Chris Bambury Resigns from SWP

from Luna17

SWP: Chris Bambery resignation letter

 

Chris Bambery was – until yesterday – a leading member of the Socialist Workers Party for almost a quarter of a century. The letter below has been forwarded to me by a contact. It is by Chris Bambery, addressed to current SWP national secretary Charlie Kimber, for the attention of SWP members.

Letter to CC and SWP

10 April

Dear Charlie,

After 32 years membership of the Socialist Workers Party, during which I was National Secretary for 17 of them and editor of the Socialist Worker for five, I am resigning forthwith both from the Central Committee and the Socialist Workers Party.

The relentless factionalism in the organisation, driven by the leading group on the CC, shows no sign of ceasing and is doing enormous damage to the party . It is a cancer eating away at its heart.

At the special CC held on Friday 8 April I was told by Martin Smith I played a ‘filthy’ and ‘disgraceful’ role in the party, a ‘foul role in Scotland’ and despite the CC ‘fighting hard’ to integrate me I had ‘spent the last year and a half organising against the CC.’ Such accusations were repeated by Martin’s supporters and were not refuted by yourself as National Secretary.

While not recognising the reality of such slanders, I pointed out if you believed them immediate action would be required against any CC member believed to be involved in such behaviour. None followed.

It is simply untenable to sit round a table or work with people who believe, and are spreading, such slanders.

These slanders are not just aimed at me but those who have worked closely with me in building the party and wider initiatives, particularly so in Scotland which I’ve held responsibility for since 1988 until I was asked to step aside this year to help prevent ‘factionalism’. This step was criticised at a Scottish steering committee by some members who argued my role in the significant development of the Scottish districts, particularly amongst younger members, had been important. They too have been subject to similar slanders.

The party has been afflicted by factionalism for four years and grips the leading group on the CC who seem addicted to it.

It has damaged our united front work in all the campaigns – Right to Work most obviously but in all others. Stop the War is now treated with derision by leading CC members.

In recent weeks there has been no lead or drive from the CC in turning the party towards building the growing anti-cuts movement. The current article in Socialist Review and the post 26th party notes on the way forward after 26 March both have virtually nothing to say on anti cuts campaigns.

Martin Smith has attempted to blame me personally for the weaknesses of Right to Work despite the internal arguments which have held it back from its inception and which have brought it near to derailment.

While all of us wanted to see the party grow the stress on party building has increasingly meant ‘intervening’ from the outside rather than recruiting whilst working alongside those who are building the movement.

Since Friday’s CC I have been made aware that a major factional attack was being once more orchestrated against myself.

The SWP prided itself on being free from factionalism and on its record in helping initiating and building strong and genuine united fronts. That has been damaged.

I was one of the only two remaining CC members who had worked with Tony Cliff in a leadership role. Having worked closely with him on a daily basis for many years with, I believe the CC’s current approach goes against everything he stood for. His analysis of Lenin’s ideas laid great emphasis on taking a firm grip on the ‘key link in the chain’. Its been clear for some time that the question of austerity would dominate the political scene, yet we’ve failed to position ourselves at the heart of the anti-cuts movement and our influence is not what it could of been. This is not the place to go into detail about the party’s recent history, but Right To Work was initiated in bizarre circumstances (I learned the news from Party Notes) and the CC as a whole has never applied systematic pressure to push the formal position through the party.

For all of my 32 years as a member I have given everything into building this party, even making serious financial sacrifices including loaning considerable sums of money during the financial crisis which has affected the party in recent years, money I am still owed.

A revolutionary party is an instrument for making a revolution. If it is blunted or broken another must be built. I maintain the firm conviction that a party rooted in working class struggle that fights constantly for Marxist ideas whilst building unity on the basis of action is essential for the battle for socialism. For that reason, to take this road is not an easy decision, but it is one I have been forced to take.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Bambery

293 comments on “Chris Bambury Resigns from SWP

  1. Anonymous on said:

    Amazing. I mean, he said nothing that I was surprised by, and anyone familiar with the current leadership of the SWP will not be surprised either, but its something they can’t ignore any more.

    The SWP are fucked, and have been for some time. The Socialist Party are in a good position to overtake them as the largest left group in Britain, even despite their less-than-savoury split with the NSSN, because at least they are positioning themselves at the heart of the anti-cuts movement, whereas Right to Work has just ground to a halt.

    Look forward to reading the comments

  2. on a serious note, it’s my understanding that Bambery has taken a significant number of members in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, including the mass of their students at Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities. I’ve heard estimates of 50-60 people leaving the party in Glasgow.
    So while this isn’t going to have a huge impact on the party nationally – they’ll trundle on as ever – it’s a pretty big deal here. Where they’ll go now is anyone’s guess.

  3. Mark P (the Irish one) on said:

    It’s interesting that Alex Callinicos now seems to be the only person in the SWP leadership who was in a prominent role at the end of the Cliff era and the years immediately after.

    I don’t think, by the way, that a single man resigning, even a long-time leader necessarily means that they are “fucked”, as someone suggested above. How damaging this will be depends on how many supporters Bambery has.

  4. 2 – The WRP was large as well at soem time but it doesnt mean their politics were any good – the SP are not positioning themselves at the heart of the anti cuts mvt – they are flogging the NSSN as the anti cuts movement – and have failed to take even the independents in NSSN along with them.

    Chris bambery’s comments about Right To Work (RTW) are interesting ie it was announced in the SWP’s Party Notes. I assume Chris bambery will now gravitate to Counterfire and be part of the broader COR.

    What we need now are united fronts (like COR) not party fronts like RTW (SWP) and NSSN (SP)

  5. I hope that this is part of, and will add to, a move towards a more constructive politics based on what will actually develop our wider class consciousness and confidence rather than the SWP’s strategy of seeing its own party survival as paramount.

    My political activism got more constructive, more embodied in my class, more functional, thoughtful and more likely to actually make a difference in building working class power after leaving SWP.

    I look forward to more ex SWP’ers finding that they are more productive and connected to actual class struggle without the constant paranoid domination by a self-serving, dictatorial central committee.

  6. johng on said:

    Its all a bit odd. The letter is essentially a re-hash of themes raised by those who left to form counterfire, from claims about sectarian party building, departures from the methods of cliff, through to very specific arguments about right to work etc.

    Many non-SWP members think the organisation is actually less inward looking and sectarian then it was in the previous period. But no matter, these are things about which reasonable folk can disagree.

    Whats puzzling is why, given Chris’s disagreements a) he didn’t simply resign from the CC way back when b) he said absolutely nothing ever since and c) he does’nt now want to have an open argument about it.

    Its also worth emphasising that those who claim the mantle of Cliff (personally I think this whole mantle business is all a bit odd, but again, no matter) might think that having an open row before the membership might be an option to pursue BEFORE going away, to, presumably, form another organisation? Cliff, as I recall, was a bit of an organisation man.

    All a bit strange.

  7. Mark P (the Irish one) on said:

    Whether a few partisans of the Coalition of Resistance like it or not, the Socialist Party is in a strong position in countless local anti-cuts groups, having been involved in building such groups and contributing to their growth in an effective and non-sectarian way. However, that is very much a topic for another day.

    Of more relevance is the fact that Chris Bambery, unless I’m very much mistaken, is the national head of the Right to Work campaign. That could cause a certain amount of awkwardness.

  8. Anonymous on said:

    I wouldn’t say they were fucked entirely because of this resignation, I think they’ve been a moribund organization for about 5 years now and that part of the CC knows it, so we have some trying to abandon ship (ie counterfire) and some desperately trying to salvage what’s left (Martin Smith and co) and keep the party going at all costs.

    And I don’t think the Socialist Party’s actions with regards to the NSSN are very good either, they were very divisive, but the point is there is a gap emerging for a well run and effective campaign against the cuts, right now only UK uncut are making any real impact, and the Socialist Party could well fill that gap in the absense of the SWP. Right to Work has been nothing but an unmitigated failure.

  9. anon1 on said:

    Brilliant line in latest party notes regarding Bambery’s resignation:

    “We do not think that the party is riven by factionalism, nor does it have a culture where it is impossible to raise political disagreement.”

    Hahahaha!

    http://bit.ly/partynotes for the “full” story.

  10. Jellytot on said:

    Hasn’t this been on the cards for a few years since the RESPECT 2007 debacle?

    The SWP have never really adjusted to the death of Cliff in 2000 and Hallas two years later. The problem with that having an over-arching “Guru” figure (as Cliff was) it’s tough for the Party when they inevitably die.

    I never really warmed to Bambery’s speaking style, viewing it as hectoring and dense (even by the standards of the “Revolutionary” Left) but I wish him well outside the SWP.

  11. Paul Hunt on said:

    perhaps if you were allowed to form factions in the swp for more than 3 months in the year – then this may not have happened?

    or at least a full and frank discussion involving the membership would have allowed these things to air themselves properly, perspectives debated etc.

    i’m still thinking about what a local swp’er told me about 8 years ago. ‘the socialist party is finished.’

    cheers

    Paul Hunt
    Coventry

  12. Johng maybe feel queer about the whole thing, but this is more direct evidence of the Ed Miliband effect sweeping the left movement.

  13. prianikoff on said:

    Possibly the most damning thing is Chris Bambury ending a letter addressed to the CC and SWP with “yours sincerely”.

    What on earth does this say about the situation inside their organisation?

    I can’t say that I take any pleasure in seeing the SWP melting down in this way, particularly after the period where it reached a zenith with the StWC and Socialist Alliance. After which, it’s been downhill all the way.

    It’s not as if they’ve even been faced with any particularly strong competition from rival organisations on the left.

    What’s happened to them since Rees & German and now Bambury left, has been the result of a failure of political analysis.
    The retreat into mindless sectarianism described by Bambury has occurred because of a failure of analysis by the leadership.
    In particular, a failure to relate to developments inside the mass organisations of the working class.
    The split between COR & the RTWC being a good example of where this sectarianism leads. This often conceals quite right-wing arguments, as is often evident on the comments section of this blog.

    Many present and former SWP activists have been able to win leading positions in the unions and mass united front campaigns. But this is often on the basis of “doing their own thing” in the unions, not of receiving any strategic leadership from the C.C.

    For years, part of the problem in the SWP its lack of internal democracy and the lack of accountability of its central leadership.

    But there’s a wider problem:
    Looking at the programme for the forthcoming “Marxism 2011″ recently, I was struck by how few leading SWP theoreticians were listed as speakers.
    It seemed more like they were pulling together as many left-wing writers and academics as they could find, with minimialist input from the SWP.

    All this is indicative of a political crisis and lack of confidence in their own analysis of the situation. Rather than being able to predict ways to intervene successfully to change events, they are tail-ending them.

    Could the SWP be disappearing like the Smile on the Cheshire Cat?
    I hope not. Their membership needs to be assisted to remain active on the left and abandon the destructive sectarian methods that have taken root in the organisation.

  14. thecheekofit on said:

    Will have little impact inside the SWP. Bambery was a buster flush for some time. He was very central to mistakes of the past etc. He will join chums in counter fire. The SWP in my area is very involved in anti cuts alliances. It had a good presence on March 26th and has played a positive role in the Anti cuts movement.

  15. Darkness at Noon on said:

    :”The SWP have never really adjusted to the death of Cliff in 2000 and Hallas two years later. The problem with that having an over-arching “Guru” figure (as Cliff was) it’s tough for the Party when they inevitably die.”

    Yes, well clearly they didn’t learn anything from Lenin’s passing.

  16. #15

    I’m not being cheeky, cheekofit,but I thought the SWP’s presence on March 26 was very weak. Mind you, with a demo that size it would have been hard for any left organisation to make their presence felt. I do think the SWP missed an opportunity in failing to hand out a free copy of their paper as the Star did. Whilst I realise the cost would have been an issue, in terms of impact it might have been worth it.

  17. Jellytot on said:

    At the special CC held on Friday 8 April I was told by Martin Smith I played a ‘filthy’ and ‘disgraceful’ role in the party, a ‘foul role in Scotland’ and despite the CC ‘fighting hard’ to integrate me I had ’spent the last year and a half organising against the CC.’ Such accusations were repeated by Martin’s supporters and were not refuted by yourself as National Secretary.

    Martin Smith comes across as a nasty piece of work in this paragraph. At least Bambery can be content in the knowledge that Martin Smith may to have to write a similar resignation letter in the not-too-distant future.

  18. [sigh] at the sects wetting themselves with excitement.

    chris is within his rights to resign. it’s a shame he wasn’t prepared to fight for his position with the membership (as is our tradition), but that’s his choice. he missed a very positive and useful party council yesterday as a result (no, i won’t be discudding the contents here – you can all wait for the report in the paper). what’s pretty disgraceful, however, is leaking his resignation letter to another organisation (counterfire tendency) hours prior to the membership of the party being notified. that’s what makes me lose any sympathy at all.

    chris’ arguments seem little removed from those espoused by the left platform, arguments that were convincingly rejected by the sovereign body of the party. in other words, this seems to be an old argument, and one that was lost. chris’ response was to resign a little over a year later. that’s up to him.

  19. brian the dog on said:

    Ohhh this thread has got legs …….. sit back, relax and watch the debate run into the hundreds.

  20. Jellytot on said:

    @14 Could the SWP be disappearing like the Smile on the Cheshire Cat?
    I hope not.

    Really? I think if the SWP (along with all the others) disappeared tomorrow it would have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the course of events in this country and the wider world.

    I reckon all these parties that hark back to the Russian Revolution are an anachronism and the new Century will throw up new examples of organisation and theory. It’s already happening.

  21. Jellytot on said:

    @24 Where’s the Undertaker when you need him?

    He’ll be along soon, spouting bile and lecturing Bambery on how mistaken he is and maybe even using phrases such as “Good Riddance to Bad rubbish”. According to UT Bambery will be no longer worthy of SWP membership.

    Charming after 32 years of service.

    making serious financial sacrifices including loaning considerable sums of money during the financial crisis which has affected the party in recent years, money I am still owed.

