SWP – a response to Neil Davidson & John Rees

by John Molyneux

Response to Neil Davidson

I warmly welcome the appearance of Neil Davidson’s major article in [SWP Pre-conference Internal Bulletin] IB3. It is clear from the contents of the IBs as a whole that a significant democratic upsurge is taking place in the ranks of the SWP and I regard this overall as a positive, not a threatening, development (regardless of my agreement or disagreement with particular contributions) in that I believe this discussion and debate can help the party improve its understanding of the situation we face and our ability to operate politically within it. At the moment the CC being internally divided cannot close down the debate, but I hope that once its internal divisions are resolved it does not succumb to the temptation to try to reimpose the old conformity.

Two things are crucial here: one is the CC internal united front against dissidents, which has meant that differences within the CC are kept hidden from the membership while any critic is met with an overwhelming rebuttal. I will give a personal example (unimportant in itself and it happened to many others) just to make clear what I mean .Some years ago, at a Party Council, I questioned the estimation and figures given for a demonstration (the Birmingham demo against the closure of Longbridge). I was immediately replied to by five members of the CC, but, of course, given no right of reply to them. The other, less important but still of significance, is tone. Critics can be replied to politically and strong arguments put, without making the victim feel like they never want to speak at an SWP conference or council again. Such practices, once prevalent, have dramatically declined recently. They should not be brought back.

In this context Neil’s article plays a very useful role in helping to kick start and focus the debate. In particular the question he raises about the SWP’s failure to grow substantially over thirty years is important and needs to be addressed. However I do not agree with his answer to it, or at least partially disagree. Neil notes, correctly, that ‘since the late eighties at any rate, the Central Committee (CC) has never seriously allowed that any objective conditions can impede the possibilities for party growth. Indeed, comrades suggesting that there might actually be reasons outwith our control for failing to build were denounced for their pessimism,’ but then basically agrees with the CC saying ‘One can accept that conditions have not been uniformly conducive to growth, but clearly the objective circumstances have not posed an insuperable barrier either. As it happens, I think the CC was right most of the time about the opportunities,’ and concludes by quoting Shakespeare to the effect that ‘the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’

I disagree. I think that the root of the problem lies in the objective circumstances. I take this view for several reasons. First I have a general historical materialist bias towards to objective explanations that take as their point of departure the economy, the class struggle, mass consciousness etc. I am emphatically not a fatalist who wishes to deny the role of the subjective factor but I want the subjective factor to appear as the final link in the chain of explanation rather than the first. Secondly it is clear from history that when the circumstances were favourable all sorts of would be radical organisations, with politics and organisational practices FAR worse than the SWP (Maoists in Nepal, for example) have been able to grow far more successfully than us. Moreover the fact is that in Britain NO left political party has been able to do better than us on any sustained basis. Indeed, as far as the revolutionary socialist left is concerned, this is more or less true internationally.

There are, in my judgment, three main objective reasons for our lack of growth which are staring us in the face. First the state of the economy: however severe the crisis may be now and however much this may vindicate the fundamental Marxist theory of capitalist crisis, the fact remains that the years 1992-2007 were years of sustained growth in which the British economy did better than we expected or predicted. Second, these were also years of exceptionally low industrial struggle, in which serious or large scale strikes (apart from 1-day affairs) all but disappeared. By 2005 the level of strikes had fallen to one tenth of what it was when Cliff analysed the ‘downturn’. This collapse, which I believe had structural rather just circumstantial causes (lack of confidence, the failings of union leaders etc) was the most important constraint and it profoundly shaped the third factor, which was the state of mass consciousness. This is a subjective factor as far as the masses are concerned, but an objective factor in relation to a small party like the SWP.

At various times since the late 80s there was mass opposition to the government of the day over the poll tax, the sacking of the miners, the criminal justice bill, and above all the war; there was also widespread generalised hatred of the Tories, massive cynicism about politics and politicians, and a degree of anti-capitalist, anti-corporate feeling, but all this NEGATIVE oppositional consciousness was never matched (even partially) by a corresponding POSITIVE pro socialist consciousness. On the contrary the defeats of the late seventies and the eighties, particularly the great miners’ strike, the general weakening of trade unionism, the decline of Bennism, the Labour Party’s move to the right and, above all, the collapse of the Stalinist regimes were taken by the large majority as signifying that socialism was finished. This should not surprise us: working class self emancipation is the heart of socialism so a long period in which working class struggle was weak was bound to affect the level of socialist consciousness, as well as weakening the confidence of conscious socialists.

[One side effect of this was the decline in student radicalism As someone actively involved in student work in the late sixties and through the seventies and then a lecturer in the eighties and nineties I thought the change was palpable but could never get any acknowledgement of this from the party leadership. But if we recall that in the early seventies the common slur against IS was that we were all just students, and that Marxism began as a student event and, on occasion we had specifically Student Marxisms with about 1000 attendance we can see that the decline must had a real affect on our recruitment possibilities.]

These factors set real limits to the growth we could achieve, limits which were often more restricted than we ourselves realized (especially during the onwards and upwards period of the 90s). Could we have done better? Yes, certainly we could. Did we make mistakes? Of course we did and it is necessary to identify and analyse at least the main ones. In my opinion these were as follows: 1) an ultra-left attitude to the miners strike committees and their food collections (fortunately corrected just about in time), 2) a sectarian position on the poll tax struggle ( again corrected just about in time for England , but not Scotland), 3) the split the branches into ever smaller units strategy of the 90s, 4) the attempted mass recruitment on demos and attempts to browbeat people into membership at Marxism and elsewhere, which led to a substantial layer of ‘phoney’ members on the Centre’s books. The first two were probably mainly side effects of the ‘circling the wagons’ strategy adopted to deal with the downturn. The second two were a result of impatience and voluntarism, an attempt to push or even bully the party into growing faster than the objective situation allowed.

The worst mistake however was the failure to admit or correct mistakes even after they had long become evident (this applies much more to 3 and 4 than to 1 and 2). A couple of examples. Somewhere in the anti-nazi struggle of the mid nineties there was a splendid South Wales Against Racism demo which mobilised several thousand people. On this demo we ‘recruited’ 107 members (the figure is etched on my brain). Two weeks later, after intensive phoning, visiting etc, no more than a handful, if that, remained ‘live’. It was time for the penny to drop, for a reassessment, especially as this was only a dramatic case of an experience that was being repeated round the country. But it didn’t happen. It was the same with the small branches. I don’t blame the leadership for trying this – in certain favourable circumstances it would be a good way to build. But when there was abundant evidence of it failing it was persisted with, almost to the point of destruction. And the combination of these mistakes led to the grievous situation where the leadership were misleading themselves, the party, and the world about the real size of our membership.

Obviously all this leads straight back to the question of the party regime, structures, democracy etc. What SHOULD have happened in the above examples is that the members should have insisted on the reality on the ground as they experienced it, and called the leadership to account, but as we know it was extremely difficult, in those years, to speak up. Which is why I very much welcome the current debate about the membership of the CC, the Davidson document and others, and the proposed Commission. Hopefully they will all contribute to a shift in the culture of the party so that comrades feel more able to speak their minds.

