The Socialist Party, the Anti-Racism Campaign and the anarchists


IN AN ARTICLE in issue no.3 (Autumn 1998) of the Socialist Party magazine 'Socialism 2000', written by John McCamley, it is stated "The [anti racist] movement has to be national, support has to be well organised and coming from all corners of Ireland. We would have to act fast. There won't be time to make decisions on every single issue at weekly meetings so there would have to be some sort of co-ordinating committee. These are the simple facts and nothing to do with an attempt by anyone to "take control" of the movement in an undemocratic way. There are ongoing discussions in the anti-racism movement on what direction to take from here.

But in the discussion there has unfortunately been a certain amount of sectarian point scoring. There are people who are putting their own political interests before the lives of refugees who face deportation .. In the end who cares who controls what if the deportations are stopped. But if this petty sectarianism goes on, the movement will stay small and with new legislation and mass deportations soon there will be no refugees left in Ireland."

While McCamley doesn't actually name who he is accusing of "this petty sectarianism", it is perfectly obvious to anyone involved in anti racism organisations that it is the WSM to which he is referring.

The Workers Solidarity Movement refutes absolutely these allegations against us. We have been involved in the Anti Racism Campaign since its foundation. At every stage in our involvement, we have made it absolutely clear that we are completely against any idea of turning ARC into a 'front' for any political organisation, and that decision making must remain with the members at weekly meetings.

Central leadership v. federalism

McCamley does not, in his article, provide his readers with any background to the "ongoing discussions" which have been taking place in ARC. These discussions basically centred on the future development of the campaign - whether the way forward was via the establishment of "an anti - racist organisation with a national base and outlook and "a national structure" (as the SP proposed) or through local growth and national co-ordination, as proposed by WSM. In other words a central leadership v. federalism.

This issue was eventually decided at a National Conference of anti racist organisations, which agreed to the establishment of a "National Federation of Campaigns Against Racism". The debate which led up to this decision was at all times carried out by WSM members in an open and honest fashion.

We can only presume that we were guilty of "petty sectarianism" because we held a different point of view to the SP. Or was it because at one review meeting our comrades declared our political affiliations (after all people have a right to know who's who and what's going on)?

This pressurised the SP people present to do so as well, instead of posing as just new ARC members (there were at least four senior SP members present who had not previously attended ARC meetings, and it was clear that they were attempting to pack the meeting and have their proposals agreed).

Underhand activities

Since the vote at the National Conference, at which their proposals for a National Campaign with a centralised leadership were defeated, the Socialist Party have not attended any ARC meetings or stalls. They have made a deliberate effort to take away the name of the campaign by calling public meetings in the name of "members of ARC". Media statements purporting to be on behalf of the campaign have been issued by John McCamley, despite the fact that he has no authorisation to do so, and hasn't even been present at campaign meetings for months.

ARC has continued to grow and develop. WSM have continued our open and honest involvement in the campaign. The SP would be better off putting their energies into building and developing the campaign instead of attempting to wrest control and spreading scurrilous slanders when they don't succeed.

Gregor Kerr

Discussions are ongoing between ARC, IS and MWAR in relation to the launching of the "National Federation of Campaigns Against Racism". Further details in the next issue of Workers Solidarity.

This article is from Workers Solidarity No 56 published in March 1999