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Greens regret attack by Galloway/SWP "Respect" party

12th Feb 2004

Galloway's account of events is "economical with history" says Green spokesperson

The Green Party today regretted an attack by the new "Respect" party led by George Galloway and officers of the Socialist Alliance/Socialist Workers Party. The Greens described a Galloway/SWP press release as "economical with history".

The Galloway press release claimed that "Several attempts by Respect to work out a joint approach - and avoid splitting the vote at the ballot - were snubbed by the Green party's national officers."

In fact the Greens wrote recently to organisers of the new party, pointing out that the Green Party's constitution does not allow joint candidacies of the kind proposed to it by John Rees, a leader of the revolutionary Trotskyist SWP who is now national secretary of "Respect".

Green Party executive member Spencer Fitz-Gibbon said today:

"The Galloway/SWP party has drawn up a general policy statement that looks like a pale imitation of Green Party policy. What they lack is the depth of supporting joined-up, thought-through, comprehensive policy base that the Green Party has spent thirty years developing.

"All the time Mr Galloway and the SWP were referring to their new party as a "coalition", they knew it would have to register as a single political party to contest the elections. It would have been strange for the Green Party to merge itself with that new party. This would have meant throwing away, overnight, decades of building an open, democratic, participative organisation with a complete set of policies and with increasing respect amongst the public, in order to join a new party which has only a sketchy policy statement and which is dominated by the SWP. Frankly that wasn’t very appealing."

Galloway's crocodile tears

The Green Party spokesperson continued:

"The Green Party pointed out last October that the new 'coalition', as it called itself then, looked like a front for the hard-left revolutionary Socialist Workers Party. The SWP appeared to have organised all its meetings. Local, regional and national Green Party spokespersons were not even invited to these meetings.

"So it's a little bit rich for Mr Galloway to say he regrets that he'll have to contest elections against the Greens. He had already told the media he wanted to lead an anti-war slate in the Euro-elections in London, weeks before his colleagues first contacted the Green Party. Given that London already had a Green Party anti-war slate for the Euro-elections, led by sitting MEP Jean Lambert, Mr Galloway's action was hardly conducive to cooperation.

"It is our view that Mr Galloway and the SWP simply wanted the Green Party involved in their project to lend credibility and make them appear more broadly based."

Green Party’s proud track record

The spokesperson concluded:

"The Galloway/SWP policy statement looks very much like some of the Green Party’s policy. If they are committed to these policies, we wonder why they didn't simply support the Green Party, which has already won seats on the basis of those policies in parliaments around the world. In the UK we have two Green MEPs, seven Green Scottish parliamentarians, three Greens on the London Assembly and a record number of Green councillors as well as a member of the House of Lords, and all of them have an established track record of fighting for those policies.

"It's regrettable that George Galloway and his SWP colleagues would risk taking votes off the Green Party, when elections in several English regions are likely to be close. In some regions, even a small number of votes going to the Galloway/SWP party that otherwise would have gone to the Green Party could result in UKIP or an even worse right-wing party slipping in."

He concluded: "The Green Party agreed its strategy for the Euro-elections long ago. Our candidates have been in place for months. There's no point worrying about Mr Galloway and the SWP - we're forging ahead with our campaign and we expect to end up with five or six British Green MEPs in June 2004."

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