However the emphasis I place on the objective constraints on our growth does affect both my assessment of the SWP’s record over the last thirty odd years and the question of what we do now. Clearly we could have done better, but given the difficulties we faced we have not done that badly and compared with most of the left we have done very well. Much of this can be attributed to the brilliant political legacy we inherited from the likes of the younger Cliff, Kidron, Hallas, Harris, Harman etc as well as the activist tradition forged particularly by Cliff, rather than the sagacity of the more recent leadership (including, I would say, some aspects of the older Cliff). Nevertheless the party has, right up to the present, remained focused on the external world and responsive to the demands of the struggle, hence our very positive achievements in terms of the Anti- Nazi League, the anti- capitalist movement, Stop the War and Respect for a period.

In so far as a lot our problems seem to have been internal – failure to retain membership, alienation of some members etc – they have been rooted in either an overestimation of the objective situation or an impatience with it, which in turn has led to attempts to forcibly grow the organisation hot house fashion (splitting and abolishing the branches), followed by increasing impatience (on the part of some of the leadership) with the members, when this didn’t work.

This impatience also led, I think, to some comrades seeing Respect as, perhaps, a short cut or even an alternative to building the revolutionary party. This was most obviously the case with the likes of Kevin Ovenden, Rob Hoveman and Ger Hicks, who abandoned the party project for Respect Renewal, but also seems to have been a factor with Paul Holborrow and his co-thinkers, who didn’t want to resist Galloway. Moreover, I think, something similar lies behind the idea, currently circulating among some comrades, that the main way to build the party, now and maybe always, is through the united front.

Care needs to be taken not to fetishise the concept of the united front or we will make mistakes both in relation to the past and the present. Many of the discussions about whether or not particular campaigns and organisations are united fronts or ‘united fronts of a special type’ seem based on the idea that somewhere there is a Platonic ideal of the true united front to which current initiatives should roughly conform. It is worth remembering that the term united front was never used by Marx or Engels and did not appear in the Marxist movement until after the Russian Revolution. It owes its its position in the classical Marxist canon to two episodes: first its adoption by the Comintern at the behest of Lenin and Trotsky in 1921-22 in opposition to the lunatic ultraleftism of the German CPs March Action; second its advocacy by Trotsky in order to combat the rise of fascism, in opposition to the even more lunatic ultraleftism of the Stalinist ‘third period’ and to the betrayals of the Popular Front. In both cases it was a particular tactical/ strategic response to particular instances of what is a permanent problem, which was addressed by Marx and Engels as far back as the Communists and Proletarians section of The Communist Manifesto, namely how to combine maximising the fighting unity of the working class with maintaining the political independence and clarity of the revolutionaries.

I think there are serious problems involved in trying to construct a national united front in response to the recession, especially one that in some way follows the model of Stop the War. The basic difficulty is simply who to unite with. One possible set of candidates is left journalists, economists and academics such as Larry Elliot, Graham Turner and Paul Mason. These people are undoubtedly useful for the platforms of meetings and rallies, but they have no forces on the ground and this weakness matters much more in relation to the recession, where we need industrial action and community resistance than it did over the war where it was mainly a matter of getting people to demos. The other possible candidates, who do have real forces, are the left union leaders, but we know that when it comes to strike and other industrial disputes these people are likely to waiver or sell out and we will be forced to oppose them. It is much easier to have a united front with Tony Woodley (or Billy Hayes) over the war (or the BNP) where all they have to do is make statements than it is over the recession where leading real resistance is required. (For those who like historical precedents this is an issue that goes back to Trotsky v Stalin over the Anglo-Russian Trade Union Committee and the General Strike).

For these reasons I agree with those on the CC who are against going big on a formal united front of notables in advance of the development of the struggle from below. This absolutely does not mean ‘rejecting the united front method’, still less being reluctant to work with other people outside our ranks but it does mean that at present we have to remain flexible and experimental, taking and supporting various initiatives on the ground, using the organisational forms that fit locally ( which may often be the Charter but may sometimes be something else) until a clearer picture of the shape of resistance emerges. As comrades will know I have long been an advocate of a more democratic and open culture in the party but one reason why real but fraternal debate is essential right now is precisely so that in the coming weeks and months we can thrash out these issues and collectively arrive at the best way forward. Some comrades find this uncertainty disturbing but I think it is better than trying to preempt the movement on the basis of a solution imposed from above. Some comrades may yearn for the smack of firm leadership but I am not one of them.

This relates to the question of recruitment. I understand the argument put by Neil that it is not possible to build a mass party by individual recruitment and that this was not, for example, how the parties of the Comintern (especially the German CP) were built. But there are many steps between where we are now and the construction of the truly mass party necessary to overthrow capitalism and fortunate or unfortunately we are a long way from the situation in Europe in 1919-23. In the present circumstances I think our best option is not to cast about for a shortcut to mass recruitment but to engage in individual recruitment as best we can, so as to be in as strong a position as possible when the opportunity for mass recruitment opens up. Frankly I prefer to grow by ones and twos or threes and fours, and retain people than lose people hand over fist pursuing a grandiose but unrealisable perspective.

This response has not been written in a spirit of polemic. I have set out my disagreements at some length not to reject Neil’s document but because I hope they will prove pertinent to the current debate in the party in which neither I nor, I suspect anyone else, possesses a monopoly on the truth. Moreover it seems right to end where I began by expressing my agreement with Neil and his various co- or similar thinkers on the need to open up debate in the party and improve the state of our democracy, to which end I support the proposal for a ‘democracy commission’ to be established by conference and hope we can use it to reform our structures and practices in a positive way. If we do this, while it will not be a panacea or a substitute for correct politics, I think it will increase comrades’ pride and confidence in the party and raise the level of retention and active involvement.

And to John Rees

Just as I was completing this response to Neil Davidson, John Rees’s ‘Where we Stand’ document has appeared. It will be clear, I hope, from what I have already written in reply to Neil (especially on the united front) that I do not agree with JR so I do not intend to offer a point by point or comprehensive critique. Also a good deal of JRs article refers to happenings within the CC to which I have not been party and therefore cannot confirm or refute his account. Nevertheless since I am MORE in disagreement with John than I am with Neil it seems necessary to say why – albeit as briefly as possible.

‘Where we Stand’ is not an unimpressive document but I was opposed to John reelection to the CC before I read and after I read it I was even more strongly opposed.