    Good luck getting that back Chris ;-)

  22. Captain Biggles on said:

    Odd how this letter appears on Snowdons Blog before it was circulated to the SWP members,it seems Bambery has been factionalising for some time probably never really broke with Rees etc but was too cowardly to say so
    Always struck me as a arrogant sort with zero personality or human warmth no trade union experience either not someone highly regarded by the industrial militants in the SWP.
    Given the rightward trajectoty of CounterFire a windbag demogogue is just what they need …not
    Maybe Snowdon wil discuss with Bambery why it is that in the North East Counterfire have been working with the extreme right wing witchunting leadership of UNISON even to the extent of putting notorious witchunter UNISON Convenor and NHS Senior Manager Claire Williams on the platform of the CoR ( Williams has recently taken a job at 40k+ as a Senior Manger in the NTW Trusts Transformation office the office that carries out the cuts)
    Perhaps thats a united front of a special kind !
    Least it’ll provide the anti swp numbskulls on here with something to talk about for a week or two

  23. Jellytot on said:

    @20 what’s pretty disgraceful, however, is leaking his resignation letter to another organisation (counterfire tendency) hours prior to the membership of the party being notified. that’s what makes me lose any sympathy at all.

    C’mon, you wouldn’t have had any sympathy for him whether he “leaked” the letter or not.

  24. brian the dog on said:

    #24 Yes Vanya where is the Undertaker when you need him ????

    Can wait for his vulgar opinions …. maybe he will tell us that whilst trying to desperately sell his papers, the word on the street is that joe public doesn’t f**king care. Which in a way would be probably true!

  25. @25.

    I totally agree. I think of them more as lifestyle choices rather than political entities. They don’t exist to effect the wider world. They’re clubs for a few people who want to live a certain way and get satisfaction from it. It’s very complacent and self indulgent really.

  26. Anonymous on said:

    I’ve got my popcorn ready, just waiting for party machinery to kick in and this thread to be flooded with SWP cult-members in denial.

    And 25 you are spot on, the Marxist-Leninist party structure is dead, it belongs to the 20th century, our struggle is new and we will form organizational structures that will suit out needs and totally cicumvent the outdated sects that currently dominate things.

  27. Jellytot on said:

    @27 (Bambery) always struck me as a arrogant sort with zero personality or human warmth no trade union experience either not someone highly regarded by the industrial militants in the SWP.

    ROFLOL !

    Yes, there’s a special Circle of Hell reserved for those who leave the SWP.

    Least it’ll provide the anti swp numbskulls on here with something to talk about for a week or two

    Nah, a day or two at the most.

  28. Mark P (the Irish one) on said:

    Explain to me again how “an arrogant sort with zero personality or human warmth”, who had “no trade union experience”, who was not “highly regarded by industrial militants” and was in fact “a windbag demagogue” managed to find himself in the following roles: Member of the SWP Central Committee for nearly three decades, National Secratary of the SWP for 17 years, editor of Socialist Worker for 5 years.

    Is Captain Biggles suggesting that being an arrogant, talentless, demagogue is an advantage when it comes to promotion in the SWP?

  29. #17

    “I do think the SWP missed an opportunity in failing to hand out a free copy of their paper as the Star did. “

    didn’t UNITE pay for the MS? an option not open to the SWP

  30. Halshall on said:

    As having been an ex-SWPer for several years, and after reading both the latest SWP party notes and Chris’s letter here, I can’t say who is right or wrong. I suspect something of both though.

    I don’t believe the SWP is a healthy place to be if you are a dissident but it’s hard to put a finger on a simple single cause.
    Perhaps there has been too much emphasis on the centralism and not enough on the democratic. The dominant culture seems to be that the CC knows best and the members should follow its lead regardless, after all if the CC controls all communication from the centre then it follows that you have to accept what you are told in good faith or quit. The Party national council and conference then become more of endorsing bodies. Well maybe so.
    Either way I don’t think it’s a healthy sign for the SWP or the ‘Left’ either.
    And no this doesn’t mean one up for the SP who IMO have never shaken off the mantle of sectarianism.

  31. tergerberg on said:

    so he’s left, its a massive shame. we do need some younger people on the CC but its not good for someone so prominent to leave like that. i wish him well in the future, and hope we work constructively with him from now on

  32. Bambery didnt try and put his case to the SWP membership except in his resignation letter. This shows a lack of confidence in the SWP’s model of internal democracy. However he was accused of factonalising before he had even created a faction and factions in the SWP cant last more than 3 months. Hopefully existing members of SWP will recognise their own internal democracy is one of the things they will need to change in order to revive their party.

  33. brian the dog on said:

    Undertaker come out wherever you are !!!!!!

    ‘The funeral director’ is a very sad and poor imitation of you and is only scraping the barrel with his/her gutter response, we need your trench like cesspit response.

  34. River on said:

    The SWP CC has lost nearly every member of it’s CC who was in place during the time of Cliff. Not totally unlike Stalin’s CC of the CPSU, with every member who was in place during the regime of Lenin exiled, resigned or dead. Callinicos must be feeling a little bit tense now!

  35. SWP response (via http://www.swp.org.uk/party-notes)

    “Chris Bambery’s resignation
    Chris Bambery has resigned from the Central Committee (CC) and the SWP. This is very disappointing, but we strongly reject the analysis Chris has put forward in his resignation letter.
    The CC has for some time had worries about aspects of Chris’s work. As Chris’s letter states, the CC asked him to step aside from responsibility for our work in Scotland, and after the evidence that has now emerged of organised opposition to the party in Scotland it is obvious we were right.
    If Chris believed there were fundamental problems around Right to Work and other issues, his responsibility in Scotland as elsewhere was to raise these questions and encourage other comrades to do the same.
    There was criticism of his role in not effectively helping to build a broad Right to Work (RTW). But far from downgrading RTW, the CC had recently agreed to add another person to help build it.
    Chris’s letter recycles many of the argument that came from people who left the party in February last year to set up Counterfire, particularly around the question of the united front. Far from running away from united front work, the SWP is centrally involved in anti-cuts campaigns, RTW activity, trade union activity, Unite Against Fascism, the Stop the War Coalition and the Education Activist Network. All of these involve systematic activity with people outside our ranks.
    We have repeatedly stressed the need for full involvement in the anti-cuts movement as well as Right to Work.
    Chris raises questions about recruitment. We are proud to be building a revolutionary socialist party. We regard a strong and well-organised socialist presence as indispensable. This does not happen by accident or without relentless effort. But the whole history of the revolutionary movement shows this is necessary.
    The argument at the CC that Chris refers to involved him spreading information about internal CC discussions to those outside the CC. Several of us believed he was trying to stir up division in the party—a view which subsequent events confirmed. We are mystified by the allegations of “factional attack” Chris says was being prepared against him.
    We do not think that the party is riven by factionalism, nor does it have a culture where it is impossible to raise political disagreement. As our leading comrade in RTW, as a central committee member, and as a member of the party’s finance committee Chris had the opportunity to register political disagreement about all the issues he raises in his resignation letter. In the past year he never has.
    Instead he has written key documents for the party’s perspectives, introduced sessions at conference and headed up our work in a key united front—without any open political disagreements. Indeed, he said he had no differences with the perspectives document presented to Sunday’s Party Council—on the day he resigned. He could have attended the council and argued at it. Surely the Tony Cliff who Chris mentions would have done so! But Chris chose not to attend.
    A number of other comrades have also left. In our tradition, if you disagree, you try to win your position in the party and seek to persuade others of your case. It is regrettable that these comrades walked away without doing so.
    We want the party to move forward in a united way to implement the fighting perspectives agreed at the vibrant and united Party Council meeting on Sunday.”

  36. Monty Python had it right 30 years ago. Sod fighting the Romans/Coalition you’re all to busy fighting each other over the most trivial of things or because of petty private jealousies.

    Long may it continue.

  37. Rorschach on said:

    Chris Bambery is the last of the post-Respect dissidents, so I would imagine that this brings an end to the spate of resignations over the past year or so. As for the impact of Chris leaving, it depends on how much of the active membership in Scotland has gone with him. Anyone know the answer to this? South of the border it will make very little difference to the size, impact and potential of the organization.

  38. Lynsey on said:

    As far as Glasgow goes? All of the students. Which means basically every single one of their foot soldiers.

    “We do not think that the party is riven by factionalism, nor does it have a culture where it is impossible to raise political disagreement”

    lol

  39. Mark P (the Irish one) on said:

    So the SWP response confirms that “a number of other Comrades have also left” and refers to an “organised opposition” in Scotland. From which we can take it that there is in fact an organised split.

    The stuff about “spreading information” about Central Committee discussions seems a bit odd. Are Central Committee members not entitled to talk to other SWP meetings about their discussions?

  40. Darkness at Noon on said:

    @River:

    Thanks for that. Just reading Deutscher’s bio of Stalin – good to see all those poor deluded souls in one handy piccie gallery.

  41. Jellytot on said:

    @35 I don’t believe the SWP is a healthy place to be if you are a dissident but it’s hard to put a finger on a simple single cause.

    It’s impossible to be in the SWP, to disagree with a particular CC line and remain in it. This infamous quotation from Leon Trotsky gives an idea of their view of the relationship between Party and activist (it’s in their organisational DNA):

    “Comrades, none of us wants to be or can be right against the party. In the last analysis, the party is always right, because the party is the sole historical instrument that the working class possesses for the solution of its fundamental tasks. …. I know that no one can be right against the party. It is only possible to be right with the party and through it since history has not created any other way to determine the correct position.”

  42. They’re like a dinosaur rock band from the 1970s, where only the bass player is left from the original line-up.

  43. Jellytot on said:

    @39 The SWP CC has lost nearly every member of it’s CC who was in place during the time of Cliff. Not totally unlike Stalin’s CC of the CPSU, with every member who was in place during the regime of Lenin exiled, resigned or dead. Callinicos must be feeling a little bit tense now!

    Yes, but the worst that can happen to you today is a dressing down from the likes of “Undertaker” and your annual subscription to Socialist Review not being fufilled for the rest of the year.

    Back then it was a grovelling show-trial, a bullet in the head and your family packed off to the Gulag.

  44. “They’re like a dinosaur rock band from the 1970s, where only the bass player is left from the original line-up.”

    Bizarre criticism, that the SWP’s leadership changes. I seem to recall the same anti-SWP sectarians attacking the SWP in the past as being undemocratic because the leadership apparently never changes.

  45. Jellytot on said:

    @58 correction to my #55 above which refers to #49 by Jellytot, and not #47.

    Thank you. Your dissociation in #55 of my comment in #49 (not #47) is duely noted.

  46. Mark P on said:

    As the SWP statement, pkus the variious rumour-momgers, refer specifically to a number of SWPers leaving in Scotland it would be interesting to now the likely impact this might have on George Galloway’s election campaign where a SWP member is number 2 on the list. What role, if any, did Chris Bambery have in the decision of the SWP in Scotland to back George’s campaign, does Chris leaving tell us anythong about the SWP’s ongoing role un the campaign? Anyone know?

    Mark P

  47. Bill Bo Baggins on said:

    #61. Please don’t tell me they’re going to bugger up another left unity project, even if this is more by cock-up than conspiracy.

  48. danny on said:

    Maybe its because he was so steeped in the culture of the SWP – which he played a central role in creating over 30 years – that he didnt openly argue his position ? Those who do dont tend to last long – no-one knew this more than he did – and I will reserve my sympathy until I hear an apology from Bamberry for the way he has treated comrades over the years.

    SWP people cant dismiss this, but if they reflected on it a bit more and made a geniune attempt to learn from the mistakes of the Bamberry era they might start appealing to the sort of people they need to be a real revolutionary socialist party

  49. Kenallos on said:

    #61 – not sure if the no. 2 candidate on galloway’s list, angela mccormick, has resigned but james foley – number 5 – has.

  50. ethyl on said:

    #27 “Given the rightward trajectory of CounterFire”

    I haven’t been paying much attention to CF so don’t know what they’ve been up to – what is meant by the above?

  51. Jellytot on said:

    @69

    Whoever falls out with the SWP is described as “on a rightward trajectory”.

    Remember how they accused Galloway of a “Rightwing” attack on ‘socialists’ (i.e. them) inside RESPECT in 2007?

  52. Alan Titchmarsh's spade carrier on said:

    #69. its a counterpoint to the ultra left turn/binge of SWP of the last few years.

    Its a self serving justification, which goes along the lines of ‘just look how right wing this bunch have become since they left the font of all knowledge – just look how left wing we are, grr!! we’re hard’ This is what will become of you if you stray from the fold’

  53. 56, it’s not a bizarre criticism. The SWP’s greatest weakness (which dialectically was also for a while its greatest asset) has been its theoretical weakness. This lack of theory enabled them to recruit hand over fist based on an ill-defined programme, and gave them the ability to shift from ultraleftism to popular frontism and back without the bulk of their members blinking an eye.

    This lack of theoretical continuity is reflected in their lack of organisational continuity. The generation that Cliff trained up, and which led the SWP when it was a significant force on the left is now gone and forgotten, and the current rank and file don’t even realise the tragedy of the human material that has been so cruelly thrown overboard by a machine without a theoretical rudder being tossed back and forth on the waves of history.

    The SWP remains in name only, surrounded by a small flotilla of life-rafts (largest of which is HMS Counterfire), and the bodies of many more who sank without trace.

  54. The Undietaker on said:

    Can anyone recall when anyone posted anything on this irrelvent scab blog that didn’t consist of a baseless moronic diatribe against me?
    I am so pleased that I continue to get up your scabby goat noses, you’ll all die bitter scab deaths. I’ll miss you miss you ( not)
    You can go crawl back under your scab rock, because you wont be hearing from me again. I’ve written my resignation to Charlie and I’m joining the only real working class organisation with street-tough credibility – The Salvation Army.
    So fuck off keyboard warriors I,m off to sell the War Cry.

  55. Insider on said:

    Bambery has indeed played a shameful role…for the last 32 years. He has been party (sic) to unrelenting factionalism, sectarianism, mindless ranting hackery, vilification of opponents, witchunting and on and on, the very crimes he accuses the current leadership of. He certainly provided the current leadership with an excellent role model.

