And so RESPECT's the only game in town
'Only game in town' was the
argument from well respected Socialist Alliance (SA) National Executive
member John Fisher at the SA Special Conference and very powerful it
How does this work? I see that
later in the year John Fisher's local theatre is showing Cinderella with
Julian Clary. Now John may or may not enjoy pantomimes and may or may
not like Julian Clary, but surely he wouldn't go and see this show just
because it is the "only game in town"?
Exactly the same words have cropped
up in conversations with several other prominent figures from both the
Socialist Alliance and Respect.
The trouble with the phrase is that
it doesn't say how good the game is. Well, in part the game has shown
promise with the by-election campaigns so far - whatever the specially
favourable circumstances. Hartlepool is a gamble, but one that should be
Unfortunately, many people we speak to,
outside London, have been to see the show and aren't going again...
But let's explore the alternatives
- are there other games on in town? (quick nostalgic blast of the Carpenters singing 'solitaire's the only game in town').
In terms of electoral politics the Alliance for Green Socialism (AGS) is
still going and is looking for members (their latest national bulletin
has a thing about the end of the 'Socialist Alliance Party (SAP)' and
people being pissed off with the SWP...). There are initiatives like the
Liverpool discussions about a new workers party, and elsewhere
socialists are in negotiations for local alliances with the Greens.
So we know that the next general
election will see a kaleidoscope of different left challenges to Labour.
Respect is the largest of these projects, but it is not hegemonic
(see note below) because most people don't consent to that hegemony. We need to recognise
that the comrades cannot be browbeaten into all going to see the same
show, and if we have fail to agree we need to minimise conflicts and all
support each others' projects. We should have no enemies on the left.
There is also a wider terrain - the
London ESF, Radical Action Network, Iraq Occupation Watch, build up to
Gleneagles protest, next June. There are local campaigns in against
privatisation, about bus stations, or hospital closures. There are
developments in the unions breaking from Labour.
Okay we can explore what the other
games are: we need to be in the business of trying to unite the games