My reasons for opposing John were primarily that he made a series of serious mistakes in the handling of Respect. It was the accumulation of these errors, not any one, that was decisive for me. They were:

1. Even when Respect was going well we got too close to Galloway. It became very difficult in the party to criticise GG at any but the most abstract level . John has a particular responsibility for this: there was far too much of the John-and-George double act, with joint standing ovations and the like which set a bad example to the party, and made it more difficult for us to deal with the split when it happened.
2. An extension of point 1, we should have been more critical of GG inside Respect over Big Brother. Perhaps we allowed ourselves to be blackmailed by threat that this was a man who would walk if he was criticised.
3. In the split in Respect we managed to lose most of the middle ground and a chunk of our own side. These people were politically mistaken but was it really necessary to lose Ken Loach, Victoria Britain, Alan Thornett, Linda Smith, Salma Yaqoub, Nick Wrack, Rob Hoveman, Ger Hicks and, almost, Paul Holborrow and Jan Neilson? I remember a conference speech by John in which he explained to us all in general, and to some hapless branch in particular, that the art of leadership in a united front consisted of maintaining the ground for the broadest unity and at the same time DEFEATING (JR’s word) your allies on key questions of strategy and tactics. In Respect he did neither.
4. The acceptance of the OFFU cheque. I don’t accept the parallel with Morrissey and LMHR but that’s by-the-by, the OFFU cheque was a mistake and it wrecked OFFU , period. If I had been John I would have resigned from the Respect/Left List secretaryship over this.
5. The disastrous election results, especially in London. Obviously this was not mainly caused by John but this area of work was his responsibility. If I had been him I would have again offered my resignation.
6. The debacle over the Tower Hamlets Councillors. First, the defection of one of our ‘left’ councillors to the Tories (!) which was preceded the night before (!) by an email statement saying he had been spoken to and was staying loyal. John did not cause the defection and the email was anonymous but this was his area of responsibility and somewhere, to put it mildly, the plot had been lost. Then Oli Rahman was made National Chair of Respect/ Left List and shortly after he and the other councillors defected. Again John should have offered his resignation. Instead he had to prized out of his position in a bitter internal battle on the CC.
7. The NC of Left Alternative at which JR, LG and CB announced their resignations. I was present at this meeting and the key question is not whether or not a technical breach of discipline occurred as the appalling impression and affect on the meeting that was caused by the melodramatic behaviour of our three leading comrades (it was the way they did it !) .

Enough! This list may not correspond exactly to the reasons given by the CC majority but they are my reasons. The strongest part of John’s defence is where he says that at various stages these matters were pronounced resolved by the CC majority, especially Alex saying they were not proposing removing JR from the CC at the NC meeting in September. I thought that was a mistake at the time. Why didn’t I say so? Because I supported the CC majority and didn’t want to get my head cut off for sticking it out too far! Probably that was a mistake too but I’m sure comrades will know how I felt.

Anyway pressure has built up among rank-and – file party members (eg in Sheffield) and this has pushed the CC into action. I believe it is the right decision and judging by the pre conference aggregates it is supported by the large majority of the membership

John and his supporters say that he is being scapegoated and that this is personalised and unfair. These are inappropriate terms. Obviously John is not the only one responsible for the difficulties in Respect/left List/ Left Alternative etc . In one sense the main responsibility lies with Galloway and co. In another sense it lies with all the CC, and in another sense with all leading party cadre. Nevertheless he was the CC member responsible for this area of work and this carries with it certain consequences when there are a series of mistakes, as I’m sure John, Lindsey, and Chris have had to explain to many a failing organiser in the past. Of course it is ‘personalised’ (in the sense of someone’s personal political record not their personal life) because the election of the CC is about the election of specific persons to lead the party. Fairness doesn’t come into it. No one has a right to be on the CC. The only right involved here is the right of the party membership to elect its leaders and it must elect the people who will serve it best, regardless of ‘fairness’. It might be ‘fair’ not to elect Lindsey or Chris B or Chris H or Alex or Martin and so on (they’ve all made mistakes) but it would damage the party so we shouldn’t do it. I stood for the CC – I was not elected, I wasn’t ‘scapegoated’. Sheila McGregor, Andy Strouthous, Julie Waterson, Sean Vernell, Pat Stack, Maxine Bowler among many others all left the CC and became rank- and- file members – they were not scapegoated.

On recruitment I do not accept John’s arguments at all. First I don’t accept that this is what the argument is really about. I am sure that when Sheffield, Tower Hamlets and Newham, Hackney, Birmingham, Glasgow, Portsmouth and Southampton aggregates came out for the CC majority the issue of recruitment had nothing to do with it. Second if I had been on the CC at the time I would have been opposed to Lindsey’s recruitment campaign proposal. This is not because I am against recruitment (I’ve recruited six people since Marxism 2008) or recruitment campaigns when the time is right (in the past some have been fruitful) but because I think a campaign with organisers and targets etc would have been counter productive at that time.I would have judged that a lot of the members were fed up with such campaigns from a few years ago, especially when there was no proper accounting for them. I remember one such campaign in the late nineties when it was boldly proclaimed that every branch should recruit five members in the next month (If that could be done by order each branch would grow by 60 in a year and we’d have had a mass party long ago) only for it to be silently dropped when branches manifestly failed to do so. I also remember when splitting and ‘abolishing’ the branches effectively derecruited large numbers of members and I seem to remember John having something to do with that. In short I think it was better just to get on and do it rather than have a formal campaign and also I think that since Martin Smith has been National Organiser the state of party branches has improved and real recruitment (with proper figures given) though modest has at least been taking place.

As far as the united front is concerned what I have written in response to Neil covers the main points, but I would just say that I did not agree that the problem was that not enough party members were won to the united front perspective. It is probably true that not all the members are ever won fully to any perspective but I do think that almost every member participated to some degree in Stop the War, mostly with great enthusiasm. What I object to here is the element of ‘it’s the backward membership’s fault’ which was precisely the concept used by some in the leadership to avoid facing up to reality in the 90s. This brings me to the aspect of the document which I most strongly disagree with and which most reinforces my wish not to continue with John on the CC.- this is John’s attitude to leadership and democracy.

Despite the odd nod in favour of democratic debate John makes it clear that really he is opposed to the idea of the ‘democracy commission’, while I strongly support it. John has never seen anything wrong with the state of democracy in the party and neither as far as I can tell have Lindsey or Chris B or Chris L . This may be true of other members of the CC as well but they at least seem to be shifting their position – John is not. John also makes it clear that he wants ‘firmer’ more ‘decisive’ leadership of the kind he has always been keen to provide. I have always disagreed with John about this. I always disliked those speeches John gave in which he would explain ‘the real nature of political leadership’ and it would turn out to be what he had done recently. Nor is this just a question of personal arrogance, I also think John holds an elitist theory of leadership derived from Lukacs’ concept of the party as bearer of working class consciousness (but perhaps that is a debate for another time). At any rate I think the question of John’s removal from the CC is bound up with the question of improving party democracy because it is seen by the members as asserting the principle that no one is ‘above’ accountability and that is why it is popular in the party.

John Molyneux
12 December 2008

107 comments on “SWP – a response to Neil Davidson & John Rees

  1. Mr Benn on said:

    Gosh the SWPers have been very busy with their writing.
    Gotto say I kind of dig John Molyneux, he’s a super cool guy on art, sociological stuff, top chap.

  2. end of an era on said:

    “These people were politically mistaken but was it really necessary to lose Ken Loach, Victoria Britain, Alan Thornett, Linda Smith, Salma Yaqoub (sic), Nick Wrack, Rob Hoveman, Ger Hicks and, almost, Paul Holborrow and Jan Neilson?”

    Before I comment on the rest of Molly’s argument can I just suggest that these people were perhaps not as politically mistaken as the unthinking foot soldiers of the SWP, inclduing the sage of Portsmouth himself,who happily lapped up all of Rees’ lies and continue to spout them to this day. What an arrogant tosser.