  56. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    #51 “They’re like a dinosaur rock band from the 1970s, where only the bass player is left from the original line-up”

    Hey! Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash played quite a good set recently to the assembled dinosaurs in Preston’s Guild Hall. Shame that due to the Tory-led council’s cuts there won’t be any more gigs like that …

    They were also more tuneful than Chris Bambery when he played a gig at 53 degrees week before last (where were you and your comrades by the way!) though both crowds had their cheering moments…. 53 degrees for John McDonnell, and the Guild Hall for the peace anthem “Throw Down the Sword”. ;)

  57. #71 “its a counterpoint to the ultra left turn/binge of SWP of the last few years”

    again, any chance you could expand on this? i’m a bit out of touch

  58. Bill Oddie's bird table on said:

    #74. Well put, he’s been the SWP’s Robocop, more machine than man

    A prime example of the means justify the ends.

    Though on occasions, I admit that he’s delivered some inspiring moments, the debate with the Iranian left at the 1988 Marxism spring to mind ( that’s train spotting for you). Up front at Genoa G8

    But in the main he’s been a rude, scary, ruthless, charmless fucker, with a specialism in cheap demagogy

    You could argue that Lenin didn’t lead to Stalin, but had Bambery been Lenin ( work with me on this one, its a metaphore ), you wouldn’t have needed Stalin.

    He’s protestations of innoncence in his letter have been taken with a more than a pinch of salt, equally this applies to Harry Worth’s crowd who I would trust even less.

    Would the last one turn off the lights

    But only when the CC have given you permission to turn off the lights, any attempt to turn off the lights before then would be demonstrative of a ‘rightwing trajectory’

  59. Prole Art Threat on said:

    I remember Bampot on a demonstration against the Chinese Government outside the Chinese Embassy. He was wearing a bandera and whirled himself into such a state he was – literally – foaming at the mouth. He was spinning around in such a revolutionary frenzy that he managed to kick Julie Waterson pretty hard in the leg who then whalloped him one.

    What is odd about this is not the odd-ness that Johng tries to define. It’s damn odd that Chris Bambery doesn’t recognise himself in the criticism he makes of the CC.

  60. Jellytot on said:

    Though on occasions, I admit that he’s delivered some inspiring moments, the debate with the Iranian left at the 1988 Marxism spring to mind ( that’s train spotting for you). Up front at Genoa G8. But in the main he’s been a rude, scary, ruthless, charmless fucker, with a specialism in cheap demagogy

    Bambery also used to try and put out this psuedo-Scottish “hard man” image which may have worked in London but wasn’t recognised at all in his home country.

    That came unstuck when gave a meeting in Scotland about Northern Ireland around the time of the big INLA/IPLO split in the late 80′s; a split, remember that left about 15 people dead. Anyhow, he started hectoring the INLA aligned IRSP members present on their terrible politics (compared to the SWM and even, I think, the IPLO!) and was promptly put on his arse after the meeting.

  61. “But in the main he’s been a rude, scary, ruthless, charmless fucker, with a specialism in cheap demagogy….”

    Umm. Maybe I have the answer to my previous question.

  62. It’s really just the epilogue of the drama of the last couple of years. It is of interest how many and who might have left with him in Scotland. If there were any longstanding SWP members that would be significant.

    But from what people have written above it is simply some of the students. Smith, who has been sidelined is clearly the object of Bambery’s ire. I think he’ll be pushed further aside. That would allow the CC to make a fresh beginning. And probably go through a similar cycle of error in the future.

    I assume Bambery will have to resign from his position in RtW and that he’ll join Counterfire. That means the SWP will have to get used to dealing with that ongoing oppositional force. Beyond that, I don’t see much more happening. And the chortling from SP members shows a distinct lack of self awareness.

  63. Time to take the lead from the US, where the various strands of the (broadly speaking) IS tradition are working well together and are very large.

  64. Ball Sack on said:

    #31 `I totally agree. I think of them more as lifestyle choices rather than political entities. They don’t exist to effect the wider world. They’re clubs for a few people who want to live a certain way and get satisfaction from it. It’s very complacent and self indulgent really.’

    What’s this blairite turd pontificating about?

  65. Anonymous on said:

    Whatever happened to, The SWP….they split in three……what ever happended to those zeros.

  66. River is chortling away and coming out with a load of cant about all this beingbtobdo with the SWP not having a programme. And the Militant Tendency is superior in exactly what respect? You’ve got the same history of splits.

  67. I always have mixed feelings when I see these posts on the SWP on SU. On the one hand, a grim recognition that the protracted crack up in the organisation that I predicted 20 years ago when I left has moved on a stage further – and that was at a time when it was cocka hoop that it had been vindicated by the collapse of the Eastern block by its analysis of state capitalism, it was recruiting hand over fist etc.

    On the other, regret that so many lives have (whatever the impact on individual campaigns) ‘building the party’. Say what you like about Chris Bambery – and probably John Rees, Lindsey German – they probably could have become Labour MPs or academics. Whatever the motivations of ego and their record, on a personal level they haven’t exactly ‘done well’ out of decades of work for the SWP have they? More pertinent on this point is that I recognised myself 25 years ago in a couple of young members (students I think) who turned up on the picket line at the university where I work in Liverpool last Friday – a little irritating but well meaning and with some fire in their bellies, clearly drawn to an organisation that seeks to fight the ConDem cuts.

    The point I’m getting to is that I think SU is partly responsible for the demise of the SWP. I don’t mean that the irrational hatred, the lies of Andy and co. are somehow to blame, not at all. What I mean is that its principal organ, Socialist Worker, is the only newspaper I know of to have no online debate whatsoever. Every other political organisation that I’ve come across, including the bloody BNP, have forums and discussion. I have just checked on Socialist Worker and so far as I can see there still isn’t anything: no debate, no opportunity for dissent, contrary opinion. The letters page appears a bit of joke.

    There’s something deeply unpleasant about this isn’t there?

    In comparison Socialist Unity is, as even its detractors would recognise, a vibrant and therefore infomative vehicle for the Left. I suspect that the numbers of people who visit the sites reflect this.

    Quite possibly the lack of debate in the SWP, exemplified in SW, is a consequence of Leninism, democratic centralism and so on. But until somebody in the organisation wises up on this one as a basic first step and allows genuine discussion, I can only think that more lives and energies will be wasted.

  68. history tells us things on said:

    Cliche, but bald men and combs comes to mind, meanwhile the cuts bite ever deeper, the left will not be forgiven by the people who will suffer…

  69. Insider on said:

    #80 No it’s only young ones who have gone in Scotland, leaving behind many who are indeed even more brainless and hackish than Bambery in many respects. Can you ever imagine the likes of Iain Ferguson, Angela McCarthy (ahem) McCormick or the Great Gonzo ever leaving the SWP on a point of even utterly corrupted principle?

  70. Should read: lives have (whatever the impact on individual campaigns) have been wasted ‘building the party’.

    Late, going to bed, pick up the debate tomorrow.

  71. What I mean Andy is that some people reading my suggestion that SU is to blame for the demise of the SWP, will take it that I mean that you’ve got it in for the organisation and seek to vilify it, do it down. I DON’T mean that at all as, I think, I make clear.

  72. Insider: so is the figure of 50 or so students leaving accurate? I can’t imagine there would be that many. Seems an exaggeration to me. It’s hard to see how Bambery could convince them without winning any of the old guard.

  73. Connor on said:

    I thought Martin Smith had been sidelined as a result of sleaze allegations. Has the Mockney Reject retained his grip after all? That is certainly the implication of Bampot’s hypocritical whinge…sorry, resignation letter.

  74. #87

    Do we have to have that cliche repeated in every single thread, regardless of the subject?

    Anyway, regarding Bambery’s resignation: oh, FUCK!

  75. Well it really is too late for such a debate but I do think the web – and I guess SU is the principal Left site – has changed things. SW does seem old, closed, semi Stalinist in comparison to SU. Take a compliment la! But lest it sounds like I’m creeping, I still think your line on Gary McKinnon sucks!

  76. Chitchat on said:

    I heard the reason a lot of the Scots were so pissed off with their national leadership was that after the complaints made against Martin Smith regarding his behaviour towards a young female he got a standing ovation at their conference and anyone who thought that was a even slightly off got their ass kicked all the way back up to Scotland

    Maybe that’s not true – but it was doing the rounds in January and there were a lot of very unhappy swpers in my neck of the woods

  77. I don’t think I’m chortling, I think I’m pointing out that the SWP has now completely changed it’s leadership, without ever once claiming to have changed its politics. Its a bit like the brush that has had three new heads and two new handles.

    Every party has splits and debates. Some are conducted with acrimony, some are conducted as an opportunity for a serious and in-depth learning experience. Tragically, there’s nothing new to learn either from Bamberry’s resignation letter or from the party’s reply – the same pattern will repeat like a fractal, on a smaller and smaller scale.

  78. 72, I’d have greatly enjoyed both those gigs. Sad and unavoidable personal circumstances kept me away.

  79. red mole on said:

    It’s a sad day. It’s hard to conceive of Bambery outside the SWP. The party has been his life for so many years, and he has been part of the flesh and bone of the party. He earned his position as National Secretary through his razor sharp mind, sound political judgement, and ability to distil the key argument in any given situation.

    It’s hard to assess the various claims and counterclaims. No actual factions have been set up, so if there has been any organised move either by or against Bambery it would have to have been done by word of mouth. Whether or not one believes Bambery’s claim that nothing like this went on when he was National Sec, the truth is that he presided over an internal structure which was geared to sidelining debate and dissent within the party, and made it hard to challenge the role of the CC in determining party policy. So when he felt the CC turning against him, he literally had nowhere else to go.

  80. All these posts about a resignation and party that lots of posters say are irrelevant! Meanwhile, for most of us we’re fighting the cuts.

  81. jim mclean on said:

    McCounterfire emerges from the ashes according to one blog – I would net be surprised.

  82. rowche rumble on said:

    @ sam64 – say what you like about Lindsey German, John Rees and Chris Bambery they could have been academics or Labour MPS you say…really?! Firstly, what is so great about being an academic or a Labour MP? Someone made the point about Chris Harman in an obituary that he could have been an academic but he was more significant for being an active revolutionary and intellectual.

    Were Rees, German and Bambery doing us all a favour! Something else to consider: the absence of an authentic democratic internal regime that these comrades were very much a product of has meant many,many talented cadre / comrades have been wasted over the years, driven out, expelled,dropped out disllusioned etc. Its often said the party of ex-SWP mebers dwarfs the SWP proper – and so it does. But how many SWP leaderships are out there too?

    Time for democratic renewal – but it won’t come from the Counterfire quarter.

  83. Howard Kirk on said:

    So Chris Bambery is another victim of SWP’s curious brand of ‘undemocratic centralism’, and one I recall him being very committed to.

    Of course, the disastrous splitting of the branches, the failure of the party to grow significantly during the period of the Iraq War had nothing to do with the party leadership he was at the centre of – the one where the last people to be consulted were the members, who or course did not work hard enough or follow the party line to the letter, and whose fault it must be all along.

  84. Graham Gardens Panel show suit on said:

    #101 . Always a loyalist somewhere to demonstrate that they’re somehow above all this. The moral high ground can provide such a breath of ideological fresh air.

  85. Howard Kirk on said:

    #103 Were Rees, German and Bambery doing us all a favour! Something else to consider: the absence of an authentic democratic internal regime that these comrades were very much a product of has meant many,many talented cadre / comrades have been wasted over the years, driven out, expelled,dropped out disllusioned etc. Its often said the party of ex-SWP mebers dwarfs the SWP proper – and so it does. But how many SWP leaderships are out there too?

    Yes, a few years back the comedian Mark Thomas spoke of a couple of his friends joining Britain’s fastest growing political party: people who have left the SWP. lol

  86. Stephen Marks on said:

    ‘Because the working class is far from being monolithic, and because the path to socialism is uncharted, wide differences of strategy and tactics can and should exist in the revolutionary party. The alternative is the bureaucratised party or the sect with its “leader”. Here one cannot but regret Trotsky’s sweeping statement that “any serious factional fight in a party is always in the final analysis a reflection of the class struggle”. [39] This verges on a vulgar materialist interpretation of human thought as growing directly out of material conditions! What class pressures separated Lenin from Luxemburg, or Trotsky from Lenin (1903-17), or what change in class pressures can one see in Plekhanov’s zigzags: with Lenin in 1903, against him in 1903, against him in 1905, with him again (and at last breaking, it is true, with Lenin and with the revolutionary movement and joining the class enemy)? Can the differences in the theory of imperialism between Lenin and Luxemburg be derived from an analysis of their position in class society? Scientific socialism must live and thrive on controversy. And scientists who start off with the same basic assumptions, and then use the same method of analysis, do differ in all fields of research.

    ‘In order that the party should be able to conduct a dialogue with the masses, it is necessary not only that the party have confidence in the tremendous abilities of the working class in action, but also that the party understand correctly the situation in the country and the conditions of the working class, materially and morally. Any self-deceit on its part must cut short the dialogue and turn it into a boring monologue.

    ‘The party has to be subordinated to the whole. And so the internal regime in the revolutionary party must be subordinated to the relation between the party and the class. The managers of factories can discuss their business in secret and then put before the workers a fait accompli. The revolutionary party that seeks to overthrow capitalism cannot accept the notion of a discussion on policies inside the party without the participation of the mass of the workers – policies which are then brought “unanimously” ready-made to the class. Since the revolutionary party cannot have interests apart from the class, all the party’s issues of policy are those of the class, and they should therefore be thrashed out in the open, in its presence. The freedom of discussion which exists in the factory meeting, which aims at unity of action after decisions are taken, should apply to the revolutionary party. This means that all discussions on basic issues of policy should be discussed in the light of day: in the open press. Let the mass of the workers take part in the discussion, put pressure on the party, its apparatus and leadership’.
    Tony Cliff
    ‘Trotsky on substitutionism’ 1960
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1960/xx/trotsub.htm

  87. Howard Kirk on said:

    #49 JELLYTOT It’s impossible to be in the SWP, to disagree with a particular CC line and remain in it. This infamous quotation from Leon Trotsky gives an idea of their view of the relationship between Party and activist (it’s in their organisational DNA):

    “Comrades, none of us wants to be or can be right against the party. In the last analysis, the party is always right, because the party is the sole historical instrument that the working class possesses for the solution of its fundamental tasks. …. I know that no one can be right against the party. It is only possible to be right with the party and through it since history has not created any other way to determine the correct position.”
    ——————————————————————–
    I don’t think it is the case that you cannot remain in the party if you disagree with the CC, only that you carry out decisions which in theory have been discussed and reflected upon – although this may be after a decision has been made due to urgency. Now with genuine democratic centralist party with a genuine culture of debate (especially one with permanent factions) a convincing argument could be made. The SWP is nothing like this, and maybe is trying to make the party more accountable and open.

