Nats scheme to exclude Brits

On August 9 Welsh assembly member John Marek hosted a 'summer gathering' of the left in Wales, intended as part of the build-up for the launch of a Welsh Socialist Party in October.

After his deselection as a Labour AM, Marek was re-elected earlier this year as a representative of the ‘John Marek Independent Party’ (JMIP), and was wooed by the left nationalists of Cymru Goch, formerly part of the Welsh Socialist Alliance. While comrade Marek is no Marxist (and no Welsh nationalist either, it seems), CG intends to cynically use him, as the emails we reproduce below make clear, as an expendable figurehead who can eventually be dropped.

The proposed WSP, if CG gets its way, will be a pathetic mockery of the Scottish Socialist Party - with all the nationalism, but without any of the SSP’s inclusivity and tolerance of minorities. Whereas the SSP included members of all-Britain left groups from the start - who, apart from a few exceptions, have to a greater or lesser extent succumbed to or been compromised by its separatist programme - the CG is setting out to exclude the “Brit left”. As the exchanges reveal, the October launch conference is to be rigged and those not to the liking of CG kept out.

The shenanigans of CG may remind readers of those other notorious doorkeepers, the sad Fourth International Supporters Caucus sectarians, who connived with Arthur Scargill to bar the organised left when he founded the Socialist Labour Party in 1996. But Marek is no Scargill and, given that the SLP was wrecked by the bans and exclusions even before it got going, what will be the fate of the WSP?

It could be, however, that the nationalist scheming will come to nought. Despite all his efforts leading Cymru Goch member Marc Davies was unable to exclude the left groups from the ‘summer gathering’ - comrade Marek did not want the adverse publicity this would bring. After the failure of Davies’s exclusion efforts last month, perhaps the non-CG majority in the Wrexham-based JMIP will refuse to go along with him and reject bans and proscriptions.

And there are signs that not all CG members and supporters agree with Davies - the August 9 event was hardly flooded with CGers and the fact that the grouping previously worked with the “Brit left” in the WSA shows that at least a section of its small membership is not irredeemably lost.

These emails come from the closed Socialist Republican Forum list. This involves leading Cymru Goch members, most notably Mark Davies, and some of the SSP’s ultra-nationalist elements (Eddie Truman and Donald Anderson), including its Scottish Republican Socialist Movement platform. There is also a smattering of Irish Republican Socialist Party subscribers.

Eddie Truman, July 31

[responding to an article from the Weekly Worker, ‘The war of Marek’s ear’ (July 31)]

… These people are absolute poisonous wrecking bastards: “Yet to the extent the new WSP can become an arena for the struggle for a reforged Communist Party we will need to relate to it. Therefore, we would attempt to influence its programme, seeking to ensure that the politics of left nationalism do not poison it. We will fight any attempt to exclude us and others by the likes of Cymru Goch.”

We all know what that means: every attempt to sabotage and derail the project at the very earliest stage. I know Marc is really busy but if he had a minute would there be any chance of an indication of the balance of forces on the ground and is there any strategy in place to deal with the wreckers? I was thinking of coming down next weekend if it would help to ensure that the SSP contingent actually got there.

Donald Anderson, July 31

Bar ’em. Don’t let them get the grip they have been allowed in the SSP. GBs should stay in GB land.

Marc Davies, July 31

… Cameron [Richards of the CPGB] is very aware that we intend to cut them out from day one because I know what he’ll do. Same goes for the SWP.

The balance of forces is difficult to gauge and the August 9 gathering is not a decision-making conference in any way, so we’re going to be more flexible with this one than with our launch conference in October. At the moment, we’re expecting 100-plus (about 90 have registered) to attend. Many of these are good socialists from across Wales (although a disappointingly small number of CG members so far). The rest are left ex-Labourites and people who’ve never been in a political party but been politicised during the Marek campaign. Of the half dozen left sectarians who want to come, three are Welsh Socialist Alliance, one Socialist Party and two CPGB.

Given the nature of the gathering - rally, small groups discussing specifics, no motions - I don’t feel there’s much scope for them to disrupt (but never underestimate the bastards), but we may yet decide to refuse them entry. If some slip in through the net (we don’t know them all) we have briefed the session chairs and they will take no shit. There will also be a CG member chairing the opening session. If needs be, we will chuck them out.

We’re also expecting some disruptive elements from the local Labour Party, who haven’t forgiven Marek for shafting them in the election. Again, there are plans to refuse them entry.

The October launch conference will be completely different from the gathering. For a start, you’ll have to be a signed-up member of the John Marek Independent Party for at least a month beforehand. Membership will be approved by the JMIP steering committee (with four CG out of nine) and the intention is to launch a party with no platforms and no right to sell unapproved publications. If the left sectarians are not allowed in to that initial conference, then they have no ability to wreck. That’s when we vote on the name, constitution, statement of aims, policies, etc. If they want to join after - as individual members who have renounced membership of their particular party - then we consider them on merit (there are good people in both the SP and SWP who I’d be happy to have join, but they’re a minority). Does that sound watertight enough to keep the poison out?

Cameron’s aware he’s not welcome from a debate on another list - that’s why he’s having a go in advance of the gathering.

We’re miles behind the SSP in many ways and want to copy its rapid development, but in this respect I hope we can do something different and eliminate the disruption caused.


Donald Anderson, August 1

Glad to hear it. As long as the party is established as a party for an independent socialist Wales from day one, then unionist parties have no business there, except as wreckers and agents of the British state. If the party does not cement these basic principles then CG may as well dig a hole and pull the lid over itself. Best of non-British luck.

