Statement of the Swp’s Democratic Opposition

The following is published in the interests of informed debate on the left. The issues referred to have been covered on SU in the past.

Statement of SWP Democratic Opposition

Four comrades have been expelled for forming a ‘secret faction’ during the discussions prior to SWP conference. The expelled members had been legitimately concerned about the handling of very serious allegations directed at a CC member and the way that this was being handled by the organisation and had discussed about what this represented and how comrades could ensure the matter was dealt with properly.

There had been some discussion about whether to declare a faction or not. Some comrades, out of concern for how these matters had been dealt with previously, were in favour of doing so – but other comrades were worried that this might be premature or even disloyal. It is for having this discussion and sharing these concerns that the comrades have been expelled.

Importantly, the accusation of ‘secret faction’ was made against those concerned about declaring one whilst those in favour of declaring one have been referred to as ‘honest’ in a number of report backs from the CC to affected local branches, implying that those expelled were ‘dishonest’. We unreservedly reject this description as slander against the four excellent and valuable comrades who have been expelled.

We feel that this incident raises serious questions about democracy in the SWP in general and about the coming conference in particular. First of all, it cannot be right that a discussion about whether to form a faction is used as evidence of a ‘secret faction’ when it is in the general discussions of the pre-conference period. On a basic level, if we cannot have discussions about whether to form a faction or not, then, in reality, factions are de-facto impossible to organise and the right to form them is purely notional.

Secondly, it is not the case that this is the first, or even the most significant case of comrades discussing meeting before conference to discuss the possibility of a factional organisation that never ended up being formed.

In the run-up to the highly contested 2009 conference, a number of unofficial meetings between SWP members occurred, mainly in pubs and on one occasion after a party council, of members concerned about the developing crisis following the botched electoral strategy in 2008. The pace of events meant that these meetings, which were certainly planned in advance, never coalesced into a named faction, but no members were disciplined for involvement, certainly not the two people who serve on the CC since who had participated. The unofficial pre-conference meet-ups of 2008 were followed in Summer 2009 by an even more unorthodox grouping: a petition, written and organised entirely in secret and outside pre-conference season and mainly signed by party staff, to oust the then-editor of Socialist Worker. Again, no disciplinary procedure was employed – particularly not against the party worker who organised this factional group, who is now in the CC. These incidents, and doubtless others, show that any claim that the rules regarding factions are not, and have never been, implemented with a degree of judgement taking into account prevailing circumstances are wholly false.

There should not be an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the run up to conference. Leninism requires discipline to confront the class enemy – not to prevent debate amongst our own comrades. We believe that these malicious expulsions must be revoked immediately and that the CC must retract its accusations against the four people.

We are also deeply concerned about the impact of all this on our reputation inside the movement. It is little short of incredible that if the expulsions are not rescinded, comrades are going to be expected to defend the expulsion of four comrades (including one woman) simply for discussing concerns about the handling of very serious allegations in their own organisation.

Our feeling is that this is an untenable situation and will have an appalling impact on the morale of members and our ability to build in today’s movement. We think that one of the key lessons of the democracy commission was that no comrade should be treated as indispensable. We make no judgement of guilt or innocence of the comrade concerned but note that any other comrade facing allegations of this type with such frequency would be suspended until such time as the allegations were resolved. It is disturbing that the comrade concerned did not voluntarily step down when it became clear that the allegations, whether justified or not, had the potential to seriously damage the organisation. An attitude which treats individuals as indispensable and sacrifices the interests of the membership for them has nothing to with Leninism and more closely resembles the self-interested behaviour of reformist bureaucracies.

Importantly it is not just our reputation at stake here but the health of our own tradition. In response to the expulsions some comrades have repeated the language of some of Galloway’s defenders. There have been complaints about ‘liberal feminism’ and even belief-beggaring accusations that some of the comrades expelled have been MI5 agents, or acting on behalf of Chris Bambery’s organisation. Whilst the CC cannot be held directly responsible for such idiocy it is a warning of the kind of ideological degeneration possible when administrative coercion replaces the norms of debate in socialist organisation.

We are aware that serious concerns have already been expressed by those involved in the disputes committee case around this matter, as raised at a recent NC meeting, and that space has been set aside to discuss the way the organisation has mishandled the allegations. This is a positive development, but we believe that beyond the direct issue of the DC there are now equally serious questions about the condition of the SWP that makes a faction necessary if we are not to be expelled for expressing our concerns.

We propose that three things are necessary to prevent further damage to the good name of our Party:
1. The expelled comrades deserve a full and frank apology from the CC and the expulsions must be declared null and void.
2. Conference must re-affirm that comrades have full rights to conduct any and every kind of discussion in the pre-conference period. This should include raising questions of whether such freedom ought not to be extended beyond the pre-conference period.
3. The dispute concerning a member of the CC highlighted above must be re-examined, and the CC member concerned must be suspended from all Party activity and cannot work full time for the Party or in the name of the Party until all the allegations against him have been settled satisfactorily.

In addition to these statements, we are asking comrades to support the motions raised on the question of party democracy at conference. In our view, the conduct of the CC regarding both the expulsions, and the disputes committee referred to above, come as a result of structures and perspectives that restrict internal democracy and discussion.

We are aware that some comrades may share our concerns regarding the expulsions and/or this disputes committee investigation, but reject our conclusions regarding party democracy. We hope to persuade them of our position on this; but even if we cannot accomplish this, we would still ask you to vote for the reinstatement of the four comrades who have been expelled.

THE STATEMENT IS SIGNED BY 53 SWP MEMBERS

849 comments on “Statement of the Swp’s Democratic Opposition

  1. For those intere3sted, this is the covering e-mail sent out by the Central Combittee

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Charlie Kimber
    Date: Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 3:57 PM
    Subject: Formation of a faction
    To: Charlie Kimber ext email

    Dear Comrade,

    A group of comrades have decided to form a faction as they are entitled to under the SWP’s constitution. I have attached and pasted below their explanation of why they are forming a faction and the names of those involved.

    You will see that the faction refers to the expulsion of four comrades. This followed the CC receiving extensive information about a closed Facebook conversation between a group of comrades.

    The CC does not expel people for holding views contrary to the CC, nor for putting motions to conference that are critical of the CC or for seeking to change policy. We try hard to ensure there is plenty of space for discussion and debate in the party.

    However, the norms of democratic centralism – the fullest debate before a decision, the united application of those decisions – also relies on openness and transparent discussion.

    In this case the CC found that at least some of those involved in the Facebook group had organised secret meetings to discuss internal party matters and had encouraged comrades to keep their views quiet in order to boost their chances of becoming conference delegates. Some were prepared to involve non-members in their discussions.

    They had decided not to become an open faction, preferring their hidden discussions. This is the opposite of real party democracy.

    Such behaviour trampled on our democracy and is contrary to our constitution. Therefore, in order to defend our democracy, we expelled four people. These are all former full-time workers for the party who are thoroughly aware of our democratic rules. They all played an organising role in the group. They are entitled to appeal against their expulsions and such appeals will be heard by the Disputes Committee.

    The Disputes Committee case referred to by the faction concluded at the end of October. The Disputes Committee will present a report to conference where delegates will be able to vote on it.

    Central Committee

    Any enquiries about this matter should be addressed to Charlie Kimber. SWP national secretary, charlie@swp.org.uk

  2. “…the CC found that at least some of those involved in the Facebook group had organised secret meetings to discuss internal party matters”. That’s a bit of a catch all. It could be some people with similar views having a cup or tea or couple of pints together to kick ideas around – a necessary preliminary to calling a faction or it could mean wearing a wire on behalf of MI5 and the North Korean embassy. It just give a sinister tone to something that most people don’t consider unusual.

    “…encouraged comrades to keep their views quiet in order to boost their chances of becoming conference delegates.” Different political traditions have different ways of dealing with minority points of view. In the Fourth International it’s standard for minorities to have a proportion of delegates at conference in line with the votes their positions get in the pre-conference period. It’s a way of guaranteeing that people don’t have to use subterfuge to get to conference and minorities are given proportionate representation on leadership bodies. This way of operating is based on a critique of undemocratic practices in the workers’ movement that are past of Stalinism’s legacy to the left.

    The article below doesn’t deal with this issue but looks at the SWP pre-conference discussion in relation to Syriza, electoral challenges in Britain and ecology.

    http://socialistresistance.org/4417/a-comment-on-the-swps-conference-resolutions

  3. “keep their views quiet in order to boost their chances of becoming conference delegates”
    I should imagine the reason for this, and based on experience, is they’ve wouldn’t been picked as delegates if they had broken cover.

    I can’t be the only ex-member who see this as yet another notch in a downward spiral of paranoia and degeneration. This covering note should really should be signed off by Franz Kafka.

    There was always the position in the SWP that the Labour Party couldn’t be reformed. It could be reasonably argued that neither can the SWP.

  4. They had decided not to become an open faction, preferring their hidden discussions. This is the opposite of real party democracy.

    Such behaviour trampled on our democracy and is contrary to our constitution. Therefore, in order to defend our democracy, we expelled four people. These are all former full-time workers for the party who are thoroughly aware of our democratic rules. They all played an organising role in the group. They are entitled to appeal against their expulsions and such appeals will be heard by the Disputes Committee.

    The Disputes Committee case referred to by the faction concluded at the end of October. The Disputes Committee will present a report to conference where delegates will be able to vote on it.

    What are ordinary members meant to think, when the national secretary declares the guilt of these comrades in an official email? It’s absurd that the SWP leadership thinks prefacing this statement with a full-throated defence of the expulsions, before its disputes committee has even investigated the situation, is appropriate or in any sense in accord with the basic norms of democratic procedure.

    This bureaucratic approach to politics is thoroughly beneath the standards which the labour movement expects, let alone people who claim to constitute its most advanced sections.

    I would ordinarily argue that this is in no sense a true reflection of the requirements of democratic centralism, but that often amounts to a ‘no true Christian’ apologia. So perhaps, if this bureaucratic chicanery is the only way we can express ‘Leninism’, then the whole thing needs to be ditched.

  5. One of the interesting things about this is that the CC are attempting to hold together an approach which will simply not work in the current period. The internet has ensured that old-style top-down control mechanisms are obsolete in organisations based on voluntary association. Discussion and information can no longer be ring-fenced, and attempts to do so simply make the leadership look absurd. While many long-standing party members will rally behind the CC’s approach out of a sense of party loyalty, the SWP can no longer expect to recruit and hold new, young party members on this sort of basis…

  6. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    Jay Blackwood: One of the interesting things about this is that the CC are attempting to hold together an approach which will simply not work in the current period. The internet has ensured that old-style top-down control mechanisms are obsolete in organisations based on voluntary association. Discussion and information can no longer be ring-fenced, and attempts to do so simply make the leadership look absurd. While many long-standing party members will rally behind the CC’s approach out of a sense of party loyalty, the SWP can no longer expect to recruit and hold new, young party members on this sort of basis…

    I don’t think the SWP recruits and holds new party members well anyway, whether they are young or not. The SWP’s notoriously high membership turnover does tend to mean that the dissatisfied simply drop out, rather than staying in and causing the leadership real problems.

  7. Jay Blackwood: One of the interesting things about this is that the CC are attempting to hold together an approach which will simply not work in the current period.

    It depends what you mean by working.

    From what I understand, the SWP is still financially bouyant, from the remnants of the American insurance pay out, sale of the print shop, high rates of subscription and money left to them in various wills, to continue to employ a disproportionately big aparatus of full time staff.

    Those actally on the payroll may be more interested in short term stability than long term politicaleffectiveness.

  8. I think my view of the SWP is rather less cynical than yours Andy. I’m very critical of the internal regime, but I have no doubt of the sincerity and dedication of the comrades involved in it.

  9. Jay Blackwood: I’m very critical of the internal regime, but I have no doubt of the sincerity and dedication of the comrades involved in it.

    It is my expereince that people can indulge themselves in a considerable amount of self-delusion.

    Let us consider two propositions.
    i) that Charlie Kimber is sincere in his arguments
    ii) that it is also in his material best interest to argue it

    The truth of proposition ii does not invalidate proposition i.

  10. Jay Blackwood: I really don’t think that any SWP full-timers are in it for material gain, either financial or otherwise.

    They are important people within the self-referential sect they inhabit. It is a sort of a life.

  11. Jellytot on said:

    @11I really don’t think that any SWP full-timers are in it for material gain, either financial or otherwise.

    One of the things about not being a formal electoral party (or any form of limited company) is that you don’t have to publish accounts and subject financial dealings to any form of independent scrutiny.

    IMO It’s one of the reasons why these groups prefer to operate behind fronts.

    I only learnt recently that the split between the British SWP and the US ISO at the time of Seattle was as much to do with money as it was political.

    Parties like the SWP are financially opaque to put it mildly. Essentially the leaders of such organisation say, “Trust us”.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my life it’s that where large amounts of cash are concerned you can’t really do that.

  12. What this issue really shows is the “Death Agony of Trotskyism”.

    It would be fair to say that in the heroic era of of the British trotskist left, they were able to appear dynamic becasue they were parasitic on there being in existance a broader healthy left – in the Labour Party and the Communist Party, and with a wide social layer of militant shop stewards.

    Every pub bore can be a great England football manager in their imagination, provided England actually has a team.

    However, in the absense of a healthy left, the pretentions of our “revolutionary” leaderships have been stripped bare.

  13. Jellytot: I only learnt recently that the split between the British SWP and the US ISO at the time of Seattle was as much to do with money as it was political.

    $6 million to be precise.

  14. Andy Newman: $6 million to be precise.

    That would be a nice sum to find down the back of the sofa! ;)

    Though I suspect that most of the long-standing left parties, grouplets and even sects have significant financial reserves. Out of interest, does anyone know much about the asset situation of the old CPs? I’ve heard the American Communist Party has a lot of property, not sure about the British or other European parties though.

    Combined, the left probably has a quite large war-chest, so questions about who controls it and how it’s used are very important – Andy certainly makes a fair point @#10.

    I don’t often agree with the SWP, but I’ll regularly buy their paper because, despite our differences, I think they do do some good things and that it’s worth supporting them. But I buy it on the basis that the money will be put into some form of political activity, not the back-pocket of a political hack.

  15. Assets of the old CPGB?

    Considerable, including a prime piece of property in Central London, 6 Cynthia Street. Sadly the King Street building in Covent Garden was sold off in the late 1970s.

    In an act of appalling irresponsibility the group that ran the short term successor organisation of the CPGB, ‘Democratic Left’ chose to wind up the outfit and hand over all the reserves to an obscure liberlal outfit, itself the sucessor to Charter 88, ‘Unock Democracy’. An entirely ineffectual group with next to nothing in common with anything resembling the Communist tradition, they even have the bare-faced cheek to disown where the money that bankrolls their office and well-paid staff came from, Shocking and deserves to be exposed as widely as possible.

    As for this latest episode in the SWP’s sorry story of inner-party democracy. Andy makes an excellent point, and it relates to points I made on the ‘Is The Left Lost’ thread. In the 1970s and 1980s the Trostskyist groups could appear dynamic compared to the more traditional CP and Labour Lefts plus their outright opposition to the failures of the ‘existing socialism’ countries.

    But behind this mask they were remarkably conservative, and have remained so. For example in the CPGB the ‘slate’ election system for the EC , known as the Recommended List , was long opposed by those Communists who demanded a democratisation of their Party. Yet 30 years later its only now that elements in the SWP seem to be waking up to the same fundamentally undemocratic sysem their party operates that allows an outgoing party leadership to nominate their successorts.

    This is a key reason why despite the most favourable conditions imaginable 1997-2010 not a single one of these groups, nor the CPB, have grown in anything like substantial numbers. They cling to a form of organisation that most once they’ve been a part of it for more than a few years find repellent. The activist core plus financial rsources enable to groups tp be self-perpetuating, but not to grow.

    Mark P

  16. Sam Buckley on said:

    The old CP had a lot of money in the form of properties and businesses bought and built up by the sacrifices of members over decades. There are those who say this might be why the Euros insisted on staying and destroying the party, rather than leaving, as most people would if they decided they disagreed fundamentally with everything that party had ever said, done argued or believed. I treat such slurs with the calumny they deserve. That parcel of not even slightly distinguished academics and functionaries were not just legally but MORALLY entitled to the lot! Why not? They were well-educated, after all, and lots of the party members were so ignorant they actually believed in socialism. Martin Jacques did try to explain they were out of date,but there’s no helping some people. The Euros got the lot, all barring the Morning Star and what the revamped “Democratic Left” did with it, your guess is as good as mine.

  17. Jay Blackwood: I really don’t think that any SWP full-timers are in it for material gain, either financial or otherwise. It doesn’t add up. Literally.

    I agree with this, not so much the first part, the second part about it ‘not adding up’.

    How does an organisation as small as the SWP generate so much revenue? Do they have investments? I mean, their operating costs – the paper, the office premises, other sundry expenses – I always imagined would have consumed the lion’s share of any money they made via selling the Worker and their various other publications.

    Then there are the salaries of the full timers to pay out, travelling expenses of leading members to meetings and various international events.

    Where exactly does their money come from apart from the obvious sources?

  18. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 20 says “They were well-educated, after all, and lots of the party members were so ignorant they actually believed in socialism. Martin Jacques did try to explain they were out of date,but there’s no helping some people.”

    Is this a seasonal jape or irony? I cannot tell, but I cannot someone on this blog would ideologically sink so low so make it as a serious comment!!!!!

  19. Sam. I’ve oulined above what was done with the CPGB’sconsiderable resources under the leadership of Nina Temple and others.

    I considered myself then, and still do, a ‘Euro’. Thos disposal of the resoirces was bordering on the fraudulent, it was nothing to do with Eurocommunism and everything to do with party functionaries wanting to get rid of resources which morally did not belong to them but a broader movement. At the very least a trust fund could have been set up along the lines of the excellent Melburn Amiel Trust. But no, everything was given away to the Charter 88 successor ‘Unlocking Democracy’ which to this day emains both ineffectual and keeps extremely quiet where all its money came from.

    It stinks and should be exposed as the shoddy deal it was, and is.

    Mark P

  20. Jay Blackwood on said:

    I never saw anything during my 10 years in the SWP to support the veiled allegations a number of people have made regarding finances. Of course being a big fish in a small pond is an attraction for some people who are absorbed into the leadership, but that happens in every organisation (and not just in politics either). But the SWP’ers I know (and knew back in the old days for that matter) are principled and dedicated class fighters who pour their time and energy into the struggle for socialism. I think they are wrong in terms of the kind of party they are trying to build, but I have nothing other than admiration for their commitment and single-mindedness. I’m sure that is also true of the members of the other main rev groups. Impugning the motives of individuals with whom one happens to disagree politically is a low trick that tells us more about the accusers than it does about their targets.

  21. Jay Blackwood,

    There is nothing veiled about the allegations. The SWP’s finances are extremely murky, and unaccountable; and there is self-evidently a self perpetuating oligarchy who are funded by it.

    Their subjective dedication to the cause of socialism notwithstanding, they do have a material interest in the current arrangements continuing.

    Frankly to argue that there has been no financial self interest AFTER the Dave Hayes “pension ” incident is touchingly naive.

  22. Jellytot on said:

    @21Where exactly does their money come from apart from the obvious sources?

    Well, these activities were very much part of the Boshevik tradition pre-1917:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1907_Tiflis_bank_robbery

    Obviously, the idea of those who consider themselves their successors doing anything remotely similar in Britain today is ridiculous although the thought of Alex Callinicos in a stocking mask is a somewhat pleasing one!

    Seriously, I think they make the large amounts of money they get from ‘true believers’ from various sorts of bequests goes a long way and I don’t think the latest rupture will bother them too much.

    They’ll calculate that come freshers’ week next year they can simply replace those who have left and as long as they retain the SWP brand name, party infrastructure and most of the membership together then they can weather this (Remember that splits from the SWP never really amount to much).

    Remember also that they have an almost religious belief in the inevitably of Revolution and their preordained place in it. For them It’s literally a question of having “faith” and keeping it, year after year, decade after decade. The concerns and criticisms of us in the temporal world don’t really matter much to them.

  23. Jellytot on said:

    @23I never saw anything during my 10 years in the SWP to support the veiled allegations a number of people have made regarding finances.

    With respect Jay, and unless you were a part of the leadership, I’d answer the above with, “Well, how would you know anything about their finances?”

    These parties are heavily compartmentalised and things are done on a need-to-know basis. They operate on the basis of the inner circle and everybody else. Finance, like everything else, is controlled by a very few people at the top and they can always answer criticisms of this with excuses about secrecy being a prerequisite of a vanguard party.

    When they start publishing accounts I’ll start beleiving them.

  24. Jellytot,

    Well apparently the real books are not seen by even the CC. I Dont know how it works today but in Cliffs time there was tight inner circle who had the money, and not even the nominal party treasurer was part of that inner group.

  25. Jay Blackwood on said:

    To be honest Andy the party I was in bears no relation to the one that you describe. I was active in London in the SWP in the 80s and 90s and was not exactly on the periphery. Moreover without making specific allegations and citing the evidence to back them up your comments appear to be cheap shots that have little or no substance to them. This kind of mud-slinging destroys any possibility of sparking the ‘informed debate’ which you claimed to want to initiate at the head of this post.

  26. brainwash on said:

    Dave Hayes is in, or around, Sheffield now. I used to know him when i was in the SWP in the 90′s but he doesn’t seem to be with them anymore (from seeing him at demos recently). What is the pension scandal anyway?

  27. SWP Member on said:

    Andy, as someone rather more familiar with the SWP and it’s finances over the last 15 years some of your comments smack of making stuff up to fill in the gaps. While the SWP maybe financially viable it certainly doesn’t have reserves. Let alone millions of pounds of income. A fact that would be apparent to any half sensible observer.

  28. SWP Member,

    Well how much money the SWP has would be related not only to income, but also to expenditure ; and certainly over the last ten years they seem to have been profligate.

    I am not going to say any more about the pension issue, I have heard the story from a number of different people; but maybe they had an ax to grind.

    The story about the American legacy was going around on both sides of the Atlantic , it was of course a while ago ; and the tale may have grown slightly in the telling. However there was sufficient agreement in the various accounts to suggest they were broadly reliable.

    In essence though, the SWP has employed a full time apparatus disproportionate to its size, compared to trade unions or indeed the Labour Party.

    It is also indisputable that the SWP lacks financial accountability. Accounts have never been presented to conference. And while the sources I had were referring to the 1980s, they said that the CC also did not see the real books.

    I find it astounding that people in the SWP are disputing the idea that there is no financial accountability.

    Of course nobody had become rich by working for the SWP, and district organisers used to get only 2 or 3 times the dole; but there has been a perpetual inner circle who have received proper wages.

    It is hardly a revelation that in any organisation those on the payroll tend to value preserving the status quo.

    All this depends upon your view of the SWP’s conceit that they are a “vanguard” leadership. If you buy that, then perhaps you buy the idea that they need to be semi-clandestine abiut the money.

    If you think it is a propaganda group that shows signs of degenerating into a cult, then perhaps you might be bemused by the self-aggrandising preventions of their leadership, and think it is a bit of a gravy train for political hobbyists.

  29. Sad but true on said:

    We’ve kind of gotten off track here, like so much associated with the SWP, it’s all smoke and mirrors and grandiose projections. Maybe there is a hidden stash of cash, maybe not. Just like the supposed 7,000 + membership. When I was in the SWP there were constant begging phone calls trying to fund this that and the other. The average member was being milked on a monthly basis, but that was to fund the 60+ paid full timers (CC, journalists, national office) from what I could see they had one full time operative for every 10 active members. That’s where the money went IMHO. No big conspiracy or financial impropriety, just plain old bureaucratic centralism at it’s least productive and least political.

  30. David Ruaune on said:

    Strange that Mike Rosen hasn’t commented on any of this – I expected him to respond with a childish “poem”.

  31. another swp member on said:

    Has the whole of the left shifted to internal attacks has the left lost its way ?????

  32. David Ruaune on said:

    another swp member,

    Given that the left is making few inroads against capitalism, it might be worthwhile for sections of the left to attack / interrogate other sections of the left, to try to sort out what has gone wrong.

  33. Jay Blackwood on said:

    David Ruaune:
    another swp member,

    Given that the left is making few inroads against capitalism, it might be worthwhile for sections of the left to attack / interrogate other sections of the left, to try to sort out what has gone wrong.

    It might have been useful to discuss the issues raised in the ‘Democratic Opposition’ document, but instead this whole thread has been turned into an exercise in mud-slinging on the basis of what appear to be vague and largely unsubstantiated rumours about the SWP’s finances. Andy and a handful of his supporters seem unable to resist the temptation to turn every discussion of this sort into an exercise in Trot bashing. I suggest the blog is re-christened Stalinist Unity.

  34. #37 “Strange that Mike Rosen hasn’t commented on any of this – I expected him to respond with a childish “poem”.”

    Yes, very strange indeed. Maybe he’s got something better to do with his time? Just a long shot. Or then maybe the SWP has bought his silence with some of their unaccounted for millions. The plot thickens. It’s worth investigating, Andy.

  35. David Ruaune on said:

    dennis,

    Maybe – a socialist childrens’ party tomorrow. Maybe, Dennis, everyone in the SWP has something better to do with their time than fight when they are under the most concerted and intelligent attack they have yet faced.

  36. David Ruaune on said:

    Jay Blackwood,

    Given that the left is making few inroads against capitalism, it might be worthwhile for sections of the left to attack / interrogate other sections of the left, to try to sort out what has gone wrong.

    I don’t think that this comment is stalinist; Andy may or may not be – he’s probably more socialist than me, but I want a fairer world.

  37. Jay Blackwood,

    There are no politics in the soi disant Democratic Opposition statement, so there is little to discuss.

    However examining the underlying causes of the SWP bureaucracy ‘s behaviour may be fruitful.

    There are clearly institutional factors at play, and as someone said “social being determines social consciousness “

  38. Jay Blackwood on said:

    andy newman:
    Jay Blackwood,

    There are no politics in the soi disant Democratic Opposition statement,so there is little to discuss.”

    So when you headed the blog post with this:

    “The following is published in the interests of informed debate on the left”

    - you were only joking?

  39. Hospital Worker on said:

    They should model themselves on the leadership of China, or the armed forces of Russia. If that were the case, this site would have videos of them daily exorting us to bow to the socialist purity of the SWP.

  40. Good to see a democratic opposition emerging within the SWP. Possibly the most positive development on the left in Britain this year. It would be a big step forward if the SWP could be transformed into a fully democratic socialist party where the membership controlled the leadership and the organization strove to tell the truth to the working class. I think such an organization could grow quite quickly to become a real force for positive change in british society and beyond. Open honest debate on the way forward conducted in a spirit of solidarity.

    sandy

  41. Jay Blackwood,

    There is little to discuss about their statement. Unless you are prepared to buy into the pointless parlour game of debating what is real Leninism while ignoring the elephant in the room that the self proclaimed “revolutionary” groups are simply self perpetuating propaganda sects.

  42. Jay Blackwood,

    There is nothing unsubstantiated about the fact that there is no financial accountability within the SWP. Nor is there anything unsubstsntiaited about the fact that the SWP has a self perpetuating salariat.

    Indeed, the statement itself refers to the SWP ‘s apparatus rallying round to protect Martin Smith; despite the fact that doing so is damaging to the SWP .

    ie there is an institutional interest in conflict with the proclaimed aims of the organisation.

    It is actually MORE political to debate whether social pressures are at play than to indulge in a self referential discussion within the paradigm of the swps own self assessment of themselves as “revolutionary socialists”

  43. sandy: Good to see a democratic opposition emerging within the SWP. Possibly the most positive development on the left in Britain this year.

    Did you just pull that joke out of a cracker?

  44. Grim and Dim on said:

    I do hope everyone who has dragged themselves away from their mince pies to join this discussion has also signed David Muritu’s petition – see above No Responses Yet.

  45. sandy:
    It would be a big step forward if the SWP could be transformed into a fully democratic socialist party where the membership controlled the leadership and the organization strove to tell the truth to the working class. I think such an organization could grow quite quickly to become a real force for positive change in british society and beyond. Open honest debate on the way forward conducted in a spirit of solidarity.

    But that is obviously not what is going to happen.

    The comrades listed beneath the opposition statement are largely young students; they are self-evidently going to be out-manoeuvred. Their statement does not offer a political analysis of the party, merely this one incident. Even if their demands were accepted, little would have changed within the party’s culture.

    Look through the internal bulletins, at the absurd lengths that people went to defend the SWP’s stultifying internal atmosphere, invoking the ‘revolutionary party’, making it clear there will be no compromise. Even the distribution of the opposition statement has been prefaced with what can only be interpreted as an official defence of the expulsions and the political culture that has led to this incident.

    Basically, the CC has let everyone know they had better rally to the leadership, or there will be trouble. Post-Respect, post-Counterfire, the SWP apparatus and cadre are too homogeneous in outlook and interest for there to be any productive resolution of this struggle. They would have to virtually depose the entire leadership and a good part of the membership. Ain’t gonna happen.

    The SWP is not going to be able to break out of this stagnation until it rejects the ‘cult of activism’, embraces an open democratic culture, and thinks seriously and intelligently about the state of politics and the labour movement, and the role of socialists in the vital task of regrouping the left.

    The top-down bureaucratic front approach to politics, which sees the SWP zig-zag from an ultra-left abdication of actually existing class struggle (the ludicrous attitude to Greece, for instance), through to a servile capitulation to thoroughly ‘establishment’ figures, is all part of the same problem: contempt for the fundamentals of democracy, that are crucial to building a broad, mass socialist party.

  46. another swp member on said:

    Yeah .. the internal goings on in the swp are more a reflection of the deep malaise of the left generally. Even if there had been no faction fight, something else would have have caused a look at the inner workings. Bureaucratic answers wont work either. Should the left and it seems a lot of them in this country be so conerned about the swp. Why if its gone past its sell by date! Or is this yet another discussion on the swps core stance of lennist/demoratic centralist party. Or is it a cry from people who joined in stop the war time and ten years later see a low and complex level of class struggle needed to fight the massive attacks. Coupled with a labour left that pines or pins its hopes on a combination of left traden union leaders and leftward labour electoral strategy or not.

  47. Another SWPie on said:

    The sad thing is that, for all its flaws and small size, the SWP is pretty much the best thing we have on the British left. What we need is a mass Socialist party but we don’t have one and there is no sign of one emerging in the near future. The one thing on which I’d completely agree with Andy Newman on this thread is that we are “in the absence of a healthy left” (#14).

    However, we are not the deluded ‘cultists’ that you like to dismiss us as. Thinking that capitalism should be overthrown, and that this could only be achieved by revolution does not mean that we think the revolution is imminent. In reality, the short term prospects for the left and the working class look pretty fucking bleak. We need to fight that as best we can.

  48. Another SWPie:
    The sad thing is that, for all its flaws and small size, the SWP is pretty much the best thing we have on the British left. What we need is a mass Socialist party but we don’t have one and there is no sign of one emerging in the near future.

    I agree we need a ‘mass socialist party’. But is that what makes the SWP the ‘best thing’ in your view, that it’s the biggest fish in our small pond? Surely the real question is, is the SWP’s size and influence likely to increase or decrease? I see no signs that its current methods are leading it on to bigger and better things; nor that its leadership accepts that and is likely to re-evaluate its modus operandi.

    I imagine stagnation is the best it can hope for, with the desperate recruiting of vaguely radical young people at freshers’ fairs and protests likely to (just about) maintain the revolving door’s equilibrium.

    The second question is, does the theory and practice of the SWP make it more or less likely that we will regroup the left into an effective and healthy organisation? I think the splits and about-turns in policy demonstrate that the SWP is actually hampering the development of the left we need.

    What the SWP currently enjoys is an entrenched (and most importantly, ineffective!) leadership, invoking a concept of the ‘revolutionary party’ which is an insult to the basic democratic traditions of socialism, and furthermore actually counter-productive given the needs of the current political situation.

  49. another swp member on said:

    56 Why do you need the swp to have a more effective left. Whats stopping all the labour lefts and others forming what you say the class struggle needs .? Splits and problems are part of the course..the swp will either emerge stronger as a result of debateandchange or decline even more. But theres no way its over…

  50. another swp member,

    Because its disproportionate influence – not just on account of its size, but its extensive influence in various campaigning groups through its bureaucratic ‘interventions’ – means that its flaws don’t just hurt itself, but the left. And the problem is that the most likely outcome is neither improvement nor decline but continuing stagnation. The SWP isn’t going anywhere, so it has to be dealt with.

    The SWP isn’t the sole problem on the anti-capitalist left by any means – I don’t mean to suggest that. I want it to do well, I really do. I was a member of the SWP for nigh-on two years; I know it contains a large number of people who are a great addition to the left. The involvement of SWPers is absolutely crucial to any left realignment. But until there is a healthy internal culture that allows for open democratic debate, then criticisms of the SWP must take advantage of arenas like this. It’s not a case of picking on the SWP; merely of giving it attention commensurate with its position on the left.

    Incidentally, I’m not sure that counter-posing the SWP to the ‘Labour left’, as though the only choice is between those two (equally unsuccessful) options, is very helpful.

  51. Sad but true on said:

    I agree with a lot of Manzil’s previous points, but I don’t think the SWP is crucial to the realignment of the left, in contrast I think that as long as the SWP splutters along in it’s present state, then it will continue to be a barrier to the building of any new left in Britain. 

    Unfortunately I think the same is also true of the SP. Both groups approach any new formations or groupings thrown up by the struggle purely as something that has to be controlled, recruited from and sold papers to. 

    Much internal analysis is directed at the intricacies of how and why said grouping diverge from their politics and practice, and they are engaged with solely on a hostile  basis. I know because I was once one of the footsoldiers sent into campaigns armed with the (incorrect) knowledge that said campaign had only been set up to undermine z y or z that the SWP had already initiated. Every other organisation was viewed in these territorial terms, as attempting to encroach upon the SWP. 

    There was (and sadly is) no understanding that the struggle throws up myriad forms of resistance and that these might have a better chance of attracting support from the class and building the confidence of workers if they were not strangled at birth by two relatively tiny left parties. 

    It could be argued that the leadership of these groups would almost rather see the class bludgeoned into passivity than begin a fightback that they did not initiate and control.

  52. #59 I agree with a lot of that. The problem is that they are not what they believe themselves to be, are not capable of being what they seek to be and that the type of oganisation that they seek to be is neither actually required nor desirable.

    In fairness to the SP, their is a need for something aproximating the broader formation they refer to. The problem is that they make such a body distinctly unatractive to so many of the people who would otherwise help to build it, and that if it ever actually came into being their history and that of their international body shows they would inevitably split from it at some stage.

  53. #59 and #60, good points both.

    Unfortunately I don’t think we’ve really moved on from the Socialist Alliance’s implosion. “It’s the same old song / But with a different meaning since you been gone”, as the Four Tops (Marxist-Leninist) put it.

    The SP has, I’ve found, a rather more relaxed internal regime, but only on account of the much higher degree of agreement within the party, owing to its (basic but efficient) political education of its members, and the resolution of disagreements through informal channels (the full-timers being crucial to this process of amelioration). But the same ‘build the party’ and ‘we are the vanguard’ attitudes are present; if the SP were in the same position to dominate how the left evolves, the same problems would emerge.

    TUSC combines all the confusion of the far left. Its platform is purposefully limited to a watered-down labourism so as not to alienate the RMT. The SWP use it as a disposable hat for their candidates but otherwise continue their top-down deals with the left wing of the labour bureaucracy that the CPB excels at. Internal democracy is prevented by the maintenance of the federal, consensus-based structure (i.e. one that maintains the sects) rather than a membership party, the exclusion of Socialist Resistance, and the marginalisation of Nick Wrack’s Independent Socialist Network initiative.

    A united left requires a ‘snowball’ effect, that it is seen as credible by activists and militants, as their ‘natural home’ to which both individuals and groups are prepared to orientate towards. And at the moment we don’t have that viable, healthy foundation to build from.

    My main point of disagreement is that, at the moment, I don’t believe we have the ability to reach out directly to new layers that would allow us to bypass the (relatively) big groups when they’re being intransigent or sectarian. They need to be reformed because they can’t be replaced.

    Between the various socialist and communist groups there have got to be a few thousand dedicated activists in this country committed to a left party of one sort or another, enough to broadly reflect most of the left in terms of its ideological variation and geographical distribution. I do not believe there are any differences of opinion within the organised left serious enough to preclude organisational unity. Rather, I think it is self-interest masquerading as political principle that maintains our division.

  54. Manzil:
    …I think it is self-interest masquerading as political principle that maintains our division.

    I think you’re right.

    Why would any of the ‘leading members’ of the various ‘revolutionary’ parties wish to test their views against the white heat of a pluralistic body, when the alternative is to have their theory – whether good or bad – consistently published and praised by an audience whose political ‘training’ consists of little more than making them think such views are correct and praiseworthy?

    From a purely self-interested pov, it’s always better to be the big fish in the small pond, instead of being the small fish in the vast ocean.

    I mean, c’mon, would anyone even remember Tony Cliff, never mind think him a great thinker, if he had been just another voice in a broad, pluralistic mass working-class party? Of course not! His significance requires institutional scaffolds: without them, he’d be little more than a below average academic Marxist.

    Indeed, one could draw a certain parallel between how some religious thinkers have been declared prophets, their memories remembered and advanced by religious institutions, whereas others are largely forgotten. Because the reasons for this have, I suspect, little to do with the relative merits of their thought; rather, they relate to the way in which said thought can be utilised as an apposite ideological paradigm that enhances and reinforces the institutional functions and culture of the organisation.

  55. David Hillman on said:

    When lenin wrote “What is to be done” Russia had an intelligensia (a particular stratum of society not like the so-called intellectuals we have in Europe today) and much organisation and propoganda work had to be underground (since it was illegal). It is questionable whether all that is called Leninist organisation is useful or necessary today.

  56. At this time of year I feel very nostalgic and wish the DO! Democratic Opposition in the SWP Good Luck!…. The points made earlier by comrades who point out that ‘oppositions’ whose ‘leadership’ cadre are expelled have often failed to make more than a temporary dent in the IS/SWP Apparatus and their continuing dynastic sucession are valid.
    I never joined the SWP. I was briefly tempted as a young chap. I got active in radical socialist politics in the spring of 1976 and after being ‘courted’ by Big Flame, Workers Action[ICL], The Sparts, The CPGB,CPE-ML and despite being white the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party! among other weird and wonderful sects…. I finally decided to join the International Marxist Group in November 1978… Party because I was genuinely interested and concerned about ‘Democracy’ in both the context of Society as a whole and the ‘internal Democracy’ of any group that I decided to committ to. Within a few weeks I had a ‘rude’ and ‘demoralising’ awakening as to what internal democracy actually looked like inside the IMG.
    The reason I was so concerned about the issue of ‘internal democracy’ was that some of the people I worked with on a daily basis in Brum were comrades who in 1975 were ‘expelled’ from the SWP and had formed themselves into the ‘Workers League’ they included Mary Pearson [longstanding Irish Solidarity Activist and still Secretary of the Troops Out Movement] Paul Mackney [Ex NATFE and UCU Gen Sec now Coalition of Resistance Chap] and several other peopel who are still active in the movement today. By 1978 the ‘Workers League’ had basically disolved in part because despite their significant numbers and ‘implantation’ in the trade unions their expulsion from the SWP had cut them off from the Apparatus of their previous organisation…
    To Not Have your Own printshop or bookshop or national distribution network in the late 1970′s … meant having to start from stratch and in direct ‘competiton’ with your ex comrades…. Access to ‘Printshop’ facilities meant that even in times of relative downturn in activity you could ‘tout’ around for business in the market place of [at the time considerably larger] community and labour movement organisations that required propoganda material…
    When the IMG and it’s Successor Socialist Action went through as series of splits in the aftermath of the 1984/85 NUM Strike… the small remanants who maintained control of the ‘capital’ investments ie the ‘apparatus’ of the organisation were able to survive because of this…. Unfortunately, the majority of the ‘skilled’ ‘technical’ ‘labour’ that actually staffed the remaining ‘apparatus’ of the Socialist League/Socialist Action had left to help form the American SWP [Jack Barnes] supporting Communist League Group…. The lost of these ‘workers’ was a big shock for John Ross, Redmond O’Neil, Jude Woodward and other key ‘Political Fulltimers’ especially as they had all been in Full Time Employment as ‘Revolutionary Marxist Cadre’ for 2 or in some cases 3 Decades…[POTENTIALLY LIBELLOUS ALLEGATION DELETED] while at the same time ‘earning’ a ‘salary’ from the subs of IMG members and the ‘profits’ generated by the operation of the apparatus…
    If someone has been depenendent for their ‘lifestyle’ on the back of an ‘apparatus’ of a small ‘revolutionary’ group…. when this group and its ‘apparatus’ splits and shrinks …. a certain and perhaps understandably panic sets in. However, this can lead to the emergence of some rather ‘base’ behaviours… self preservation dressed up in political justification can take over.
    I have been both witness to and a victim of this process.. in relation to the decline of ‘Socialist Action’ and the desperate attempts of the the Political Leadership to maintain their [relatively tiny] ‘priviledges’ at the expense of the super exploitation of a new layer of workers recruited to fill the ‘technical’ positions within the ‘apparatus’.
    When, I worked in this enviroment in Hackney at ‘Lithoprint [TU]‘ the Socialist Action Printshop as a Computer Typesetter in 1988 and 1989 I saw first hand how the same dynamics of management secrecy and worker exploitation operated inside the ‘appratus’ of a supposedly ‘revolutionary’ anti capitalist organisation.
    My Managers, lived a much more comfortable ‘lifestyle’ than me and worked far shorter hours and when I challenged the late Redmond O’Neil about this he called me a ‘stupid fucking arsehole’ and said ‘are you fucking mad? Just Fuck Off!’….
    So I did…
    Redmond O’Neil is dead…. and soon enough I will be too.
    At the level of ‘individual’ or ‘elite group’ psychology there are clearly processes that collude to produce a mentality of ‘superiority’ or ‘entitlement’ within even the tiniest of ‘appratus’ structures…
    If the ‘left’ is ever able to recover from it’s current malaise and decline then addressing such issues is key.
    How to foster encourage and empower people to ensure that genuine internal democracy and genuine accountabilty of ‘leadership’ figures in the new organisations we shall construct in the future – that is the question.

  57. mark anthony france,

    I think that is an interesting point, a large chunk of change that the Democratic Left inherited from the Communist Party went in ‘redundancy’ pay and pensions.

    I remember comparing notes of my time as a CPGB full timer with a Millie full timer and found we had similar experiences of a two tier employment system, we grunts were on unemployment benefit, plus 50 quid cash in hand and begrudgingly expenses- while the full timers had a salary, and social security/pension contributions. Now the salaries weren’t exactly great but better than we got.
    We and our colleagues regularly didn’t get paid, expenses racked up and we were dismissed regularly. We did it because we both believed we were making a difference, and accepted the working conditions as one of the prices to pay.
    In retrospect what stuck in both our throats was that alongside the two tier pay system was the two tier power structure, grunts were essentially mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed and bullshit.

