27 May 2010

SWPstitutionism I: The sick note

A full (and admittedly now untimtely) analysis of the SWP's Saturday intervention into the BA talks to come later.

One item which might be notable, though: twice, the SWP have cited a statement from Bassa saying "despite widely reported distractions that occurred at Acas, in reality these had little effect on the outcome of these talks". I cannot find the source of this statement anywhere.

I rang up Bassa and spoke to Penny White at their main office. She cannot find a record of any statement from Bassa about the ACAS intervention. I then spoke to Ciaran Naidoo, Unite's press officer. He categorically said that Unite has not put out any such statement either.

The Socialist Worker article is exactly correct in its main gist: the blame for failure of the BA-Unite talks to reach a resolution lies entirely with Willie Walsh and the BA management, who have set themselves the mission of breaking the cabin crew's union, and who will seize on any pretext to sue, intimidate or threaten people who oppose them. It is also correct to say that the Left's fire should be directed at the government and the bosses, not the representatives of the strikers — although it is much easier to avoid catching the working class in the crossfire when one bothers to work alongside them rather than try to act in their place. It is also disingenuous to avoid criticizing Labour, Labour after all having played the exact same role in December as the Conservatives & Lib Dems are now.

But for the SWP to defend itself with a press statement in the name of the striking union, but which the union's head offices don't know about, which seems to appear nowhere other than in official SWP releases and one or two SWP blogs, which Mr Naidoo suggests may never have existed in the first place outside the central committee of the SWP...well, "it is entirely incorrect" doesn't seem to cut it. I cannot say definitively that the SWP central committee invented a press release out of whole cloth and put it out in Bassa's name in order to try to mitigate fallout from a very public tactical blunder; but if they have, and I will say my suspicions are piqued, then the membership of the SWP should assess, with deepest reflection, what the relationship between the Socialist Workers Party and the trade union movement ought to be, why this relationship is so different from what the central committee of the SWP has decided it should be, and what they, the ordinary members, can do to fix it.

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