Socialist Workers Party (SWP): the empire strikes back

star-wars-the-empire-strikes-back-postersDespite being under considerable and unaccustomed pressure from reality, the leadership of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) are poised to fight back and silence their critics. So far the leadership clique of the SWP have stuck together. Let us be clear who we mean by this: the small circle of colleagues who act as signatories, trustees and title holders of the SWP’s financial and physical assets. In contrast, when the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) blew up in 1985, the core leadership was itself split. As John Sullivan sardonically noted:

UNTIL August 1985, Gerry Healy was the most charismatic figure on the British left. Suddenly the Central Committee of the WRP, led by long-time Healy clone Mike Banda, announced that their founding father was being charged with the sexual abuse of dozens of female comrades, use of party funds for his own purposes, and complicity in the murder of opponents of the Iraqi government by selling information on Iraqi dissidents in Britain. Knowledgeable WRP-watchers reacted by saying: ‘That’s as may be, but what has he done to annoy Mike Banda?’

Importantly for the WRP, their main intellectual, the academic Cliff Slaughter, backed the coup against Healy.

In contract the current SWP leadership all have to hang together because they are all up to their necks in the same sorry cover up. As Jules Alford recounts the 2011 SWP conference when the allegations against Comrade Delta first surfaced:

I spoke to Kimber privately on the Saturday of conference shortly before the ‘special session’ took place (I did not know it was scheduled until Kimber told me so). I talked of my concern at the rumours circulating though I did not know the nature of the allegations. Kimber interrupted me and said he could not divulge their exact nature. I said I understood but that I wanted a reassurance that comrade Delta would not receive special treatment because he was a leading party member. Kimber assured me this would not happen and that a ‘special session’ would follow shortly that would address the concerns of comrades. I said OK and shook hands and stepped away. That was it, short and brisk. Five minutes later back inside the conference as delegates returned from a break to retake their seats I saw Delta and Kimber sharing a joke at the side of the conference stage. To say that I and the comrade accompanying were disturbed would be an understatement. Minutes later the ‘special session’ began. I and the comrade with me were so repelled and horrified we were unable to return for the second, final day of conference.

Because of the strictures of ‘confidentiality’, the name, age and branch of the young female comrade who subsequently became known as comrade W was not revealed at conference. But neither was the nature of the allegations, as we will see. A great deal of information was not shared with assembled delegates. When some delegates rose to give comrade Delta a standing ovation they and the rest of us were still largely in the dark.

During the ‘special session’ only six comrades were actually called to speak. Comrade Delta was the penultimate speaker and in the current argot of ‘Party Notes’ you might say his extemporized speech was “warmly received.” What was the gist of Delta’s address? He argued he was “no angel” and he had never pretended to be one. There was a lachrymose element to what he said also when he talked of his “real friends”; the ones who knew who he really was as a person, comrades from his days in Westminster branch in the late 1980s. There was also a passage many would have regarded as heartfelt where Delta spoke of the stress involved in his role as the very public face of the UAF that made him, his partner and his home a target for the fascists.

As a result of the informal complaint against him, Delta stepped down from, or was removed from, his post as National Secretary. But he remained on the CC. Delta informed us all that he was “happy as a pig in shit” to be returning to the Industrial department where he had always been happiest. Had the class struggle been the tempest we had all hoped it would be when the Con-Dem government was elected in 2010 with their vicious plans for austerity, it might have provided Delta with a suitable distraction. This performance was followed the rapturous applause and chanting of some of the assembled delegates that left other delegates bewildered in their seats.

Yet Delta’s speech has obscured two other significant contributions that day. Setting aside crass contributions from Sheila McGregor and others, Delta was followed by a brave young Asian female comrade (I cannot recall her name) who invited the delegates to consider if their applause and chanting was really appropriate given the context.

The other significant contribution – the significant contribution in hindsight, was that of Alex Callinicos, who kicked off the ‘special session’. It was a euphemistic triumph. At no point did Callinicos talk of sexual harassment or sexual assault. Instead Callinicos began by saying that he had something a bit unpleasant to relay but it would only take a moment of time before we returned to the main business of conference. There was a young female comrade who was upset at Delta and his behavior. Without divulging any real detail, Callinicos explained that Delta denied having done anything wrong but acknowledged that the female comrade was upset with him and he was sorry for that. Delta would no longer place himself in the presence of the female comrade. It was all so vague and Callinicos implied that the female comrade no longer wished to give the impression that she reciprocated Delta’s interest. Delta was sorry for any distress caused but he denied he had actually done anything wrong. It was a bit of a misunderstanding and both Delta and the female comrade wished to put it all behind them.

This coming Sunday, 3rd February, will see the convening of the SWP’s 50 strong National Committee (NC) of experienced lay activists, and the Central Committee has given this as the arbitrary deadline for the opposition to reach their threshold of 20% of branches asking for a recall conference. The National Secretary, Charlie Kimber, has said 19 branches are required, and the opposition is not even close; though the generational split is clear that student groups around the country are backing the opposition. In advance of the NC, the SWP’s leading thinker, the aristocratic Alex Callincos, has written a risible and threadbare article. Those of you who buy into the central conceits of so-called “revolutionary socialism” will appreciate the thoughtful response by Louis Proyect. The SWP oppositionists have also replied, rehashing some rather tired themes about party organisation, but without challenging any of the underlying political assumptions of how radical social change occurs, and again sidestepping the issue of how the SWP ended up institutionally sexist.

Max Dunbar, is quite good on this:

I just want to pick up on something Paul Anderson has touched on: that there has been far too much credit and good faith given to the SWP ‘oppositionists’.

The best known SWP writers in the UK are probably the novelist China Miéville and my old friend Richard Seymour. Neither has quit the party as far as I know. Both of them have written long condemnathon posts at Lenin’s Tomb, and Seymour has set up a new blog, International Socialism, featuring posts from the rank and file. Their denounciations of the SWP leadership are welcome. But these guys have been cadre for years. Why has it taken a leaked committee report for them to speak out?

The SWP has a great talent for hyperbole. One post on Seymour’s blog shrieks that ‘The entire working class has an interest in what happens in the SWP… the SWP remains, for all I’ve said, the best thing the British working class has at its disposal.’ During the crisis, it has fallen back on its reputation. ‘Our record on women’s rights is SECOND TO NONE,’ a paper seller bellowed at me in Manchester. (Second to none? ‘YES’.) This is bullshit, of course. Close examination reveals SWP claims as defenders of feminism to be lies. The initial allegation was followed by the worst kind of Unilad slut-shaming. Laurie Penny writes: ‘not only were friends of the alleged rapist allowed to investigate the complaint, the alleged victims were subject to further harassment. Their drinking habits and former relationships were called into question, and those who stood by them were subject to expulsion and exclusion.’

Clearly there has been a misogynistic canteen culture within the organisation for decades. And Seymour and Mieville only notice this at the moment the leaked report detonated onto the internet? As Omar says in The Wire: ‘Nigger, please.’

Fact is, the SWP can’t come back from this. It is finished. As the Very Public Sociologist put it: “They are the party that lets an alleged rapist off because a committee of his mates gave him a clean bill of health, and no amount of back-pedalling, no ’democracy commissions’ or truth-and-reconciliation procedures can change that. It’s game over, comrades.”

The SWP recruit predominantly from universities and it can’t do that as the SWP after this. The young people coming up now (and by ‘young people’ I don’t mean bloggers in their thirties, I mean people born in 1985-1995) are strongly feminist. Think of a popular young writer or blogger – Laurie Penny, Helen Lewis, Zoe Stavri, Juliet Jacques, the Vagenda team, Sianushka, the Nat Fantastic – and s/he is likely to come from a passionate feminist position. Big grassroots organisations are increasingly feminist and any far left group simply won’t get the numbers without them. The only remaining power play for a far left activist is to disassociate completely with the SWP and set up as some kind of new party that doesn’t have the SWP’s black past.

Before we look at the SWP opposition, let us look at the political and practical position facing the SWP’s leadership.

Callinicos’s argument is foolishly circular and self-referential for an ostensibly clever man. In its own self-evaluation the SWP is a reincarnation of the Bolsheviks; in its own judgement an SWP type party is necessary; the leadership of the SWP is the best representative of its own “tradition”; therefore to challenge or destabilize the leadership jeopardizes the whole project upon which the SWP is predicated. Add to which the crude amalgamation that the SWP oppositionists are allied with alien forces: kulaks, Mensheviks and saboteurs. That pressure from the outside world is due to sectarians, wreckers, and worst of all, Labour Party members.

When read by people outside of the SWP’s own sub-culture, Callinicos’s article is strikingly absurd. But that is not the intended audience. For the core of the SWP who have actively dedicated their adult lives to building the SWP with the lofty ambition of purging the world of all injustice and oppression; whose daily and weekly routine is structured about SWP activities, who have made career and relationship decisions based upon their SWP membership, who have made financial sacrifices to fund the SWP, who believe in the SWP’s project, and who have few if any close friends or confidants outwith the SWP; Alex Callinicos is making a call to arms evoking an existential threat to the core guiding purpose of their lives.

What is more, the ideological justification of the cult of leadership is fully consistent with the argument in Tony Cliff’s 1974 book “Lenin, Building the Party”. Described by Sullivan as reminiscent of a biography of John the Baptist written by Jesus. This is an ideological paradigm that the SWP’s long term cadre are familiar with.

Alex Callinicos is making an implicit declaration that the SWP is on the road to becoming a cult, and the retreat from reality that this requires may be welcomed by a significant proportion of the membership; and a preferable alternative to dealing with the harsh scrutiny that the SWP is currently under.

My judgment is that the SWP leadership will get a majority endorsement from the NC on Saturday, and that will close down any route within the constitution of the SWP for the opposition to prevail, or indeed even stay as members. Even if the vote is closer, the current leadership control the assets and the payroll, and the opposition have no leverage on them.

