SWP’s open letter on left unity: how the left is responding

United handsThe SWP have issued an open letter on left unity which we print below with links to responses from different left groups. Comments welcome.

Labour’s vote collapsed to a historic low in last week’s elections as the right made gains. The Tories under David Cameron are now set to win the next general election.

The British National Party (BNP) secured two seats in the European parliament. Never before have fascists achieved such a success in Britain.

The result has sent a shockwave across the labour and anti-fascist movements, and the left.

The meltdown of the Labour vote and the civil war engulfing the party poses a question – where do we go from here?

The fascists pose a threat to working class organisations, black, Asian and other residents of this country – who BNP führer Nick Griffin dubs “alien” – our civil liberties and much else.

History teaches us that fascism can be fought and stopped, but only if we unite to resist it.

The SWP firmly believes that the first priority is to build even greater unity and resistance to the fascists over the coming months and years.

The BNP believes it has created the momentum for it to achieve a breakthrough. We have to break its momentum.

The success of the anti-Nazi festival in Stoke and the numbers of people who joined in anti-fascist campaigning shows the basis is there for a powerful movement against the Nazis.

The Nazis’ success will encourage those within the BNP urging a “return to the streets”.

This would mean marches targeting multiracial areas and increased racist attacks. We need to be ready to mobilise to stop that occurring.

Griffin predicted a “perfect storm” would secure the BNP’s success. The first part of that storm he identified was the impact of the recession.

The BNP’s policies of scapegoating migrants, black and Asian people will divide working people and make it easier to drive through sackings, and attacks on services and pensions.

Unity is not a luxury. It is a necessity. If we do not stand together we will pay the price for a crisis we did not cause.

The second lesson from the European elections is that we need a united fightback to save jobs and services.

If Cameron is elected he will attempt to drive through policies of austerity at the expense of the vast majority of the British people.

But the Tories’ vote fell last week and they are nervous about pushing through attacks.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne told business leaders, “After three months in power we will be the most unpopular government since the war.”

We need to prepare for battle.

But there is a third and vital issue facing the left and the wider working class. The crisis that has engulfed Westminster benefited the BNP.

The revelations of corruption, which cabinet members were involved in, were too much for many Labour voters, who could not bring themselves to vote for the party.

One answer to the problem is to say that we should swallow everything New Labour has done and back it to keep David Cameron, and the BNP, out.

Yet it would take a miracle for Gordon Brown to be elected back into Downing Street.

The danger is that by simply clinging on we would be pulled down with the wreckage of New Labour.

Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS civil service workers’ union, has asked how, come the general election, can we ask working people to cast a ballot for ministers like Pat McFadden.

McFadden is pushing through the privatisation of the post office.

Serwotka proposes that trade unions should stand candidates.

Those who campaigned against the BNP in the elections know that when they said to people, “Don’t vote Nazi” they were often then asked who people should vote for.

The fact that there is no single, united left alternative to Labour means there was no clear answer available.

The European election results demonstrate that the left of Labour vote was small, fragmented and dispersed.

The Greens did not make significant gains either. The mass of Labour voters simply did not vote. We cannot afford a repeat of that.

The SWP is all too aware of the differences and difficulties involved in constructing such an alternative.

We do not believe we have all the answers or a perfect prescription for a left wing alternative.

But we do believe we have to urgently start a debate and begin planning to come together to offer such an alternative at the next election, with the awareness that Gordon Brown might not survive his full term.

One simple step would be to convene a conference of all those committed to presenting candidates representing working class interests at the next election.

The SWP is prepared to help initiate such a gathering and to commit its forces to such a project.

We look forward to your response.

For more information or to show your support email us stating your name, what organisations/campaigns/unions you are a member of, and any positions you hold in these to –
openletter@swp.org.uk

Response from Permanent Revolution.

Response from Socialist Party.

Response from the AWL.

Response from Workers Power.

Advertisements

Crisis in Iran: the view from HOPI

elections June 2A recent Cardiff Radical Socialist Forum discussed Iran, and the problems socialists face in confronting both the imperialist threat and a reactionary Iranian regime exploiting that threat. With the country in turmoil following the recent ‘election’, Hands Off the People of Iran give their verdict (nb this view is not necessarily shared by all supporters of CRSF and comment is welcomed):

June 14 2009
Support for the mass protests against Ahmadinejad’s re-election! But we should have no illusions that Massouvi would have been any better

Yassamine Mather, chair of Hands Off the People of Iran, assesses the highly fluid situation in Iran:

It is no surprise that the highly contested results of the presidential elections in Iran have sparked unrest in Tehran and other cities across Iran. The level of cheating on display seems crazy even by the standards of Iran’s Islamic Republic regime. Clearly, the results are the final proof that confirms that the whole electoral process is deeply undemocratic and rigged from top to bottom:

* Ahmadinejad was declared winner by the official media even before some polling stations had closed
* His final result was almost identical to what the (rigged) polls predicted all the way through the elections. This percentage did not ever vary by more than three percent
* Hundreds of candidates were barred from standing in the first place.

The main ‘reformist’ candidate Mir-Hossain Moussavi has declared the elections a “charade” and claimed Iran was moving towards tyranny. Thousands of protesters (not all of them backers of Moussavi) have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the re-election of Ahmadinejad.

Of course, Hopi condemns the arrest of over 900 demonstrators and 100 leading ‘reformists’, most of the latter ones supporters and collaborators of Moussavi.

