This is our truth, tell us yours
In which Carter muses on leadership and vanguardism
You can’t escape the infighting in the SWP.
What was once the pre-eminent left of Labour political organization in the UK is now only the focus of entirely deserved abuse and criticism.
The error would be to assume that the crisis in the SWP is an historical accident. It’s not.
The SWP has always boasted that it is the leadership of the left in the UK. For a while, when its rank and file organization was a reflection of the reality in industrial Britain, it possibly was.
That was a long time ago in a Britain that is now far, far away. The SWP today is made up of followers, not leaders, who wish to be considered a vanguard even as they run after the coat tails of whichever spontaneous movement emerges to surprise them. They are not so much the vanguard as the guard’s van, hooking onto trains whose destination they have no control over.
Leadership is not a role that you can assume irrespective of the circumstances; it’s a reflection of the way you relate to others, and how they perceive you. The SWP has become so accustomed to others setting the agenda that it is paralyzed by its own infighting, quite unable to show any leadership oriented on anything other than its own institutional needs.
Because of its size the SWP will never have the honesty of the RCP to shape change, formally announcing its failure while morphing into something more media friendly. That’s probably a good thing, as another Spiked would be a very bad thing, as anyone whose read Brendan O’Neill’s spiteful attack on Jack Monroe in the Torygraph can confirm. The problem for the SWP is that it’s condemned to become the New Communist Party of this generation, an historical irrelevance pining for a past it barely remembers when it had some kind of role to play.
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