United LEFT

**working for unity in action of all the LEFT in the UK** (previously known as the RESPECT SUPPORTERS BLOG)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Respect moves to the Right!

Respect moves to the Right!

The 2009 Respect National Conference was held yesterday in Birmingham . we will post some reports and comments here over the next week or two.


This was a quick reply by the Editor to a comment [comment 33 in the blog thred] from Derek Wall (Green party) on the Socialist Unity Blog (the subject matter was : ANTI RACISTS CLASH WITH SDL FASCISTS IN GLASGOW

Post 33 “on another matter, son of NO2EU motion defeated at Respect conference today”

Derek it was worse than that for many of us on the left as Respect has clearly moved to the right in a big way led by George, Salma and friends - but you will be happy to know that an electorial agreements with the Greens (not on policy but a trade off for votes) was seen as the the way forward rather than any alliance with others on the left or the trade union movement (Geoege flatly refused to have anything to do with this).

Key speakers on the whole opposed any attempt to stop the BNP/SDL/EDL by mobilsation and confrontation should this be required - it was not ruled out but they saw an appeal to the “police” as just as important if not more important.

I wont go on too much as this is not the right thred but it would be nice to have one on the Respect Conference (please).

It looks to me like the SWP were right, and have been right all along that Respect was going to, and has moved, clearly to the right - community politics and opportunist alliances are in, while Soialism is out for good! (I am sure I will get a reply to this very quickly from the “conference majority” but be it known that at least a third of the Respect conference supported a more socialist /trade union orientated perpective).

Those of us on the left in Respect have a great deal to think about in the next few months - can we continue in Respect? It felt at times that George/ Salma and others were only too happy to see socialists like myself leave Respect - but just what will they be left with?

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9 Comments:

At 11:10 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Key speakers on the whole opposed any attempt to stop the BNP/SDL/EDL by mobilsation and confrontation should this be required - it was not ruled out but they saw an appeal to the “police” as just as important if not more important."

This is misleading. Respect supports the use of all tactics, to be used as appropriate. Salma made a very eloquent case for why sometimes mobilisations are appropriate, and sometimes not.

If we can get a fascist march banned by appealing to the police (not sure why you use inverted commas), of course we should do so! How on earth can you argue against that?

 
At 11:14 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I said on Socialist Unity:

“Those of us on the left in Respect”, can we stay on? This is complete nonsense. Those on the ULTRA-left may well be considering their position. That’s because the infantiles wasted a great deal of conference time repeatedly pushing this idea of a far-left coalition.

Here was the choice. Should Respect orientate towards the left of the Labour Party and labour movement, which are to the right of us but in which are genuine mass forces, i.e. millions of people who can be pulled into more progressive politics? Or should it orientate itself to a few politically irrelevant and very narrow currents to its left which represent hardly anybody, in a coalition that hasn’t any confirmed trade union support and doesn’t even exist yet?

I repeat, this is NOT a question of “the socialists” being forced out. It is a question of the infantile left being defeated for making a fantastical proposal. Whether they leave in a fit of “principled” pique or not is up to them. I know they earnestly believe they are good Marxists fighting for the working class, but they are not good Marxists because their strategy would hamstring the only party with a mass basis to the left of Labour. That does not serve the interests of the working class - on the contrary.

- little black sister

P.S. There is a very good reason why the "conference majority" supported George and Salma's line. It is because IT is the socialist line.

 
At 8:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Neil,

I found your call to oppose the far right "by mobilsation and confrontation should this be required " very interesting. Were you in Birmingham the first two EDL marchs?? it was very scary stuff, it is very easy to call for clashes from a keyboard but when they result in injuries and lots of scared shoppers it is a very different matter. It is very easy to sound brave behind a keyboard.

 
At 9:44 pm, Blogger Neil Williams said...

You clearly know nothing about me at all. I have been an active anti racist all my working life and have attended dozens of anti racist demonstrations over a number of decades when racists/nazi's have tried to take over local areas and intimidate local people. I was one of the organisers of the stand by the Anti Nazi League in 1977 in Lewisham along with many others. So please know me before you attack me.

I am NOT advocating confrontation with the BNP/EDL etc but i am saying anti racists in local communities need to make a stand so that the racist do not gain the upper hand in any area and that i dont think turning to the police is the best way of doing this and can leave a community exposed should the police fail to act.

 
At 12:15 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil is right here. A reliance on the police or local councillors to get a ban against the EDL, instead of, (rather than as well as), pushing for a mass mobilisation against the fascists was a high risk 'strategy'. And it backfitred when it was the birmingham Unite event which was banned and not the EDL!

It was clear that with EDL thugs rampaging through the centre, Asian youth at least would turn out in force to defend their streets. It was the duty of the left to stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

It is to the credit of the SWP (without their UAF hat on) that they mobilised at short notice- alongside smaller left groups and anti-fascists.

Not to have done so would have meant the whole thing could have been portrayed as a 'race riot'- whites v asians- playing right into the hands of the EDL.

