37 comments on “International Womens’ Day

  1. John Grimshaw: So then why did it cease to exist?

    There was a long internal debate, extending over two-three years, at the end of which a decision was taken to end the production of Women’s Voice. There is an account of this debate in my biography of Tony Cliff.
    I am not taking sides in that debate or making a point, simply pointing out to anyone interested that they can look at the originals of what was a lively and interesting women’s socialist paper from the seventies. As with any publication, it contains good, bad and eccentric articles. But it is a small part of the history of the left, and there may be something to be learned from studying it.

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  2. John Grimshaw on said:

    Ian Birchall,

    Thank you. By the time I joined the SWP (i’m no longer a member) it had ceased to existence but I remember older members talking fondly of it and also some people I new who were quite bitter about it’s demise.

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  3. Karl Stewart on said:

    …it’s just that this is at the moment a 100 per cent male discussion site. Obviously not by design, but it is the reality at the moment.

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  4. Jellytot on said:

    Andy Newman: I don’t have an answer, and while I am open to ideas, SU is far from unusual in this regard.

    Isn’t the entire internet in the West composed largely of White men being sarcastic or abusive to each other? You can hardly blame women for avoiding that.

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  5. Jellytot: Long internal debates in the SWP always land up with the Central Committee line prevailing.

    While there’s a lot of truth in that, it’s an oversimplification. Sometimes the CC would modify its position, though not acknowledging that it had done so. Cliff was very good at changing his mind – but very bad at admitting that he had done so. Callinicos, however, is too arrogant to change his mind.

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  6. Evan P on said:

    #15 One huge issue where the SWP made a u-turn was over the form that solidarity with the NUM struggle in 1984 should take.

    And this isn’t entirely off-topic, given that central to the issue was the role of the Miners’ support groups which led to the formation of Women Against Pit Closures, probably one of the greatest mobilisations of working class women and their allies we have seen, and which made important links with other women in struggle such as at Greenham.

    And on the subject of the Miners’ strike, hopefully a few readers will be able to make it to this on Monday:

    https://otjc.org.uk/home-office-noise-demo/

    Sheila Coleman, is an excellent speaker and the work she’s done in the Hillsborough Justice Campaign has been outstanding.

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  7. Tony on said:

    It was very interesting to see the Cosmonauts exhibition at the Science Museum last year. One of the exhibits was Valentina Tereshkova’s Vostok 6 capsule.

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  8. Jellytot on said:

    Evan P: #15 One huge issue where the SWP made a u-turn was over the form that solidarity with the NUM struggle in 1984 should take.

    The other was The Poll Tax. Early on they looked down on the notion of community non-payment (saying that non paying individuals on council estates could be isolated and punished) and said the focus should be on non-collection by unionised council staff.

    Then they saw the reaction in Scotland (where it was trialled first) in communities and how well Militant were organising non-payment generally and they promptly flipped to become non-payments greatest champions.

    The about change meant that the SWP recruited heavily after the March 1990 riot in London.

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  9. Evan P on said:

    #18 Yes, Tony Cliff was reported as saying that not paying the poll tax was about as sensible as not paying your bus fare.

    I also had it said to me in the early days that the working class didn’t exist in communities but at the point of production.

    Again, it was so often women who were organising in those communities against this tory policy.

    But give them their due they did change their position in the light of the real world.

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  10. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman: I don’t have an answer, and while I am open to ideas, SU is far from unusual in this regard.

    I don’t have ‘the answer’ either. And to be clear, I’m not making a criticism or pointing fingers etc.

    There are a lot of women active on the left – marches and demonstrations seem to have as many women as men.

    Could we ask women left-wing activists to write for SU perhaps?

    Not necessarily ‘as women’ as such, and not necessarily on ‘womens issues’ specifically. But general political subjects?

    Not saying its easy, or that this wil necessarily work out – but might be worth a try?

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  11. Jellytot on said:

    Evan P: But give them their due they did change their position in the light of the real world.