  58. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #47 “Good to see a democratic opposition emerging within the SWP. Possibly the most positive development on the left in Britain this year”

    Compared to the Bradford Spring, I really don’t think so…

    #52, 56, 58 etc. Some really excellent comments there Manzil. I particularly agreed with you that “Incidentally, I’m not sure that counter-posing the SWP to the ‘Labour left’, as though the only choice is between those two (equally unsuccessful) options, is very helpful” To me, RESPECT is the healthy alternative to both; still small of course, but with a record of punching above its weight and being both relevant and principled. I don’t know who you are but I’d welcome you, and others on this board who agree with the need for such a broad and radical, “real Labour”, left party, to join and help build it. Ps., on perhaps a less worthy note, how do you know that most of those who signed the statement were young students??

  59. Marxist Lenonist,

    As far as I know, Respect doesn’t have a present where I live, but I wish it the absolute best. (And were that to change, would happily join it.) For all its problems in recent years, I think Respect still represents the best hopes for a broad left that actually takes account of the changed circumstances we face.

    As an example, it’s useful to consider its position at the last general election – where Respect was deliberately cautious in not raising expectations, or of painting itself into an ultra-left corner: recognising that a Labour government would be the best available option for the working class, but hoping to elect a handful of Respect MPs to act as a platform and a building-block. The strategy didn’t work in the end, but it was a damn sight more coherent and intelligent than anything else on offer.

    Re: the opposition, without violating anyone’s privacy, I know of the top signatories from my own political activity. They’re both currently students (albeit at different unis) in the city where I’m currently a postgrad. To be honest, I generalised from that – happy to be proven wrong, but if they’re the ones taking the initiative, I imagine the remainder are in a similar position. Additionally a large number of the other signatories have universities or Socialist Worker Student Societies after their names.

    It honestly wasn’t meant to sound disparaging. I just think these oppositionists – or the ones I know, anyway – are a bit naive as to how adept the SWP’s old guard and similar groups are at handling episodes like this. Organisational continuity is, after all, essentially its hidden programme. They’ve gotten very good at it.

  60. Adamski on said:

    First the Central Committee came for Kevin Ovenden et al, And I did not speak out for I was not Ovenden et al.
    Then the Central Committee came for Clare Solomon, James Meadway et al, And I did not speak out for I was not Solomon or Meadway
    Then the Central Committee came for Tim Nelson, Adam Marks et al. And I didn’t speak out for I was not Nelson or Marks.
    Finally they came for me, but the party had made itself irrelevant to the movement because no amount of tortuous articles on party democracy could give clothes to the emperor..

  61. and when did ‘the movement’ replace ‘the class’?

    Sorry but these things do annoy me. Good luck to the DO x

  62. another swp member on said:

    68 I dont get the point re its not healthy to look at what the labour left is doing, its not to counterpose but to assess why there has been not much of an opposition from labour left. It surely would be much larger in quanity than the swp. We need a left inside and outside of Labour. Why i.there no real assessment of this, given the scale of attacks
    The arguments about immigration recently for example ?

  63. #71 It’s just a recent repeated pattern of SWP members who disagree with the leadership expelled on the very eve of their conference – the time when their should be serious and open debate – on extremely spurious grounds, by the leadership. There’s the other old technique where the local party organisers are ordered by the leadership to isolate and block members seen as dissidents from the conference regardless of their local contribution to the branch and the movement.

    The SWP has one of the most top heavy internal regimes of any ‘Leninist’ grouping in the West, unprecedented.

    There’s basic stuff like having the local organisers and party functionaries appointed from above by the leadership rather than from below by the rank and file of the party. This creates a model of a party that is a conveyor belt downwards from the leadership to the members. Because the organisers and functionaries owe their position to the leadership rather than the members this creates a sychophantic culture and a culture where they are accountable to the leadership rather than the membership, it’s this whole top down structure which means that supposed revolutionaries tolerate or can’t confront practises that would never be tolerated in other movement organisations.

    Why should this matter to people who are not members of the SWP? well mainly because it is bringing marxism and socialism – which can be a powerful model of organising and tool of analysis – into disrepute among wide layers of newly politicised working class and young people who rightly reject a deeply unattractive model. Hence the current radicalisation is largely by-passing the marxist sects who are in gradual decline…

  64. Yes but I’d suspect everyone here knows that, at least everyone who is open to the evidence and been around for a bit. Some of us are even before ‘the movement’ era, and we have long memories !

    You seemed to be making a swipe at those behind the DO statement, as they hadn’t supported previous high profile explusions from their organisation.

    Maybe there werent so brave then, so clued up or maybe they werent even members. Whatever, it’s more important to support resistance whenever it arises, it gives us all hope and gives rulers and bureaucrats sleepness nights.

    The discussion about the material interests of the SWP bureacracy above is particularly interesting to me. It illustrates [to me] the limited parameters of reform, but that shouldn’t stop the comrades from putting that to the test themselves, such lessons are useful in any struggle.

  65. Rorschach on said:

    Anyone can clothe themselves in the rhetoric of ‘democracy’, but there is nothing democratic about clandestine factional activity. I don’t know the facts of this case, but see no reason why the SWP or any party should tolerate secretive plotting.

  66. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #76 Though it could also be argued that “secretive plotting” is one way of describing what the SWP CC get up to all year round…

  67. Marxist Lenonist:
    #76 Though it could also be argued that “secretive plotting” is one way of describing what the SWP CC get up to all year round…

    Zing.

    It’s akin to how people claim they have no political agenda, whereas in reality they’re using the ‘common sense’ label to delegitimise openly political retorts, or they’re simply unaware just how ideological their views are, because their own perspectives and experiences seems natural and universal.

    In this case, the control-freak model of keeping the party ‘united’ through expulsions and proscriptions doesn’t suppress factions, it just monopolises the leading faction.

  68. Jay Blackwood on said:

    Rorschach: I don’t know the facts of this case, but see no reason why the SWP or any party should tolerate secretive plotting.

    It’s instructive to the rest of us that despite not knowing the facts you’re happy to pronounce judgement.

  69. Halshall on said:

    Is this another case of the result of a political culture amongst SWP members that sees the CC being if not infallable, then of knowing what’s best for the party ?

    Perhaps this is what entrenches a sort of symbiotic view amongst the CC.
    ie: we know better so we must be right.
    Meeting or merely discussing the possibility of forming a faction seems, at least superficially, a neccessary precursor to forming an ‘open’ temporary faction, so if this is blocked then there can only be a weakened opposition to the CC line.
    Expulsion in such circumstances may seem excessive but it does serve ‘pour encourager les autres’.

  70. mark anthony france: At the level of ‘individual’ or ‘elite group’ psychology there are clearly processes that collude to produce a mentality of ‘superiority’ or ‘entitlement’ within even the tiniest of ‘appratus’ structures…
    If the ‘left’ is ever able to recover from it’s current malaise and decline then addressing such issues is key.

    Thanks for this Mark, I did have to remove a small part of your comment, as it may have been libellous. However, I did enjoy the autobiographical honesty of your account, which I am sure will resnate with many of us who have been through the circus of British Trotskyism.

    Generally I think there are institutional and psychological factors which work in small groups, but the rough corners get knocked off when subjected to the discipline of working in mass organisations. For that reason, i think that Socialist Action and CPB, for example, do prove the exceptions to the rule for left groups, in that their overall contribution to the labour movement is positive, and they punch above their weight in a beneficial way, becasue broadly they promote the wider interests of the movement. That of course doesn’t mean that specific individuals in any organisation, or indeed in none, may be difficult to work with, or unnecessarily rude.

  71. They all have flaws (some of them very serious), but I think the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party etc. all generally contribute more to the ‘wider interests’ of the labour movementthan they obstruct it, even if it is often in spite of their own leaderships. They certainly have the potential to be much better organisations, and don’t fit into the ‘malignant cult’ category in my view.

    Obviously there are differences. The strategies of the Communist Party and Socialist Action are both wedded to the fortunes of the Labour Party (their support for which, Andy, is presumably what you find positive?), whereas the above-mentioned socialist groups are all committed (or at least receptive) to the idea of a ‘left of Labour’ formation of one type or another. You can disagree with that project, but it is a legitimate policy emanating from within the territory of the labour movement.

    As an aside, I agree that being ‘subjected to the discipline of working in mass organisations’ is good for activists. Trade union involvement, however, is certainly such a ‘grounding’ factor, and is something that many people in otherwise ‘small groups’ have a considerable experience of.

  72. Manzil,

    Broadly I agree with you. The SP in particular played a positive role around Lindsey. However, the antics around the NSSN and the posturing around a general strike are currently highly counter productivr

  73. Aye. The take-over of NSSN was especially infuriating. Reminded me of the ridiculous jockeying for position between Coalition of Resistance and Right to Work (sorry, Unite the Resistance).

    I think a lot of times, these sorts of serious mistakes happen because the culture/habits of these groups have made people immune to actually seeing how their actions are perceived by others.

  74. Manzil on said:

    Apparently a second faction, ‘Democratic Centralism’, has been formed by SWP comrades concerned that the Central Committee intends to force its line through, probably ensuring that the young activists behind the ‘Democratic Opposition’ either leave the party or become disillusioned and inactive.

    The more criticism is levelled at the CC, the more chance there is of the SWP leadership being forced to seriously evaluate their practices rather than dismiss it. So hopefully this only spreads.

  75. Jara.Handala on said:

    It seems another faction, Democratic Centralism, has been formed by 40 members in order to present a view at the SWP annual conference, 4-6 January.

    On 1 January CPGB published what it said is the founding statement of the Democratic Centralism faction – not to be confused with the Democratic Opposition faction formed 21 December. (The Judean Popular People’s Front has issued a proclamation rubbishing the rumour that yet another faction is to formed, the Democratic Worker. But remember the JPPF has only one member, so he may be out of the loop.) Purportedly the DC statement says to SWP members, “If you want to support, join or discuss our statement please contact us at DCfaction@gmail.com“.

    The alleged statement is at http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/online-only/another-faction-forms-in-the-swp

    CPGB also published 29 December what it said is a second (undated) statement from the Democratic Opposition, which in passing says it has almost doubled in size (so almost 100): http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/online-only/socialist-workers-party-faction-declared

    How much of a threat all this will be to the permanent faction that runs the SWP remains to be seen. But I agree with the JPPF who says he expects no SWP Spring. After all, he’s rooted in the Arab world and knows what a real political Spring is all about.

  76. Jara.Handala on said:

    I’m a little puzzled by the removal of the last 8 comments (#81-88) posted since Sunday. Why?

    I know one of the administrators (Andy) has recently said with relish this blog is an opportunity for him to practise his rudeness but even the labour and socialist movements have manners.

    An explanation should have been posted by the administrators.

    The gist of the comments was that (1) another SWP faction, Democratic Centralism, has been formed largely around the same matter as the other faction; (2) the first faction, Democratic Opposition, has issued a second statement; & (3) all statements are, not surprisingly, on the homepage of http://www.cpgb.org.uk

    Perhaps the comments were withdrawn because SU is about to post the statements themselves but that doesn’t mean they can’t explain to readers why comments vanished.

  77. Jara.Handala on said:

    Even stranger! A minute later they’re back, so please delete this & comment 89!

    (Just to let you know, the 5 minute countdown facility isn’t here anymore.)

  78. Jara.Handala: A minute later they’re back, so please delete this & comment 89!

    I suspect that you were looking at a cached version of the web-page on your browser, and once it refreshed, then it updated with the comments that had occured since the cache was taken.

    Jara.Handala: this blog is an opportunity for him to practise his rudeness

    It sure is, but I will refrain myself from making any obvious remarks

  79. Mark P on said:

    For those with a death-wish desire to follow the latest SWP twists and turns their ‘Central Committee’ (sic) have produced a new document, helpfully leaked here >

    http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/online-only/swp-cc-counter-attack

    One particular line stands out that sums up the pumped up self-importance these groups generate to flatter themelves >

    “Nevertheless, our model of democratic centralism is the distillation of over forty years of experience in building the largest far-left organisation in Britain and one of the largest in the world.”

    Presumably one of the ‘largest in the world’ works by writing off the rest of the world’s left as not left enough?

    Anyway the document’s line reads like something the old CP’s hardliners and cenrists were putting out in the late 1970s as thet resisted attempts towards inner-party democracy. 40 years later those who control the new mini-me CP are doig exactly the same to defend the roten-ness of of this form of organisation.

    A defence made all the more ludicrous in the age of the internet. De,ocratic Cenalism of the sort they defend requires not only a strong core of party discipline but the suppression of horizontal communication. The latter grows as soon as any revolutionarty party opens itself up towards the aspiration of some kind of mass membership. The latter is entirely afforded by the net.

    Of course such group as the SWP with sufficient resources can acquire a status that is self-perpetuating but much more than that it is increasngly obvious is entirely beyond not only their grasp, but comprehension. This in conditions that for the period 1997-2010 at least couldn’t have been more favourable to their expansion.

    Mark P

  80. Mark P on said:

    PS In those days, the mid o late 1970s, of course the radical chic Trotskyists quite rightly railed against such travesties of inner-party democracy practiced in the CP as, Stalinism.

    Today they defend these self-same models of organisation in their own party. Without a speck of self-awareness.

    Any organisation that allows an outgoing leadership to choose its successors and calls this democratic really needs its collective head examinng. It was the most rotten of the rotten forms adopted by the CP, and one now ‘proudly’ defended by the SWP.

    Mark P

  81. stuart on said:

    Mark P: This in conditions that for the period 1997-2010 at least couldn’t have been more favourable to their expansion.

    You think the period 1997-2010 was more ‘favourable to expansion’ than 1968-1974?

  82. Mark P on said:

    Absolutely.

    1968-1974 the CPGB and IMG offered significant alternarive poles of attraction/recruitment.

    1997-2010 Tens of thousands were exiting Labour leftwards.

    1997-2005 The biggest post-war mass movement, with the SWP core to its leadership, on the streets.

    I could go on. All but a manic sectarian had some kind of belief 1979-97 that Labour was the alternative to Thatcherism. This was shattered shortly after ’97. The main electoral benficiaries of this proved to be the BNP, yet a massive space opened up on the outside Left too, almost entirely squandered. Not entirely the SWP’s fault, of course, but they were most definitely the best placed to take advantage of this opportunity. THe failure to do so explains all that has followed.

    Mark P

  83. For the last few days it has not been possible for me ( and others?) to view new contributions to these threads- nothing beyond 30 December. Any ideas why?

    sandy

  84. Mark P on said:

    PS To above. Of course post ’97 the single biggest factor favouring the dynamic growth of an Outside Left was the degeneration of new Labour. Not only were tens of thousands exiting Labour leftwards but preious few eere joining it leftwards. This was a huge audience, the tiniest of percentage of a percentage point were attracted to the SWP and like groups.

    Explaining that should be the starting point to any kind of meaningful discussion. The SWP’s pumped up claims on being the lagedt FAr Left group not only here bot anywhere else too beggar belief. They clearly have zero interest in anything resembling reality, perhaps the clue is the delusion in calling themselves a ‘Central Committee’ (sic).

    Mark P

  85. stuart on said:

    Mark P,

    How would you explain the decline of the CPGB and the IMG (and we could add in Militant and Bennism)? And why would those who may have been to the left of Labour post 1997 on at least some issues naturally gravitate towards active revolutionary Marxism?

  86. Mark P on said:

    CPGB decine was wrapped up with the window of renewal coliding with the fall force of 1989. There was nothing much left to renew after that car-crash.

    IMG. Basically couldn’t make up its mind what to do, revolutionary party, deep entryism, open entryism, social movements and split around 4 ways to accommodate.

    But neither is the major point.

    Do you seriuosly believe most join the SWP or their like because of revolutionary marxism? For a small number that comes later , for the vast majority its because the SWP is super-ctive across a wide range of issues but always most active on the most popular issue of the moment. Thats not a criticism, thats good politics.

    To fail to grow post 1997 when that audience was increasing by the hundred, thousand fold thanks to new Labour’s forward mrch rightwards has to be fully understood.

    This isn’t about having a go at the SWP, facing up to the magnitude of that failure is required across the whole left.

    Meanwhile the SWP defending Stalin’s invention the ‘recommended list’ to elect its leadership does tickle me somewhat.

    Mark P

  87. stuart on said:

    Mark P,

    You seem to be critical of both the SWP model of organisation and their inability to build substantially. One assumes that you regard the two criticisms as inter-connected? Surely, by your logic we would quite easily have seen a party or group emerge with a superior form of organisation, able to build upon what you regard as excellent recruiting opportunities. Or are you saying that not only has the SWP ‘failed’ on its own terms but has also prevented the creation of a healthy left?

  88. Mark P on said:

    No they are two separate points.

    First off the SWP has its own failings which it seems singularly incapable of facing up to. That is for its own menbers to be concerned about, its not a significant enough organisation to be blunt or part of some internatonal movement for others to be overly fussed by. But on occasion its hard to resist the temptation!

    Second, there has ben a catastrophic failure for any kind of outside left to develop in this Left which in the period 1997-2010 the conditins both changed dramatically, annd including the electoral systen, to favour such a growth. Those of us outside Left need to face up to and account for this failure.

    The two have some connection but Im certainly not sugesting the former is responsible for the latter.

    Finally those bright prospects 1997-2010 are now in my view seriously diminished. There is no mass movement, there is a popular mood of demoralisation and disengagement, a far more dangerous outside right, UKiP, is on the rise compared to the BNP, Labour is in opposition and the unions are as docile as Milliband. E could possibly wish for.

    Mark P

  89. Manzil on said:

    sandy:
    For the last few days it has not been possible for me ( and others?) to view new contributions to these threads- nothing beyond 30 December. Any ideas why?

    sandy

    I have the same problem when I view SU on my phone (but not on my laptop, either on Chrome or Firefox).

    Also the five minute grace period for editing seems to have disappeared altogether.

  90. Manzil on said:

    Mark P:
    The two have some connection but Im certainly not sugesting the former is responsible for the latter.

    What do you suggest is responsible?

  91. Mark P on said:

    Now thats a very good question.

    Either

    All of us who consider ourselves on the Outside Left, with no exceptions.

    Or

    The objective circumstances.

    Mark P

  92. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #108 Personally, I don’t entirely agree with Mark and would go further than him in saying that the first IS largely responsible for the second. Of course there are wider historical and social factos in Britain that have made outside left politics particularly barren, and led in large part to the cultism on the far left, but in the last period especilly that sectarianism, and not just from the SWP, has kept divided and weak the potential nuclei of a real Labour, anti-Blairite party. The splitting of RESPECT in 2007 was a real watershead for the SWP which has never recovered from the end of its brush with relevance; the destruction of the SSP by Murdoch collaborating elements of its own leadership also stands out in the left’s litany of self inflicted failure, and I’m afraid (though it was before my time and possibly yours) the SP was little better when it could have been a contender in the early to mid 90s, but retreated into sectarianism instead…

    Incidently I also agree with Mark P that the current, post-2010 period is far more difficult, but derive from that a more hopeful conclusion than perhaps he does. Given all the factors currently in place that really constitute the mother of all sh*tstorms for the left (outside and Labour left actually), the victory in Bradford West emerges as even more sensational, and the survival of RESPECT as a viable electoral and activist force in at least that part of the country stands the left in far better stead for any period of renewed opportunities, if, say, there was a bew right wing Labour government, than if we had to wholly rely on the likes of the SWP…

  93. stuart on said:

    Mark P,

    So you regard the SWP ‘problems’ as separate from the thing you actually wish for, something that sounds like a viable left of Labour ‘reformist’ project?

    Why do you think such a thing has failed to materialise? Perhaps one of the difficulties has been that hardly any ‘big names’ from the left have broken with Labour. Perhaps another reason was that trade union leaders largely went along with the New Labour project and therefore any any active resistance to Blairite neo-liberalism was hard to find. In this respect Blair was aided by some favourable economic conditions- and when the crisis hit the union leaders went along with Brown’s stimulus. That takes us up to 2010.

    Either way, the anti-capitalist mood from 2000 and the anti-war mood particularly from 2003 were not boosted by any significant domestic class struggle. This is in contrast to the 1968-1974 period that I referred to earlier. For me, it was easier to build to the left of Labour then than it was in 1997-2010.

  94. George Hallam on said:

    Mark P: All but a manic sectarian had some kind of belief 1979-97 that Labour was the alternative to Thatcherism.

    You seem to be taking about a particular subset of the population.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/26/newsid_2531000/2531151.stm

    Quote
    Sue Slipman stated at the 1987 SDP conference that “The SDP should retain the classless opportunities provided by Thatcherism” and that “The SDP should civilise the Thatcherite project” and that “The SDP should be a friendly critic of Thatcherism”.
    End quote
    http://www.thefullwiki.org/Sue_Slipman

  95. stuart: Why do you think such a thing has failed to materialise?

    The combination of deliberate sabotage, half-hearted involvement and self-serviving sectarianism by both the SWP and SP in the Socialist Alliance (and later the SWP in Respect); added to the crushingly unimaginative and dull routinism of the likes on Nick Wrack and the ISG; and the weird cult behaviour of the AWL and CPGB did have a significant effect. Remember Chris Bambury’s bone headed sectarianism in insisting that on the 15th Feb 2003 anti-war march, SWP members should not push the Socialist Alliance.

  96. Manzil on said:

    Mark P,

    Fair enough. Given that your argument is that the circumstances were never more favourable to the development of a serious left current, you must presumably conclude it is the former?

    In which case: what about ‘all of us’ was responsible? To avoid repeating a mistake we have to know what it was. Apologising for as-yet unidentified failings, while necessary, isn’t enough.

    Personally I think this line of argument skims too close to the hoary old view that, ‘The historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership’. We shouldn’t discount the cultural and psychological impact of the ‘objective circumstances’, and crucially:

    * The structural defeats to the traditional mode of working-class organisation in GB during the 1980s.

    * The ideological scar which the collapse of ‘really-existing socialism’ had on the labour movement in the West, whatever your views on the nature of those states.

    These were absolutely still relevant, and severely debilitating, between 1991 and the 2008 financial crisis, despite the apparent formal weakness of Labourism. I actually think the crisis, counter-intuitively, offers the potential at least for overcoming at least the latter of these handicaps.

    Whereas I think we still have an inability to effectively organise people under neoliberalism.

  97. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman,

    An interesting contrast is developing here. For you, the ‘left failure’ is down to SWP (and others) wrecking tactics whereas for Mark P, the SWP are too insignificant for people to get fussed about.

    And whereas Mark P seems quite devastated about our failure to build to the left of Labour, for you the journey has to be one of travelling from outside to inside the Labour party whilst at the same time lashing out at just about anyone to your left.

  98. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #113 “Remember Chris Bambury’s bone headed sectarianism in insisting that on the 15th Feb 2003 anti-war march, SWP members should not push the Socialist Alliance.”

    Amazing. Personally I don’t rmember it as I was marching in Scotland, but it certainly rings true. Having had such people (and with the same attitude as they had to the SA) in our own leadership at first, it just reminds me how happy I still am that RESPECT is well shot of these kind of bureaucratic sectarian wreckers =)

  99. Manzil on said:

    Andy Newman: The combination of deliberate sabotage, half-hearted involvement and self-serviving sectarianism by both the SWP and SP in the Socialist Alliance (and later the SWP in Respect); added to the crushingly unimaginative and dull routinism of the likes on Nick Wrack and the ISG; and the weird cult behaviour of the AWL and CPGB did have a significant effect. Remember Chris Bambury’s bone headed sectarianism in insisting that on the 15th Feb 2003 anti-war march, SWP members should not push the Socialist Alliance.

    Would you mind expanding on that? Genuinely interested; not having been around during the Socialist Alliance, and most detailed criticism of the project focusing on the SWP/SP for obvious reasons.

    Only met Wrack once but he seemed all right.

  100. lone nut on said:

    “How would you explain the decline of the CPGB and the IMG (and we could add in Militant and Bennism)?”
    Let’s not forget that, unlike those forces, you were protected by the invincible theory of state capitalism, which made you into monkey kings, unaffected by the demoralisation sweeping across those sectors of the left infected by the “workers’ state” hypothesis. How’s that workin’ out for you?

  101. Manzil: Would you mind expanding on that?

    Firstly, the ISG and Socialist Resistance supported the most bureaucratic manouvres by the SWP of forcibly closing down the Socilaist Alliance thus seeking to bump people into Respect, without giving people time and space to get used to the idea.

    Secondly, the ISG routinely fetishised rounds of unimaginative meetings and conferences, and a dire paper, which favoured the old male, pale and stale culture of the Britsh far left, and privilaged those voices that came from that milieau.

    Whether or not Nick Wrack is or is not alrright personally, the period he was national secretary of Resepect was wasted time, as he sought to use Respect of a realignment of the far left, instead of a vehicle to engage with the centre-left and the crisis of Labourism.

  102. stuart on said:

    lone nut,

    The ‘state capitalism’ theory ensured that in the immediate post 1989 period the SWP membership, quite rightly IMO, felt vindicated. It was and still remains a perceptive piece of Marxist analysis. However, to suggest that such an insight can immunise the SWP from the defeatism and demoralisation that infected the wider left would be foolish as indeed it has turned out to be. Usually when I discuss politics with people they hit me with the argument that ‘socialism has failed’.

  103. Alright, what’s this problem you’re all having with the site?

    Our delightful hosts did some work recently and I had to reinstall everything from scratch, and I’m enough of a rocket scientist to be able to spot a cause when I see one. I might’ve left something out. Whatever it is, I’ll blame someone else though.

    I’ll fiddle about and see what happens.

  104. OK I know what the issues are with the bits that aren’t working. Just finished an early shift so it’s best if I don’t go fiddling just now. I’ll do it later or over the weekend.

  105. Manzil on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Cheers for that, very interesting. (Also, ‘male, pale and stale’ – ha!)

    I think the European left’s recent history shows is a ‘realignment of the far left’ cannot exist separately from ‘centre-left’ aspirations. In practical terms there really is no substantive difference – in the sense of how the left organises and the politics it expresses – between self-consciously ‘revolutionary’ socialists and the rest of ‘the left’. If anything it is the dated rhetoric, counter-productive organising, and doctrinaire approach to contemporary events, which marginalises the ‘far’ left. Because on those issues where there are principled differences, the extreme weakness of the revolutionary left makes it absurd to consider them a shibboleth which would preclude cooperation in the here and now.

  106. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #327 Amen to that! (Sounds much more like a RESPECT than an SP approach though =) )

  107. Manzil on said:

    Marxist Lenonist,

    Point taken. One step at a time though!

    There’s a disconnect between the ‘official’ theoretical paradigms of the sects and the actual role they play in the labour movement and the reasons people join them – what Mark P spoke about with the SWP, for instance, with people mostly joining not because they value the Book of Tony Cliff but because it’s ‘super-active’ in X movement or struggle. (That’s why I’m in the SP atm, after all.) Which I think means these groups – or at least their ‘human resources’ – can be won to a better way of doing things.

  108. At one time the biggest political non-party in Britain were those who left the Labour Party because of Blair. This hegemony looks like it will be challenged by those who have or are just about to be ex-SWP. But apart from a cheap jibe, my point is that those who left the Labour Party because of Blair and then, later, the War tended, I think, to be established, familied, early to late middle age, Guardian reader types, exactly the sort of people who would not want to join a hyperactive SWP, to sell an unreadable paper in a shopping centre on Saturdays, attend meetings with God-awful evangelical speakers, jump from this front organisation to the next, or join a party whose democratic structure made the Labour Party internal regime appear positively utopian. In my own circle I can think of dozens of people who left the Labour Party for left-wing reasons, not one of whom was attracted to the SWP. The failure of the SWP to grow at a time when people were leaving the LP is not surprising.

  109. Mark P on said:

    You’re broadly right Ross. Tho’ theres another huge cohort too, younger people who in the 1980s and 199os would have been joining the Labour Party in huge numbers and now not joining Labour, or anyting else.

    The wider issue, which you hint at, is that this remains a very large constituency, no longer represented by, or attracted to, Labour but by not much else either. Their politics more or les intact, but organisationally homeless.

    Does that matter?

    Mark P

  110. If arguing that an organisation should have regular meetings, open democracy and clear structures is routinism then I’ll plead guilty as charged. Socialist Resistance argued all along that Respect should have the same democratic functioning that one would expect in a well run union branch or Labour CLP.

    This was a controversial opinion often tended to be rejected by those who thought a big ego, regular appearances in the media and a passive membership were all that was needed to re-shape the British left. Our concern at the time was that not giving members a voice and making up policy on the hoof or behind closed doors ran the risk of creating a wacky personality cult.

    Labour movement structures and the basic democratic guarantees they provide are things to be defended.

  111. stephen marks on said:

    My informants tell me that there is now a split in the SWP CC, with two slates being presented to conference.

  112. Liam: Socialist Resistance argued all along that Respect should have the same democratic functioning that one would expect in a well run union branch or Labour CLP.

    But of course Respect was neither a CLP nor a union branch, both of which are components of much larger stable social institutions.

    In fact SR’s position was to seek some form of constitional arrangement that could defy reality.

  113. Liam: Labour movement structures and the basic democratic guarantees they provide are things to be defended.

    It is worth popinting out that on the Socialist Alliance executive, Alan Thornett SUPPORTED the process of undemocratic coups by mainly SWP members pitching up around the country at Socialist Alliance meetings, which they had not been previously active in, and voting to disolve those groups and transfer the monies to Respect.

    The ISG also voted against a motion at Socialist Alliance conference that would have allowed socialist alliance groups to stand local council candidates in 2004, while supporting Respect in the Euro elections. This was a key issue in the bureaucratic suppression of the SA, seeking to force SA members into Respect, regardless of local dynamics.

    In fact the ISG seemed to have an entirely instrumental view of the norms of “Labour movement structures and the basic democratic guarantees” that was dispensible when sucking up to the SWP was seen as more important, and one which in particular privilages routine over democratic content, and therefore favours highly motivated caucuses of experienced activists, regardless of their actual social weight, or whether their polirtics are unrepresentative of the membership, or programme of the broader organisation.

  114. Feodor on said:

    On why the SWP failed to capture many disenchanted former Labour supporters post-1997, I have to say the thing I’ve personally found most off-putting about the SWP is how aggressively they court members.

    The local SWP know my politics differ from theirs and that I don’t want to join, but that on occasion I’m happy to attend their meetings and political actions, but that still won’t stop certain members trying to get you to join every time they see you. Sometimes the same person asks you 5 times in the space of 10 minutes – it’s like they’re trying to sell double-glazing ffs! And that makes you far less inclined to actually engage with anything associated with them.

    I don’t think it’s done on purpose, and I don’t think they even realise how they come across sometimes, but there seems a real inability on their part to work with unaffiliated people who don’t want to join. And this is compounded by the fact that they disregard all outside criticism as being malicious and unfounded.

    Moreover, don’t even get me started on raising a different pov – the typical response is to direct you to a half dozen articles in their journal, as if non-members have the time or inclination to spend hours reading party literature.

    If they were just a little less demanding, they’d probably gain far more sympathisers, who’d at some point end up as members. Yet ‘slowly slowly catchy monkey’ is not a tactic they seem to have any time for.

  115. Andy’s criticisms of the SR defy reality. The SA was sadly damaged by the SP split and it was sensible for the SWP/SR etc to try to relate to the Galloway split from Labour/significant radicalisation around the anti-war movement that created Respect. Andy, himself was no disinterested party in RESPECT but part of the leadership – I cannot recollect him stating he was dragged screaming into RESPECT from the SA. Democratic functioning inside RESPECT would have given it a chance to survive, grow and become a stable institution. Instead policy was/is made up behind closed doors which has driven out many of the forces that could have made it a healthy organisation.

  116. Neil: the SP was left with little choice but to withdraw from the Socialist Alliance

    There was undoubtedly a divergence between the institutional interests of the SP, as it preceives its own organisational goals; and the trajectory that the SA was travelling in.

    The question is, do we accept the SP’s own self-assessment of what sort of organisation it currently is, and whether it could ever become the sort of organisation it aspires to be; and whether such an organisation would actually be useful in transitioning to socialism?

    For those of us with amore sceptical regard of the value of the continued prepetuation of the SP (or the SWP), then we might draw a different balance sheet on the experience, and simply observe that once again, the existance of the socialist groups hindered rather than helped left advance.

  117. TG: I cannot recollect him stating he was dragged screaming into RESPECT from the SA.

    Then you have an extremely poor memory. You will recall that this was actually the issue that I resigned from the SWP over.

    While I was a founding member of Respect, i did not renew my membership after the first year, and Swindon’s Socialiost Allaince group continued for a couple of years.

    It was only after the SWP left, allowing healthier potential within Respect, that i rejoined it.

  118. TG: The SA was sadly damaged by the SP split and it was sensible for the SWP/SR etc to try to relate to the Galloway split from Labour/significant radicalisation around the anti-war movement that created Respect

    Certainly true, however, the bureaucratic practices which sought to bury the SA and force independent SA groups or activists to have no choice but to join Respect was counter-productive, and makes a mockery of the ISG/SR’s bleeting about democracy.

    TG: which has driven out many of the forces that could have made it a healthy organisation.

    Which forces?

  119. Andy, while I salute your eloquence I have to note your favourite hobby horse has little relevance to the question of whether the SA had a structure that was welcoming to people or groups out-with the dominant group within it i.e the SWP and their hangers on like the ISG.

    The trajectory of the SA was quite clear once the new constitution was voted through, that is the compete domination of the SWP CC. Whatever the self image of the SP or it’s relevance to the struggle for socialism, that was never going to be the basis of a healthy organisation as subsequent events absolutely bore out.

    By the way Andy, did you vote in favour of the new constitution?

  120. Neil: I have to note your favourite hobby horse has little relevance to the question of whether the SA had a structure that was welcoming to people or groups out-with the dominant group within it i.e the SWP and their hangers on like the ISG.

    The federalist structure proposed by the SP at the time was worse, completely disempowering local groups, and priviliging the role of independently existing organisations like the SP.

    Neil: Whatever the self image of the SP or it’s relevance to the struggle for socialism, that was never going to be the basis of a healthy organisation as subsequent events absolutely bore out.

    The SWP’s constituion was highly flawed, but was remember supported by many if not most independents; it was sufficientlly ambiguous that the outcome was still subject to contention , so by disengaging the SP almost guaranteed the outcome that they dreaded.

    At that time, and on that issue, the SWP postion was better than the sp’S, if only becasue the SWP’s position was itself ambiguous and capable of more than one outcome, depending upon whether the Rees/German, or Harman/Callinicos factions prevailed.

  121. Mark P on said:

    Yes for those of us addiced to sectariana Stephen SPILL THE BEANS. Who’s on the 2 lists?

    Mark P

  122. Manzil on said:

    Sectologist:
    Stephen Marks: TELL US MORE PLEASE!

    Presumably this is what Stephen Marks was referring to. Surnames removed for obvious reasons.

    For SWP members only

    The Central Committee (CC) proposes the following names for election to the CC at conference 2013:

    Weyman Mark Michael Alex Jo Esme Joseph Charlie Amy Judith Julie Mark

    I have also received an alternative proposed CC slate:

    Weyman Mark Michael Alex Esme Joseph Hannah Charlie Amy Ray Judith Mark

    Moved by:
    Mark (central committee) Joseph (central committee) Hannah (central committee) Ray (central committee) Anne (North London) Seb (Cardiff) Roger (North West London) Debs (Merseyside) Chaz (Waltham Forest)

    And a second email:

    REPLY TO THE MINORITY

    A statement by four members of the Central Committee – Mark, Joseph, Hannah, and Ray – has been circulating informally around the party to explain their opposition to the slate we decided on Tuesday night to propose to conference for the next CC. We think that the differences are best discussed at conference itself, but a brief rebuttal is necessary given that the four comrades give a rather selective account of the facts.

    The comrades emphasise their commitment to the CC being open about its serious political disagreements to the party. They omit to mention that they voted against the CC reporting the motion of censure it passed on Ray to the National Committee. They also quote approvingly from the statement, ‘For an Interventionist Party’, that the CC also adopted on Tuesday. Apparently they have been seeking to win support for their own slate claiming that the statement provides a basis for the party to re-unite. Again, it seems to have escaped their memory that the three of them who attended Tuesday’s CC meeting vigorously criticised the statement and voted against it. Now to imply that they are in favour of the statement is politically dishonest.

    The comrades not only attacked the statement’s endorsement of the Disputes Committee but also criticised the detailed defence of democratic centralism it offered (though they accepted the section on the expulsion of four comrades for organising a secret faction). It was the vehemence of their opposition to the statement that decided the majority of the CC that it would be dishonest to recommend to conference the existing slate as a Central Committee that could work together.

    We only propose that conference should remove Hannah and Ray because the minority four are very far from being a coherent political grouping. They are united negatively, as much as anything else as a mutual self-defence pact. The CC majority believe Hannah and Ray have in different ways destroyed the basis of trust essential for a leadership to work as a coherent body. We will elaborate on this in the CC elections session. We are also committed to continuing to renew the CC, which is why we are proposing Jo and Julie as new members. The comrades’ opposition to this change is another indication of the entirely negative (and indeed conservative) character of their collective stance.

    Finally, Joseph and Mark say that they are unwilling to serve on the CC that we are proposing. Yet at the same time, they expect the majority to serve on the CC they are moving as an alternative. This is quite illogical. It also is an attempt to use personal vetoes to stop conference choosing the best leadership for the party. The delegates at conference have the right to decide which of these slates (and any others that are proposed) should take on this role.

    Charlie and Alex, for the majority of the outgoing Central Committee

    Incidentally, it’s absurd that the CC doesn’t seem to realise that SWPers have friends and comrades who they share this stuff with. Even their own members don’t buy this ‘Leninist’ bureaucratic play-acting nonsense. The radical left shouldn’t require (and definitely can’t expect) disciplined, unnecessary secrecy. Treat a party like a conspiracy and it’ll start to act like one. With this sort of behaviour, I wouldn’t trust the SWP to open a tin of baked beans, let alone lead the workers’ state.

  123. ‘…favours highly motivated caucuses of experienced activists, regardless of their actual social weight, or whether their politics are unrepresentative of the membership, or programme of the broader organisation.’

    It’s a question of confusing form with content.

  124. Karl Stewart on said:

    I was in the SLP at the time of the SP’s walkout from the SA & from outside simply confirmed all the stereotypes of “faction-fighting trots” etc.

    In the lead up to the 2001 election, both the SLP and SA had operated completely separately (stupidly with hindsight) and the position of our leadership was that the SA was an unstable, federal alliance which would inevitably break up soon.

    This was the response from our leadership – which most members agreed with – when members voiced reservations about this “separate” strategy, or who mooted ideas such as electoral pacts.

    The 2001 election campaign was disastrous for us because of our stupid sectarianism. So many people asked why on earth two parties with identical policies were competing against each other.

    But had the SA held together afterwards, then I really think a wider “socialist unity” could have been forged.

    Perhaps if not full unity, then at least future electoral co-operation between the SA and SLP, or perhaps even the involvement of the CP could have become possible?

    But no, the SP couldn’t handle losing that conference vote and flounced out like sulky children.

    The news of that was received within the SLP as a total vindication of our existing policy.

    It was a case of: “We told you so – that’s what trots do..etc..”

    From outside it seemed a stupid decision by the SP at the time and it’s ironic now to hear the SP going on and on about wanting a new broad left party, while still claiming that their 2001 walkout from the SA was the right decision.

  125. Mark P on said:

    Blimey. That seems a pretty serious split. Two rival ‘recommended lists’ (an invention of one Joesf Stalin incidentally) both originating from the Central Committee (sic) spells a Democratic Centralist regime falling apart at the seams.

    Mark P

  126. Manzil on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    Out of interest, to what degree did the SLP then (or now?) still have an active life? Because they always seem to be on ballot papers but if it weren’t for that I wouldn’t know it existed!

    On the issue of the SP’s intransigence, it’s interesting that in TUSC the RMT is being held up as the reason why it has to remain a factional, federal body rather than any sort of party (‘Bob Crow would walk away’ etc.) – but the argument remains essentially the same as over the SA, when that wasn’t an issue. So I’m not sure if the SP leadership has actually learned from that experience.

    Another problem seems to be akin to what Andy mentioned with Nick Wrack’s tenure in Respect.

    While TUSC is posing as an essentially ‘labourist’ sort of body, in actuality its only (realistic) objective is the unity of the far left. Posing the question why they don’t just come out with that as their goal, and forget about standing in local elections for derisory votes etc. Because either a project of ‘left social democracy’ (as in Respect), or of revolutionary regroupment, seems to preclude the reverse from also occurring within the same structures, at least in the initial phase, as it ends up with the worst of both worlds.

  127. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 148 says “it’s ironic now to hear the SP going on and on about wanting a new broad left party”. Oh Mr Stewart you pontificate away here on this blog about other Left groups and their programme and strategies, but like a little school child you just do not have a clue about the realities of political life in the real world. The Socialist Party is not advocating at this stage in the political and social terrain of political life a “new broad left party”, but advocates instead a new mass party of the working class for its own political representation as a voice of the growing accumulation of opposition towards the ConDem government. You must really take away the previous Stalinistic training from your eyes and open your mind!

  128. Lurker on said:

    A third of SWP Conference vote against CC majority in democratic centralism discussion.

  129. Manzil on said:

    Mark P,

    Aye. Curious as to what the ‘informal’ statement of the CC dissenters said (as opposed to what the CC says it did), as apparently it hasn’t been distributed. Any other leftist trainspotters have it?

  130. Andy Newman: The SWP’s constituion was highly flawed, but was remember supported by many if not most independents; it was sufficientlly ambiguous that the outcome was still subject to contention , so by disengaging the SP almost guaranteed the outcome that they dreaded.

    There was no ambiguity about the outcome except to the hopelessly naive and the wilfully delusional. The independents made up a tiny minority in the SA. At that time the SWP were probably bigger than everyone else in the SA combined. The constitution was a guarantee of SWP CC dominance no matter whether the SP were in or out or what faction prevailed in the SWP. It was only going to end one way as the course of the SA and later Respect showed.

    This was why federalism was so important. In the absence of a large unaligned membership where debates of different trends could be argued out there had to be a mechanism to deal with the “actually existing” situation in the SA where no one pre-exisiting organisation could dominate.
    If someone can explain how a situation where all political disputes were to be settled by the ability of the SWP to mobilise their members was more democratic for independents than having them as a distinct political bloc with equal voting rights to the SWP,SP etc I’d most interested in hearing it.

    The other point about federalism was that it leaves the door open for other organisations of the labour movement to join with out the fear that they will be subject to the diktats of whoever happens to be the largest organisation. There was a real opportunity for the SA to bring the RMT onboard if it had played it’s cards right when the RMT broke from Labour and ran candidates in the London Assembly against Tube privatisation.
    An organisation dominated by the SWP CC was never going to be attractive to serious forces like the RMT. Imagine if the SA had been able to attract the RMT? It would have acted as a counterweight to the SWP and, when Galloway had made his split, to his tendency towards solo runs. Alas it was not to be.

  131. Karl Stewart on said:

    Manzil, back then my local branch had eight or nine active members & we were regularly out & about knocking doors etc, so we were pretty busy.

    The tragedy was the electoral sectarianism that led to two parties with identical policies standing in the same election.

    (In our case, we “beat” the SA, but both of us were beaten by everyone else!)

    That sectarianism was the culture of the left, even when objective conditions for a “left electoral alternative” were promising.