    That said, it always struck me, bearing in mind Stalinism etc, an exceptionally stupid thing for Trotsky to say but maybe other Trotskyists can put this into a different context.

  88. Richard S on said:

    “Let the mass of the workers take part in the discussion, put pressure on the party, its apparatus and leadership” from Cliff

    Its the absence of this that I think this goes along way to explaining the why, and where we have arrived to.
    The absence of a generalised fightback, post Miners Strike, post 1980s provides the back drop to the continuing process of fragmentation.
    In the UK the retreat from the class struggle, via the electoral arena, signifys the end of 20th Century battles of the big battalions of the ‘proletariate on global scale.

  89. Hope Chris continues to campaign for revolutionary socialism. SWP makes mistakes. But hope that all left groups can rise above differences to join together to fight against the coming onslaught from the LIB DEM government, which is about to destroy the NHS, THE BENEFITS SYSTEM, THE LIBRARY SERVICES, THE EDUCATION SYSTEM.

  90. rowche rumble on said:

    @ Stephen Marks – exactement.

    The Cliff position on Trotsky and substitutionism was written when Cliff was supposedly having a dalliance with Luxemburg but is entirely consistent with Bolshevik internal regime until ban on permanent factions at the height of Kronstadt in March 1921.

    Any revolutionary tendency (which is what the SWP is in reality) needs open democratic internal regime – authentic Leninism – if it ever wishes to be a part of mass revolutionary organisation rooted in working class. Such an organisation would aspire to unite all revolutionary partisans of working class and would not demand adherence to state capitalism or whatever. Serious internal debate, permanent factions, the elective principle etc might provide basis of an organisation that ccould be serious pole of attraction to many workers currently repelled by revolutionary left.

  91. Mikey on said:

    Don’t yer just love it when a Trot party falls apart. Here’s hoping that Bambers calls in his loan and sends the party to the liquidators.

    Oh, what a beautiful morning,
    Oh, what a beautiful day….

  92. Despite my criticisms of the SWP’s organizational model, I think that nothing terrifies me more than the idea of Andy Newman with any kind of real power.

  93. Howard Kirk on said:

    #54
    The SWP?
    http://www.thesweetband.com/

    Comment by Andy Newman — 11 April, 2011 @ 8:35 pm
    —————————————-

    I would say the SWP are more like The Lurkers – they technically have one original band member (and he was only on their first two singles) and have a song called Ain’t Got A Clue.

  94. Speedy on said:

    Another small step in the slow, painful demise of Trotskyism in Britain.

    The long goodbye…..

  95. Ok, this is all very exciting, but there are cuts to fight, so will you people please get back to fucking work? Most of us in the SWP actually have things to attend to and not much time to waste on gossip. You people remind me of the House of Lords.

  96. thecheekofit on said:

    Minimal impact on comrades in my area. The reality inside the SWP is that it is much kore open to debate. My last aggregate saw a very healthy debate and discussion, no hectoring from the CC speaker at all. It was frankly a breath of fresh air. My main discussion with fellow SWP members was in terms of building a local protest, asking for advice re Union motion on co ordinated strike action and looking at a meeting to defend multi culturalism… lets get back to the real world.

  97. #118

    Don’t kid yourself. This is undeniably bad for the SWP, although the extent of the damage isn’t yet clear (we’ll see in the morning). If some of the above claims are even partly true then what Bambery has done is completely fuck up the Glasgow district organisation. And the way he seems to have gone about his resignation is really bad. What the hell he thinks he’s doing, or is trying to achieve, I have no idea. What does he intend to do now? Start another party? Join ‘Counterfire’? Or what? What he should have done is stay in the party & try to improve it, have whatever debates there are to be had openly within the party, & if that fails THEN resign if he feels he has to. And he should have announced his resignation to SWP members first. We should not be hearing about this news from ‘Luna17′ or ‘Socialist Unity’.

  98. Seriously, whatever his problems with Martin Smith, he owes the members that small measure of courtesy.

    Also, it’s strange how happy some of the commenters on this thread are about this (can I remind you again that the site is called ‘Socialist Unity’?). Do any Socialists honestly believe that this is in some way going to benefit the rest of the left? It really isn’t. But no, enjoy your petty sectarian gloating, as if more division rather than greater unity is what’s needed now.

  99. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    The letter is dated 10th April but was not posted on Luna17 until 12.54 on the 11th April. The SWP had a morning to tell their members about the resignation.

    It could have scarcely been a surprise to them after Friday’s CC meeting either – you don’t accuse someone of being “filthy” and “disgraceful” in their role on a Friday and then expect them to come bouncing in to work, all smiles, on Monday morning do you? In any case, everyone expected Bambery to resign with Rees, so they knew they were living on a borrowed time. The interesting question is what happens with RtWC. If Bambery stays in the role, the SWP will have to remove him, proving beyond all reasonable doubt that it is no more than a party front – something one of their rank and file denied to me a few weeks ago on the spurious grounds that John McDonnell had once spoke on one of their platforms.

  100. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/keyword/Left_and_radical/Socialist_Workers_Party/6614/18-11-2008/videos-of-the-debate-between-the-socialist-party-and-the-swp

    Yes there may be gloating by certain people by the events of the resignation of Chris Bambery. But it should be used to understand the differences over thoery, politics, strategy and tactics between the SWP and others on the left. I post a debate between Hannah Sell, SP/CWI, and Martin Smith, SWP, held in November 2008, as part of that understanding.

    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/keyword/Left_and_radical/Socialist_Workers_Party/6614/18-11-2008/videos-of-the-debate-between-the-socialist-party-and-the-swp

  101. #121

    “The SWP had a morning to tell their members about the resignation.”

    A whole morning? God, he’s spoiling us! Chris Bambery’s resignation letter & the remaining CC’s response were e-mailed to us yesterday in the weekly ‘party notes’. Bambery could have had the courtesy to the members to wait a full day or even two.

    Even better, he could have made some attempt to deal with the issues openly in the party before now, rather than just walking out.

    “It could have scarcely been a surprise, etc”

    I’m not condoning Martin Smith’s alleged behavior. If this is true then both of them come out of this looking pretty bad.

    If it’s true that Bambery has taken a significant section of the Scottish members with him, then that just worsens an already terrible situation in Scotland (what with the SSP vs Solidarity, & all the rest of it). Yet another division on the left is the last thing we need.

  102. At last we see a few lame SWP loyalists stumbling into view, mouthing the usual bromides about how this will have no effect and how comrades are too busy to notice, etc, etc.

    However, it is a bit rich for them to say that Bambery should have stayed in the Party to fight for his position. This guy stayed thirty years too long and has effectively wasted his life on a failed project that is becoming ever more tawdry and pathetic as it decays.

    A thick, blustering thug like Martin Smith would have been viewed as a mere footsoldier by Cliff and Hallas and their generation. The idea that he could actually have led the Party would have been seen as ridiculous.

    The best you can hope for with Bambery is that he puts the past firmly behind him and finds something more sensible to occupy the remainder of his life, eg not fucking Counterfire.

  103. Sam64 on said:

    103: Responding to me:’Firstly, what is so great about being an academic or a Labour MP? Someone made the point about Chris Harman in an obituary that he could have been an academic but he was more significant for being an active revolutionary and intellectual.’

    Nothing is so great about either of these things, that’s not the point. The point is that they had they might have achieved more in life than being where they are now: in the their 50s, washed up politically having clearly failed to achieve what they dedicated their talents and energies since they were teenagers, i.e. building the revolutionary party in Britain.

    The point you go on to make about the lack of internal democracy in the SWP etc is one that I make – and come to think about it, it’s one something that, combined with the authoritarian personalities of Chris Bambery and co that people have been making, contributed to their own predicaments.

  104. Lawrence Shaw on said:

    #86 – I too have come across young SWP members recently, reminding me of myself about 10 years ago, attempting to recruit me to the party and full of pre-programmed positions and responses and an almost frightening level of optimism. Part of me is glad to see da yoof stuck into the left politics. The other part of me is terrified for them because I know where its all likely to end up.

    You have summed up nicely the reason why the Leninist Dem-Cent parties are slowly becoming less and less able to operate in the modern age. The growth of the internet, social media, communication technology, whatever you want to call it, means these parties can no longer operate in any sort of vacuum and protect themselves from damage as they once did.

    Only 15 years ago a split like this would have been news for a few net savvy lefties and the subject of a bit of text message speculation and e-gossip, but subject to very little real scrutiny. Bambery would have been roundly denounced at a series of meetings and articles and as far as the wider membership was concerned he would be disappeared as some kind of madman.

    Nowadays, it’s very different and resignations like this turn any public spats into open discussion on websites like this, on facebook, on twitter, on just about any platform you can imagine.

    Any new student activist, trade unionist, community campaigner or whoever that is drawn into struggle through whatever route will, at some stage, be asked to join any number of the left parties. But rather than take what they are told on face value as they would have to do in the past, now they will do internet searches and learn more about the huge divisions and petty organsational spats like this. They will quickly understand with an hour or so of research the huge sectarian divisions that continue to exist and begin to question why the left doesn’t sort itself out and why members of such long service and high standing will suddenly tear up their party cards so dramatically.

    That’s why it is very dangerous for members of other dem-cent parties to attempt to make any political capital or out of this kind of thing or suggest they are suddenly going to start winning the sick and twisted competition that exists to be the biggest left party.

    The fact there is still any sort of competition amongst organisations is the reason the socialist left is so irrelevant and powerless in the UK today. Hang our heads comrades, because we are collectively pathetic. It’s time to organise and present ourselves very differently to how it was done in early 20th century Russia, and I hope the younger members of all the parties start to realise that.

  105. I remember a particular piece of wisdom from Chris Bambery. “being a member of the swp is not compulsory”. How true. And that should go for CC members as well as non-CC members.

  106. faultylpgic on said:

    Lawrence could you please outline your new way of organising? What sort of organisation do you propose and how are people held accountable, how are debates conducted etc. I am interested as this line of argument come up periodically eg beyond the fragments. How are chat rooms more democratic than meetings etc. Who elects the bloggers? I am curious, ok you attack Leninism..what is the alternative?

    In my district the Bambery stuff is small beer. Comrades feel it the closing chapter of the whole rees/Lindsey affair. Pissed off with Bambery for not having the ability/guts to argue at party meetings. Storm in a tea cup.

  107. Dear Chris,

    I acknowledge receipt of your resignation and have amended our records accordingly.

    Please note it is your responsibility to inform your bank to close your Direct Debit/Standing Order.

  108. Jonny Mac on said:

    Martin Smith, Hammer of the Trots, the man who destroyed the SWP while giving the rest of us a laugh with his curious dress sense and toe-curling television appearance. God bless him.

    21 – “he missed a very positive and useful party council yesterday as a result (no, i won’t be discudding the contents here – you can all wait for the report in the paper).”

    That’s so cruel, Keith. I don’t think I can stand the anticipation.

    Incidentally, I love Bambery being described as a ‘buster flush’ at 16. Tickled me.

    Happy day, la de da.

  109. It seems that Chris Bambery and some of those who left before had developed a mentality of ‘it is my way or the high way’ along with a permanent sense of urgency – so they operated with the idea that if they don’t orient the party and the wider movement to take this or that ‘key link in the chain’, Disaster will follow. This limited the space for internal debate on strategy among the membership, instead putting too much emphasis on the role of the leadership to seize the key link.
    this also explains why they did not argue their line in order to try to win over the rank and file if they thought they were right, and chose alternatively to pull together in a small group (counterfire) to ‘seize the key link’. I have no problems with seizing key links, but I do think they had developed it in a cult around their own leadership.
    the SWP has actually become much more open for debate and whatever one might think of it, it is clear that it belongs to its rank and file membership, as there are few organizations that would have survived the departure of a significant sections of its old leadership. I hope the comrades will continue renewing and strengthening it and play their role in organizing the fight back

  110. Duncan on said:

    # 129

    I can’t believe this thread got to 129 comments before someone mentioned that.

  111. I must admit Duncan, I was surprised that nobody had mentioned it.

    We are seeing the standard response to a major figure leaving the SWP. No political response, just the same tired character assasination of somebody who gave 32 years to that organisation, claims of a rightward drift and then comments like ‘ can’t discuss this, we’re all busy fighting the cuts’

    Until next time…..

  112. Is this still going? You lot must have time on your hands. Who cares? We’ve got a slaughter on our hands with this government.

  113. Duncan on said:

    #133

    Case in point with #135: the headless chicken approach to activism. No time for political discussion, build for this, build for that.

  114. Duncan; the working classes are being slaughtered. I have plenty of time for political discussion, but this thread comprises of lots of school ground insults – it is not a political discussion. I don’t build for this or that, I do stuff. Now behave.

  115. prianikoff on said:

    I’d refute the oft-repeated assertion that this has much to do with “democratic centralism”, or the “Russian” model of organisation.

    Since its formation, the SWP only ever formally subscribed to those principles.

    In reality, it’s mainly operated as a sect, placing its own organisational interests above those of the working class.
    Sometimes it’s been able to build large united fronts, but only relatively recently has it even taken electoral work seriously.
    Due to the series of hats it’s worn in doing so, this hasn’t led to effective propaganda for socialist policies.

    The best aspect of the SWP has always been its ability to build mass protests such as the ANL and StWC. It’s worst has been its failure to relate to mass working class organisations.

    What’s instructive is that SWP has suffered a major split in its leadership just as the British Trade Union movement has organised one of the biggest demonstrations in its history.

    This a very old phenomenon on the left, which in Britain has beeen evident ever since the 19th century.

    Most splits on the British left have actually occurred in periods when the class struggle is on the up and the sects are unable to respond to the challenge.

    There are many examples including:-

    * The CPGB which lurched towards ultra-left sectarian irrelevance after the General Strike.

    * The ILP, which tried to build an independent socialist organisation in the 1920′s and 30′s during a period of mass radicalisation and the rise of fascism.
    It failed to relate to what was going on in the mass organisations and by the late 40′s was in irreversible decline and ended up back in the Labour Party.

