Why we are against Respect organizing in Scotland

After a week in which George Galloway said he was under pressure to stand in next year’s elections for the Scottish Parliament, Respect’s annual conference on November 13 voted, 59 to 15, to organise in Scotland. That resolution, published below, makes Socialist Resistance’s position inside Respect untenable. Resistance supported the establishment of Respect in England and has been central to the party’s leadership and work since then. As we explained in the leaflet distributed to the conference, because Resistance supports the Scottish Socialist Party the decision to organise in Scotland in competition to the SSP is a deep error by Respect, one which weakens Respect’s democracy and neglects the importance of Scotland’s struggle for self-determination.

The following amendment was passed by a large majority at Respect’s annual conference on November 13.

Conference notes that:

1. There will be elections to the Scottish Parliament in May 2011
2. These elections will be conducted under a form of proportional representation in which some MSPs are elected from a list
3. Respect has not organized in or contested elections in Scotland in the past because of the hegemony of other parties to the left of Labour
4. This hegemony no longer exists
5. In the context of unprecedented cuts by the Condem Coalition and disappointment with the Labour and SNP, there is now an opportunity for Respect to contest elections to the Scottish parliament with a realistic prospect of success

Conference therefore believes

1. National officers should start preparations for Respect to contest elections to the Scottish Parliament
2. Preparations should include immediately registering Scottish Respect as a description that can be used in Scottish elections and seeking to recruit residents in Scotland to Respect

This is the text of a leaflet distributed by supporters of Socialist Resistance in Respect who now feel that our situation in the organisation is now untenable.

We are strongly opposed to the proposition that Respect organise in Scotland, as proposed in amendment E to Motion 1

Socialist Resistance has supported Respect since its inception in 2004 and previously supported the Socialist Alliance. We supported George Galloway’s letter which sought to democratize the leadership of Respect and backed the majority in the ensuing split in the organisation in 2007. We put the resources of our newspaper at the disposal of Respect. We understood that George and Salma , given their role in the anti-war movement had a vital contribution to make in building a political alternative to New Labour.

But were a resolution to organise Respect in Scotland to be passed at this Respect Conference this would make our situation in the organisation untenable. We are against such a resolution being adopted on a number of grounds:

1) A controversial change of a long-held policy that Respect does not organise in Scotland should not be introduced a week before the conference and with no discussion at the National Council or in the branches.

2) The only purpose in organising in Scotland would be for Respect to stand candidates in next May’s Scottish Parliament elections and in subsequent parliamentary and local elections. Respect has no policy positions on the specific situation in Scotland, particularly the issue of devolution and self-determination an issue around which there would be several different positions. To go into a Scottish election with no debate on key political issues would be fundamentally wrong.

3) There are already two left parties in Scotland standing in elections and they intend to continue doing so, namely the SSP and Solidarity. The SLP also stands in elections in Scotland. The last thing the Scottish left needs is another left party standing in those same elections and dividing the left vote still further.

4) In Respect there have always been different views on which party to support in Scotland. We support the SSP. If this conference were to adopt a position on organising in Scotland and to fight elections SR members would be in an impossible situation. For a party to have members who advocate voting for a different party would be untenable – both for Respect and for SR.

5) Underlying this issue is an important political question; namely the right of the Scottish people to self-determination, including the right to independence. Therefore we reject the idea of English based parties organizing in Scotland.

6) We still haven’t managed to build Respect on an England-wide basis – a decision to stand for election in Glasgow will inevitably lead to the deprioritisation of Tower Hamlets.

We therefore urge the leadership and membership of Respect to avoid this course of action and to reject the proposal to organise in Scotland, avoiding both the undemocratic nature of such a decision and its consequences for the unity of the organisation.

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11 Comments

  1. Viktor Reznov
    November 13, 2010 at 7:54 pm · Reply

    GOOD LUCK GEORGE GALLOWAY!

  2. rosie
    November 13, 2010 at 8:47 pm · Reply

    I’m confused…

    SR supports TUSC in England, but SSP in Scotland but not Solidarity…? odd

  3. November 14, 2010 at 11:30 am · Reply

    Victor, I don’t think the backing of characters from ‘Call of Duty’ will help George much, but I am sure he appreciates the support. While SR doesn’t support the idea of Respect standing in Scotland, of course we continue to wish George well and will be working for Respect candidates in England.
    Rosie, Socialist Resistance has supported the SSP from the start. Indeed, it was the creation of the SSP which stimulated the creation of SR. A key issue for us is grass roots democracy, and both TUSC and Solidarity are low on that, as was the case with NO2EU, reflecting the preferences of the Socialist Party. Take a look at http://socialistresistance.org/422/euro-election-campaigns-need-grass-roots-democracy-say-sr-and-isg .

  4. November 14, 2010 at 7:14 pm · Reply

    This is a dreadful decision by a bunch of english based socialists. This smacks of imperialism the likes of which even the Labour Party would be ashamed of. A bunch of mostly south east english people decided to organise in scotland… and we have been criticising Scargills lot for this very thing for years. At least Yorkshire is closer to Scotland.

    George obviously needs his MP pension topped up.

    This also looks like Galloway has withdrawn his support for Sheridan and Solidarity.

    What th left has went through in Scotland because of Sheridan and those like Galloway has been nothing short of scandalous.

    MI5 couldnt have done a better job than these heroes of the left in splitting the once strong left in scotland.

  5. Sergeant cupcake
    November 14, 2010 at 10:01 pm · Reply

    Well done respect for doing the right thing, too many leftys, half the time they are like a monty python sketch.
    Go to Scotland and win that seat and out some fire in the scotish world of politics. The reason all these leftys are angry is because they have none of your oratory skills, no of your panache.
    Go galloway

  6. Donkey
    November 15, 2010 at 2:15 pm · Reply

    Excelent and well overdue decision by Socialist Resistence in my view. This is just sectarian stupidity and bulldozer politics on the part of Galloway and Respect and is exactly what is not needed now in the present political climate or ever.Likewise I fully support the Scottish Socialist party

  7. GT
    November 15, 2010 at 9:27 pm · Reply

    Sergeant cupcake – isnt galloway a lefty any more?

  8. ScottishSocialist
    November 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm · Reply

    As a member of the Scottish Socialist Party I must say that this move has been met with dismay and anger by many socialists (and I am certain not just in my party) around Scotland. The SR position on this issue is a spot-on reading of the effect the decision of Galloway to stand in Scotland has had, and it is detrimental to left unity, democracy, and self-determination in Scotland.

    Galloway’s oratorical skills are irrelevant to what strategies are needed to rebuild left unity in Scotland. For those who support the decision of Respect, please consider this from our point of view: things were already bad enough with Solidarity and SSP standing against each other, but with “Scottish Respect”, Solidarity, the SSP and thr SLP standing, the interventions from south of the border simply make it harder and harder for the socialist left in Scotland to either make any electoral impact, or to work toward a new basis for a united political project. This represents a retrogression for the project of creating a new united left movement to the left in labour in both Scotland and England.

  9. ScottishSocialist
    November 16, 2010 at 5:23 pm · Reply

    Also, this article by another SSP member puts in much better than me why we pleade with people in Respect to have some common sense over this issue: http://ssy.org.uk/2010/11/george-show-us-some-respect/

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