Foot the bill

Paul Foot, not exactly a man without means, has sent a begging letter to various leftists hoping they will put up some cash to help out two leading lights of the Socialist Workers Party, not exactly without means, who have got themselves into trouble over libel.

Foot brings out the old leftist line that: It has been a long tradition in the labour movement that arguments between socialists should be conducted openly and should not, except in extreme circumstances, be tested in the courts by the libel laws.

Which might be fine if organisations and individuals openly apologised for their errors and their slurs. But how often do you see the SWP apologise for their various lies and distortions?

As Marcus noted before, Quintin Hoare and Branka Magas managed to get this apology out of the SWP.

The allegation that Mr Hoare and Ms Magas had been apologists for the Tudjman regime and/or Franjo Tudjman himself is wholly untrue. Mr Callinicos, Ms German and Bookmarks Publications Ltd have agreed to pay them each a sum by way of damages and their legal costs. They have also undertaken not to repeat the allegation.

Doesn’t sound like the usual tone taken by the SWP does it? Clearly using the legal system worked.

I actually agree with Foot that except in extreme circumstances, socialists should keep their petty disputes out of the courts, which generally have more pressing matters to deal with.

But the SWP are an extreme circumstance – they are a destructive sect who do nothing but harm to the left. Their position on the whole Yugoslav issue which was the context of this dispute was as bad as their line on Iraq – maybe worse.

If any socialists actually give money to Paul Foot’s appeal they are effectively endorsing the lies of the SWP.

(Thanks to Chris for the heads-up)