Friday, 19 February 2010

Internal Party Bobbins

So, in the last few weeks I've been too busy to go to branch meetings, and I've missed a couple of paper sales. There's no political reason for this, I've just had a lot of work on and it hasn't left much time for anything else.

So I was quite surprised to read, via Laurie Penny*, that Lindsey German had left the party, and that it was events up here in the toon that sparked it.

So, as a local, semi-active, rank-and-file party member, here's my ha'pennorth on the whole thing: it's internal party bobbins. I love the SWP and am proud of what it stands for, but I just can't be having with the 'internal squabbling' spectator sport where other members of the disunited left gather round to tell us all how rubbish we are.**

There's two reasons for this: firstly, I actually think it's pretty sad when comrades can no longer work together as they used to, not least because it takes us further away from our shared political goals. There's never a shortage of people who want to put the boot in, especially on the magical insult-generating troll that is teh intertubes, but in all seriousness it fills me with more despair than a thousand speeches by George Osborne. Second, it's just a particularly yawn-inducing piece of political theatre, he-says-she-says, not the bread and butter of the party work.

This weekend we'll be on the streets, selling the paper and organising for a public meeting in the wake of the Corus mothballing announcement. That's the bread and butter stuff. Why Lindsey left will have two mutually incompatible narratives and in the end I'm not going to choose either of them. The party is still here, the work still needs to be done, and who-said-what-to-who-when is just an excuse not to do it. This isn't to say I don't have opinions on the things that happen in the local and national scene, it would be brazenly disingenuous to say such a thing. All I'm saying is, what's the point of getting involved in a squabble? That's why we have meetings and delegation and decisions, so that we are active, not wasting our time in a vicious circle of discussion. All it does is turn left-wing activism into a talking shop, and there's plenty of that around already.

If I do a blog post on Plato, or apple crumble, well that's trivial but hopefully not unamusing or dull. This stuff, it's both.

* I'm not going to bother with Laurie's 'The SWP is sooo sectarian' stuff, I've heard it all before, am yet to be impressed, and Lenin's done a better response than I'd do anyway, except to say that in my experience the SWP is sectarian to the extent that we are a distinct political party, that we've never made any secret of our principles or agenda, and that if we get involved in broad front work - which we do, often - we do so in so far as it is compatible with our politics. If that's sectarian then we are all sectarians. We don't, for example, demand that Labour amend its other horrendous policies before we'll work in a broad front anti-fascist movement with them, but we will insist that the UAF is combative in its approach to the fascist problem. I'm afraid that all seems perfectly reasonable to me.

**Yes, I'm aware that this amounts to a blog post in which I tell anyone reading that I'm not going to do a blog post, but at least it's not a meeting of the Tautology Club, OK?

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