Following up on the Respect debate, I notice the new Weekly World Worker News [pdf] is online. I have to admit, I was curious to see what the Conrad Party of Great Britain would have to say for itself in the current situation, and whether it would have any shocking new revelations. The answer to the latter is “no”.
Jim Moody writes of the SWP leadership’s pas devant les enfants attitude, and raises the same question that I had previously, whether the SWP and Respect running a virtual news blackout was a useful way to operate. Fair enough. He also ruminates on the allegation that the SWP CC has been circulating a dossier on George’s failings, and rousingly proclaims, “The SWP must come clean.” Subtext: if you’ve got a spare copy, please pass it to the Weekly Worker.
The main article on Respect is yet again penned by crack Kremlinologist Peter Manson. Manson’s big rhetorical flourish of the week is that Respect should be reckoned among the living dead, which accounts for the grisly picture of zombies adorning the WW cover page, and reproduced with Manson’s article – and people complain about my images!
Manson is faced with the problem of hyping up an inconclusive NC, and predicting the outcome of this weekend’s recall NC, which will probably render this WW redundant by Saturday night. As a result, he relies on some remarkably broad statements of futurology, and his usual novelistic touches (Rees “calmly pointed out” etc.).
What is now absolutely clear is that, whatever the sniping at the SWP CC, the CPGB are backing them against almost everybody else in Respect. I suspect this relates to their desire to recruit stray SWP members, but Manson’s rationalisation is that the SWP represents the proletarian, socialist wing of Respect, as opposed to the petty bourgeois Asian businessmen in Tower Hamlets. “Stung by the criticisms of the abandonment of principle in the Respect popular front – criticisms which originated with this paper and eventually started to be repeated by its rank and file – the SWP is most definitely looking to find a way of breaking with Respect’s businessmen’s wing.” And Manson goes on to describe the SWP as the “working class component” of Respect, where it might be better described as the Baggy Trousers component. (All the teachers in the pub…)
This is rather curious, because prior to this row breaking out, the Weekly Worker had run endless reports of Respect meetings where George was the most radical person in the room, and the SWP constituted a consistent right wing. This seems rather plausible to me, more so than the scenario that Manson is currently putting forward. Manson also fails to mention, as does the John Rees-Elaine Graham Leigh document he quotes, that far from the SWP being on the side of progressive Muslims and against “communalism” in Tower Hamlets, it has consistently backed the Bengali small businessmen against more radical Muslims – with the notable exception of the handful of Muslims who have become members or fellow travellers of the SWP. Manson skips over this opportunistic posturing from Rees, for the very good reason that he and his parasitic organisation are engaged in some opportunistic posturing of their own.
The WW also runs a defence of Mark Fischer’s participation in the Michael Crick hatchet job on Newsnight, in response to well-aimed criticisms from Andy and Liam. I’ll be honest here, the sectarian mischief-maker in me was hoping that Ian Mahoney or Elaine Harrison would pop up as character witnesses. Unfortunately, Mark is defended by fellow Cymro Cameron Richards, who has the disadvantage of being a real person. After bigging up the WW’s role as a whistle-blower (some would say gossip sheet) on the left, Cameron bums and blows about using the class enemy’s media to argue for communist positions. Which would be fine, if Mark had said anything distinguishable from Oona King. Cameron also blows some smoke about George McNeilage collaborating with the News of the World in the Tommy Sheridan affair, while failing to mention the actual actions of the Tangerine Man or the CPGB’s shamefaced, crabwise support for him. I’ll mark Cameron’s report card, “must try harder”.
It is therefore a surprise to come across Mike Macnair’s report of the Oxford Respect AGM, which is actually relatively sober and keeps the speculative Kremlinology to a low level. Peter, Cameron, read this and pick up some tips.