  3. You gotta love ‘im!

    The article proves one, satisfying, thing: Rees has reached the end of history!

    We should all celebrate.

    It bottles the main argument that’s left over; what should happen to the rest of them (Germs, Bambery, Nineham at al)? But in and of itself its great to see Molyneux sharpening the knife.

    Andy Wilson was expelled for making Molyneux’s final point about Rees’ elitism, “flowing from” his commitment to Lukacs’ philosophy.

    So true though! The bullying, maniac, thug is finally getting his just d’s. along with his cohorts.


  4. skidmarx on said:

    end of an era

    What an arrogant tosser.

    So do we have any guarantees from Andy Newman that this document isn’t stolen?

  5. MichaelC on said:

    “Debate for another time”? Well if there’s a fundamental difference over the nature of the party, what it represents, how it sees its leadership role with respect to the class etc. – surely that’s what has to be nailed urgently, not what body is set up to look at internal structures and who does or doesn’t deserve a place on top table!

  6. Karen Elliot on said:

    “an elitist theory of leadership derived from Lukacs’ concept of the party… but perhaps that is a debate for another time”

    yeah – around 1994, if i remember correctly. it’s a shame you defended him so staunchly then, John.

  7. Karen Elliot on said:

    The timing of all this has made me think about what people mean by ‘abstract’ vs. ‘concrete’ arguments. The arguments about 15 years ago were panned for being ‘abstract’, and I could see what people meant by that, even at the time. But then, if ‘concrete’ means ‘at dusk’, post hoc, it means that you don’t really have a role for theory, other than as a support for tactics and alignments which are derived elsewhere (the practical necessities of party politics?)

    On the other hand, the same practical considerations probably mean that that my comment at #8 is uncalled for. In which case I apologise to John M.

  8. Jenkins on said:

    Molyneux’s gone with the machine then. Perhaps the democratic committee will make him life president after this.

  9. #5 “So do we have any guarantees from Andy Newman that this document isn’t stolen?”

    OK, it is a fair cop, I broke into Molyneux’s house and used his own computer and Molyneux’s own e-mail account to send it out.

  10. skidmarx on said:

    #11 You’re as believable as usual. Just because some ex-member is still receiving internal e-mails and passing them on to you doesn’t give you a right to post them.

  11. faslehood on said:

    this is an internal article of the SWP. Indeed Molyneux asks for it to be circulated to SWP members only.. those Andy choose not to put that request on SUN!!
    Andy chooses to stick it on here for some kudos.
    Andy of course doesn’t put any articles about the row on wether to have a respect conferecne or not, this was a blazing bust up with Galloway and Thornett, but it seems Andy didn’t want this to see the light of day. Anyway, those in the SWP will have a laugh at the next general election when Galloway if he stands gets a right kicking and RR end up with no MP’s. Its goodnight vienna for RR, and frankly it would be a good thing.
    By the way Andy why not write an article on why you think the revolutionary left in RR are manipulating the oarganisation as you have been arguing its time to kick out the ISR.
    Also Is Mark France leading mmeber of RR and National Exec big wig still backing the Sun and Mails campaign agianst social workers and health workers as well as attacking single mothers. Seems you need to have a few articles dealing with your own back yard.

  12. berlinalexanderplatz on said:

    I agree with the positive sentiments above, this article has a lot more going for it than rees’.

    The position rees seemed to be adopting was that: (i) the respect failures were only one side of a more general problem, viz. not being strident enough in coupled united front/recruitment work; (ii) that the cc agreed beforehand to what rees was doing in respect; and that given (i) and (ii) it follows that to do nothing but remove rees from the cc is not to address the real problem.

    Of course, one could accept all that rees had to say and still favour his demotion from the cc – but as one particular thing to be done alongside all the other things needing to be done in order to address all the other ways in which the general problem rees identifies manifested themselves.

    Now, that would end up with quite a lot of demotions, and molyneux suggests in passing that that would be unattractive on consequentialist grounds. But the more principled and interesting element to the article is that it disputes (i) (remaining agnostic on (ii)). If you find the arguments on this point convincing – and it seems to me they are – then rees has to go for the series of errors outlined.

    One complaint though: surely the developments on the left in france are one example (perhaps there are others in latin america) that make it untrue to say, as john m does, that the swp has done better than any other far left group in the last 20yr period? I mean, just compare the average age of the leading members in france and in the uk, the presidential vote to the respect vote at its height, etc., etc.

  13. Skidmarx said “Just because some ex-member is still receiving internal e-mails and passing them on to you doesn’t give you a right to post them.”

    I am afraid when it comes to democracy then you take the rough with the smooth .

    The SPGB has 5 discussion lists ( 4 for internal business and debate , one open for public contributions ) but all totally accessible to non-members to read . Our minutes for the EC placed each month online at our website for anyone to read .

    We are a warts and all organisation . No secret Star Chamber a la SSP during the Sheridan debacle , decisions taken and hidden away from the rank and file members. We have full committment to party democracy .

  14. end of an era on said:

    Falsehood – go back to posting as ll/jj or whatever – Your trolling style is too transparent. Best avoid the argument by trying to bring up something else.

    And Skidmarx. You’ve admitted elsewhere that you knew nothing of Respect as you weren’t a member. You came to the argument post facto and sucked up the Rees line – hook and sinker too. You are exactly the type of person who would believe anything Rees said at the time. You were even defending the dodgy cheque the other week – the last bastion of a failed donation. Now no doubt you’ll be believing everything Smith, Kimber and Callinicos are saying now. Some Marxist.

  15. And congrats to Andy Newman for putting this stuff up. Fortunately a tremendous advance of the internet is that it is the end of the closed sect.
    Previously there is no way any of this could have come into the public domain, now it all is immediately. That is immensely democratic and to be welcomed.
    What in Molyneux’s document deserves to be secret? What places the SWP in trouble vis the state? Nothing.
    Its notable mainly for its weakness, the undeveloped analysis of the period, the attempt to cover up for the leadership (again), the vein hope that it will all go away and the SWP can get back to the good old days.
    That this is the quality of the opposition is something the left needs to know about, it enables us to judge the quality of the SWP, the health of their internal debates, their right to “leadership”.
    And they are found wanting. Woefully.
    The SWP are headed for a split, probably in January at the conference. That will mean several things;
    they will lose a lot of members disillusioned and unable to cope with debate, democracy or the fact that they will be even smaller and less hegemonic than previously
    they will expose themselves to the need to provide answers, something that is so sorely lacking from all sides – Harman was supposed to publish a book on the world economy over a year ago, we’re still waiting and I bet it never sees the light of day
    they will open the left up to a more democratic and open period where no one tendency has organisational hegemony, the ability to stifle and crush opposition simply by its existence
    Whatever the downsides that is profoundly positive.

  16. anon swp member on said:

    I have been following these debates and John M is spot on, I have been in the SWP off and on for 15yrs and very aware of the appaling decision to split the branches in the 90s. I was new to the party at the time and I did not voice my disatisfaction (i bloody wish I had), in 1993-5 I went along with selling papers in a small localised area and organising meetings. From memory we only managed to recruit 2 people, all but lost now.

