First, another great post by Leigh Phillips on ‘Far-right having difficulty clubbing together in EU parliament’ (EUobserver, June 11, 2009):
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Like chocolate and mustard, or orange juice and toothpaste, the various flavours of far right in the new European Parliament just don’t seem to go together and are already having trouble cooking up a united bloc in the chamber, despite the gains the extremists made in the European elections on the weekend…
[Vlaams Belang’s] ‘dream team’, [spokesperson Philip Claeys] said, would involve a core of themselves and Italy’s Northern League, the Danish People’s Party, the Austrian Freedom Party and the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders. This core would deliver only 19 seats from five countries, short of the 25 MEPs from seven member states that the parliament’s rules require.
“So we would have to add some other parties as well,” he said, such as Greece’s Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), the Slovak National Party or the For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK from Latvia.
The Flemish separatists are reluctant to work with parties further to the right, the Greater Romania Party in particular…
In 2007, 23 MEPs clubbed together to form the Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty political grouping in the parliament. It only lasted a few months before it exploded as a result of remarks by member Alessandra Mussolini about Romanian ‘criminals’ in Italy that the Romanian members of the group found insulting.
“There were major set-backs in the elections for the Front National in France and the Vlaams Belang in Belgium, the two slickest, most professional of the far-right outfits,” Graeme Atkinson said.
The Front National dropped from seven seats won in 2004 to just three on Sunday. The VB dropped from three to two.
“Without them forming a backbone, I don’t know whether they’ll be able to co-ordinate much in the parliament.”
“Nick Griffin supposedly has influence amongst some of the European far right groups, but he’s just not very smart. It’ll be very hard to glue anything together.”
He explained that the Front National has been riven with faction fighting, notably over the issue of succession following the presumed departure of the ageing Jean-Marie Le Pen, and is virtually bankrupt, having been forced to sell their headquarters…
Secondly, in the UK, a few fellow Trots have responded to the SWP’s appeal to form a new party: the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty has welcomed their ‘letter calling for a united left and for “a conference of all those committed to presenting candidates representing working-class interests”. This is in line with our call for a new Socialist Alliance’. This could be a reference to the Alliance for Green Socialism, or perhaps the remnants of a ‘revivified’ SA, I’m unsure:
The first Socialist Alliance was set up in Coventry in 1992 and the first national meeting held in 1996 with eight local alliances represented. Within two years 20 local alliances and twelve left groups had joined. During the next two years the project took off with 58 local SA’s across the country.
In 2001 the SA adopted a new programme and constitution and now involved all the main tendencies and groupings on the left, including the AWL, CPGB, International Socialist Group, Revolutionary Democratic Group, Socialist Party, SWP and Workers Power. The SA stood 98 candidates in the 2001 general election, making the biggest left challenge to the Labour Party for 50 years.
After the Bush-Blair war in Iraq, the SWP majority abandoned the SA for Respect and closed the SA down. However a significant minority did not accept this. In November 2005 the SA was relaunched at the London conference. The need for non-sectarian socialist unity remains central to the struggle for socialism. The Socialist Alliance is coming back.
The mighty Workers’ Power of Fifth International fame has also responded — IN CAPITALS — to the call: ‘IT’S TIME TO CREATE A NEW WORKING CLASS PARTY’, A response from Workers Power to the Socialist Workers Party’s ‘Open Letter to the Left’, 10 June 2009.
As far as I’m aware, these are the only formal responses to the SWP’s proposition thus far: no doubt the rest of the alphabet soup will respond eventually. However, one difficulty facing the SWP — apart from its own dismal record within ‘alliances’ — is the existence of several already existing projects of a (seemingly) very similar nature. The first is (Gorgeous George Galloway‘s) R E S P E C T. Councillor Salma Yaqoob, Respect Party Leader, shares these thoughts on the ‘Euro election results’ (June 9, 2009). The second is the Campaign for a New Workers’ Party. A project of the Socialist Party, it (that is, the SP) supported no2eu in the Euro election (as did the AWL and the CPB). Head cheese (Socialist Party general secretary) Peter Taaffe wants to ‘Step up the fight for a workers’ party’, but whether or not the SP can be made to see eye-to-eye with their comrades in the SWP remains to be seen.
Finally, the International Committee of the Fourth International has some interesting observations:
- Social democratic parties suffer historic defeat in European Union elections, Stefan Steinberg, June 9, 2009
The decline of social democracy, Peter Schwarz, June 10, 2009
The crisis of British Labour, Chris Marsden, June 11, 2009
See also : If this debacle doesn’t wake up the British Left, absolutely nothing will, Phil Hearse, Marxsite, June 8, 2009.
The British National Party: the roots of its appeal, Peter John, Helen Margetts, David Rowland and Stuart Weir, Democratic Audit, [PDF]: “This report offers a comprehensive and objective analysis of the rise of support for the British National Party in the UK, using a range of data sources to understand the reasons behind it.” (Cheers Robert.)