But we should not forget that Moussavi does not consider the nine previous presidential elections in Iran’s Islamic Republic – most of them with very dubious results – a “charade”. In the 2009 election, he did not bat an eyelid when the Council of Guardians disqualified over 400 candidates. He did not think the process was a “charade” when the supreme religious leader intervened time and time again to defend Ahmadinejad.

Even now, although he is furious about loosing the elections, he is not calling on the Iranian people to support him. Instead, he is addressing the ‘Religious centres of Guidance’ (elite shia Ayatollahs) to denounce the result. He is no fan of democracy and mass movements. Like his predecessor Mohammad Khatami, Moussavi is well aware that the survival of the ‘Islamic order’ is in his interests. That is why, even when he is clearly a victim of the supreme leader’s lunacy, he cannot rock the boat.
Massouvi’s terrible past

After all, irrespective of the illusions of their supporters, Moussavi and the other reformist candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, are no radical opponents of the regime. For eight years, Moussavi served as prime minister of the Islamic republic – during some of the darkest days of this regime. He was deeply involved in the arms-for-hostages deals with the Reagan administration in the1980s, what came to be known as ‘Irangate’. He also played a prominent role in the brutal wave of repression in the 1980s that killed a generation of Iranian leftists. During this period, thousands of socialists and communists were jailed, with many of them executed while in prison.

Moussavi has attempted to refashion himself as a ‘conservative reformer’ or a ‘reformist conservative’ by expressing his allegiance to the supreme leader and by claiming to have initiated Iran’s nuclear programme, which he promised to continue. He also criticised the release of British navy personal in 2007 as “a humiliating surrender”. Defending his government’s anti-Western credentials, Ahmadinejad claimed that “prime minister Tony Blair had sent a letter to apologise to Iran”. Within a few hours, the foreign office in London issued a stern denial that such a letter was ever sent. Moussavi tried to exploit this ‘weakness’.

But he clearly failed. The supreme leader could not tolerate his former protégé Moussavi. Although his politics are almost indistinguishable from those of Ahmadinejad, he was just a bit too ‘progressive’ on two points:

* He promised to be more liberal over women’s dress code and said he would expand women’s rights –within the parameters proscribed by the religious state, of course
* He promised to use more diplomatic language and a more amenable attitude in dealings with the West, especially the USA. Despite this diplomatic ‘packaging’, however, he remains committed to defending Iran’s nuclear program (including the right to enrich uranium)

Mass protests

These elections were a “charade” from the day they started. All four candidates are supporters of the existing system. All support the existing neo-liberal policies and privatisations. All four are in favour of Iran’s nuclear programme.

But we should not underestimate the anger of the Iranian population against this blatant manipulation of the results. Iranians had to choose between the lesser of two evils – and when the worst was declared winner, they showed their contempt for the system by huge demonstrations culminating in the massive protests of June 13 2009.

Until early June, most Iranians had shown little interest in these elections, as they knew that neither candidate would lead to real change. But it was the live TV debates that changed the apathy. The debates betweeen Ahmadinejad – Moussavi and Ahmadinejad -Karroubi have been unique events in the history of the official media of the Islamic Republic. The debates confirmed what most Iranians know through their personal experiences – but which they have not yet heard on the official media:

* Ahmadinejad stated that Iran had been ruled for 24 years (up to his presidency) by a clique akin to an economic and political mafia. ‘Elite’ clerics such as the reformers Rafsanjani and Khatami had “forgotten their constituents” and were corrupt
* Moussavi stated that the economy has been in a terrible state, particularly in the last four years

The situation in Iran is very fluid. Over 900 protesters and 100 ‘reformist’ leaders have been arrested, including the brother of former president Khatami. Moussavi and his wife have gone underground. There are signs of the beginning of an internal coup. Thirty years after the Iranian revolution, if Iran’s supreme leader believes he can suppress the opposition, he will be making precisely the kind of mistake that led to the overthrow of the Shah’s regime in 1979. The foundations of the Islamic Republic regime are shaking.

The protests of June 13 were the largest demonstrations since 1979. After the euphoria of the last two weeks, when Iranians participated in their millions in demonstrations and political meetings, no state – however brutal – will be able to control the situation. The events of the last few weeks show that there is real hope that the Iranian people can get rid of this regime – be it in the guise of Ahmadinejad or the no less undemocratic and corrupt ‘reformists’.

Strike threat pays off as Rob Williams reinstated

daddywarThe threat of an all-out indefinite strike this Thursday by workers at the Linamar car plant in Swansea (formerly Visteon) has paid dividends. Linamar have reinstated sacked union convenor Rob Williams, an active socialist whose links with other threatened car plants made him a key target for bosses set on breaking union organisation.

The vote for strike action was overwhelming. It came on the back of a disgraceful campaign of intimidation by bosses, including foremen threatening workers with the sack if they took action in support of Rob. Clearly the bosses’ tactics have backfired.

This victory should serve as inspiration for all threatened car workers, trade unionists, left activists and any person concerned with the way workers are being made to pay for a crisis created by bankers. The recent Euro elections showed how the BNP and others on the far right are benefiting from the betrayal of workers by Labour: if we are to reverse this trend then we must rebuild the fighting organisations of the working class. That will not happen without significant victories in the class struggle. And as the Linamar workers have shown, no weapon is more powerful than the threat of all-out indefinite strike action, especially when backed by the threat of solidarity action at Linamar’s suppliers in the USA. In a period when national chauvinism has reared its ugly head in the labour movement, this was a timely reminder of the need for workers to unite internationally to combat a multinational enemy.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