There are however two problems. Firstly, for the few SWP members with positions in the trade unions and progressive social movements, the pressure of maintaining both the connection with the outside reality and also maintaining consistency with their SWP group-think may become intolerable. Secondly, the SWP will be forever dead in the universities and colleges; and without the flush of fresh young recruits, the remaining husk of the SWP will wither into what will effectively become an increasingly withdrawn and elderly survivors group.

So what of the oppositionists? Marx’s old adage of history repeating itself, first as tragedy then as farce may again seem prescient. In the 1970s, major figures in the IS, such as John Palmer, Roger Protz, Jim Higgins, along with many of the IS’s former industrial cadre, were either expelled or resigned to form the Workers League. The difference is that they actually did have a relatively coherent political project that deviated significantly from Cliff’s line of march but was also based upon alternative possibilities within the IS’s own political heritage. Nevertheless, without the infrastructure of the IS, and cut off from its resources, the Workers League foundered; and its luminaries dispersed.

It is clear from reading the positions of the current opposition in the SWP that in contrast they are just seeking to cobble together a political platform based upon the mere coincidence that they all find themselves in opposition to the way the SWP has handled the Comrade Delta fiasco. It is a contingent and not a principled opposition. The various statements from oppositionists seek to reassure other SWP members of their orthodoxy, they signally fail to evaluate how the SWP became so institutionally sexist; they continue to regret that the transcript was leaked and published. The sole substantial article, warms over ideas which Andy Wilson was hawking about 20 years ago about “Zinovievism”, which requires only the most cosmetic re-evaluation of the past history and political trajectory of the SWP.

Significantly, the current SWP opposition has no obvious leadership team who would actually have the time and inclination to forge a new organization, especially as Seymour and Mieville probably have much better personal options. The fate of the current opposition will therefore come down to a myriad of individual decisions (even if they do temporarily coalesce into a new group).

Hopefully individuals will reassess and try to make sense of what went wrong. The ones who don’t do that, who fail to learn from this debacle, and who are prepared to again collude in sexism and patriarchal hierarchy may well join Counterfire.

110 comments on “Socialist Workers Party (SWP): the empire strikes back

  1. Jellytot on said:

    The entire working class has an interest in what happens in the SWP… the SWP remains, for all I’ve said, the best thing the British working class has at its disposal.

    :-)

  2. BTW I thought this comment was funny on Louis Proyect’s blog

    If the CC win they can celebrate at Marxism this year by inviting “Delta”‘s staunchest supporter to return and play some Jazz and perhaps crack a few anti-semitic jokes, while Zizek explains his understanding of peasants involved in anti-gypsy pograms

  3. Rob Kett on said:

    Good analysis and a thoughtful piece. Shame about the somewhat bitter and entirely irrelevant slur at the end.

  4. Rob Kett: Shame about the somewhat bitter and entirely irrelevant slur at the end.

    No, becasue what is signally absent so far in this discussion is any recognition that the culture of sexism in the SWP did not occur accidently, but as inherent in the unequal power relationships and messianic aspirations of the group; conferring as it does charismatic authority to the leadership.

    Leading figures in Counterfire today not only came from that milieu, but were protagnists in some of the more unfortunately sexist aspects of the SWP’s culture

  5. I think this is a little harsh on the ‘oppositionists’ Andy. It’s hardly likely that people in a party, and therefore committed to the party in question, are likely to come to the immediate conclusion that the whole enterprise is wrong headed, doomed etc.

    I haven’t looked at the internationalsocialism blog in detail, but I did see well reasoned and far reaching suggested reforms in relation to structure, democracy – not just invective against the CC and there’s plenty of that. Notwithstanding how truly awful things have become within the SWP, I don’t think that the endeavour of Seymour and co – which will probably eventuate in expulsion – should be dismissed so easily, lightly.

  6. Sam64: It’s hardly likely that people in a party, and therefore committed to the party in question, are likely to come to the immediate conclusion that the whole enterprise is wrong headed, doomed etc.

    Maybe not, my ire with them is that the core of the oppositionists are a group of people who knew that this sort of sexist abuse of unequal powerr relationship was going on for years. Only when it became public knowledge did they become “oppositionists”

  7. Sam64: Notwithstanding how truly awful things have become within the SWP, I don’t think that the endeavour of Seymour and co – which will probably eventuate in expulsion – should be dismissed so easily, lightly.

    The other thing, is that it is a crowded market out there for small left groups.

    Lacking ideological agreement or even political purpose, and with no obvious leadership team; it is only common sense to observe that they have few prospects of enduring as a coherent group once outside the SWP

  8. Picking up point 8:

    Perhaps but as was said by others, an organisation like the SWP – in fact any organisation, especially one with cultish tendencies – can change somebody without them knowing it. It’s only after a generally principled and strong minded individual, breaks with the given mind set, that they come to see how awful things were in retrospect – and how they came to overlook unforgiveable goings on, rationalise them, look to the bigger picture of ‘my party right or wrong’ etc. To go against the grain in the SWP given possible mental and physical intimidation, the likely public ridicule, the ostracisation etc, is/was very difficult. Hence the rebound when it comes is possibly too harsh – like with yourself perhaps?

    Mark Steel described how he plan with others an intervention and stand against the CC on some issue or other, but when it came to it the opposition would fade away. No wonder most people just tend to walk away from the organisation.

    For that reason, I think the ‘oppositionists’ deserve credit, some respect.

  9. Sam64: as was said by others, an organisation like the SWP – in fact any organisation, especially one with cultish tendencies – can change somebody without them knowing it. It’s only after a generally principled and strong minded individual, breaks with the given mind set, that they come to see how awful things were in retrospect – and how they came to overlook unforgiveable goings on, rationalise them, look to the bigger picture of ‘my party right or wrong’ etc. To go against the grain in the SWP given possible mental and physical intimidation, the likely public ridicule, the ostracisation etc, is/was very difficult.

    That is a very good point; and please therefore interpret my criticism of them in the spirit of tough love, hoping to accelerate the process.

    Sam64: Hence the rebound when it comes is possibly too harsh – like with yourself perhaps?

    No, the SWP tried to destroy my reputation when I left them, spreading slanderous rumours about me, seeking to freeze me out the labour movement, etc.

    But I had been semi-detached and had huge political differences with the SWP may years before they pushed me to actually leave.

  10. Manzil on said:

    Andy Newman: Maybe not, my ire with them is that the core of the oppositionists are a group of people who knew that this sort of sexist abuse of unequal powerr relationship was going on for years. Only when it became public knowledge did they become “oppositionists”

    The Oxford University and Ruskin College students within the ‘democratic opposition’ certainly didn’t know – how could they, most of them aren’t even in their twenties. I imagine the same is true of the students littered throughout the signatories of the opposition statements, and the Socialist Worker Student Societies who have been so prominent in opposing the Central Committee.

    Richard Seymour and China Mieville probably do reflect the ‘Mark Steel phenomenon’ of prominent members finding a conscience long after they became aware of problems. But they evidently don’t constitute the entirety of the opposition, nor do I think they are representative of the average member who has criticised this whole process. Of course, speaking as someone who does accept the ‘central conceits of so-called “revolutionary socialism”’, we are coming at this from different perspectives.

    I think the strictures of ‘Leninism’ in the SWP model have allowed this crisis to develop in a way that broader and more democratic forms would have helped prevent. But that does not mean those who support this approach are complicit in the alleged wrongs of Comrade Delta or the leadership’s stitch-up of a response, any more than support for the professionalised, atomised, top-down model of high Blairism makes ordinary Labour party members complicit in the Iraq war.

    I await the outcome of the National Committee. If stymied by the leadership, and unable to continue the fight legally, I hope the opposition cohere into a new and positive wing of the radical left, rather than falling into inactivity, disillusionment or Counterfire Website, Cafe and Conference Management Plc. Either way I consider the SWP comrades and hope this results in a reformed IS tradition, whether within the SWP, or outside (and in either case, hopefully as part of a broader left formation).

  11. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Mr Newman says in post six that “Leading figures in Counterfire today not only came from that milieu,”

    Just a thought but does not Mr Newman equally come from that “milieu” and carry on many of the non-sexists traditions of that “milieu” and never argue opposition on a political basis. By the way I think the resignation video is absolutely dreadful and crass, but I am just an old foggy; but the ‘Downfall’ interpretation of the swp cc hilarious.

  12. The most coherent political criticism of the leadership came from the Serbian section. In particular their criticisms that the SWP had compromised with imperialism over Libya and Syria and been hostile to Syriza in Greece. Both of these showed a real political degeneration of the SWP.

  13. Jimmy Haddow: Just a thought but does not Mr Newman equally come from that “milieu”

    You disgusting snivelling weasel-souled excuse for a man.

    How DARE you, in the absence of any personal knowledge about me whatsoever accuse me of being part of the circus of exploiting unequal power relationships and political prestige for sexual favours.

    I suggest that you withdraw that immediately, apologise and then crawl away and reflect on how you became such a sorry waste of breath.

  14. Manzil: The Oxford University and Ruskin College students within the ‘democratic opposition’ certainly didn’t know – how could they, most of them aren’t even in their twenties. I imagine the same is true of the students littered throughout the signatories of the opposition statements, and the Socialist Worker Student Societies who have been so prominent in opposing the Central Committee.

    Agreed. I imagine becasue they are less solidly integrated into the SWP they both don’t know the back-story, but are also less confident about which parts of the politics to keep or reject, Also they are still in the phase which everyone does when relatively new in an organisation of mimicking the behaviour of the in-crowd; which explains the politically form of their critique, while it is actually bold in content.

    Manzil: rd Seymour and China Mieville probably do reflect the ‘Mark Steel phenomenon’ of prominent members finding a conscience long after they became aware of problems. But they evidently don’t constitute the entirety of the opposition, nor do I think they are representative of the average member who has criticised this whole process.

