One of the most minor and unremarked aspects of this whole Respect debacle has been the document sent to the SWP Party Council by the burger-flippers in the Emerald Isle. I can’t write much about it because I haven’t yet had sight of it, but I can confidently guess at its contents. That is, the Irish branch office will have pledged up-front support for whatever it is the Brits decide to do.
It’s not really surprising that Swiss Toni and his acolytes have chosen to stick their oar in, nor that they would give the Brits a blank cheque. Go back to the excommunication of the American ISO some years ago and you’ll recall that Swiss sent an unsolicited letter of support to Prof Callinicos, without however bothering to tell his own members for some considerable time afterwards. This sort of cretinous display is par for the course in the SWP’s Pomintern.
I suppose you can’t really blame Kieran. He owes his position, after all, to Sasanach patronage. Having distinguished himself at a young age by his prominent role in shafting the so-called Opposition Group (now the Workers Power guys in Galway) he was thereafter favoured with the sunny side of Cliff’s countenance. That really marked the beginning of his rise to power in his little kingdom, although he would need to wait almost a decade, till people of stature like Trench and Kerrigan had dropped out, before attaining his present monarchical position.
It is a bit embarrassing though, or would be if the guy wasn’t so shameless. Gorgeous George has visited these shores two or three times in the last year, and the local SWP made a huge fuss of him on each occasion. Indeed, the party is currently building something called the People Before Profit Alliance, which could best be described as Respect without Galloway or the Muslims. (I do hear, though, that Meehan and Des Res have joined, which just goes to show that some folks never learn.) As if the PBPA wasn’t enough of a sectarian abomination in the first place, one would think that the collapse in Scotland and the big bust-up in England may be causing a few comrades to ponder. If they are, they’re keeping very quiet for the time being, although you do hear the odd murmur from the ranks if you keep your ear to the ground.
But this will be interesting to watch. Historically, ructions in the Brit SWP tend to have a ripple effect in the Irish franchise, with Workers Power being an object example. Blowback, you might call it. It’s unlikely in the extreme that there will be a split over here – the Brits, remember, have draconian restrictions on factions, but the Irish simply don’t allow them at all. And there can’t be all that much more attrition with numbers having fallen as low as they have. But there’s always the possibility that someone will stick his head above the parapet. And, what with critical mass and all that, Kieran can’t really afford to lose anybody else.