Tony Greenstein on Socialist Action

Further to Mikey’s piece below:

Reading Tony Greenstein’s tortured prose is never a pleasant experience. As one might expect, the article is filled with complaints about “lack of democracy” (i.e. the failure of Tony and his handful of mates to influence policy) and accusations of “Stalinism” (i.e. that a more successful and better organised group of Trots have beaten him).

Nevertheless, Tony’s post on the takeover of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign by Socialist Action contains some interesting information on the doings of the small and extreme Trotskyite cult that has sunk its roots into the London Labour Party. Tony observes:

[T]he authors (including two who were the co-founders of PSC) are accused of ‘help(ing) those who want to see PSC fail in our efforts to build a mass movement.’ This is the big lie at the heart of the passage. If you oppose us you are on the side of the Zionists and want us to fail.

In fact there is very little use the Zionists can make of debates inside the Palestine solidarity movement. It is a measure of the desperation of the PSC Execitove that instead of dealing with the arguments they resort to the kind of rhetorical device that McCarthy and his House of UnAmerican Affairs specialised in.

He is, of course, being very coy. Tony knows that his post will be read widly and noted.

It is always useful to know what Socialist Action is up to. Therefore, we thank Tony for this:

It was similar behaviour by Socialist Action which helped lead to extremely unfavourable publicity for Ken Livingstone in London and his downfall. But at least Ken knew the political affiliations of those he appointed as his advisors. In PSC this information is hidden away andwhen challenged PSC Executive members deny that they are members of Socialist Action. In the meantime SA are running PSC according to their political agenda. And at the top of that agenda is never, ever criticising the Palestinian leadership and Abbas, even if the latter is faithfully following Israel’s agenda by withdrawing the Goldstone Report from the UN’s Human Rights Committee.

An example of how PSC’s priorities are distorted is the Gaza convoy, Viva Palestina. When the first convoy went at the beginning of last year, PSC nationally did nothing to help organise support for it. Remarks such as we are a political organisation and this is merely charitable were made by officers. But the recent convoy was supported (although the PSC Office didn’t let people know on a daily basis what was happening). So much so that Ms Collector went on it and Ms Colborne flew out to Egypt at one point. Why the change of heart? Because following the defeat of Ken Livingstone, Socialist Action have pulled out of entry work in the Labour Party and are now chasing George Galloway in Respect. They have even revealed their existence in a newly created, albeit sparse, website. And if there is a falling out of love with GG then we can expect PSC to drop its enthusiasm for convoys. This is the kind of sleight of hand that most members of PSC knowing nothing about. PSC’s choice of a campaign is now inseparable from Socialist Action’s own political priorities.

The section of the Annual Report on the resignation of 2 EC members is telling. Why were members of PSC not informed of the resignations? Why was the Branch Forum not told of the resignation of our Vice-Chair Kamal Hawwash and ex-Treasurer Zoe Mars? Why was there even an attempt to prevent them speaking?

Despite being ‘unsubstantiated’ the fact is, as Betty Hunter herself admitted to the Sheffield forum, that Sarah Colborne is a member of Socialist Action. She moved across from being Chair of PSC to Direction of Campaigns and Organisation. There is nothing wrong with this in itself, though it is unusual. And nor do I, or any of the signatories to the Open Letter, have any objection to PSC staff or EC members being members of any left-wing political organisation. What we object to is when small and secretive groups (SA/CL) with at most a hundred members, actively conspire to take over another organisation and run it, PSC, in line with the political priorities of Socialist Action/CL.

‘Our recruitment practices are fair and in accordance with equal opportunities’ the Annual Report states, yet it also states that ‘in July Ruqayyah Collector was appointed as Campaigns and Communications Officer.’ Ms Collector was also the last member of the National Union of Students Executive, elected on the Student Broad Left slate. PSC’s Student Officer, Bryony Shanks, was SBL’s unsuccessful candidate for NUS Executive and a member of SA.

It is a matter of common knowledge that SBL is Socialist Action’s student front. It is puerile and dishonest to pretend otherwise. What PSC Executive have effectively done is sub-contract out its student work to the weakest of all the left political factions in NUS. By any standards that is pretty stupid. Far from building alliances, as they claim, they are destroying any possibility of them. Hence why they were taken by surprise and at a loss to say anything, when a wave of occupations broke out in colleges and universities at the beginning of 2009 in protest at Israel’s savagery in Gaza.

And when one takes that with the short-term appointment of SA member Denis Fernando, the advertising for whose post was tightly restricted, this means that 3 of the last 3 staff appointments have been from one particular, small political faction. Is this really a coincidence? If so, the odds on winning the jackpot on the National Lottery are smaller.

Great stuff, Tony – and thank you!

Of course, as Tony points out, everything that Socialist Action gets involved in, turns to shit. They really are a hopeless lot.

All sensible people want to see the Palestinian Authority focus on building its state, for Israel to facilitate and not hinder that process, for the terrorists to be marginalised and contained, and for the two strong and independent states to provide  security and prosperity to all their citizens.

If, as Tony suggests, Socialist Action really is marginalising the lunatic rejectionist fringe who have previously found their home within the PSC, then good for them. However, I won’t be holding my breath.