    Indeed, but they were the ones who knew and did nothing; despite having a good position to challenge it.

  15. Yes the current CC is likely to hold on – although their opponents have probably reached a critical mass where some SWP CC members might break cover.

    I don’t actually condemn either the members who have judged that it is the lesser of the two evils to stick to the CC, or the supposed failure of the opposition to ‘re-evaluate’ the IS tradition (rather early days in any case). If you take the massive step of joining an organisation committed to revolution, at least if you take that goal seriously, you must inevitably feel an extremely strong commitment to that organisation.

    When you look back on all the thousands of dedicated revolutionaries who swallowed the various crimes and blunders of the communist movement, you can condemn them for staying in ‘their’ organisations or you can recognise their commitment to their ideals and their desire to believe their leaders every bit as committed and dedicated as the best of them.

    While the problems within the SWP are hardly of the scale, I think the motivations of comrades will be comparable. Many SWP members will have loads of positive and empowering experiences of their party with wilhich to balance the darker side currently on show.

    Comrades on neither side of this debacle need to be written off. People politically opposed to the SWP may hope to see its disappearance, but this sort of triumphalism will have the effect of pushing SWP cadres together. Personally the positive I take from all of this is that the closed slate and other mechanisms with which party leaders control their organisations are now much more widely debated and questioned. I suspect that other left groups may find less acceptance of these models of organisation.

  16. Manzil on said:

    andy newman: Indeed, but they were the ones who knew and did nothing; despite having a good position to challenge it.

    No argument from me there. They certainly shouldn’t be held up as ‘the solution’. They’ve just stopped – finally, and for not altogether sincere reasons – being part of the problem.

    Re: the disconnect between the substance of their critique and the overly ‘No True Christian’ deportment of their style, alongside their inexperience, I think the problem is that any ‘internal’ struggle is going to take place in something of a vacuum. It’s hard to establish what bits of your politics work and what don’t, which elements of your tradition it’s important to reclaim and which to jettison, if you’re busy in a faction-fight and you’re unable to actually testing your theory against daily experience. In time, I think (hope?) that the oppositionists will learn by experience what to hold onto.

  17. If the SWP collapses will the women who alleges she was raped report the matter to the police?

  18. Binh,

    Well chuffed, but I don’t think I’ve commented on this thread,have I ? Were you commenting on the “There is nothing wrong with this cartoon” thread ?
    (In which case could one of the kind admin types kindly move comment to the relevant thread,puh-leeze)

  19. Manzil on said:

    Omar,

    He was referring to the quote from The Wire’s Omar Little in Andy’s original article. :)

    That said, I do generally approach comment threads on Socialist Unity aiming to agree with you Omar, as a regular source of sensible contributions, if that makes you feel better!

  20. Manzil: Omar, He was referring to the quote from The Wire’s Omar Little in Andy’s original article. That said, I do generally approach comment threads on Socialist Unity aiming to agree with you Omar, as a regular source of sensible contributions, if that makes you feel better!

    Thank you both, I shall sleep with warm, fuzzy feelings tonight.

  21. “and who are prepared to again collude in sexism and patriarchal hierarchy”

    This sort of political correctness has no place on the left. We’re not bloody liberals. Why do people let themselves be browbeaten into agreeing with this stuff?

  22. Manzil on said:

    Dan: This sort of political correctness has no place on the left. We’re not bloody liberals. Why do people let themselves be browbeaten into agreeing with this stuff?

    Yeah, recognition of and concern with sexism and patriarchy is just so bloody liberal, isn’t it. Gosh, why can’t women just shut up and accept they’re not oppressed in the least.

    What next, is anti-racism a bourgeois deviation?

  23. jock mctrousers on said:

    Well said #26. I have no great love for the SWP but this just seems like more of an ongoing strategy to keep any forces to the left of labour from coming together – divide and rule, identity politics… it’s all the same.

    The younger generation of bloggers are mostly feminists, so socialists will have to re-design their organisations ? Like become ‘feminists’ instead of socialists? Marx never saw that one coming!

  24. #28 No, far better for “socialists” to remain so. After all, what do you get with all that womens’ lib? Margret bloody Thatcher, that’s what!

    I blame those women at Dagenham myself.

  25. Howard Kirk on said:

    I think it means on your definition of feminism

    I hope – and I suspect it does not – mean the return of the authoritarian, shouty & humourless Millie Tant types who basically didn’t like men much and who thankfully mostly died out sometime in the 90s.

    If that’s the case, then I suppose dungarees might make a comeback.

  26. Jellytot on said:

    @28The younger generation of bloggers are mostly feminists, so socialists will have to re-design their organisations?

    Maybe they can redesign their organisations so they don’t conduct bogus “kangaroo courts”, composed mostly of mates of the accused, sitting in judgement of incredibly serious criminal matters…..not much to ask.

  27. Howard Kirk on said:

    I just read this on the SWP oppositionists blog – this is bizarre, yet predictable.

    I wonder if the upstairs room at the pub had it’s own wooden chair in the centre of the room with an unshaded light above it, or did they have to hire it.

    http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/advice-for-comrades-feeling-heat-from_30.html

    Advice for comrades feeling the heat from the CC and its full-time organisers
    In the face of the unprecedented opposition within our party to the Central Committee, its shocking handling of the rape allegation against a leading member, its attempts to force through a post-conference pretence that all is settled, and its continuing bullish defence of undemocratic methods and ongoing attempts to silence dissent, the Central Committee and its full-time organisers have started to move against those of us demanding an accounting in the party.

    Comrades around the country have been summoned to meetings on their own, or at best with one fellow member to accompany them. In these meetings they have been accused of all manner of attacks on “forty years of British Leninism”, and recantations, confessions and apologies have been demanded, along with suggestions that they leave if they cannot toe ‘the line’.

    Don’t be intimidated. It’s our party. You are not alone, much as the CC may wish to make you feel isolated.

    Here are some suggestions for comrades in these situations:

    DON’T go alone to one of these meetings. If “invited”, accept, and tell the CC member or organiser the names of three other comrades who will be coming with you. Stick to your guns on this.

    DO take notes during the meeting and reject any demand that you should not.

    DON’T agree to anything – tell whoever is disciplining you that you will go away, discuss their points with other comrades, and respond later.

    DO tell other comrades before and after the meeting that it will be happening. We have NOTHING to hide from other members and from the class.

    DON’T apologise for standing up to them and for fighting for our party.

    DO tell us, here at the IS blog of any incidents of bullying and / or intimidation. Any threats, any suggestion of disciplinary sanctions – tell the party, the party needs to know what is going on.

    Kris Stewart
    Gareth Dale
    China Mieville
    Richard Seymour
    Alex Anievas
    Adam Marks
    Jamie Pitman

  28. Howard Kirk,

    How long will it take before this website publishes some transcripts of these meetings, I wonder? (Or before such transcripts are used to make a Youtube musical? I nominate Comrades Gilbert and Sullivan for the CC.)

  29. I think the most important question that concerns me now is how we organise in the future.

    The crisis of the SWP has caused a lot of debate in my circles – way beyond the SWP – and the debate isnt so much about the SWP, they are already seen as history. Rather this crisis is becoming, in a small way, some sort of lightening rod to conduct discussion towards future forms of organisation or movement. What is the new left?

    I don’t know what its like for other readers / posters around the SU blog, but there is definitely a new situation here, a generational shift, that has emerged over about three years, since autumn 2010. On our local campus, the hardcore group of 20 first year students who met each other around the first anti-cuts demos and the Millbank Occupation are now third years, but still a group. They have grown, with new additions each year, now there is a core of around 30 young left activists. Only 3 or 4 are in the SWP, a few are anarchists, there are other diffuse anti-capitalist ideas. They meet as a general group each week, hold regular demonstrations on different issues, hold film showings, etc. They have sophisticated discussions about tactics, ideas, history. Its a joy. This looks like a generational shift amongst activists. For nearly twenty years left student activism withered and died on British campuses. The SWP could sustain a few dozen SWSS groups that stood out in the barren time. But they had to be sustained by a party life support system, nurtured by full timers, they took an effort to keep alive, they, like the party, felt like an anachronism we dragged through the history of the neoliberal period. Now, I see a self-organising anti-capitalist student movement on our local campus. There is no SWSS group here, just a relatively large, active, anti-capitalist milieu that can sustain itself in a way that hasn’t seemed to happen for decades.
    In town, the situation is similar – fluid coalitions of activists, organised around anti-cuts groups, Occupy, the trades council, a peoples assembly bringing lots together, and connecting with thousands of local people around the question of hospital closures, the bedroom tax and more.

    We have had three years of anti-austerity activism. We have not had many breakthroughs or victories. But people are not drifting away. Instead there are growing pools of activists building dense interconnections between them, and engaging in ever more sophisticated political debates.

    The SWP hoped to be the inheritors of this radicalisation. They waited 40 years for this crisis. Now they will definitely not be the destination of this radicalism. I thought I’d check out ‘Marxism 2012′ and other events this year – and found myself quite saddened (but not shocked) to see how few of the new generation of radicals were there, how many old friends I met instead in the thinning ranks. But if anyone had any last hopes that the SWP would somehow overcome its structural flaws and somehow experience a second wave of development and growth with the re-emergence of structural, global and historic crises must now finally accept that this will not be the case.

    I was also opened minded about the Labour Party, about whether it would be a new home for this emerging generation of anti-austerity activists, this new left. With attempts to reconnected with the core vote, the choice of Ed not Dave, etc., again it was possible to entertain hope. But the labour party is not where it is at, at least in my locality. Its part of the mix once again, in local campaigns to defend the NHS, etc – but also unable to articulate the needs or express the identity of the anti-austerity generation. So there is a growing ‘outside left’, a homeless left, and the crisis of the SWP just intensifies this problem, bringing the need to address it higher up the agenda of many activists.