    * The RCP after the war which should have joined the Labour Party as an organised tendency.

    * The Club/ SLL Healy’s most productive period was in the LP prior to the decision of the SLL to leave and proclaim itself as “the” revolutionary party.

    * The IS, which left the Labour Party in ’68 and grew out of the mass student radicalisation during the Vietnam War and the wave of union struggles in the early 70′s.

    By the mid 70′s it suffered a serious leadership split, partly around whether to work in the Broad Left in the AUEW in Birmingham.
    Cliff was vehemently opposed to this and expelled the engineers who did so.
    Instead, he created a rank and file front organisation called “Engineering Worker”.
    By the 1980′s he was proclaiming the downturn, closed most of the “rank and file” papers and failed to see the Miner’s strike coming.

    *Militant grew rapidly during the leftward turn in the Labour Party during the 1980′s. But as soon as the Labour bureaucracy expelled its editorial board, abandoned any attempt to stay in and suffered a major leadership split.
    Out of this, the “Scottish Turn” developed. Not exactly a glorious example to follow.

    * The Scargillites were faced with a similar dilemma and created what soon became an irrelevant Stalinist sect.

    * Respect set up as an independent left party out of the StWC, but has not been able to build on its initial, limited electoral successes.

    All of which shows that even an organisation which has 50,000 members can operate as a sect.
    Chris Bambery, John Rees and Lindsey German may harbour ambitions to throw their hats into the electoral arena in the future. But doing so outside the framework of an organised working class party is not the way forward

  116. “*Militant grew rapidly during the leftward turn in the Labour Party during the 1980’s. But as soon as the Labour bureaucracy expelled its editorial board, abandoned any attempt to stay in and suffered a major leadership split.
    Out of this, the “Scottish Turn” developed. Not exactly a glorious example to follow.”

    Not really the case the editorial board was expelled in 1983, around a decade before the organisation broke with the Labour Party. The Militant of course was at its organisational height during the battles of the 80s and suffered decline, as the class did as a whole politically in the 90s. While as has been rightly pointed out above it is not the case that the problems in one left party are beneficial for others the SP has certainly rapidly increased its influence in the last years and hopefully some SWP members can see that as a positive.

    As for the situation on the SWP generally I don’t see Bambery leaving as having a major impact (perhaps aside from Scotland but I am a long way from that part of the world!). I am interested in how SWP members think this will effect Right to Work and whether the whole method of Right to Work as a ‘united front’ when it doesn’t have steering committee meetings, was set up by the decision of a small group of the CC etc, is called into question.

  117. Tell the truth on said:

    #100 It’s entirely untrue that nothing like this went on under Bambery’s overlong and incredibly undistinguished if not disastrous rule as national secretary. Central committee members who had fallen out of favour were frequently bad-mouthed and undermined before being dropped from the approved list of candidates for conference. Other members who got on Bambery’s wrong side were also marginalised or worse and he was even known to make threats of physical violence against members who spoke back to him or disagreed with his line. It’s a long time since I had any experience of the internal workings of the SWP but I can believe the internal atmosphere has much improved since German and Rees departed and Bambery was marginalised. Were I an SWP member now, I would not be shedding a single tear about his resignation. Rather the opposite.

  118. stockwellpete on said:

    #72 Hey! Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash played quite a good set recently to the assembled dinosaurs in Preston’s Guild Hall . . . They were also more tuneful than Chris Bambery when he played a gig at 53 degrees week before last (where were you and your comrades by the way!) though both crowds had their cheering moments…. 53 degrees for John McDonnell, and the Guild Hall for the peace anthem “Throw Down the Sword”.

    Quite good?! They are bloody marvellous!! Throw down the sword, the fighting’s done and over, neither lost neither won . . .” – I have the tune on now as I write. lol

    Good to see the SWP continuing to implode, it means that the anti-cuts movement has more chance to grow in its own right rather than be a plaything of a bureaucratically degenerated sect. And for those that still think the SWP are a Leninist organisation, please consider Marcel Liebman’s “Leninism Under Lenin” or Deutscher’s first two volumes of his Trotsky biography for alternative approaches to socialist party building.

  119. KrisS – I don’t think you ought to be discussing it with me. In fact I couldn’t care less about Bambery resigning. The point is that it is unlikely that this will generate political discussion among SWP members and newer members are likely to be shielded from it altogether.

    Sonya came in right on cue to back up my point of how this happens. No time to discuss as too busy doing things, implying that myself and others who comment aren’t. Carry on with petiton, paper sale and building comrades!

  120. Werther on said:

    #45 lynsey come off it, you know as well as the rest of us that the ssp are f!ӣ$% in the forthcoming elections. Now, get back to your ssp kiddies forum and leave us grown-ups in peace

  121. redcogs on said:

    The quest of how the rank and file members can democratically control Party hierarchies in voluntary socialist organisation seems to be the eternal issue.

    When i was involved a significant issue was that people of Mr Bambery’s ilk always seemed to benefit from the prevailing culture of restricted discussion, and i believe it was a matter of quite widespread concern that authoritarian methodology could be tolerated for such extensive periods.

    Some sort of backlash seems to have been inevitable, and it is justice that big stick wavers should finally experience the crippling alienation that they were so prominently involved in creating.

    i remain hopeful that the Left will eventually find a workable formula for attracting enthusiastic support from working people, but such a formula (in the age of the internet) surely cannot involve any further empowerment of political bullying or its practitioners?

  122. #42

    “There was criticism of his role in not effectively helping to build a broad Right to Work (RTW). But far from downgrading RTW, the CC had recently agreed to add another person to help build it.”

    Interesting. I would have thought it was up to the RTW steering committee to decide if people were added to it or not?
    How often does the RTW steering committee meet by the way? I presume Chris Bambery, as the National Secretary of RTW will be calling a steering committee in the not too distant future to discuss the problems he has raised about the running and future direction of the organisation?

  123. #149
    Andy, while you may disagree with the way the SP handled the launching of the NSSN anti-cuts campaign, it did at the very least have forums where the disagreements could take place. The fact that Right to Work does not appear to have this is what Neil is getting albeit it in a rather unhelpfully sarcastic tone…

  124. Getting on grand thank you so much for asking. Afraid your wrong about alienating non SP activists. The NSSN has a very constructive working relationship with the leadership of the RMT and it’s also recently had the NUJ affiliate to it as well to name just a few examples. Still I’m sure you don’t want me to bore you with the details of the NSSN’s successes although I’d be perfectly happy to.

  125. To be 100% accurate the NUJ voted to support the NSSN anti cuts campaign. I don’t know if that means they’ve affiliated as well.

  126. #151

    “The NSSN has a very constructive working relationship with the leadership of the RMT ”

    The same individuals responsible for the NO2EU fiasco?

    how did that work out?

  127. neil, i dont think this is someone extra on the steering committee – it means someone in the party (presumably already on the rtw steering committee) with the specific task of helping swp members to build rtw, of pushing rtw within the party. it is an swp job not a rtw one and almost certainly not an interference with the composition of the rtw steering committee.

  128. Dear me Andy, that’s vintage SWP avoid the issue tactics there. Are you having some sort of flash backs today?

    In any case you’ve just admitted the NSSN does have points of support beyond the SP AND slagged off a good portion of the CPB and the RMT in one go.

  129. #154 That’s fair enough. Although my second point as to why Bambery has not now or in the past called a steering committee of RTW to discuss the problems he raises in his letter still stands.

  130. Bambery leaves the SWP – 155 comments.
    Libyan rebels continue the war – 5 comments.

    Hey ho.

  131. Anonymous on said:

    SWP Resignation form letter
    To: National Secretary
    CC: Friends
    BCC: Willing publicists
    Dear ,
    1) Great regret – you are resigning forthwith.
    2) Credentials – you are a longstanding member of the party/knew Cliff personally.
    3) Factionalising – this is always something other people do. You are its victim and, thoroughly fed up with it, are leading your faction out of the party.
    4) Tradition – grasping the key link in the chain, bending the stick, Tony Cliff.
    5) Unity – your defection should by no means be construed as a sign that you are uninterested in revolutionary unity.
    6) New organisation – as a Marxist, you feel that what is needed is some sort of party, ideally one uniting the most advanced sectors of the working class behind revolutionary politics.
    Sincerely/comradely/fraternally/best wishes/etc.,….

  132. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    #141 Yes, stockwellpete, the original version of ‘Throw Down the Sword’ is marvellous, but you do realise that there are now two different versions of Wishbone Ash currently gigging? One is led by original guitarist Andy Powell, and one by original bassist Martin Turner. Just as there are two versions of Barclay James Harvest and (almost) two versions of Yes (again).

    Any similarity between 1970s dinosaur rock groups and the revolutionary left is entirely coincidental … (two versions of the SWP, two versions of the Militant Tendency ….)

  133. #158
    I’ve made no mention of the righteousness or otherwise of the SP, nor has any SP member on this thread.
    What I have done is raise pertinent questions about the internal running’s of RTW flowing from the statements of it’s National Secretary and the SWP CC. One of which has been answered, which I accept, the other which has not.

    Given the fact that YOU asked plenty of questions about the running’s of the NSSN during the recent anti-cuts debate (which you are perfectly entitled to do even if your partiality in the whole debate left something to be desired) I’m a bit surprised by your attitude.

  134. #161

    No Neil, the distinction is that the RTW never was any more than an SWP front, and has no existance outside the imagination and self-deception of SW members. So your “pertinent questions” are redundant, becasue you know that there is no substance to the RTW at all.

    NSSN did have some substance; I don’t think it has now, despite the decorative presence of one or two RMT big wigs on its plarforms.

  135. stockwellpete on said:

    #160 “Yes, stockwellpete, the original version of ‘Throw Down the Sword’ is marvellous, but you do realise that there are now two different versions of Wishbone Ash currently gigging? One is led by original guitarist Andy Powell, and one by original bassist Martin Turner. Just as there are two versions of Barclay James Harvest and (almost) two versions of Yes (again).”

    Yes, I have seen both Wishbone Ash’s play in the last year or so, lots of good clips on youtube of both of them. MTWA have re-recorded “Argus” as well. I saw John Lees’s BJH about a year ago but the sad news is that Woolly Wolstenholme committed suicide just before Xmas. A great shame. Not seen Yes though.

    Now where were we . . . ? lol

  136. thisheat on said:

    It is worth stepping back from all the froth about personality or attributing various directions of an organisation down to the nature of individuals, and instead isolate the recurring issues.

    Bambery’s letter is hardly a rallying cry or a scathing analysis of the party’s faults, but it does touch upon the continuing problems that the SWP (and others) face. Firstly I would say the question of the united front has been at the heart of the SWP’s troubles- the difficulty of setting up a united front at a time when the social forces (and their social bases) that constitute such a formation have been ravaged by decades of defeat and neoliberalism- the entrenchment of the bureaucracy, the breakdown of rank and file organisation, the dissolution or incorporation of community groups into the state agenda, a waning of basic instincts of solidarity, the rightward trajectory of social democracy and the general disillusion with parliamentary democracy- all have created a scenario where ‘united fronts’ are a husk of how they are traditionally conceived (i.e. as if there are mass social democratic and communist parties in existence)

    The second question is membership- the recruitment, retention and development of members. A question that is inextricably linked to democracy in the organisation. If it were true (its not) that suitable structures exist within the SWP to challenge the leadership and shape the direction of the party, then those structures are rendered useless, little more than rusted sculptures, by the culture in the organisation- suffused with docility, hostility and with little hope of making horizontal links across the organisation. In the abscence of a real cadre we have the leadership and an informal coterie of trusted ‘cadre’ and functionaries that drive home the ‘line’.

    Bambery cites himself as one of the last companions of Cliff, but fails to see that Cliff’s analysis of Lenin- the master key of ‘the key link in the chain’- is an elevation of a tactic to a central tenet of party-building, an understanding that can’t help but aid the vascillation and dithering leadership that sees members haemorrhaging at every ‘turn’. (And woe that he only just realised its not that fun in the SWP if you want to raise opposition)

    The question remains for me whether the SWP and its current interal dynamics are a product of defeat and a low-level of working class struggle, dynamics that can be rejuvenated by a possible influx of militants radicalised by the fight against austerity (assuming such a fight will take place with any earnest). Or whether such militants will be perturbed from joining or find themselves roundly chewed-up, burnt-out or kicked-out, finding that the lack of democracy is an innate characteristic stemming at least from the move in the 1970s from the IS to the SWP if not from the very Leninist politics the organisation is based on.

    The task for members who wish to find a way out of the impasse, by learning from the mistakes of the class rather than any leadership no matter how ‘correct’, is to stick their heads above the parapet and set about the long patient task of rebuilding organisation in the workplace and elsewhere.

  137. The Renegade Kautsky on said:

    I’ve noticed that Prinkipo Exile has been contributing (albeit mainly about old hippy bands). Given that this is a bit of a free for all rammy why hasn’t anyone had a pop at Socialist Resistance yet?

    Btw did (could) anyone read their free paper on the 26th March 11 demo?

  138. soldier of unfortune on said:

    A few thoughts.

    1. The damage done is the resignation (if it is true) of the glasgow students. Not Bambery. If there is one thing worse than a buerocratic hard man it is an inefectual buerocratic hard man. He was never the type of guy that was going to slip away quietly though.

    2. Is the SWP finished? Doubt it. Posters on this blog with enough critical engagement in such organisations know its far from the case. There are those on here that derride the ultra loyalists. If someone is being boneheaded they deserve a smackdown, but dont dismiss those that report healthier branch meetings, real debates in districts, and engagement in struggles etc. These are numerous, and come in enough guises and contexts to suggest it aint bullshit.

    It is an organisation that is weaker than a decade ago but a lot stronger than 2 years ago, and much better equipped to handle the debates that will come out of this. I aint ready to rejoin quite yet, though I am keeping a close eye (as others will be).

    3. Whether this is enough or not for an organisation that declares itself to be (or wanting to be) the vanguard organisation is another question, and one that SWP members will have to ask themselves over the coming months as the struggle increases.

    The alternatives of Bambery-Rees-key-link-bend-the-stickery are’nt that appertising tbh.

