David Miller’s politics

SpinWatch editor David Miller affects an air of disinterested objectivity, but he is in fact a fellow-traveller of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party.

Miller’s activism is most heavily reported in Socialist Worker, and his wife Emma wrote for the Scottish Socialist Party newspaper before the SWP left it to join Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity Movement.

Miller’s father-figure Greg Philo also was on the fringes of the SWP’s predecessor, the International Socialists, without joining. The Socialist Worker is happy to report Miller’s initiatives, and he has collaborated with SWP loyalist Neil Davidson, who is in the same University department on some books.

It suits the SWPers to have an ally who is nominally unaligned as a kind of ‘beard’, or decoration for their own campaigns – a frontman with a university position and connections at Holyrood, so they are quite happy for him to stay outside the party. For Miller, not joining means that he can build up his own fiefdom without kowtowing to party discipline, while still being able to call on the SWP to pack out his events.

Intellectually Miller’s outlook parrots the SWP’s. But without the SWP’s strategic orientation he has a tendency to go overboard on the enthusiasm of the day. The party’s review of Miller’s most recent book thought that it concentrated at ‘the machinations of a few well-placed people’ at the cost of a social analysis, and ‘in the end it is not wholly persuasive’.

Miller has taken on board the SWP’s sectarian hatred for rival socialist sects, and SpinWatch is littered with attacks on otherwise unheard of groups, like Socialist Action, and Maurice Brinton’s Solidarity group.

The other thing that Miller took from the SWP was its great opportunism of alliance-making, which is why he has no qualms getting into bed with the anti-migration campaigner Simon Ross, or the Malthusian-Greens from the Ecologist.

Miller has drifted with the tides of green activism and anti-capitalism, promising us in 2005 that ‘the G8 summit will be met by monster protests’ (few people came).

In 2003 he jumped with both feet into the campaign against western intervention in the Middle East – though he and his wife were champions of western intervention in Rwanda in the 1990s, she writing that: ‘The failure of the international community to intervene in this mass slaughter still represents a monumental failure of the “civilised world”.’ (Seeming not to know that in fact the United States was arming and training Paul Kagame’s RPF invasion force.)

Miller’s SWP habits have had a weirdly distorting effect on SpinWatch, leading to a demotic anti-Capitalism, that all too often descends into anti-Semitism, a curious exaggeration of the influence of other left-wing rivals, and a cellar full of half-finished political attitudes, tossed off to one side when the next bandwagon comes along.

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