    Those objective conditions have now fundamentally changed and our subjective weaknesses are as apparent as they ever were – the left’s sectarian political culture continues to be its defining characteristic.

    Look at the depressing subject being debated here, which will inevitably lead to yet another debilitating split, proving yet again that so often, in practice, the “democratic-centralism method creates oerganisations with the brittleness of glass rather than the toughness of steel.

  132. 149,151 etc etc.
    Why is that whenever Troskyites fall out and begin behaving badly they blame it on Stalin, Stalinism or Stalin’s inventions? At what point after the deaths of Leon Trotsky, Gerry Healey, James Cannon, Tony Cliff and Michel Pablo do their followers grow up and start taking responsibility for their own actions

  133. Karl Stewart on said:

    It is indeed depressing when JimmyH goes off on his dogmatic rants about imagined “stalinism,” which reminds one of the religious zealot who sees “the devil” in anyone who expresses doubt about “the one true word.”

    What’s also sad about Jimmy’s comment is his self-delusion when he accuses others of having “not a clue about the political realities of life in the real world.”

    In the real world, the objective conditions for a viable left-of-Labour electoral initiative do not presently exist.

    The objective political reality has shifted fundamentally since the previous decade, but the fossilised SP refuses to consider this, despite the wealth of real-world evidence.

    You ignore reality and simply wish another reality. That’s pure subjectivism and idealism.

    A decade ago, when those objective conditions did exist, we on the left, collectively, wrecked those possibilities with our congenital sectarianism.

    My contribution to this failure was my failure to challenge the electoral sectarianism of my party at the time, the SLP. The SP’s failure was flouncing out of the SA.

  134. Manzil on said:

    Nick Wright,

    Mark P the… er, Trotskyite?

    Don’t get me wrong, I find the regular denunciations of people as ‘Stalinists’ and ‘Trots’ in discussions like the above absolutely hilarious. I just hope people have the good sense not to let this soap-operatic side of our politics show when actually talking to, well, normal people. (Speaking as one of the abnormal.)

    Karl #155, cheers for that. I agree it’s an absurdity to have these sorts of divisions. Although I’m curious as to how welcome people involved in the SA would have been in SLP, or vice versa.

  135. Manzil on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    In the real world, the objective conditions for a viable left-of-Labour electoral initiative do not presently exist.

    At the moment that’s patently true.

    But do you not think that, either after the election of a Labour government under Miliband and all the concomitant frustration of people’s aspirations that will inevitably ensure, or the failure of Labour’s cautious, compromising opposition to actually win, will help to partially reopen that space?

    I don’t think we could present a challenge to Labour or labourism across the board – but Respect’s tactics during the 2010 election (realistic in the sense of its own potential, and of how to relate to Labour and to Labour voters as the dominant camp of the labour movement) offer a way forward I think. I just don’t think it’s possible to dodge the question of elections without appearing incredible.

  136. Karl Stewart on said:

    The double irony of that time was that we, the local SLP members, knew all of the local SA people, generally got on fine with them and worked alongside them on various local broad campaigns.

    But we stood against each other in that election – bonkers eh?

    And I bet it was a similar story in lots of other places too.

  137. Neil,

    No Neil.
    Neil,

    Across towns and cities all over England there were local Socialist Alliance groups where the majority were non aligned. A large proportion of that local activist base were not even formally national members of the SA.

    The competition between the self important leaderships ofthe left groups was in a parallel universe yo what was happening in the real world.

  138. When Galloway was elected in Bethnal Green it was clear that they were healthy forces in RESPECT – as many independent activists as in the SA if not more. However a lack of democracy in RESPECT meant that Galloway and Councillors were not accountable and this has led to a lot of splits in Tower Hamlets and RESPECT nationally. Also the new people attracted in the elections were not integrated in the organisation.

    A tiny SA continued even after the SWP split from it and most serious forces went into RESPECT. I dont think it was wrong that if the majority of the SA locally or nationally decided to go into RESPECT they had a right to take some of SA’s money with them. Attacking Alan for how SWP acted in local SA groups is a bit ridiculous. Also SR didnt suck up to the SWP or Galloway in RESPECT and this was reflected sharply in Conference debates.

  139. “No Neil.” Is that referring to my question on how you voted on the constitution? If so, then my next question is, were you at the conference?

    Andy Newman,

    “Across towns and cities all over England there were local Socialist Alliance groups where the majority were non aligned. A large proportion of that local activist base were not even formally national members of the SA.”

    I can’t decide if you are being naive or disingenuous.
    The reality is that in most towns or cities where the SA had a presence the SWP could easily mobilise members who were not normally active in the SA, whenever the vital interests of the SWP CC was at stake.

    This happened on several occasions across the country and led to the disaffiliation of groups other than those with “self important” leaderships like Cymru Goch.

    If there was such a vibrant and large independent group in the SA why was the SWP able to do pretty much what it wanted with it? The answer is simple, their overwhelming numerical dominance facilitated by the folly of changing the constitution to ‘one member, one vote’.

    I think your problem is you’re blindly determined to prove your shibboleth that marxist groups are irrelevant and inveterately sectarian.
    This is your primary focus, not a proper analysis of what really happened. You’re now in the ludicrous position of arguing a point that has been conclusively falsified by events not just once but twice.
    Rather similar to some of the thinking on the far left you are fond of fulminating against!

  140. Karl Stewart on said:

    Manzil, in response to you bat (159) I’m pleased that you agree about the current political situation.

    As to whether it will change back again under an Ed Miliband government, well, the short but rather flippant answer is who knows? Theoretically anything could happen and one should keep an open-mind about the possibilities.

    (I’m not a great predictor – I didn’t see Van Persie’s equaliser coming!)

    I’d suggest that it’s unlikely however, there was something of a “perfect storm” for the left-of Labour in the early 2000s, of which a general disillusionment with a Labour government was only one of several factors.

    And let’s not underestimate the significance of the accumalative demoralisation that our repeated political failures of the past decade or so have caused to us and potential supporters.

    So I’d say I think it’s probably unlikely that a viable left-of-Labour electoral alternative will be a serious prospect in the near future.

    (And I don’t expect West Ham to win the replay either!)

  141. Karl I was in the SLP for the first 3 or 4 years. When were you in it and why did you leave?

  142. Manzil on said:

    Neil,

    What were the “vital interests of the SWP CC” that they mobilised paper SA members for? Was this just a case of not wanting to be dictated to (a legitimate position – given the ongoing factional clusterfuck in the SWP, I don’t think I’d want to be a permanent minority in a group run by their leaders) or were there actual serious disagreements as to how the SA should develop?

    Karl Stewart,

    Fair do’s. I just don’t think it makes sense to write off a consciously political (which inevitably means electoral) campaign – even if (as I think is obviously the case) it shouldn’t be our top priority by any stretch of the imagination, compared to more general organising in the workplace and community. A ‘party form’ and participation in the electoral process are absolutely essential to coordinating those other campaigns (i.e. ensuring the sectional interests of different unions and campaigns don’t depart from one another) and to presenting the left as a credible voice rather than just oppositionists.

    That doesn’t mean taking an all-or-nothing approach and denouncing Labour as just another bunch of cutters; but nor should we just act as an external left wing of the Labour Party either. And engaging with Labour in a critical but supportive sense means trying to pressure them electorally; they don’t care about politics outside of taking votes off them, giving a public expression to critiques from their left etc.

    Vanya,

    Well if you’re all sharing – when/why did you? :)

  143. Karl Stewart on said:

    I was in it when it started, left in about 03 & then joined CP.

    I think I just gradually started to come round to the CP’s BRS strategy and I gradually moved away from the idea of ditching the Labour Party completely.

    Of the various left groups, the CP’s more nuanced analysis makes the most sense to me.

    What were your reasons Van?

  144. Karl Stewart on said:

    No Manzil, drifted away from it a couple of years ago (mixture of reasons, personal stuff, circumstances etc rather than any major political issues).

  145. #167 I felt that it was in danger of turning into a stalinist sect, rather than the broad healthy formation that it seemed initially to promise to be. I had spent too long involved with trotskyist sects and I didn’t see the point in going through yet another load of internal battles with people who were supposed to be on the same side.

    All very depressing because I think there really was promise.

  146. Morning Star reader on said:

    Thanks Manzil (146), that’s the grimmest belly-laugh I’ve had in ages.
    When I joined the CP, people like Derek Robinson, Kevin Halpin, Georgie Bolton, Mike Hicks, Margaret Witham, Bernie Steer, Mary Davis, Lou Lewis etc. were slugging it out, socialists with deep roots and influence in the working class movement – among engineers, miners, printers, civil servants. building workers and the like.
    Next to them, the squabbling SWP functionaries are a bunch of utter nonentities.
    “Charlie, Weyman, Ray, Seb, Alex” – vanguard of the revolution? I’d laugh if it wasn’t so ridiculous.

  147. Morning Star reader on said:

    And Vanya (171), why refer to SA becoming a “stalinist” sect? After decades of sectarian idiocy, hasn’t the Trotskyist community earned sufficient recognition for sectarianism in its own name?

  148. Feodor on said:

    Karl Stewart: …in practice, the “democratic-centralism method creates oerganisations with the brittleness of glass rather than the toughness of steel.

    That one’s gone into my quote book – if I ever use it, I’ll make sure to give you your due.
    _ _ _ _ _

    It’s quite remarkable to see, with certain exceptions, the level of agreement between people from different political backgrounds in both this thread and the one on the failure of the left.

    It seems those sticking to the argument that their tendency represents the one true revolutionary vanguard of the working class is an ever shrinking minority, perhaps even within the vanguard parties themselves.

    Whereas, in respect of what might be called ‘the sober silent majority not drunk on their own theoretical illusions’, there seems a strong desire to face up to reality, to the argument that the left itself is as much a cause of its own irrelevance as unfavourable conditions are.

    And to me, this seems like the nucleus of something that could potentially be very good. The only problem is that it by and large remains lone voices without an organisational expression. But if that were ever to change…?

    Personally, and I know you have your political differences, but if any formation could manage to incorporate the politics and honest sobriety of the likes of Vanya, Mazil, Karl Stewart and the two Georges, that would be one that myself – and, I’m sure, others – would join in an instant. (I exclude Andy only because, at present, he seems quite happy in the LP.) Granted the competition’s not exactly sterling, but I bet you guys would make for the best CC of any party on the British left for decades, if only because you’re not convinced of your own omnipotence.

    Maybe we should practice some ‘deep entry’ into the SWP: I’ll be the first to advance you guys as the third slate, you could call yourselves the ‘no-bullshit opposition’! ;)

  149. Mark P on said:

    “I never thought I would have to beg forgiveness from Mark p” Nick Wright

    Not sure why you feel the need for any forgivesness Nick?

    Thirty years ago debates in the CP and across wht might be described as a Marxist Left of many versions was heavily defined by attitudes to the USSR.

    In lots of ways this defined positions and meant that those wjo otherwise had more in common than they were willing to admit adopted entrenched positions of opposition.

    Today, personally, Ilm a tad more ecumenical. So for example I write for the Morning Star and an glad to see it in plenty of newsagents (the Anita Halpin millions helping out with printing and distribution costs?). And like plenty of others I’ll always be grateful to the SWP for having the nous to get the Stop the War movement established boost 9/11, it had its own problems but the activism, commitmnt and yes leadership provided helped in large measure a mass movement to develop. Likewise I was overwhelmed with optmism when first the SSP achieved their electoral breakthrough, and the George Galloway, first in Bethnal Green then even more spectacularly in Bradford West. The latter in particular has turned into a one man car crash but the moment of victory can never be entirely extinguished.

    A mish-mash, pick n’ mix, quite possibly. But immeasurably more worthwhile than the entrenched positions of 30 years ago, the politics of which some still cling to, with or without the USSR. More than enything I sugest this explains the current malaise not only in the SWP but across the entire outside left, a failure to move on to find a form of politics for a different, much more fluid, era.

    Mark P

  150. Feodor on said:

    Mark P:
    …a failure to move on to find a form of politics for a different, much more fluid, era.

    I mostly agree with what you say, but perhaps paradoxically, think the failure to move on is quite significantly tied to the failure to properly confront the experience of the Soviet Union.

    Attitudes range from apologism (primarily found in the few remaining and minuscule Stalinist and Maoist groups) to distancing (within which I would lump together the non-Leninist socialists, the state-caps and even the ‘degenerated/deformed workers’ state’ Trots) – with little in-between.

    In respect of the latter, what they offer are excuses, not explanations of what went wrong. Yet if we don’t develop an analysis of the fundamental structural maladies of a planned economy (and this, to an extent, also applies to postwar western European welfare capitalism and the problems it generated), then I can’t see how we’ll manage to convince many people to favour one again.

    It’s simply not enough to explain these things away by reference to historical villains – whether the villain is the Trots’ Stalin or the social democrats’ Thatcher. And I suspect much of the defeatism which has gripped the left stems from, whether we want to admit it or not, the realisation that, to put it bluntly and despite its great achievements in terms of economic development, socialism became something of an economic basket-case.

    We really still don’t have a suitable response to those two simple but powerful words: ‘socialism failed’.

  151. Mark P on said:

    No, but the difference in the 2010s is that there’s a pretty authoritative response ‘ yes, but capitalism’s failng too’. The audience who would nod sagely in agreement infinitely larger than existed in the 1980s and 1990s.

    Mark P

  152. Mark P,

    That is a good argument Mark.

    I find when talking to those from former socialist countries who march up to a Communist party stall and say I used to live in xyz…etc and then say something negative, many are actually wholely positive, if you say “is it better now?” Even the most dedicated anti communist has trouble refuting the fact that it isn’t. Most admit so.

    Even so I hate both arguments, either there were no problems at all with the Soviet Union or that he whole thing was one big disaster. The best analysis I have read was Robert Griffith’s assessing the collapse of the Soviet Union

    http://communist-party.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=345&Itemid=53

    The general argument is best summed up by the paragraph from the BRS:

    “Russia and the other countries of the Soviet Union were transformed from semi-feudal, semi-capitalist monarchist dictatorships into modern societies with near-full employment, universally free education and healthcare, affordable housing for all, extensive and cheap public transport, impressive scientific and cultural facilities, rights for women and degrees of self-government for formerly oppressed nationalities.
    But the struggle to survive and to build socialism in the face of powerful external as well as internal enemies also led to distortions in society that might otherwise have been avoided. In particular, a bureaucratic-command system of economic and political rule became entrenched. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the trade unions became integrated into the apparatus of the state, eroding working class and popular democracy. Marxism-Leninism was used dogmatically to justify the status quo rather than make objective assessments of it.
    At times, and in the late 1930s in particular, severe violations of socialist democracy and law occurred. Large numbers of people innocent of subversion or sabotage were persecuted, imprisoned and executed. This aided the world-wide campaign of lies and distortions aimed at the Soviet Union, the international communist movement and the concept of socialism.”

    I think it is important to avoid being percieved as an apologist for foreign tyranny and to project an image of socialism that is democratic and is based on the traditions of the labour movement in Britain going back to the chartists,diggers, levellers and even wat Tyler. However, you are going to get nowhere if you refuse to nail your colours to the mast and project what kind of society you want and what kind of organisation will establish such a society. Ultimately, for me, that means seeing 20th century socialist countries as representing a different kind of society that for all their problems demonstrated a new world. The largely peasant based Russia of the early 20th century was a different context for building socialism then todays Britain, as a result, I cannot imagine a future socialist Britain that would infringe too heavily on our democratic tradition.

    For me assessing socialism and the role of the communist party in such a manner is key for the future of the movement. In that vein its not enough to simply say capitalism is bad, you need an alternative.Ukuncut and Occupy are great for propaganda purposes, but we need disciplined organisations based in the labour movement with a vision of a future socialist society.

  153. BrokenWindow on said:

    ‘Socialism failed’ is a difficult statement to turn over partly because the failure of it to lead to the promised land led it instead to a chamber of horrors. The willingness to of many on the Left to support brutal regimes purely on an anti-imperialistic impulse,fatally flaws it as a more caring,more humane ideology.
    Mostly,the biggest collective failure,aside from the zombie-style unions, is the complete lack of a co-ordinated alternative by a network of like-mindedish groups. Instead you have a variety of cults with personalities. As for genuine support from working class members,that aint happening. What we have above is some freshers drama being played out;the SWP are completely and utterly irrelevant. Why is this site acting as a voyeur to a fringe issue when the tories are on the rampage? I question your editorial judgement here,though the question posed@ Has The Left Lost Its Way,is important and vital on another thread and obviously is linked.

  154. Morning Star reader on said:

    Apologies Vanya (174) for my sloppy reading late at night. I understood that you had a background in one of the Trotskyist organisations – which hasn’t stopped me agreeing with many of your contributions on SU.
    I still think the term “Stalinist” has very limited value as a term of analysis these days. For example, if it is intended to indicate the control of a political organisation by a megalomaniac, or the lack of internal democracy, then I’m afraid that these features are much more characteristic of (not all) Trotskyist groups than of most traditional CPs.

  155. Manzil on said:

    Perhaps, given firstly the widely varying views on arcane historical questions, even within the supposed ‘Communist’, ‘Trotskyist’ etc. traditions (good for a drunken chat, but otherwise a bit irrelevant), and secondly our overwhelming shared interest in asserting the need for common activity and organisation in the here and now, we could just dispense with all the disparaging comments, that really contribute very little apart from a constant psychological barrier to moving on from our shitty status quo!

    Vanya’s point was just that a lack of democracy is a pretty bad thing, regardless of the particular heritage you identify with. If Scargill had a picture of Trotsky above his desk, I don’t think that would necessarily have made the SLP any more welcoming. Likewise if they resorted to Stalin’s Collected Workers rather than… whatever the hell it is they believe, the SWP would still just be a bunch of bullies.

  156. #181 At one of the last meetings I attended there was a stall selling posters of Uncle Joe. I was using the word precisely :) or is it :( ?

  157. Mark P: Not sure why you feel the need for any forgivesness Nick?

    Only, Mark, for neglecting to distinguish your position from that of trotskyites.
    A defining issue on the left today is not so much one’s attitude the the Soviet Union and the socialist world when it existed but rather, whether one thinks things took a turn for the better or worse after is was dismantled.
    Thus, the SWP in seeing the end of ‘actually existing socialism’ as positive deepened their fatally flawed basic analysis.
    Their work in the anti war movement and elsewhere has its positive and negative sides but their basic position is so deeply inadequate to explain the modern world that, I feat, they are certain to suffer continual division.
    The root is not in their internal party management and procedures. Parties can operate very effectively with very tightly organised regimes and limited opportunities for full internal democracy if the leadership is broadly based, trusted and broad ideological agreement exists in a situation where discipline in carrying out tasks is a precondition for survival and effective action.
    The key thing is that the analysis must correspond to the real world and not require self delusion.
    I thought that the point made earlier in the discussion, that there exists no connection between their immediate programme and the route to working class power was very telling.
    I have had my criticisms of some of the revisionist ideas that appeared in some earlier versions of the Communist Party programme but it always possessed the virtue that, in setting out a strategy, it also determined a tactical approach. Even though quite profound disagreements existed it was possible to argue them out. It was only when the goal of socialism was abandoned that maintaining organisational unity became impossible and the dismantling of the CPGB took place (along with the privatisation of its material assets.)
    Anyone who works closely with comrades from the SWP know quite well that the divisions within them are as great as the disagreements that exist between them as organisations and other sections of the left. The key question is how these are handled and how organisational unity and continuity of leadership is maintained.
    The same goes for the SP.
    On the vexed question of electing a leadership I think that in present day conditions in Britain where political activity is more or less transparent then congress delegates must be able to hold individuals to account and distinguish between them in electing a leadership.
    This fetish for drawing a dividing line from ‘reformists’ and ‘revolutionaries’ in present day-to-day politics – where the issue of state power or even what would be the character of a government is to be – is crackers. It is programmes that can be so distinguished.
    Unless one acts in the belief that any compromise is impermissible under capitalism (as all ultra lefts are prone to at various times) then there is very little that can reasonably distinguish one left winger from another in the eyes of most working people.

  158. TG: When Galloway was elected in Bethnal Green it was clear that they were healthy forces in RESPECT – as many independent activists as in the SA if not more. However a lack of democracy in RESPECT meant that Galloway and Councillors were not accountable and this has led to a lot of splits in Tower Hamlets and RESPECT nationally. Also the new people attracted in the elections were not integrated in the organisation.

    Let us lay this canard to rest. George Galloway and the councilors were no less accountable than MPs and councilors from mainstream parties. Indeed in the Labour Party, both the PLP and council groups are largely autonomous from control by the party, and influence is exercised upon them informally.
    In fact, given the lack of political, cultural or social homogeneity within Respect, it is not clear whether there could be any consensus about what exactly the MP and councilors were accountable to. Those making the loudest noises about accountability were often a lot less representative of the politics of Respect voters.
    Arguably the most consistently anti-democratic forces in Respect were the ISG/SR, who kept arguing for formal structures that would privilege their own unrepresentative hard-core caucus, and were obsessed with 20th forms of organization and politics which effectively excluded and disempowered many Respect supporters with more mainstream politics, and who were not prepared to be effectively full time politicians.

    TG: A tiny SA continued even after the SWP split from it and most serious forces went into RESPECT. I dont think it was wrong that if the majority of the SA locally or nationally decided to go into RESPECT they had a right to take some of SA’s money with them. Attacking Alan for how SWP acted in local SA groups is a bit ridiculous. Also SR didnt suck up to the SWP or Galloway in RESPECT and this was reflected sharply in Conference and debates.

    What happened right across England, and I have considerable evidence and testimony on this, is that local SA groups had an informal structure, where few activists saw any point in national membership of the SA, dominated as it was by a bear pit of competing sects. The local membership of the SA was larger by a factor of perhaps 3 or 5 than the official national membership.
    Your approach here is revealing, in that you discount this activist base, which broadly had more centre-left politics than those engaged in the bun-fights on the national stage.
    What happened is that in many local groups, SWP members who had no previous involvement in the SA, flooded meetings and voted these groups out of existence, and took their money. Outside of a few areas, Respect had a smaller resulting membership than the SA had had.
    I am not criticising Alan Thornett for what the SWP did, I am criticizing him for his support of it, where he made the same arguments that you are now; which display an instrumental view of democracy; and which privileged a view of the SA as a coalition of “revolutionary” left groups, rather than as an organization that could fill the social-democratic pace vacated by Blair’s Labour Party
    Respect was a far less healthy organization than it should have been, because the SWP, and their SG/SR bag-carriers, felt it necessary to destroy the SA in order to bureaucratically bounce activist into Respect. A strategy which largely failed (Of course the even more destructive behavior of the RDG, AWL and CPGB contributed to this as well)
    Of course as a national executive member of the SA (and the person who moved the formal motion for the SA at its winding up conference), I know that parts of the SA continued, but with the lack of a national umbrella structure they became non-viable.

  159. Security Advisory Message on said:

    Please note.
    My security software has come up with a warning message about this site having a “self signed security signature”.
    It suggests that someone may have been trying to tamper with my web connection.
    I’ve never had this problem here before, but I have the IP addresses of 5 suspicious connections attempted during this period.

  160. Neil: If there was such a vibrant and large independent group in the SA why was the SWP able to do pretty much what it wanted with it?

    We could equally ask how the SP were able to marginalise ALL the independent and otherwise aligned activists in the NSSN.

    The SA was a delicate organisation, but was genuinely in the period 2001 to 2004 beginning to sink roots into some communities, and attract centre-left and community activists.

    The fact that the SWP rolled it over, in alliance with their SG/SR bag carriers, is not disputed; however the walking out by the SP made it easier for them to do that. The SP’s walk out became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Neil: I think your problem is you’re blindly determined to prove your shibboleth that marxist groups are irrelevant and inveterately sectarian.

    Not at all, my argument is rather more nuanced than that. My argument is that the larger or more politically sensible Marxist groups, depending upon the circumstances, can play positive role in the broader movement. But that they seem mostly incapable of transcending their own limitations, as institutional interests of or within the groups assert themselves.

    Neil: The reality is that in most towns or cities where the SA had a presence the SWP could easily mobilise members who were not normally active in the SA, whenever the vital interests of the SWP CC was at stake.

    But they could only do so at a political cost, and the counterweight of the SP within the SA did raise the price for them in making any such manouevre. Of course they may have been prepared to pay that price, but the SP’s walk out not only increased the chances but also represented a political retreat by the SP away from a weak but possibly viable strategy for left realignment towards your currently non-viable CNWP/TUSC approach.

    Neil: You’re now in the ludicrous position of arguing a point that has been conclusively falsified by events not just once but twice.

    The fact that the SWP fucked over first the SA and then split and weakened Respect cannot be doubted. However, your counter-proposition that a federal structure would have fared better is not only unverified, but is probably unverifiable.

    Neil: facilitated by the folly of changing the constitution to ‘one member, one vote’.

    But what were the dynamics. The nature of the SA was highly contested, one conception being the relatively futile idea of realigning and uniting the left groups (while closer cooperation between SWP and SP might be a good idea, any open door to the likes of the AWL, PR, workers power, and even ISG makes it a circus); the other idea being that the SA could fill the social democratic space vacated by Blair’s labour, uniting the centre-left and far left around immediate social-democratic tasks.
    The SP’s federal approach ruled out the second concept a priori. Now, perhaps option two was always impossible given the nature of the SWP and SP, and their inability to transcend their limitations, but the SWP’s rather under-theorised idea of a “united front of a special type” did offer more space for it to develop.

  161. Mark P on said:

    Nick W

    A lot of wise words there. In the old CP we were on opposite sides of the argument, today we probably have a fair amount in common.

    What puzzles me, and I say this I hope in a non-sectarian fashion, is this. Twice in my lifetime through a mix of political imagination, dynamism and activism the SWP has more or less single-handledly creatd and led a amss movement. In the late 1970s, the Anti Nazi League (plus crucially, Rock againt Racism). Then in the early 2000s Stop the War. Both had their flaws yet both were sorely needed, the response was near-perfect in execution.

    Yet both times this led to next to no significant growth in the SWP. This could tell us a nunber of things

    1. The mass movements werem’t as mass they seemed to be at the time

    2. Those involved were movementists rather than party-joiners

    3. The SWP’s internal regime puts off far more than it atttacts.

    I would plump for a bit of the second and I’m afraid mainly the latter. Yet the SWP deserves all due credit for creating those movements out of next to nothing.

    Today they find themselves in a very different situation. Theres no mass movement to conjure out of nothing. Their founder and key figure, the mercurial Tony Cliff, is gone. His immediate circle – Foot, Harman, Rees, German, Bambery are either also gone or left. And the ones remaining are fairly incapable of holding the SWP’s fractiousness together in the way first Cliff and his close allies were able to.

    Having said all that. Any more sectariana from the SWP conference before it closes to liven up a dull Sunday afternoon??

    Mark P

  162. Irish Mark P on said:

    We could equally ask how the SP were able to marginalise ALL the independent and otherwise aligned activists in the NSSN.

    This is a rather odd claim and one which, in various forms, has been made by a couple of other people in this thread too. It is however entirely untrue.

    Some seventy or perhaps 80 people walked out of the NSSN after losing a vote at conference by a very large margin. That was damaging to the NSSN, but while it did represent the loss of all or nearly all of the activists with allegiances to the SWP and to various smaller left groups, it certainly did not represent the loss or “marginalisation” of all of the independents. The margin at the vote was some four to one and many of those on the other side were independents. It is also a fact that NSSN national meetings since have been larger rather than smaller than they were before the walk out.

    Now, it might be argued that an NSSN consisting of the Socialist Party and various non-aligned union activists is a weaker or less useful proposition than one involving the SP, some small groups and some people with a watching brief from the SWP as well as independents. But it is tendentious to a degree which requires delusion or dishonesty to argue that all or virtually all of the independent or non-aligned within the NSSN are or were marginalised or “driven out”.

    The fact that the SWP rolled it over, in alliance with their SG/SR bag carriers, is not disputed; however the walking out by the SP made it easier for them to do that.

    Well that’s just the point. It did “make it easier for them”, but the issue is only the degree of ease involved, not the ultimate outcome.

    2001 was perhaps the time when the SWP were at their peak of their numerical dominance on the British socialist left. And they had also the guaranteed support of the people who you correctly describe as their “bag carriers”, both in the ISG and a number of independents (most of whom later fell out with them).

    The choice facing those who did not want to be in an “alliance” completely controlled by the SWP was to pour resources into a destructive mobilising war over a very small organisation, and what’s more a destructive mobilising war they couldn’t hope to win anyway. Or shrug and move on. Those groups with a wider outlook and other constructive opportunities open to them by and large took the latter option (the Socialist Party, Red Action, Cymru Goch, the Preston councillors), while those who were basically there for the opportunity for the chance to try to pick off some SWP members (all of the other groups) or who were independents with no other political home tended to stay. In their own terms all of those responses were quite rational.

  163. Irish Mark P on said:

    The SP’s federal approach ruled out the second concept a priori.

    This is a rather peculiar notion, and one which doesn’t seem at all congruent with the way in which the Labour Party itself developed, nor with the development of organisations like SYRIZA abroad. None of which, whatever their flaws of merits, found federalism a barrier to drawing in less radical forces as well as self-described Marxists.

    What really did rule out the prospect of other forces joining was the removal of all shackles on the SWP in so far as having the final say on all decisions was concerned. Nobody, “centre-left” or “far left” was going to sign up to that, unless (like the AWL, CPGB etc) they were really only there to talk to the SWP rank and file anyway. And so it proved.

  164. Had enough of this BS on said:

    @Mark P

    All of the dissident/oppositional proposals have been lost, although some have come within 20/30 votes. His frantic supporters cobbled together a “win” in the final instance, but Martin Smith is a dead Trot walking.

    There will now be an explosion of expulsions and resignations, that will raise the SWP’s average membership age by about 20 years, and it will still be “the work of outsiders” such as our good selves. No fault at all can possibly ever be attached to the great and the good of the fabulous SWP !

  165. The Disputes Committee report into Martin Smith’s Unfortunate Incident (not all the thuggery and bullying, for which he’s never been held to account) was approved by a small majority.

    I think the expulsions were approved.

    I suspect that the CC’s fantastically brazen response to all this will have led a lot of people not to want to support the dissidents. The coded message from the CC was “we’re the proper marxists”.

    (Spoiler alert: They’re not)

  166. Mark P on said:

    @Had Enough of This BS

    Ta. Brightened up my dull Sunday!

    ‘Come within 20/30 votes’, what were the toals cast. That wouod be a more useful figure.

    Martin Smith ‘dead Trot walking’. Is he returned to the party rank and file , or retains some kind of status? He’s been fairly significant to UAF/LMHR so what happens there?

    Explosion of expulsions and resignations. Is the occasionally impressive Counterfire likely to benefit or is there too much incompatibility/bad blood for that to happen?

    Mark P

  167. prianikoff on said:

    re #190

    Syriza is a good example of how socialists from different traditions have managed to unite in one party and the social impact this can have.

    Syriza now has 30,000 members across Greece, which in British terms is equivalent to nearly 300,000.
    i.e. it has more members than the British Labour Party.
    In the last Greek election it got 27% of the popular vote and was very close to winning power.

    However, it’s not entirely true to say that Syriza’s relatively loose Federal structure will continue in the future. There is evidence that the Synaspismos leadership are attempting to centralise the organisation behind them and to moderate its policies.

    This is being resisted by the Left Platform of Syriza, which achieved 25% of the vote at a recent congress of 3,000 delegates. They have called for Syriza to continue to reject coalition with capitalist parties that support austerity and to invite KKE and Antarsya to join them.

    The Stalinist sectarians of the KKE (supported by their co-thinkers in the CP-B) have refused such unity moves in the past.
    The sectarian leadership of the British SWP made similar mistakes vis-a-vis Antarsya and haven’t corrected them.

    Both of these organisations achieved pitiful votes in the Greek elections last summer.
    (all the more pitiful for the KKE, since it had a real working class base)

    For a report on the latest developments in Syriza, see this article:-
    http://socialistworker.org/2012/12/19/debating-the-future-in-greece

  168. Morning Star reader on said:

    Aha, Vanya (183), the pro-Stalin stuff was probably on sale from the Harpal Brar faction then still in the SLP. I suppose they could reasonably be called “Stalinists”, but the problem is that the term is used much less precisely by many others on the far left (1) to refer to any people or party in the mainstream Communist movement, regardless of their assessments of Stalin, the Soviet Union etc. and/or (2) as a term of abuse intended to halt or distort discussion and analysis. It’s clear that you had neither intention. Unfortunately, your precision is not, in my experience, widely shared by others across the political spectrum who fling the term around.
    I’m not that bothered, personally, by being called this or that – you get used to it. It’s just that it obstructs understanding and analysis.
    If I thought the term “Trotskyist” did the same, I might not use it myself. It’s just that (1) it has a more precise, generally accepted meaning in terms of political content (theory of permanent revolution etc.) and (2) is not regarded by its adherents as a prejudicial term of obfuscation or abuse (even if meant that way by some accusers).
    I know that some socialists use “Stalinism” to denote a particular political outlook, but there’s a lot of pick-and-mix about what that is (leadership cult, bureaucratic manipulation, “socialism in one country”, revolution by stages, pro-Sovietism, lack of internal democracy etc.) and which bits are intended to apply – accurately or not – in which case.
    Anyway, given the scale of the fight that needs to be waged in 2013, I’ll now shut up about this particular issue unless severely provoked.

  169. Irish Mark P: But it is tendentious to a degree which requires delusion or dishonesty to argue that all or virtually all of the independent or non-aligned within the NSSN are or were marginalised or “driven out”.

    I have to be careful responding to this, becasue for some reason my automatic spell checker seems determined to replace NSSN with BDSM.

    I know of no-one at all interested in participating in the NSSN any more; unless they are an SP member. I am not completely out of touch with opinion among a large number of grassroots TU actvists.

  170. prianikoff,

    Correct me if I am mistaken but didn’t Syriza vote against a draft law for the abolition of the loan agreements, the memoranda and the application laws in parliament?

    If they are pro-EU and pro-NATO and refuse to even vote to abolish the loan agreement and its austerity agenda how ‘socialist’ exactly are Syriza?

    I understand there are different currents within it but if the bulk of it and the leadership are liberals, why support it?

  171. I saw a post where someone complained about getting a security certificate message when they access the site.

    The *only* time that should ever happen, *ever*, is if you are typing https://socialistunity.com instead of http://socialistunity.com – try both and you’ll see. We don’t use https:// which is why you get the odd message – there’s a back-end security certificate that protects the database and the admins, and it’s not named for socialistunity but sits on the same server, causing the site to complain and say that something’s wrong.

    If any of you are getting the certficate warning, can you check exactly what is in your address bar/ URL bar and confirm (or otherwise) what I’m saying?

  172. Irish Mark P: The choice facing those who did not want to be in an “alliance” completely controlled by the SWP was to pour resources into a destructive mobilising war over a very small organisation, and what’s more a destructive mobilising war they couldn’t hope to win anyway. Or shrug and move on. Those groups with a wider outlook and other constructive opportunities open to them by and large took the latter option (the Socialist Party, Red Action, Cymru Goch, the Preston councillors), while those who were basically there for the opportunity for thine chance to try to pick off some SWP members (all of the other groups) or who were independents with no other political home tended to stay. In their own terms all of those responses were quite rational.

    I don’t think I actually disagree about this; it may well be that given the ingredients available on the British left, then no sucessful outcome could have been achieved. However, the fact that the SWP were an obstacle, does not mean that the SP were not also an obstacle.

  173. tony collins: The *only* time that should ever happen, *ever*, is if you are typing https://socialistunity.com instead of http://socialistunity.com – try both and you’ll see. We don’t use https:// which is why you get the odd message – there’s a back-end security certificate that protects the database and the admins, and it’s not named for socialistunity but sits on the same server, causing the site to complain and say that something’s wrong.

    IT sometimes happens to me as well when trying to access the site, using a bookmark than normaly takes me to http, but occassionally to https – I cannot account for it.

  174. Irish Mark P on said:

    I know of no-one at all interested in participating in the NSSN any more; unless they are an SP member. I am not completely out of touch with opinion among a large number of grassroots TU actvists.

    This may be entirely true, yet it is also true that on a wider scale more people are involved in the NSSN than were prior to the walk out of a small minority.

  175. Lurker on said:

    #193

    Disputes Committee report accepted 231 to 209 (large number of abstentions/not voting)

    CC majority slate elected by 334 to 201

  176. Irish Mark P: This is a rather peculiar notion, and one which doesn’t seem at all congruent with the way in which the Labour Party itself developed, nor with the development of organisations like SYRIZA abroad. None of which, whatever their flaws of merits, found federalism a barrier to drawing in less radical forces as well as self-described Marxists.

    I confine myself to a discussion of the possibilities in England, in the here and now; or recent past

  177. Irish Mark P: it is also true that on a wider scale more people are involved in the NSSN than were prior to the walk out of a small minority.

    But presumably in the rather eccentric terms of the SP’s other front organisations, where political pluralism is very circumscribed

  178. IT sometimes happens to me as well when trying to access the site, using a bookmark than normaly takes me to http, but occassionally to https – I cannot account for it.

    That’ll just be the bland fact that your browser keeps the history of pages you visit, even by mistake, and when calling up SU it might offer the right one or the wrong one.

    The only solution is for all of you to buy new computers.

    Actually, you never know, I might just move us over to a functioning security certificate. Utterly pointless, but might be good for the point in the near future when me and Andy start harvesting all your email addresses and selling them to the Labour Party.

  179. That weird bug is still haunting us; I’m trying to remember what I did last time it happened – it’s the same thing we happened last time they did a big update.

    Anway, for now I’ve removed some of the blog software, so you might notice the site slowing down a bit. It’ll all be fixed. Soon.

  180. Andy Newman,

    While I don’t agree with PHil Hearse’s politics, his description of SP fronts matches my expereince:

    A failure to understand fully the role of the self-activity and self-organisation of the working class in the transition to socialism naturally goes hand in hand with a suspicion of the mass movements of the oppressed, and a self-proclamatory sectarianism. Militant’s self-identity was that of the Marxist tendency, excluding all others from that label, an absurd proposition at the end of the 20th century.

    This in turn was reflected in sectarianism and frontism. In the poll tax campaign, Militant was absurdly sectarian to other tendencies and independents, routinely taking over 90% of leading positions on campaign committees. Even in the campaign against the witch-hunt in the Labour Party, Militant was very reluctant to engage in joint activities with other socialists, despite the fact it was often their own comrades who were being defended.

    This was all of a piece with the notion of campaigning bodies as being basically front organisations and recruitment forums for the “party”- Militant—itself. Such things reached fiasco when the YRE national committee had to endure a long afternoon’s report from Peter Taaffe on his visit to South Africa. More seriously, it resulted in the split in Panther and the loss of most of the black cadre.

    All the things touched on here have implications for the conception of the party and its relationship to the self-activity of the working class, the labour movement and the movements of the oppressed as a whole. The type of party you build is deeply connected to your notion of socialist transition. Logically the two cannot be separated.

  181. prianikoff on said:

    #206 Could it be an adminstrator logging into the site with the wrong prefix?

    HTTPS uses an encrypted secure socket connection, which is hard to decrypt by Network Sniffers.

    HTTP uses a Secure connection, but it doesn’t encrypt it, so your passwords might be viewed by a Hacker in plain text.

    Microsoft advice page:-

    http://www.microsoft.com/web/post/securing-web-communications-certificates-ssl-and-httpshttp://www.microsoft.com/web/post/securing-web-communications-certificates-ssl-and-https

  182. It’s true that there was a convergence between the ISG’s perspectives on broad parties at the time of the Socialist Alliance and Respect – to the extent that the ISG was invited to join the SWP. The sticking point was the right of the freedom of tendency – something that subsequent treatment of minority opinions showed to be prescient. Anyone who ever attended a Respect conference would have been in no doubt that there were clear differences of approach between the two currents, to the extent that at one event the entire SWP leadership in Respect plus George Galloway lined up to pummel us into the ground. Comrades who’d been in the the WRP said it was worse than anything Healey had done in public.

    Anyway so much the walk down memory lane. There’s a nice phrase in the article below by Simon Hardy -”monopolists in the sphere of politics” which quite nicely sums up the similarities in approach between the day to day operation of both the SP and SWP both in fronts they set up and entirely dominate and those occasions -such as Respect or the SA – which bring them into contact with other forces. It’s the absolute need to dominate as with the SWP in Respect and the SP in TUSC. At best all that is achieved is an armed truce. At its worst the collapse of the ULA in the south of Ireland is an example of how this aversion to practical unity leaves the working class without a meaningful political leadership at a time of deep crisis. The Syriza comparison on federalism doesn’t hold. The unitary dynamic became stronger as the crisis deepened, the very opposite of the experience in the Free State. In both cases it was due to active choices by the groups concerned.

    http://anticapitalists.org/2013/01/01/forgotten-legacies-part-ii-the-problem-of-monopoly-in-the-sphere-of-politics/

  183. Morning Star reader: the pro-Stalin stuff was probably on sale from the Harpal Brar faction then still in the SLP.

    One of the Brar faction was speaking. And they were more than just ‘still in the SLP’.

    Morning Star reader: I suppose they could reasonably be called “Stalinists”

    Yes I would be very surprised if anyone thought that would be unreasonable.

  184. Irish Mark P: I know of no-one at all interested in participating in the NSSN any more; unless they are an SP member. I am not completely out of touch with opinion among a large number of grassroots TU actvists.

    This may be entirely true, yet it is also true that on a wider scale more people are involved in the NSSN than were prior to the walk out of a small minority.

    Well if it is entirely true what difference does it make that more people are participating?

    What’s the point of a common front with yourself.

    In domain of sexual relations there is a word for this.

  185. Karl Stewart on said:

    GeorgeW, thanks for posting up the link to the CP’s assessment of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    Can everyone who calls today’s CP “stalinist” please read that link first?

  186. Manzil on said:

    Morning Star reader:
    I’m not that bothered, personally, by being called this or that – you get used to it. It’s just that it obstructs understanding and analysis.
    If I thought the term “Trotskyist” did the same, I might not use it myself. It’s just that (1) it has a more precise, generally accepted meaning in terms of political content (theory of permanent revolution etc.) and (2) is not regarded by its adherents as a prejudicial term of obfuscation or abuse (even if meant that wayby some accusers).

    But the people who regularly invoke terms like ‘Trots’, ‘Trotskyites‘ etc. aren’t using it in the sense of ‘someone who accepts the theory of permanent revolution’, and certainly do seem to want it to be interpreted as abusive or dismissive. In the sense that it’s being used to ‘obstruct understanding and analysis’, I don’t see how it’s any more helpful than ‘Stalinist’.

    Beyond that, these labels must just look like cliquey, ‘in-joke’ navel-gazing, that exclude the ‘initiated’. I’d be embarrassed to have to discuss politics in these sorts of terms publicly.

    A) Unity is great. B) Unity is hard when people keep insulting each other. That’s all I’d say.

  187. @ Nick Wrack

    “This fetish for drawing a dividing line from ‘reformists’ and ‘revolutionaries’ in present day-to-day politics – where the issue of state power or even what would be the character of a government is to be – is crackers. It is programmes that can be so distinguished.”

