Cast your mind back to the huge anti-war demonstration of 15th February 2003. Estimates of numbers are debatable, but 2 million is a credible estimate of attendance.
In the lead up to the march there was a discussion between some leading members of the Socialist Alliance (SA) and the SWP, represented by John Rees, about the SA presenting a united face for the demo. As it was the SWP decided to concentrate on boosting the profile of its own organisation, and all the other left groups followed their lead: leaving the Socialist Alliance with a very small profile. According to some comrades who were at the meeting there was a moment when it looked like Rees was going to agree, and then backed off.
Even though it would have been for the overall benefit of the left, it would have required a challenge to those parts of the SWP (for example the National Secretary of the time, Chris Bambury) who opposed participation in the SA.
On the day, there was of course a problem in relating the revolutionary politics of the SWP direct to the consciousness of those protesting against the war, the transitional form of the Socialist Alliance might have bridged that gap. What would have happened if the overwhelming majority of the English left had promoted a single organisation, the Socialist Alliance, with a single voice on the demo, and then stood in the May elections under that same banner?
That is what happened in Scotland. Here is an observation from leading SWP member Mike Gonzalez about the demonstration in Scotland, where the Scottish Socialist Party were very clearly identified with the organising of the protest:
“It was a historic moment—and it was a victory, in our view, that arose directly out of the public perception of the [SSP]’s leading role in the anti-war movement: 100,000 marched through Glasgow on 15 February that year. It is no coincidence that that figure so closely reflected the numbers in the election.”
Interestingly there were two million on the march in London, and the Lib Dems managed to present themselves as THE anti-war party in England, and their vote in May 2003 went up 2 million.