    They purely did it for recruitment reasons.

    They will ditch previously held positions in order to face which way the political “Left” wind is blowing to aid recruitment (recruitment that sustains their full timers and saves them from getting proper jobs)….. The quality of people they recruit is generally poor (essentially liberals) and they are a constant revolving door organizationally. In order to replace those who leave they rely on various fronts and changing their politics to suit the mood. In the tiny pond that is far Left politics they have perfected this into an art form. They’ve been at it long enough.

    Although Delta has terminally compromised them. They will never really recover from that.

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  12. jack ford on said:

    Andy Newman,

    I think we lost a lot of women’s support by our articles defending Galloway over the Assange rape allegations. Not saying this was wrong but it led to feminists such as Mhairi MacAlpine describing SU as the cesspit of the left. I don’t think we’ve recovered from the statements made by posters like Marko though I’m not sure what we can do about it at this stage.

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  13. Karl Stewart on said:

    jack ford,

    Interesting point Jack.

    While Assange was clearly the subject of some trumped-up charges, it’s fair to say Galloway’s comments – in terms of the generalising that he made – were clumsy and ill-considered.

    However, some of the “rape apologist” accusations that were then made against Galloway were bonkers.

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  14. Jellytot on said:

    jack ford: Mhairi MacAlpine describing SU as the cesspit of the left.

    So did John Wight a month or two ago…..[… Deleted … Let’s not go there]

    * Whatever that is !

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  15. Jellytot on said:

    jack ford: I think we lost a lot of women’s support by our articles defending Galloway over the Assange rape allegations

    Conversely this site was a leader in exposing the sexual exploitation of women and the culture of predatory behaviour of some men in far left groups a few years back.

    In the end the contributors are self selective on these blogs.

    Maybe try and get some women writers and hope more women will participate? Ditto with Black and Asian people. Why not approach Anna Chen?

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  16. John Grimshaw on said:

    Ian Birchall: While there’s a lot of truth in that, it’s an oversimplification. Sometimes the CC would modify its position, though not acknowledging that it had done so. Cliff was very good at changing his mind– but very bad at admitting that he had done so. Callinicos, however, is too arrogant to change his mind.

    The only time I went to SWP NC would have been in (I think) 1989. The meeting was held in York Hall. And the fascists tried to attack the meeting. A lot of comrades grabbed chairs and went to defend the meeting but were told by the leadership to restrain themselves and sit down as the police had been rung. That meeting voted to get rid of the NC as it was a barrier to activity. I also remember that a motion on some matter had been circulated but them mysteriously disappeared and was not voted on.

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  17. jack ford: Not saying this was wrong but it led to feminists such as Mhairi MacAlpine describing SU as the cesspit of the left.

    Conversely, the main value of SU, has been a willingness to publish things that may upset people. I believe Mhairi’s opinions were related to Tommy Sheridan.

    Many people fell out with SU when I was highly critical of Saint Peter Tatchell, which has since become a mainstream opinion

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  18. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jellytot: The about change meant that the SWP recruited heavily after the March 1990 riot in London.

    And the temporary collapse of Militant directly afterwards because of internal disputes and the Liverpool thing.

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  19. Jellytot on said:

    John Grimshaw: And the temporary collapse of Militant directly afterwards because of internal disputes and the Liverpool thing.

    Gotta feel sorry for the Millies !

    They did all the spadework and the Swappies got all the benefits. Cruel world is “Leftland”.

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  20. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: There are a lot of women active on the left – marches and demonstrations seem to have as many women as men.
    Could we ask women left-wing activists to write for SU perhaps?
    Not necessarily ‘as women’ as such, and not necessarily on ‘womens issues’ specifically. But general political subjects?

    I could ask.

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  21. John Grimshaw on said:

    Maybe it would be a good idea to get a women or women to be co administrators of this site? Also as I have said before in general there seem to be less contributors than there used to be. Also since a lot of people use made up names then it’s difficult to know who or what they are isn’t it?

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