alternative’ members’ bulletin:
“Left Alternative Members Bulletin 10th September 2008
“1. Statement from Left Alternative officers
“The officers of the Left Alternative are sad to have to inform our members of the resignations of John Rees and Lindsey German from the officers group and National Council. However, they remain members of the Left Alternative.
“John and Lindsey have been tireless members of the officers group and National Council since the inception of Respect. As National Secretary, John has provided consistent judgment and direction in the most difficult political circumstances, while Lindsey has been our inspirational Mayoral candidate in the GLA elections in both 2004 and 2008.
“The National Council, at its meeting on 6th September, agreed a unanimous vote of thanks to John and Lindsey for everything they have done for our organisation. We are proud to have them as members of the Left Alternative and look forward to continuing to work with them in campaigns from Stop the War to the People before Profit Charter.”