    There is one point that John M did leave out which i felt he should have mentioned and that was Chris Harman’s responsibilty for the misjudged analysis on the economy. I remember sometime in 1995 Chris H predicting the downfall of the ecomony, he spoke and wrote on numerous occasions since then on such doom mongering, he was right but 13yrs premature, this had a demoralising impact on comrades as it disorientated the party (as John M pointed out between 1994-2007 we experienced a period of a mimi boom). I just wish Chris H apologised for his inacurate anaylsis, I have to say even today I cannot take Chris H speeches that serious.

    I love Tony Cliff, I joined immediately following one of his meetings, I read all of his books and lsitened to his speeches, but for all the good he has done, I am sorry to say he made mistakes in the 90’s too, John R is in very good company. The main problem was telling lies to the party, he was the one who said we had 10,000 members, the point is he encouraged CC to start telling lies thereafter, telling lies/exaggeration became respectable, big big mistake.

    Immediately after the 1997 election I dropped out of the party, the party organiser attempted to woo me back via the phone, the conversation consisted of a bullingy rant, needless to say I did not come back. I could not allow myself to bullied back to the party. I do believe the bullying had been part of the SWP culture at the time, the organisers just behaved how he was treated by the CC. I know one story of Chris B and how he behaved in the SWP office, the new member at the time who worked in the office was repelled by Chris B behaviour to fellow comrades, basically he needs to learn some basic social skills.

    Since then I have had countless of conversations with ex members complaining that the swp saps the life out of you (which i thought was justified to some extent) the term “robotrot” was coined around this time . I rejoined the party following the anti-capitalist climate, I was determined to challenge bullying type behaving and made the point to ask comrades to reflect upon their behaviour. I attempted (with some success) to try to put a human touch when approaching members whether they were longstanding or new.

    Since 2001 things have improved, of course the robotrots still exists but they are the exception as oppose to the norm. It quite interesting that the CC by in large consists of the same comrades as they did in 1992, I think some CC have changed for the better, Martin Smith is by far the best in terms of relating to the rank and file.

    I have had many discussions with comrades, what is worth, John R is not poplar and want him to step down, the most damaging thing he did was defending GG on the news during the time of BB. John R does not have to go to work, he didn’t realise how embrassing the whole BB affair had been to individual SWP members, he did not realise that it was the beginning of the end, it was obvious to anyone that GG had badly tarred the RESPECT image and it was time to challenge his standing.

    In this new period of the economic crisis we find ourselves brings us so many new opportunities, it’s gives us a real chance to relate to workers, i strongly believe we potentially have a huge audience for our ideas when workers’ backs are against the wall, the example of the jaguar plant and the Hoover factory where the swp have intervened gives us a glipse of the possibilities. I want the January’s swp conference to be the start of an new era for the SWP where members can once more be proud to be members and where all members can be revitalised be active again.

    What is most worrying of these dabares is that John R is accussing other CC members of telling lies in CC meetings, this is very distrubing, either John R is telling lies or other CC members are telling lies, either way this distressed me very much, this type of behaviour belongs to a Stalinist type party, a party a do not want to belong to, this has got to be stamped out, anyone on the CC proving to be telling lies should be suspended in order to demonstrate the seriousness. Obviously I cannot be sure but I would speculate that John R is the one telling lies, he seems a desperate man attempting to save his bacon ,people will do desperate things in desperate times.

    I strongly welcome John M contributions and I know many comrades who also agree with him, I voted for John to be on the CC several conferences ago, he managed to win over quarter of the conference, I hope that he will stand again andl bring the CC in order.

  17. Bill Bo Baggins on said:

    #19 –” repelled by Chris B behaviour to fellow comrades, basically he needs to learn some basic social skills”

    That’s stating the bleeding obvious

  18. end of an era on said:

    “What is most worrying of these dabares is that John R is accussing other CC members of telling lies in CC meetings, this is very distrubing, either John R is telling lies or other CC members are telling lies, either way this distressed me very much”

    Anon swp member – are you worried that they are telling lies in CC meetings or that they are telling lies full stop. I’m afraid they’ve all been telling lies in public for quite a few years now. It’s only come out when they started to fall out with each other. Martin Smith’s Party Notes during the autumn of 2007 were packed with fib after fib. Or do you think it’s OK to lie to the public just not within the CC? Wouldn’t it be more satifactory if they all started telling the truth.

    It’s not just Rees, German and Bambery who have no where else to go. Can you imagine anyone giving Harman or Viv Smith a real job? So the fight will get bitter but don’t expect the truth to come out with a little prompting from the Blogs. After all, Rees AND Callincos would never have told the SWP about the dodgy Dubai cheque without external pressure. You’s still be in the dark if the CC had their way at the time. Remember Rees used that money to refute Galloway’s claim that the OFFU conference had lost £5000.

  19. anticapitalista on said:

    #18 so I hope Andy continues this fine tradition and posts all internal documents of all left organisations ranging from RESPECT to permanent revolution.
    What have you got to hide?

  20. Joseph Kisolo on said:

    anon swp member – “I strongly welcome John M contributions and I know many comrades who also agree with him, I voted for John to be on the CC several conferences ago, he managed to win over quarter of the conference, I hope that he will stand again andl bring the CC in order.”

    I voted for John M at that conference too and, though I’m no longer in SWP I too welcome elements of this document. He is bang on about the need for democracy.

    Where I would part with John M is over his lack of facing up to the problems with the “United Fount of a Speical Kind”.

    That theory was wrong in trying to maintain that you could keep the Revo’ party as and build a broad political coalition at same time. However, it was right – John Rees was right – in recognising that a broad general political group is what is needed.

    John M addresses neither of these issues and thus, seems to me, to part of the return to SWP focus brigade.

    It is for this reason that I would argue;
    1)For Ress against CC maj concerning need for broad political group
    2)With CC maj against Rees in terms of party democracy.
    3)With neither of them in terms of how revolutionaries need to relate to the broad party.

  21. Clive Searle on said:

    Just to put your mind at rest anti-cap there are no internal documents in Respect. Sorry to disappoint. But when people have a point to make they publish it in various papers or magazines and on blogs such as this or Liam’s. The last document that I can remember being asked to keep secret was Rees response to the Big Brother stuff. Some years ago now.

    There simply are no secret documents lurking in the darkness. Except of course for that really secret one about Galloway, the tightrope walker and the Cuban Ambassador. Oops, I’ve said too much.

  22. faslehood on said:

    you are of course right. The blogs and newspapers show leading respect members arguing the following
    1. Sack social workers
    2. Sack health workers
    3. Men are discriminated against by women and single women get preferential treatment
    4. Support new labour in by elections
    5. Darling is doing excellent work
    6. ISR has manipulated the Respect organisation and that it railroaded its own view of what Repsect conference arrangements should be.

  23. #18 Bill J

    The argument against putting this reply in this blog is nothing to do with the fact there is any secrecy or anything to hide.

    The problem arises that this document is thrown into the public domain before it is openly circulated for SWP members to read.
    Whilst you may think it’s your class right to know the inner workings of the SWP, it’s probably more of a right for party members to get a hold of it first before it is plastered on sites that are generally hostile to the SWP.