Lots more on the Birmingham issue at www.socialistresitance.org including a number of public statements and bulletins we put out aimed at the rest of the left.

RobM, B'ham SR

 
At 11:12 am, Blogger Neil Williams said...

Here is an article from this weeks Socialist Worker which I am in full agreement with about how to confront the racists and nazis (again this would be a minority view at the Respect conference):

Why we need to confront Nazis

by Assed Baig

Nazis are again taking to the streets across Britain. They are pretending to be protesting against “Islamic extremism” – but this is a smokescreen.

In reality the English Defence League (EDL) and their ilk are nothing more than fascist thugs, out to sow the seeds of division in communities across Britain.

We have seen pictures of people on EDL protests giving Nazi salutes and videos of them singing, “I hate Pakis more than you.”

As the Nazis’ demonstrations increase, so too do our counter-protests. Sometimes things have turned violent as the two sides face off against each other.

Some argue that we should abandon the counter-demonstrations and stop physically confronting the Nazis. But we must meet the fascists on the streets and mobilise a presence to challenge them.

In Birmingham the EDL has marched more than once. The first time they were unopposed – and they taunted black and Asian people. There were reports of attacks.

But the second time, anti-Nazis organised a counter-demonstration. Even though the police cleared the way for the EDL to march, people in Birmingham defended their streets and defeated the fascists.

Asian youth in particular turned out in numbers to counter the EDL – and they would have done so even if a counter-demonstration had not been called.

In this situation, anti-fascists would have been completely wrong not to call a counter-protest.

Disastrously, we would have left young Asian people isolated and forced to take on the Nazis alone. And we would have run the risk of alienating those we need to recruit to our ranks.

Abandon

Anti-Nazi organisations cannot just be composed of middle class white people who talk the talk of fighting fascism but abandon the Muslim community when it comes to the crunch because of fear of “violence”.

The third time the EDL marched in Birmingham, the city’s local Unite Against Fascism group did not call a counter-demonstration. Many mosques and so-called “community leaders” asked people not to demonstrate.

Asian youth turned out regardless.

EDL marchers found themselves penned into a pub, shuttled onto buses and chased out of Birmingham. After that the EDL said it would not march in the city again.

This decision wasn’t made because there was no opposition on the streets, nor because the council was being lobbied to ban the EDL from marching. And it definitely wasn’t made because there was going to be a fluffy “United Birmingham” event.

The EDL decided not to return to Birmingham because they were confronted and defeated on the streets by anti-fascists.

The EDL called another demonstration in Manchester and, although there wasn’t a repeat of the scenes in Birmingham, the EDL was once again outnumbered.

The truth of the matter is that the EDL and other fascist groups do not respond to banning orders, “united” events or liberal wishy-washy language.

What they do understand is being outnumbered on the streets by a broad and diverse movement that has greater numbers than they do.

We are at a pivotal point today. We can either organise and confront Nazis on the streets – or we can save our principles of solidarity and unity for meetings and conferences while leaving the Muslim youth to fight on their own.

I know who I will be standing with when the fascists march again. Others need to make up their minds – before history puts them alongside unrepresentative politicians and sell-outs.

Assed Baig is NUS president at Staffordshire University and a Unite Against Fascism activist

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=19566

 
At 3:56 am, Blogger Dave said...

"It looks to me like the SWP were right, and have been right all along that Respect was going to, and has moved, clearly to the right"

Well it was one of the very few things we got right about Galloway, Yaqoob et al during that monumental cock up.

 
At 5:00 pm, Blogger carolx said...

To the RIGHT I will take that as an insult what a lot of bull
Where do people come from by saying we are Right just because the majority wanted things the way the vote went.
isn't that being democratic?

I feel people can only blame themselves for having it defeated instead of sitting on your arses and dictating what is best for Respect you should have been out building the party and get people to the conference to support the motion if you decided it was the only right way to go, if you managed to do that you would have not had the thing defeated (think about it its not brain surgery) Err the more members you bring along to support you the more votes you will get !!!

All I can say is the blame lays at your own doors everyone had plenty of time to build on what we have but if people remained stagnant and never got re motivated when the SWP done there dirties to destroy Respect we got up brushed the cobwebs off and restarted so everyone Else had the same opportunities that were on offer.

To say that I am not the Left because I did not vote your way does not put me anyway on the RIGHT but I am glad that I am not linked to the left that is so embittered that it has to condemn and try to destroy what is left behind.

I have done my best to build on that what We are now Called
The Respect Party and I hope it reflects our membership

So I really hope that people can join in and brush of the old trot cobwebs and get real Either people can go down the path what we are on or stay where they are "waiting for the revolution to come."

We need to support what we have What is real !! and try to make the changes what is needed to get the ball rolling in getting MPs and councillors elected for The Respect Party
We need to nurture what is growing into a good thing
.
I would just like to say this post is not directed to any person so please do not take it that way as I hold a great respect to all those with strong principles but we need to move on as life is to short to bear grudges we can achieve something momentous and hopefully we can all learn to sing from the same hymn sheet (even out of tune we have the same goals I hope

 
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