I left a comment a few years back at Meaders' now comatose (and lamented by me - he was a fun chap to debate with) Dead Men Left site to the effect that the SWP/Muslim alliance of Respect was an alliance of two completely different political forces, each convinced it was using the other - and that when push came to shove the Islamists would eat the SWP for breakfast and go solo.
Push hasn't come to shove yet. The Islamists can deliver the votes, the SWP can deliver the organisation - after all, they've fronted just about every 'left' campaign since the seventies. I must admit that I thought the comrades had all gone into this with their eyes wide open, happy to ally themselves with people who, were they white Brits, would be considered right-wing religious bigots. Seems the contradictions inherent in this can't be dialectically resolved that easily, and the internal cracks produced by these stresses and strains have now reached the surface.
George Galloway for the prosecution.
For example, at the selection meeting for our Shadwell candidate two members of staff were openly proselytising for one candidate and against another - including heckling - and even after the decision had been taken. This undoubtedly contributed to the exceedingly poor involvement of the wider membership in the subsequent election. No paid member of staff attended the Shadwell victory celebrations and when I asked one of them if they would be attending I was told ‘no, I will be watching the football’. This was noticed widely by the activists who were present at the celebration and commented upon.
The SWP apparatchiks who do all the work are noticing that the people who get selected are "community leaders" who can deliver votes. These kind of messy compromises are the stock in trade of democratic politics and something that everyone in the traditional parties has to come to terms with. It's all a bit new to the SWP.
What's probably compounding their unease is the nature of the 'vote-delivering'. In traditional English and Welsh politics a person who delivers votes does so by virtue of their policies, their personality or some combination thereof. We have to go back to the early nineteenth century and before that to find people who could deliver votes by virtue of who they were - their social position. And to understand who can deliver votes in Newham or Bradford you'll need knowledge of Sylheti or Mirpuri society.
The SWP defence.
A retreat into a party whose elected representatives are overwhelmingly male and Muslim would be to retreat into the caricature of us drawn by our opponents.
This one will run and run. The SWP's organisational skills are still IMHO votal to Respect's success. It's just their politics and leaders who are redundant !
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