Thursday, April 22, 2010

SPGB attack SPEW over "union branches...hi-jacked by Vanguardist parties...”

A blog written on behalf of candidates standing for the Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) has attacked the Socialist Party of England and Wales (SPEW - aka Militant).

Check out this post here which linked to my mine here.

The leaders of UNISON don't like Militant and have recently taken over a branch in Greenwich which Militant had captured. Don't know what this was all about but in general it's a bad thing for union branches to be hi-jacked by vanguardist parties (which specialise in this)...

Of course this is not an accurate account of what has actually happened in Greenwich but I must admit to being a little fond of the SPGB for the following not very serious reasons. Number 1 – they are not SPEW; Number 2 – they are the oldest Socialist Society in the UK formed in 1904; Number 3 - the much respected Newham Recorder columnist Robert Barltrop was for many years a member until he saw the light and finally; Number 4 - if you wanted to join the SPGB they use to make you sit a rigorous exam to see if you were good enough to be allowed to join!!!



Anonymous said...

I'm only sorry I didn't write this post!

ajohnstone said...

"...if you wanted to join the SPGB they use to make you sit a rigorous exam to see if you were good enough to be allowed to join!!!..."

Rather over-egging the pudding.

We actually do have a test for membership.The SPGB will not allow a person to join it until the applicant has convinced the branch that she or he is a conscious socialist.There would be no point in a socialist organisation giving full democratic rights to those who, in any significant way, disagreed with the socialist case. The outcome of that would be entirely predictable.
This does not mean that the SPGB has set itself up as an intellectual elite into which only those well versed in Marxist scholarship may enter. The SPGB has good reason to ensure that only conscious socialists can join, for, once admitted, all members are equal and it would clearly not be in the interest of the Party to offer equality of power to those who are not able to demonstrate equality of basic socialist understanding. Once a member, s/he have the same rights as the oldest member to sit on any committee, vote, speak, and have access to all information. Thanks to the test all members are conscious socialists and there is genuine internal democracy, and of that we are fiercely proud.

Consider what happens when people join other groups which don't have this test.The new applicant has to be approved as being "all right". The individual is therefore judged by the group according to a range of what might be called "credential indicators". Hard work (often, paper selling) and obedience by new members is the main criterion of trustworthiness in the organisation. In these hierarchical, "top-down" groups the leaders strive at all costs to remain as the leadership , and reward only those with proven commitment to the "party line" with preferential treatment, more responsibility and more say. New members who present the wrong indicators remain peripheral to the party structure, and finding themselves unable to influence decision-making at any level, eventually give up and leave, often embittered by the hard work they put in and the hollowness of the party's claims of equality and democracy.

John Gray said...

thanks Alan for that clarification!

johnny said...

I don't really get your little collage of photos, it seems rather misleading to have the SPGB sign next to a book by Lenin. The SPGB as I am sure you know is probably the most anti-lennist political organisation in Britain.

John Gray said...

Hi Johnny

I cannot remember for sure why I put that poster featuring Lenin in the collage but it is also next to the SPEW symbol so I may have intended it to relate to them?

Or I might have just bunged it because the collage needed 4 photos?