    The crisis of the SWP therefore happens at a time when in every locality, new lefts are emerging. I have no naive hope that the implosion of the SWP would automatically clear the way for something better. But am I not sure we need a ‘new SWP’ with a new monolithic ‘line’ at the moment. Andy N’s dismissal of the SWP Oppositionists as eclectic and heterogenous misses the point, and even mirrors the conceits to the self-imagined Leninists from the other side, that without this, any future groups or networks will be ephemeral.
    In the coming period, it may be quite possible for a more general, plural, federated socialist movement to grow and exist – for a while. It may not ossify and institutionalize itself for decades, and thats a good thing. Maybe it will be unstable and collapse after a few years. But it could, in its lifetime, help develop the re-emergence or recomposition of a class movement here.

    If the SWSS groups were to break as a whole, that could be the basis of something fairly interesting, the possibility of new thinking and new experiments in organizing, a generation of politicised marxists without the baggage of decades.

    Of course, this is all just as likely to lead to atomisation and fragmentation. But why be fatalistic? For lots of us, now is the time to intervene, to save the left, to help shape a new left.

  30. Correction on said:

    “This coming Saturday, 1st February, will see the convening of the SWP’s 50 strong National Committee”

    Saturday is 2nd February.

    Yes I win!

  31. Just Saying. on said:

    Fuck all wrong way the S.W.P.socialist belief.Their higherarchic conrtol systems are text book old school control of disenters,no better than the control and its ruthless ministry that wish to control.

  32. Barry Kade: Andy N’s dismissal of the SWP Oppositionists as eclectic and heterogenous misses the point, and even mirrors the conceits to the self-imagined Leninists from the other side, that without this, any future groups or networks will be ephemeral.

    Thanks for the interesting and insightful contribution.

    I am not sure that I am saying what you think I am saying.

    I am very sceptical that the SWP opposition will lead to a new stable organisation in the model of the old fashioned left groups; and the statement from the old lags in the SWP opposition about “Zinovievism” does suggest that they see the future as a “leninist” group, though more liberal than the SWP.

    That does not mean that the people who currently make up the SWP opposition could not survive as an affinity group in a looser network – but the centripetal forces acting on such a affinitycgroup would I think lead to its dissipation. Furthermore, if the SWSS groups were to act in the way you suggest they might, they would have to quickly jettison much of their current politics, which would be interesting.

    It does lead into two different direction, autonomism, and – I hestitate to say – the Labour Party.

    Barry Kade: I was also opened minded about the Labour Party, about whether it would be a new home for this emerging generation of anti-austerity activists, this new left. With attempts to reconnected with the core vote, the choice of Ed not Dave, etc., again it was possible to entertain hope. But the labour party is not where it is at, at least in my locality.

    I agree, but the history of parties like Labour in this sort of movement is not as the core organising centre while the radicalism rises; but as a gatekeeper as the radicalism subsides, a process which both refreshes the gatekeeper party by the new modalities of radicalism, and also offering a path for radicals into conventional politics.

  33. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    You see what I mean Mr Newman, you ask for a reply then when one is given that does not suit your low expectations then you delete it. That is exactly how the leadership of the SWP have operated in the past and still do today as many of the contributions on here and elsewhere have indicated. Regrettably, you’re many accusations of the SWP and other Marxist Left groups of them being cults and sectarian with sycophantic hangers on can be related to this blog.

    While it is commendable that you should take up a number of the sexual issues related to the behaviour of the SWP the reality is your motives are suspect. I do not believe they are from a purpose of raising the intellectual, political and theoretical consciousness of the readers of Socialist Unity; but are in reality everything to do with kicking the SWP, and other Marxist Left groups, and lower the above consciousness of your readers. You have never once politically/theoretically taken the SWP to task as a means to point to the incorrect perspectives of the SWP. So your mission as a Labour Party member is as ideological pertinacious as the Tories and their austerity programme.

    The reality is the bullying nature of the SWP, in whatever social area, and of which you were a member for a very long time, is bound up with their incorrect political perspective of a number of decades and their mistaken notion of democratic centralism within a Marxist party, the purpose of internal discussion, tendencies, factions, and the relationship between the leadership and the members. All things you have internalised from your years of experience in the SWP. There is nothing worse than a smoker that has given up smoking and likes to pontificate to smokers on its negative merits.

  34. Uncle Albert on said:

    Andy Newman: and – I hestitate to say – the Labour Party.

    I returned to Labour following the election of Ed as leader – however I was shocked to find the activist/membership base utterly diminished and Mandelson’s divisive policy of excluding what he called “blue-collar, working-class, Northern, horny handed, dirty-overalled people” from internal opportunities victorious.

    Labour has been significantly captured by the undemocratic and Sainsbury financed Progress party. If Ed deviates from the New Labour ethos then, most likely, they’ll walk – remember how the knifes were sharpening following Ed’s ‘predator capitalism’ conference speech? And unlike the early 1980s – when Sainsbury bankrolled the SDP flounce-out – these people are much better organised, with their own membership, national conference and MPs.

    The networks currently being established by groups like 38 Degrees, Keep Our NHS Public and ukuncut seem to offer a much more promising avenue of political enterprise. Indeed, there’s no reason why such groups (as long as they grow quickly enough to become unamenable to the politically and morally bankrupt paper selling ‘revolutionaries’), if linked to electoral projects such as the National Health Action Party, shouldn’t be able to exert an influence on Labour similar to that of UKIP on the Tories.

  35. Uncle Albert

    ‘I was shocked to find the activist/membership base utterly diminished and Mandelson’s divisive policy of excluding what he called “blue-collar, working-class, Northern, horny handed, dirty-overalled people” from internal opportunities victorious.’

    The fact that you were shocked at this state of affairs suggests that you hadn’t being paying attention.

    Labour is a capitalist party. The very best in can offer is some hope of mitigating the worst effects of capitalism, but it’s never going to be a vehicle for changing or replacing the system.

    And ad hoc, one off campaigns, however worthwhile aren’t going to change the system either.

  36. Uncle Albert: I returned to Labour following the election of Ed as leader – however I was shocked to find the activist/membership base utterly diminished and Mandelson’s divisive policy of excluding what he called “blue-collar, working-class, Northern, horny handed, dirty-overalled people” from internal opportunities victorious.
    Labour has been significantly captured by the undemocratic and Sainsbury financed Progress party. If Ed deviates from the New Labour ethos then, most likely, they’ll walk – remember how the knifes were sharpening following Ed’s ‘predator capitalism’ conference speech? And unlike the early 1980s – when Sainsbury bankrolld the SDP flounce-out – these peoIple are much better organised, with their own membership, national conference and MPs.

    But not I think irreversibly so.

  37. saothar on said:

    Jellytot: The entire working class has an interest in what happens in the SWP… the SWP remains, for all I’ve said, the best thing the British working class has at its disposal.

    :-)

    Yep, the conceit and self-delusion of this sad little sect appears to have no limit. They really don’t do reality very well at all.

    It kinda explains the dreadful conduct of their leadership throughout this whole sorry affair.

  38. jock mctrousers on said:

    Do you mean not irreversibly captured by the Progress party? Where do you see evidence that there are forces who could retake Labour for ‘the people’ in time to offer an alternative at the next election? And remember that’s still 3 years and an awful lot of dead disabled people away?

    It’s quite possible that Progress could ‘throw’ the next election to let the Tories finish off the British people – no more health-care, social-security, legal aid, education. Another term of the Tories might well see the end of universal suffrage.

    And even if Ed D. survived and won, is it a good bet that he wouldn’t be as bad? To me, backing Labour as a response to the Tories onslaught is effectively just doing nothing, just going through the motions. Where’s the reason to believe otherwise?

  39. Jimmy Haddow,

    “While it is commendable that you should take up a number of the sexual issues related to the behaviour of the SWP the reality is your motives are suspect. I do not believe they are from a purpose of raising the intellectual, political and theoretical consciousness of the readers of Socialist Unity; but are in reality everything to do with kicking the SWP, and other Marxist Left groups, and lower the above consciousness of your readers.” -Jimmy Haddow.

    http://www.socialistunity.com/socialist-workers-party-swp-the-empire-strikes-back/#comment-634294

    What do Andy Newman’s motives have to do with this?

    There has been a serious allegation of rape made against a leading member of the SWP. He was investigated by a committee of his friends and found “not proven” of the offence. Even if he had been found “guilty” the worst punishment that could have happened is expulsion. Since then, many other allegations have been made (eg against a former SW editor or the “fuck circuit”) which have detailed a culture of sexual abuse being covered up in the interests of the Party.

    These are the relevant matters. Whatever political motives come into play are secondary and can end up being a smokescreen.

    And on your point of “raising the intellectual, political and theoretical consciousness of the readers of Socialist Unity”, I think some of the thoughtful (and even not so thoughtful) discussions on this web-site (and others) have raised “intellectual, political and theoretical” concerns about the practices of the SWP. Among other left groups, we have even seen a discussion along the lines of “what would we have done?”

    However, that is not the case for all groups – for example, your organisation the Socialist Party.

    One of your comrades (Manzil) made the following comment (29 Jan) -

    “This whole business came up after our last SP branch meeting. ‘What would we have done?’ There was considerable reticence to just say ‘it couldn’t happen here’, because obviously it could. People can be bastards, even those who ordinarily aren’t. We’re complex and flawed. Knowing someone who behaves in this way isn’t an indictment of your politics – but an incorrect response to it can be.

    And the SWP leadership’s response, and especially the absurd ‘article’ published by Alex Callinicos, merits just such an indictment. As far as contributing to socialism anything positive, his time is over.”

    http://www.socialistunity.com/more-on-sexism-and-the-socialist-workers-party-swp/#comment-633990

    However, the Socialist Party (who let us remember are still in TUSC with the SWP, Delta and all) has had nothing to say on this matter on their web-site. Maybe you can tell us the official “line” on this Mr. Haddow. Is it to support the Seymourites? Stay neutral? Work with the SWP come what may? Does the Socialist Party agree with your comrade above that the time is over for Alex Callinicos contributing anything to socialism?