    This is absolutely right. It’s astonishing to me, as someone in his 20′s, how this divide is still so revered by many. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but back in the days of Bernstein et al, as Social Democracy was coming together, this split between reformism and revolutionary action took place in the context of the ascendency of the left. These people weren’t just debating tactics, they sincerely believed that they were going to win by the iron laws of history, and they were working out which path would lead them to victory.

    However today, following 30 years of near continuous defeat, to talk of reform or revolution as if we were still waiting to inherit the earth is absurd. We lack the means for both reform and revolution right now, we couldn’t manage either policy, so to fixate over one or the other is completely stupid, and a testament to how theory trumps reality on the fringe left.

    Right now we’re in a defensive struggle, were the Tories and the right are on the attack, and we should act accordingly. A desperate rearguard action to save what’s left of the welfare state and fight cuts, hopefully with a view to founding new organisations as a part of that struggle which can replace the anachronistic Trot grouplets that inexplicably still dominate the left of Labour.

  188. Manzil on said:

    George W:
    Correct me if I am mistaken but didn’t Syriza vote against a draft law for the abolition of the loan agreements, the memoranda and the application laws in parliament?

    If they are pro-EU and pro-NATO and refuse to even vote to abolish the loan agreement and its austerity agenda how ‘socialist’ exactly are Syriza?

    I understand there are different currents within it but if the bulk of it and the leadership are liberals, why support it?

    Is Syriza’s leadership – even its most right-wing currents – any more ‘liberal’ than, say, the leadership of the British Labour Party when it comes to its views on austerity? Yet presumably as a CPB member you broadly share its outlook towards Labour. (If I’m mistaken, apologies.)

    In any case, there can be a clear divergence between the form and content of a movement. Syriza is an incredibly diverse formation. Obviously there are groups around Synaspismos and defectors from Pasok who are essentially acting as a destabilising break on the Greek left as a whole, and they need to be confronted. But how is that struggle helped by the abstentionism of the Communists and Antarsya? The exact role of Syriza has yet to be determined; it will be decided by how the struggle develops, and the weight of forces involved in the tools available to the left – foremost among them being Syriza.

  189. Irish Mark P on said:

    Vanya,

    It’s not a common front with themselves. It’s just not a common front with other small left groups.

  190. Manzil on said:

    Delroy Booth,

    But ‘defensive struggle’ is precisely what the left has been focusing on for years, to little success. Since the SLP onwards the emphasis has been generally on ‘filling the space’ vacated by the neoliberal shift in social democracy. We haven’t failed simply because we didn’t tone down our politics enough.

    The divide isn’t between reform or revolution – just whether you accept that socialism is actually viable. Many people on the left seem to think Miliband’s kinder, gentler ‘responsible’ capitalism is not only possible but the best we’re going to get. On that there is a serious, principled difference.

    And while this does draw back to what Nick Wright at #185 discussed in relation to the USSR etc. (whatever your views of its nature, to suggest the manner of its demise didn’t massively and adversely affect both its own people and anti-capitalism worldwide is complete folly) I don’t think there actually is that great of an ideological divide. Anyone defending the fundamental health and stability of capitalism since the financial crisis hit just isn’t on the left at all in any meaningful sense of the term.

    The decisive cause of our ongoing division is, I think, mainly personal and organisational, and derives from essentially non-political interests: as an excuse for big fish on the existing left to keep their little ponds from leaking. As the laughable SWP split documented throughout this thread highlights.

  191. Manzil,

    “But ‘defensive struggle’ is precisely what the left has been focusing on for years, to little success. Since the SLP onwards the emphasis has been generally on ‘filling the space’ vacated by the neoliberal shift in social democracy. We haven’t failed simply because we didn’t tone down our politics enough.”

    well I’m not saying we should tone down our politics, just stop being totally defined by tactical splits that took place in a very different historical situation to our own. And as for filling the space to the left of Labour, I think that’s a reasonable reaction to the rise of New Labour, I don’t think the analsysis is flawed, I just think the politcal organisations that have been formed to carry it out (SLP, Socialist Alliance, RESPECT and TUSC) have not been up to the task. The question is why?

    It boils down to the nature of the groups, the egomania of the various leaderships, that have never wanted a left-of-labour party to succeed that wasn’t under their total control. And I think practically all the main organised groups involved over this period, whether it be Scargill’s SLP group, the CP and it’s derivatives, the SP, the SWP and all the other trots, are guilty of that to some extent.

    I’ve was a member of the SP until recently, and of the left groups out there I think they’re the best of a bad bunch, but I don’t want to gloat about the demise of the SWP. It’s a significant event in the decline of Marxism in Britain and the fundamental problems that led to it are capable of leading to the same things happening in the SP.

  192. Manzil on said:

    Delroy Booth,

    Honestly didn’t mean to seem like I was gloating!

    If anything I just find it incredibly depressing. There are at least a couple thousand people in the SWP or its orbit – they didn’t join to get rich or improve their careers; they broadly want the same thing as everyone else who posts on Socialist Unity. The current problems are so much wasted effort.

    As to ‘The question is why?’, I think that the big events of the last few decades – the collapse of the Soviet Union, the successive defeats of the strongholds of the organised working class in the miners’ strike etc., the massive swing to the right by social democracy – created conditions where the most short-sighted parts of the left had the opportunity to bugger things up that wouldn’t have been the case if so many people hadn’t fallen away like wet cake (bonus points to anyone who gets that reference). It wasn’t inevitable, but it happened and we have to learn how to deal with its aftermath.

    Never too late to start again, basically.

    Which isn’t much of an answer I suppose, but at least acknowledging it’s a relevant question is an improvement on the old ‘there’s never been a better time to be a socialist’ line!

  193. #211 So you don’t concede that it may be the case that nobody who is not an SP member is interested in the NSSN? I obviously misunderstood you.

    In any case, I was under the impression that most of those who ceased their involvement were not members of smaller left groups.

  194. can any of the bureaucratic centralist sects really survive in the modern world of mass communications and freedom of expression?

    ks

  195. Irish Mark P,

    irish Mark P

    You are blowing smoke here. The “independents” lost to the NSSN were not predominantly from left groups, but they certainly were experienced and sceptical about the SP; as indeed any broad left group of people in lay activist positions in the unions would be.

  196. Irish Mark P on said:

    Vanya,

    No, not at all. I “conceded” that Andy may well be entirely correct that he doesn’t know anyone interested in the NSSN, despite knowing quite a few union activists.

    As for the breakdown at the split conference, the vote was more than four to one. Many of those on the majority side were independents. The seventy or eighty who walked out included the people the SWP sent along, the various small groups and some independents. That the NSSN is now somewhat bigger than it was before the split reflects both a (small) growth in the Socialist Party and a (small) growth in independent activists.

  197. Irish Mark P on said:

    andy newman,

    I’m not blowing smoke at all. I’m correcting consistent misinformation from people with an axe to grind. The NSSN lost seventy or eight people, which was regrettable. Once you subtract all of the SWP members (they never sent many along mind you) and all of the members of the small groups, including the anarchist groups, we simply are not talking about all that many “independents”, fine and experienced activists though they may be.

    It’s fair enough to criticise the NSSN for losing the participation of some little left groups and perhaps three or four dozen actual independents and a case can be made that it reflects a political narrowing of the organisation, although I don’t agree with that. It is simply factually untrue however to argue that the NSSN lost most of its independent members, and, for that matter, it is worth noting that it now has more than before the split. The first part is something we can reasonably argue about, but there’s no debate to be had about straightforwardly untrue statements.

  198. Irish Mark P,

    The people who walked out included those who had social. Weight and some influence on the wider movement.

    When talking about numbers dont forget that man credible activists like myself who had been keen on the NSSN did not attend a conference to observe another inevitable train wreck.

  199. Irish Mark P on said:

    ks,

    It’s certainly the case that all political organisations have to adapt to massive changes in the ease of communication, both in terms of how they address the world at large and in terms of how they organise debate and discussion.

    It is simply futile and self-defeating to try to discourage your members from communicating with each other over the internet. And that necessarily means understanding that this communication can’t be channeled into “ordered” formal structures exclusively. And also that much of this information will find its way into the public domain (or at least the domain of that section of the public which gives a fuck).

  200. Irish Mark P on said:

    andy newman,

    They may indeed have had more “social weight”, but as all members are stewards and lay officers of various kinds and as nobody has yet invented a socialweightometer to go alongside David Yaaffe’s machine for measuring the decline of the rate of profit, you’ll have to forgive me if I find that a rather imprecise and slightly tendentious assertion.

  201. Irish Mark P,
    Well in my region there was a credible and pluralist NSSN prior to the SP’s coup. And afterwards just SP hacks (not even been previously involved) wearing an NSSN hat. I speak here from personal experience – you killed it dead.

    What it represented was previously a neteork of independent minded and experienced activists who are officers in the most significant left branches in the region from GMB UNITE RMT CWU FBU. these you swept away and your SP members could mt even be bothered to attend. After the coup a new SP only NSSN was started that has made no attempt to network between established activists or union branches.

  202. Karl Stewart on said:

    Irish Mark P, how on earth can you say the “NSSN” is now “bigger” when absolutely no-one outside the SP plays any role in it anymore?

    I know there are plenty of SP members who work extremely hard and concientiously as shop stewards and other forms of lay union reps – no-one’s denying that.

    But I just can’t see what the point is of you continuing with your “NSSN” charade anymore. No-one’s fooled by it and I don’t even see what you guys get out of it now.

    You might just as well simply call “aggregate meetings” of your own trade union activists.

    There are certainly some excellent individuals in the SP, but there is also this frankly rather weird “alternate reality” thing going on too.

  203. Manzil on said:

    @ Irish Mark P

    Do you not think it’s a bit odd that the discussion is focusing on the practical consequences of the NSSN disagreement, rather than its necessity in the first place?

    What do you feel about the decision to use NSSN to set up a third ‘national’ anti-cuts body? I’ve never received a satisfactory explanation for it. One thing we can say with certainty is that the NSSN so far shows absolutely no signs of becoming an anti-cuts movement of any significance. So what was the point of following through with this when there were consequences (to what extent is obviously disputed) for the viability of the organisation, even just considering its initial trajectory?

    Do you not think this decision detracted from NSSN’s initial purpose as a tool for reinvigorating the shop steward ‘cartilage’ of the labour movement? And that this decision further retards, wholly unnecessarily, the development of a non-sectarian, actually national anti-cuts movement?

    You dismissed the people who resigned as SWP paper members (and therefore not worth consideration) – but do you honestly think that immediately bringing down the shutters on the possibility of ‘other left groups’ being involved is a helpful way of turning it into a broad and inclusive campaign?

    One thing I have found especially dispiriting about some comrades in the SP is the assumption that – whether it’s TUSC or the NSSN or whatever – the masses will just automatically flock to the SP-affiliated campaigns and initiatives, rather than all the semi-identical ones of other groups, so it doesn’t have to actually take a good look at itself, its practices and how these are perceived by others on the left.

    The idea seeming to be that a broad movement should consist of an undifferentiated, unorganised mass of ‘independent’, unaligned individual activists, and ‘the Marxists’ of the SP as the only disciplined core.

    That sort of attitude may bear fruit (although still be absurdly sectarian) within mass organisations – such as the trade unions, where, ironically, the SP does generally collaborate with ‘other left groups’ – but it’s suicidal within the activist fringe, where it prevents us from building momentum, visibility etc.

  204. Sectologist on said:

    what’s gonna happen now with the SWP? I didn’t expect opposition to get so much support. What’s the mood? Insurmountable division? Impulse to build SWP after this disagreement?

  205. Karl Stewart,

    I think Irish Mark P views this through the eyes of an SP functionary . The fact that the NSSN no longer substantially exists is secondary to him because the SP can still mobilise for an annual conference

  206. Manzil: Do you not think this decision detracted from NSSN’s initial purpose as a tool for reinvigorating the shop steward ‘cartilage’ of the labour movement?

    This is of course the case. The NSSN was a worthy initiative, that did not originate from the SP. Bristol branch of the RMT (which has no SP input) sent a motion to RMT conference calling for such a body to be established, and then the initiative came from the RMT, as I understand.

    The remit of the task was to create a pluralist network of lay activists who actually hold elected office; and I remember at the launch conference the chair, Dave Chappel, saying that the measure of success wuld be whether in three years the NSSN had broken out of the confines of those infleunced by the left groups, to be seen as relevant and useful to less political shop stewards.

    Inevitably this meant that the NSSN would need to become more pluralist and remain modest in its political aspirations; until it could find its own voice. What the SP did was force a split based upon the SP’s own distinctive position on opposition to the cuts, and therefore close down the possibility of the NSSN fulfilling its original remit.

    There is a deeply conservative and elitist strand of thinking here, which discounts the possibility of the collectve network of experienced lay activists developing strategy and tactics independent of the “leadership” of the SP.

    Manzil: The idea seeming to be that a broad movement should consist of an undifferentiated, unorganised mass of ‘independent’, unaligned individual activists, and ‘the Marxists’ of the SP as the only disciplined core.

    True, not only is this a mirror of the SWP’s own view of front organisations; but both organisations are highly mechanical; and it reflects a lack of any sophisticated theory of how social change comes about. A network of exereinced shop stewards is highly unlikely to include many people whose consciousness is a blank sheet; and had the NSSN been alowed to grow, it would have included people with al sorts of political views,including labourism, and would have been able to draw on much broader wisdom than the leadership of any left groups could offer.

  207. I find the deceit about how NSSN started really annoying anyway. It wasn’t started “by the RMT”, it came about cos of a consistent, patient campaign by the SP inside the RMT, who got themselves elected as delegates, passed motions in branches and at conferences etc., packed out the founding conferences and thus got the RMT to agree to set up the organisation. The NSSN developed weight around the country, for sure. But it didn’t come about cos a feisty, fighting union was breaking out of its confines.

    It is not and was not an organic working class organisation that came about cos of a need for union reps to work together. It was driven by dogma, just like CNWP and other fronts.

    And as for the idea that all members are also workplace reps, that’s just not true.

    I so desperately want organic structures to be built – led by the left, if the left is good enough to lead, but not artificially created just cos our theory tells us that such organisations ought to exist.

    It’s just like how the SWP always used to push things like “The RMT is now supporting this demo”, when the truth was almost always that an SWP member went to his RMT branch meeting and convinced the 4 other people at the meeting to support the demo – totally meaningless.

    We won’t get anywhere until we stop basing things on lies about our size, strength and real organic connection to the working class.

  208. Karl Stewart on said:

    I’ve been told by a former SP/Mil member that its general secretary, Peter Taffe, has been in post continuously for over 40 years.

    If this is true, then that’s longer than Joe’s 30 years as GS of the CPSU.

    The only people I can think of who’ve been in power for longer are the Queen and North Korea’s former leader Kim-il Sung.

    Do the SP membership think this is healthy?

  209. andy newman: Well in my region there was a credible and pluralist NSSN prior to the SP’s coup. And afterwards just SP hacks (not even been previously involved) wearing an NSSN hat. I speak here from personal experience – you killed it dead.

    To expand on this, it is worth looking at the SP’s methid in detail.

    The NSSN in the West Country was launched by a well attended meeting in the GWR social club at Temple Meads station, with delegates from union branches, and known left activists from around the region; representing substantive union organisation, and the main left union branches. A committee from around the region continued to meet in Bristol, as it is the regional transport hub, and we organised a successful conference at the UNITE offices with about 100 lay actvists, mosty non-aligned.

    It has to be said that the most active members of the West Country NSSN were expereinced activists highly sceptical of both the SWP and SP. Interestingly the SP provided almost no input whatsoever, and on a couple of occasions the sole SP person who attended (as a PCS rep) could barely conceal his contempt for us, refusing to have a drink with us, and kept talking about how he had to leave for a more important SP branch meeting. Let us recall that this dismissive attitde to the NSSN was in a region where those involved were activists with a proven track record of leading strikes and campaigns, and were not aligned with any of the left groups (except one activist in the CPB). There was certainly no SWP at all.

    The activists themselves had decided we wanted to organise on a regional basis, to network between left branches and activists.

    When the SP decided to use the NSSN as a fig leaf for their own anti-cuts group, they decided to by-pass the existing structure and activists altogether, and set up a Bristol NSSN, which was just PCS reps in the SP, and from what I could see no longer had a requirement that those attanding were lay officials in trade unions. By calling a Bristol NSSN they were able to bureaucratically and arbitrarily exclude the NSSN activists who were not in SP; (and also ensure that the NSSN had no substantive roots in the wider movement beyond the small footprint of the SP)

    Apart from organising activists in the orbit of the SP to go to an annual conference, the NSSN does nothing in the region anymore

  210. tony collins: It wasn’t started “by the RMT”, it came about cos of a consistent, patient campaign by the SP inside the RMT, who got themselves elected as delegates, passed motions in branches and at conferences etc., packed out the founding conferences and thus got the RMT to agree to set up the organisation.

    I don’t think that it the whole story Tony. Bristol RMT which moved the original motion calling for the NSSN has no input from the SP. In any event, leveraging the authority of a union in such a way (even a small and maverick one like the RMT) is just good politics.

  211. tony collins: I so desperately want organic structures to be built – led by the left, if the left is good enough to lead, but not artificially created just cos our theory tells us that such organisations ought to exist.

    This is a good point. The NSSN was a rare and delicate flower that needed nurturing, the sponsorship of RMT did give it a little credibility that activists could use to overcome scepticism in union branches, but no more than that. But for any grassroots trade union body to flourish required recognition that it wuld need slow patient work, and to embrace activists whose political outlook lies outside the far left – ie, to be useful the NSSN had to seek to organise shop stewards as they actually are; not as the left would like them to be.

    It reflects a massive weakness of the SP’s politics that it could not see that; and that they could only see the NSSN through a core and periphery model, where the “Marxists” were the core.

  212. Irish Mark P: It’s fair enough to criticise the NSSN for losing the participation of some little left groups and perhaps three or four dozen actual independents and a case can be made that it reflects a political narrowing of the organisation, although I don’t agree with that.

    Ths is frankly dishonest from Irish Mark P. It is extremely revealing that both in discussions about the Socialist Alliance and the NSSN the SP functionaries fetishise the formalism of left groups, and the formalism of conference attendence, and skip over the politics.

    Forcing the NSSN to adopt the SP’s position on the cuts did not just narrow the political base of the NSSN’s support, it fundamentally changed the purpose and nature of the organisation. No longer was it a broad based network seeking to involve grassroots lay activists to develop their own political and industrial capacity and confidence; and no longer was it an organisation that had independent life for activists to be involved with.

    Like some “revolutionary” accountant Irish mark P weighs the NSSN by its annual conference attendance, and he pidgeon holes delgates and dismisses them by tendantious claims of their assumed alegience tother groups.

    What is utterly missing in the SP’s conception of both the NSSN and the Socialist Alliance, is recognition that annual conferences and formal memberships are very self selecting, and that the real social weight of a political movement involves building much more organic and perhaps febrile networks of personal and individual relationships rooted in workplaces, communities and union structures. This can only be done over the long haul, and by allowing organisations to have real life of their own, owned by the actiists within them, and not used as marionetts by the organied caucuses.

  213. I don’t think that it the whole story Tony. Bristol RMT which moved the original motion calling for the NSSN has no input from the SP. In any event, leveraging the authority of a union in such a way (even a small and maverick one like the RMT) is just good politics.

    Totally agree with that, except the Bristol motion wasn’t the start of it – the setting up of the NSSN came after quite a solid campaign by the SP. I can’t remember the whole chronology, but we had that conference in London where the SLP was allowed a speaker from the top table, but Respect – which had an MP – wasn’t even allowed a formal speaking slot, and had to take part from the floor in the discussion at the end. For a conference in central London, the room was 99.9% white and almost all male.

    That’s the conference where a leading SWP member (now ex member) told me the job of the SWP was to “wreck it” :)

    Nothing ever changes with the far left. Putting that aside, the only people to even come near getting to the heart of TU issues were the SWP people who spoke from the floor, but my god we had some dross as well, including John Rees who started off his contribution (from a position of weakness, agreeing to be something like the last speaker from the floor) by saying he wanted unity and his evidence was that he was due to have a meeting with Bob Crow on 7th July 2005, and (he said this) “but we all know what happened on that day, don’t we”. The whole room groaned, with the SWP members (me included) doing so silently.

    Anyway, if the NSSN was an organic RMT initiative, it would’ve been excellent, because that’s the way for the RMT, an anomoly in the TU movement, to spread some of its influence and ideas. As an SWP member for most of this time, we were told to stay out of it. It was considered to be an SP front full stop.

    I think that changed in 2008 or 2007, for some obscure reason.

  214. It reflects a massive weakness of the SP’s politics that it could not see that; and that they could only see the NSSN through a core and periphery model, where the “Marxists” were the core.

    It’s to the left’s shame that it simply believes it’s qualified to lead all these organisations. It never fights for leadership, it simply uses numerical weight and bureaucracy, along with decades of tried and tested manoeuvring at conferences, to get what it wants. The union movement is full of people with that kind of training.

    I actually think that if you’re a real marxist, you’ll get great joy and energy from letting people explore how to work within these organisations. Ordinary people who become involved with union activity are usually hungry for ideas, and will take advice if you’ve got the credibility to give it. You don’t need to be in charge. You just need to be credible, and people will trust you.

    But the continued weakness of all these different fronts, and the horrible reaction of some of the new movements, which won’t let paper-sellers near them, proves that groups such as the SP can’t learn to just let marxist theory actually do its work. Surely, if we’re right, we won’t need to exert such control over organisations, cos we’re supposed to believe that we just need to provide a lead, not become rulers.

  215. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 239 says “I’ve been told by a former SP/Mil member that its general secretary, Peter Taffe, has been in post continuously for over 40 years……….Do the SP membership think this is healthy?”

    As a CWI member in Britain for over 3 decades my personal, and political, answer to this is Yes. Karl Stewart throws up spurious and secondary points in his hostility to the Socialist Party, and this is old hat from his point of view, but never argues from a political and theoretical critique of the politics of the CWI. But Mr Stewart’s previous political history, and continued political trajectory, comes from an agenda that is hostile to the CWI in particular and Trotskyism in general.

  216. Jimmy Haddow: never argues from a political and theoretical critique of the politics of the CWI.

    As a genuine question Jimmy, and in this instance feel free to provide links to articles, how does the SP see socialism coming about in Britain?

  217. #245 I have believed for a long time that the role of a party is to provide support for struggles for the policies that are part of its programme, not ‘leadership’.

    A party is there to put forward its programme for government, to stand in elections on that programme as and when this is possible/practical.

    I do not believe a party should have specific lines on what position to take in particular strikes, campaigns or union elections, other than that it should not contradict the party’s general principles.

    The way to avoid the problem of people not liking paper-sellers is very simple- you don’t sell papers (assuming you consider it necessary to have one).

  218. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    I have little time for the SWP, as my comments tend to show, but I find it dubious when, as seems to have been the case, a clandestine recording is made of a hearing on a sensitive issue. (See the closed thread on the transcript.)

  219. Andy Newman,

    That is something I’ve thought about now and again, whenever I see SP people on demos etc. The SWP is all “r-r-revolution”, but the SP comes across all, hm, ‘serious’ without much detail. Surely it can’t be the the old Militant line on winning a majority in parliament (but a majority of SP MPs as opposed to ‘Marxist Labour’ ones), and then an enabling act? Or can it. Sounds very British Road to Socialism to me…

  220. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 248 says “As a genuine question Jimmy, and in this instance feel free to provide links to articles, how does the SP see socialism coming about in Britain?”

    Well thank you Mr Newman for this offer! I am just back from signing-on so I will come back to this after some other issues I have to do, but I would like to post this:
    http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/6107

    This is a video debate, taken at the Socialist Party education weekend in early November last year, between the ‘darling’ of the Left, Owen Jones author of the best selling book “Chavs” and newspaper columnist, and Clive Heemskerk, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) about which way forward for Socialists and the Left. Something that is prominent on this blog at the moment and I think a number of contributors would support Owen Jones’ thrust of argument. But also listen to what Clive Heemskerk is also saying in his contributions. This debate lays the foundation to the process of how the idea of Socialism will start to develop within and amongst the working class within Britain and through-out the world.

  221. Rorschach on said:

    Mark Victorystooge,

    It’s appalling – there’s no socialist defence for publishing that “transcript”. The notion that others hawking it around the internet makes it acceptable for a socialist blog to publish it is just lame – not a political justification at all. Moreover, Andy says that he redacted the names, but he hasn’t bothered preventing people from naming and smearing the defendant on this and other threads.

    Socialist Unity needs to think about what political standards it seeks to uphold: both in relation to the kind of information that socialist organisations (and individuals) can reasonably expect to be treated as private and what constitutes appropriate material for viewing and discussion.

  222. Rorschach,

    Well,I’m not too fussed either way, but where “political standards” are concerned, clearly Andy is hostile to the SWP for many reasons that he’s outlined here over the years and this transcript could be considered part of that overall critique,showing as it does what many have asserted is a double-standard or hypocrisy over the issue of sexism and “rape apologism” practiced by the SWP.

  223. Admin, are comments on the thread that was closed going to be left on this or other threads? If so, l have one or two obserervations. If not I won’t bother.

    Not fussed either way.

  224. Vanya: Admin, are comments on the thread that was closed going to be left on this or other threads?

    i will delete commetns about the substance of the allegations, and use discretion otherwise.

  225. cliff foot on said:

    Andy Newman….you sink lower and lower. You are involved in political assassination. You open up threads, then close them down, appears like someone who’s a bit nervous. I hope you are. You once falsely said i was somebody else, a quite well known Union militant, then had to take a You Tube clip of her down, after people said your ‘outing’ method was low. But this takes the biscuit. Posting a Disputes Committee transcript should bring shame on you and whoever sent it you. People at the heart of the particular case agreed that the matter was over…you who tries to continually stir the pot think you know better. You have not heeded Kevin O’s words about what is happening to your site and indulge yourself in this…contemptible.

  226. cliff foot: You open up threads, then close them down, appears like someone who’s a bit nervous

    I have closed threads once I have been asked to do so, including being asked by SWP members.

    cliff foot: You once falsely said i was somebody else, a quite well known Union militant, then had to take a You Tube clip of her down, after people said your ‘outing’ method was low.

    No that is a lie. I once inadvertantly referred to you as “she” revealling your gender, and you then falsely claimed that you were not a woman, and implied that the alleged mistake about your gender was illustrative of poor fact checking generally.

    I then perhaps ill advisedly put up a you tube clip of you speaking at a union rally, proving that you are in fact a woman, and that you were lying.

    You have since then continued to lie about your identity as a rather silly way of seeking to discredit me.

    I respect people’s right to anonymoity, but anonymity should be a shield not a sword.

  227. prianikoff on said:

    At # 197 George W wrote:-

    “Correct me if I am mistaken but didn’t Syriza vote against a draft law for the abolition of the loan agreements, the memoranda and the application laws in parliament?
    If they are pro-EU and pro-NATO and refuse to even vote to abolish the loan agreement and its austerity agenda how ‘socialist’ exactly are Syriza?
    I understand there are different currents within it but if the bulk of it and the leadership are liberals, why support it?”

    Response:-

    Even the KKE don’t accuse Syriza’s leadership of being mere “liberals”. A better characterisation might be “left social-democratic”.

    See Syriza’s full programme here:-
    http://links.org.au/node/2888

    The question being, is the best way to challenge such a leadership to constantly denounce it and outbid it from the left? KKE have even accused Syriza of being part of a plot to “restructure” social democracy.
    This is bizarre, given that Syriza could easily have entered the Coalition government last June.

    As to the KKE’s “draft law”, I’m not sure that it’s even been debated yet. But given the current balance of forces, the draft is little more than a stunt to gain attention. The KKE is in no position to implement such a law, nor would it end austerity.

    Meanwhile Tsipras is behaving like a leader-in-waiting.
    In December he said that a Syriza-led government is “a necessity that no one can stop”.
    He has been patiently building Syriza’s International alliances, with Brazil, Argentina and with the United Left in Spain. The aim is to get an agreement to write off a large section of Greece’s debt and refound the European economy on a new basis.

    These are sufficiently open-ended objectives to allow for further moves to the left. Whether that happens or not depends on the activity of socialists.

    Why support it?
    27% of the Greek voters supported Syriza in June.
    This figure has grown to nearer 30% since then.
    It’s a matter of relating to popular consciousness and dealing with it. Socialists should put this a party and its programme to the test. They can best express their criticisms by joining its left wing.

    P.S. Earlier in the thread, I over-estimated the comparable size of Syriza. In UK terms, its current membership would be around 200,000
    (Greek has 1/6th population of the UK)
    But this is still comparable to the Labour Party’s current membership.

  228. #197. “If they are…pro-NATO.”

    ‘…We salute your mobilisations against the NATO Summit [in Chicago] and we send you our solidarity from Greece.

    We don’t need to say much about the reasons to raise our voices against NATO. Millions of people are familiar with its record or crimes over the last years in the Balkans, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya to name just a few.

    And if we look further back, NATO has provided nothing but wars, dictatorships and terror around the globe, from the day it was founded, and during all the years of its existence…’

  229. prianikoff on said:

    re the publication of the transcript of the SWP’s disputes committee.
    It was completely unprincipled to leak this material at this point in time.
    It’s is also completely unprincipled for SU to publish it.
    It renders the left incapable of resolving its disputes internally and opens the whole left up to state repression.

    Presumably if Andy Newman had been blogging before the Russian Revolution, he would have published the minutes of the plan to raid the Tiflis Bank.
    Stalin would have been arrested by the Okhrana and there would have have been no Stalingrad.
    Andy Newman would have been crying in his beer.
    On the positive side, the Nazis might not have gained power in Germany in 1933.

  230. prianikoff: It was completely unprincipled to leak this material at this point in time.
    It’s is also completely unprincipled for SU to publish it.
    It renders the left incapable of resolving its disputes internally and opens the whole left up to state repression.

    Why and how?

  231. prianikoff on said:

    re “named individuals”.

    It’s not just a question of “naming”.
    I can see the makings of another state attempt to wreck the left here.

  232. Rorschach,

    Let’s airbrush them out of photos, cuts all quotes out of newspapers as well.
    The problem here comrade is that this has been the worse kept secret on the Left, and the source of the majority of rumours circulating can only be members, present and ex of the SWP.

    In the age of the internet and social media even the US military can’t keep secrets.

    By the way read the posting and was I read into it was an organisation honestly struggling with a very difficult matter. What ever the CC and individual members did or did not do it seems that the Disputes Committee while they did makes errors on the whole did the best they could, there is no perfect way of handling these matters, just better and worse ways, and I think based on this report some comrades, such as Pat, did pretty well.

  233. Rorschach on said:

    Pete Shield,

    Obviously SU can only control the material it publishes – and it should do so. Allowing posters here to publish the name of the person subject to the allegations is unacceptable socialist practice, regardless of who else is circulating the same information.

  234. prianikoff on said:

    Sorry, but mere “rumours” have no legal implications.
    To put it another way, as a union rep, I’ve had to defend members against personal allegations which had serious implications for their future.
    In one case, a lesbian member who was accused of an inappropriate relationship.
    Are you saying that someone concerned with this case should have had the right to publish internal minutes of the disciplinary hearing?
    Or that a disgruntled union member had the right to publish union minutes of casework?
    Complete bullshit.
    Such an action would undermine personal confidentiality and internal processes.
    It’s an invitation for the state to get involved.
    In most cases, there is absolutely no necessity for this.

  235. jack ford on said:

    If the allegations against Comrade Delta are true this is the biggest scandal on the far left since Gerry Healy. Puts the SWPs reaction to Galloway’s old fashioned views on rape into perspective. Will the SWP resolve to be tough on hypocrisy and tough on the causes of hypocrisy?

  236. Jellytot on said:

    @263It renders the left incapable of resolving its disputes internally

    We should have enormous reservations about the suitability and ability of Left organisations to handle allegations of rape and sexual assault within their groups, both on a practical and moral level.

    @263Presumably if Andy Newman had been blogging before the Russian Revolution, he would have published the minutes of the plan to raid the Tiflis Bank.

    A head-scratchingly nonsensical comparision.

  237. #269 An individual has been accused of rape in the material produced here. An individual has previously been referred to in respect of allegations of sexual harrassment. The latter was named on a number of occasions. The former has not been here.

    As I said before, I don’t recall any named individual being accused of rape.

    If I am right, by suggesting that the accused is the same person in resepct of both allegations then it is you that is drawing attention to that individual and if I was representing the interests of that person I would be asking you to desist in the line you are taking here, rather than banging on about it publically.

    As I’m not, I can only say that it’s your call.

  238. tony collins,

    tony collins: Totally agree with that, except the Bristol motion wasn’t the start of it – the setting up of the NSSN came after quite a solid campaign by the SP. I can’t remember the whole chronology, but we had that conference in London where the SLP was allowed a speaker from the top table, but Respect – which had an MP – wasn’t even allowed a formal speaking slot, and had to take part from the floor in the discussion at the end. For a conference in central London, the room was 99.9% white and almost all male.

    I’m glad you posted this Tony because it just demonstrates how many of the critics of the NSSN here have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and are just making it up as they go along.

    The years prior to the NSSN set up the SP had very little presence in the RMT never mind influence. Ask any RMT activist around at the time they’ll tell you so.
    In all honesty the NSSN was largely the invention of Bob Crow after he got a brain wave at the Political Representation conference in 2006 (I think that was the year). The Bristol branch later passed the motion concretely putting forward the idea of the NSSN. (That’s Alex Gordan’s branch by the way who continues to support the NSSN and be actively involved. The idea he’s an SP puppet will certainly be news to Alex!) There was no plan to pack out the founding conference everyone who was there from the SP was a bona fide rep.

    It was more a historical accident that the SP ended up with a lot of representatives on the steering committee because a) there was no elections to it, anyone who volunteered could join,
    b)the SP has quite a lot of elected reps in it’s ranks,
    c) no other group really took it seriously as I recall the SWP were doing their “Organising for Fighting Unions Conference” at the time.

  239. “I have enormous reservations about the suitability and ability of Left organisations to handle allegations of rape and sexual assault within their groups, both on a practical and moral level.” Absolutely, I find it totally bizarre and shocking that this very seroius alleged crime was investigated and judged by a disputes committee, most of whom are friends of the alleged criminal.

  240. Rorschach on said:

    Vanya,

    So, the solution to prima-facie smears – on this thread if you care to look – is that I should stop complaining. God forbid that I should ever come before your court.

  241. Neil: no other group really took it seriously

    So what? The implication here says it all. Why is it necessary for a “group” (read self-styled vanguard party) to “take something seriously” for it to have any value? If that’s the case we really are f***ed.

  242. Jellytot on said:

    @271Such an action would undermine personal confidentiality and internal processes.

    The SWP’s “internal processes” lack legitimacy, legal or otherwise. There’s little to nothing to be undermined.

    It’s an invitation for the state to get involved.

    Would that necessarily be a terrible thing?

    The Police and CPS have, in recent decades, trumpeted their willingness to investigate and ultimately prosecute allegations such as these in an understanding and proactive manner.

    That stated, the wishes of the parties in this case to pursue other channels should be understood and respected.

  243. prianikoff,

    I think that’s a very good point.
    Personally I’m much more interested in how the debate on democratic centralism went, and whether it leads the SWP to actually reinvigorate it’s own inner party culture. Clearly there is a lot of unhappiness about the way the CC conducts its business, an opening up would be good news- the alternative is a continuation of the present with many good comrades dropping out- voluntarily or otherwise. The Left has so few resources in the UK that to see another one of its institution collapse would not I think be a positive step.

  244. Karl Stewart on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: Post 239 says “I’ve been told by a former SP/Mil member that its general secretary, Peter Taffe, has been in post continuously for over 40 years……….Do the SP membership think this is healthy?” As a CWI member in Britain for over 3 decades my personal, and political, answer to this is Yes. Karl Stewart throws up spurious and secondary points in his hostility to the Socialist Party, and this is old hat from his point of view, but never argues from a political and theoretical critique of the politics of the CWI. But Mr Stewart’s previous political history, and continued political trajectory, comes from an agenda that is hostile to the CWI in particular and Trotskyism in general.

    Jimmy, I know very little about the CWI particularly, other than my general view that the various competing “fourth internationals” (of which CWI is presumably one of) are frankly a joke.

    Nowhere in the world are the “fourth internationals” taken remotely seriously by anyone and they never have been.

    So I’m not “hostile” to CWI, I just find it comical (and its competitors equally so).

    I’m not “hostile to trotskyism” either, I just don’t see it as a coherent body of political theory Jimmy.

    Trotsky the individual played at times a positive role and at other times he was wrong. His murder was a foul crime and it is rightly condemned.

    But he wasn’t the demi-god that you guys make him out to have been and the personality cult that you and others have erected around this person is really quite absurd.

  245. Rorschach:
    Vanya,

    So, the solution to prima-facie smears – on this thread if you care to look – is that I should stop complaining. God forbid that I should ever come before your court.

    What smears? Nobody has been named as an alleged rapist. You appear to be drawing attention to someone who has been named on other threads but not accused of rape. One lot of allegations ammount to an offence in law which would normally carry a warning. The other is a little bit more serious. How do you think you are helping them?

    I have never presided over a court. The only people I have ever dealt with in respect of such allegations I have been defending.

    I must say if I ever was a judge, I would excuse myself if the derendant was an old pall and colleague, under the rules of natural justice.

  246. prianikoff on said:

    “The Police and CPS have, in recent decades, trumpeted their willingness to investigate and ultimately prosecute allegations such as these in an understanding and proactive manner.”

    What, “understanding” like Mark “Herpes with a Pony-tail” Kennedy? Perhaps they ought to put him on the case.
    I’m sure some of his mates are already be “on” it.

  247. prianikoff on said:

    “The only people I have ever dealt with in respect of such allegations I have been defending.”

    Just knew you were a lawyer. All slithery.

  248. prianikoff, y
    ‘”Invitation for tthe state to get involved ”

    It vis of course up yo the woman complainant, but the police might be the best people yo investigate allegations of rape

  249. prianikoff on said:

    Just waiting for Deidre McDildo to turn up and start threatening to knife people.

  250. Karl Stewart: Nowhere in the world are the “fourth internationals” taken remotely seriously by anyone and they never have been.

    Generally but not strictly true.

  251. Vanya: So what? The implication here says it all. Why is it necessary for a “group” (read self-styled vanguard party) to “take something seriously” for it to have any value? If that’s the case we really are f***ed.

    And thanks must also go to Vanya here for demonstrating another unfortunate tendency of critics of the NSSN; the ability to see something malign when none exist at all.
    If you will recall I was answering Tony C’s notion that the founding of the NSSN was down to slick lobbying by the SP in the RMT and that the outsized role it played from the outset was all part of a dastardly pre ordained plot.
    I made no claims as to whether the NSSN or any other organisation had ‘value’ based on whether other groups took it seriously. I simply put it forward as a more logical explanation for the role the SP played in the NSSN from the beginning than Tony C’s fantasies.

    (Although I will say they are slightly flattering fantasies, he clearly thinks we’re a far sighted and well organised crew. People often criticise the SP for blowing it’s own trumpet, I think we’ll get Tony C to do the PR from now on!)

  252. #284

    By ‘slithery’, I take it you mean I know how to have a logical argument?

    I assume you’ll be defending yourself if you ever find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

    I’m not at the moment btw.

  253. #288 Yes you have a point there. Clearly the beef people have with the SP in the NSSN is with regard to your later actions rather than what happened when it was set up. My apologies.

  254. Karl Stewart on said:

    I think I was at the same conference that both Neil and TonyC are talking about – as I recall, it was at the same time as the George Galloway “Celebrity Big Brother” (there were “miaows” from the audience when the Respect speaker mentioned him!)

  255. #283 Do you think that allegations of rape should be reported to and investigated by the Police at all?

    Or do we wait until we have a workers’ militia?

  256. I’m glad you posted this Tony because it just demonstrates how many of the critics of the NSSN here have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and are just making it up as they go along.

    I’m glad you said that Neil, cos it demonstrates how you know nothing about me, just li’l me from the London Transport Regional Council Executive Committee for several years, involved right at the heart of the RMT, one of the leading London activists for quite a while.

    Why on earth you’ve inferred that I claimed that Alex Gordon is a Socialist Party puppet is beyond me, given that all I said was that his branch’s motion wasn’t the start of it.

    Neil, I was right in the middle of all of this. And what I’ve said is what happened.

    You clearly suffer from that hideous far left delusion, that all critics are motivated by sectarianism. I’m motivated by the historical record, what with me being right in the middle of it. My words come from the fact that what I’ve said is true. The NSSN and political representation stuff were part of the same campaign.

    That the SP won the vote is to its credit – my point here was that in common with the rest of the far left, the SP likes to make out that it’s involved with organic campaigns started off by other people, but in reality, if it wasn’t for the SP there would’ve been none of this. It didn’t spring up from acts of working class resistance.

  257. #289 Btw when I think of ‘slithery’, I think of people who avoid answering questions.

    Here’s another- who’s Deidre McDildo?

  258. Jellytot on said:

    @283What, “understanding” like Mark “Herpes with a Pony-tail” Kennedy? Perhaps they ought to put him on the case.I’m sure some of his mates are already be “on” it.

    I’m genuinely finding the levity and frivolity here disturbing.

    More info on the reporting of Rape and sexual assault involving adults and the Police here:

    http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/Policeprocedure2.php

  259. #292 “Do you think that allegations of rape should be reported to and investigated by the Police at all?”

    I’m concerned that some may feel bad PR trumps any desire for proper justice. It certainly feels like there is an undercurrent of my party right or wrong no matter the ethics of the case, or the seriousness of the alleged criminal offenses.

    It seems to me that this woman should have been supported by the organisation to press criminal charges, particularly considering that it was impossible to conduct an internal inquiry with disinterested individuals.

    As it happens before Christmas I had to get some legal advise on behalf of an organisation regarding a criminal matter (thankfully not of a sexual nature). That legal advise was disturbing and has direct relevance here.

    I was told that any internal investigation conducted without police consent would be regarded as corrupting the evidence and could in itself be a criminal offense. In other words it becomes impossible for the police to investigate the crime properly once members of an organisation have gone round prejudicing all the witnesses and interested parties, including the accused who would be given plenty of time to get his/her story straight and line up friendly testimony.

    I was told something I did not want to hear – that the first step in this sort of case is to notify the police and any internal investigation the organisation undertakes can only take place *after* the police have finished and is certainly not a replacement for a police investigation.

    ***

    On another note – I have absolute sympathy for anyone who has been sexually assaulted or raped and understand just how difficult it can be to come forwards to the authorities (which is why friends and organisations need to support people to do this).

    It is of course their decision to make ultimately – however – rape is not simply a personal matter that can be set aside. If a rapist’s behaviour is not addressed there is a very great risk that others will suffer at their hands and so it’s vital we force the state to investigate and prosecute (where appropriate) these offenses thoroughly. You can’t just make someone apologise for a rape and think you’ve sorted it out.

  260. #293 Good point.

    In fact, I have also been involved supporting rape victims who have complained about their treatment by the Police, but in a context where the procedures for dealing with such victims (and expected standards of behaviour for officers) are seriously ahead of how they were in the 70s when the issue was the subject of a massive campaign by the womens’ movement. (It’s called a victory by the way).

