Marxism 2003 - Shared future?

Peter Manson witnessed the Lindsey German-Andrew Murray-George Galloway love-in

Some hearty mutual backslapping was also witnessed the following day, when comrade Galloway was joined on the platform by Lindsey German of the SWP and Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War Coalition and a member of the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain.

Comrade Murray stated: “I would like to pay tribute to the SWP for their outstanding part in the anti-war movement.” He concurred with Socialist Worker sellers whom he had heard shouting out their description of the SWP and its paper as being “the heart of the anti-war movement”, but wanted to take the anatomical analogy further: “They provided much of the brains too.” Comrade Murray poured scorn on “one comedian” who wants to build another anti-war movement without the SWP - that would be doing the imperialists’ work for them.

Continuing in the same vein, he stressed how “very fortunate” we were that comrade Galloway “didn’t buckle” in the face of smears and slanders: “He built the anti-war movement in every town and city.” Comrade Galloway himself, who again received enthusiastic standing ovations before and after his speech from the packed hall, said he wanted to “second Andrew’s motion to thank the SWP”.

Although the session was entitled ‘The future of the anti-war movement’, none of the three speakers addressed themselves seriously to that question. Comrade German, who remarked that she had “worked closely with Andrew despite ideological differences”, for the most part concentrated her fire - often wittily, it has to be said - in uncontroversial attacks on Bush and Blair.

Comrade Galloway made some cutting and principled remarks in support of “the poor ordinary people who have taken up arms against a foreign invader” in Iraq, and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the troops - “not because we hate our armed forces. Quite the opposite: we don’t hate you. But we don’t want to see you killing or being killed.”

Only comrade Murray attempted to deal with some of the internal disputes experienced by the STWC. Having responded to the comedian and former SWP member, Mark Thomas, without actually naming him, he went on to deal with some of the criticisms coming from the left. For example, to declare ourselves not only against the war, but against islamic fundamentalism too would have “cut ourselves off from muslims” - as if more than a tiny minority of muslims in Britain have any time for the likes of Al Qa’eda.

He also defended the decision to allow Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, who was “begging to be on a left platform”, to speak in Hyde Park and opposed - this time correctly - the kind of anti-war ‘direct action’ whose aim appeared to be to “piss off the most people” rather than actually hit Blair’s war plans, such as the proposal to block all London’s bridges on the Saturday before Christmas.

There is no doubt that all three are accomplished speakers - and well accustomed to sharing the same platform. However, apart from comrade Murray’s call for a “much deeper implantation of the anti-war movement in the trade unions”, there was no other reference to the subject they were supposed to be addressing.

What shape will their common efforts take in the future?