    I’m not saying it should be kept secret, but it shows Andys clear motives when he publishes documents before some even know they exist; no excuse when explicitly marked for SWP members


  24. faslehood on said:

    whats interesting from Clive is that he thinks that not having any written document for members to share their views is the height of democracy. Of course Galloway has a weekly radio show and tabloid colum to put forward his various ideas on backing new labour and Kylies arse. The members have no such forum to tell him he is a looking like a dirty old man and that their was no debate on the positon to back new labour discussed at conference (Rally) tells us its a Galloway show. Most of the disquiet regarding John Rees is that he was too close to Galloway.

  25. Faslehood by name and faslehood by posting.

    Do try to do better than that and address the arguments raised in JM’s piece. Then you don’t come across as some desperate plonker, who can do no more than go Yah Boo sucks. Now you’re better than that aren’t you

    Are you up to the challenge ?

  26. faslehood on said:

    Andy on Liam’s sight stated that Respect was on the verge of collpase and if the next election was poor it would be the end. Does this not suggest some need for debate and a forum for members to discuss this crisis. Andy also stated that the ISR manipulated the organisationre the Conference. Now the 1 member of Respect that I talk to knew nothing of a row and debate about the Respect conference. He was unaware that the ISR had according to Andy “Railroaded” its view of conference. Their appears to be a national exec of Respect and you are saying no minutes are taken!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If any trade union body at nat exec had no recorded minutes of its leading body we would demand it did so. I would want to know who said and voted for what.
    So clive does the national exec of Respect have minutes, if it does not why?
    If it does can they be put up on this site for everyone to have a look at? Please put up the arguement on the national exec regarding
    1. conference
    2. The demand to sack social workers and health workers
    3. Calling for a vote for new labour against the left in Scotland.

  27. faslehood on said:

    Molyneux’s article was for SWP members, he stated that and Andy would have seen that. Andy decieded to ignore that and not to put that on his site.
    For the record I agree with Molyneux by and large.
    What about those national exec minutes? do you think they should be open to this site or not JFK? ARE YOU UP TO THE CHALLENGE!

  28. Memory of the party on said:

    Too little, too late John. Where were you when others fought the good fight? You will make your peace with whatever side comes out on top like you always do.

  29. I am not a member of the SWP but of Green Left but I instinctively reacted positively to JM’s piece. It seems that serious political and tactical mistakes have been made and the bullying, hectoring and closed nature of the party which JM and others refers to has, I feel, not just impacted on the SWP but also on those others on the left who have joined front organisations operating with the SWP – whether Socialist Alliance, Respect or Stop the War. I have friends who were in SA and Respect and left because of this anti-democratic and ‘leader knows best’ position in the SWP. Many on the Left are now deeply reluctant to work in any sort of united front with the SWP because of this history and culture. This is where JM’s article has a major role to play in altering the culture of the party.

    I have noticed a change already in the culture of the SWP – call it self doubt but it is the willingness to question and to examine the views of others on the left. I remember attending a Stop the War Steering Group several years ago where the naked sectarianism and control freakery of the SWP deeply alienated me and others who were non-SWP members. I am sure that some of this is also behind the decision of Ken Loach and others to leave at the time of the split. Mark Steel has also made reference to this in his recent comedy shows, particularly the one on the history of the French Revolution. The line on Galloway was also clearly wrong and self deluded and John Rees and others must carry the blame for that. How can GG one day be the biggest gift to the masses and the next be the running dog of capitalism? It suggests a deep failure of political understanding or electoral opportunism of the worst sort. The same applies to the defecting councillors.

    All of this has left a legacy of deep distrust of the SWP for many on the left. However, I recently attended STWC Steering Group again and felt a very different atmosphere – more open and tolerant and prepared to have real and significant debate. The controlling fist had loosened and there was a more participatory, nay democratic feel to it.

    I very much want to work with forces on the left. The time has never been more urgent for a response to what neo-liberal capital and New Labour is doing to ordinary working people. The recent attack on benefit claimants and the disabled is verging on the neo-fascist with lie detectors being used on some of the most vulnerable and dispirited people in this society. A more democratic SWP, open to self criticism and prepared to engage in real and genuine debate with others on the left would be a huge step forward.

    Green Left was formed to ensure that the Green Party moved towards engaging with the left but also that it would be a party from below and not from above. Ironically there are some who have entered the Green Party from a background in the SWP who have attempted to import some of the worst aspects of the SWP’s culture into the Green Party – secrecy, a party within a party, a semi-permanent CC etc. Those tendencies must be challenged in all parties and real and democratic engagement encouraged. It is by those means and the oxygen of internal democracy and transparency that membership will be encouraged and real engagement in a party will occur. The alternatives are fossilisation and weakness.

    I welcome this debate within the SWP and hope that it will lead to a real strengthening of the whole Left in England. We badly need it.

  30. John Molyneux on said:

    Just for the record I obviously did not give permission for this document to be posted on this or any other site. On the contrary it was explicitly marked for SWP members only.

  31. Did you submit it to the National Office for distribution, John. Did the CC majority give you permission to circulate it? Do you think there should have been a fourth bulletin too?

  32. Vengence of History on said:

    Erm John without wishing to sound rude but have you not come across freedom of information and ideas before

    If you publish something anywhere then by definition it is in the public domain

    More to the point of course is that it is virtually internal here as most of us are ex SWP and still really really care about the party

    Or have you not noticed why we all left

  33. 33. Why on earth not?

    There is just a tad of a gap between the entreaties for ‘open’ fighting on the Cliff thread and this, ‘not in front of the children’ approach.

    I mean, I can perfectly understand why you wouldn’t want personal correspondence published, but all of the issues in Rees’ and Molyneux’s *articles* have wide ranging impacts on those both in and outside the SWP (if successful implementation of the recommendations relates to anyone other than a few diehards, that is).

  34. Given that the SWP barges like double-glazing salesmen into people’s lives and lies to them about conditions, numbers, practice, etc, in order to recruit them, it is absolutely right that any information that enlightens and illuminates be made public so that prospective members can make an informed decision.

    “The Party” spent 18 months persuading me to join. (10,000 members, har!) ‘Fonly there was an Andy around at the time to help cut through the BS.

  35. #34

    Yes that is an interesting point.

    The SWP constitution is absolutley clear that contributions for debate in the pre-conference period must be distributed via the national office.

    Indeed this constitutional provision exists explicitly to ensure that every member has equal access to the debate, becaue the centre can distribute (The fact that it fails to do so in practice is not relevent here). Only documents published according to the SWP’s own constitution can be considered SWP internal documents.

    We know from MRD commenting here at #26, that whatever distribution method John Molyneux used, it did not reach every SWP member. (incidently, when sent to me, it contained no caveat that it was for SWP members only, but as it is not an SWP internal document, i would still have published it, using a public interst argument).

    This means that Molyneux distributed a document to only some members but not all – which is considered factionalism in the SWP – and waht is more which ever sub-set of member that John distributed it to is an undeclared faction.

    People have certainly been expelled for less.

  36. BarryKade on said:

    # 33 –

    However, now it is ‘out’ its good to extend the debate to the thousands of SWP supporters outside as well as inside the party, who may have left but remain socialists and acutely interested in the future of organised socialist politics.