    Who knows, maybe your answer to these questions would raise “the intellectual, political and theoretical consciousness of the readers of Socialist Unity.”

  40. Ed Miliband was on the telly last night going on about the importance of a comprehensive school education. This struck me as decisively different to the Tories and a clear break with blairism. I hope he can show he is seriously by sacking twiglet and developing a coherent alternative to the creeping privatisation of education. Labour aren’t perfect, but the question of how best to influence the only alternative government is relevant. In my view it best best done by being part of it.

    Meanwhile there is a slightly seperated question of how to build a mass alternative committed to socialism – in the current climate, I do not see this as even worth asking – but wish all the best to those who think it can be built, through respect, TUSC etc.

  41. Andy Newman: But not I think irreversibly so.

    When has the Labour Party, throughout its entire history, ever seriously opposed the interests of capitalism?

    Or to put it another way, do you regard yourself as anti-capitalist? Is capitalism something that should be opposed by those of us who identify ourselves as socialists? Or do you take the view that capitalism can be made to work for the benefit of everyone?

  42. John R,

    At least Jimmy Haddow seems motivated by a desire to debate strategies for socialism rather than engage in endless internet gossip- a practice best left to the anti-socialist Harry’s Place.

  43. Has anyone considered the possibility that Comrade Delta isn’t a rapist?

    It seems to me that this whole discussion is predicated on the belief that he is.

  44. Red Deathy,

    Thanks for that link. It was definitely worth a read. If that’s true about what Corin Redgrave said then… actually, words fail me.

  45. #51 What’s your evidence for that? I can’t speak for anyone else, but as someone who has commented on several of the relevant threads I can honestly say that I cannot possibly take a view one way or the other as to whether he did it or not.

    And on the basis of what has been released on this blog, even if I had a hunch I certainly wouldn’t feel justified in airing it publically.

    It should be borne in mind as well that kangaroo courts are usually a problem because they prejudice the innocent rather than protect the guilty.

  46. #51 We will never know. The SWP have blown any chance that a proper investigation by the appropriate authorities will take place.

    #47 Middle-aged male “celebrities” and young women. SPEW has not been immune.

  47. 53&54

    I have no evidence.

    I don’t know whether he’s innocent or not.

    But if he is innocent then the criticisms of the way the SWP dealt with this melt away.

    That’s why I say that the whole discussion is predicated on the assumption of guilt.

    The matter should have been referred to the police though that was for the complainer to do, not the party.

    It’s still not too late for her to make a complaint to the police, and it’s best for all concerned that she does so.

  48. John R: Maybe you can tell us the official “line” on this Mr. Haddow. Is it to support the Seymourites? Stay neutral? Work with the SWP come what may? Does the Socialist Party agree with your comrade above that the time is over for Alex Callinicos contributing anything to socialism?

    There isn’t an ‘official line’ on this.

    People have different views, admittedly most of them starting from a premise of distrusting the SWP leadership, depending on what/who they know (in most cases, not much more than the average Weekly Worker reader!). It would just be a case of groping about in the dark. AS I SAID in the comment you quote, this was just a bit of a chat between several of us, following a meeting, in a pub afterwards.

    As far as being ‘in’ TUSC, you do realise that it’s essentially just a paper hat for elections, and one that, outside of using its name in one or two seats, the SWP really don’t have much to do with? Like, at all. And that jointly standing under that name doesn’t imply mutual support for its affiliates beyond the minimum ‘TUSC’ platform – I’m sure they have the same attitude to the SP.

    Re: Alex Callinicos being a massive plonker, that is my personal view, albeit one I would hope most people on the left would share, having spent more than thirty seconds in his awful, awful company. But using me as a stick to beat Jimmy or anyone else is a bit of a shitty thing to do, IMO.

  49. anon: But if he is innocent then the criticisms of the way the SWP dealt with this melt away.

    What? Of course they bloody don’t.

  50. secret_factioneer on said:

    No, not a boys’ club at all, Linda. If you are genuinely interested, have a look around at other pieces, and future pieces (and indeed that piece, on the blog) and you’ll see that.

  51. stuart on said:

    John R,

    Why do you post stuff on Harry’s Place, stuff that is in no way oppositional, a site that is Zionist, racist, Islamophobic and anti-socialist?

  52. #55 That’s exactly the logic police officers who breach rules of evidence to secure a conviction of someone they ‘know’ to be guilty will use.

    It treats the concept of fair trials based on dispassionate investigation and gathering of evidence as mere cosmetics, because the guilt or innocence of the accused is ‘known’.

    What makes it even more illogical is that you yourself don’t know- who do you think is capable of being in a position to ‘know’?

    Would you ‘know’ that he did it if the DC had decided he had?

  53. #59

    I believe in the presumption of innocence.

    I seem to be in a minority on here.

    Most posters have an agenda against the SWP. For some it’s political, for others it’s personal.

    It suits their agenda to assume guilt, so that’s what they do.

    Because if the man is not guilty, or is to be assumed to be not guilty until the reverse is proved, then they lose a stick with which to beat the SWP.

  54. anon: I believe in the presumption of innocence.
    I seem to be in a minority on here.

    you numpty. Noone on this website has ever expresed a view on whether or not Comrade Delta is innocent or guilty.

  55. #60 Nonesense. The reason this is an issue is the procedure used and the culture that allowed it tobe adopted.

    While there may be insufficient evidence for any of us to take a view as to Delta’s guilt or innocence, there is clearly plenty as to the flaws in that procedure and the realty of that culture. And you don’t need to follow the threads on this blog to be able to see that.

    Deflecting all this into an allegation that Delta has been preumed guilty on here is desparate stuff as a argument, although it may help his legal team if he ever is subject to a police investigation., and the responsibility fo that will lie with those who took it upon themselves to substitute for the criminal justice system.

  56. John R on said:

    Manzil: There isn’t an ‘official line’ on this….

    …But using me as a stick to beat Jimmy or anyone else is a bit of a shitty thing to do, IMO.

    I’m sorry you feel what I wrote (and quoting you) was “a shitty thing to do” to Jimmy Haddow. At no point did I say “he said this” but “you said that” as a stick to attack him. If you look again, I was quoting you to ask if he (and your Party) agreed with what you had written.

    I guess I was irritated with the following statement from Mr. Haddow -

    “While it is commendable that you should take up a number of the sexual issues related to the behaviour of the SWP the reality is your motives are suspect. I do not believe they are from a purpose of raising the intellectual, political and theoretical consciousness of the readers of Socialist Unity; but are in reality everything to do with kicking the SWP, and other Marxist Left groups, and lower the above consciousness of your readers.”

    It stuck me as being a bit pompous and nothing to do with the matter in hand – an allegation of rape made against a leading member of the SWP with that organisation being accused of a “cover up.”

    As I pointed out, the Socialist Party has made no official comment on this matter while both you and Mr. Haddow have made many contributions in this forum – mainly, by and by, in agreement with the views that the matter has been handled wrongly.

    There are some excellent articles on the Socialist Party web-site about rape and sexual abuse. For example here’s one (29 Jan 13) -

    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/16044/29-01-2013/rape-is-no-joke

    And here’s one quote about the Savile scandal which made me think about allegations being made against the SWP -

    “Clearly questions need to be asked in particular about the cult of celebrity, which renders certain individuals ‘untouchable’.

    But sexism, serious abuse of power at the top and a complete lack of democracy, accountability or workers’ control is common to all major public bodies and corporations in the current capitalist economy.”

    http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/15599

    However, your statements re “Comrade Delta” and “TUSC” (“there isn’t an ‘official line’ on this”, “people have different views” and “as far as being ‘in’ TUSC, you do realise that it’s essentially just a paper hat for elections”) raise more questions than answers.

    Namely – Why doesn’t the Socialist Party have an (official) view on the matter? Do they not think that allegations of rape and sexual abuse cover ups against an organisation they are in electoral alliance with (TUSC) at least merit some kind of comment?

  57. Tom Cod on said:

    Healy was the most charismatic figure on the British Left? You’re kidding! I didn’t realize the British Left had been so ossified.

  58. jock mctrousers on said:

    The future of the SWP – Callinicos or Seymour?

    Well, I read a couple of books by Callinicos that were really quite good – the Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx, and Against Postmodernism – both of which I think anyone would enjoy and find profitable – but his quarterly input to the International Socialism journal has for ages been not much more than a summary of the last quarter’s Financial Times economic commentary, with a few Trotskyist catch-phrases of course, and feeling like a student essay written grudgingly against a deadline – like his heart isn’t in it.

    But Seymour? Career trajectory unfolding as I expected when I first read him – need I say more? The SWP should have thrown him out years ago. But he isn’t interested in running the SWP; he’s interested in FAME!!

  59. Stephen on said:

    anon: I don’t know whether he’s innocent or not.
    But if he is innocent then the criticisms of the way the SWP dealt with this melt away.

    ehhh No they don’t.

    Regardless of what Comrade delta may not or may have done.. it is still the case that the SWP hierarchy felt that they were 1.competent to investigate an allegation of rape 2. That having close friends and colleagues of alleged rapist investigate the complaint was OK 3. They asked some fairly dubious questions during this. and 4. The SWP conference voted that all of this constituted a proper investigation of a ‘dispute’ ( whilst mintaining loudly that our record on fighting for women’s rights is exemplary.)

    ….Those are real problems regardless of whether Cde Delta is an angel or a criminal.

  60. Jellytot on said:

    @60I believe in the presumption of innocence.I seem to be in a minority on here.

    No, you’re not. I presume that ‘Delta’ is innocent and I’d guess that many others do too….or at least they should.

    But given the nature of the allegations from multiple sources there also seems to be a very serious case to answer and an SWP’s Control Commission is clearly not the forum in which to do it.