Mary McIlroy, August 1

Obviously, any party and/or individual that repeatedly refers to Wales as a “principality” should be barred from joining a Welsh Socialist Party.

Also, without getting into the specifics of Marek’s politics, etc, I really hate the idea that a ‘charismatic’ person is needed to front a party or organisation. I’ve been to too many rallies and other events where celebrities are trotted out and say fuck all about the issue at hand. It’s an insult to the working class that we can’t figure out what is really going on without some ‘star’ to tell us and lead us from our ignorant ways.

It’s typical CP crap. It’s clear the CP is frightened of the gains in Scotland made by the SSP, and are going to try to stop something similar from happening in Wales. The sooner they land on the dustbin of history, the better. If they had any relevance left, they’d be organising an English socialist republican movement.

Marc Davies, August 1

You’re right - even the most patronising liberals don’t call us a principality any more. The CPGB boast about squirreling into the SLP, SA and SSP and doing maximum sectarian damage with their tiny numbers. Nuff said.

This idea of an organic working class leader is also worrying - we’ve used Marek’s name and notoriety as much as we can, but there’s a time when you want to rein it in too. The last thing we need are leaders, but you forget these people had a fetish for old Joe Stalin. They’re frightened more by the prospect of being left out of a new movement that’s going to shake up the rest of the left in Wales and separate the good activists (in) from the party hacks and sectarians (out).


Marc Davies, August 23

The Brit left turned up to the Summer Gathering - all 17 of them. The Weekly Worker believes this was a majority of the 85 who attended the day, which says a lot about their sense of perspective and how vocal and dogmatic the sectarians were.

Anyone who’s read the WW report [August 21 - ed] will know the CPGB turned up (all three of them) and felt aggrieved that I tried to exclude them. But they (and SP and SWPers) were allowed in after I lost the argument that we should exclude them from this gathering. However, their disruptive behaviour meant that most people involved in the WSP project would definitely exclude them from any future meetings. So maybe it was for the better in the long term. A lot of the Marekites have never had dealings with these people before - Marek himself was more concerned to exclude Labour people!

The meeting was not a great success, partly due to Marek’s crap speech in front of the cameras and the presence of the Brit left. The SWP report was very neutral - no criticism of Marek, so I guess they fancy joining the bandwagon. But I guess most of the Brit left won’t rate the project and will stick in their own little bunkers.

That suits me because I don’t believe we can follow the Scottish experience in uniting the left because it is so sectarian and unable to rise above that sectarianism here in Wales. We have no equivalent of the International Socialist Movement leading the way - more a cross between the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement trying to find common ground with a Canavan (and, I have to admit, struggling at times). Still, it’s not the only iron in the fire, as we are using Seren [CG’s Socialist Environmental Republican News - ed] to make links with good Plaid and Green socialists.

Peter (IRSP), August 25

That’s unfortunate, comrade, as I know you’d had high hopes for the Summer Gathering (and isn’t that a name to put the fire into your blood!?). What was the problem with Marek’s speech? To what do you attribute the low turnout? I may be mistaken, but I thought somewhere along the way you’d said you were anticipating a couple of hundred.

How would you characterise the 68 who weren’t Brit left sectarians?

Donald Anderson, August 25

So what is next? Is there any hope for better things? The Brit left is not ‘united’ here except for the ‘United’ Queendom and against Scottish and Welsh independence. Canavan is still a Labourite wanting back in and old Labour was no different. Just thicker. No way is George Galloway going to give up half his salary to the SSP.

The first attempt to form the SSP was poorly attended. The next was not bad and it grew from there. The difference was that there was a core of activists from Scottish Militant Labour, enough to run the necessary bureaucracy and hard work. The SWP did not join till they saw it take off and have attempted to put the brakes on ever since. Not one of them has campaigned for an independent socialist Scotland: instead they concentrate on their own diversionary tactics. They are courageous fighters in Scotland - for other people’s struggles that they latch on to and are experts in telling them what to do. Unfortunately they stop short at dressing up as Palestinian freedom fighters, but will not go to Palestine and fight. I can’t see the Palestinians being other than polite to them, rather than having them much in their thoughts and hearts. What an uninspiring bunch of bores.

Better the Welsh try again to build a new house properly than start off with termites in the building. Who needs planning permission from Brits to take over your own house?

Marc Davies, August 25

The rest were mainly good people - either non-aligned socialists or people already in the JMIP.

We had anticipated about 120. About 40 who’d registered to come didn’t show up - partly due to the heat and distance from south Wales, I guess. These are almost all socialists on our side, so I’m not too downhearted about the turnout, just about the presence of the Brit left.

Marek’s speech was poor, both in comparison to Tommy’s uncompromising vision of a Scottish socialist republic (jeez, that man is a good speaker) and delivery. He basically said that if something wasn’t electorally popular then he wouldn’t support it and sidestepped the national question completely. The cameras were rolling and I think he was reluctant to commit himself to anything radical on tape. As a result, I know there are some people who are dubious about getting involved because they see him as too weak. I take their point, but the whole point of having a party is that he is just one component in that party - the parliamentary voice.

Marek is a left Labourite and will remain one despite his organisational break with Labour - we have to be realistic about this and take him as far as we can. He retires in less than four years - I’m a patient person.

Donald Anderson, August 25

Remember those who did turn up were representatives of others who may come on board yet. And there are others who may not have heard of the arrangements and who will gradually roll on board, as the momentum gets going. At least you have got rid of those who would scupper the craft if they can’t take it over.

Marc Davies, August 25

I agree that the long-term gains of not having the Brit left on board outweigh the short-term problems of keeping them off the new ship. The others will need to be cultivated that much harder now.