    I feel I have a stake because a) I spent many years of my life building the SWP, b) I still think we need a socialist organisation, and C) would still be in the party if it provided more space for opposition and difference, as well as united action.

    However, many of us are ‘outside’ precisely because we could not have these debates inside, without being bullied or dismissed and marginalised. And many who do not actually leave become passive. But yes, of course, there are many up for the debate -some of us might even rejoin an organisation which combined outward looking agitation and mobilisation with an internal regime that was inclusive, participatory and democratic.

  37. Incidently, Vengence of History has a good point.

    I am not particularluy close to the SWP politically now.

    BUt I did spend twenty years as a member, over a 26 year period. Which means that i probably did well over 1000 paper sales, and gave perhaps £30k to the party, and I read every publication the IS/SWP ever produced from about 1970 onwards. And I have proud memories of much of the good SWP activity that i was involved with, and I am appreciative of all i learned, and the comrades i worked alongside.

    I would like there to exist a better and sucessful SWP, without all the bullshit and bad habits; even if i would no longer want to be a member.

    JOhn’s argument is that comrades like me, and there are many, who gave years for the party before having had enough, JOhn thinks we have less stake in it, less understanding of the issues, and less capability for constructive input than someone who joined only last week, but happens to be a current member?

  38. 41. “BUt I did spend twenty years as a member, over a 26 year period. Which means that i probably did well over 1000 paper sales, and gave perhaps £30k to the party…

    1.042 sales/week (given that you conveniently fail to define: “well over…”)


  39. John, it’s all out in the open now. Really what’s the problem? Your ‘for the record’ comment is to let the CC majority know that you’ve behaved according to party rules – we know that. Every informed person on here knows that it was someone from the national office/CC majority or one of your trusted comrades who leaked it. Don’t worry they can’t expel you becauae by the time the dust settles bigger fish will have been fried and (hopefully) members will have learned how to fight, will not have been browbeaten and steps to democracy will have been taken. Go Neil D.- a thoroughly honest comrade IMO. By the way, John you didn’t go nearly far enough in your critique. You’d better be less even handed at the Conference – a plague on all their undemocratic,elitist, top down (Stalinist) practices that have driven 1000s away from socialist organisation. Time for a complete rethink!!

  40. #40 I would add to Joseph’s point that the issue of the Socialist Resistance magazine that was on sale at the Respect conference carried a long article by Andy setting out his strategic view for the organisation. We published it precisely because it is different from ours and we wanted to engage with it in a serious and comradely way. That’s our conception of how pluralistic socialist democracy works and is rather different from the old way of working in Respect.

  41. Clive Searle on said:

    Funny, John, I received your document in the email and I haven’t been a member since 1994. Perhaps you need to to be clearer when you add caveats. Those pesky members don’t seem to understand about keeping things in the family.

    But since you’ve written about people like me and others including “Ken Loach, Victoria Britain, Alan Thornett, Linda Smith, Salma Yaqoub, Nick Wrack, Rob Hoveman, Ger Hicks” as being “politically mistaken” at least it nice to know we’re being talked about behind our backs.

    And since you seem to think we were “politically mistaken” for wanting someone to work alongside John Rees in the Respect office (the basis of your party’s nuclear response to Galloway’s letter) perhaps you can explain why now you don’t think him worthy of being on your CC – but you were quite happy to defend him to the hilt when he was exactly the same divisive character then as he apparently is now. I suspect that the trouble is that the CC section that you are siding with now went along with Rees’ lies and distortions (indeed perhaps exaggerated them for their own purposes) back in 2007.

    But good luck with your ‘democracy commission’. But perhaps a truth and reconciliation commission might be more appropriate.

  42. faslehood on said:

    Can we have the minutes of the national exec of Respect where Andy alledges the ISR railroaded their agenda through the organisation and buillied it to take its policies rather than Andy’s. I think all the members should be allowed and its is public interest is it not. Andy says Respect is a minimal force and on the verge of collapse. Surely public interest for all the left. I say “Open the books” lol
    come on Andy put up the minutes!

  43. faslehood on said:

    I had to laugh at Clive
    he backed his leadership member who wants to sack social workers and health workers.
    He didn’t offer any criticism of GALLOWAY calling for a new labour vote, indeed their is no evidence of any one raising this issue at the Respect conference.
    So come on Clive best look in your own backyard!!

  44. Falsehood, It’s way past your bedtime, you’re tired and you’re showing off, and its school day tomorrow.

    Go to bed and cuddle up with fantasies and illusions.

    and futhermore, why would anyone want to give their minutes to an unhinged character like you.

  45. faslehood on said:

    Come on JFK don’t you think the left should be allowed to see the row between Galloway, Andy and the ISR. It is stated that the ISR railroaded their own way throught he national exec and this sounds familiar. As Andy says, Respect is on the verge of collapse and argues that Respect has next to no branches and no activity and hardly any members in the UK. I would have thought JFK that is worth looking at. Now there must have been somebody who argued against leading member Mr France that his demand to sack workers was not a good idea!!! So there must be some record of the national exec where Andy had it out with the ISR. I simply think Andy needs to be consistent and put up the national exec minutes of that debate. Those few members surely have a right to know? Why JFK is so defensive about this?
    If the SWP articles which are for members only is fair game then surely the open and transparrent Respect can have their minutes and articles up for discussion.
    Perhaps the minutes of when it was decieded that the members should not be allowed to select their candidates for the GLA election and this should be down to one person, namely Galloway. Clive Searle has defended this as is his right. Not sure why probably because Galloway needs not to be upset by any ISR candidates getting a look in. WHo knows, we never get to look at the process of decision making inside Respect.

  46. friendly lefty on said:

    Since neither this nor John Rees’ articles are SWP documents then I don’t really see the problem in Andy putting them up. Whether either of them should be circulating them to half the membership is another matter but given they are nothing wrong with Andy putting them up (wouldn’t have seen them otherwise).

  47. faslehood on said:

    So are there any minutes from the nat exec of Respect? can’t we all have a look at the bunfight with Andy and Galloway in one corner and the mighty ISR in the other!! There has been a right old ding dong behind closed doors so I say open the books. Otherwise it just looks like another dig att he SWP. I am sure Andy is as non sectrian as he can be lol so come on who said what about the conference. Andy says the ISR railroaded the conference and Respect!! this is a serious charge, I think we should all know some details of how these trots with a handful of members pulled a flanker on the Respect membership. Andy also states that Respect is on the verge of collapse and has hardly any members and has lost members apart from the obvious ones in the SWP. So surely this should be a debate for this site!! But hold on, fuck all has appeared here. So Andy says this site is about debate but it would appear that this doesn’t include ones he is having in the national exec!! One may get the impression that there are some double standards applied here. Anyway it is easily resolved, lets have andy put up the minutes from the debate. At least Andy can write another fanstatic article going through how the ISR bullied there way to victory, why he thinks Respect is on the verge of collapse and has no presence in the country. I await with baited breath!!

