Left List no-platforms itself

Socialists should have the confidence to beat the BNP in the battle of ideas, writes Chris Strafford

According to the Respect-Socialist Workers Party website, Carole Vincent, the Left List London assembly candidate for Havering and Redbridge, “stormed out” of a hustings at Kensington Temple in protest at the presence on the platform of the British National Party candidate (www.respectcoalition.org/?ite=1883).

Comrade Vincent had apparently “not been warned” that the BNP candidate “had even been invited” - although why she should assume that an evangelical church would not invite the BNP to a hustings for all candidates is a mystery. Respect-SWP is pleased to report that comrade Vincent shouted a bit about the BNP being Nazis and then left. She said afterwards: “Fascists and Nazis have no place in the London assembly or a place of worship. They want to spread their inflammatory Nazi racist lies. I can’t believe they were even invited to such a multicultural church in such a multicultural area.”

I wonder how many potential votes the Left List lost through this absurd behaviour. If the audience was as “multicultural” (read ethnically mixed) as the church’s usual congregation then surely comrade Vincent would have been received a lot better than her BNP counterpart. Socialists should have the confidence to beat the BNP in the battle of ideas - just as our movement should have the confidence to beat the shit out of the BNP when necessary as well.

By not speaking from the platform Vincent left the anti-BNP argument to the mainstream parties (whose policies are responsible for driving people towards the BNP in the first place). She missed an opportunity to expose both the BNP’s divisive racism and the establishment’s anti-working class national chauvinism that feeds it. Instead of walking through an open door she turned on her heels - no doubt alienating some potential leftwing support in the process.

And what is this about the far right being excluded from a “place of worship”? Evangelical christians are closely  associated with nauseating anti-human crap in the USA. And I would have thought that it would be more logical for an evangelical “place of worship” to bar the atheist left than the god-fearing extreme right.

The 20th century demonstrates that the christian church has been more likely to give succour to far-right and fascist regimes than to oppose them - although, of course, that certainly does not mean that working class people who happen to be religious should be written off - far from it.

However, we should expect no more from the Left List. In all likelihood comrade Vincent, a former Big brother contestant, was egged on by the SWP, which has consciously rejected standing on the politics of Marxism. Its method is to aim instead for the left ground within bourgeois politics - which is why debating with the BNP is beyond the pale, but debating with the pro-war, anti-worker establishment is just the ticket. In fact the SWP was itself prepared in the Anti-Nazi League to offer a platform to the Labour right, the Liberal Democrats and even the Tories so long as they agreed to oppose the BNP.

They were often only too willing to accept the invitation - in order to promote their own particular brand of reactionary politics.