  261. Rorschach on said:

    Vanya,

    By way of just one example, look at #192 on this thread. Legal or not, it is wholly contrary to any sense of socialist decency. At best, it is pedalling scurrilous gossip. Me drawing attention to it isn’t the problem, as you well know. The problem is that the moderators, who defend themselves with talk about ‘redacting’ and the ‘right to anonymity’ seem to think letting people highlight, repeat and proliferate unproven allegations, against someone who happens to be unpopular here, is acceptable practice. It’s fine, apparently, because ‘if we don’t publish it someone else will’. It is politically indefensible and, on a personal level, very cruel. It truly sucks.

  262. As I said before, I don’t recall any named individual being accused of rape.

    Correct. I named him several times as being accused of sexual harrassment. The allegations of rape were against another CC member.

    I think, given the huge amount of smearing and personal information given out by SWP members in 2007/8 to try to discredit Galloway and Respect, SWP members have absolutely no credibility in discussing this. Going round telling people that X had had a mental breakdown? Writing to the Electoral Commission demanding that they investigate Galloway’s finances? Anonymously threatening to reveal delicate personal information about Galloway? Going to Andrew Gilligan and telling him to monitor Abjol Miah? Offering the story of the split to both the BBC and the Independent? Telling hundreds of SWP members that Linda Smith was a ballot rigger? Passing on personal conversations into union execs to damage trust?

    All done by SWP members who had nothing to say about “socialist practice” while they were busy doing everything they could to damage their opponents for several years. I feel very aggrieved about all this stuff, because those people just cannot even see what hypocrites they are. The smug, self-satisfied way they came on here to tell us how appalling Galloway was, and how bad the internal reaction to him was in Respect, was pretty ridiculous, coming as it did shortly after Comrade Bully received a standing ovation at conference. The way SWP members have treated the women involved in these complaints defies belief for supposed marxists.

  263. Rorschach: By way of just one example, look at #192 on this thread. Legal or not, it is wholly contrary to any sense of socialist decency.

    Can you tell me whether you’re in the SWP or not? It matters, cos if you are, I won’t discuss this with you. Put your own house in order before you ever accuse people of acting outside “decency”.

    But the problem for you here is, I called it an “unfortunate incident”. And as the DC pointed out, they dealt with other issues, not just Martin Smith.

    Martin Smith is a liar, a bully and a thug, who has smacked opponents around and has never been held to account for it. He is not a marxist – marxists don’t go round bullying opponents, and marxists don’t rough people down to the ground and hit them just cos they don’t like them. And if this does happen, marxists don’t just let it go on without challenging the behaviour.

    Martin Smith lied consistently throughout the Respect split. He was the one who claimed I had never been a member of the party, and suddenly changed the rules on what constituted proof of membership.

    He’s never been held to account for any of it.

    Martin Smith is unpopular here cos we don’t like liars, we don’t like bullies and we don’t like thugs. We also don’t like supposedly left-wing groups giving people like him a standing ovation when he makes a defiant speech about the allegations against him.

    I spent some time last week with someone who was secretly expelled from the SWP a few years ago – it was done a few weeks after conference (very deliberately), and was never reported on to the next conference. She was publically humiliated by Smith on several occasions, and was reduced to tears in front of her comrades at an aggregate.

    I don’t have time in my life to worry about his sensibilities. I’ve seen his bullying behaviour close up many times, and the fact that no one in the party has ever held him to account for it means I’m not really gonna care about what happens to him.

    We’re supposed to be marxists, for fucks sake. Yet you people have no problem at all with the worst type of behaviour inside the SWP. But if other people talk about it, suddenly that’s the lowest thing anyone could do.

  264. Rorschach on said:

    #297 – thanks for being so honest. You’ve been naming him in connection with alleged sexual offences, simply in order to settle old scores. Nice.

    Is that OK with you Andy Newman?

  265. prianikoff on said:

    “I’m genuinely finding the levity and frivolity here disturbing”.

    Other than replying an idiot who calls himself “Jellytot” and who’s proven himself utterly ignorant about socialist history, what makes you think I’m being frivolous?

    I’m deadly serious.

    As you should be well aware, Mark Kennedy was employed by the police as an undercover informant.
    During the course of his activity, he lied to several women about his identity, leading them to have sexual intercourse with him under false pretences.

    If they’d known his true identity, they would never had slept with him. As a result of this his exposure, several women are pursuing a legal case against this trickster, who had the full authorisation of his superior officers.

    Do you think this constitutes any form of sexual assault whatsoever? Or are you only concerned with causing divisions on the left?

  266. Karl Stewart: I think I was at the same conference that both Neil and TonyC are talking about – as I recall, it was at the same time as the George Galloway “Celebrity Big Brother” (there were “miaows” from the audience when the Respect speaker mentioned him!)

    Were you as bored as I was? I hated the way Respect people acted as if Respect was the only game in town, but I equally hated the fact that the SP, and the RMT, tried to pretend Respect didn’t exist. Why else would you give the SLP a top table speaker, but not even allow Respect to have speaking rights except from the floor?

  267. Pete Shield: I think based on this report some comrades, such as Pat, did pretty well.

    Pat’s response was really striking, and in a sense it does the SWP a favour to see this published.

    I just don’t know how the situation should’ve been dealt with. I don’t want to go into details, but surely there was a better way to investigate, somewhere between a criminal investigation and one done by friends of the accused? I’ve got time for some of the people who spoke, but again it is striking that so many of these people told so many lies over recent years (and I don’t mean “things I disagreed with”, I mean things about people being ballot riggers, people never having paid any subs, people being involved with criminal activity etc) and expect to be trusted when investigating allegations of such a serious nature. The woman at the centre of it feels deeply aggrieved by the whole process, and that wasn’t really dealt with.

    I’m sure people on both sides of this have different views of whether the transcript should be published or not.

    Did any of you have anything to say when the SWP published a transcript of a secretly recorded meeting with George Galloway in 2007? That was emailed out to every Respect member. What did you say inside the party about that? Hint: You won’t have any right to complain, if your answer to that is “I stayed silent”.

  268. Rorschach: You’ve been naming him in connection with alleged sexual offences, simply in order to settle old scores. Nice.

    You really have no idea at all, do you? What is it with you people, that you can’t actually see that there’s a world outside these cults?

    I’m not settling any scores. I don’t even understand what you think you mean by that. I’ve been naming him in connection with all of his behaviour, because this site was swamped with SWP anonytrolls for several years, making all sorts of accusations, and never dealing with the impact of their own party’s behaviour on the wider movement. And when Galloway made his idiotic comments about rape last year, SWP members came on here to lecture us about how to deal with sexism.

    The party has never dealt with the bullying carried out by its leading members. It’s not “settling scores” to raise this. The fact that this person, having never been called to account for bullying and thuggery and deceit, is then accused of far more serious crimes, seems connected in my view.

  269. Jellytot on said:

    @300Other than replying an idiot who calls himself “Jellytot” and who’s proven himself utterly ignorant about socialist history

    In a post timed at 5:10pm, You, in a roundabout fashion, sought to draw somekind of comparison between the deadly serious and dedicated group who carried out the Tiflis action in 1907 and the shenanigans of the Trotskyite Left in Britain in 2013!

    ….and I’M the one who’s ignorant of socialist history!

    @300Do you think this constitutes any form of sexual assault whatsoever?

    Absolutely, but in your comment of 5:52pm, you were trying to suggest, using Kennedy as an example, that it would be pointless for victims in this context to report Rape to the legal authorities. Have I got the gist of that correct? If so then I find that frankly bizzare and ever so slightly shameful.

    There is a history of, in particular, female comrades being guilt-tripped into not reporting assaults to protect senior activists in such parties, thus protecting and providing cover for the abusers.

    Institutional sexism and patriarchy have been the far-Left’s dirty little secret for years. The administrators of blog has played a small role in shining a light upon it and are being lambasted.

    @300Or are you only concerned with causing divisions on the left?

    I want to see a strong, confident and united Left but have longed viewed these groups (with the exception of Respect) as being essentially part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

    IMHO If they all folded tommorrow it would make precious little difference to the course of the struggle and would actually benefit it in the medium to long term.

  270. Karl Stewart on said:

    tony collins: I hated the way Respect people acted as if Respect was the only game in town, but I equally hated the fact that the SP, and the RMT, tried to pretend Respect didn’t exist. Why else would you give the SLP a top table speaker, but not even allow Respect to have speaking rights except from the floor?

    Yes in hindsight, all that was a bit odd.

    At the time however, I was reporting the event for the Star and back then, although I was in the CP, I had a lot of time for the SP, I didn’t like Respect much and I was all for the “new workers party” idea.

    I thought the SP were on top of their game at that time, but that was seven years ago and SP has fossilised around the perspectives of that period.

  271. I thought the SP were on top of their game at that time, but that was seven years ago and SP has fossilised around the perspectives of that period.

    I think my main problem with their approach was that this radicalisation of a deeply united community, the Muslim community, had completely passed them by. I thought then, and I still think now, that there is a ton of future leaders in the Muslim community, people who could really inspire and rebuild the left. I think it’s actually vital that we get in there and really listen to those guys. I’m convinced that we should take a lot of inspiration from that community. It’s not just about being anti-racist, it’s about a whole generation of people who are radicalising to the left, but are unencumbered by a) generations of Britishness and our shared indoctrination and b) the hideousness that is the British left.

    I strongly felt that as trade unionists we needed to really help them connect with the union movement – so many Muslims who went on demos would’ve been unionised but would never have connected the two. But in so many spheres, the young Muslim community was putting the left to shame. The SWP got it – one SWP member made a great contribution at that conference about seeing queues of young Muslims waiting to vote, and a real sense of them wanting to get involved in political activity, but the union movement and the left just weren’t connecting with them.

    I still do think the SP is a bit blind to it. It felt to me like that conference was stodgy and dull. It wasn’t helped by the typically awful SP contributions – droning on for hours when it could all be said in minutes, and the pomposity of John Rees and a couple of SWP speakers (I’m not gonna name them cos I would never name an SWP member when talking about them).

  272. Feodor on said:

    Apologies for the late response.

    @Mark, #178, fair point, but two failures don’t make a success.

    @George, #179, that’s a good analysis, one I broadly agree with, though that I’m already inclined towards that view, makes me a poor judge of how convinced others would be by it – namely, non-socialists.

    I particularly like your own contribution beneath it, esp. the bit about a ‘socialism that is democratic and is based on the traditions of the labour movement in Britain’. Which, to play devil’s advocate, brings me to my next question: what would this socialism look like in practice?

    The old strategy of nationalising the ‘commanding heights’ is severely outdated. Indeed socialist economics still seems to lag some way behind the digital revolution. Building on what you’ve said George, do you perhaps think a revival of the co-operatist approach might provide an answer, partial or otherwise?

    As for the route this thread has taken, the mind boggles. Do the people in the SWP really think a ‘Disputes Committee’ is an appropriate forum in which to resolve an allegation of rape? Surely this is some kind of sick joke?

    In any case, when an organisation behaves like this, it’s important to have whistle-blowers and important for people outside to give a platform to those whistle-blowers. In this sense, the SU editorial team are right to host this discussion as long as the anonymity of both the accused and the accuser is maintained. To me, that is ‘socialist decency’.

  273. andy newman on said:

    Rorschach: You’ve been naming him in connection with alleged sexual offences, simply in order to settle old scores

    Let us be clear about something.

    Previous articles and comments on this blog have referred to widely known allegations of sexual harrassment by Martin Smith; and entirely unconnected alleagtions of serious sexual assault by another SWP CC member, now deceased.

    The transcript published today referred to anm allegation of rape by an SWP CC member referred to only as Comrade Delta.

    No-one associate with this blog has ever previously referred to allegations of rape by sny SWP cc member – and no-one associated with this blog has sought to link the allegations against Comrade Delta with any particular person.

    the only person who keeps insinuating the identity of Comrade Delta is someone using the name Rorschach, who is not temporarily banned.

  274. stuart on said:

    tony collins:

    Correct. I named him several times as being accused of sexual harrassment. The allegations of rape were against another CC member.

    Are these allegations or facts? You have presented this stuff in the past as being ‘fact’, not allegation. You have posted…

    If you don’t know about the facts of leading members who have assaulted women, that’s down to the appalling internal culture of the party. I don’t spread rumours,

    Facts or allegations?

  275. brokenwindow on said:

    Is the above thread some kind of Late xmas joke? The tories must be laughing all the way to the next election,nothing to fear from a silent,invisible,disappeared opposition and nothing whatsover to worry about from this load of old toss.

  276. andy newman on said:

    Jim Jepps: As it happens before Christmas I had to get some legal advise on behalf of an organisation regarding a criminal matter (thankfully not of a sexual nature). That legal advise was disturbing and has direct relevance here.
    I was told that any internal investigation conducted without police consent would be regarded as corrupting the evidence and could in itself be a criminal offense.

    andy newman,

    Jim is absolutely correct here. The SWP’s Disputes Committe had a clear duty to take legal advice as soon as allegations of a serious criminal offence had been brought to their attention.

    As a question of public policy it would not be permissable for the SWP to conduct its own investigation prior to a police investigation. The reasons are obvious, in the current scenario the DC has concluded there was no rape, but they were not competent to conduct such an investigation, not only because they were friends of the accused, and that they admit that the interests of the SWP were a consideration for them, but also because they lack the necessary training and skill. The outcome of this quasi-judicial process would surely dissuade the woman W from reporting the issue to the police, which must itself be contrary to the public interest.

    However, the really interesting question is what would have happened had they decided that Comrade Delta was guilty? Would they have recommended W went to the police, after they had themselves probably contaminated any prospect of a police investigation and succesful prosectution?

    It seems that they were making it up on the hoof, and acting as if the SWP is a world outwith the reach of English law. This is dangerously close to the approach of isolationist New Relgious MOvements.

  277. OMG Stuart, you’ve really got me again, you incredibly obsessed seat sniffer.

    People, you might not realise, but Stuart thinks he’s got some kind of “gotcha” here, which is why he’s kept hold of that link for months now. My response is what it always is – Stuart, you’re fundamentally dishonest in how you debate, and I’m not engaging with you on it. There have been numerous cases of sexual assaults in the party – hints and facts and allegations, take your pick! – and you guys can blow as much smoke as you like about it. You’re rank hypocrites, and the problem with this site is, we don’t let you call the shots and bully people into walking away. This issue has become important on this blog because of the hypocritical way you and your comrades spake unto the movement about Comrade Galloway’s crimes.

  278. Karl Stewart on said:

    Interesting to hear your take on that debate TonyC,
    I came away from that event thinking the SP had played it very skilfully.

    They’d organised beforehand on the basis of “we need a new workers’ party”, but on the day they had to deal with the RMT’s reluctance and the SWP’s outright opposition.

    So they accepted Crow’s “NSSN” plan and by doing so appeared reasonable, and they also pushed the SWP into appearing negative and sectarian – and they then took the piss with the “miaow” stuff and also by having that SLP platform speaker, both of which wound the SWs up even more.
    I thought the SP played a blinder that day.

    Trouble is, political realities started to shift. Firstly, Labour under Brown started to move back towards social democracy and then more fundamentally in 2010 with Labour’s election defeat and the election of EdM as leader.

    The SP insisted that nothing had changed – they still insist that – and so over the last couple of years their strategic perspectives have increasingly become out of touch with reality.

    For me, this is the root cause of their recent blunders such as the NSSN purge and the continuing “TUSC” debacle.

  279. Irish Mark P on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    Karl, I find that a rather bizarre point of view. The idea that there’s some fundamental difference between Labour in 2005 and Labour now has no basis in fact. If it wasn’t a meaningfully social democratic party then, then it isn’t now. If it was then, then it is now. Either way, Brown and Miliband certainly haven’t drastically reoriented the party to the left. And for that matter the withered left of the party has continued to die out.

    However, it is certainly true that Labour being vaguely against a Tory government is a tougher proposition in terms of building significant electoral support for a genuinely left wing party than Labour as a right wing government. The Socialist Party is as cognisant of that fact as anyone else. But although conditions have become tougher, and for the moment any impact will be very small, it doesn’t change the fact that the creation of a new workers party is a strategic necessity. And arguing for it in harder conditions is as necessary as arguing for it in easier conditions.

  280. Feodor,

    Yes certainly. It is important to have a vision of an alternative society and a plan an policies in order to establish it, otherwise what is the point? So many ultra-leftists refer to themselves as anti-capitalist/anti-fascist…etc all the time, it makes you wonder if they are in favour of anything at all.

  281. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 279 says “Jimmy, I know very little about the CWI particularly, other than my general view that the various competing “fourth internationals” (of which CWI is presumably one of) are frankly a joke. Nowhere in the world are the “fourth internationals” taken remotely seriously by anyone and they never have been. So I’m not “hostile” to CWI, I just find it comical (and its competitors equally so). I’m not “hostile to trotskyism” either, I just don’t see it as a coherent body of political theory Jimmy……”

    Yes I would agree with you when you say you know very little about the Committee for a Workers’ International, CWI. In fact the statement that you made is oxymoronic if I ever saw one. How can you tell if Trotskyism, and/or the CWI, is not a “coherent body of political theory” if you know “very little” about it. That is the reason I continually polemic against you because on the one hand you know very little about Trotskyism, and the CWI, and because you specifically are both blinkered and have scales across your eyes due to your past political affiliations on the other, as I have said in the posts above and on other threads. Let us get one thing clear while you may take offense at being called a Stalinist I certainly do not take offense at being called a Trotskyist.

    The Committee for a Workers’ International was founded in 1974 at a meeting in which over 40 Socialists and Marxists from 12 countries came together to discuss the formation of an international Marxist organisation not associated with any of the other so called Trotskyist “4th Internationals”. Militant, now the Socialist Party/Socialist Party Scotland, have always proceeded from an international perspective and they were the main originators for this founding meeting. The starting point for an organisation that believes in the socialist transformation of society, the essence of what is marks it out from other Left wing political parties is not its method of organisation, but its Marxist programme. The SP/CWI stands for the socialist transformation of society carried out by the taking of power by the working class. Our understanding of this is based on the central writings of Marx. Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, also the ideas of the Communist International in the first few years after the Russian Revolution; and of course the key documents of the CWI.

    Nevertheless, at the founding meeting of the CWI the comrades did not proclaim themselves as ‘thee’ international. Principally because of there was a number of ‘so-called Trotskyist 4th Internationals’ at the time and the comrades, correctly, did not want to go down this route, so they called themselves a ‘Committee’ for a future mass International, and it is still that process that is taking place. Also the comrades at the founding meeting specifically put in the word ‘workers’ because they wanted to emphasise the central position of the proletariat, in complete different way to the other Left/Socialist groups, which included the antecedents of the SWP, who based themselves on the peasantry, guerrillaist ideas, or the students as the detonators of the revolution.

    What I would like to do is post a link to the history of the CWI for you to read so that you can understand a bit more about Trotskyism and the CWI.

    http://www.socialistworld.net/pubs/history2/00.html

  282. David Ruaune on said:

    Feodor: Do the people in the SWP really think a ‘Disputes Committee’ is an appropriate forum in which to resolve an allegation of rape?

    But unless the British Legal System is called upon by the plaintiff, something like it is the only option other than the accusation being ignored. I agree, though, that the “jury” being close contacts of the defendant offends against natural justice.

  283. If people are so anti-state/anti-authority, what do they stand for? It is easy to make the case for the nationalisation of transport, energy, utilities, finance in light of the rip off of the people by the private sector, but harder for others. Co-operatives clearly demonstrate a way which projects the participatory, democratic core element of socialism. I visited a new coop in Cuba a few years ago, the community elects a committee that manages the housing, agriculture,, the hotel/bar, a local logging camp and coffee plantation (both previously state owned.) it certainly struck me as a preferable form of socialism.

  284. Karl that’s a really interesting take on the day. As I said earlier, an SWP member told me that our job was to wreck it, but anyone who experienced me in the SWP knows I never followed ridiculous orders like that, so I just sat there bemused for a lot of the time.

    I guess I felt that a chance was missed on that day. Possibly a version of what you felt as time went on. Something the SWP is very good at is sharply changing direction, but it’s something the SP never seems able to do. It seems to need to fit the facts to the theory rather than the other way round.

  285. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 313 says “Trouble is, political realities started to shift. Firstly, Labour under Brown started to move back towards social democracy and then more fundamentally in 2010 with Labour’s election defeat and the election of EdM as leader”.

    So politically naïve to suggest that Brown started to move it back towards social democracy. In fact the opposite took place even to the point that members of his cabinet were saying at the 2010 general election that if Labour won the economic programme would be worse than during Thatcher’s time. I suggest Mr Stewart you watch the debate between Owen Jones and the SP on post 246 and you will find that even Jones does not consider the Labour Party has become social democratic after Brown or even today.

  286. stuart on said:

    Tony Collins,

    How are you in any position to present sexual assaults as ‘facts’? What does this say about standards on this blog, the blog in which some leading contributors have defended George ‘in the sex game’ Galloway?

  287. Nadia Chern on said:

    Stuart,

    You’re embarrassing yourself and your party further with this daft attempt at diversion. There are times to retreat in some order and this is one of them.

  288. Jay Blackwood on said:

    One thing that doesn’t seem to be in question is that the SWP thought it was appropriate to deal with an allegation of rape via an internal disciplinary process. Utter madness.

  289. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #316 “the antecedents of the SWP, who based themselves on the peasantry”

    Not heard that one before =)

  290. Feodor on said:

    George W:
    So many ultra-leftists refer to themselves as anti-capitalist/anti-fascist…etc all the time, it makes you wonder if they are in favour of anything at all.

    Yet another sign of political irrelevance perhaps? We/they don’t have anything positive to offer, so instead define ourselves entirely in the negative. This can also be seen in the way it’s become standard to be critical and cynical about every and any government action, whatever the government. Every policy is said to represent dubious motives, ‘the continued attack of the bourgeoisie’, ‘the slow drift towards dictatorship’, blah, blah, blah. And of course, it always confirms pre-existing theoretical positions. Less common is any attempt to properly engage with concrete reality, thus opinion pieces replace proper journalism, ideology replaces theory.

    What you say about Cuba is interesting as well. I’d love to go there one day, though to get the full benefit I suspect learning a bit of Spanish wouldn’t go amiss. However languages definitely aren’t a strength of mine. :(

  291. Feodor on said:

    David Ruaune: But unless the British Legal System is called upon by the plaintiff, something like it is the only option other than the accusation being ignored.

    I just find it baffling they consider this an in-house issue at all, and the name ‘Disputes Committee’ hardly seems apposite – as if the disagreement is over one member not paying another back the tenner they lent them.

    Off the top of my head, I can only think of two responses: either go to the police, or go round the fucker’s house… with a bat.

  292. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #321 Not just diversion, but utterly rank hypocrisy. The difference between the standards by which Assange was effectively presumed guilty (and Galloway villified for defending him and wikileaks), and those by which Comrade Delta was cleared, really beggars belief. The only consistency is that the SWP leadership has opposed whistleblowing in both situttions…

  293. Karl Stewart on said:

    Yes, that’s a clear difference between the two Tony. The SP is unable to recognise the changes political reality of 2013 compared to the Blair years.

    Irish MarkP, I see your point – but it’s based on my not making my argument clearly enough.
    I don’t think the Labour Party itself has changed fundamentally.
    But the objective political conditions have shifted since the Blair years and this has closed the political space for a left social-democratic alternative that had started to open up outside of LP during the Blair years.
    That space for the struggle for left social democracy now exists inside the Labour Party in a way that it didn’t during the Blair years.

    Mark, social democracy is not an end in itself (unles one is a social democrat) and so it is not a matter of principle for marxists on which terrain that struggle should be fought.

    JimmyH, What I meant was that I don’t know much about the CWI specifically – I am well aware that there are lots of competing “internationals” and I know they take themselves very seriously, but none of them have ever been taken remotely seriously by anyone outside of these miniscule organisations.

    As to the term “trotskyism” – to me, it’s utterly meaningless.

    There are so many political organisations who follow their own version of this personality cult, while differing widely on a whole range of issues, strategies, tactics etc. So it’s not a case of whether I’m “hostile” – it just has no ideological cohesion Jimmy.

    Do I “take offence” at being called a “stalinist” – again, it is not a political ideology, it’s a pointless term to use. It means exactly what its user wants it to mean – so everything and nothing.

    So “exasperated” more accurately explains how I feel when this meaningless term is used.

    If you honestly want to know what serious communists think of the Stalin period, take a look at the link GeorgeW posted earlier.

  294. #324 Unless I’m much mistaken, it’s based on a misquotation from a document that’s been doing the rounds for at least 40 years. The bit about the peasantry, students and geurillaism is aimed at the USFI (the ‘Mandelites’).

    I may be wrong of course. Jimmy?

  295. @317

    “But unless the British Legal System is called upon by the plaintiff, something like it is the only option other than the accusation being ignored. I agree, though, that the “jury” being close contacts of the defendant offends against natural justice.”

    SWP should have encouraged and supported her to go to the police. It’s the only way a crime of this nature should be investigated. But in reality, as we see time and time again, women don’t report allegations of sexual assault and rape for various reasons to the police. Yes, I am sure many will utter “bourgeois courts”…but that’s the best we have under this system and I would ( have) encourage women who make allegations of rape to go to the police and to also contact Rape Crisis for support and solidarity. Certainly, there’s no justice for the woman in question. And certainly, the Left should be better with dealing with this but it never EVER is. And the noticeable thing is yet again it’s about the treatment of women… No wonder so many women are put off by the revolutionary left.

  296. David Ruaune on said:

    Jay Blackwood:
    One thing that doesn’t seem to be in question is that the SWP thought it was appropriate to deal with an allegation of rape via an internal disciplinary process. Utter madness.

    But unless the plaintiff goes to the police it doesn’t seem to be madness – it seems to be a reasonable attempt to deal with it; if it is not dealt with externally, it must be dealt with internally, or not at all.

    Along with some others, I salute Pat Stack on this issue (though he’s probably by past actions and choices partly responsible).

  297. Morning Star reader on said:

    No, stop it Jimmy (316), I can’t laugh any more, it’s hurting!
    “The Committee for a Workers’ International was founded in 1974 at a meeting in which over” (wait for it) “40″ (yes, that’s right, 40, we counted ‘em) “Socialists and Marxists from” (no, let me guess, 20? 30? 40? Oh …) “12 countries came together to discuss the formation of an international Marxist organisation not associated with any of the other so called” (so-called, with a snort … love it!) Trotskyist 4th Internationals”.
    Does Jimmy realise how ludicrous this must read to anybody who doesn’t live in “Marxist” (© RSL/Militant/Militant Labour/SP/CWI) La-La Land?
    Being tiny isn’t proof of being wrong, but it suggests that a little modesty might be in order.
    I notice that 84 delegates from 60 parties in 44 countries attended the annual conference of Communist and workers’ parties in Beirut last November. At least 20 other parties from 14 other countries couldn’t travel to Lebanon for security or financial reasons. Quite a few of those present could fit the entire world membership of the CWI into one of their regional sub-organisations.
    That doesn’t make the CPs right, of course, and I imagine that Jimmy wouldn’t regard them as “Marxists” (©) any more than he would scores of Trotskyist groups.
    But I suspect there was a lot less self-important boasting in Beirut than we get at “CWI” meetings of the SP and its overseas satraps.

  298. “Is the above thread some kind of Late xmas joke? The tories must be laughing all the way to the next election,nothing to fear from a silent,invisible,disappeared opposition and nothing whatsover to worry about from this load of old toss.”

    How truly idiotic. “Never mind all that, what about Cameron and the Nazis”!

    These are very serious allegations well beyond the remit of the SWP or the blogosphere, and should be dealt with in a court of law. I wonder what would have happened had the report been voted down – given the vote was 230-209, with 18 abstentions, it wasn’t far off.

  299. #313 Karl you are spot on about the change in Labour’s direction under Brown. I think you are one of the first people to spell this out and reading what you said on here helped make me re-assess the issue. The fact that you were in the SLP in the early days only goes to show that you have given this issue some serious thought.

    You do also talk some absolute shite btw so don’t get big headed.

  300. David Ruaune on said:

    David: These are very serious allegations well beyond the remit of the SWP or the blogosphere, and should be dealt with in a court of law.

    Then bring it to a court of law, David! (it’s not me I’m not arguing with myself, honest) – someone has to bring things to a court of law – that’s the law!

  301. Jay Blackwood on said:

    David Ruaune: But unless the plaintiff goes to the police it doesn’t seem to be madness – it seems to be a reasonable attempt to deal with it; if it is not dealt with externally, it must be dealt with internally, or not at all.

    I disagree. I concur with what Louise (HarpyMarx)has said about encouraging and supporting the person who made the accusation in order to ensure that a full investigation is carried out. The DC (and its forerunner, the Control Commission) was never set up to deal with such a serious issue, and it should have known better than to try.

  302. David Ruaune on said:

    HarpyMarx:
    @317

    “But unless the British Legal System is called upon by the plaintiff, something like it is the only option other than the accusation being ignored. I agree, though, that the “jury” being close contacts of the defendant offends against natural justice.”

    SWP should have encouraged and supported her to go to the police. It’s the only way a crime of this nature should be investigated. But in reality, as we see time and time again, women don’t report allegations of sexual assault and rape for various reasons to the police. Yes, I am sure many will utter “bourgeois courts”…but that’s the best we have under this system and I would ( have) encourage women who make allegations of rape to go to the police and to also contact Rape Crisis for support and solidarity. Certainly, there’s no justice for the woman in question. And certainly, the Left should be better with dealing with this but it never EVER is. And the noticeable thing is yet again it’s about the treatment of women… No wonder so many women are put off by the revolutionary left.

    I missed that, Harpy, sorry. You could well be right.

  303. David Ruaune on said:

    I pretty well agree with what people have been saying since I made comments, but my comments were made in response to one or two people saying internal dispute resolution (over rape, or sexual harassment) is “madness” or somesuch per se.
    Alas, I trust the police to conduct inquiries better than the party.
    I think, as I have already said, that the “jury” cannot consist of one’s close comrades.

  304. Santiagotalk on said:

    David Ruaune: I missed that, Harpy, sorry. You could well be right.

    The women we are talking about did not wish to go to the police. Should the SWP have forced her to go to the Police against here wishes?

  305. Santiagotalk on said:

    Jay Blackwood: I disagree. I concur with what Louise (HarpyMarx)has said about encouraging and supporting the person who made the accusation in order to ensure that a full investigation is carried out. The DC (and its forerunner, the Control Commission) was never set up to deal with such a serious issue, and it should have known better than to try.

    This is the best post I have seen on this thread.

  306. David Ruaune on said:

    Santiagotalk: The women we are talking about did not wish to go to the police. Should the SWP have forced her to go to the Police against here wishes?

    That is what I was saying a bit back! Check it out, Santiagotalk!

  307. David Ruaune on said:

    What about this then – The SWP (and other friends) should encourage such a person to go to the police, and support such a person’s going to the police, but if such a person will not, then hold an internal inquiry.

    But that might have been what happened.

  308. Jellytot on said:

    @337The DC (and its forerunner, the Control Commission) was never set up to deal with such a serious issue, and it should have known better than to try

    Absolutely and it’s not surprising that they renamed the always very Orwellian sounding “Control Commission”.

    “Dual Power” concepts of Party tribunals weighing serious and potentially criminal matters were realistic in, say, China in the 30′s, where said parties had a mass support, roots and legitimacy.

    In the context of Britain in 2013 they’re both farcical and dangerous.

    @343But that might have been what happened.

    I would be surprised if they encouraged her to go to the Police.

    Didn’t they proclaim, in August 2011, that the Police “should be driven from the streets and the Estates” ?

  309. David Ruaune on said:

    Jellytot: “Dual Power” concepts of Party tribunals weighing serious and potentially criminal matters were realistic in, say, China in the 30′s, where said parties had a mass support, roots and legitimacy.

    But if someone wont go to the police there is only one power: their friendship group,family,loons on the estate, party, or whatever. Then their friendship group, etc., have to deal with it unless someone insists on going to the cops. That is just the way it is in law.

  310. “The women we are talking about did not wish to go to the police. Should the SWP have forced her to go to the Police against here wishes?”

    What a daft thing to say! They should have discussed this with her, said they would support and show solidarity, impressed the importance of seeing the police. It’s not about force, it’s about solidarity. Also. they could have encouraged Rape Crisis who are trained and equipped to deal with this. It’s about support and solidarity… Did the SWP actually encourage her to go to the police? The options were police investigation and extra support from orgs like Rape Crisis.

  311. Santiagotalk on said:

    HarpyMarx:
    “The women we are talking about did not wish to go to the police. Should the SWP have forced her to go to the Police against here wishes?”

    What a daft thing to say! They should have discussed this with her, said they would support and show solidarity, impressed the importance of seeing the police. It’s not about force, it’s about solidarity. Also. they could have encouraged Rape Crisis who are trained and equipped to deal with this. It’s about support and solidarity… Did the SWP actually encourage her to go to the police? The options were police investigation and extra support from orgs like Rape Crisis.

    I dont know comrade what was said and done and neither do you. Quite frankly whatever the SWP did some people would say it was wrong.

  312. Jay Blackwood on said:

    Question: If the DC had determined that the allegation of rape was proven, what would/could they have done? Expelled the comrade concerned? And then left it at that?

    Surely they would have had to refer the matter to the police anyway. Which takes us back to square one…

  313. Jay Blackwood on said:

    Santiagotalk: I dont know comrade what was said and done and neither do you. Quite frankly whatever the SWP did some people would say it was wrong.

    Some people would, but certainly not all. I have no axe to grind on that account – far from it. But the way this has been handled… Well, it’s beyond belief really.

  314. “I dont know comrade what was said and done and neither do you.”

    If only there was some sort of record available online of how they went about this investigation and what they considered, where we could check if they considered supporting this woman going to the police… oh well I guess we’ll never know.

  315. stuart: Tony isn’t merely referring to allegations, he uses the term ‘facts’. This cannot go unchallenged.

    Really? Given the complete hypocrisy of your organisation, do you really think I will take a blind bit of notice about what you believe should be challenged? You guys made complete fools of yourselves over Galloway’s comments; please don’t make yourselves look worse.

  316. David Ruaune on said:

    If, purely hypothetically, a member of the CC was found guilty of rape, or even of once slapping a girl’s arse, by a majority of the DC, he would not be handed over to the bourgeois legal system, but taken into a grimy back-yard and SHOT IN THE HEAD but from his dying lips you would hear the murmur “Long Live The Dictatorship Of The Proletariat.”

  317. stuart: How are you in any position to present sexual assaults as ‘facts’? What does this say about standards on this blog, the blog in which some leading contributors have defended George ‘in the sex game’ Galloway?

    The one thing worth commenting on here is the increasing misuse of a nickname between the first and last names.

    Is “in the sex game” George Galloway’s nick name?

    It really annoys me that people do this. The quoted bit between first and last names is only supposed to be for a recognised nickname.

    Stuart, that’s the most interesting thing to be said for your obsessive comment, that you assigned a nick name that made no sense to someone who has never been called that.

    It’s just so interesting that you believe your organisation can conduct a serious investigation into an allegation of rape – with no forensic examination, no cross-examination, no testing of statements, and yet you think you have the right to question how I ascertain that things are facts?

    I wish I could understand what it is about this mindset that allows you to believe you should be taken seriously.

    It’s just a shame that a woman has had to be dragged through this, while you lot were on record as continually congratulating yourself for your “proud tradition” of defending women. I think you’ve got an even prouder tradition of ignoring abhorrent behaviour inside your party – as I’ve said many times, you’ve all turned a blind eye to acts of violence by SWP members that have been witnessed by enough people; your members twice assaulted Respect members in 2008 and your CC didn’t even respond to a polite letter from Respect about it. There are many stories from many people about SWP members beating them up, often in public.

    You guys think you’re immune from any kind of normal standards of behaviour, don’t you?

  318. tony collins: I’m glad you said that Neil, cos it demonstrates how you know nothing about me, just li’l me from the London Transport Regional Council Executive Committee for several years, involved right at the heart of the RMT, one of the leading London activists for quite a while.

    Fair enough, you are right I don’t know who you are and I apologise for saying you don’t have a clue.

    However now that I DO know who you are and your background I’m astonished you think the way you do. Since you were around then surely you must know that at the time the SP had no more than four active members in the whole London Underground?
    They were (and still are) quite respected on London Underground and of course the Socialist Party now is in a stronger position on the London Underground but at the time practically all the left groups present in the Underground, SWP, AWL, anarchists etc were all in a stronger position. I think you are overstating the extant to which the NSSN was a creation of the SP. It wasn’t. My recollection of the time as someone involved in the discussions in the party in the lead up to the first NSSN conference was that it was a case of, ‘this is a good initiative by a union with a fighting record and a lot of respect in the class, lets get involved’. After that we just organised and prepared in the way we’ve always done in the labour movement.

    I used the example of Alex Gordan not directly against you but more generally to counter the idea that the NSSN is simply an SP front. There are independents with real social weight involved like Alex but also people like PAdy Brennan and the stewards in the Honda factory in Swindon or Steve Acheson and the sparks in the North West.

    Of course whatever people think about the decision to set up an anti cuts group it should also be remembered it ultimately had the support of the RMT leadership, particularly Bob Crow, Alex Gordan and Steve Headley at the time the London Regional organiser and not a member of the SP as he is now. I’d say they have a fair amount of social weight between them.

  319. “I dont know comrade what was said and done and neither do you. Quite frankly whatever the SWP did some people would say it was wrong”

    That’s why you have a police investigation. People put forward their accounts in question and it’s investigated, along with lawyers etc. Also, how was this investigated by the SWP, are any legally trained? They are not (can someone contradict me here) qualified in evidence gathering. The investigation would be unbiased. As pointed by Jay, what would have happened if the allegation of rape had been proven? Expulsion, police involvement, what? Just because conference voted for the Disputes Committee report doesn’t mean that’s the end of the story necessarily.Groups are not equipped to deal with these kind of serious allegations, nor should it be or any other Trot group. They should have declined to have dealt with it as the mechanisms are not there nor the expertise. Fundamentally unfair to both the accuser and the accused. In essence, it is a kangaroo court.

  320. That space for the struggle for left social democracy now exists inside the Labour Party in a way that it didn’t during the Blair years.
    Karl Stewart,

    #329

    Sorry,Karl, this is just wishful thinking.As I put it to Andy a few weeks ago,my understanding is that the Left of the Labour party got steamrolled by the Blairites in the selection process for the 3 recent by-elections. This would give the appearance that the left of the LP carry little weight within the party.

  321. Feodor on said:

    Jellytot:
    I would be surprised if they encouraged her to go to the Police.

    If they did, I bet it was along the lines of ‘you can go to the police or we can deal with this internally’, with a strong emphasis on the latter.

    Certainly the impression I got from reading the conference transcript was that the ‘bourgeois court system’ is seen as hopelessly incompetent whereas the ‘Disputes Committee’ is presented as a body capable of dealing with such things. When people are constantly surrounded by such views, it’s unlikely that they’ll see past them, which I think explains why the lady in question didn’t want to go to the police. I hope she reconsiders, though any kind of subsequent investigation would face a myriad of problems because of the SWP’s handling of this.

    I encourage everyone to read the transcript btw, the amateurishness of the whole thing makes you feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, and the odd details that emerge are rather telling.

    I’m absolutely bamboozled that the SWP even think of handling this kind of situation in this way. They’ve brought this mess on themselves, because they’ve completely overlooked their duty of care towards the woman in question – though I’m sure they’d dismiss that as ‘bourgeois legalism’.

  322. jack ford on said:

    And meanwhile on the Tomb they’re having an earnest discussion of patriarchy full of academic jargon. No mention of the scandal of course. Hypocrites.

  323. #360 Interestingly the SWP commentators on here said something similar about rape and the bourgeois courts in relation to Assange.

    Of course in that case the accused actually is in danger of going before such a court while in this case as has been explained above, this probably couldn’t now happen.

    After all, just because a victim (alleged or otherwise) decides initially not to go to the Police doesn’t mean she won’t change her mind.

  324. stuart on said:

    Feodor:

    Off the top of my head, I can only think of two responses: either go to the police, or go round the fucker’s house… with a bat.

    Even if not proven guilty? Why is this post allowed to remain?

  325. Jellytot on said:

    @356There are many stories from many people about SWP members beating them up, often in public.

    I’m always slightly surprised when I read Tony’s references to this.

    I don’t doubt the truth of what Tony states for a second . It’s just that I’ve always been under the impression that the SWP hasn’t had a block of people who’ve possessed either the ability and temperament to “beat people up” since the explusion of those WC members who eventually became Red Action 30 or so years ago.

    @360I encourage everyone to read the transcript btw, the amateurishness of the whole thing makes you feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole

    Given the frankly surreal world of the “Vanguardist” Left this is an apt comparison.

  326. stuart on said:

    Tony Collins,

    Galloway uttered those words. There is no dispute over that. It is fact. It’s on the podcast.

    My understanding is that woman X did not choose to go to the police. She made a complaint to the party and the party of which she was a member followed its own rules. I assume that the party could only ‘punish’ Comrade Delta on the basis of party membership after investigating the complaint through its own procedures.

  327. Manzil on said:

    @ Feodor #307 and George W #318 etc.

    Positive attitudes towards co-operatives were obviously strengthened by the renewed emphasis on democracy by communists and socialists in the post-Soviet period, and this is a good thing. Whether in 2001 Argentina or Chicao’s Republic Windows, occupations and the attempted creation of workers’ co-ops have offered a viable means of resisting the bosses and counter-posing a socialist alternative.

    On the other hand, there is nothing inherently socialistic about co-operatives; without changing the relations of production, they are subsumed and co-opted by them.

    Production co-operatives have consistently failed to acquire the start-up capital or market openings to successfully compete. The nature of the more prevalent retail and wholesale co-operatives are in turn inevitably conditioned by the overwhelmingly non-co-operative mode of production, which is itself generally given direction by the monopolistic mode of exchange.

    They can be nicer to work for, and more beneficial for their communities, but co-operatives are incapable of overturning the overwhelming global dominance of generalised commodity production, which defines the structure of the economy and thus of society as a whole.

    I think that to idealise co-ops is to buy into the notion that there is a gradualist means of achieving a post-capitalist society. I’ve heard incredibly intricate programmes about how trade union pension funds should buy up or invest in co-operative enterprises, and slowly socialise the economy.

    This ignores the centrality of class and of class struggle to the development of society. It proposes a formal, structural solution to what is a fundamentally political issue.

    It is akin to those ‘anti-globalists’ who champion small, family-owned businesses or credit unions against big multinationals and financial institutions. It is not the nature of the individual capitalist enterprise but of the capitalist class as a whole that gives them their exploitative nature. The massive supermarkets, department stores and corporations that are so exploitative and alienating derive their character from the nature of society itself, rather than their internal composition. In a truly democratic society, where the majority governs in its own interest, such massive combinations would only increase their leading role; they are the most advanced forms of organising economic activity we have developed.

    But this would be a progressive phenomenon, because it would be organised in the interests of the masses rather than the elite. Socialism presupposes the transformation of the political regime, rather than expecting it to result from the socialist economic transformation – would you agree?

