Newsnight, I salute your indefatigability!

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.


  1. Jim Denham said,

    September 23, 2007 at 2:02 am

    Claerly Crick was out to get “Respect” -as he did Jeffrey Archer- and succeded. If it helps destroy this communalist disgrace, then so much the better. The left of the British trade union movement faught a long baqttle to rid the movement of communalism: the idiots of the SWP/”Respect” have tried to re-introduce it. Thank gawd they’ve failed. And thank gawd their reactionary organisation is now in its death-throes.

  2. Idris of Dungiven said,

    September 23, 2007 at 9:42 am

    On another board I use, someone was arguing that Salma Yaqoob was laying down markers to be leader of whatever rump emerges from the current crisis. After that, what happens? She’s definite MP material, and my money’s on her taking her slice of the pie into the Lib Dems.

  3. WorldbyStorm said,

    September 23, 2007 at 9:56 am

    In fairness to Oona King I think, from reading the Guardian recently, she had bigger issues on her mind during all that period and in further fairness she doesn’t seem to be instinctively of the ‘decent’ line.

    Re the CPGB, well, their enthusiastic schadenfreude is hardly unexpected…

    Idris, the Lib Dems, say it ain’t so… it isn’t is it?

  4. WorldbyStorm said,

    September 23, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Incidentally, and I know I’m being a bit unkind here, but isn’t Respect an example of the old truism of ‘becoming that which we seek to destroy’? New Labour, business candidates blah blah… Respect, business candidates, blah blah…

  5. Idris of Dungiven said,

    September 23, 2007 at 10:07 am

    Do not stare too long into the abyss, or the abyss will stare into you.

    As for SY, I saw her speak in Birmingham U. last autumn and she’s a born politician. To get into Westminster and have a parliamentary career, though, she’ll need a party maching behind her, and I’d say the Lib Dems (why does no one call them the LDP, by the way) are the mainstream party she’d be most likely to get into. Which is not to say that it’s certain she’d go there, or that they’d have her – I just think it’s her most likely destination.

  6. WorldbyStorm said,

    September 23, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Amazing times.

  7. ejh said,

    September 23, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    Do not stare too long into the abyss, or the abyss will stare into you.

    Sort of sentiment I associate with three in the morning rather than ten….

  8. resistor said,

    September 23, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Jim Denham should explain why he uses the term ex-pat to describe Palestinian refugees. Would it be because he thinks the Arabs of Palestine shouldn’t have the right of return to their homes? (and calls those who do ‘Fascists’)

    Who’s the the real ‘communalist’?

  9. ejh said,

    September 23, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    in further fairness she doesn’t seem to be instinctively of the “decent” line.

    I don’t think Oona has any instincts apart from the “what will further my career?” line.

  10. splinteredsunrise said,

    September 23, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    What with her being a fixture on The Wright Stuff, it’s almost a shock to see her on Newsnight. As for Mark F… if the CPGB are actively trying to get thrown out of Respect, they’re going the right way about it.

  11. WorldbyStorm said,

    September 23, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    I don’t know. I kind of like her – personality wise anyhow. BTW don’t the CPGB merely ‘support’ Respect?

  12. ejh said,

    September 23, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    To know that, I would have to read the Weekly Worker, compared to which activity my preferred pastime of correspondence chess is positively life-affirming.

    Kind is amiable enough and she’s not the emptyhead that many Blairites were and are. But she’s a Looking After Number One Woman, I’m afraid.

  13. Andy Newman said,

    September 24, 2007 at 11:27 am

    I am also quite fond of Oona on a personal basis, but I wouldn’t put much stock on her “analysis” of Respect.

  14. Matt said,

    September 24, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    From the States we’ve often had both the SSP in Scotland and Respect in Britain bandied about as the future of the post-Leninist. A whole swath of the far-left here would have tried to emulate, if they had the energy, Respect in Britain on a local level, though none of the conditions (except perhaps political exhaustion) are the same. Of course nothing came of it, but that didn’t stop lots of “new thinking” on the subject. I wonder what the post-Respect, post-Lenin left will go to next. Our Greens are in melt down here, so even their modest role as electoral vehicle for the left may be at an end.

  15. WorldbyStorm said,

    September 24, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    In truth I’ve met zero politicians from whatever part of the political spectrum who aren’t looking after number one. I always like it when there is a bit more to it than that. Sometimes the something more is ideological rigour, or dedication and energy or sometimes as in the case of OK a bit of a personality (still I’d agree, I wouldn’t look to her for a political analysis). Still, that’s not always great either. I can think of at least three other contemporary UK politicians with personality who I’d pretty much shy away from…

    Matt, my own inclination FWIW is that the SSP provides a better model. I don’t know if others here would concur?

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