The People's Popular Front

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.”
- Tony Benn

My second conference in a week, this time the "World Against War International Peace Conference". Representatives from anti-war movements all over the world, addressing and debating over a thousand delegates in a dozen languages - with headphone translations.

It was both inspiring and productive, but rather than tell you about all that, I thought I'd tell you about the various little groups who weren't at the conference, but set up stalls outside it.

I spent time between forums asking them about themselves. There was the RCG, the CPGB-ML, Socialist Resistance, and the LFI. So who are these people? I'm glad you asked me.

The RCG (Revolutionary Communist Group) are Leninists (or orthodox Trotskyists, depending on who you ask) who split from the RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party) after the RCP were expelled from the IS (International Socialists) who later became the SWP (Socialist Workers Party). The RCP later imploded and the remnants became the Institute for Ideas. Meanwhile the RCG expelled three of its members, who became the CF (Communist Forum).

The CPGB-ML (Communist Party of Great Britain - Marxist-Leninist) were a faction - formerly members of the ACW (Association of Communist Workers) - expelled from the SLP (Socialist Labour Party) who were a breakaway group from the Labour Party.

SR (Socialist Resistance) is an ecosocialist group formed mainly from the SSN (Socialist Solidarity Network) and the ISG (International Socialist Group). They joined the Respect coalition - together with the SWP, the IMG (International Marxist Group), the CPGB (Communist Party of Great Britain) and others, but not the SP (Socialist Party) or HOPI (Hands Off the People of Iraq, who are the CPGB in disguise). Then late this year a faction within Respect split away, calling itself Respect-Renewal.

Still with me? Well nevermind. Now, SR refuses to acknowledge the split has occurred, and is therefore part of both parties, which hate each other, have separate premises, finances and publications. Though only Respect-Renewal recognises SR, and seems to be under the impression that SR has dissolved itself.

The LFI? Oh, they're the League for the Fifth International, a coalition around the MSF (Movement for a Socialist Future) which believes all the existing socialist groups are too weighed down with ideological baggage and mutual enmity, so advocates starting a new grassroots group from scratch.

They recently expelled several members, who became the PRT (Permanent Revolution Tendency).

Update: Videos of all the speakers are on YouTube, linked to here.


  1. "HOPI (Hands Off the People of Iraq, who are the CPGB in disguise)"

    two points

    1) it's Hands Off the people of Iran, not Iraq.

    2) Hands of the people of Iran includes within it a range of supporters from Peter Tatchell to N. Klein, presumably you don't imagine these individuals to be operating under the direction of the CPGB?

  2. I stand corrected on the first point.

    On the second, you seem to be blurring the distinction between membership of an organisation and supporting it, where the latter is defined as going on record saying you agree with its aims.

    Has everyone on the list of supporters signed a membership form, or just signed a piece of paper to say they agree with a document of founding principles?

    I'm a bit surprised to see Naomi Klein and John Pilger on the list - and somewhat less surprised to see Tommy Sherridan and Diane Abbot. Tatchell has been drifting rightward on Islam for the last five years, parroting the line that when Islamic dictatorships kill gay people, it's the Islam that's to blame not the dictatorship.

    The HOP(O)I slogan "No to imperialist war! No to the theocratic regime!" takes two entirely sensible but unrelated ideas and tries to force fit them together.

    To an onlooker who isn't familliar with the details of the situation, it looks like on the one hand you're defending Muslims against invaders who demonise the Islamic faith, and on the're demonising the Islamic faith.

    Yes, yes, I appreciate there is a distinction between "being Muslim" and "being crushed by a regime that calls itself Islamic", and the slogan is about the second, not the first of these. But it treads perilously close to attacking Islamic regimes for being Islamic.

    When mounting a public campaign, you need to put clear space between yourself and those you oppose. Subltey, ambiguity, fine distinctions and potential misunderstandings are fatal.