So, Friday’s Newsnight saw professional Trot-hunter Michael Crick dealing with the big fight in Respect. Much as I’m enjoying the fireworks myself, it’s obvious that Crick hasn’t improved much since the days when he specialised in shock-horror exposés of Militant. In fact, he’s got worse – his book on Militant involved quite a bit of original research, and is packed full of useful facts even if he had no real understanding of what Militant were about. Nowadays, all he has to do is read the online Weekly Worker and he’s got a ten-minute film. And the most damning thing he could come up with is that Respect contains a motley and not entirely harmonious mixture of Trots and Muslims. No shit, Sherlock.
And who does he get to provide the vox pops? John O’Farrell, a member of New Labour and not someone with any deep insight into Respect, but who was prepared to sit and chuckle about George’s difficulties. That darling of the BBC luvvies, the odious Oona King, who does at least have a personal interest but who obviously still can’t understand why Muslim voters might hold it against her that she supported the invasion of a Muslim country. And Mark Fischer of the CPGB/Weekly Worker, who gave off about the SWP’s alleged softness on the Taliban, which is a bit cheeky considering the dodgy characters in Kosovo that his group supported. Actually, I’m prepared to cut Mark a bit of slack, since he also had a couple of good points to make, and in any case he can’t help being from Swansea.
Then Crick did a little bit of drama whereby he marched up to the Respect office and demanded to know if George was in, putting on an outraged face when the door was shut on him. And, er, sin é.
Not that I’m enthusiastic about Respect in the first place, but there are a few questions members might like to ask:
1. While this whole row has been going on, it has taken until tonight for a short, cryptic statement to appear on the Respect site, and I still can’t find a single word on the SWP site – if there’s anything there, it’s extremely well hidden. Is this sort of secrecy really a way to deal with the issue, especially given that the news leaks out anyway?
2. I know Crick can be a pain in the hole, but surely it wouldn’t have been beyond Respect to put somebody up for an impromptu interview?
3. The CPGB – are they taking the piss or what? I refer in particular to Manson’s latest – if the Weekly Worker folds, he could make a living as a novelist.
Update 23.09.07: We have a preliminary report on the Respect NC from Liam. I guess we can wait until the next Weekly World Worker News for the embroidered version.