  139. Firstly, this is hugely damaging for the SWP, at least in Glasgow & probably the rest of Scotland. Any member who denies that is fooling only themselves.

    Secondly, it just makes the existing situation on the left here worse. We need yet another small party on the left like a fucking hole in the head. What’s needed now is more co-operation, not even more competition.

    Thirdly, this was quite clearly planned in advance, & well before the meeting on Friday that Chris Bambery refers to. A significant section of the membership in one specific area does not just walk out en masse without having discussed it beforehand. Moreover, it explains the behavior of some of these comrades over the last couple of weeks. The secretive & dishonest way they have gone about this behind the backs of the rest of us is frankly pretty disgusting.

    Finally, yes there are clearly problems in the party (this certainly proves it if nothing else!) but rather than make any serious attempt to deal with them openly & honestly they do this stupid bloody thing.

  140. tell the truth on said:

    #169 Seems as though Bambery’s resignation and the departure of others was carefully orchestrated. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was originally a plan hatched when German and Rees left the SWP. Bambery, after all, had solidly supported them against the majority. It’s indicative of a deceitfulness and lack of principle that reflects very badly on those who have left in these circumstances, and very badly on the organisation they have no doubt left to join – Counterfire.

  141. Howard Kirk on said:

    SWP TEMPLATE TO STOP PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT BAD NEWS FOR THE SWP.

    Don’t you know there is xxxxx and or yyyyy going on. You all must be (delete as appropriate) A) inactive B) sectarian. Whilst you are doing with this we are (delete as appropriate) building for/ going into workplaces/ other worthy activity.

    Actually, I reckon the SWP are well shot of Rees/German/Bambery et al, and whilst I can believe it is becoming a more open party than during these years, but as many people have pointed out, it is still nothing like a proper democratic centralist party with permanent factions (which the Russians still managed to do in a state of semi-illegality and during a world war). And that’s before you get to the arguments about how valid this is as a way of organising in the 21st century. It still may be, but not as the SWP does it.

    And it is true that with the increase in technology the SWP in unable to control the flow of information so all that members got to hear about it would be through party notes and through branch meetings ( and if they were really decadent, a copy of a rival newspaper). As Laurence Shaw pointed out above, those days are over and there will be shedloads of doubt available for SWP or potential SWP recruits to muse over. The problem for the SWP is that too many of those criticisms (often from ex party members) ring true for too many people. And now it’s a damn site easier to people to hear about it.

  142. Jellytot on said:

    @165 The question remains for me whether the SWP and its current interal dynamics are a product of defeat and a low-level of working class struggle, dynamics that can be rejuvenated by a possible influx of militants radicalised by the fight against austerity (assuming such a fight will take place with any earnest). Or whether such militants will be perturbed from joining or find themselves roundly chewed-up, burnt-out or kicked-out, finding that the lack of democracy is an innate characteristic stemming at least from the move in the 1970s from the IS to the SWP if not from the very Leninist politics the organisation is based on.

    Probably the latter. You’d hope that what’s happened in the past decade would have brought a bit of introspection to the SWP and a revision of the way it operates, however, all this “we’re too busy to notice this” says that they won’t. Again, it’s all about activity and struggle (any activity!) before a sober assessment of what’s going on. Being a member to the SWP you leave strategic thinking up to the CC. It’s obvious that the CC have no ability or desire to think clearly and investigate taking the necessary steps to reverse the near-terminal decline. Just continuing doing what they’ve been doing for the past 20+ years is the easy option. In a Party where so much is invested in the leadership, having effective and dynamic leaders is vital. The SWP have neither.

    @167 2. Is the SWP finished? Doubt it.

    The SWP will always be around I agree (the SPGB have been going since 1904!)and there will be times of increased recruitment around a particular event or campaign but they be building on a weaker and smaller organisational base. The longturn trajectory is inevitably downwards unless they ditch Leninism (or what they think of as Leninism) and the centralism. Future generations just won’t accept and respond to it. Younger people seem to favour looser structures.

    @160 Any similarity between 1970s dinosaur rock groups and the revolutionary left is entirely coincidental … (two versions of the SWP, two versions of the Militant Tendency ….)

    Why hasn’t anybody mentioned Spooky Tooth?

  143. Jellytot on said:

    @170 And it is true that with the increase in technology the SWP in unable to control the flow of information so all that members got to hear about it would be through party notes and through branch meetings ( and if they were really decadent, a copy of a rival newspaper). As Laurence Shaw pointed out above, those days are over and there will be shedloads of doubt available for SWP or potential SWP recruits to muse over. The problem for the SWP is that too many of those criticisms (often from ex party members) ring true for too many people. And now it’s a damn site easier to people to hear about it.

    Bambery, himself, when he edited Socialist Worker in the mid 90′s was aware of this problem. The internet was just getting popular back then (we used to go to internet cafes in those days) and Bambery stated something along the lines of, “The Internet will be of limited use to Socialists and more of a hinderance than a help” and the SWP even mused about banning members from participating in non-SWP discussions and forums. What they were aware of was the effect it would have on centralism. How they could have enforced this is anybody’s guess.

  144. Jellytot on said:

    @130 Martin Smith, Hammer of the Trots, the man who destroyed the SWP while giving the rest of us a laugh with his curious dress sense

    Never trust a man who dresses at aged 45 as he did at 14.

  145. faultylpgic on said:

    #171
    I have no problem discussing it..but just not on this site full of halfwits full of sectarian bile..who go from attacking Bambery to loving him when he quits lol. It is for party members to discuss but hey I am sure the usual tossers on here will froth and foam for days..

  146. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    #163 Yes stockwellpete – the two versions of Yes are the band of that name, now fronted by Canadian David Benoit, who used to be the lead singer in a tribute band called “Close to the Edge” and was originally called in because longstanding vocalist Jon Anderson was ill but was asked to stay on. Oliver Wakeman, son of keyboard player Rick, took over the keyboard reins from his father Rick, but has now been replaced by Geoff Downes also a previous Yes player and originally best known as one half of Buggles. In an apparent fit of pique at being sacked, Jon Anderson then teamed up with Rick Wakeman to undertake a tour of Yes material. History repeats itself, as back in 1989 two versions of one time band members were touring simultaneously – one called Yes, and the other called “Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe”. After a couple of years of avoiding each other, eight members of the two versions actually joined together in a “Mega-Yes” for the appropriately named “Union” tour, before splitting yet again….

    Does any of this seem familiar? Was the Union tour the RCP hour for Yes? Is Counterfire a tribute band for the IS period? Does Chris Bambery have a hotline to Jon Anderson? Is Martin Smith really Chris Squire in disguise? And does the renegade Kautsky (#166) need to get a sense of humour bypass operation? (even he’s got to admit it’s far more fun than these other dreary and squalid developments?)

  147. prianikoff on said:

    “Why hasn’t anybody mentioned Spooky Tooth?”

    Possibly, because a band that had a guitarist who called himself “Ariel Bender” might not be regarded as politically correct in the post 1980′s world.

    “Is Counterfire a tribute band for the IS period?”

    Bloody hell no!

  148. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    #180 “Why hasn’t anybody mentioned Spooky Tooth?” Possibly, because a band that had a guitarist who called himself “Ariel Bender” might not be regarded as politically correct in the post 1980’s world.

    That was his name in Mott the Hoople, apparently to get round contractual obligations. In Spooky Tooth he was Luther Grosvenor. Was it a bit like Alex Callinicos?

  149. Lawrence Shaw on said:

    #151

    Neil, the NUJ did not specifically affiliate to the NSSN anti-cuts campaign. The vote taken at conference in a deliberately anti-sectarian fashion to support all anti-cuts organisations. So the gap between what was passed and what you are claiming is a pretty big jump.

    Also I wonder why it is so important for the NSSN – an organisation I thought was all about bringing together trades unionists at grass roots – to have support from union leaders? Seems to me what is more important is getting the involvement of people on the ground who are politically unaligned rather than boasting about a few bureaucrats at the top of one union.

  150. YKTMX on said:

    The problem with the sectarian gasbags is that they don’t see how events like this completely destroy their standard critique of the SWP. Because, of course, the standard critique is that the membership doesn’t think for itself but instead is ‘led’ by an unassailable leadership. In fact, as another member pointed out, the Party has lost significant elements of its leadership over the last 10 years and has not – and here’s where I might dissapoint the constantly apocalyptic sects – suffered any serious collapse or setback (I’m sorry, it’s just a fact). What this suggests is a significant degree of autonomy and self-direction from the membership, esecially experienced sections.

    Bambery’s leaving is a bad thing, no doubt. The student members from Glasgow leaving is bad – some of the comrades are/were excellent socialists. Other (who’ll remain nameless) are middle class braggarts and upstarts with vast delusions of grandeur and will not be a loss to the Party and are only investing themselves in revolutionary activity before they go back to their petty bourgeois lives of leisure.

    Still, we will need to see what happens. I hope they don’t go through the frankly ludicrous idea of setting up a new Marxist grouplet – trust me, folks, 30 students led by Bamberry isn’t a viable basis for a revolutionary organization. They’d be better joining Counterfire.

  151. Observer on said:

    I note that our Mr Newman has been stirring the faecal matter once again: “Oh look so many comments :-), I hope this hasn’t resulted in too much traffic to the site :-)”

  152. Anonymous on said:

    Yeah you’re right Observer, in many ways it’s Andy Newman’s fault the SWP is falling apart, isn’t it?

    Just out of curiosity, what is the standard rate of pay for a SWP full-timer?

  153. YKTMX on said:

    Also – the number of resignations is more like 30, not 60. Almost all in Glasgow, all of them students. It’s a new Marxist grouplet without a single trade unionist, in other words.

  154. YKTMX on said:

    “Yeah you’re right Observer, in many ways it’s Andy Newman’s fault the SWP is falling apart, isn’t it?

    Just out of curiosity, what is the standard rate of pay for a SWP full-timer?”

    Just a guess but you said exactly the same thing when Rees/German left didn’t you and, ummm, we didn’t.

    Just of curiosity, what is the standard rate of pay for a miserable sectarian clown these days?

  155. Observer on said:

    #185 I don’t know what you are twittering on about: I am not and never have been a member of the SWP; certainly not an SWP full-timer!

  156. #175

    “Never trust a man who dresses at aged 45 as he did at 14.”

    Scurrilous attack on Fred Perry polo shirts. Withdraw or be damned!

  157. Jellytot on said:

    @183 Other (who’ll remain nameless) are middle class braggarts and upstarts with vast delusions of grandeur and will not be a loss to the Party and are only investing themselves in revolutionary activity before they go back to their petty bourgeois lives of leisure.

    That’s the crux of your problem. Using terms like that just illustrates that you’re on a different planet to most people.

    @187 Just of curiosity, what is the standard rate of pay for a miserable sectarian clown these days?

    Nothing, we do it for free.

    @189 Scurrilous attack on Fred Perry polo shirts. Withdraw or be damned!

    I was thinking more about his ‘Pengiun’ shirts and National Health specs! Anyway, didn’t the Mod Revival peter out around 1983?

  158. Steve on said:

    I would imagine the rate of pay for a full-timer to be the same as a skilled worker plus expenses. They aren’t particularly well paid – often rely on benefits to get by.

  159. SantiagoTalk on said:

    This is an interesting discussion being destroyed by some contributions by those who are anti SWP. By all means have your say, state your views and disagrements but cut out the bile. This site is called Socialist Unity! thats becoming a bit of a joke.

  160. ordinary grunt full-timers used to get either twice the dole from the SWP, and the sign on as well; or three times the dole if they couldn’t sign on.

    In addition the SWP for some reason had various council flats under their gift which went to full timers.

    There has always been, of course, another category of full timer much more generously paid, which bambury would fall into

  161. YKTMX on said:

    “That’s the crux of your problem. Using terms like that just illustrates that you’re on a different planet to most people.”

    Awwwww. Why don’t you tell me some of the big words you don’t understand are and I’ll tell you what they mean in simple English, comrade? :)

  162. Steve on said:

    SantiagoTalk – I think you’ll find much of the bile coming from the pro-SWP corner as well, throwing apolitical insults at Bambery to avoid political discussion

  163. Oliveira on said:

    I wish that The Undertaker would appear and give a quote from,e.g. Bureaucratic Collectivism – A Critique, I’m sure that Cliff could provide some reasoning behind all of this.

  164. Mark P (the Irish one) on said:

    Andy:

    Just to clarify this, are you saying that SWP leaders get paid more than ordinary full time workers? Substantially more?

  165. #197

    Fair play to them. I recognise a few of the names listed. Some talented cadre there.

    Looks as if Countefire is on course to eclipse the SWP as the torch bearers of Cliff’s legacy in Britain.

  166. Grandson of a fallen CNT Hero on said:

    Scottish resignations are new wave of recruits and students. The rump Scottish SWP will be more tired, descripted and obedient than ever! What is the organisation going to do up north? Back the celebrity politics of Galloway and Sheridan? Is it going to be open and democratic? Bambery’s track record would suggest yes to the first and no the second.

    http://www.counterfire.org/index.php/news/news/11886-new-socialist-organisation-formed-in-scotland

  167. jim mclean on said:

    193# ordinary grunt full-timers used to get either twice the dole from the SWP, and the sign on as well;
    Can they expect an interview under caution then if this becomes general knowledge?

  168. Mark P (the Irish one) on said:

    Keith Watermelon, don’t be silly. A grand total of 80 odd people, all but a handful members of some sect or other, walked out of the NSSN. What it mostly shows you is how small the number of stewards large parts of the British left can muster, even when added together.

    But perhaps you can answer my question on the issue more relevant to this thread and discussion. Is Andy telling the truth when he says that SWP leaders are paid substantially more than ordinary SWP full timers?

  169. Eisler/Holder on said:

    “ordinary grunt full-timers used to get either twice the dole from the SWP, and the sign on as well; or three times the dole if they couldn’t sign on.

    In addition the SWP for some reason had various council flats under their gift which went to full timers.

    There has always been, of course, another category of full timer much more generously paid, which bambury would fall into”

    Jings! Anyone leaving the Militant/Socialist Party to join the SWP as a full-timer could be seen as making a career move!
    I don’t think even Nellist and Fields took home three times dole money!