    That they did points to wider conceits and the clearly dysfunctional and anachronistic nature of their internal structures. This is the crux of the matter.

  61. George Hallam on said:

    Uncle Albert: The networks currently being established by groups like 38 Degrees, Keep Our NHS Public and ukuncut seem to offer a much more promising avenue of political enterprise. Indeed, there’s no reason why such groups (as long as they grow quickly enough to become unamenable to the politically and morally bankrupt paper selling ‘revolutionaries’), if linked to electoral projects such as the National Health Action Party, shouldn’t be able to exert an influence on Labour similar to that of UKIP on the Tories.

    Rather than speculate why not examine an actual case? Like Lewisham.
    We have built up a campaign in support of our local hospital and the NHS. As you may have heard our demonstration last Saturday mobilised around 20,000 people (this is a factually based estimate, not your usual lefty exaggeration).

    The latest news, is that the Government is pressing ahead with the closure of the maternity unit. The A&E is to be shrunk, though, as a sop to local feelings, not quite as much as the original proposal. This response was anticipated and the campaign will continue.

    The campaign is very broadly based. A number of small ‘Left’ groups have participated in the campaign and other I know some very hard things have been said on this site about the SWP, and the AWL, so I would like to mention the way they have helped with leaflet distribution, flyposting, making placards and stewarding the demonstration. AWL members, in particular, made an outstanding contribution to the organisation of Saturday’s rally.
    Members of the Labour Party too have done an enormous amount of work. These include some councilors. LP members have also liaised with the Mayor to ensure cooperation from the council on various matters.

    Having said this it should be understood that a great many of the campaign’s activists, probably the majority are not part of any ‘Left’ group (including the Labour Party). Some do not regard themselves as part of the ‘Left’ at all.

    Despite all these differences, we have managed to keep on working together.

    I hope nobody will think that this has happened easily or spontaneously.

  62. Manzil on said:

    John R: I’m sorry you feel what I wrote (and quoting you) was “a shitty thing to do” to Jimmy Haddow.At no point did I say “he said this” but “you said that” as a stick to attack him. If you look again, I was quoting you to ask if he (and your Party) agreed with what you had written.
    [...]
    However, your statements re “Comrade Delta” and “TUSC” (“there isn’t an ‘official line’ on this”, “people have different views” and “as far as being ‘in’ TUSC, you do realise that it’s essentially just a paper hat for elections”) raise more questions than answers.

    Namely – Why doesn’t the Socialist Party have an (official) view on the matter? Do they not think that allegations of rape and sexual abuse cover ups against an organisation they are in electoral alliance with (TUSC) at least merit some kind of comment?

    Why should Jimmy or the SP have to agree with what I’ve written? Do you expect that Andy Newman reflects Labour Party policy or that Vanya’s POV constitutes the Word of God for Respect?

    Concering the (lack of an) ‘official’ view vis-a-vis the SWP, I would imagine – although I don’t know – the SP’s reticence is derived from the fact all the information available is second-hand, and that most of us don’t actually know what’s going on. Not to mention that the struggle is still ongoing and we don’t know how it will end up. My impressions of the case are, for instance, entirely derived from the material published here, in the Weekly Worker, Lenin’s Tomb, the IS blog etc.

    The SP National Committee apparently discussed the issue when it was at an earlier stage, and expressed some caution regarding the nature of the opposition (quite reasonably so, IMO, given that much of the opposition work has been expressed as a return to, rather than deviation from, the SWP model). So I don’t think the party nationally really feels invested in either side, to be honest.

    On to TUSC, it’s not SP property. SP members stand on its platform, as do SWP members. It’s not a party. It doesn’t discipline its members nor should it seek to. All I can say is that the SP believes it’s worthwhile to continue standing using its name. That doesn’t reflect on the SWP one way or the other.

    Although I would like to emphasise that I continue to think TUSC is a waste of time. (And for your benefit John, I’ll confirm that neither Jimmy nor the SP agree with that I have written there.)

  63. secret_factioneer on said:

    People, I am sure, will make their own personal judgements about Delta. Obviously, for those who make a particular judgement, that will affect how they feel about the whole situation.

    But it is thoroughly idiotic to say that if you assume Delta to have behaved only in an acceptable manner at all times, then there is nothing to be said about the crisis.

  64. From what I understand, from reading the published transcript and information on Lenin’s Tomb and from feminist friends who are in the SWP, the young woman at the centre of this crisis didn’t want to go to the police principally because she knew they were likely to say ‘no crime was committed’. After the SWP adopted a principled approach to the Julian Assange rape allegations, she was emboldened to think that the SWP took a much broader approach to the question of consent and would understand that a woman might seem to agree to sex with someone but in fact be ‘giving in’ because of sustained sexual harassment. Most of us would see this as something un-socialist for which Delta should be expelled from any left-wing group – but I’m really only joining the dots of what I’ve read and heard. This would explain, though, why she seems never to have considered the police as an option.

  65. secret factioneer on said:

    72 – I don’t think anyone can be surprised if and when a woman chooses not to go to the police when she has been raped.

    In this rather excellent piece there is an attempt to work out how a revolutionary organisation might deal with a complaint of rape.

  66. Feodor on said:

    Liz:
    Most of us would see this as something un-socialist for which Delta should be expelled from any left-wing group…

    Perhaps. But, imo, one of the key segments of the Disputes Committee report was the bit where someone says they’re not going to deal with issues of ‘bourgeois morality’ – which in the real world translates as ‘we don’t consider there to be a problem with a much older superior sleeping with a much younger subordinate’.

    Now, I’m not trying to come across as a moralistic fuddy-duddy because it does have its positive aspects, but I do think there is a certain logic within the post-68 ‘free love’ school of thought which to some extent legitimises being a sex pest – arguably, Jimmy Saville is the bastard child of such attitudes (cue howls of outrage from the baby boomers ;) ). Thus, in this context I suspect many ‘socialists’ would think what Comrade Delta was doing to be all a bit of good fun, with no harm intended or produced.

    I don’t think it surprising that in some ways modern revolutionary parties in the west resemble rock bands (i.e. what could be described as a certain groupie culture), because they both come out of the same era. (The old CPs, by contrast, were far more socially conservative, having arisen a couple of decades previous on working-class estates rather than university campuses.)

  67. Liz: From what I understand, from reading the published transcript and information on Lenin’s Tomb and from feminist friends who are in the SWP, the young woman at the centre of this crisis didn’t want to go to the police principally because she knew they were likely to say ‘no crime was committed’. After the SWP adopted a principled approach to the Julian Assange rape allegations, she was emboldened to think that the SWP took a much broader approach to the question of consent and would understand that a woman might seem to agree to sex with someone but in fact be ‘giving in’ because of sustained sexual harassment.

    I don’t think it appropriate to speculate about the facts, as that is fair to neither W not Delta. It would lead to the injustice of trial by Internet.

    However, this account doesn’t easily reconcile with the way the SWP behaved.

    Firstly, we now know that the SWP has investigated no less than 9 previous rapes. So they were not looking at this case only because the police wouldn’t.

    Secondly, if this was the case, the DC report would have said something like this.

    “A complaint was made to us by a woman W, alledging that she was raped by Delta. We acknowledge how difficult this is for W, and empathise with her trauma. The first thing to say is that according to the definition of rape in English law, the facts as alledged would not constitute the crime of rape, even if they were undisputed. However, the remit of our inquiry was not limted to the legal definition, which we know to be probelematic, and not fully representing the reality of womens’ oppression. The DC has therefore also looked at the broader context of how sexual harrassment in an unequal power relationship can pressurise a woman into agreeing to sex against her better judegment. We are not making this distinction to minimise W’s complaint, but to give proper expression to it.”

    The fact that the DC did not make any distinction between fact and law, and the fact that they drew the odd quasi-judicial conclusion of “not proven”, which does not derives from English Law, just further underlines their incompetence.

  68. prianikoff: The crisis in the SWP
    http://socialistworker.org/2013/01/30/the-crisis-in-the-swp

    Well at least that proves that the Amercian ISO are also dangerous cultists:

    the SWP journalist Tom Walker, who resigned from the party, was one among a number of left-wing writers who argued that the party’s internal structures don’t have the capacity to judge cases of rape. While Walker makes many important and valid points, he concludes that the allegations should have been turned over to the police and the courts. We know that women who go to the justice system with complaints about sexual assault are very often disbelieved and humiliated by police and prosecutors. That is why only a minority of such incidents is ever formally reported. Moreover, the police investigating such allegations within a revolutionary organization would care not a bit about justice for the woman making the charges. Instead, they would seize the opportunity to harass and persecute the left. In fact, we understand that the female SWP comrade who made the complaint about the incident in question herself chose not to go to the police.

    Of course, it is the choice of the woman who wishes to report rape or sexual assault to go to the police or not. Yet a revolutionary socialist organization should have the capacity–and indeed the responsibility–to establish the means to handle such allegations in a way that is impartial and respects the rights of any person raising such charges. We believe that a socialist organization built around principles of democracy must be capable of this, both to preserve the rights of every member and to uphold the principles of revolutionary socialism.

    The highlighted sentance illustrates that a woman who had been raped in the ISO would be pressurised not to go to the police.

  69. secret factioneer: In this rather excellent piece there is an attempt to work out how a revolutionary organisation might deal with a complaint of rape.

    you are right, it is excellent:

    Comrades have asked for an example of what an alternative approach might look like. This is only one way in which the situation could have been dealt with, there are others but for starters:
    1. Acknowledge that the woman came to the internal process because she trusted the Party – that is an honour and a responsibility it deserves to be treated as such.

