Golden opportunity Missed

What a poor weekend for the Socialist Alliance and the rest of the left. There was an almost total and abject failure to engage in the class struggle. It is not as though there was a surprise attack - you could see the campaign building for months (and it was probably in the planning for years). The golden jubilee came after a clear and concerted ideological campaign by the establishment to rehabilitate and consolidate the constitutional monarchy - a bulwark of invented ruling class tradition, which provides ruling class continuity and stability, all dressed up in national chauvinism. In the face of this, the bulk of the left stood aside and let them pass! Where I work nobody was having street parties. Even a very upper middle class woman who I would have bet was a royalist was "indifferent". One Nigerian colleague was "surprised at the complete lack of enthusiasm for the jubilee". Of the street parties I did hear about outside of work (two), one was "for the kids" and the other was "for pensioners". Most people I know were dreading the hype and expected syrupy TV. The common solutions were either to use it as an excuse for a party, or find a means of escaping or ignoring the event. However, in almost all cases there was complete resignation. I say 'almost all', because one work colleague asked an accusing question: "What's happened to the Communist Party? The last time we had a People's Jubilee at Ally Pally - the whole family went." This brings home an uncomfortable truth. The old reformist CPGB still had half a clue - in 1977, despite all of its problems, it organised an independent working class alternative to the jubilee that was attended by thousands. How was it that the Socialist Alliance managed to let this opportunity slip by? Of course, times have changed since the last jubilee. The royals have suffered quite a few dents. The recent wave of sympathy following two deaths was a temporary gloss over a very tarnished image. This jubilee was literally a golden opportunity for the SA. A national anti-jubilee event would have tapped into a large anti-royal undercurrent amongst the working class and could have brought thousands into contact with a militant Socialist Alliance. Such an event could have cohered and galvanised the alliance and again raised our banner nationally. We could have challenged the resignation to the royal status quo and in so doing raised the prospect of a challenge to the whole rotten system of capitalism. With no real opposition (it seemed to me the media expected more and were disappointed) the way was left completely open for the ruling class to bring more workers under their sway. Despite all the lack of enthusiasm, didn't they do well? - about 350,000 people lined the streets of London on Monday, while possibly a million turned out on Tuesday. They cannot all have been tourists. Look how easily a huge swathe of popular culture was coopted in the service of a fake national identity that serves a class enemy. Even Ben Elton's jibe against New Labour only served to underline the message that governments may come and go, may be good or bad, but the good ol' 'non-political' monarchy is here to stay. This was a big event about big politics. It was not some trifling piece of irrelevant decoration. Nevertheless there are signs of weakness and nervousness. The great success on the day(s) was seen for what it was - a very fragile thing. Even the queen in her speech hoped people would use the day to just have a party. A national challenge like 25 years ago - Socialist Alliance 'Stuff the jubilee' badges, another People's Jubilee, working class republican celebrations: such a campaign would have operated on much more fertile ground this time round. We have missed an opportunity. Now we need to learn the lessons. Alan Stevens * SSP counterblast * Republican jubilee