Ructions within the British far left over the Galloway "Respect" bodge-up are so catastrophic that the Socialist Workers Party is now chewing off its own foot and expelling three players in the inner circle.
Two of them, Nick Wrack and Rob Hoveman (the SWP National Secretary's Mini-Me) have been proactive in this mess from the start when they facilitated the destruction of the Socialist Alliance, the first time the left had worked together in an era, so few will be shedding any tears. The fact that Hoveman, who was extremely personally close to the Cardinal Richelieu leadership, has been purged illustrates just how deeply damaging their policies have been.
The axis running the SWP have screwed over everyone around them in ever-decreasing circles until there’s only them left. Well done, comrades. I hope you feel great standing in the rubble. Admire your handiwork - it’s all yours.
Only a fool doesn’t learn from experience, but only in the whacky world of the Left is excusing the regular Groundhog Day rerun of disasters transformed into an auto-lobotomising virtue.
The Popular Front Barnum & Bailey monstrosity of "a special type" that is Respect has lost credibility with all but a few, and still the Morlock tendency insists on herding us Eloi into the cattlepens. “Don’t panic. Nuthin’ to see. You’d be nice with mint sauce.”
My dear sweet old Stalinist Ma and Pa always told me that solidarity in the working class movement is paramount. That you never do over a fellow leftist. So to see a raft of these characters building their careers by doing just that came as a shock.
Raised on a revulsion for careerists, adventurists, opportunists and all the other one-off-the-wrists who clutter up La Causa, my instinct would have been to kick them out of the movement. But no. Perversely, the Morlocks insist that these boys and girls are now the saviours of “The Class”, and urge us to “coalesce” around one particular one now that Galloway has shot his bolt and got his media career underway.
It doesn’t matter that certain parties built their careers by smashing up fellow lefties and purging respected anti-war activists at the Socialist Workers Party's (SWP) behest. According to the Morlocks they have "moved on", to use one of Blair’s favourite phrases. Yet one protege's debut on the scene took the form of the destruction of the thriving Birmingham Stop The War Coalition (BSTWC) when maximum mobilisation was needed. The new regime was so inept that they hadn’t booked any coaches for one important London anti-war protest and the purged activists had to step in and organise transport for them. You may well ask the classic question: who gains?
One particularly spiteful letter written to Birmingham Trades Council in 2002 targets a striking firefighter and respected socialist and anti-racist, Steve Godward, freshly purged from the BSTWC. It’s a stunning Stalinesque act of betrayal of someone who is on your side but, unfortunately, in your way.
It's not just about one person - this behaviour is endemic on the Left. But I think it is fair comment to ask, if in practice you have persecuted workers in struggle, why you should ever be trusted again?
Being part of the machine, as some have pleaded, or being sponsored by the “comrades”, is no excuse as some of us have been more than able to say no to the control freaks. If anything, that’s as good a test of character and socialist credentials as I can imagine. It is said that a person’s character is revealed by the moral and ethical choices they make under pressure and that's what's happened here.
Some sort of truth and reconciliation would be welcome but the initiative has to come from those who genuinely understand what they did and why. Some massive apologies are needed before anything really does move on, especially in this instance to a striking firefighter and his three-year old son who was expelled from his nursery school when all this blew up, who had the misfortune to fall foul of the egos on the Left.
Turning and turning in the dissembling gyre, the raptor cannot hear the whistle; Principles fall apart; the centre cannot hold. The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity and get to appear on Question Time.
I looked from the SWP to George Galloway, and from GG to the SWP, and from the SWP to GG again; but already it was impossible to tell who'd look better in a bacon sandwich.
The real Gorgeous George told the story of the Communist Party member who left a gathering of comrades to go to the loo and returned two minutes later to find that, unbeknownst to him, the party line had changed. We don't know what happened to him but his mates are thriving in the British "Left".
After several years of defending the indefensible, it's all change for the comrades. A recent SWP National Council saw the poor dears turning on a dime at whiplash speeds in response to an ugly bust-up with Galloway, who'd been presented as their Saviour Who Can Do No Wrong. How did it go from GG saying of the SWP's moustache-twirling Cardinal Richelieu and kingmaker, "He made me an MP," to him being unable to even mention the Respect National Secretary by name?
