The Socialist Unity Network

And so RESPECT's the only game in town

'Only game in town' was the argument from well respected Socialist Alliance (SA) National Executive member John Fisher at the SA Special Conference and very powerful it sounded.

How does this work? I see that later in the year John Fisher's local theatre is showing Cinderella with Julian Clary. Now John may or may not enjoy pantomimes and may or may not like Julian Clary, but surely he wouldn't go and see this show just because it is the "only game in town"?

Exactly the same words have cropped up in conversations with several other prominent figures from both the Socialist Alliance and Respect.

The trouble with the phrase is that it doesn't say how good the game is. Well, in part the game has shown promise with the by-election campaigns so far - whatever the specially favourable circumstances. Hartlepool is a gamble, but one that should be supported.

Unfortunately, many people we speak to, outside London, have been to see the show and aren't going again...

But let's explore the alternatives - are there other games on in town? (quick nostalgic blast of the Carpenters singing 'solitaire's the only game in town'). In terms of electoral politics the Alliance for Green Socialism (AGS) is still going and is looking for members (their latest national bulletin has a thing about the end of the 'Socialist Alliance Party (SAP)' and people being pissed off with the SWP...). There are initiatives like the Liverpool discussions about a new workers party, and elsewhere socialists are in negotiations for local alliances with the Greens.

So we know that the next general election will see a kaleidoscope of different left challenges to Labour. Respect is the largest of these projects, but it is not hegemonic (see note below) because most people don't consent to that hegemony. We need to recognise that the comrades cannot be browbeaten into all going to see the same show, and if we have fail to agree we need to minimise conflicts and all support each others' projects. We should have no enemies on the left.

There is also a wider terrain - the London ESF, Radical Action Network, Iraq Occupation Watch, build up to Gleneagles protest, next June. There are local campaigns in against privatisation, about bus stations, or hospital closures. There are developments in the unions breaking from Labour.

Okay we can explore what the other games are: we need to be in the business of trying to unite the games, even though this may be an Olympian task.





Note on Hegemony

 I apologise dear reader for my lapse into Marxist terminology for a moment there - my online dictionary describes 'hegemony' as "the position of being the strongest and most powerful and therefore able to control others" which sounds very butch.



August 2004


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