People will want to know RESPECT's policies.
develop some answers?
Declan O'Neill, SA executive
(26-3-04) the Irish Times led with the story “EU leaders break the
stalemate in talks on new treaty”. The deadline for completing talks
on a new constitution for the enlarged EU is June 18, conveniently after
the June elections to the European parliament. As the Irish Times put
it “governing parties fear compromising on key issues in advance of
these elections would be exploited by the opposition for electoral
If you are still
awake you are probably asking what this has to do with Socialist Unity,
Respect or the real world. After all the Euro elections will probably
be ignored by at least 70% of the electorate in this country, and even
those who do vote will be doing so on domestic issues such as whether
they trust Blair, not the irrelevant intricacies of European politics.
Yet this news should matter to all socialists and democrats.
Respect candidates, if they are not ignored completely by the mainstream
media, will be expected to have a policy on these and a multitude of
other issues. The European “constitution” will be another
step in the building of a “free market” fortress Europe, not a stepping
stone to the sort of democratic social Europe we should be fighting for.
At the very least Respect should be demanding that voters here have the
same democratic rights as those in the Irish republic and other European
states – the right to vote to accept or reject the proposed European
Democracy in a hurry
This is just one
example of the problems that have emerged by the rushed formation of the
Respect Unity coalition. For all its alleged faults the Socialist
Alliance at least had a manifesto “People before Profit “which explained
the principles on which the SA stood. Now the Alliance has basically
wound itself up to support an organisation which has a founding
statement but little else.
Respect executive is in the process of drawing up a European
manifesto? Given the timescale the membership can have little or no
say in what goes into it. There are a host of other issues where the
position of Respect is unclear and where the process by which decisions
are taken is even less open. Is Respect standing in England - England
and Wales? The electoral commission website states that Respect is
fielding candidates in England, Scotland and Wales, presumably a
mistake. Respect will be calling for a vote for the Scottish Socialist
Party, but what about other Left candidates in England and Wales?
Indeed who would we urge socialists to vote for in Northern Ireland?
Wait a minute does Respect have a policy on Ireland?
Perhaps all this is
inevitable. The organisation is only a few months old. Its conference
in the autumn will doubtless decide on policy on these and countless
other issues. Respect is after all the anti-war, anti-Blair party, and
how effectively that message is put across will determine the success,
or otherwise, of Respect in the June elections. Yet if it looks like
Respect has a chance of electoral success we can expect lots of awkward
questions. Respect needs to have some answers.