    Feodor says that “nationalising the ‘commanding heights’ is severely outdated”. Why? Has the revolution in communications and information technology changed the fact that most economic activity consists of growing, extracting or manufacturing commodities? That the working class is exploited by the possessing class and has a common interest in a system which produces for need rather than profit? That this can only come about through the common ownership of the means of production?

    In the immediate term: would you disagree that a programme which demands the nationalisation of the banks as a public utility, the expansion of the socially-oriented public sector paid for by extended progressive taxation, and which generally advocates the increase of public control over the dominant economic institutions, is the only means of resolving the four-year-long global crisis?

    I think you both make serious and intelligent arguments about the need to envisage what, exactly, we suppose to replace the present system with. But surely a starting principle is that that alternative is contained within the substratum and the class relations of our existing social model, that indeed it is from within the contradictions of that system – between incredible material abundance and highly advanced political economy, and systemic crisis and accelerating deprivation and dispossession – that socialism can be fought for, rather than a utopian plan to supplant ‘what is’ with ‘what we’d like’.

  328. Manzil on said:

    Omar:
    Sorry,Karl, this is just wishful thinking.As I put it to Andy a few weeks ago,my understanding is that the Left of the Labour party got steamrolled by the Blairites in the selection process for the 3 recent by-elections. This would give the appearance that the left of the LP carry little weight within the party.

    Not to mention, if there was a sizeable and motivated left wing within the party, does anyone doubt the leadership, and the Blairites entrenched within the parliamentary party especially, would use all the old powers of proscriptions and bans? They succeeded in witch-hunting the left before, and at a time of very high militancy and activity within the grassroots of their party. Interventions in the Labour Party now would be significantly more isolated and wielding considerably less leverage.

    Labour is an electoral, parliamentarist party run by careerists. It is on this ground that it could be pushed back onto more orthodox social democratic terrain, through a combination of substantial shifts in opinion amongst its voter base (already largely achieved on a variety of areas where Labour voters are consistently ahead of the party) and through the expression of these forces by the left outside the Labour Party. If you want a social democratic party, you should threaten Labour rather than canvass for it.

  329. Jellytot on said:

    @366My understanding is that woman X did not choose to go to the police. She made a complaint to the party and the party of which she was a member followed its own rules. I assume that the party could only ‘punish’ Comrade Delta on the basis of party membership after investigating the complaint through its own procedures.

    This opens up more questions than it answers and you’re right to place hyphens around the word punish. There can be no punishment that the SWP could meaningfully dole out given the grave nature of the allegations.

    Also what procedures and rules could and should a political party have to handle allegations of rape and assault within its own ranks for goodness sake?!

    What the party should have done was to throw up it’s hands and state, “I’m sorry but we are not configured to handle something like this”. It says a lot about the delusions of grandeur within the Party to think that it could.

    One allegation of this nature would be awful but there seems to be multiple charges against people living and dead. It really should make you question the whole set-up ‘stuart’.

  330. #368 I don’t think there’s a contradiction between saying that the transformation of Labour from a social democrat party into a purely bourgeois liberal party was significantly slowed and even reversed after Blair on the one hand, and seeing no viable political vehicle in the Labour Party on the other.

  331. Jellytot: What the party should have done was to throw up it’s hands and state, “I’m sorry but we are not configured to handle something like this”. It says a lot about the delusions of grandeur within the Party to think that it could.

    In fairness it seems from at least one of the comments above that some of them realise the truth of this.

  332. Manzil on said:

    Vanya,

    I agree. I think the ‘project’ of turning Labour into a liberal, Democratic-style party was never more than an aspiration, at most the most extreme form of a long-standing tendency towards class collaboration, and which was totally dependent on the unique circumstances Blair and his ilk faced in the early ’90s.

    The most blatant, relatively recent inadequacies of Labourism are common to all social democratic parties, to a greater or lesser degree. They were the product of generalised circumstances rather than peculiar to Britain, although I think it went further here than elsewhere. But Labour is no less a ‘bourgeois labour party’ now than it was fifty years ago – I think it’s a dead end to work inside the LP, but mainly for quite practical reasons, rather than some sort of seismic, qualitative shift in the party’s nature.

    That said, I think Omar’s point stands – the space for ‘left social democracy’, let alone socialism, within the LP remains far too narrow for us to concentrate on working within it as a priority.

    Joining Labour turns socialists into Labourites rather than the reverse.

  333. Manzil on said:

    On the SWP issue – why in the hell didn’t the Disputes Committee members just turn around and say, ‘er, sorry, we’re really not qualified to deal with this’, like any sane person would (I’d hope)?

  334. Martin Kelly on said:

    “My understanding is that woman X did not choose to go to the police”

    It’s possible this is not the end of this matter. There’s nothing to stop the police investigating any potential offence. We don’t know whether Special Branch bother monitoring the trotskyist left these days, but anyone could draw their attention to it. Hypothetically, woman X or one of her supporters may feel sufficiently aggrieved to inform the police. Let’s face it, the police would love to ‘get’ comrade Delta and they will be a lot more persuasive than lovable Pat Stack. The bad press alone would dry up any recruitment and probably increase the dropout rate. The close vote showed that a CC repair job is not going to be easy. This has the potential to mark the beginning of the end for the SWP.

  335. “There’s nothing to stop the police investigating any potential offence”

    Only an idiot would not consider the fact the police would at this site and the might have taken notice of the 374 comments so far, and maybe have made a few notes, you think ?

  336. Jellytot on said:

    @374We don’t know whether Special Branch bother monitoring the trotskyist left these days

    @374Let’s face it, the police would love to ‘get’ comrade Delta and they will be a lot more persuasive than lovable Pat Stack.

    @375Only an idiot would not consider the fact the police would at this site

    I’ve long been of the opinion that the State regards groups such as the SWP to be a safe pair of hands, known quantities and generally good to have around; a safe receptacle and safety valve for potential radicalism, as it were.

    The inherent strategic and tactical conservatism of such groups would appeal to them.

    Therefore, I’d imagine that they’d be content to leave well alone.

  337. Feodor on said:

    stuart: Even if not proven guilty? Why is this post allowed to remain?

    I’ll go one better Stuart and retract my comment: there was an obvious bravado to it which should not surface in a discussion on as serious a topic as this. For that I apologise. You were right to draw attention to this.

    The only suitable response would have been to go to the police and/or a support group for rape victims.

  338. Feodor on said:

    Manzil, I mention co-operatism not as the solution, but as one potential solution, esp. on account of its long tradition in this country. Nevertheless, I agree with the thrust of your critique.

    I think, however, we’ve tended to forget the influence of idealist and religious socialist doctrines on Marx and Engels. After all, they were ‘scientific socialists’. But one consequence of this is that few socialists today outline utopian visions, yet these do have a role to play – it could be argued much of Marx and Engels solid theory rests on the tacit foundations of such visions. At least I’m certain that if these visions had not existed, they would have thought it necessary to spend more time pondering what a future socialist society might look like, or perhaps they wouldn’t even have become socialists in the first place.

    In effect, I’m saying we should let our imaginations run wild from time to time and try and envisage something different, as opposed to simply relying on the same old formulations. Call it a modern utopianism, if you like.

    In that vein, I also think things like demarchy possibly hold potential, as well as building on the British tradition of the mega-union – in many ways mega-unions could form the nucleus of a future planned economy, broadly in line with the ‘one big union’ concept. And moreover, I don’t think we should worry too much about such lines of thinking making us irrelevant, because it’s not as if we have much relevance in the first place.

    Lastly, when I speak about the ‘commanding heights’ I tend to think about coal, steel, etc. And it can’t be denied that these industries both formed the foundation of 20th century socialism and that, now, they are far less relevant to the modern British economy. The nationalisation strategy is still relevant to certain sectors – public transport, banking, etc. – but it has less relevance to others, esp. the service sector. Moreover, the increased international division of production makes the nationalisation of certain manufacturing sectors far more problematic today than it was 50 years ago – I’ve previously seen Andy make some good arguments to this effect with regard to the car industry.

    I’m not saying we should discount all past strategies, yet building on what’s been discussed on SU over the past week or so, I think if we are to revive socialism in this country we must focus on two things: (1) reconnecting with the ‘bread and butter’ demands of actual workers; (2) reformulating a vision of socialism for the 21st century that can gain wide appeal.

    And funnily enough, this is where the division and plurality of opinion on the left could come in very handy: in a way, I think the often very cantankerous ‘revolutionary-reformist’, ‘materialist-idealist’, dichotomies produce a kind of symbiosis wherein each reinforces and strengthens the other. This is v. important, because the mental gymnastics involved in tackling all these different problems probably means no one tendency or theory can ever hope to really grasp the full picture: different perspectives look at things from different angles and have different points of emphasis. There’s rarely one ‘right’ answer.

    I know this is all rather vague, but it’s the best I’ve got, sorry. :)

  339. Jellytot on said:

    I’ve just read through this, then re-read it, and I’m utterly stunned and appalled in equal measure:

    http://www.socialistunity.com/swp-conference-transcript-disputes-committee-report/

    Key Excerpts:

    CANDY U of the Control Commission (renamed Disputes Committee – DC):

    We’re not a law court. We are here to protect the interests of the party

    VIV S from Dalston Branch:

    comrades, she was asked about past and subsequent sexual relationships, and she was pressured

    And I think one of the most distressing things for her was that she was expected to respond immediately to the evidence that Comrade Delta was able to bring – she never got to see it in advance. He had her statement for weeks before she appeared in front of the panel. Some of the issues that were raised were things she had blocked out, and it was an incredibly traumatic experience for her.

    SADIA J:

    She was questioned about why she went for a drink with him, her witnesses were repeatedly asked whether she’d been in a relationship with him, and you know, she was asked about (Karen begins to talk over Sadia to warn about providing details) … she was asked about relationships with other comrades including sexual relationships. All this was irrelevant to the case.
    We’ve got a proud tradition in the party of rejecting that line of questioning by the state. This is about consent. To date she hasn’t been told what evidence was presented against her by Comrade Delta and by his witnesses. She felt she was being interrogated and felt they were trying to catch her out in order to make her out to be a liar. She did not accept the line of questioning, saying ‘they think I’m a slut who asked for it’.Rita, a comrade who is experienced in working with rape victims and was supporting her in the questioning – she had to actually go back into the room and have a go at the DC for their inappropriate questions.

    Comrade X:

    First I think the composition of the disputes committee was problematic. Viv has mentioned that five of the seven were former or current CC members, most of the people have close or long term working relationships and in some cases friendships with the accused, and while I don’t for a second question the personal integrity of the individual comrades, when it comes down to, as they said, whose version of events you’re most likely to believe, I do think it creates an unfair bias in this case.

    Finally – (voice breaks) in my opinion the worst part was the nature of some of the questioning. I was asked if it was fair to say I liked to have a drink. That’s all I need to say on the matter.

    My God, this stinks to high heaven…..If this is socialist justice then give me the ‘bourgeois’ legal system and its Police any day of the week.

  340. Karl Stewart on said:

    Omar:
    That space for the struggle for left social democracy now exists inside the Labour Party in a way that it didn’t during the Blair years.
    Karl Stewart,
    #329
    Sorry,Karl, this is just wishful thinking.As I put it to Andy a few weeks ago,my understanding is that the Left of the Labour party got steamrolled by the Blairites in the selection process for the 3 recent by-elections. This would give the appearance that the left of the LP carry little weight wit

    hin the party.

    Omar, I’m not engaged in “wishful thinking” – I don’t have a preference for whether there is or is not a political space for left social democracy outside of the LP.
    I’m just saying that that space that opened up during the early 2000s has now effectively closed.

  341. uttered those words. There is no dispute over that. It is fact. It’s on the podcast.

    5 points for completely failing to understand what I wrote. It’s not a nickname. I was merely saying that the most interesting aspect of what you wrote was your silly misuse of the nickname convention. You’re saying that George’s nickname is “in the sex game”, cos that’s the usage of a quote between the first and last names. Keep up, Stuart.

  342. Feodor: Which, to play devil’s advocate, brings me to my next question: what would this socialism look like in practice?

    To be fair, there i a very interesting discussion here, rather being lost in the noise of the SWP stuff. Perhaps we should start a new thread just for people to discuss this.

  343. stuart: Are these allegations or facts? You have presented this stuff in the past as being ‘fact’, not allegation.

    Let me help you out here Stuart. When making distinction between referring to something as either a fact or as an allegation this is not a judgement on the correspondence between what is being stated and the independently existing reality; rather it is a distinction between whether the person speaking has sufficeint knowledge about that correspondence with reality or not.

    The question of verdicality, or correspondence between claim and fact, has two aspects; i) whether the mental construct correspondends to an actually existing reality; and ii) whether the person possessng the mental construct has sufficient knowledge to judge its verdicality.

    If Tony knows, through evidence available to him, that something happened, ,then he is entitled to refer to it as factual.

    If Tony knows that a third party has claimed something, but Tony is not able to know through evidence available to him, whether that thing actualy happened happened, ,then he must refer to it as an allegation.

    You see they are different words, spelled differenty, and they mean different things.

  344. stuart on said:

    Jellytot:

    What the party should have done was to throw up it’s hands and state, “I’m sorry but we are not configured to handle something like this”. It says a lot about the delusions of grandeur within the Party to think that it could.

    One allegation of this nature would be awful but there seems to be multiple charges against people living and dead. It really should make you question the whole set-up ‘stuart’.

    So what are you saying? That the party should not investigate serious complaints against its members? That it should do nothing? It should do nothing about whatever ‘awful’ allegation is brought up? Frankly I don’t believe you would be satisfied with that response for one second. The truth is that whatever the SWP did or didn’t do would never be acceptable to you but then the SWP does not exist for your benefit.

  345. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman:

    If Tony knows, through evidence available to him, that something happened, ,then he is entitled to refer to it as factual.

    But following the conversation that I linked above, I asked Tony on at least six occasions to explain how he can come to know these things as facts. He never provided an answer. It’s in the archives.

  346. stuart on said:

    Tony Collins:

    It’s not a nickname.

    I never claimed it was a nickname. It is not unusual to see something that somebody said quoted between their first name and their surname.

  347. Neil: but also people like PAdy Brennan and the stewards in the Honda factory in Swindon

    Paddy is a good trade unionist, and I had forgotten that he has had dsome involvement with the NSSN.

    However, I think this also reveals the weakness of the SP’s conception of a network of shop stewards.

    Paddy, Sergio and the other stewards at Honda have very good organisation at the plant, but have minimal involvement with any activists from other unions (local or regional)outside Honda. They have not been involved in the local trades council, with any anti-cuts protests or organising in their own town; and the only political event I have seen them at in recent years was the TULO hustings I organised for the candidates for the North Swindon PPC nomination.

    A properly functioning shop stewards network would encourage them first to not only network within the auto industry, but also to network to help build capacity in their own town and region.

    I presume that the connection wth Honda and the NSSN came about via the car sector, and the role of Rob Williams? However, the SP has been content to relate to Honda activists directly, and encourage them to attend NSSN national meetings, rather than to network with other activists locally, and build a real autonomous network.

    To take a good example, the industrial dispute with Carillion at the GWH has seen good relations between UNITE and GMB, but this has all been mediated at the level of GMB lay members talking to UNITE officals. GMB Goan activists even persuaded 165 Goan staff at a Honda owned components factory to join UNITE. What support has GMB received from NSSN? None, – yet now you tell me that an exaple of the independent activists in your orbit include Honda shop stewards in the same town. (If NSSN had any viable internal life would it not have helped to network the GMB stewards leading the dispute at the hospital with the Honda reps? Or indeed between the UNITE HOnda stewards and the GMB shop stewards working for Sodexo on the Honda site!)

    Instead, the SP’s conception of the NSSN is simply an unimaginative bridge between the SP and shop stewards, where all relationships are mediated by having to go through the SP!

  348. stuart: That the party should not investigate serious complaints against its members? That it should do nothing? It should do nothing about whatever ‘awful’ allegation is brought up?

    It is qute clear what should have happened, which is that the SWP should have taken legal advice, and should have sought the involvement of the police when faced with allegations of this nature. That would be in the best interests of the accuser, the accused and the institution.

    Only once the police and CPS had carried out an investigation could the SWP mount its own investigation, and decide what administrative sanction was apropriate.

    The woman should have been referred to independent rape advisors, who had no connection to the SWP, and if after discussing with them she really did not want to go to the police, then that would be the end of the issues relating to the criminal law, but she should then have been encouraged by the SWP to bring to them the complaints relating to inappropriate behaviour, to a properly constituted disputs committeee – ie one that was not stacked with freinds and work colleagues of the accused. If it was not possible to find such an independent group within the SWP, then they could have used trusted impartial people outside the SWP.

  349. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman,

    I think you make far too many assumptions about what may or may not have happened, aside from the actual party enquiry.

    The SWP internal investigation was carried out by a body that was accountable to the party and the report was upheld by conference.

  350. Mark P on said:

    Just for information can somebody in the SWP explain this. The accuastion was of a serious criminal offence. Why wasn’t this referred to the police. I appreciate the politics but in any other instance, for example a colleague at work would it be SWP practice not to advise someone making such an accusation to go to the police. And if that is the case, what would the advice be?

    Not scoring points, if that is genuinely the position just curious what the advice would be?

    Mark P

  351. stuart on said:

    Mark P,

    My assumption is that those who contribute to this thread either don’t know enough about the actual case to be able to comment, or if in the unlikely scenario that they do, they would not feel entitled to share the information.

  352. Feodor on said:

    @#390, Mark P: Female worker goes to her trade union rep, an SWP member, and tells them that her boss has sexually assaulted her. The reps response is that the best way to deal with this is to establish an internal commission to investigate the matter, with the majority of participants on this panel being other members of the management team who have all known the accused in both a professional and personal capacity for years. In due time, the commission concludes its investigation by saying there has been no wrongdoing. Justice has prevailed.

    @#382, Andy – yes, that might be worth doing. If you do do that, would you mind also digging up those old posts of yours that I mentioned earlier, on the international division of production and car manufacturing, and the problems this poses to any potential socialist government. You’ve probably got a better idea of where they might be than I have – off the top of my head, I think they’re from September/October-ish, perhaps in threads related to the Greek situation.

  353. Feodor on said:

    David Ruaune: But if someone wont go to the police there is only one power: their friendship group,family,loons on the estate, party, or whatever. Then their friendship group, etc., have to deal with it unless someone insists on going to the cops. That is just the way it is in law.

    I just re-read this. And you’re right in the sense that if the victim did not go to the police then support needs to be provided from elsewhere – even if they went to the police, one imagines they’d receive/need support from other quarters as well. But it’s ludicrous to think criminal investigation would ever be part of the role of these other groups. That’s really not the way it is in law. That seems more like vigilante justice to me.

  354. stuart on said:

    Feodor,

    There is no evidence that anybody prevented or talked the woman out of going to the police. All we know is that she made a complaint through the party mechanisms and the party followed its established procedures on complaints. Workplaces are not subjected to as much democratic scrutiny.

  355. It’s hard to find words to describe how scandalous this entire episode is.

    I mean, were these women put under any kind of pressure not to go to the police? These are rape allegations. What in the thinking of the members of the so-called Disputes Committee led any of them to believe they had the right, expertise, or wherewithal to sit in judgment of rape allegations?

    It is utterly bizarre.

  356. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    #392 Brilliant comparison Feodor! And great comment too on the bigger picture for socialism at #378 btw =)

  357. stuart on said:

    John,

    So faced with a complaint against a party member by another party member what should the party do? Nothing and just carry on?

  358. Feodor on said:

    stuart:
    Workplaces are not subjected to as much democratic scrutiny.

    Perhaps. Though tbh the last time me and 3 co-workers moaned about an autocratic boss it did not end up with us being sacked, even once the boss had found out about our secret faction.

    ‘Democratic scrutiny’ is in any case not the criteria on which competence in criminal investigation is determined.

    The issue here is the SWP’s completely delusional view that it thought itself able to conduct its own investigation into such a serious matter. The only other groups that I can think of which would also consider such a response apposite, are religious cults.

  359. Feodor on said:

    Marxist Lenonist:
    #392 Brilliant comparison Feodor! And great comment too on the bigger picture for socialism at #378 btw =)

    What can I say, even the dullest dogs have their moments! ;)

  360. Jay Blackwood on said:

    Andy Newman: It is qute clear what should have happened, which is that the SWP should have taken legal advice, and should have sought the involvement of the police when faced with allegations of this nature. That would be in the best interests of the accuser, the accused and the institution.

    Only once the police and CPS had carried out an investigation could the SWP mount its own investigation, and decide what administrative sanction was apropriate.

    Absolutely correct. Only the hubris of believing that you are ‘THE PARTY’, and becoming so enmeshed in role-playing a re-run of 1917 that you lose any notion of the real world, could explain the way this was handled.

    As for Stuart’s argument that we don’t know enough to comment… Well, all we need to know is that a rape allegation was handled in the way detailed in the leaked transcript. That’s all it takes to see that the SWP has finally, and perhaps irrevocably, lost the plot. For myself – and speaking as someone who has often defended the SWP, for example earlier in this post – I am utterly disgusted.

  361. But following the conversation that I linked above, I asked Tony on at least six occasions to explain how he can come to know these things as facts. He never provided an answer. It’s in the archives.

    See how this sense of entitlement works in the SWP? You feel you have the right to make demands of people who owe you nothing. You took no action at all against your comrades who tried to drive people out of the movement. You, Stuart, sat back and allowed your comrades to engage in disgusting behaviour towards people who used to be allies. See, on those grounds I feel no need to prove anything to you. You really need to try to understand this – after all, I’ve said it to you enough times.

    Let’s do a bit of logic here: my refusal to engage in semantic games with you has no bearing on the things I say or know or believe.

  362. stuart on said:

    Feodor: The issue here is the SWP’s completely delusional view that it thought itself able to conduct its own investigation into such a serious matter.

    It was an investigation into a complaint, not a legal judgement.

  363. stuart: So faced with a complaint against a party member by another party member what should the party do? Nothing and just carry on?

    Your use of the word ‘complaint’ to minimize a specific allegation of rape is striking, Stuart. It seems your priority here is defending the Party rather than see that justice for these women is served in light of very serious allegations of criminal sexual offences.

    The SWP is a cult, this is clear. I mean, this is the type of thing you’d associate with The Church of Scientology. They even make documentaries about it. I’ve seen them.

    There are good and honourable and decent people in the SWP. I know that for a fact – people who have given years of commitment and dedication to building what they thought was the best vehicle for effecting social change in Britain. I really feel sorry for them today.

  364. I never claimed it was a nickname. It is not unusual to see something that somebody said quoted between their first name and their surname.

    You can’t even follow basic logic can you? I’m merely pointing out that I don’t like the practice of quoting someone between their names. It’s the most interesting aspect of anything you’ve said. Traditionally, what went in quotes was only a nickname; this has changed recently, and I’m being an old codger and not liking it.

  365. stuart on said:

    Jay Blackwood: As for Stuart’s argument that we don’t know enough to comment… Well, all we need to know is that a rape allegation was handled in the way detailed in the leaked transcript. That’s all it takes to see that the SWP has finally, and perhaps irrevocably, lost the plot. For myself – and speaking as someone who has often defended the SWP, for example earlier in this post – I am utterly disgusted.

    Neither you nor I sat through the investigation. If I was called to jury service I would want to be present throughout the entire case.

  366. Feodor on said:

    Tony Collins:
    …I’m being an old codger and not liking it.

    Counter-revolutionary anarchist social-democratic autonomist feminist reactionary old fart is what you are Tony! ;)

  367. @Stuart

    “The SWP internal investigation was carried out by a body that was accountable to the party and the report was upheld by conference”.

    But where’s the justice in that?

    Candy U states: “We’re not a law court. We are here to protect the interests of the party, and to make sure that any inappropriate behaviour of any kind by comrades is dealt with, and we do that according to the politics of a revolutionary party.”

    It’s precisely in those situations that you would want an unbiased investigation, where people give their accounts, legal representation and so on. It may not have operated as a “law court” but it kinda smacks of a kangaroo court. No revolutionary organisation is equipped to deal with these serious allegations. If comrades are serious about their politics then encouraging and supporting the woman to go to the cops would have been the best way forward as opposed to a committee who doesn’t have the expertise nor the mechanics to deal with this, but again, to repeat, nor should it.

    “The conclusions we came to were that we were unanimous in our view that Comrade Delta had not raped W. In relation to the other questions, we considered how to weigh up the different accounts we’d heard very carefully. It was a difficult thing to do, and we tried to take into account all of the issues that might influence our views.”

    How was this arrived at? How was the evidence gathered? How was the evidence weighed up? How were these different accounts gathered? The seven investigating were acting as investigators as well as a jury. You cannot possibly do that as it’s a travesty of justice. And the final line gives it away….

    “It was a difficult thing to do, and we tried to take into account all of the issues that might influence our views.”

    You cannot act as some unbiased jury no matter how much “you take into account all of the issues that might influence our views”.

    Indeed the woman should have been given more support and solidarity and to be honest, encouraged to contact (as well as the police) organisations that are trained to deal with rape and sexual assaults… Rape Crisis.

    But…. there are contradictions from other comrades about this “investigation”

    “She wasn’t offered support – we asked for support. The woman had to ask the disputes committee if she could have someone in the room with her, she had to ask the panel so that she knew one person in the room. She knew nobody on the disputes committee panel.”

    This is shockingly outrageous. Again, this does not show unbiased investigation the very fact she had to ask for support. I mean, from any kind of hearing whether it’s court, tribunal, workplace hearing or so on… it’s expected that you have someone with you supporting you. So who is right on this, was REALLY offered support?

    “And I think one of the most distressing things for her was that she was expected to respond immediately to the evidence that Comrade Delta was able to bring – she never got to see it in advance. He had her statement for weeks before she appeared in front of the panel. Some of the issues that were raised were things she had blocked out, and it was an incredibly traumatic experience for her.”

    Again, it needs to be emphasised that you are dealing with rape. It is traumatic and distressing beyond words. Why didn’t she get to see comrade Delta’s statement? In a bourgeois legal setting accused and accuser get to see ALL the evidence hence a fair trial. If the above is true, then it was never going to be fair from the start, utter travesty. Also, was she asked a relationship she was having with another comrade. Relevance?!! Even the bourgeois courts moved away from that line of investigation!!!!!!

    “Then in terms of the process, we did discuss very carefully how to approach the question of rape, and we didn’t just want to use the standard legal definition, so we agreed to extend the remit in the way that the report summarised of what we investigated, so we also wanted to include questions of sexual assault or harassment, as well as whether Comrade Delta’s conduct was in any way abusive or the relationship as a whole.”

    How did they interpret the “standard legal definition”? Are they including “similar fact evidence”?

    “So we considered how we could make that as supportive as possible, and not add to her distress if we could, and try to accommodate her wishes as much as possible. So we agreed – normally the person who the complaint is about would be in the room – but we agreed that Comrade Delta wouldb’t be there when either she or her witnesses spoke.”

    Actually, at least in this situation with the SWP it was agreed to accommodate her wishes unlike my own experience many years ago in another Trot group, where my own wishes weren’t accommodated and I would have been expected to give my account in front of the individual concerned. I couldn’t do it. Therefore it wasn’t heard. Nobody mentioned to me going to police (with the exception of a woman outside the organisation and my reaction is that it never occurred to me).

    Therefore I would encourage any woman who alleges rape (any kind of sexual physical violence) to go to the police, with support, help and solidarity. Because these internal mechanisms of the revolutionary left are inadequate nor are they equipped to deal with serious criminal offences. Nor should they deal with it. Anyone who has dealt with supporting rape victims would be appalled by reading that transcript, words fail me….

  368. prianikoff on said:

    Jellytot @ 304

    “…in your comment of 5:52pm, you were trying to suggest, using Kennedy as an example, that it would be pointless for victims in this context to report Rape to the legal authorities.”

    Your views on this can’t be taken seriously because you clearly have a sectarian political agenda
    (you’re a Respect supporter hoping to damage the SWP.

    Hardly anyone here has been prepared to take up the Kennedy case, or others like it.
    It shows that the police are willing to *condone* sexual relationships entered into by deceit, to disorganise the opponents of the state.
    That’s precisely what Kennedy was there to do.
    He was a paid provocateur.

    There is also a large dollop of opportunism and hypocrisy involved in this discussion.
    Whereas this site has published articles supportive of Julian Assange, Newman published leaked internal SWP minutes without disclosing their source.
    Are the SWP whistle-blowers going to end up in Guantanamo or the Ecuadorian embassy or something?
    Why the difference in approach between these two sets of accusations?

    At least Harpy has been consistent in support for state action against the left
    First in the Sheridan case, then against Assange, now the SWP.
    Who’s next for “due process”, I wonder.
    Jepps now informs us that any form of internal investigation into potential criminal acts “taints” the evidence.

    My point is that the state is already tainted.
    We definitely don’t want a situation in which the police intervene in every political organisation, every school, every hospital and every factory to deal with allegations a sexual nature.
    We want a society that can administer itself, has its own agreed codes of conduct and can educate and regulate its own members.

    Meanwhile, absolutely zero covereage here of the mass protests against rape in India.
    What they’ve highlighted (amongst other things) is the woeful response of the Indian police to rape cases.
    Of course, ours are wonderful.

  369. Feodor: The only other groups that I can think of which would also consider such a response apposite, are religious cults.

    The delusion is that they could not go to the police.

    Imagine a different hypothetical scenario, where an IRA volunteer during the war had complained to the Army council that their Brigade Commandant had raped her. Genuinely they could not go to the police for obvious practical reasns, and thereofre you assume that there would have been a court martial within their limited capacity to conduct one, and had the accused been found guilty they would probably have shot him.

    What makes the SWP think they have to work in the same clandestine way as the IRA?

    How were the SWP intend to “punish” Comrade Delta, had they found him guity?

  370. Feodor: Counter-revolutionary anarchist social-democratic autonomist feminist reactionary old fart is what you are Tony!

    I think you meant to write

    Tony “Counter-revolutionary anarchist social-democratic autonomist feminist reactionary old fart” Collins

    That is the way Tony prefers

  371. prianikoff on said:

    The other issue involved in publication of internal minutes is whether the personal data of contributors to this site is safe. Perhaps the site administrators and lawyers here might want to refresh themselves on the Data Protection and Computer Misuse Acts.

  372. Feodor on said:

    stuart: It was an investigation into a complaint, not a legal judgement.

    A ‘complaint’!? It was an allegation of serious criminal misconduct ffs.

    And it’s quite clear from the transcript that for many SWPers such an investigation is considered as more preferable than a legal judgement in a court of law.

    All this just makes me glad that you lot will never come within an inch of state power. You’d manage to make Orwell’s most fantastical notions of socialist despotism seem moderate.

  373. prianikoff: The other issue involved in publication of internal minutes is whether the personal data of contributors to this site is safe. Perhaps the site administrators and lawyers here might want to refresh themselves on the Data Protection and Computer Misuse Acts.

    What are you referring to?

  374. Stuart

    “Neither you nor I sat through the investigation. If I was called to jury service I would want to be present throughout the entire case.”

    But that’s the thing, isn’t it! It wasn’t in a court room setting. Investigators acted as the jury. Legal expertise? How can that be justice? Also, you have contradictory interventions from comrades who go against the Disputes Committee report especially on the issue that this woman WASN’T supported.

    The revo left hasn’t got the mechanisms or the expertise. And let’s not forget, the individual has been accused of a serious criminal offence… you can’t just conveniently leave it to the organisation with their internal investigation as it’s a travesty to the traditions of the revolutionary Left and fighting oppression.

  375. Jay Blackwood on said:

    jimp: If they had found him guilty they would have expelled him.

    I could be wrong, but I suspect that a proven accusation of rape generally carries a heavier sentence… Which is another example of how inappropriate the handling of this really was.

  376. @408

    “At least Harpy has been consistent in support for state action against the left
    First in the Sheridan case, then against Assange, now the SWP.
    Who’s next for “due process”, I wonder.”

    LOL… comrade! You’ll be the first to know who is next for the “due process” treatment.

  377. Feodor on said:

    HarpyMarx:
    In a bourgeois legal setting accused and accuser get to see ALL the evidence hence a fair trial.

    I’m not certain (maybe Vanya could clarify?), but I believe the accuser does not get to see all the evidence in a ‘bourgeois legal setting’. However, what they do get is a trained prosecutor working on their behalf who does get to see all the evidence. In this instance, they had neither that nor counsel, which is a disgrace.

    Agree with everything else you’ve said though.

    Andy@#409 – interesting parallel. But, and I know it’s already ‘out there’ on other sites, did you mean to name who you did or was it an accidental slip of the tongue?

    And yeah, from this point on Tony is: Tony “Counter-revolutionary anarchist social-democratic autonomist feminist reactionary old fart” Collins. :)

    Or, for short, Phil Collins!

  378. prianiikoff on said:

    Louise, you’re increasingly sounding like a police-state socialist. What *is* your new job in Bristol?

    prianikoff

  379. @421
    “Louise, you’re increasingly sounding like a police-state socialist. What *is* your new job in Bristol?”

    Police state socialist, that’s a new one. Oh don’cha know I am going for Cressida Dick’s old job!!

  380. Jay Blackwood on said:

    prianiikoff: Louise, you’re increasingly sounding like a police-state socialist. What *is* your new job in Bristol?

    Why not deal with the issues rather than indulge in abuse?

  381. Feodor on said:

    I just saw something interesting pointed out over on urban75: throughout the proceedings, the woman in question is referred to as ‘W’, not ‘Comrade W’. Yet you know who is called ‘Comrade Delta’.

    Would be interesting to know for sure whether this wasn’t just an error in transcription.

    And prianiikoff (#421), you’re increasingly sounding like a complete tool.

  382. prianikoff on said:

    Under the circumstances, “abuse” is a very loaded term, comrade and there’s rather threatening tone to your reply.

    I have been dealing with the issues.
    I’ve also accurately reported your political responses to them. As I don’t have all the facts, I don’t think it’s adviseable to go any further.

    re. your political position;
    You may actively demonstrate against instances of police violence and corruption, but that’s not inconsistent with a perspective of wanting to reform the police.

    In all the above cases I mentioned, you totally refused to countenance the possibility of state frame-ups.
    You supported police action against leading figures on the left.

    I asked you a simple question. You’re not obliged to answer it.

  383. Manzil on said:

    Feodor,

    Well as someone who has a bad habit of viewing the NHS as a deformed workers’ state and microcosm of the future society, I fully take on board your comments about the need for imagination!

    On demarchy, it’s a good point. Too often socialists seem to regurgitate a formulaic historical example – workers’ councils or ‘the revolutionary party’ or whatever it is – rather than emphasising the principles at stake. Whether that is the jury principle of rotation and lottery, or democratic principles of mandating and recall, it’s better to focus on the principle and its effect, and to apply that innovatively, rather than to just bring out Comrade Moses’ stone tablets of approved socialist practice from on high.

    Re: the ‘commanding heights’, fair enough, but it’s useful to remember the import of the term. For us in 2013 Britain, what is it that directs and conditions the remainder of the economy? Undoubtedly monopoly finance capital. In that sense I think the argument for common ownership and democratic control of the entire financial sector is crucial to discussions about how to redirect economic activity along different lines, rather than just viewing it as akin to transport, water and other natural monopolies.

    Also good points on ‘one big union’ and co-operation as a natural expression of the collectivist impulse in the British setting. Definitely makes more sense to ‘indigenise’ socialist ideas through the habits and traditions of our own labour movement than to import inapplicable models from elsewhere.

    Not to say that Socialism is just working for John Lewis, shopping at Waitrose and banking at the Co-op. I’m just trying to get across that I think idealism can itself result from our analyses of ‘actually existing capitalism’, and solving the very routine problems people face – bullying managers, no autonomy, no time etc. Championing best practice as it exists is itself quite a radical idea. So when the Daily Hate attacks public sector workers, why even bother to point out their lies: why not just reply, why can’t everyone have ‘gold-plated pensions’ or whatever? Does that make sense? I feel I got lost somewhere along the way!!

    It does seem like this discussion has been lost in the mire of the SWP. Still, we persevere. :P

  384. Manzil on said:

    @ prianikoff

    Should socialists report murders, or is that a bit too police-statey as well?

  385. prianikoff on said:

    #425 Feodor

    I haven’t really followed your arguments very closely, but you are clearly from the “state socialist” tradition.
    When you talk about “state power”, you clearly mean something very different to what Marxists mean.
    That’s why you’re solutions are entirely of a police-state nature.

  386. Jay Blackwood on said:

    prianikoff: Under the circumstances, “abuse” is a very loaded term, comrade and there’s rather threatening tone to your reply.

    What this in response to my post? If so, you know very well that I was referring to verbal abuse. And I don’t see how my comment was threatening.

    I’m not sure if your other comments were directed at me or someone else…

  387. Feodor on said:

    prianikoff’s comment (post 426) is really indicative of the way certain parts of the left, on a range of issues, resort to subterfuge instead of confronting uncomfortable truths.

    In this case, it takes the form of clouding the issue by tacitly implying there is some kind of link between the very serious issue at hand and ‘state frame-ups’ of people on the left.

    Usually such practices are risible, but here they’re downright disturbing.

  388. prianikoff on said:

    #428 Manzil: “Should socialists report murders”

    Of course they should.
    But as a Criminologist you should be well aware of the class nature of the police and bourgeois courts.

    Are you saying that there have never been frame-up of working class people and socialists for rape and murder?
    There have.

    Socialists argue that the working class can deal with these issues better than them, not to genuflect before them as the only solution.

  389. stuart on said:

    Tony Collins: See, on those grounds I feel no need to prove anything to you.

    We clearly have different standards here. If I claim something on a blog to be ‘fact’, I would be prepared to explain how I am able to arrive at such a description if I am asked.

  390. prianikoff: Socialists argue that the working class can deal with these issues better than them, not to genuflect before them as the only solution.

    You are out of your mind. This really does discredit you and the political creed you ascribe to. I imagine you writing this tripe sitting in a bedsit surrounded by revolutionary paraphernalia while quoting passages from Trotsky’s ‘History of the Russian Revolution’.

    No wonder you write under a pseudonym.

  391. prianikoff on said:

    ” they’re downright disturbing.”

    Not when you consider the role of sexual allegations in the recent history of the British left.
    What I find disturbing is how state-socialists like you are prepared to run with them uncritically.

  392. @430
    I think he’s referring to me Jay. Though I am not too sure though.

    prianikoff

    Firstly, I do take umbrage when you refer to where I live, that’s worrying in itself. You know who I am but funnily enough I haven’t a clue who you are.

    Secondly, I have taken the position on the names you mention based on my own political observations/evidence… not following some “line” as you.. I know many other people who take similar lines does that make them a “police-state socialist”

    Thirdly, if you want to know about my politics then read my blog. You obviously know the political activism I am involved in yet to call me a pathetic name like “police state socialist” just because I disagree with you on Assange, Sheridan etc. SWP is insulting to say the least and a low blow..,considering it is coming from some anonymous troll.

  393. Feodor on said:

    prianikoff:
    When you talk about “state power”, you clearly mean something very different to what Marxists mean.

    You won’t get any argument from me if your claim is that my idea of working class state power is significantly different from the SWP’s. I’m rather proud of that, tbh.

    And as it happens, as an idealistic teenager the first group I was ever involved in, albeit only briefly and sporadically, was an anarchist one. I had to travel a fair distance to engage with this group. But the alternative was to remain in my area and engage with the SWP. And frankly, I’ll take vegetarian lifestylists over them any day of the week!

    And ‘solutions… entirely of a police-state nature’ – out of interest, what’s the air like on your planet?

    Manzil, once again what you say is very interesting. But it’s probably best to leave this discussion until another time and thread. In any case, I think the debates on the future of the left that have been occurring on this blog over the last week or so have been brilliant. I’ve certainly learnt a lot and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some kind of consensus emerging among people from very different backgrounds. Imo, this kind of thing really shows how potentially beneficial the internet can be to the left. The possibilities for allowing contributors to work out their positions are so much greater than those afforded by either meetings or newspapers.

  394. stuart on said:

    HarpyMarx,

    There is no evidence that the accuser was prevented from going to the police. She chose to complain to the party so the party had no option but to follow its procedures. If the pary had done nothing I’m sure many of those who criticise the SWP for acting would still have been critical. I’m not going to conduct a debate on the basis of some leaked transcript. The investigating body was accountable to the party, the report was debated at conference with dissenting voices being heard.

  395. Manzil on said:

    prianikoff:
    #428Manzil:“Should socialists report murders”

    Of course they should.
    But as a Criminologist you should be well aware of the class nature of the police and bourgeois courts.

    Are you saying that there have never been frame-up of working class people and socialists for rape and murder?
    There have.

    Socialists argue that the working class can deal with these issues better than them, not to genuflect before them as the only solution.

    I’m saying it’s irrelevant to the issue at hand – that the SWP does not have the competence to investigate allegations of serious criminal behaviour. Nor, at the moment, does the abstracted ‘working class’.

    And that for all their structural and cultural biases, the police and the courts do. Simple as.

    I’m not a criminologist (I don’t know if you’re simply mistaken, or trying to make some sort of obscure point?) but it doesn’t take a specialist to acknowledge your proletarian-DIY approach to criminal justice, in the absence of non-bourgeois courts, leaves people who suffer crimes at the mercy of amateurish processes like the disputes investigation above, or having to resort to vigilantism. I don’t feel like a mafia-like ‘keep it in the family’ approach will have much appeal to the mass of people.

    Socialists should be forcing the criminal justice system to live up to its claims of objectivity, by putting it under sustained pressure. Your approach, on the other hand, abdicates responsibility entirely.

  396. prianikoff on said:

    #434 Is this John Wight writing?

    If so, you’re an utter hypocrite given your arguments on the Assange case. I can only assume that like “Jellytot”, your judgements are based on sectarian considerations.
    (Wight’s politics are a mixture of adulation of Stalinism, combined with reformism toward the British state)

    All the personal invective is quite wrong.
    I don’t and never have, lived in a “bedsit”, the nearest books to me are on Computer programming, I write using my family name, I’m not politically “anonymous” and never have been.

  397. stuart on said:

    Feodor: And it’s quite clear from the transcript that for many SWPers such an investigation is considered as more preferable than a legal judgement in a court of law.

    There is an acknowlegement that such a course of action is often very hard to pursue. I do not know what attitude the accuser took towards the police. However, if she complained to the party I cannot see how the party could have simply ignored it.

  398. prianikoff: Is this John Wight writing?

    Yes, as you well know. Who are you, though? Cause I tell you, some of the tripe and ultra revolutionary propaganda you are spouting bear the hallmarks of someone who is either delusional or ‘at it’.

    prianikoff: If so, you’re an utter hypocrite given your arguments on the Assange case.

    Let’s unpack this. My position on Assange has been clear all the way through. I believe the allegations he is facing bear the hallmarks of a set up, based on the unique and specific circumstances surrounding them. However, I have stated over and over that he should face those allegations, but is entitled to do so, given the aforementioned unique circumstances, with assurances re the possibility of him being extradited to the US over his role with Wikileaks.

    Did you get that? Assange, which by the way he has stated he is also willing to do, should face the allegations that have been made against him through the Swedish authorities.

    You on the other hand are arguing the legitimacy of an organisation in the UK in the 21st century handling allegations of sexual offences completely in-house.

