For some time I’ve been meaning to write something about the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). Now seems like a good moment because the SWP is going through some internal difficulties. As a non-member, I have no comment to make on these, but there is a wider and more significant set of issues about the political left that in turn have a bearing on the future of housing.
My working title for this piece has been ‘why do people hate the SWP so much?’ Having been involved in the labour movement for over thirty years, it’s a question I’ve never been able to answer. There are some people and organisations, supposedly coming from a similar (even fraternal) political place that have an almost pathological dislike for the SWP. The reasons for this generally appear to be a combination of the arcane, archaic and demented. The SWP is a revolutionary organisation (which is the main reason I’m not a member), but this ‘long-term objective’ doesn’t stop SWP members from being involved in ‘short-term’ issues that matter to me, like fighting fascism, opposing the cuts and being good trade unionists. I don’t agree with everything the SWP does or says, but one of the things I find most frustrating about inter and intra left squabbling is the apparent failure to recognise that all organisations are inherently imperfect. Paragons of political virtue only exist in our minds, but the saddest thing about virulent anti-SWPism is that it often leads to people who should be working together, working against each other. This matters, because what we’re currently going through in this country (and others) urgently requires collaborative resistance. The Con/Dem government is lighting a bonfire of the Welfare State, with benefits as the guy, but the NHS, pensions, comprehensive education and council housing as the kindling. There are those who think a Labour government can put the fire out, but the last one spent thirteen years building it.
Returning to the main subject of this blog, the severity of the UK housing crisis is beginning to defy description, but as with other areas of policy, there is a virtual void where there should be anger, opposition and alternatives, an absense that reflects the left’s disorder. I hope the SWP’s current problems don’t make this situation worse.
P.S. Happy new year. If you’re interested, here’s my end of year report from WordPress, 1,300 views from 21 countries; it’s a start.