The ancient maxim, politics is showbiz for ugly people, has rarely seemed more apposite. The lure of having their mugs on the telly and their pearls of wisdom quoted in the press proved intoxicating to the Party leadership. Principles were ditched, successful groups wrecked, allies purged just so they could take the "Don't You Know Who I Am" road to oblivion. They even sold their prized printing press. If those whom the gods aim to destroy they first make mad, then the deities did a good job here. Four years into the millennium, one such leader is said to have chastised the organiser of an anti-war conference who hadn't invited them with, "I am the leader of the biggest, most significant social movement this century". The fact that it was a conference for academics and this person wasn't one cut no ice.
But how to deal with inconvenient contradictions? Taking Animal Farm as their model, the Popular Front became "The United Front of a special type". The Socialist Alliance, which formed the spine of the SWP's other project, the Stop The War Coalition, was airbrushed out of history in best Stalinist fashion. Bourgeois businessmen and those driven by their faith became the revolutionaries' best buddies whilst old left allies were written off as "the Left Ghetto."
And George Galloway was hailed as Supreme Being.
All credit to GG for standing up in the US Senate and denouncing the war in Iraq. But anyone who dared point out that this anti-abortion, Armani-suited, villa-owning, Mercedes-driving chum of Middle-East despots might not be everyone's idea of the heir to Marx, was flamed by hacks using as dishonest a set of tactics as the worst Stalinoids.
Give Galloway his due, though, he always said "I'm not as left as people think," and yet the hacks were happy to perpetuate that myth. Now he's Emmanuel Goldstein and the comrades are enjoying their three-minute hate - only someone lost the stopwatch.
At a time when capitalism is entering its most decrepit, most vicious phase and we are about to witness if Rosa Luxembourg was correct to warn that we will see "... either the triumph of imperialism and the destruction of all culture, and, as in ancient Rome, depopulation, desolation, degeneration, a vast cemetery; ...", the "comrades" have fiddled away while opportunities burned. And what music they make.
Ever searched for a pearl on a beach? This is how I spent my final hours in my seaside idyll.
My mates had joined us for the middle weekend of the holiday and, knowing how much I hate shopping (hah!), Denise had thrust upon me a jewel encrusted silver ring straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean, topped with a big pearl. It was gorgeous and I never took it off. (To see how much I hate shopping, check out my little movie: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=vGJCv0NOoaU)
Which was the problem when it came to packing on the final day. For somewhere between chucking the laundry into the case and locking the car boot, a calamity had occurred.
While Loved One performed the sad task of returning the keys to the agent - and hunting down that final pasty - I took a stroll on the beach. I looked down to admire my finery and found nuthin' but a spike staring back at me where the pearl had been. Sinking heart. Deflated spirits. How was I going to break this to Denise?
Fast forward to last Thursday in the Finchley Road Vue centre. First stop Homebase. We need a shopping trolley. Woman about to return trolley to bay and presumably retrieve her quid. I bounce up and offer her a quid to save the hassle of detatching one for myself. When it comes to retrieving the pound coin ... there is none. She'd accepted my pound knowing she hadn't put one in in the first place. One for the minus column.
We move on to Sainsbury's for the big fortnightly shop. I'm at the checkout about to pack the groceries into my own bags (for I am that person who would rather use my own ones that use up more resources to manufacture than carrier bags but last longer and make me feel better) and I open up the padded cool bag ... and there is my pearl, winking shyly and wondering if I'd missed it. I stood there stunned, readers. Stunned!
So I'm feeling elated that for once in my miserable life the gods have smiled upon me. Yay, one to me. A HUGE one for the plus column. For a change. And although I am happy to be a winner for once, I have enough smarts to know not to be hubristic about this, so I offer a little prayer of thanks to the pearl deity, the good fairy, the Powers That Be and Evidently Love Me.
Ha, ha! Big cosmic joke!
We get home with the shopping and start to unload the car. I reach into my bag for my keys ... and nuthin'. I have never EVER lost my keys in my life. And not just the house-keys, every single key to everything; the filing cabinet, the suitcase, even the key to the shed is in that bundle. Most importantly, a door key given to me years ago by someone significant in my life a few months before he died in a bike crash: "The key to my heart." That's also among them and irreplaceable for obvious reasons. They aren't in my bag, in my pockets, in the car. I later retrace my steps around the Vue, I phone up Homebase and Sainsbury's for days and whimper. I search the car a dozen times. Nada!
So in one day, I lose a quid, gain my lost pearl, and then lose my keys including the key to a dead lover's heart in a perfect dramatic escalation of metaphors. Wish I could read the auguries and work out what the universe is telling me with that one.