By Murray Smith
January 4, 2008 -- The crisis which has led to a split in Respect is an important development, affecting as it does the principal force of the radical left in England. The future will tell us whether the current crisis represents just another failure, another dead-end, another missed opportunity for the English left, or whether, as seems increasingly possible, it offers Respect itself the chance for a renewal and is perhaps a step on the road towards a broader formation.
Whichever way you look at it, the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) is at the centre of the crisis. It is or was the central component of Respect, as it had been of the Socialist Alliance which preceded it, and it has been one of the main protagonists in the conflict that has engulfed Respect. So I want to look at what has happened from the point of view of the relationship between the SWP, a traditional far-left organisation, and the broader left formation that Respect is. I think there are some lessons to be learned which go beyond Britain.