Galloway obsession

Alan Fox takes a look at the Alliance for Workers' Liberty's moralism

Before conference got down to the main agenda items, it heard three emergency motions on the question of George Galloway.

For the SWP and allies, all is simple: "The attack on George Galloway is an attack on the whole anti-war movement. The Socialist Alliance is proud to give its wholehearted support to a campaign to defend George Galloway ". The AWL took up a diametrically opposite position to this uncritical line. It insisted that the SA, along with the entire working class movement, should have nothing whatsoever to do with Galloway, who had lined up with the "butcher of Baghdad" and taken money from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. For the first-campist AWL this is much worse than lining up or taking money from the imperialists.

The CPGB and RDG took a more balanced approach. While recognising Galloway's "leading role" in the anti-war movement, calling for the defence of "all those being victimised as a result of their opposition to the imperialist war" and asking the SA to "support Galloway against the witch-hunt by Blair and the Labour leadership", it went on to state that "we should not be uncritical of Galloway's politics". He "has in the past appeared to have aligned himself with the dictatorship of the Saddam Hussein regime".

The motion, which refused to fall for the AWL's moralism, stressed the need to criticise "all our allies" and won the backing of around a quarter of the hall. The position of the SWP et al was carried by a large majority, while support for the AWL motion was almost entirely limited to their own circle of comrades. Obsession with Galloway was again on display at the fringe meeting after conference, which was supposed to discuss the next stages in the campaign for a workers' party. The AWL put another conference amendment which sought to overturn the decision of the SA trade union committee to act as "assistants at Galloway fringe meetings" at the forthcoming round of union conferences.

The same moralism extended to working with the Muslim Association of Britain. According to an AWL motion, the MAB is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, "a political party of the wealthy classes, similar to fascism in its hostility to the labour movement and to democratic and women's rights". But is the MAB in Britain "similar to fascism in its hostility to the labour movement"? If so, how is it that its attitude towards the Stop the War Coalition, led by atheistic revolutionary socialists, and full of union leaders and Labour lefts, is tolerant and cooperative? It is true that the MAB is a reactionary grouping, but does that mean we should turn our backs on it and the thousands of muslims who felt encouraged to go on the anti-war demonstrations because of its co-sponsorship?

The Preston imam who mobilised support for our new councillor, Maulana Said Ahmed, later addressed the conference. He stated that, although the MAB "do not represent many muslims", he was glad the conference majority rejected the notion that we should not work with them. Is Ahmed an apologist for fascism himself? Should we have nothing to do with him too?

Thankfully such nonsense was soundly defeated. Unfortunately, though, so too was the CPGB's motion, which stood for an independent working class attitude in relation to both the anti-war movement and Iraq itself. Instead conference backed John Rees's motion, which did little more than offer opposition to the war and support for the STWC.