SWP Faction Fight : The Musical

Part One : Tragedy

There comes a point in every bloggers life when they have a musical interlude. For me, the interlude is a trip back in time to that terrible period between January and March 2013 when I was involved in a fight to, in my opinion, save my party from diving into the dustbin of history.

In some ways it was all consuming, to the extent that like a spurned lover, it seemed that whatever music I heard, from whatever random source, appeared to have a personal message for me about the faction fight. At the time, I posted them on facebook but just to a few from the local faction.

Natalie Merchant : Which Side Are You On?

Not being able to get out much, I think about all my comrades going to an aggregate I can’t. I wonder who stands where. Later, as I take offence to another member posting on facebook about “Scabs”, I fear that perhaps I’m no better.

We all learnt this song via Billy Bragg during the miners strike, but Dick Gaughan’s version is better and this is my favourite.(The miners wife who wrote it in the 1930s can be seen singing it in the wonderful Harlan County film)

Fliptrix : Smooth Crash Landing

“I’m telling you straight. its my way or the highway, So anybody who wants to walk, do it now”

There I was listening to some decent UK hip hop, when it seems like a sample from the aggregate I’d missed had wormed its way into my speakers.

Gillian Welch : Caleb Mayer

American country music can be fantastic – for some reason I had this one, in which a rapist gets killed, going round my head.

I drew that glass across his neck
as fine as any blade,
and I felt his blood pour fast and hot
around me where I laid.

The Redskins : Keep On Keepin’ On

I wasn’t into the Redskins at first, and the more people told me I had to like them because of their politics, the more I played The Stranglers and Slade. But they grew on me. (It was the 80s), and now there words had a different message to me.

I ain’t won what I’m fighting for
Full-timers backslide to the cries of sell out!
We’ve got to get the reins in our hands ourselves
Stand firm! Hold tight! And fight!

Sam Cooke : A Change Is Gonna Come

The most beautiful protest song ever. As it seemed like the CC had dug its heels in refusing to say more than “we had a vote”, and I thought about resigning in despair, one night I heard the news that a whole load of long standing members including Ian Birchall, had formed a faction. There was hope.

The Stranglers : Something Better Change

My favourite punk band back in my teens. (They still are – whoops. Bang goes my cred)

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy : Music and Politics

In which almost-old-skool hip hop demonstrates a better understanding of how the person is political than much of the SWP

If ever I would stop thinking about music and politics
I would tell you that the personal revolution
is far more difficult
and is the first step in any revolution

Kool & the Gang : Celebration

And then we heard we’d won the special conference the CC had been trying to prevent. In retrospect, this was merely clever manoeuvring on the CC’s part, but at the time it felt like a victory.

Dizee Rascal : Bonkers

A friend from the “IDOOP” faction told me they thought  that my comrades in the “DRP” were “BONKERS”.(Of course, most people would think we all were)  I got home and my kids were playing this.

Dead Kennedys : Dead End

Shit, even the Dead Kennedys are singing about  us

Once it was fun to worry
About who was in control
Could look into the future
But now it don’t seem right
Passion is filling the air
Profits are better than life
And things are harder to bear
It’s a dead end
Dead end
Dead end

The Beatles : I Saw Her Standing There

The DC report to SWP conference had made a reference to not lining up with “bourgeois morality” regarding age differences. I had no idea of what they meant, but when we all found out I was shocked – and every time I hear the first line of this song I want to hit someone.

The Redskins : Kick Over The Statues

Oh dear, starting to have violent thoughts about my leaders
At the end of an era
The First thing to go
Are the heads of our leaders
Kicked down in the road…

Alison Krauss & Union Station : On the Outside Looking In

More American country. A much better Should-I-stay-or-should-I-go song than the obvious

And who’s the object of my rage?
And who’s not being fair?
Is it you for your indifference?
Or me for just standing there?

Should I go or should I stay
on the outside looking in?

Fairport Convention : Farewell Farewell

As the special conference neared it became obvious what would happen – and this most beautiful song, written by a teenage Richard Thompson, kept jumping into my head.

Slade : Gudbuy Gudbuy

Not such a beautiful farewell. But Noddy did sing about the inevitability of revolution in 1969, so Slade Is Best, even if spellcheck hates them.

Vaughan Williams : Symphony Number 5 in D Major

On the day my party voted to make itself uninhabitable by me at least, I was surrounded by old white people in the Assembly Hall of a small seaside town listening to this, and thinking about another hall 70 miles away.

Edgar Varese : Ionisation

What I imagined that other hall of older white people 70 miles away would have sounded like.

(Unfortunately, Frank Zappa heard this as a child. We’ve all been suffering since)

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2 thoughts on “SWP Faction Fight : The Musical

    • Music was one of those areas where a party line made no sense and meetings at Marxism would see young members feel free to get up and disagree with the political-musical taste of older leading members. Having said that, there were far too many people who insisted that you “had to” like The Redskins, Bob Dylan and John Coltrane.
      I always used to tell people that my favourite band was Slade.(Though their take on “The Shape of Things To Come” is a bit Kautskyite, singing about revolution as if it was inevitable)


      There are new dreams Crowdin’ out old realities
      There’s revolution Sweepin’ in like a fresh new breeze
      Let the old world make believe It’s blind and deaf and dumb
      (But) nothing can change the shape of things
      To come

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