    2. Reassure her that the allegation is taken seriously, and that the organisation wants to provide support but be honest, the SWP is not in a position to investigate a rape. We are not criminal investigators, there may be other victims and an internal investigation could compromise a criminal investigation.
    3. Explore the complainant’s expectations and what she envisages happening. It is fine to limit people’s expectations; it helps no-one if someone who feels they have been badly treated has unrealistic expectations that are dashed at some point during the process designed to deal with their complaint.
    4. Explain that the DC’s remit is to investigate if someone has behaved in a way that is not in line with the SWP’s purpose, aims and values. So the DC cannot investigate a rape and neither can they find someone “innocent” or “guilty” or “not proven” or “exonerate” them. The limits of their findings are to matters of conduct and whether allegations are founded or unfounded.

    5. Because the allegation is so serious the person against whom the complaint is made should be placed on immediate suspension without prejudice.

    6. The party will need to investigate if his behaviour at any time was at odds with the party’s purpose, aims, and values and if so to what extent and what sanctions are appropriate. If the complainant decides to go to the police (and she should be encouraged and supported to in making her own decision about whether to do so) a police investigation will take precedent. The party’s investigation into conduct would not be able to begin until any police investigation is finished. If the complainant decides at any time during any proceeding to go to the police, the internal investigation will be halted until the police investigation is complete. The member whom the complaint is against will remain on suspension until the whole process is completed. The complainant should be reassured that this is a normal process and should not be made in any way to feel awkward or guilty about making her complaint, or about the steps the organisation takes as a result of receiving her complaint. She should be reassured that she did the right thing by coming forward.

    7. The people dealing with the allegation need to be sure that the woman understands the differences between a criminal investigation and an internal one and the limitations of the latter. The woman should be supported to go to Rape Crisis or another sexual abuse agency so that she can have support; including an independent supporter to help her come to a decision about what she wants to do.
    8. Outline the process in writing (including limitations, what the hearing will look like, what might be asked, who gets to see what; AND setting out the process for the selection of an independent panel to hear the complaint) and encourage the woman to discuss this with her support agency, take time, come back and ask questions etc. Discuss timings, find out when the woman would like an investigation to take place, perhaps encourage her to take a couple of weeks to think about her options with support but put reasonable limits on it – the organisation needs to deal with the situation.
    9. The party should be happy to co-operate with the woman’s choice of support agency and should offer someone from the party to be an internal support for the woman. The woman should have a say in deciding who this might be.

    Please note: the information above about the precedence of a police investigation is absolutely standard practice if there is an allegation of a crime having been committed in a workplace or by a worker whose employer also wants to deal with it. Likewise suspension without prejudice is standard practice in serious allegations. In care settings, suspension without prejudice can easily go on for a year while a police investigation is carried out.

    It is also worth noting that a police investigation may be dropped because of lack of evidence, or a case be dropped in court, or a defendant found not guilty but an employer or organisation may still find that conduct was below what should have been expected and discipline the individual(s).

  70. OK, look. Here’s “English law” on rape – specifically the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which was drafted after consultation with women’s groups including Rape Crisis:

    (1) A person (A) commits an offence if—
    (a) he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis,
    (b) B does not consent to the penetration, and
    (c) A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
    (2) Whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps A has taken to ascertain whether B consents.

    Definition of consent
    “For the purposes of this Part, a person consents if he[sic] agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.”

    Prior to 2003, the law said to rape defendants “Did you honestly believe that she consented?” (Yes, yer honour, I sincerely and honestly did.) Since 2003, it says “Did you believe that she made a free and uncoerced choice to consent, and what did you do to make sure that you were correct?” (Er…) It’s quite a high bar.

    The fly in the ointment is that going to court as a rape victim is still a very difficult experience – although there have been reforms in that area too – and juries don’t necessarily decide cases the way that the law would suggest, since they’re made up of people with the usual quota of sexist assumptions. And if the Crown Prosecution Service doesn’t think that a charge has a better than even chance of sticking, they can’t recommend prosecuting.

    So it is entirely possible that a rape victim will be told by the police that they can’t do anything, or (worse) end up going to court and seeing her rapist walk free. But I really don’t think it’s likely that W’s account of the alleged rape didn’t amount to a crime under English law, as Andy suggests – and I don’t believe that W or anyone else knew that the police wouldn’t take action. I think it’s far more likely that a reflexive well-er-basically bourgeois-state-innit attitude stopped anyone even thinking of going to the police.

  71. secret factioneer on said:

    You really think that a revolutionary understanding of the role of the police is the bar to women reporting rapes?

    Most victims don’t report the rape they have suffered to anyone at all.

  72. That’s probably true – although obviously we can’t know whether it is most victims, by definition – but not really relevant. In W’s case, the rape had been reported – to the DC – and the option of going to the police was out in the open. I’m suggesting that a revolutionary understanding of the role of the police was a factor encouraging some political activists to assume that an alleged criminal offence should be dealt with within the party rather than going to the police.

  73. Phil: But I really don’t think it’s likely that W’s account of the alleged rape didn’t amount to a crime under English law, as Andy suggests – and I don’t believe that W or anyone else knew that the police wouldn’t take action.

    No, careful now, I am not suggesting that at all Phil, I am responding to Liz:

    Liz: From what I understand, from reading the published transcript and information on Lenin’s Tomb and from feminist friends who are in the SWP, the young woman at the centre of this crisis didn’t want to go to the police principally because she knew they were likely to say ‘no crime was committed’. After the SWP adopted a principled approach to the Julian Assange rape allegations, she was emboldened to think that the SWP took a much broader approach to the question of consent and would understand that a woman might seem to agree to sex with someone but in fact be ‘giving in’ because of sustained sexual harassment

    What I am saying is one of the reasons I find this implausible is that were it true, the SWP’s DC would have reported back something like:

    : “A complaint was made to us by a woman W, alledging that she was raped by Delta. We acknowledge how difficult this is for W, and empathise with her trauma. The first thing to say is that according to the definition of rape in English law, the facts as alledged would not constitute the crime of rape, even if they were undisputed. However, the remit of our inquiry was not limted to the legal definition, which we know to be probelematic, and not fully representing the reality of womens’ oppression. The DC has therefore also looked at the broader context of how sexual harrassment in an unequal power relationship can pressurise a woman into agreeing to sex against her better judegment. We are not making this distinction to minimise W’s complaint, but to give proper expression to it.”

    We don’t actually know what the facts alledged were.

    However, I think you are almost certainly correct that

    Phil: a reflexive well-er-basically bourgeois-state-innit attitude stopped anyone even thinking of going to the police.

  74. Phil: I’m suggesting that a revolutionary understanding of the role of the police was a factor encouraging some political activists to assume that an alleged criminal offence should be dealt with within the party rather than going to the police.

    Indeed look at this quote from the ISO
    http://socialistworker.org/2013/01/30/the-crisis-in-the-swp

    : the police investigating such allegations within a revolutionary organization would care not a bit about justice for the woman making the charges. Instead, they would seize the opportunity to harass and persecute the left

  75. secret factioneer on said:

    You seemed to me to be trying to guess the mind of the woman involved, which I think is pretty unwise.

    As a general point about revolutionary socialists, yes we’re suspicious of the police.

  76. Phil: Prior to 2003, the law said to rape defendants “Did you honestly believe that she consented?” (Yes, yer honour, I sincerely and honestly did.) Since 2003, it says “Did you believe that she made a free and uncoerced choice to consent, and what did you do to make sure that you were correct?” (Er…) It’s quite a high bar.

    This still leaves open the prospect of a woman simply emotionaly exhausted by harrassment deciding it was easier agree to have sex. And the man unable to step outside the situation to understand that his “seduction” (particularly where there was charismatic power in a self referential sub-culture) amounted to a form of coercion.

    Is there case law on this?

  77. “Firstly, we now know that the SWP has investigated no less than 9 previous rapes.”

    I haven’t seen this in any previous discussion of the Delta affair. Can someone please point me at the source?
    (Btw, this is a genuine question, not a bizarre attempt at trolling!!!!!)

    Thanks.

  78. #89 That would be interesting to know.

    Also the statistics as to what difference the change from ‘honest’ to ‘reasonable’ has made to the number of convictions.

    Also, it would be interesting to know whether the ‘new’ definition is widely known and understood amongst the wider public and the implications of that knowledge and understanding.

    All of which I am a little embarassed not to know myself already.

  79. #92 But given how many people go through the ranks of the SWP, how many rapes appear to take place every year according to the figures that are being widely quoted and the fact that women in an organisation that does have a strong public position against rape are (presumably) more likely to be intolerant of it happening to them, is it really surprising?

    I mean, I don’t see evidence from what ex-SWPers and oppositionists are saying that the culture of the SWP has actually taken a significant turn for the worse over the last period, just that a bit of daylight is being shed on it.

  80. brainwash on said:

    #91 – Good question on that piece is ” Would the DC investigate a murder? ” – Sounds crazy but …

  81. brainwash: Would the DC investigate a murder? ” – Sounds crazy but

    If they wouldn’t, then why would they investigate a rape? Is murder regarded as a serious crime, but rape not serious?

  82. stephen marks on said:

    Well one difference is that in the case of a murder the victim wouldn’t have the option of going to the police…

  83. Will the real comrade Omar, please stand up?

    (Thanks Manzil for clearing that mess up.)

    Thanks to Barry Kade and George Hallam for their comments. I’m going to reference them since I’m taking a bit of heat in the thread of my response (http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=5319) to Callinicos because I made some positive comments about Owen Jones’ network idea.

    Andy is 100% correct on the ISO. As a former member, I’m simultaneously not surprised and flabbergasted that their big take away from this is, “we could do it better than the SWP did.” Proof positive that “Leninism” is an insular, ideology-driven dead end (as if any more was needed besides 80+ years of universal failure internationally to become or lead vanguard organizations).

  84. Manzil on said:

    mark anthony france:
    Kate Hudson, Andrew Burgin et al’s new website Left Unity has been Launched with lead article by Alan Gibbons Ex SWP http://leftunity.org/what-kind-of-left-do-we-need/

    Very interesting post by Gibbons, thanks for sharing. This seems to be the crux:

    “There are no left splits from Labour to help construct a new organisation. There is no substantial former Communist grouping to anchor it. Some left organisations would be hostile to such a project.”