    Again, you have clearly lost your mind.

  399. Howard Kirk on said:

    As someone who is critical of the SWP, what the transcript reveals, if anything, is more a case of incompetence rather than malice.

    The SWP were placed in a unenviable position when, for whatever reason, the woman in question did not go to the police and go through the courts etc. There have been a number of assumptions about what the SWP advised her to do or not- the truth is we do not know. I can’t see how the SWP or any other organisation, can be held responsible for what an individual chooses to do – especially around the issue of rape – with regard to involving the police. Unless of course, they advised her of implied she should not which there is no evidence for.

    So, the woman in question makes a complaint to the party presumably knowing what the party can and cannot do – at the most expel Comrade Delta – and it is not a criminal court. Maybe they were not fit to be able to hear a case of this magnitude, yet it is clear they had a DC which is elected by conference (yeah, I know) and where members of the DC were asked if they felt they could not hear this for personal reasons. And although imperfect, this was what they did and they heard the complaint and made a judgement.

    Is anyone in the debate suggesting they deliberately went out of their way to absolve Comrade Delta? Pat S broke ranks with the majority on one of the decisions. There may well be an bias with regard to the composition and, for all it’s flaws, they could have rejected the report. In the future, they should overhaul there procedures in cases such as this or refuse to adjudicate full stop. Yet had they not done this time, this matter may not have come to light and other rumours would have gone round about how the SWP refused to investigate it to protect a leading member etc etc.

    I think Andy was right to publish this, and I don’t think Charlie K should be too concerned about it – the rumours around this implied some kind of cover up from the SWP which the transcript does not substantiate.

  400. stuart on said:

    HarpyMarx: But that’s the thing, isn’t it! It wasn’t in a court room setting. Investigators acted as the jury.

    The point I was making here is that another poster was debating on the strength of having read transcripts of a debate about a report into an investigation that nobody here was able to witness. None of the contributors to this thread were involved in the investigation. Many are just posting on the basis of what they want to believe. That is not the way to debate honestly on the left on any issue, still less one as sensitive as this.

  401. Feodor: ‘W’, not ‘Comrade W’. Yet you know who is called ‘Comrade Delta’.

    The SWP referred to her as W during the meeting, Comrade Delta’s real name was used, it is me who adopted the “comrade Delta” name for him.

  402. prianikoff on said:

    “Your approach… abdicates responsibility entirely”

    If someone has been a victim of a crime, they have the right to decide whether to report it to the police or not.

    Your approach allows the CPS and police to intervene in every case, whether the victim wants it, or not.

    I’m arguing that popular, democratic organisations should take more responsibility in such cases, not less.
    That’s not an argument for “vigilantism”, but for policy and procedures.

    i.e. I support workers democracy, you support state socialism.

  403. Feodor: I believe the accuser does not get to see all the evidence in a ‘bourgeois legal setting’. However, what they do get is a trained prosecutor working on their behalf who does get to see all the evidence.

    Correct as far as I recall. It’s a fair while since I dealt with specifically criminal law and that was as a trainee/crown court clerk working with barristers.

    The point is that the state, not the victim is the party to the case.

  404. prianiikoff: you’re increasingly sounding like a police-state socialist.

    Generally the accusations of “police state” refer to a state where the police prevent politial opposition or non-cnformity.

    The idea of the police prosecuting serious crimes is not usually seen as problematic

  405. prianikoff on said:

    #443 John
    “….some of the tripe and ultra revolutionary crap you are spouting bear the hallmarks of someone who is either deranged or ‘at it’.
    …you have clearly lost your mind.”

    That’s just plain slanderous (but rest assured that I won’t take you to court over it)

    But I still think you’re a complete hypocrite.
    If Assange was set-up, it was with complicity of the Stockholm police and State prosecutor.
    So how is he going to get a fair trial in Sweden?

    Your argument against dealing with allegations sexual offences “in-house” would deny union reps the right to defend their own members.
    This would immediately become the provenance of the CPS, police and lawyers.
    A very retrograde anti-union step in my opinion.

  406. Manzil on said:

    prianikoff:
    If someone has been a victim of a crime, they have the right to decide whether to report it to the police or not.

    Your approach allows the CPS and police to intervene in every case, whether the victim wants it, or not.

    I’m arguing that popular, democratic organisations should take more responsibility in such cases, not less.
    That’s not an argument for “vigilantism”, but for policy and procedures.

    i.e. I support workers democracy, you support state socialism.

    Sorry, you’re saying if someone, for instance, is a rapist, then no one but those who have already been victimised have an interest in seeing the offender dealt with? That’s absurd.

    Absolutely the police – and more generally the community – have a right to investigate allegations of serious crimes regardless of individual views, unless there are overwhelming reasons not to take into account the common interest in neutralising threats to public safety and welfare.

    The problem is, your ‘popular, democratic organisations’ do not exist. So your argument is presumably that, lacking that, nothing should be done. Or alternatively, you may think the thoroughly incompetent investigation of the SWP disputes committee – which failed to live up to even the minimal standards of justice that ‘bourgeois courts’ maintain (have you READ that transcript? ‘judges’ all known to the alleged offender etc.) – is actually a positive model that should be emulated.

    This would be laughable if it weren’t so sinister.

    You’re not a socialist at all. You’re an anarchist, satisfied with an ultra-left veneer for your own indifference in the face of blatant injustices which it is possible for us to remedy.

  407. HarpyMarx: Firstly, I do take umbrage when you refer to where I live, that’s worrying in itself. You know who I am but funnily enough I haven’t a clue who you are.

    If I remember rightly Louise, Prianikoff has always taken a belligerant approach to anything you say.

    BTW, very good to see you commenting here again

  408. prianikoff: Your argument against dealing with allegations sexual offences “in-house” would deny union reps the right to defend their own members.

    Again, this is bizarre. I would hope that any trade union where one member alleges they were raped by another would seek outside legal advice and not under any circumstances attempt to investigate, adjudicate, or resolve the matter by itself. But trade unions are not inward looking cults. They are organisations rooted in the real lived experience of their members in wider society and are in touch with reality as a result.

    Just to say, I feel sorry for all the parties involved in this. Neither the individual against whom the allegations were made nor the women have been well served. It comes across as a whitewash, even though that may not have been the intention.

  409. prianikoff on said:

    Harpy “I do take umbrage when you refer to where I live”

    Sorry if you object to me doing that, but you published the fact on your own blog not so long ago.
    So it’s not as if I was “leaking” anything.

    “I have taken the position on the names you mention based on my own political observations/evidence… not following some “line” as you..”

    What makes you think that I’m following some “line” here?
    I’m not.

    I’m afraid I don’t agree with the people who take your position.
    I did read your blog occasionally, but I thought you’d stopped writing it.
    Never “trolled” it once.

    I’m not a “troll”, I’m an anti-troll and only ever fight dirty in response to attacks.
    Nor am I “anonymous” politically.
    I’m currently press and publicity officer of a union branch with over 1200 members.
    I’ve been on the NEC of a National Union, Branch Sec, Membership sec
    A member of 3 socialist organisations, including 2 that you’ve been in.

    Personally I’d like to see more written about the Indian rape case.
    I’ve been following this quite carefully in the Indian press and their left publications.
    It raises some very serious issues, particularly on calls for the death penalty, class and caste, patriarchy etc..
    I think there’s a Cairo dimension too, a point I’ll explain further if someone writes an article on it.

  410. jimp: But the threshold of proof might be lower.

    That is one of the issues that the DC shuld have explained, what burdon of proof were they working to? Were they judges of both law and fact? When they use the quasi-judicial language of “not proven”, do they mean that they were unpersuaded by W’s version the facts, or that the facts did not constitute rape?

    the whole thing was amateur hour.

  411. prianikoff on said:

    #456 It’s not bizarre, because you referred to “allegations of sexual offences“, not accusations of rape. You simply don’t understand the possible implications of this in the workplace and how complicated the interplay of interests can be. As I said, in the case under discussion, it was clearly the wish of the person concerned to use internal processes.
    I’m not prepared to comment on her decision, or the validity of the procedures used. The leaked document on this site doesn’t even deal with this part of the process, or the evidence for or against.

  412. Jay Blackwood on said:

    Hubris, which someone mentioned earlier, has a lot to answer for here. The problem is that the SWP now (apparently) sees itself as precisely the kind of ‘popular, democratic’ organisation that can deal with serious criminal allegations internally.

    During my time in the party (around ten years) I served on various branch committees, and had to deal with two major disciplinary issues in that period, including one instance of sexual harrassment. We kicked the accused comrades out – though they had a right of appeal.

    Although we may (may!) have got the decisions right, I think that we helped lay the groundwork for the kind of shambles we’ve just witnessed over the rape allegations. There’s a fine line between dealing with legitimate issues of party discipline (which can and should remain internal matters) and becoming so wrapped up in your own revolutionary narrative (re-run of 1917 etc) that you cast aside all considerations of natural justice. If you completely buy in to the narrative that you’re a member of THE PARTY – that you ARE ‘the Bolsheviks’ – then it all makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, it’s also profoundly delusional, and leads to the kind of appalling misjudgment about how to handle these issues that we’ve just seen.

  413. anticapitalista: jellys post at 379

    Thanks

    Obvioulsy it was simply human error that her name was left in the original (along with Pat S’s). This was notified to me earlier, and I corrected.

    I will edit comment 379 as well

  414. prianikoff: As I said, in the case under discussion, it was clearly the wish of the person concerned to use internal processes.

    The internal processes are inherently not fit for this purpose; and it was the duty of an organisation to which a possible serious crime had been reported, invloving a senior officer of that organisation, to ensure that a competant investigation took place.

  415. prianikoff on said:

    Newman “If I remember rightly Louise, Prianikoff has always taken a belligerant approach to anything you say.”

    You don’t remember rightly.
    I even complimented her on her film reviews and was supportive of her when she was having an emotional wobbly.
    Then she launched vicious attack me over Kylie!

    I just don’t agree with her views about Sheridan, Assange and now on this case.
    Of course she should contribute. I don’t have to agree with her though.

  416. prianikoff: As I said, in the case under discussion, it was clearly the wish of the person concerned to use internal processes.

    Look, I did not wish to take part in this discussion due to its sensitive nature, but I find your intervention way off kilter. Usually, your political trajectory, whilst one I don’t agree with, is well presented and argued. I think here you are confusing political with criminal allegations.

    We obviously do not know the full ins and outs of this, but we do know that it’s turned into a dog’s dinner. I agree with Howard Kirk’s good points earlier that this was likely more by accident than design, but nonetheless hopefully lessons have been learned.

    As for the women involved, I hope their anonymity is protected and respected. Whatever their wishes were for how this was handled, I’d rather not speculate on. Suffice to say no organisation – trade union, religious, or revolutionary socialist – is equipped or has the right to deal with allegations of rape in-house. Surely we can all agree on that.

  417. prianikoff on said:

    #464 If the member wanted that to happen, which at the time, she evidently didn’t. So your argument is legalistic. On a similar basis, SW was pressurised by the Stockholm police to sign a statement implicating Assange in rape. (reportedly she never did, but they proceeded with an arrest warrant anyway)

    As you’re well aware, there’s a serious possibility that such a case could be used by the state to damage the whole organisation. First they came for the SSP…..

  418. prianikoff: As you’re well aware, there’s a serious possibility that such a case could be used by the state to damage the whole organisation.

    Do you seriously think the British state needs to worry about the SWP?

  419. John: Suffice to say no organisation – trade union, religious, or revolutionary socialist – is equipped or has the right to deal with allegations of rape in-house. Surely we can all agree on that.

    I can but unfortunately I’m not sure we all can.

    John: I agree with Howard Kirk’s good points earlier that this was likely more by accident than design,

    I also agree. In fact if I was the SWP leadership and I thought that we’d done the best we could in the circumstances I would have no problem with this transcript being ‘out there’.

    Of course I’m not and I don’t.

  420. prianikoff on said:

    “no organisation – trade union, religious, or revolutionary socialist – is equipped or has the right to deal with allegations of rape in-house.”

    I’d agree that rape, or serious interpersonal violence is a breach of socialist morality and, if someone has actually perpetrated such an act, they should be expelled, thereby forfeiting their right to be defended by their organisation. Whether the victim chose to prosecute after that is up to them.

    But in the meantime, unions and socialist organisations can’t just disown their members and throw them to the wolves. They have a duty to investigate the allegations and make their own judgement on them, whatever the CPS advice is.

    I’ve never had to deal with accusations of rape, but there are lots of lower level accusations that occur where I think it would be absolutely disastrous to resort to the courts. For instance, I’ve saw a serious fight between Miners at a Welfare club, where the manager called the police. If any of the people involved had been arrested, it would have taken out the branch committee of one of the most militant pits in the country.
    This at a time when they were fighting for their existence and confronting the cops in mass pickets.
    Is that what you want?

  421. prianikoff: I’ve saw a serious fight between Miners at a Welfare club, where the manager called the police. I

    People having a scrap in a club is not a lower level accusation than rape, it’s a completely different situation altogether.

    Btw, what is ‘socialist morality’?

  422. Manzil on said:

    Vanya: People having a scrap in a club is not a lower level accusation than rape, it’s a completely different situation altogether.

    A more useful example is – does prianikoff believe, if one of said miners was alleged to have committed a rape, that it should have been brushed under the carpet in case the aftermath had ‘taken out the branch committee of one of the most militant pits in the country’?

    Honest question, prianikoff.

  423. Nadia Chern on said:

    The most disturbing aspect of the entire transcript and Prianikoff’s analogy is the absence of a recognition of the power relations involved. A woman lay member and a member of the central committee of any organization that views itself as the working class leadership in waiting (with the CC at the apex of that leadership) is not an equal argument in political or social terms.

    If you are a ‘leading member’ responsible for having promoted and given jobs to a number of those expected to judge your actions, there is a problem. Given the role of the central committee, there is no way it could be heard objectively as a ‘dispute’.

    Rape as a phenomenon is not simply about sex. It is about power and powerlessness (or alienation to use a vernacular).

  424. I understand that the SWP have been expelled from the United Left in Unite, and that one of its leading militants has resigned over their support for Jerry Hicks in the general secretary election.

  425. prianikoff,

    “…if someone has actually perpetrated such an act, they should be expelled, thereby forfeiting their right to be defended by their organisation. Whether the victim chose to prosecute after that is up to them.”

    Unfortunately this argument doesn’t take into account that the accused would still be free to possibly carry out assaults of others (both within and without the organisation) while the organisation was conducting their investigation into the original complaint. Therefore, for the sake of ensuring the safety of other women, it is necessary for the public authorities to investigate,surely?

  426. Interesting point here: http://www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2013/01/06/misogynists-and-the-left/

    Where men hold power within an organisation, power can be conferred to women through engaging in sexual relationships with them. When a prominent activist starts a relationship with a lesser known female activist, responsibilities and political favours can flow as a consequence. This leads to a consolidation of power, whereby indirect control is exercised over areas of work through the relationship, situating her activism within his own power base. This can be used as a lever to continue a relationship that woman wishes to leave. The end of the relationship mean the end of the female activist’s prominence as their former lover seeks to marginalise them within the organisation, while resentment at the perceived or real favours which have been granted lead people to overlook their political work.

    Within such an environment, the lovers of senior male members become promoted as the womens representatives of the organisation. Any suggestion of male domination is countered by pointing to such female activists. Yet the access that senior male party member have to their time through their relationship can be utilised to ensure that they do not challenge that male domination. Personal and political loyalties become entwined, and with both it is always the men who hold the upper hand.

    second Council House of Virgo (http://s.tt/1y14c)

  427. Jellytot on said:

    @400Absolutely correct. Only the hubris of believing that you are ‘THE PARTY’, and becoming so enmeshed in role-playing a re-run of 1917 that you lose any notion of the real world, could explain the way this was handled.

    This is a key point. They are essentially a political version of the Sealed Knot Society pretending to be “Revolutionaries” (which in itself is a practical impossibility in Modern Britain). This perverse farce of a trial actively feeds their delusions (as it was intended to).

    stuart

    So what are you saying? That the party should not investigate serious complaints against its members? That it should do nothing? It should do nothing about whatever ‘awful’ allegation is brought up? Frankly I don’t believe you would be satisfied with that response for one second. The truth is that whatever the SWP did or didn’t do would never be acceptable to you

    I point you to Andy’s advice at #388 (8:37am). That would have left me and I guess a lot of people on here satisfied. That would have been the mature and responsible thing to do. The SWP simply should not be the primary arbiter here….end of!

    But this also begs the question, “What happens now?”

    According to the (incredible) transcript Comrade Delta was “stood down” from his senior positions in the Party in September 2012. As the Control Commission has found the charges “not proven” I guess that Comrade Delta can expect to be fully reinstated and return to his high profile?

    BTW ‘stuart’ respect to you for coming on here and attempting to put lipstick on this leviathan of a pig.

  428. stuart on said:

    John: Suffice to say no organisation – trade union, religious, or revolutionary socialist – is equipped or has the right to deal with allegations of rape in-house. Surely we can all agree on that.

    The stiffest form of punishment that could be administered by the organisation was to amend membership status. The accuser will have known that when she brought the complaint. But what are you saying, that having recieved the complaint the organisation should have insisted on taking no action whatsoever? That membership status should automatically remain unaltered?

    Regular users of this blog will know that hitherto, the criticism levelled at the SWP is lack of action. Now the vibe seems to be that they should have refused to carry out any investigation and should have kept things as they were as a point of principle.

  429. Jellytot on said:

    @468Do you seriously think the British state needs to worry about the SWP?

    Judging by the the book “Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers” by Annie Macon the British State essentially curtailed its active interest and penetration of the British far Left in the mid-90′s.

    It was always heavily driven by The Cold War, industrial militancy and the situation in Northern Ireland – with all those three ingredients effectively over the large resources in money and manpower simply could not be justified and after 9/11 they obviously had bigger fish to fry.

    Today, I could imagine that there is some light survellance going on (the collection and processing of membership lists etc. which are entered into a database and forgetten about) but I would be amazed if it went much beyond that. Groups like the SWP do not plan or instigate violence so the State simply aren’t interested in them. I guess they would view notions of sedition and revolution with mirth.

  430. redcogs on said:

    The SWP seem to have wandered unintentionally into a deep morass around this rape case, and it wouldn’t be suprising if they lost some (many?) of their best supporters as a consequence.
    i imagine that longer term damage could also be very severe indeed.

    Given the history of other left organisations (the WRP for example), it seems quite odd that the SWP central committee didn’t spot the many potential dangers associated with sexual misconduct and/or sexual criminality in high places. If they did notice the likely problems yet still failed to address the sexual behaviour of an internally powerful figure like Delta they are culpable, and if they didn’t notice, they are equally guilty of not being ‘on the ball’.

    Although i regard international socialism sympathetically, and have (generally speaking) kept a certain faith with the comrades and their values (and some of their initiatives), i feel my early 1990s decision to leave is vindicated. It seems that the dominant Party bullies of the time inadvertently offered a narrow escape.

    It can’t be easy for SWP loyalists having to defend this current situation, and it may worsen considerably yet.

    If the SWP wish to rescue anything of significance they must surely expel any member who is tarnished by rape allegations, and their internal investigative procedures must become absolutely transparent.

  431. stuart on said:

    redcogs: they must surely expel any member who is tarnished by rape allegations…

    Automatically? Without investigation?

  432. daft punk on said:

    then the power of an allegation would be total, no matter what level of truth was involved. although, reading this blog, that seems to work OK right now

  433. Feodor on said:

    Nadia (#475), Andy (#478), funnily enough, I was just doing my shopping and it occurred to me – I know, what does it say about me that I was walking around Tesco thinking about the SWP! – it occurred to me that no ones really picked up on the implications of this statement:

    ‘We also however thought it was important to be clear that the disputes committee doesn’t exist to police moral, er, bourgeois morality, so we agreed that issues that weren’t relevant to us were whether the comrade was monogamous, whether they were having an affair, whether the age differences in their relationahip, because as revolutionaries we didn’t consider that should be our remit to consider issues such as those.’

    In general, perhaps these are questions of ‘bourgeois morality’ (though how is monogamy ‘bourgeois’!? are swans and gibbons ‘bourgeois’ now?); however, we’re not dealing with these things in the abstract here. The SWP evidently see no problem in older men in positions of power having sexual relations with their younger subordinates, despite the quite obvious and questionable power dynamics in play.

    We’d raise eyebrows if this was happening in any other workplace, so what makes it automatically ok in a socialist organisation? That the self-appointed vanguard of women’s liberation can’t see this, really brings into question their insight on such matters.

    It also brings the issue of the so-called ‘fuck circuit’ back to the fore. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if both certain male and female leading members of the SWP pick out the ‘fresh meat’ that appeals to them.

    Given this wider culture and the SWP’s failure to tackle it over the years, stuart’s probably right that there would have been questions raised whatever the response to this particular issue was. However that shouldn’t distract from the fact that the response was, in itself, abysmal – the woman in question evidently isn’t happy with how things went.

    It’s telling, moreover, that it took an allegation of rape before there was even any attempt to deal with this, and that even then, the approach taken was a woefully inadequate internal investigation.

    The chickens really have come home to roost, and the SWP have no one to blame but themselves. Furthermore, they can’t say they weren’t forewarned of the problems by outside critics.

    The likes of stuart really do need to consider why so many people here, from such a broad political spectrum, have found this whole thing so abhorrent. You guys really need to learn how to act on outside criticism constructively, instead of reverting to unthinking defence of all things SWP.

    If nothing else, hopefully the SWP will have learnt from this whole ordeal that bosses fucking staff opens up a whole can of worms. Surely the the leading cadre of a disciplined revolutionary party should be able to understand that there’s more important things than getting their hole, to put it crudely.

  434. It looks like this ones gonna run and run huh?

    I have to say I find the reactions of one or two of the pro-SWP CC contributors here a bit disturbing, but I think that’s been adequately addressed.

    It seems to me that it might be better to discuss exactly how the SWP could have handled this better rather than about how their annual conference period has revealed some problematic weaknesses in their internal structure and culture.

    The obvious point of course that there can be no defence of the idea that this case was not a matter for the police to investigate. Any accusation of rape must be dealt with seriously, and the idea that the SWP had the capacity to deal with this case in-house is ludicrous-if the worst punishment you can dish out to a rapist is expulsion from the SWP, you’re not the right organisation to deal with the accusation.

    That raises the question of why the alleged victim didn’t go to the police. Were they unwilling too? Or was there pressure on them to wait, or stay silent? In dealing with that we should also look at the very barebones account that the disputes committee has provided to their members. Of course in a case such as this not every detail should necessarily be publically known and anonymity is essential for the accuser/alleged victim. But the report specifically doesn’t address whether or not the accuser/alleged victim wanted to go to the police; why not? If they genuinely did not wish to go to the police, their reasons for not doing so would surely be of interest to the disputes committee, and worthy of note in the report. If they faced any pressure not to go to the police at all, even temporarily, it would demonstrate that elements within the SWP were protecting the accused. But the only reference to police involvement is this rather vague statement about how the police and courts put women on trial:

    “After we’d heard from the witnesses, we called both W and Comrade Delta back in, and we had a long discussion about whether we should ask W any further questions, because we didn’t want to cause her any undue distress. We were also conscious of how the police and the courts put the woman herself on trial.”

    The only allusion to police involvement is a casual negative aside in regard to their role. Surely the question of whether the alleged victim would report the matter to the police, and whether it was felt that they needed support in order to do so, would have to be a matter of huge importance? A principle of any conception of Justice is its public nature; the details of these issues need to be made clear to the membership. If innuendo and rumour have clouded this case, as some in the leadership of the SWP have argued, it’s the fault of the disciplinary committee for not being honest and open from the start what was taking place.

  435. redcogs on said:

    It would (obviously) be unjust for expulsion to follow an uninvestigated allegation. Given the SWP’s opaque investigation arrived at an unsatisfactory rape ‘unproven’ ‘verdict’ there still appears to be many unresolved issues Stuart.

    Sometimes heads need to roll at the top of an organisation before it can have any hope of even a partial recovery? Your own organisational interests (i assume you are swp) suggests this needs to happen?

  436. Feodor: Surely the the leading cadre of a disciplined revolutionary party should be able to understand that there’s more important things than getting their hole,

    Why?

    I mean why should they be different to anyone else, given that the whole concept of leading cadre of a disciplined revolutionary party in the context of where we are and the period we are living through is utterly delusional anyway?

    In fact, some of the assumptions that lie behind the concept and the culture it creates quite possibly leave those ‘leading cadre’ more vulnerable to the temptation to act in an oppressive and abusive manner than many other people with a more modest and grounded understanding of the world.

  437. #487 Yes. The way some people talk about rape you would think that nobody goes to prison for it.

    Believe me, they do.

  438. stuart on said:

    Feodor: The likes of stuart really do need to consider why so many people here, from such a broad political spectrum, have found this whole thing so abhorrent.

    That kind of stuff cuts no ice with me. I’ve long since come to the conclusion that those who administer this board regard the failure of left to build as being down to the presence of far-left, or ‘revolutionary’, groups generally and the SWP in particular. I’m not actually convinced they really believe it deep down in their heart of hearts but their official defence is that SWP bashing or far left bashing is all for the greater good- even though to any sane person the idea that we can build the left by constantly bashing some of its component parts is absurd.

    That for me is why we get this endless drip, drip of how the SWP is so useless at this and that. It’s not just about how the SWP handle investigations, it’s about misrepresenting their political positions, it’s about calling things ‘facts’ when they are nothing more than allegations about allegations. Some posters complain about how damaging this can be to the integrity of socialist debate but I’m afraid they are pissing in the wind. Regrettably, bashing elements of the left, and the SWP in particular has become something of a ‘raison -d’etre’ for this board. If the SWP farted it would be the wrong kind of fart.

  439. stuart on said:

    Sam,

    Isn’t it better to just admit that you know next to nothing about the actual case rather than quoting from some transcripts from a debate about a report about an investigation held in private and using that as your cue to hand out a load of expert advice?

  440. Nadia Chern on said:

    Feodor: The SWP evidently see no problem in older men in positions of power having sexual relations with their younger subordinates, despite the quite obvious and questionable power dynamics in play.

    You’re quite right, Feodor. This is a statement of huge significance. Andy’s quote regarding how ‘leaders’ can act in a political organization is distressing enough in recognizing that the prestige of a position can be utilized for sexual benefit but when there is even the possibility that coercion may be involved, it becomes qualitatively worse.

    This reminds me of several cases of lecturers and their students (or even junior colleagues) where the pastoral obligations upon the lecturer had been ignored for sexual benefit. The power asymmetry became especially significant at the moment that one party called a halt to a relationship – often, all hell would break loose in the department. The inability to understand that power dynamics are in motion in such relationships is extraordinarily dangerous, not to mention questionable in terms of sexual politics.

  441. #491 & 493

    stuart: SWP bashing or far left bashing

    Given that many of the people you accuse of being ‘hostile elements’ are also part of the far left, do you not think the whole concept is a bit dubious?

  442. redcogs on said:

    It is incorrect to view me as hostile Stuart. It is simply obvious that the SWP is wounded deeply by this matter, and the wound is at least partly self inflicted.

    Who do you hope to attract to socialist politics in the 21st century when your organisation launches an investigation into a rape allegation which is staffed by friends and colleagues of the defendent?

    It does not hold up to any rational or just scrutiny. Christ, even Lenins Tomb can see the problem for what it is, feeling unable to remark on the matter..

    The swp has many decent people, and they deserve better. So do the working class.

  443. Jellytot on said:

    stuart

    I’m not actually convinced they really believe it deep down in their heart of hearts but their official defence is that SWP bashing or far left bashing is all for the greater good

    I do believe deep down that the utter dysfunction, paucity of analysis, unimaginative nature of the tactics, and the failed and utterly anachronistic organisational model of the main Far Left “Revolutionary” groups is a barrier to building a strong and confident united Left.

    But that’s not my primary reason for being geniunely shocked and outraged over this matter. I would be so regardless of the political and organisational context. If it occured in an organisation I had a recent history of supporting I would be just as vocal.

  444. jumpahat on said:

    I refrained from contributing to this until receiving replies to emails from friends in the SWP. From my understanding is that the woman involved was advised to approach Rape Crisis AND told to take the matter to police re allegations of a crime. She then insisted that, while she might do this, the party also carry out their own internal inquiry as per the rules of the party.

  445. Feodor on said:

    Vanya: Why?

    I agree with the jist of what you say Vanya, but I was trying to place myself in the shoes of someone who believed in the importance of Leninist self-discipline. The old man himself never approved of ‘free love’, indeed he was highly sceptical of it, and the last time I checked the SWP still consider themselves to be following in his organisational footsteps.

    stuart: That kind of stuff cuts no ice with me.

    Of course what I forgot to add, and what stuart also overlooks, is that it’s not only critics outside the party who have been deeply appalled by this – more than 200 of the party’s own delegates also thought there were significant problems with the way in which the issue was handled.

    But stuart, your choice, ignore them, ignore us, and keep on whistling in the wind. This is precisely the attitude that got you into this mess in the first place. And the SWP loyalists intransigence looks like it’ll be the party’s undoing.

    If you really care about your party’s survival, at some point you’ll have to deal with these inconvenient truths.

  446. It’s an interesting post this http://www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2013/01/06/misogynists-and-the-left/

    “Where previously women were isolated, facing a monolith of consolidated power, there are now far more opportunities for women to speak with other women about their experiences of misogyny and violence and to actively and effectively challenge it. The left is the home of feminism and it is time that we started kicking the misogynists out the door”

    Damn bloody right!

    Nadia Chern is correct about power relationships. The revolutionary Left reflects the unequal power relationships between men and women which exist in society overall. The Left is not hermetically sealed from oppression. Unfortunately, when confronted with oppression in its own organisation there is a tendency to dismiss it or to ‘sweep it under the carpet and hope it goes away’…. Or just generally use woefully inadequate mechanisms that stymie any kind of justice.

  447. Howard Kirk: Is anyone in the debate suggesting they deliberately went out of their way to absolve Comrade Delta?

    People seem to be being very careful to pat each other on the back for their proud tradition of something or other.

    The problem with the kind of group dynamic you get in the SWP leadership is, people like Candy will genuinely believe she’s doing the right thing, cos the entire party structure is set up to reinforce it. She’s got integrity as far as that goes, but integrity isn’t the issue here. Nor is the fact that I like her a lot the issue here: All of them were incapable of hearing this case once it became an issue of rape.

    When it was an issue of mere “conduct”, then there’s a chance that they could’ve heard the case. But what the party has proved again and again – with the ease with which it turns to lying and smearing and crushing of dissent, all things that marxists should never be doing – is that it cannot put its own politics into practice.

    I go on about lies and smears and so on, but it’s not just bitterness. It’s because a marxist should make a point of never smearing an opponent in debate, never lying, never distorting, never trying to destroy people etc. The SWP does this every time it’s under threat. Thus, when it has a chance to prove that its leaders are marxists in their actual lives, they fail.

    Real advanced members of the working class might’ve had the ability to hear this case and investigate it. But these guys have proved that they’re only marxists insofar as they can repeat the theories.

    If they were true marxists, they would’ve treated this case very, very differently. There was no malice here, but that’s not the important bit. What’s important is that they couldn’t see how ill-equipped they were to deal with the case.

  448. Is it ‘cos my comment is 500 or something (lucky prize winner, perchance?) as the message says, “Your comment is awaiting moderation. If you continue to see this message, please email us – office@socialistunity.com“…..

    Nothing untoward…’onest!

  449. Feodor: more than 200 of the party’s own delegates also thought there were significant problems with the way in which the issue was handled

    It’s likely to be much more than that – at the conference a good number of those who voted in favour of the report would’ve done so cos they wouldn’t want to undermine the leadership, even if they think the report was bad.

  450. prianikoff on said:

    #472-7
    Of course, rape is a more serious issue than a pub-fight.
    And murder is more serious than rape.

    But I’ve already made it clear that socialist organisations and unions aren’t duty-bound to support their members if they’re accused of such crimes.
    They can’t base their decisions on the verdict of the courts though.
    Using that method, the IWW should never have defended Joe Hill!
    The US SWP should have waited for the courts to convict Mark Curtis, then refused to defend him!
    (I’m sure we’ll get the usual refrain that he was guilty at this point)
    How do you know?

    However you word it, what you’re arguing for is the right of the state -
    THE STATE, not the “public”, not the “community”, to intervene first.
    This “right”, as Jepps’ report on the CPS advice shows, is NOT just confined to serious crimes like Rape, but to ANY crime at all.
    Which is my the example of the miners’ fight WAS relevant.
    (I refuse to engage in speculation about hypothetical cases, or a case I don’t know the details of)

    To reject the possibility that state might try to use such intervention to disrupt the left seems dangerously complacent to me.
    If the state aren’t interested in the SWP, why do the police regularly video everyone lobbying the LP conference?
    You don’t seem to be able to see the wood for the trees, or engage in joined up thinking.
    I’m no defender of the internal practices of the SWP, but this is sectarian hypocrisy.

  451. stuart on said:

    Jellytot: But that’s not my primary reason for being geniunely shocked and outraged over this matter.

    How shocked were you over RESPECT’s lack of action against Galloway following his outrageous remarks?

  452. prianikoff on said:

    #505 Enough with the “outrageous remarks” already.
    Benn wasn’t exactly crystal clear either.
    The SWP are being just as sectarian when it comes to Galloway, who only made mere remarks.

  453. stuart on said:

    redcogs: It is incorrect to view me as hostile Stuart. It is simply obvious that the SWP is wounded deeply by this matter, and the wound is at least partly self inflicted.

    I cannot see how plausibly the party could have handled it any different in essence, given that the accuser wished to complain through the party mechanisms.

  454. stuart on said:

    prianikoff,

    The SWP would be more aligned with this blog if they made a podcast about the accused being in the sex game and accusing the accuser of being part of a CIA set-up. If this sounds a like a terrible thing to say then I’m afraid its a reflection of many on this site that attack the SWP.

  455. prianikoff: The US SWP should have waited for the courts to convict Mark Curtis, then refused to defend him!

    But the US SWP believed that Curtis had been framed and the state were involved from the outset.

    Saying that the Police and courts should deal with allegations of rape (or other oppressive crimes) is not the same as saying that people aren’t sometimes fitted up etc.

    Nor is it the same as saying that the state is neutral.

    And the issue is not which crime is ‘worse’, there is a political context to all of this as you understand. It’s just that your politics on this issue are a bit skewed.

    At the risk of appearing patronising, you need to free your mind from all that trotskyist baggage- you have no ideal how liberating it is.

  456. #511 Best advice (not that you will take it from a hostile element) is to stop digging.

  457. Jellytot on said:

    @505The US SWP should have waited for the courts to convict Mark Curtis, then refused to defend him!(I’m sure we’ll get the usual refrain that he was guilty at this point)

    The Curtis affair (like this) stank to high heaven and makes sickening reading. If you do get the usual refrain about Curtis being guilty it’s because many good people think that he was.

    “Curtis” showed that the American SWP honed the internal cultish political dynamic into an art-form – it’s British namesake doesn’t even come close.

    @506How shocked were you over RESPECT’s lack of action against Galloway following his outrageous remarks?

    Any attempt to equate those clumsy remarks with the matter in question is a transparent and desperate exercise in false equivalence.

  458. stuart on said:

    Vanya:
    #511 Best advice (not that you will take it from a hostile element) is to stop digging.

    It’s not so much your hostility to me that gives cause for concern, rather your hostility to my proposition that those women accusing Assange are listened to respectfully.

  459. prianikoff on said:

    #513 “Saying that the Police and courts should deal with allegations of rape (or other oppressive crimes) is not the same as saying that people aren’t sometimes fitted up”

    Let’s just leave aside the issue of rape for one moment, its emotive nature is clouding your thinking somewhat.
    Try re-reading and digesting what Jim Jepps wrote above at #294.

    I’ll quote some extracts for you:-

    “I was told that any internal investigation conducted without police consent would be regarded as corrupting the evidence and could in itself be a criminal offense.”
    In other words it becomes impossible for the police to investigate the crime properly once members of an organisation have gone round prejudicing all the witnesses and interested parties, including the accused who would be given plenty of time to get his/her story straight and line up friendly testimony.”

    Note the word CRIME (not Sexual offence, not RAPE)
    i.e. a political party, or a union, according to the CPS and Police, doesn’t even have the right to investigate misuse of funds by a party treasurer, or someone “borrowing” photocopier paper.

    But there have been NUMEROUS examples of INTERNAL party investigations in to such malpractices in the past, including into the dearly beloved leader of the KPD in Germany, Ernst Thaelmann, who was alleged to have covered up the embezzlement of party funds by a factional ally of his.

    Jepps continues:-

    “I was told something I did not want to hear – that the first step in this sort of case is to notify the police and any internal investigation the organisation undertakes can only take place *after* the police have finished and is certainly not a replacement for a police investigation.”

    Now, the RESPECT side of this argument want us to accept all this lying down. Apparently all unions and all socialist organisations must now resolve ANY internal issues with potential criminal implications by reporting them to the police first.

    Let me put it to you Vanya, that you need to liberate your mind from the legalistic web that it’s becoming trammelled up in. This is a recipe for state-police intervention into left organisations and unions on a huge scale. If you can’t see that, you’re lost.

  460. Jellytot on said:

    Don’t want to get sidetracked onto Curtis but for anybody interested in the background to the case it is here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Curtis_(SWP_member)

    However I feel this is somewhat interesting and pertinent:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/swp_usa/message/2729?var=1

    It should be stated that the US SWP and the UK SWP loathe each other and are not connected in any way (and never have been).

    @517How insulting to women!

    Hmmmm…when it comes to insulting women you should look to your own organisation and it’s treatment of ‘W’ and ‘X’.

  461. stuart on said:

    Jellytot:

    Hmmmm…when it comes to insulting women you should look to your own organisation and it’s treatment of ‘W’ and ‘X’.

    How respectful. You think those making complaints would have welcomed their business being sneaked on to a Galloway supporting blog for ‘discussion’?

  462. I know nothing about this case, I do not know any of the people involved, and have very little in the way of current knowledge of the internal life of the organisation involved. I certainly am not interested in taking sides in the feud between various people on the left as to who is ‘sexist’ and who is not. But there is another issue posed by this, as some have alluded to already, which is this:

    How the hell can the SWP investigate an allegation of rape made by one member against another? What if it were murder that was alleged? Would they try to investigate that too?

    Investigations by the state can be and often are corrupted, particularly when there is politics involved. The Assange case shows that. But to handle a serious criminal matter like this, which transcends the merely political in a way that say, mere fisticuffs over political differences or practices would not, without involving the police is delusional.

    If this woman believes that she was raped, then she should go to the cops with the party’s support and full co-operation. Everything else concerning the person accused should await the outcome of the investigation and an assessment of that outcome in factual and possibly political terms.

    Any other course is not in my view evidence of ‘sexism’ as such. I refuse to get into that dubious tit-for-tat game of accusation and counter-accusation. But it is evidence of a delusional view of the power of a small propaganda organisation (not a ‘party’) to take on some of the functions of state power.

    If we were living in conditions of illegality and civil war and such a question arose, then it would have to be handled by the party as the state power would be our direct, immediate adversary and we would have to act as a kind of quasi-state power.

    But we are a very long way from that situation right now. In these conditions, on a matter like this, you have no choice but to call in the cops. Indeed not to do so is very dangerous; it could give the state an excuse to victimise the SWP for appearing to be involved in some kind of cover up.

  463. prianikoff,

    “Note the word CRIME (not Sexual offence, not RAPE)
    i.e. a political party, or a union, according to the CPS and Police, doesn’t even have the right to investigate misuse of funds by a party treasurer, or someone “borrowing” photocopier paper.”

    This is silly though. If a political organisation has its property stolen, it has as much right as any individual to ignore the theft and refuse to make an issue of it with the state, dealing with it in some other way.

    If someone is allegedly raped, then that is an (alleged) crime against that individual, not the organisation, and the interests of justice between individuals is the matter in hand, not the organisation. That does not imply any judgement as to the justice of the allegation, but it does set out the parameters of how the issue has to be treated.

  464. stuart: your hostility to my proposition that those women accusing Assange are listened to respectfully.

    Stuart -If people believe they have evidence that someone is being fitted up for a crime, including rape, then if they raise that belief then they shouldn’t be castigated for not listening to the alleged victim respectfully.

    It’s a red herring, and if the contents of this transcript are accurate (and nobody from the SWP, including Charlie Kimber in his email, has suggested otherwise), a particularly smelly one that you should feel embarassed about waving around.

  465. Jellytot on said:

    @520If this woman believes that she was raped, then she should go to the cops with the party’s support and full co-operation

    Yes, in an ideal world that would be a solution, but I would imagine that the SWP would be desperate, frantic even, not to allow a very high profile and well known member of its CC to appear in Court on rape charges.

    If he lost the case and was jailed then the fall out could well signal the end of their group and they know that. The survival of the SWP totally overides any and all other considerations in this scenario.

    @519You think those making complaints would have welcomed their business being sneaked on to a Galloway supporting blog for ‘discussion’?

    Most commentators on here have enormous empathy and sympathy with the women involved. Shining a light of this appalling situation may help arm and protect present and future activists who may want to get involved in these sorts of groups.

    Forewarned is Forearmed.

  466. stuart on said:

    redscribe,

    As I see it, those making a complaint to the organisation will be made aware that they are not having their case overseen by a law court. Decisions will be taken in the interests of the organisation. It will come down to whether or not those entrusted with making a judgement are able to deem this or that alleged act or omission sufficiently offensive to warrant steps being taken against the member in line with the rules under which the organisation operates.

  467. cutter on said:

    redscribe: If a political organisation has its property stolen, it has as much right as any individual to ignore the theft and refuse to make an issue of it with the state, dealing with it in some other way.

    This is hardly the same though is it? The problem is that the SWP did treat a case of rape as the same as nicking from the petty cash.

  468. stuart on said:

    Jellytot:
    Shining a light of this appalling situation may help arm and protect present and future activists who may want to get involved in these sorts of groups.

    So sod consent then? If it stops recruitment then, hey, result!

  469. Jellytot: Yes, in an ideal world that would be a solution, but I would imagine that the SWP would be desperate, frantic even, not to allow a very high profile and well known member of its CC to appear in Court on rape charges.

    Many may surmise that JT, but we don’t have any direct evidence that was the case.

  470. stuart,

    “Decisions will be taken in the interests of the organisation.”

    Hm, that is a worrying thought, as rape, whether a true or false allegation, both involve an act of one individual against another. If I were you I would think really carefully about using that line of argument. The interests of an organisation do not trump the interests of justice in an alleged rape case, no matter which of the individuals involved are in the right or wrong.

    If, say, Wikileaks were to make a similar argument in defence of Assange, then they would be throwing themselves to the wolves. Very wisely, they have done nothing of the sort. The evidence that points to Assange’s frame-up is strong in its own right, – it needs no dubious backing of ‘decisions taken’ ‘in the interests of [an] organisation’.

  471. Pingback: The Socialist Workers Party and the Rape Committee: When organisations become cults « The Not So Big Society

  472. Nadia Chern on said:

    stuart: So sod consent then

    What an incredible statement from a socialist! Are you really naive enough to believe that consent is consent? Do you not understand that power relationships within an organization can lead to ‘consent’ being coerced or manufactured? There is always such a danger. Whether you like it or not, the reality of power in a democratic centralist organization makes this a minefield.