    On the other topic on this thread: Fuck! There are TWO Yes’s? I think I’ll commit suicide. I’m reminded of Mark E Smith on hearing Steve Hillage was recording with The Orb – “Steve Hillage is back? Oh God, I’ve failed!”

    bert

  170. Wow, they just spontaneously resigned on Sunday and already have declared a new organization by Tuesday, which will probably affiliate to Counterfire by Friday. This was clearly an inside/outside faction job and regardless of the validity or not of their arguments secret factions certainly are a dishonest way to organize. What’s more, Bamberry – who never wrote a dissenting piece in any party publications since the departure of Rees/German – can only muster some pretty pathetic justification for causing a split – Martin Smith got angry with him and accused him of organizing a secret faction (uh, true) and he has a suspicion (no evidence) that the CC were about to organize a factional attack… and that’s why he didn’t bother to argue for his position anywhere at any time in any form.
    While some on here may cheer – bizarrely – my guess is that the vast majority in the SWP will feel little more than disgust with the method and dismay over the damage in Scotland. And then they will get on with it since this is clearly the end of a factional cycle that began with Rees/German.

  171. If # 90 ish is correct is anybody else wondering what else might be rotten in an organisation that gives a man a standing ovation when he has allegations made against him by a woman ???

    Wtf ???

  172. Jellytot on said:

    @194 Awwwww. Why don’t you tell me some of the big words you don’t understand are and I’ll tell you what they mean in simple English, comrade?

    Are you able to describe people in Britain in 2011 as “petit bourgeois” and keep a straight face?

  173. Grandson of a fallen CNT Hero on said:

    #86 The Bolshivek party prior to the degeneratyion of the party (1921?) allowed open debate in its journalks and party members could oppose party policy at the party’s public meetings. Don’t confuse democratic centralism with the centrailsed bureacratic metods of the SWP.SP etc

  174. Jellytot on said:

    @193 In addition the SWP for some reason had various council flats under their gift which went to full timers.

    I never knew that. What’s the legality around that?

    Clare Solomon has an extermely ‘des res’ in the Oxo Tower. Wasn’t she fairly senior in the SWP until a few years back?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2011/mar/19/clare-solomon-interview

    Solomon lives in an enviable location, on the sixth floor of the Oxo Tower in London. Her council flat, with its bookshelves of bricks and boards, overlooks the Thames.

  175. Jonny Mac on said:

    What I’d really like to know from those SWP members who have commented, is this.

    Do you really, genuinely believe that there will be a socialist revolution in Britain in the foreseeable future, led by Martin Smith and his comrades in the CC?

    If not, what the fuck are you doing with your life?

  176. Callum on said:

    @JohnnyMac

    Show me one document ever printed by the SWP in which it is claimed that the socialist revolution in britain will be led by the CC of the SWP.

    Come on. Even witless dolts can use Google.

    If you can’t find one, fuck off and get a life.

  177. Callum on said:

    “Are you able to describe people in Britain in 2011 as “petit bourgeois” and keep a straight face?”

    Petty-bourgeois is a term used in marxist theory to designate the social groups in capitalist societies who sit ‘between’ the working class – those who earn their living by working for a wage – and the bourgeoisie – those who exploit wage-earners. In Britain, literally hundreds of thousands of people fall into this group – lawers, doctors, middle managers in large firms, those in supervisory positions in the public sector.

    Now, do one.

  178. jim mclean on said:

    As the nominations are closed for the Glasgow Regional List’s does this mean James Foley is still a Respect candidate in Glasgow and will McCounterfire be working with the anti cuts campaign.

  179. Jellytot on said:

    @216 Show me one document ever printed by the SWP in which it is claimed that the socialist revolution in britain will be led by the CC of the SWP.

    A Bookmarks pamphlet written by John Molyneux in 1987 clearly stated that the ruling party elected in a socialist Britain would be the one that led the Revolution. The clear inference was that party would be the SWP.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Future-Socialist-Society-John-Molyneux/dp/090599860X/ref=sr_1_36?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302636218&sr=1-36

  180. jim mclean on said:

    When discussing revolutions on at national level what are the chances would even a united have of Left being successful in the present world climate,at the first sign of success Obama would bomb the shit out of us. We can only mark time until……………God knows, we live in reactionary times.

  181. This is fairly predictable. Understandably SWP members in their majority will discount the resignations.

    Their least convincing protestations are the Bambery should have argued his corner. It’s not the culture of the organisation. And it’s not the way the leadership operates. The people expelled over the Respect split argued their corner and were expelled during the pre-conference discussion period. Bambery was part of the alpha leading group on the CC who did that. Ruthlessly.

    You can’t blame him if he adapts and plays the CC at its own game. As for the politics of all of this: I see no substantive difference between the SWP and Counterfire/Bambery.

  182. liquorice on said:

    For the person above who said that discussion now takes place online – apparently not on the Counterfire website – my comment that I thought the comrades in scotland were being a tad hypocritical has been deleted preety quickly!

  183. man from manchester. on said:

    Im a member of the swp who has been quite inactive for some time now(practically not a member any more). My problem is that bambery is just as bad as smith etc.. i hope them folks in scotland will actually set up something fresh rather than just another swp. it must be nice for them not to have to deal with the crap that comes out of london sometimes and as far as i know theres some real talent up there in glasgow. I think that whilst lenin and that lot have good stuff to teach, they need to get away from relying on all the bolshevism. I think it makes you look like a nutter in this day and age whether we like it or not, thats just the ideological victory capitalism had in 1989.

  184. Oh – and Martin Smith comes out of all of this as the apparachik that he is. But I think we are looking at a New SWP. By analogy with New Labour, it has all the faults of its predecessor – and some more besides.

    It remains a significant part of the much diminished far left. But it will be more led than leading.

    In the short term, I fear a lot of energy will be wasted in the SWP/Counterfire spat. A modest observation: don’t take sides or indulge either – try to focus on advancing the movement instead.

  185. #218 – an SWP writer in 1987 wrote something from which YOU have inferred he meant that the SWP would lead the revolution in Britain, though you provide no quote only a link to the pamphlet on amazon.

  186. As yet nothing from Richard at Lenin’s Tomb. Be interesting to read his analysis of Bambery’s resignation. Surely he must be lamenting the demise of the party he joined as a student. It’s saying something when his blog is having more of an impact than the SWP these days.

  187. Jellytot on said:

    @225 I don’t think it’s available online and I threw my copy out years ago. My description of what was written is accurate and Molyneux can only have meant the SWP when he states in it that the ruling Party would be the one that leads the Revolution.
    Who else could he mean? The WRP?!

    I’d suggest that you buy it and find out but 20 quid for a used copy on Amazon is pretty steep.

  188. Graham Day on said:

    #216 the whole raison d’être of a self professed “Leninist” party is to lead the socialist revolution.

  189. Howard Kirk on said:

    Is the reason that Bambery didn’t go with German, Rees and Nineham is that they didn’t want to be called the Gang of Four?

  190. Graham Day on said:

    #216, though maybe you’re saying that the SWP isn’t a Marxist-Leninist party? Fair enough, but last time I looked they were certainly saying that they were…

  191. faultylpgic on said:

    Graham how is New Labour these days… of course your party in Govt murdered hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s but hey the real problem is the SWP…For fucks sake get a life.

  192. Graham on said:

    ooh chelsea were pish tonight ! all this talk of fernando torres… perhaps chelsea should sign up that chris bambery,
    i hear he has some time on his hands now.

  193. #217 Most people find “middle class” suffices. When was the last time you heard anyone outside the far left say ” petit-bourgeois”? Gets me?

  194. Jellytot on said:

    @217 Petty-bourgeois is a term used in marxist theory to designate the social groups in capitalist societies who sit ‘between’ the working class – those who earn their living by working for a wage – and the bourgeoisie – those who exploit wage-earners. In Britain, literally hundreds of thousands of people fall into this group – lawers, doctors, middle managers in large firms, those in supervisory positions in the public sector.

    Excuse me for being ‘petty’ but I thought though that groups like the SWP, in recent decades, defined ‘working class’ as anybody who earns and depends on a wage (and it has absolutely nothing to do with any social, educational or cultural aspects). In effect, the vast majority of people in Britain.

    Even the examples you give, lawyers, doctors, middle managers in large firms, would start to go hungry and see their status rapidly diminish if they didn’t have that monthly wage coming in.

  195. Anyone who thinks the new leadership has a grip should read Judith Orr in the latest Socialist Worker. Total muddle. And so it will remain.

  196. Boredwithpointlessleftsplits on said:

    @219 John Molyneux rewrote the pamphlet you talk about a decade ago. I have both versions in front of me and there is nothing to quote similar to what you claim.

    Bambery has been coordinating a faction for years in Scotland. The CC made the big mistake not removing him from his CC role at the same time as German, Rees; and Nineham.

  197. Denzil on said:

    #240 & 242: I enjoyed reading Judith Orr’s article, imagine trying to explain that one to your workmates!

  198. And the ceasefire under consideration is not western imposed. Orr, I’m afraid, doesn’t have a clue.

  199. Jellytot on said:

    @219 John Molyneux rewrote the pamphlet you talk about a decade ago. I have both versions in front of me and there is nothing to quote similar to what you claim.

    Has Jellytot’s legendary memory let him down here? The rewritten 1997 version (which I wasn’t aware of) is here:

    http://issuu.com/ispakistan/docs/the-future-socialist-society

    and it doesn’t mention anything about the party that leads the Revolution being entrusted with State power after it, however, in the first ’87 edition I’m pretty damn certain that it does.

    Still, you’re got both versions so I’ll take you’re word for it. You have no reason to lie.

    I don’t know why the SWP are suddenly so coy about this matter. When I was a member it was a given that we’d run things after the Revolution.

  200. #242

    Judith Orr seems both stupid and ill-informed with this article:
    http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=24516

    Anyone who has been following the African political response to the Libya crisis can see that Judith is simply completely wrong that the AU is a fig leaf for the West.

    She is also completely wrong that there is any immediate prospect of the rebels overthrowing Gaddafi unless they do so as proxies for NATO.

    One of the charateristic features of the SWP in recent years has been quite a good understanding of the nuanced complexities of modern imperialism, and their useful role in the anti-war movement.

    Judith Orr seems to have abandoned that completely.

    Let us be clear, the SWP cheerleading for the rebels in a decontextualised way, fostering illusions that the rebels could win without NATO military support, and not understanding the genuine concern in Africa – including among pro-Western governments – over the Western violation of Libyan sovereignty, means that the SWP are in danger of standing with the “decents” and the B52 liberals on Libya.

  201. “For all of my 32 years as a member I have given everything into building this party, even making serious financial sacrifices including loaning considerable sums of money during the financial crisis which has affected the party in recent years, money I am still owed”

    Gonnae lend me a few bob – Chris- it’s for a good cause mate-no really-honestly it is -or ma names no Tony Cliff- or is it Ygael Gluckstein-ma memories no whit it wis.Anyway-it’s for the cause Comrade -so just cough up eh.Cheers -get back tae ye wi this – aye right !! Now whits that phrase again -somethin’ about ‘Lions led by donkeys’ if a remember richt-HEE HAW !!

  202. Zhou Enlai on said:

    Guys, guys, guys.

    What’s happened to the 57 varieties?

    If something goes wrong – blame Stalin and “bureaucrats”!

    You make poor wee piggy Snowball cry!

  203. “the SWP are in danger of standing with the “decents” and the B52 liberals on Libya”

    Oh please, this is just insulting and dishonest. What is the SWP’s position on the NATO involvement? Have they been involved in mobilizing against the NATO intervention? For crying out loud the slogan that’s all over their material is “no to Nato and victory to the Arab revolutions”. As for decontextualized support – I’d say they pretty thoroughly ground it in the context of the wider Arab revolt. They’ve also been clear about the danger of the Libya revolt being hijacked by former regime figures – a danger made more present by the intervention of NATO and the consolidation of a military strategy by the former regime elements who jumped ship but whose politics are not fundamentally different from Gaddafi.

  204. JellyTot on said:

    Couldn’t help but chuckle at this from the Orr article:

    In reality it (The AU) is totally dependent on Western support. The AU was only allowed to break the “no fly zone” across Libyan airspace and land in the capital, Tripoli, with the permission of Nato.

    Maybe Orr thinks that the AU should have not have informed NATO that they would be flying into Libya and promptly got themselves shot down by French warplanes!

  205. means that the SWP are in danger of standing with the “decents” and the B52 liberals on Libya.

    Your idiotic propaganda “rebels decide to continue war” and pretending the corrupt Gaddafi pals in the AU are credible peace envoys with their shitty plan to keep Gaddafi in power at all costs, leaves you in danger of standing with a totalitarian dictatorship against those that would overthrow it.

  206. It was funny when a few rounds of gun fire had the AU leaders bolting for their cars in Benghazi as the angry crowds looked on. “Go fuck yourself” was the clear message. Brilliant.

  207. I have no comment except for the fact that the discussion of Yes on this thread fills me with awe and glee. Really looking forward to the new album with Trevor Horn producing. I met Chris Squire after a gig in 1998 and shared some herbal refreshment. Trufax.

  208. New album? You mean they’ll all be under one roof at the same time? And Trevor Horn can be a target,err…I mean will be there,too? Hmmm…

  209. faultylpgic on said:

    246
    You have of course been caught out lying about the Molyneux article..your response is the classic .umm well thats what it was like when I was a member. You are seen as a bullshitter. You make things up.

    Andy, In terms of respective organisations stand on Libya, your party is supporting the bombing and mine is not. You are campaigning for the party that murdered thousands of Iraqi’s so I think you have problems of your own before attacking the SWP on anti imperialism for fucks sake!! the B52 bombers are your comrades not mine.

  210. faultylpgic on said:

    259
    If jellytot left I bet the branch was fucking overjoyed lol what an arsehole…and a liar to boot. Of course Jellybrain can’t say what branch they were in and even when..more lies for this cyber warrior.

  211. pat kane on said:

    Chris was a leading member of the SWP longer than a quarter of a century, i’d 32 years would be more like it.

  212. LondonBob on said:

    On the October 3rd 2010 ‘Right To Work’ march in Birmingham stewards collaborated with police against anarchists. Chris Bambery gathered other stewards with the intention of not allowing anarchists to join the march. People were directly told by Chris Bambery to “put that banner away or I’ll get you all nicked” before Bambery walked over to the police to complain.

