A response on Australia
In his recent article Andy Newman refers to "the account from Marcus/Greg". What Marcus has written I leave to him to answer for if he so wishes. What I wrote was done without consultation with Marcus and was based on my interpretation of my experience in the Socialist Alliance. The pieces of mine that have been printed in the Weekly Worker were not specifically written for that publication although I had no objection to their being printed there as I would have no objection to the SUN reproducing my pieces if it wanted to do so.
I have met Marcus three times in my life. I have not been in any political organisation with him nor do I have an expectation that I will be in the future. I am not politically aligned to the CPGB.
As to the more important points that Andy Newman
made in relation to what I wrote I fully agree with him that a small vote
for the Socialist Alliance doesn't self-evidentially show the SA to be a
bankrupt project. That was not my point. However it should be noted that in
Australia where there is compulsory voting and preferential voting is
available the electoral results can be a close reflection of the support
being won by a political group. Marrickville , where the relevant
bye-election was ,is one of the most left-wing in the country -the real
opposition to the Labor Party there is the Greens.
I argued within the SA that standing in the election was both a political and practical mistake-so for me a nil vote would not have been evidence of SA bankruptcy.
The hub of the bankruptcy of the SA is located elsewhere. In his article Andy Newman says that the DSP winning the vote to stand in the elections was fine as long as the DSP respects the rights of others etc. In the middle of this paragraph he writes:
"It is the nature of politics expressed through organisations that caucuses arise, this is no less true of the British Labour Party, or the US Republican Party than it is of parties of the left"
This is the problem, the DSP imposed its will through politics as normal manipulation in the SA here it is still in an overall minority.
The outcome, in this instance is that they "won" on standing in the election but lost on getting anyone else involved in the election. Here is what John Percy a leader of the DSP and its forerunners for 40 years said about this in his minority report to the National Committee of the DSP in October;
"In election campaigns, as in Marrickville, it's the DSP deciding (against the opposition of the ISO and Greg Adler, and there were no independents involved in the decision) and us doing the work. (There were fewer non-DSPers involved than in most previous campaigns.)"
I have written about this and other issues around the DSPs role in the SA revealed through the discussion around and reports to the DSP NC in a piece printed in the 1/12/05 issue of Weekly Worker (also on the Marxmail list, Ozleft and the Green Left Weekly list)
I respect the unionists mentioned by Andy Newman whose positions he points to as a measure of success for the SA. As far as I am aware, and I am open to being corrected on this, none of the people he mentioned ran on a specifically SA ticket in the unions. John Percy and Doug Lorimer another long time leading DSPer are scathing about the claims of SA success in the unions in the discussion have referred to (again see my piece in WW 1/12/05)
I will on quick points .First I agree totally with Andy Newman that there are many difficulties to overcome in building left and socialist unity but my point is that you don't even get to dealing with those formidable objective problems when the SA is used as a vehicle to further the interests of a dominant political tendency.
Finally Andy Newman points to 'possible
countervailing tendencies " which he says I discount. In fact a number of
the things he speaks of could well happen and I am well aware of them but
I'll comment here on just one-" that the DSP could consciously work to build
trust with other socialists" on the assumption that this not meant to be
humorous I confidently reply on behalf of non-DSP socialists here that if
you stick your bum in a fire 9 times and it gets burnt then it's a pretty
safe bet that you're in for a blistered butt if you go for a tenth.
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