    Your whole line of argument is to underplay the significance of a rape allegation (and more) against a central committee member by playing a false equivalence and diversionary game. It really is not very politically enlightened.

  473. Jellytot,

    “Yes, in an ideal world that would be a solution, but I would imagine that the SWP would be desperate, frantic even, not to allow a very high profile and well known member of its CC to appear in Court on rape charges.

    If he lost the case and was jailed then the fall out could well signal the end of their group and they know that. The survival of the SWP totally overides any and all other considerations in this scenario.”

    I actually don’t see why. If he were shown to be guilty, and the party were seen to have behaved decently in helping put him away, then their reputation could even be enhanced. After all, individuals deformed enough to commit rape come from many political backgrounds and you cannot simply judge someone’s behaviour on the basis of their formal political beliefs.

    Particularly given the sordid history of cover ups of crime committed by politicians of other parties, from Cyril Smith to Maggie T’s friend Jimmy Saville.

    It is more likely an element of delusional small group/bureaucratic politics that is responsible for the SWP choosing to handle this issue in this stupid way. Both these instances; their response to Assange and now this seems to me to reflect putting the interests of ‘the organisation’, conceived of in a particularly narrow and tunnel vision sort of way, above events in the wider world and basic political sense.

  474. stuart on said:

    Nadia Chern: What an incredible statement from a socialist! Are you really naive enough to believe that consent is consent?

    What on earth are you talking about? If you read posts 519 and 523 you will see that I’m being sarcastic and moreover Jellytot is effectively dismissing the idea of any consent being given by the accusers as to whether people on this blog should be discussing their business, when complaints are supposed to be dealt with in private. For Jellytot, the opportunity to turn people against the SWP overrides consent on the part of the accusers. I’m not talking about consent to sex.

  475. redscribe,

    Can we clarify this. I assume you are referring to Cyril Smith the MP and not Cyril Smith the leading WRP member. Despite the abuse by Healy, I do not believe Cyril was ever implicated in wrong doing or collusion

  476. stuart on said:

    redscribe:
    The interests of an organisation do not trump the interests of justice in an alleged rape case, no matter which of the individuals involved are in the right or wrong.

    I’m not saying they do. But if someone elects to make a complaint to an organistion the organisation will be duty bound to invoke its complaints procedures. These procedures will have been designed to further the interests of the organisation. And they will involve a group of people forming an opinion based upon the evidence before it and the group will be accountable to the organisation and its wider membership.

  477. stuart,

    As a question of public policy the investigation of rape is not a private matter, and no private organisation is competent to assume responsibility for such an investigation. Purporting to be competent to an alleged rape victim is itself manipulative, as it implicitly dissuades them from going to the police.

  478. Nadia Chern on said:

    There is no such duty on an organization. A complaint can be deemed outside the remit of the structures of the organization and a police complaint recommended by the national officers. The organization can then wait for the outcome of the police investigation before acting on the matter.

    This is precisely the situation that has occurred in the Respect Party since the uncovering of someone allegedly working for Special Branch in Bradford.

    Further, a disputes committee can opt out of dealing with an issue if it can be shown or supposed that there will be too much familiarity with one party to the dispute. In this case, it was not simply a dispute but there is no way that the committee could be seen to be objective and natural justice served.

  479. Jellytot on said:

    @533For Jellytot, the opportunity to turn people against the SWP overrides consent on the part of the accusers. I’m not talking about consent to sex.

    I find your sudden concern for the welfare of the accusers rather curious ‘stuart’ given that it’s you, not me, who is essentially defending a perverse, quasi-legal process that subjected a possible rape victim to a ‘kangaroo court’ involving a shockingly sexist and abusive line of questioning.

    According to the transcript it’s the Control Commission’s report and not anything that’s occured here that has left a person traumatised.

  480. The annual conference of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) last weekend saw major debates on how it should organise and intervene into resistance to the crisis.

    The conference brought together more than 580 delegates and 150 observers.

    They discussed some of the struggles over the last year and reflected on the changing nature of resistance.

    As well as a determination to fight back, there was a wide range of serious discussions on the type of organisation needed.

    Judith pointed to the death of Savita Halappanavar last year. Savita died in Ireland after being refused a life-saving abortion, and Judith argued, “That is what women’s oppression looks like today.”

    Mary from London spoke movingly about her experience of the fate of women in Britain before abortion was legalised.

    Judith added that that the SWP could be proud of taking a firm line against sexism over Julian Assange and Respect MP George Galloway.

    Many delegates picked up her point that it is important to “argue revolutionary politics” with activists attracted by feminist ideas.

    Sue from north London said that because oppression divided workers it is important that women and men are involved in the fight against it.

    Julia from Sheffield pointed to the establishment cover-up of the Jimmy Savile case saying it showed that “the ruling class protect their own”. She contrasted it to the racism that has gone along with discussion of the grooming and abuse of young women.

    Judith ended the session by stressing that attacks on women’s rights were sparking resistance—and that SWP members must be central to it.

    The “ruling class” “protect their own”, eh? Well at least no aristocrat has been involved.

  481. Jellytot on said:

    @352Judith added that that the SWP could be proud of taking a firm line against sexism over Julian Assange and Respect MP George Galloway.

    Jesus wept.

    Judith ended the session by stressing that attacks on women’s rights were sparking resistance—and that SWP members must be central to it.

    Good luck with that, Judith.

    As The Transcript is now winging its way around the Web, I have a feeling you’ll need it.

  482. I give in, can’t read through enough of these comments to weigh in…

    But on the idea of socialists being “fitted up” by the state… I think it would be naïve to dismiss it out of hand, but it does occur to me that every time I see “Comrade Delta” at a UAF demo and he doesn’t get arrested, he’s so disappointed he looks like a bulldog chewing a wasp. Doesn’t it seem a bit elaborate, really?

  483. jumpahat: I refrained from contributing to this until receiving replies to emails from friends in the SWP. From my understanding is that the woman involved was advised to approach Rape Crisis AND told to take the matter to police re allegations of a crime. She then insisted that, while she might do this, the party also carry out their own internal inquiry as per the rules of the party.

    OK let us look at this, becasue it strikes me as highly disingenuous.

    Firstly, it is absolutely clear that no reference to this was made by the disputs cmmiteee in their report to conference; and while the report did discuss the issues they had considered, they clearly did not consider the relationship between their own investigation and any police investigation, or whether they were potentially compromising any future prosecution.

    Therefore there was clearly no substantive consideration of police involvement. What is more, their pretence at competance to hear an investigation into rape might have been persuasive to a vulnerable woman that the SWP internal route was avaliable and appropriate; and the messianic language about conducting an investigation according to “revolutionary politics” may have reinforced the idea to the complainant that going outside and involving the police was somehow incompatible with the political beliefs of the SWP, and therefore implicitly improper and disloyal.

    Secondly, whether or not the complainant went to the police, the SWP were still legally and practically incompetant to investigate rape; and should have advised the woman that it was beyond their powers so to do, and that therefore the SWP would instead help and encourage her to go to the police; and ensure that she obtained independent advice and support.

  484. stuart on said:

    In response to posts 538,539, 540,

    As the only member of the SWP involved in this discussion, and because this is a party matter, a matter of how the party regulates itself, then it is in this instance my opinion that carries the greater weight.

    As a subscriber to the party what do I want to see? I want to know that he party has a system for regulating disputes and membership. I want to know that my party has a recognised system for handling complaints. What I don’t want is the party to abdicate responsibilty and hide behind a ‘we are not competent’ plea, which would automatically result in membership status being retained as a default position. I want a body of people, accountable to the party, who are able to form opinions based on what information they have.

    What I certainly do not want is the party taking ‘advice’ from non-members who are so obviously motivated by a desire to damage the party. And certainly not from non-members who have already demonstrated their ‘commitment’ to women over the recent Galloway affair. In the ‘sex game’ indeed!

  485. stuart: As the only member of the SWP involved in this discussion, and because this is a party matter, a matter of how the party regulates itself, then it is in this instance my opinion that carries the greater weight.
    As a subscriber to the party what do I want to see? I want to know that he party has a system for regulating disputes and membership. I want to know that my party has a recognised system for handling complaints. What I don’t want is the party to abdicate responsibilty and hide behind a ‘we are not competent’ plea, which would automatically result in membership status being retained as a default position. I want a body of people, accountable to the party, who are able to form opinions based on what information they have.

    WOW!

    That is almost a textbook example of a cult insider’s viewpoint.

  486. Pravda,

    “Judith added that that the SWP could be proud of taking a firm line against sexism over Julian Assange and Respect MP George Galloway.

    Many delegates picked up her point that it is important to “argue revolutionary politics” with activists attracted by feminist ideas.”

    This account confirms a point I made in a previous thread, and is very revealing. It reveals that the SWP’s line on Assange and Galloway is not dictated by principle at all, but is simply adapting to the conciousness of a part-radicialised layer that does not really care about fighting imperialism.

    It is a confession of opportunism, in other words. And also sectarian, putting the short-term interests of SWP recruitment above the historic interests of the working class – of which fighting the Assange/Manning witchhunt is an important expression.

    And now the SWP think they can conduct a quasi-judicial function in dealing with a rape allegation against a leading SWP member behind closed doors, while keeping the state out.

    While lecturing others for daring to analyse the evidence deliberately leaked against Assange and pointing out the contradictions and obvious falsehoods in it, as being supposedly ‘disrespectful’ to the complainant Anna Ardin (about whom strong grounds for suspicion of CIA affiliation exist), they take a course of action that keeps whatever evidence does or does not exist against their leading member a closely guarded secret from both the public and the state (which is the only force available able to deal with a rape allegation).

    Incredible hypocrisy!!

  487. stuart,

    I would suggest that a rape complaint should really have only one “procedure” and that is getting the police to investigate.Also, as a subscriber, are you not troubled that those involved with investigating these allegations were close to one of the accused? Wouldn’t these two factors alone suggest that the party valued it’s reputation and image over the interests and welfare of the female complainant?

  488. prianikoff on said:

    Jellytot@518
    I don’t want to go into the details of the Curtis case either.
    But an allegation made about his behaviour *after* he’d spent 8 years in prison says nothing.
    It’s also the case that the US SWP still considers Curtis was innocent.

    The other point you make is in response to Stuart at @516, not to me @517

    Redscribe@
    “If a political organisation has its property stolen, it has as much right as any individual to ignore the theft and refuse to make an issue of it with the state, dealing with it in some other way.
    If someone is allegedly raped, then that is an (alleged) crime against that individual, not the organisation, and the interests of justice between individuals is the matter in hand, not the organisation.”

    As I’ve repeatedly said, my point was not to compare the two crimes.
    My point was that under current CPS guidelines, the option to deal with even acts of petty criminality internally is being removed.
    Technically, if a union branch suspended its treasurer for misappropriation of funds without informing the police, they could be accused of obstructing justice.

    It simply isn’t possible to stop anyone using the courts to deal with a case of rape or g.b.h.
    But faced with a situation where one member takes another to court, how could any socialist organisation avoid making a decision about who to support?
    How could they make such a decision without conducting an internal enquiry into the allegations?

    Your distinction between a situation of Civil Peace and Civil War is disingenous. Basically, you’ve adopted a completely different methodology to the one you argued for in the Assange case. You support the Crown.
    Which I can only assume is for factional reasons due to your relationship to the pro-Galloway clique.

    John, Redcribe – Hyprocritical and totally inconsistent
    Omar -the logic of his position is lock rapists up forever.
    Nadia- can see the small scale power dimension involved in revolutionary group, while ignoring the wider power dimension involving the state
    Jellytot – hates all Trot groups and therefore will support any accusation against them.
    Feodor – Melted down into verbal abuse and ludicrously accused me of being an anarchist.
    Newman – wannabe Herbert Morrison who wants to kiss the Queen’s hand.

  489. If the individual SWP member who alleges rape by another SWP member but does not want to report the matter to the police but instead requests an SWP disputes inquiry I dont think it would be right if the SWP refused to conduct that inquiry. It is a very difficult situation and others on the left should not use this horrendous situation as simply a stick to beat the SWP. Of course before an inquiry starts the complainer should be content with the membership of the inquiry team to ensure that everything is seen to be above board.
    sandy

  490. John R on said:

    I hadn’t looked at Socialist Unity for months and had a look yesterday only to see the article SWP CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT – DISPUTES COMMITTEE REPORT.

    To say I was staggered is to put it mildly – an organisation decides that it should have its own investigators, judge and jury (who are long-term colleagues of the accused) to decide the outcome of a rape investigation. At no point was there any view expressed that this should go to the police.

    What if it had been a case of alleged child abuse? Would the Disputes Committee been carrying out the same role there?

    And now we have the situation that someone who allegedly carried out a rape has not had the accusation properly investigated. Is it possible that the case could even be investigated in the future? Has any possible evidence been destroyed or tampered with?

    The SWP should not be allowed to get away with this.

    I draw your attention to the following -

    Data Protection Act

    Your responsibilities and obligations to data protection

    If you handle personal information about individuals, you have a number of legal obligations to protect that information under the Data Protection Act 1998.

    Need to register (notify) under the Data Protection Act?

    The Data Protection Act 1998 requires every organisation processing personal data to register with the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office), unless they are exempt. Find out whether you need to register, how to register, and how to maintain your register entry.

    http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/data_protection.aspx

    As the SWP (a registered political party) see themselves as fit to investigate rape allegations and keep highly sensitive information on their members, I assume that they are registered with the ICO. Just to make sure, I shall be writing to them with details of this case.

  491. Following a point which I thought was well made made on the Urban75 blog, it is worth separating out two issues: i) whether the SWP had any right/duty to investigate, and ii) whether the investigation was a fair one.

    Just on i):

    Dozens of organisations in this country routinely investigate criminal complaints against their members: the PFA, the General Medical Council, most unions… Almost all of these operate in two ways differently from the SWP: i) they have a culture (although not always a rule) that they would always encourage complainants with serious complaints to go to the police first; ii) they operate the civil rather than the criminal standard (see the last section of the speech by Pat S which reads like an attempt to introduce the former; whether or not it was fully grasped by other people on the disputes committee or at the conference, is hard to tell).

    These organisations commonly have to deal with criminal complaint usually because the police haven’t pressed charges (this is the difference btw between the recent Suarez and Terry cases – both were accused of the same crime of racial harassment; Terry was charged and acquitted in the Magistrates’ Court, Suarez wasn’t charged, so the PFA ended up having to investigate what it might have preferred to have been a criminal complaint against Suarez).

    Why, in principle, shouldn’t the SWP investigate criminal misconduct by its members if the PFA should?

    The only right test of the process should be what works for the complainant. People here seem to assume that what she most wanted was certainty (they’re probably right: although it’s not difficult to imagine other motives, eg wanting to sort out what she might have seen as a disease in her own party) and that she would best get this from a criminal conviction. It might be right that a criminal investigation would give a clear outcome: if she told the police and charges were pressed and it went to court and Comrade Delta was convicted. But in any other scenario she wouldn’t have certainty: eg if charges weren’t pressed, or if there wasn’t a conviction.

    If there was not a conviction, the complainant would of course say “I’ve not had a fair trial. The police or the courts are institutionally sexist I want Comrade Delta tried by my comrades both for the main allegation and for the lesser one of behaviour inappropriate in a prominent member of this party”. That would mean some sort of complaints procedure.

    (This is, in effect, what happened in the Terry case – there was an acquital in the criminal charge, but it left so many questions unanswered, that of course you had to have further PFA proceedings).

    To say that the SWP should have no complaints procedure, or that it should never hear serious criminal complaints is (I think) wishful thinking.

    It’s also wrong that a criminal investigation has been prevented or damaged by this procedure. Rape isn’t subject to the ordinary Magistrates’ Court time limits (6 months). And I’d like to see Comrade Delta seriously argue that it would in any way be an unfair trial – what, because he already knows the case against him? There’s not a judge in the country who would discharge on that basis.

  492. prianikoff,

    “Your distinction between a situation of Civil Peace and Civil War is disingenous. Basically, you’ve adopted a completely different methodology to the one you argued for in the Assange case. You support the Crown.”

    No I haven’t. If the evidence pointed to Assange’s guilt, or even to a lack of political motivation to the prosecution, then there would be no grounds to defend Assange. The contrary is the case.

    I do not know anything about the evidence in the Delta case, or about the guilt or innocence of the accused. But to say that the state should not investigate an allegation of rape just because the accused is a prominent leftist seems to be bizarre, and plays into the hands of those who make exactly the argument that a male-chauvinist left is simply protecting its own.

    It is the frame up of Assange that I am objecting to, not the fact that there was an investigation at all.

  493. For the avoidance of doubt: I’m only saying there should be a process.

    As to ii) whether “this process” was a fair one – I (like I suspect almost every poster here) would have sided with the 45% of delegates voted no

  494. Just to elaborate a bit more in reply to Prianikoff. The first investigation of the Assange issue, by the original Swedish prosecutor, was above board. It looked at the evidence, and drew the same conclusions incidentally as George Galloway, that even if the accounts put forward were true (very doubtful in any case), they did not constitute rape. Accordingly it dismissed the case.

    It is the corrupted second investigation I have a problem with – the first evidently through some error allowed someone who was not part of the clique out to frame Assange to take control of the case.

    I have no axe to grind against the SWP over this, and certainly not against the accused (are we allowed to mention his name – we all know it!). I don’t know him, but one thing I do know about him is that at least on one question, controversial both in the SWP and here, I have agreed with him in the past. I refer to the question of a certain jazz musician, and to dialogue of the left with him. I was once wrongfully banned from posting on this blog because of differences on this.

    And I am not part of any pro-Galloway ‘clique’. I defend Galloway for reasons of principle as with Assange and even Atzmon – because despite criticisms of all these people, they are fighting many of the right enemies. Why the demonology about ‘cliques’ anyway? Better to just stick to the politics.

  495. Neil: Why, in principle, shouldn’t the SWP investigate criminal misconduct by its members if the PFA should?

    The PFA waited until any question of state prosecution had first been completed.

    Neil: It’s also wrong that a criminal investigation has been prevented or damaged by this procedure. Rape isn’t subject to the ordinary Magistrates’ Court time limits (6 months).

    The mechanism of investigation would have impeded a police investigation and evidence gathering.

  496. David Ruaune on said:

    Feodor,

    I meant – someone has to go to the police before it can be dealt with in law. If no-one is willing to go to the law, then the groups mentioned must deal with matters. This can be anything between ostracism, having a good talking at, or baseball bats. I’m not against what you call vigilante justice as a matter of principle, but I think most modification of unpleasant behaviour is accomplished not by the cops, but by one’s peers, friends, family, other person’s families, etc.
    This can be corrupted by ahem ahem certain forms of organization.
    I think I’m overall in agreement with you Feodor.

  497. redscribe: I defend … Atzmon – because despite criticisms of all these people, they are fighting many of the right enemies.

    Just to clarify, the “enemy” that Gilad Atzmon is “fighting” is all Jewish people; becaue he is an old fashioned anti-Semite.

    I will not tolerate a defence of Atzmon here, which is effectively a defence of Jew hating

  498. redcogs on said:

    Post 560 is utterly pointless and has no place in a serious discussion.

    In a word – crass.

  499. Andy Newman,

    Fair enough, that’s your view and you run this place. I disagree, but its not the topic. But in any case this rather undermines Prianikoff’s idea that there is a ‘pro-Galloway clique’.

  500. redcogs on said:

    Its history now, but The SWP central committee were in a position to influence the direction this matter has taken. Had they decided to advise the wronged comrade that the Party was ill equipped to launch an investigation (at that stage) and that she should seek an alternative route of redress then they may have been able to avoid the present crisis. There would have been other serious problems had they done so (disgruntled comrades screaming for greater and more adherance to democratic centralist tenets), but the issue would presumably have been less acute.

    As it appears now there is still potential for the courts to become involved (at the complainents request, or via some other route), with many people possibly being regarded by the state as legally culpable and obstructing ‘justice’.

    Politically the SWP are now labelled as a semi corrupt organisation that has heavily weighted a control commission with the friends of someone accused of rape in order to ensure that his name is cleared.

    Personally i wouldn’t accept that the SWP is corrupt in this sense, and i can see that good faith may have been guiding events.

    But perception is everything – and this circumstance was avoidable. It strikes me as strange that the SWP cc (intelligent people all) could not predict how things might pan out.

  501. Jellytot on said:

    @462There’s a fine line between dealing with legitimate issues of party discipline (which can and should remain internal matters) and becoming so wrapped up in your own revolutionary narrative (re-run of 1917 etc) that you cast aside all considerations of natural justice.

    There has been a few allusions to “natural justice” on this thread. I recall debating this subject during my time in the Party and the consensus came to was that the term was loaded, divisive and reactionary. It was pretty clear that there were two types of justice; “bourgeois” justice (which was anything but) and so-called Revolutionary Justice which would be administered by the WC through the Party (you can all guess who “The Party” were).

    To be fair to ‘stuart’, maybe the SWP were just being true to this skewed logic (Pity the accusers in this equation of course).

    @558We can rest easy, Socialist Worker has produced it’s official version of conference. Turns out everything was fine.

    It’s tempting to comment on Weymann Bennett’s typically simplistic contribution on anti-fascism: to paraphrase him: “Britain doesn’t have the same problem with fascism compared to Europe because the UAF exist” – but I won’t.

    The gist behind the rest of it could have been written at any time over the past 3 decades including the annual 1000 recruitment claim.

  502. redcogs: But perception is everything – and this circumstance was avoidable. It strikes me as strange that the SWP cc (intelligent people all) could not predict how things might pan out.

    This is particularly true of the report to conference, they were so wrapped up in their narrative of “revolutionary” politics, that they gave no thought to how it would be perceived by those outwith the bubble

  503. stuart on said:

    Omar,

    We are not in a position to speculate over the woman’s attitude towards going to the police. For the record, as a member, I have full confidence in those entrusted with the task of investigating complaints, to do so to a standard acceptable to myself. Moreover, despite any misgivings about aspects of how the procedure was handled- and such misgivings were apparently heard- the party was absolutely right to carry out its procedure when the complaint was brought. To have refused to act would have been wrong. It would have been wrong to take action against the accused on the basis of an allegation, and wrong to refuse to investigate despite being asked to by the accused.

  504. stuart

    “To have refused to act would have been wrong. It would have been wrong to take action against the accused on the basis of an allegation, and wrong to refuse to investigate despite being asked to by the accused.”

    Is the last word of this para correct? I thought the claim was that the accuser asked the party to organise its own investigation, not the accused. Maybe I misunderstood something.

    If this was done at the request of the accused that does look very bad.

  505. stuart on said:

    Vanya,

    Your refusal to accept the need to listen to Assange’s accusers sensitively places you in no position to give lectures to those investigating the complaint made against a member of the SWP and those who support that process.

  506. David Ruaune on said:

    Rosa Lichtenstein, at the site “Anti-Dialectics”, explains why all these sorts of problems (pathetic sexual harassment, etc.) will afflict the revolutionary party unless it rejects Hegelian Dialectics.

    It’s also nice to see John Molyneux so prominent in these crucial debates. Come on, John, write an article about why Proletcult was the wrong idea.

  507. jim mclean on said:

    SSM Guest Review: A Woman Naked by Christopher Priest from Ian Sales

    He describes a system so despicable the only hope of salvation for the victims requires them to collude in their victimisation. Mistress L—’s crime is not adultery; her crime is being female, being a member of a minority that is different. The “seduction” was not the only rape she suffered; her entire life has been a violation.

    And still the ordeal is not over: “She opened her mouth and started the account of her crimes. The rape had begun.”

    http://gavreads.co.uk/2010/05/31/ssm-guest-review-a-woman-naked-by-christopher-priest-from-ian-sales/

  508. redcogs on said:

    One assumes that John Molyneux was amongst the comrades who voted to reject the Control Commission report?

    He always struck me as being one who exemplifies the best traditions of the SWP, with a serious revisionist stance on issues of Party democracy.

    On the Right wing of the SWP, if that is an appropriate characterisation?

    i didn’t know that he came here.

  509. Neil: The only right test of the process should be what works for the complainant. People here seem to assume that what she most wanted was certainty (they’re probably right: although it’s not difficult to imagine other motives, eg wanting to sort out what she might have seen as a disease in her own party) and that she would best get this from a criminal conviction. It might be right that a criminal investigation would give a clear outcome:

    NO this isn’t adequate. Once an instance of a serious sexual/violent crime against the person had been formally notified to the SWP, then issues of public policy come into play such that the SWP itself had an obligation to ensure that nothing they did would impede or dissuade a criminal investigation and possibly a prosecution; and they should have taken legal advice, as the accused was an officer of their organisation, as to whether they had any duty to themselves notify the police.

    A private organisation cannot assume authority in a criminal matter concerning a third party to rival the sovereign authority of the state.

    Serious violent and sexual crime is rightly prosecuted by the state, rather than individual victims; becasue there is a public interest in convicting and punishing those guilty of such offences.

  510. Jellytot on said:

    stuart

    Moreover, despite any misgivings about aspects of how the procedure was handled- and such misgivings were apparently heard

    But were they given adequate time?

    A reading of The Transcript gives the impression of The Chair trying to harry people into keeping their contributions short and trying, using the clock, to curtail debate and cut people off. Surely something like this should have been given a full extra day or at least a lot longer and not (purposefully?) bolted onto the end of the conference?

    That’s assuming of course that you accept the right of the SWP to hear such a case.

  511. David Ruaune on said:

    As far as I know, he has said nothing. He has a blog, which has said nothing.

    In the best traditions of the SWP – yeah, that sounds like John Molyneux.

  512. jack ford on said:

    Abuse of women and kangaroo courts have always been standard procedure for a cult.

  513. redcogs on said:

    Yes i noticed that David. Reading the Molyneux blog is often an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

    i suppose the constraints of the swp form of democratic centralism will not allow him to remark on this matter in any meaningful way, which is a shame. It might appear to some as some sort of gagging order?

  514. Nadia Chern on said:

    prianikoff: Nadia- can see the small scale power dimension involved in revolutionary group, while ignoring the wider power dimension involving the state

    Prianikoff, thanks for this assessment of my thinking. Permit me to offer my own of your position.

    There is a a series of problems with suggesting state involvement in this case. The first is that there is not even any prima facie evidence of such involvement. Presumably, this is why you allude to other cases in a vague manner. To suggest it without any evidence of even a circumstantial kind strikes me as leaving you open to accusations of paranoia or conspiracy.

    The second problem is that you make a huge assumption in your suggestion, that the claim of rape or sexual harassment is likely to be the work of the state in some way. This strikes me as an implausible assumption as the state would be unlikely to choose a politically unknown woman with little social weight in the party to make such an accusation. A ‘honey trap’ would equally not be a realistic assumption as there would simply be more evidence supplied in a set up such as that. Incidentally, there is also the issue of the portrayal of a woman alleging such a thing but I assume you have a more nuanced understanding than that.

    The third problem is that you could easily construct a thought experiment in which you could claim that the state agent involved is the accused. After all, what better way to wreck an organization than by acquiring a long term leading position then allegedly abusing it in such dramatic and horrific terms? Given your own example of Mark Kennedy, I would have thought that this would be your preferred assumption, given that it matches the modus operandi of Kennedy and his unit.

    Now I recognize the potential in such a crisis for state involvement but a potential does not make a reality and I would require some evidence before widening ‘the power dimension’.

  515. David Ruaune on said:

    redcogs: Yes i noticed that David. Reading the Molyneux blog is often an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

    On his his blog, Molyneux simply repeats arguments about how, in the abstract, socialism will not persecute artistic freedom unless artistic freedom sets itself against the revolution. He writes good primers in Marxism. That’s it. When push comes to shove he fucks off to a cottage in Eire.

  516. stuart:
    Vanya,

    Your refusal to accept the need to listen to Assange’s accusers sensitively places you in no position to give lectures to those investigating the complaint made against a member of the SWP and those who support that process.

    Stuart you can repeat this as much as you like. It doesn’t make it relevant or analagous.

    If my job was to investigate allegations by women reporting being raped, or to counsel them, I would have an obligation to do exactly as you say.

    (As I have said before, I have been involved in complaints against Police officers accused of such lack of respect and sensitivity).

    If as someone with no involvement with the investigatory process I had reason to believe that someone was being fitted up for rape, I would not have the same obligation, and nobody in that position should be silenced by spurious claims that they are failing to listen respectfully.

  517. Jellytot on said:

    Reading the Molyneux blog is often an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

    Parties like the SWP always seem to have erudite and charismatic figures inside them, who give off a geniune impression of possessing free and eclectic thought

    Molyneux, Stack, Birchall and the late Dave Widgery and Paul Foot spring to mind here.

    But in the end you have to temper this by asking, “If they’re so free-thinking, what the hell are they doing inside a party like the SWP?”

  518. Ian Birchall on said:

    Jellytot,

    Thanks for the name-check. If you perceive a problem it is because of the (in my view mistaken) way in which you perceive the SWP. It is not, and never has been, a problem for me.

  519. Does anybody have a rough idea of the proportion of rape allegations similar to this (to the extent we can know, but considering the passage of time, and a probably lack of evidence beyond the word of a single accuser and the accused) that, if brought to the police, would results in a) a trial, and b) a conviction?

  520. stuart on said:

    Jellytot:

    A reading of The Transcript gives the impression….

    I don’t think we should be debating from an unauthorised transcript of a debate about a report about a private investigation requested by the accuser. I can ask my branch delegate about the how things were conducted.

    Jellytot:
    That’s assuming of course that you accept the right of the SWP to hear such a case.

    As a member I regard it as a duty.

  521. Jellytot: “If they’re so free-thinking, what the hell are they doing inside a party like the SWP?”

    Maybe – in part – because it gives them an audience for their free and eclectic thoughts that they (for want of other ‘connections’ in the media, in ‘Society’, etc.) would not otherwise have. It’s not, ahem, rocket science.

  522. Jellytot,

    Because there is usually three types of party membership, the grunts, the leadership and the celebs. The celebs get a decree of freedom that would have a grunt pulled up for. It’s not an exclusive traint of the SWP, you could see it to a decree in the CPGB, and most certainly in the WRP.

  523. stuart on said:

    Vanya,

    So what would you say if SWP members were going around saying that the accuser was acting as part of a conspiracy?

  524. Matt: if brought to the police, would results in a) a trial, and b) a conviction?

    Aren’t the police these days on many things quite “pro-active” and investigate things without them having been “brought to them”, at least not necessarily by those directly involved?

    What’s to stop anyone reading (or publishing) this here from “reporting” Comrade Delta for sexual abuse and or rape? It’s not a suggestion, it’s a question. I’m not directly aware of how the police work in the UK – but elsewhere in Europe the situation mentioned above is far from unthinkable, it may well be indeed the norm.

  525. Ian Birchall on said:

    daggi: it gives them an audience for their free and eclectic thoughts that they (for want of other ‘connections’ in the media, in ‘Society’, etc.) would not otherwise have.

    This may well be true for a nonentity like myself, but it hardly fits Foot and Widgery, does it?

  526. stuart,

    Just out of interest what would, in your opinion, have happened if the accused comrade was found ‘guilty’.

    Yes I assume he would have been expelled-but that is the only sanction you have. I for one think that being thrown out of a club is not exactly the totality of the punishment a rapist should face.

    The bourgeois legal system, for all its faults, at least has some more robust sanctions than the SWP has available.

  527. Ian Birchall,

    I probably wouldn’t have heard of Widgery if it wasn’t for his connection with the IS/SWP. But then again, without his membership and activism, he probably wouldn’t have been the person he was.

    Otherwise, to mention someone else, Mark Steel can fairly be described as a near-nonentity, but his time in the SWP certainly was useful for his career, surely?

    I think I can reasonably also suggest that few would have heard of a certain blogger who goes under the nom-de-plume of “Lenin” (too modest, the man), and certainyl wouldn’t have got his books published, if he wasn’t an activist in the smallest mass party in Britain.

  528. stuart:
    Vanya,

    So what would you say if SWP members were going around saying that the accuser was acting as part of a conspiracy?

    Well that would all rather depend on (a) whether the matter was already in the hands of the Police and CPS (ie, again, not analagous) and (b) if they had any evidence that clearly meant that they felt that this was the case.

  529. Ian Birchall on said:

    Pete Shield: three types of party membership, the grunts, the leadership and the celebs

    Thanks. I’d never thought of myself as a “celeb” – do you think Hello magazine would like some pictures of my N9 flat?

  530. Karl Stewart on said:

    Stuart,
    You’re completely wrong about the Assange issue and so is your party.
    In that instance, there was one statement by one woman who claimed, in her statement and in her own words, that she chose to have consensual sex with Assange. She also said, in her own statement and in her own words, that she did not want the involvement of the police crime unit.
    If what she said in her own statement – a formal police statement that she decided to make by her own free will – is true, then there is no crime.
    That’s what Galloway said and he was 100 per cent right.
    In that instance, it is you and your party who are not listening to the woman concerned and it is Galloway who is listening to her.

    ———————————–

    On the subject of what organisations should do if confronted with internal allegations of a potentially criminal nature, I’m not convinced that it’s automatically the right decision for an organisation to hand over one of their own members to the police.

  531. prianikoff on said:

    re. Nadia Chern#580

    Based on the precedents, I’d want to widen the “power dimension” right from the start myself.
    I’ve only suggested the state can manipulate such situations. Not that “W’s” allegations should be dismissed out of hand, due to the (remote) possiblity that she might be a state agent. Or that “Delta” is an innocent victim of false allegations.

    Perhaps the procedures adopted by SWP were flawed, but I don’t see how they could have avoided an internal enquiry. W’s complaint emerged in a different form 3 years ago. At the time, she wasn’t alleging rape.

    What worries me more, is that an anonymous person recorded the Disputes Panel report, meticulously typed up a transcript of it, then leaked it onto an Internet blog.
    I’m not sure what useful purpose this has served.

  532. #594 Mark Steel’s column in the Independent and appearances on the TV and radio are down to the SWP? I’m sure the Indie and the Beeb wouuld be interested to know that :)

    As for Dave Widgery, I first knew about him (a) because of Rock Against Racism, my first political act being to sell badges and copies of Temporary Hoardings at school when I was 14 or 15 and (b) because of that book he wrote about the left in Britain which I read around the same time.

    Clearly his involvement with RAR was strongly linked to his SWP membership, and the book in question is strongly tinged with IS/ SWP politics, and I did know about the SWP.

    However I didn’t sell RAR badges or like the book because of the SWP, who I was also aware of- I bought my first copy of Socialist Worker with the ‘Grunwicks- The Workers United Will Never Be Defeated’ headline and sent off for Paul Foot’s Wny You Should be a Socialist around the same time-, but because I thought RAR was a good idea and cool, reflecting music I was into and because the book was informative and well written. If anyone has worked out who I am and is the so and so I lent it to can I have it back please?

  533. Jellytot on said:

    @594Otherwise, to mention someone else, Mark Steel can fairly be described as a near-nonentity, but his time in the SWP certainly was useful for his career, surely?

    And Steel left and wrote one of the best critiques of a Party like the SWP.

    The book included a memorable section (among many) about how a block of long standing and otherwise intelligent members would clam up and sit on their hands and not express their inner feelings during fractious periods thus allowing the varying degrees of “hack” to have free rein and dominate the discourse. You see, their membership of the SWP had essentially become a lifestyle and a habit for them, developed over decades, and they didn’t want to threaten that and could never make the break. They knew how to negotiate the rapids of factional politics while probably believing in none of it.

    Completely unrelated:

    Ian Birchall

    Any views on the DC report?

  534. redcogs on said:

    David Ruaune,

    i don’t imagine that john Molyneux’s place of abode has much of an impact on the quality and content of his writing.

    Besides which, i wish i had “a cottage in Eire”

  535. redcogs on said:

    Am i the only one frustrated by the late appearance of the SWPs ‘Party Notes’ on the www?

  536. jack ford on said:

    Jellytot,

    Splintered Sunrise on SWP celebs such as Mark

    http://splinteredsunrise.wordpress.com/2008/08/26/summer-reading-mark-steel-asks-whats-going-on/

    I have to make this point as a small criticism, Mark may be a good bloke but he’s also a little bit of an asshole. What I mean by that is, the history of the SWP, and other left organisations, is full of people in privileged positions who have known all about the organisational skulduggery that goes on, and haven’t said a word until they have been targeted themselves. I think there is a particular responsibility on people like Mark Steel or Paul Foot or Eamonn McCann, who function as a human face of their organisation and make people feel good about being in it, and who could function as a sort of conscience of the organisation. But normally they don’t. Paul Foot, who I miss a lot, was a lovely man, a brilliant journalist and one of the best speakers I’ve ever heard. But it must be said that, when confronted with the SWP leadership and with Cliff in particular, Paul could be the most awful creep. Eamonn has gone along with all sorts of hair-raising stuff, as long as he’s been allowed to plough his own furrow in Derry. And so on.

    Now, Mark has to his credit that he did in fact discover a backbone. But there’s a whole lot of people who came before him and got it in the neck good. For example, on the issue of the inflated membership lists, I know that Mark knew about this years ago, because a mutual acquaintance of ours blew the whistle on the membership figures, and could have done with a little moral support. I suppose what I’m getting at is, it can be a little aggravating for Mark to be recounting stories of leftist craziness and tailing it with “I felt like saying…” No, but you didn’t, Mark. No doubt you had your reasons, but a little acknowledgement of this point wouldn’t go amiss.

  537. Jellytot on said:

    If you perceive a problem it is because of the (in my view mistaken) way in which you perceive the SWP. It is not, and never has been, a problem for me.

    Fair Enough Ian Birchall and the majority of people I’m sure are fine on an individual level. However, in such parties you do come across control freaks, narcissists, “Little Napoleons”, Hacks and characters of varying degrees of venality. These people are attracted to the Leninist paradigm and on occassion these types reach the upper echelons.

    Surely that must bother you.

    No?

  538. stuart on said:

    Vanya,

    Frankly I don’t believe you. If a leading SWP member was arrested by the police and facing rape allegations I cannot see you rallying around to support him.

  539. stuart:
    Vanya,

    Frankly I don’t believe you. If a leading SWP member was arrested by the police and facing rape allegations I cannot see you rallying around to support him.

    Frankly I don’t care what you believe.

    I am sufficiently well aware of my own level of integrity to know what my response would be.

    Interesting that you think for sectarian political reasons I would refuse to support someone I believed to be the victim of a fit up (and that is the analagous situation, not simply the hypothetical situation that someone in the SWP had been arrested and facing rape allegations).

    What makes you believe that?

  540. prianikoff,

    “Omar -the logic of his position is lock rapists up forever.”

    How you can conclude that is beyond me. I’ve said that, if it is the case that an alleged rapist is,in fact, a rapist, it is likely he would be more circumspect about committing another rape if he were subject to the kind of scrutiny that a police investigation would entail, rather than that of the organisation conducting it’s own investigation. Putting aside the competence of the organisation doing the investigating, as Andy has already said, there is a public safety interest in ensuring the investigation meets legal standards.

  541. jack ford on said:

    There’s more chance of Lord Lucan galloping across Hyde Park mounted on Shergar than there is of the SWP ever gaining state power but this latest episode demonstrates what the rule of law under the pocket Lenins would be like.

  542. #612 Well, like Lenin, I don’t think that particular concept is one that they recognise as valid.

    In fairness to Lenin, a lot of things have happened since he had power that may have made him take a different view. This lot have the benefit of a lot of history to examine and learn from.

  543. stuart on said:

    Vanya,

    I think your sectarianism would frame your beliefs. Assange has been accused of sexual assault. What would you say to people who cheered and applauded him outside the embassy?

  544. Heather Downs:
    Matt,

    http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/mythsampfacts2.php

    As you can see, Rape Crisis suggest 15% of rapes of adults are reported, of which 6% lead to conviction.

    Thanks Heather.

    It’s not visible in the stats I have seen but my guess is that the nature of this allegation (to the extent we can know) means it would more likely end up in the 94% unconvicted pile than the 6%. Not reporting to the police is unfortunately the most common response amongst rape victims, and I struggle to see this one as being the exception, whatever we may prefer to happen.

    If that was W’s choice (and it’s a big if) what should the SWP have done? I can’t believe doing nothing could be the right response, and would seem to be using the police as a stick to beat the accuser, to effectively shut her up. And what would most posters here be saying? “Well done SWP, good call!”? Yeah, right.

    My sense is the Disputes people knew they weren’t the right people to do this (I hope they knew that) but felt they had to do it anyway.

    You have plenty of sticks to beat the SWP with at the moment, and I think this one should perhaps be put aside.

  545. Nadia Chern on said:

    stuart,

    The question is why they were cheering and applauding Assange. I’ll give you a hint – it may just have something to do with his role in stripping US imperialism bare and demonstrating the reality of US occupation and double dealing.

    When one of your ‘revolutionary’ brethren come close to achieving something of this magnitude, you may be entitled to make a comparison, Until then, you just come across as a deeply deluded clown intent on apologetics.

  546. jim mclean on said:

    Candy speak
    “Comrade Delta” vs “That Woman”
    mmmmmmmm no bias.
    But why not Comrade Delta vs Comrade Beta, the alleged victim is not even honoured with the sororal “comrade”.

  547. jim mclean: Candy speak
    “Comrade Delta” vs “That Woman”
    mmmmmmmm no bias.
    But why not Comrade Delta vs Comrade Beta, the alleged victim is not even honoured with the sororal “comrade”.

    Sorry to burst your bubble (not really) but Andy coined “Comrade Delta” as he explained in an earlier comment. So it’s Andy speak, not Candy speak.

  548. jim mclean on said:

    Matt,

    AHHH, but what I quoted from was from a different site so it seems we have others reporting Andy’s words as the direct words of Candy. What a tangled web we weave. I spend more time on Libcom these days though, much more friendly, and practical,in the sense that not only do they condemn, ATOS for example, but tell people how to fill in the forms.

  549. Stephen on said:

    stuart: For the record, as a member, I have full confidence in those entrusted with the task of investigating complaints, to do so to a standard acceptable to myself. Moreover, despite any misgivings about aspects of how the procedure was handled- and such misgivings were apparently heard- the party was absolutely right to carry out its procedure when the complaint was brought. To have refused to act would have been wrong. It would have been wrong to take action against the accused on the basis of an allegation, and wrong to refuse to investigate despite being asked to

    Disquieting parallels there with a multitude of statements by senior catholic clergy in recent years. Like Stuart many catholics had full confidence in those entrusted with the task of investigating complaints against senior and full time members of the organisation ie largely other senior and full time members of the organisation. Didn’t pan out too well…

  550. Delta Force on said:

    A couple of questions, if anyone closer to the centre of this than me can clear these up:

    1. While the DC (rightly I think) ruled that the question of Comrade Delta having an affair did not concern them, his Mrs may have ruled that it concerned her very much! So is that “power couple”, to use the Rees-German terminology, still together? Just that I see Madame Delta was re-elected to the CC and led off for the leadership on a key section at conference. So whether she remains allied to her (ex?) partner would help gauge how much influence that now ex-CC member still has…

    2. The Millibands of the SWP, Esme and Joseph C: Now this is a really interesting one, and just to show that m