    No doubth this will be removed by Andy yet again as is his way with any type of criticism from the libertarian left.

  213. Andy is quite wrong to think that the SWPs approach to Libya is either a concession to B52 liberals or ‘decontextualised’. The question is about the actual context. My suspician is that imperialisms response to the Arab revolutions and the crisis of US hegenomy will involve a bit more lip service to multi-lateralism. In that context the kind of position held by Andy (and to be fair many others on the left) namely that the alternative to unipolarism is multi-polarism, risks eventually morphing into support for a kinder gentler imperialism. Why would the US be concerned about a deal brokered by the African Union? Look to the other relationships the US has with African states. As with the non-aligned movement in the 1960s, this alternative may prove to be a very fragile thing. For the SWP the Arab revolutions are the real alternative to imperialism. Arguing this of course means continuing to argue resolutely against imperialism. But it does not mean turning wishbones into backbones as someone once put it.

  214. #264

    JOhnG

    The context is that the rebels are militarily outgunned, and rely upon NATO to prevail.

    This is the circumstance where you are saying that the rebels should refuse a ceasefire; which means continuation of NATO’s military mission.

    Arguing for rejection of ceasefire at this stage is implicit suport for the only force really capable of removing Gaddafi: NATO.

  215. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    It’s true that the Western imperialist forces might choose in the future to hide behind the African Union and a call for a ceasefire. But they are not doing that now. They are doing the opposite.

    The African Union delegation is demonstrably not a cunning ruse by Paris and London. It was proposing an alternative course of action to the ongoing war with its aim – explicit from Cameron and Sarkozy, but not sanctioned in the UN resolution – of not stopping until Gaddafi is gone.

    I cannot understand the logic at all of saying that opposing the African Union mission is in fact opposing what the Western powers are doing or what they want. That just flies in the face of the evidence.

  216. prianikoff on said:

    @252 I read the SW article on the African Union plan earlier and couldn’t understand it. It sought to discredit the AU plan as “counter-revolutionary” by alleging that NATO was really behind it.

    But there is no evidence that NATO or the West were “supporting it”.
    If that was true they would have simply told the TNC in Benghazi to cooperate or they’d withdraw their air-cover for them.

    That clearly didn’t happen.

    The F.T. this morning were reporting that the plan is “dead in the water” and that NATO are opposed to it. As the BBC story, linked to @ 266 clearly implies.

  217. #107

    To return to a much earlier post.

    I’m not the first person ever to make this point and I certainly won’t back the last. Namely that Tony Cliff’s 1960 essay ‘Trotsky on Substitutionism’ reads as a very good critique of the post 1968 IS/SWP, 1968 it should be remembered being the year that Tony Cliff ‘rediscovered’ Lenin. In other words Tony Cliff went over to the very same sectarian and dogmatic caricature of Leninism that he had previously opposed. Though he couldn’t have realised it at the time Tony Cliff was in 1960 polemicising against his future self!

  218. richsw on said:

    Andy @266 – you’re right about Britain and France wanting to escalate, at least talking the talk about escalation. But being right about this does not imply the untrue, dishonest claim (repeated from earlier threads) that SW supports imperialism. It doesn’t. As johng persuasively argues, the revolutions across the south Mediterranean are the context here.

    Also, perhaps you ought to consider the impact of ceasefire? Effectively, it is likely to imply partition – what will happen to the populations of Misrata and Zintan (among others, I suspect), where humanitarian crises are already underway? I take your support for ceasefire to be genuine, so wouldn’t accuse you of encouraging slaughter and forced migration. You don’t support those things – I do not support imperialism.

  219. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    @270 Look, park the grand claim about “supporting imperialism”. The concrete circumstance in the AU mission is that here was an attempt *in opposition* to the imperialist powers to broker an alternative to ongoing Nato bombing and a war which has subordinated whatever revolutionary dynamic there was in Benghazi to Nato, militarily and therefore politically. The thrust of what the anti-war movement should say is against Nato, not against the African Union, especially when it acts contrary to the wishes of Paris and London.

  220. Make the Cheque payable to John Rees on said:

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  221. tell the truth on said:

    I wouldn’t entertain for a moment the claim that the SWP supports Western imperialism. However Orr’s article is incoherent and badly wrong. It seems the red mist has come down with all this talk of revolution. What is needed is a detailed analysis of the situation in each country, not a blanket assumption the revolution is nigh.

    The reality in Libya is that this is now a civil war. Whatever the corruption, political weakness etc of the African Union, their initiative was not welcomed by Western imperialism and I’m sure Britain and France have been working behind the scenes to make it fail.

    Without a ceasefire the killing will go on and probably get worse. And for the rebels based in Benghazi to win they will need more and more Western intervention. In other words, they will have to become the puppets of Western imperialism if they aren’t already.

    If the Glasgow 39 had walked out because of the SWP leaderships’ ridiculous perspective on the Libyan war, I would have had more respect for them. Sadly they almost certainly share it as this also seems to be the view of the Counterfire leadership, a view that it seems is causing huge division and paralysis in their flagship Stop the War Coaltion.

  222. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/5002

    Genuine revolutionary forces of the working masses need to reject any alliance with pro-capitalist forces or reliance on the UN or NATO. To defeat dictatorial regimes workers and youth need to build their own forces that can carry the revolution to victory, a victory that not only wins democratic rights but which ensures that society’s wealth is genuinely owned by the masses and democratically controlled and managed in their interests. This would lay the basis for liberation and a genuine democratic socialism, not the fake versions of it under Gaddafi and in Syria. This could then be an example for the working masses in the Middle East, Africa and beyond to follow in order to end the rule of autocrats and the misery of capitalist rule. Read the CWI perspectives on the African and Middle East revolutions.

  223. Clearly the SWP do not support imperialism, but their opposition to NATO’s invilvement in Libya becomes confused and confusing when they oppose the AU ceasefire plan

    and arguing against the ceasefire does mean they are in very strange comany indeed.

    To argue that there is in any real world prospect of some nebulous “Arab revolution” intervening in Libya is a fantasy.

    There is a real world civil war where NATO are intervening on one side, and where the real world options are either a ceasefire and negotiated settlement or a NATO escalation to remove Gaddafi.

    There is no prospect of a military victory for the rebels without NATO support, they are only just holding their own with NATO on side! So rejecting calls for a ceasefire is linked to their aliance and confidence in NATO’s continued support.

  224. Richard Seymour seems to understadn the situation:

    http://leninology.blogspot.com/2011/04/tony-karon-on-libyan-stalemate.html

    It’s patently clear, by now, that Libya is in the throes of a civil war — even if the majority of Libyans detest Col. Gaddafi, it’s patently clear that a sizable minority is passionately committed to his regime and willing to fight for it. The strength of the regime on the ground has been underestimated, and the power of the rebellion overestimated. There’s no quick and easy military solution, here.

  225. Andy, much as you hate to admit it, every dictator in the world has a tribal power base that it exploits and brainwashes. In South Africa it was white people. Your attempt to simplistically paint this as a “civil war” is naive and shows a lack of understanding of the nuance of the situation. Just because Gaddafi’s police state has had some successes in playing the Islamophobia card against the rebels does not mean this is not a revolution. The African imperialists who only care about looking after one of their fellow elite club members and couldn’t care a damn about the people, have played a dishonest and negative role, so it was great to see the rebels send them packing.

  226. Why we’re on imperialism, this conflict has completely discredited the theories on this. The US was dragged kicking and screaming into the conflict, did some half hearted bombings, and handed over responsiblity to the weak military powers in Nato. That is disappointing – if you’re going to do the job, you should do it properly and it may well have given Gaddafi heart to know the Americans aren’t taking the lead – but it does rather expose the imperialist line to be somewhat old fashioned and silly. Humans were just reacting to a situation.

  227. #277
    African inperialists? WTF are you talking about? Do you even know what the term means?

  228. Martel on said:

    # 279 EdD probably has a different definition to you, which is likely as it is a disputed term.

  229. African inperialists? WTF are you talking about? Do you even know what the term means?

    They’re always meddling in each other’s countries for the benefit of the elites.

  230. Andy – I appreciate your (and Kevin’s) elucidation on the point you made earlier. It’s much more coherent than it initially seemed and is a reasonable one. I do also think that the article by Judith Orr was quite poorly edited and unclear. Nonetheless, I think there is an entirely reasonable point to be made in opposing any ceasefire plan that allows Gaddafi to stay in power. The revolutionaries in Libya and in the region would see this as a big defeat, first of all. Secondly, Gaddafi is unlikely to stick to any ceasefire – he’s announced ceasefires previously even as he intensified bombing. There is no reason whatsoever for the rebels to trust him to not use the suspension of hostilities as a window to make strategic gains and slaughter as many of them as possible.
    That doesn’t mean that the situation isn’t complex and difficult. In fact, there is no clear solution other than to oppose outside intervention by both NATO and the AU. Don’t forget that it is the AU’s troops that are in Somalia backing the west’s preferred regime and helped to break up the Islamic Courts movement, which actually brought peace, the rule of law and had at least some measure of popular support (as opposed to the officially recognized government, which can only sustain itself with foreign troops). Nor is the AU some sort of non-aligned alternative to western imperialism, actively working with and spearheading UN interventions on the continent – Somalia, Burundi and Sudan come to mind. Most of these interventions receive financing directly from the US state department:

    “Between 2006 and 2008, the United States sent $908 million to the UN/AU peacekeeping force in Darfur (the State Department requested close to $209 million in the FY2009 budget). The United States has given over $150 million to the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia, and in August 2009 U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed additional assistance.”

    The AU is also the body for overseeing and aiding the implementation of the New Partnerships for Economic Development, which is simply neo-liberalism by another name. As Trevor Ngwane noted:

    NEPAD wants “market-oriented policies”, that is, more capitalism, more profit-driven policies, more competition, more privatisation. Mbeki forgets that it is exactly the doctrine and practice of putting profit before people which led to slavery, colonialism, apartheid and neo-liberalism.

    And, of course, the AU contains dictatorships, has helped to crush liberation movements (for instance in Anjouan), etc. They are hardly the progressive alternative or to be trusted (especially given that four of the five presidents who went to Libya have had close relations with the Gaddafi regime – including receiving hundreds of millions in cash and investments).
    Unfortunately, there are no easy choices in Libya – other than the original revolutionaries who remain independent of the former Gaddafi cronies in the TNC trying to build a movement independent of both Gaddafi and NATO. How much space exists for that perspective on the ground isn’t clear at all but there are simply no shortcuts.

  231. Redbedhead: seeing as you seem keen for comrades to follow the rules regarding their conduct within the SWP maybe you should observe them yourself – there’s a reason why intervening in the internal disputes of other members of the IST is frowned upon. It’s because comrades thousands of miles away in the wllderness of Canada don’t really know what they’re talking about and their intervention can actually be quite damaging, especially when it takes the form of comments left on the pages of a site like this. The fact that you haven’t been asked to shut the f*ck up is surprising, seeing as people could draw the conclusion that your views represent the official position the organisation of which you are a member. Do you not think it’s up to your organisation’s leadership to offer it’s opinions on the internal affairs of another IST member organisation rather than an individual shit stirrer and ridiculous conspiracy theorist?

  232. Jellytot on said:

    @261 If jellytot left I bet the branch was fucking overjoyed lol what an arsehole…and a liar to boot. Of course Jellybrain can’t say what branch they were in and even when..more lies for this cyber warrior.

    Really? Strange how they asked me to stay and made further attempts to re-recruit me during the period of the Miners Demos in late 92 – a time when the SWP were a lot larger and more successful than the dysfunctional shell it is today. Still, keep on swearing at and throwing infantile abuse at your political opponents ‘faultylpic’ from the safety of your keyboard.

    I am not consciously lying about the Molyneux article although I concede that there may be a possibility that I may be thiking of another SWP pamphlet. I realise though this concession may be hard for you to grasp ‘faultylpic’ as we all know that the SWP never makes mistakes ;-)

    The question is why did Molyneux feel the need to re-write the pamphlet “The future Socialist Society” between 1987 and 1997? I suspect that the declaration that the Party would run things after the Revolution was deleted in favour of a much more “fluffy” line about the Workers’ State being a multi-Party Democracy.

  233. Dear Eh – Since Bamberry and his followers left the SWP it isn’t an internal dispute is it. What’s more they published open letters on the internet – we also have the internet here in the wilderness of Canada – that are read by people throughout the English speaking world who then discuss it beyond your national borders (just like people comment on events in many places, from Libya to China to the USA). Or does Britain get a national exclusion clause? I also don’t claim to represent any organization and anyone who thinks that a comment on a blog represents an official position of anything is foolish.

  234. Jellytot on said:

    @259 The SWP that jellytot was in does sound a bit shit No wonder he left

    I think we were just being honest. We didn’t beleive in hood-winking people about our true intentions. I guess we live in less tough times and potential recruits are a lot more fragile these days.

    I still can’t get my head around this concept that the Vanguard Party won’t lead the Revolution.

  235. The passage Jellytot is trying to remember is on page 9 of the electronic edition cited. It’s the same in the original edition. I know because my memory, unlike his, is infallible.

  236. Jellytot on said:

    @290 Not to be a pendant but it’s on Page 13 starting “The Workers’ State will not be a one party state…..”.

    However I’ll trust your memory and slope off with my tail between my legs……for the time being ;-)

  237. I was referring to the paragraph on p9 beginning ‘Different political parties …’ (which I still think is the one you half-remembered) but the one you mention is relevant too (and I think also in the original).

    As I understand the SWP’s ideas about The Coming Revolution, they expect and hope for a revolutionary party of millions of members, which is kind of different from imagining the SWP as it is today leading the revolution or running the country, a prospect which would I suspect make the staunchest member blanch.

  238. Why has every revolutionary party been afflicted in this way? Is it just bad luck, or are there deeper, materialist reasons?

    I think there are, and they’re connected to the fact that our movement has been dominated by petty-bourgeois dialecticians for over a hundred years:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm

    Indeed, the very ones who will try to censor this bad news….

  239. Alan P on said:

    #292 What is it about dialectics that is specifically petty bourgeois or are you talking about petty bourgeois dialecticians meaning they are not actually dialecticians?