    The crisis in the SWP (and previously the furore around Respect following Galloway’s comments) appears to have merely confirmed the prejudices of the organised Labour left in the LRC/Briefing milieu. And let’s be honest, a tendency that didn’t leave even at the high-point of Blairism’s imperialist wars and neoliberal counter-reforms certainly won’t break from the Labour Party under Ed Miliband.

    Equally, the CPB seems to remain generally committed to a Labourite position – not that I’m criticising their pragmatic attitude towards Labour, which I share, but merely the decision not to try and build a left-of-Labour project that could actually aid the prospects of a progressive Labour government.

    And of course, the leaderships of the SWP and SP have essentially dismissed the prospect of a serious effort at realignment, content with the tepid TUSC half-way house, so weighed down are they by history and sectarianism (and probably the self-interest of big fish in little ponds).

    Meaning, if there is no prospect of an organised split from the Labour Party, no mass Communist Party to act as an alternative pole of attraction (and no prospect of the CP we do have of adopting an independent policy), and no serious prospect of the ‘sects’ taking a chance on unity, what is the hope for us?

    Will any attempt at a united left have to come from outside the existing structures? Is such a thing even possible, given the bulk of experienced, active socialists are grouped within existing organisations, and we lack (so far) a ‘big event’ to draw in new people or those who have fallen away.

    Personally I think Hudson and Yaqoob’s departure from Respect was unwarranted, disappointing and premature. I still think Respect probably offers the best prospect for a broad left-wing alternative that critically and intelligently engages with the issue of Labourism, the importance of combining broad social movement politics with more traditional trade-union activism, the need to articulate radical politics in a new way and via a new mode of operating etc.

    Ideally Respect or a project in the tradition of Respect would attract all those people currently gravitating towards Labour, the left parties, or those who are unorganised or inactive. But getting that momentum is hard and I don’t know how we get it back. Outside of a ‘big bang’ (a particularly acute period of struggle against austerity?) perhaps it will require a big rethink amongst wide sections of the existing left; in which case maybe the ongoing SWP crisis opens the door for this.

  85. Vanya: #92 But given how many people go through the ranks of the SWP, how many rapes appear to take place every year according to the figures that are being widely quoted and the fact that women in an organisation that does have a strong public position against rape are (presumably) more likely to be intolerant of it happening to them, is it really surprising?

    I mean, I don’t see evidence from what ex-SWPers and oppositionists are saying that the culture of the SWP has actually taken a significant turn for the worse over the last period, just that a bit of daylight is being shed on it.

    I see what you mean Vanya, though the figures are bad enough given that we’re talking about a revolutionary socialist organisation. But what’s shocked me more than the numbers themselves is the revelation that accusations of rape have been dealt with routinely as an internal disciplinary matter. Naively, I’d assumed the “Comrade Delta” fiasco was a one-off. As someone who was in the party for ten years and who still has many friends in it, I find that extremely disturbing.

  86. Linda Kronstadt on said:

    Here’s a cri de coeur, this time from a woman member of Respect seeking a fair hearing concerning the way she has been treated by the SWP. Note how the democratic oppositionists respond to this woman — a proper whistle-blower rather than a Johnny-cum-lately — in the comment thread.
    http://www.socialistunity.com/carole-swords-writes-to-the-swp/#.UQ1IBKUmXqs

    Thankfully, as bad as the proceedings were for her, W didn’t have Lenin sitting in judgement on the disciplinary committee in his powdered wig and black cap.

    Like London’s world-famous taxi cabs, Seymour is able to turn on a sixpence. As someone writes in the comments, ‘Don’t forget that Richard Seymour urged people to sign the SWP’s “loyalty pledge” on his blog.’ Clever boy.

  87. Jara Handala on said:

    NINE (or TEN) previous alleged rapes investigated by the SWP?

    I’m disturbed by the willingness of readers (Andy Newman & Jay Blackwood, comments # 90-92) to accept without question Linda Rodgers’ claim that the Disputes Cttee. has heard many other complaints of rape (‘Can the SWP deal with rape allegations?’, 31 January, at http://www.internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk).

    Don’t get me wrong. What she says may well be true – and horrifyingly so – but it is not rational to accept as true a claim without evidence. Please let me explain.

    (1) Rodgers’ claim is very brief: “I have also faced the argument that the DC has investigated 9 rapes (I’m not clear on [sic] how recently these ‘investigations’ were conducted). I believe this argument is put forward to reassure comrades of the competency of the DC”. She makes no further mention to this.

    (2) This is the only reference on the net I have found of an alleged rape other than the Smith case.

    (3) A very important aside, not noted in any discussion I have read: Smith was accused by Cde. W of multiple rape, rape on many occasions.

    This is what Cde. Candy said in her unscripted report to Conference on behalf of the DC (surprisingly there is no reference in the transcript to any written report): “In September 2012, a comrade who we’ve called W, a woman, made a complaint of rape against Comrade Delta”. So the complaint was rape. Then we get this: “We noted that the complaint [rape: not attempted rape, not any other kind of sexual assault, not sexual harrassment: the complaint was rape] concerned incidents that had taken place over a period of about six months in 2008 and 2009″. Incidents, the plural. Incidents of the complaint, the complaint being rape. Not one occasion: many occasions.

    (4) Back to Rodgers. It is ambiguous whether the ‘nine’ includes the Smith case: maybe there are 10.

    (5) Note that Rodgers refers to investigations by the DC, not the SWP. Let me explain why this is not hair-splitting. (And she doesn’t refer to any rape cases in the SWP’s predecessors, the Socialist Review Group & the International Socialism Group.)

    The SWP changed its procedures in 2011 after Cde. W, according to Cde. Candy, had told the Central Cttee. in July 2010 of her “concerns of harrassment” by Cde. Smith. In 2011 the SWP Constitution was amended to say, “If a member has a complaint against a member of the CC or a party full-time worker [strangely, this excludes part-timers], this is referred directly to the DC” (section 7, at http://www.cpgb.org.uk, Pre-Conference Bulletin #1).

    So in addition to the DC hearing 9 (or 10) complaints of rape, the CC, before 2011, may have heard any number of such complaints since the founding of the SWP in 1977. Rodgers fails to mention this significant fact.

    (6) What evidence may there be for the DC hearing 9 (or 10) cases of rape? An obvious source would be the DC reports to Conference which presumably, as with the 2013 report, itemise the complaints they have heard. Those with access to these reports can give us years & numbers.

    (7) A final point, which also seems to have been missed by most readers: the DC is due to hear another complaint, from Cde. X, concerning Cde. Smith’s alleged sexual misbehaviour.

    According to Cde. Candy, “she [Cde. X] said that she wanted to register that she was going to make a formal complaint, and that she didn’t want it dealt with until after this conference”.

    We all need to be scrupulously exact in what we say about this appalling matter, & I believe we can be.

    If there is evidence to substantiate this claim of 9 (or 10) other DC cases then it should be produced. In its absence then if it is mentioned it behoves the writer to say no evidence has been presented in its support.

  88. Jara Handala,

    Firstly Linda has put her name to her article, and testified to what she has been told. Remember she previoulsly wrote to Charlie Kimber asking for a replye from him about SWP approach to rape based upon her own expereince as a rape councillor (or similar)

    Secondly, there was a comment on SU from someone else saying they attended a conference around 1990 where the DC report referred to a rape.

    Linda’s account is quite specifically detailed, and thefore sounds credible

  89. John R on said:

    Andy Newman:
    Jara Handala,

    Secondly, there was a comment on SU from someone else saying they attended a conference around 1990 where the DC report referred to a rape.

    Maybe this one, perhaps -

    “When I was an SWP member many moons ago, I attended party conference and heard the report of what was then called the Control Commission. One year this involved the case of a relatively senior “comrade” – though not as senior as “Comrade Delta” – who was accused of rape. The case was found proven and the “comrade” was expelled.

    The circumstances of the rape were described to the conference – not the identity of the woman involved, obviously, but an account of what had taken place. This allowed conference delegates to understand the basis of the decision, in the same way that a rape trial is reported but the identity of the victim is protected.”

    http://socialistunity.com/a-letter-of-resignation-from-the-swp/#comment-632548

  90. Jara Handala on said:

    John R,

    Andy Newman,

    Thanks for the link, John.

    Andy, I didn’t doubt that Linda Rodgers was told something: I was simply shocked that anyone would simply take what she was told as gospel, as necessarily true. One has to make it plain that it is not rational to agree with a truth claim when no evidence has been presented in its support.

    The issue I raised has nothing to do with the credibility of what you call her “account”. In fact her piece is largely (1) an argument about the competence of an organisation like the SWP to consider a rape allegation, & (2) a detailed suggestion as to how the DC could have better addressed the matter.

    You also said one of my points was “silly”, but as John indicates, “many moons ago” (as the author put it in the link, not c.1990 as John said) the predecessor of the DC, the Control Commission, reported to Conference the rape allegation it had heard. Presumably there are minutes of Conference proceedings (I don’t know if members have access to them: does anyone know?), but anyway it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of someone who knows longstanding members to get them to recall when the Control Comm’n & DC reported to Conference on rape allegations. If there has been 9 or 10 or 11 then if enough people were asked the fact could be established.

    I have asked Linda Rodgers directly (1) whether she believes in this claim of 9 (or 10) cases, & (2) whether she knows of any evidence produced in its support.

  91. Jara Handala: (I don’t know if members have access to them: does anyone know?), but anyway it shouldn’t be beyond the wit of someone who knows longstanding members to get them to recall when the Control Comm’n & DC reported to Conference on rape allegations.

    Members don’t have access to them; let’s wait for Linda to reply to you. I don’t see why we should doubt her if that is what she has been told.