  48. Its a pity that John Molyneux seeks to restrict the discussion to SWP members only. The failure of the SWP is something that concerns and has lessons for all socialists.
    His document, doesn’t particularly address what these reasons are, although it touches on some of them in passing, but if we are to rebuild a real fighting socialist left, a key first lesson is about democracy.
    We won’t get anywhere anymore by operating like a sealed closed sect.
    Unfortunately, that’s been the tradition of the left, and inasmuch as the internet makes that impossible now I think that’s a wholly positive thing.
    In this respect I think Andy Newman provides a very good service to the left in putting all of this stuff up. I don’t agree with him on much else, but in breaking down the ability of bureaucratic regimes to stifle and close down debate and disagreement I am in complete accord that this is very important.

  49. anticapitalista on said:

    so billj, in the name of openness, are you going to make available all internal documents of the Permanent Revolution group? (as if it matters)

  50. faslehood on said:

    Ok Bill, can we have the national exec minutes when there was a real fight between Andy, Galloway and the ISR. Why has Andy not told us all about it. Why do the few respect members not know about it unless they read Liam blog!! lets face it Andy is very selective about whose internal articles he posts. So I think Andy should let us see the Respect discussion for example on Galloway backing New Labour, Mr Mark France demanding local govt workers be sacked in Haringay council or saying single mothers get preferential treatment. Surely Bill there was some discussion about these matters. We know that Andy says that Repsect was railroaded about the Repsect conference!! he argues they were bullied by the Trots, surely Andy can put up thye minutesd from the various national exec.
    What do you think Bill, agree that Andy should open up Respect a bit?

  51. BarryKade on said:

    The poster calling themselves “Falsehood” appears to be attempting to derail the discussion – and has probably done so before under different names during the respect split – that tone is so familiar by now!

    To be honest I am not that interested in comments about Respect Renewal’s (RR)internal life and its many drawbacks – suffice it to say I do not think that RR offers much for the future of the left. Yes of course it should be more democratic, etc. Best wishes to its electoral strongholds in E London and B’ham – but its not as important to me as the future of revolutionary socialist organisations like the SWP.

    I am interested in the future of the SWP because I believe that we need an organised body of revolutionary socialists, and the SWP remain significant in this endeavour. Thus it is healthy and important to discuss differing Marxist perspectives on the current crisis of capitalism and socialist strategy. Healthy for those of us inside, outside and around the SWP. We have reached the point where membership can even be a barrier to full participation in this vital discussion, unless the party changes, and fast.

    So many of my comrades who I built the SWP alongside have now also left – its good to have a place where we can all meet to join this discussion. We need to thrash out what went wrong and how we can reorganise in the future. For looking at the state of capitalism, it appears that the times are now calling for organised revolutionaries to enter the stage.

  52. faslehood on said:

    ah he is in workers toolkit is he. well come post up all your minutes now. surely all the aggro over the last split would all enthrall us. I understand your 5th international has 90 members on planet earth. Can you let us know the number of members of your organsiation in the name of openess.

  53. faslehood on said:

    Come on do u really think this site is where we can discuss LOL. The whole point of this site is to attack the revolutionary left. Don’t you get it. Why not have Respects internal minutes, lets face it they claim to be the main force on the left so lets have it all out in the open.

  54. anticapitalista on said:

    #57 But the owner of this blog is/was a leading member of RESPECT and he has no problems in making available internal docuemnts of the SWP, but I have never seen him post an internal document of *ANY* other left organisation.
    Or are you saying that only the SWP matters?

  55. BarryKade on said:

    #58 – yes we get your point – PR are a small sect – the SWP are much larger and more important. Hey dumbass, thats why we are interested in the debate inside the SWP and not inside PR or RR or any of that!

    Should the SWP be able to have an internal discussion? Yes – but they dont! That’s why so many members come here to lurk. Most SWP members never get to hear the real internal debates in the leadership. Differing perspectives on the CC rarely get circulated. So we get gossip by anonymous voices from cyberspace up on here. SWP members on here should stop moaning about some blog airing some of the debates that need space to air inside the party!

    Instead, go and make that space! Demand several more Internal Bulletins before conference. Give different perspectives the chance to organise temporary factions, to really get a pre-conference debate engaging the entire membership. Give the chance for alternative CC slates to gather momentum before conference. Instead of moaning about the debate here – go and make a proper internal party debate! You might even attract some good militants into your ranks if you did!

  56. 60. anticapitalista, this line of argument bears absolutely zippo fruit.

    Personally, I couldn’t give a rats arse what happens *inside* Respect. Don’t fall into the same trap that the idiot, ‘falsehood’ has set up.

    If ex-SWP members, and a fair few current members, want to get a marker as to how many of the lunatic decisions have an impact beyond their ranks, then this site is actually quite a good place to pop y’head in.

    If you seriously think that people who gravitate toward formations like Respect (however temporary) are equivalent to class enemies/traitors/police stooges etc. then the SWP (or its overseas network) has bigger fscking problems than even Rees and Molyneux touch on.

  57. Karen Elliot on said:

    The debate about whether or not this document should be in public is entirely irrelevant. It *is* in public, and you can be sure as hell that enough of us care enough about the future of the SWP to argue it into the ground and take whatever position we like. Why complain about it? it’s not as if there is a court of appeal that will now withdraw it. Better, I think, to read the article by Cliff just published on this blog about conducting arguments in public.

    On the document itself, I think you are playing your usual game of positioning yourself as a convenient bridge (‘Neil has catalysed the debate and now listen to why we should find a middle way between that position and the actualite of the CC… let me explain…”) I used to get quite annoyed with Cliff when he said that ‘socialists always take sides’ because often we are obliged to take a unique position regardless of what everyone else is saying. But in this case it would be better if you took sides with the more thoroughgoing critique of Neil Davidson and pushed it as far as you could, rather than trying to conciliate. In general, I think that saying what you think, regardless of the consequences, is often the main contribution any of us have to make – so why all this brokering and mediating?

    That having been said, I think your treatment of the question of the united front is clearer than anything I have heard on the left for years, and I congratulate you for it. Having thought for some time that the SWP needed to turn out outward and find new kinds of alliances, etc. (new ‘united fronts’), my heart nearly froze when I heard that Rees & German thought of this as ‘The Project’, ie. something that was going to be fetishised and turned into an overarching, a priori scheme that would break the SWP out of its corner and deliver huge gains. Once that was understood, the trajectory that takes us from Rees, Galloway & German mugging into the camera to the applause of the multitudes, to Rees trying to tear Galloway’s head off, was entirely predictable.

    On the question of Lukacs, I said earlier in this thread that you originally took Rees’s side in the argument. On reflection that may not be true (I don’t remember so clearly.) I have a vague recollection that you once shared with me something you had written about Lukacs which overlapped with my critique. I do wonder, though, why you went with the flow on that one. I thought it was clear at the time that Rees had precisely the opinions and attitudes that you outline above. Can you explain to me what the merit is in staying quiet while the problem incubates, and speaking up only when it has whipped around to bite you on the neck? Is it is sense of deference to the CC? Abstract loyalty? I don’t get it – you understood this on day one and said nothing. Now, when the crisis strikes, you want to conciliate. Why not just grasp the problem by the scruff of the neck and tug with all your strength? Can’t you see how much is at stake?

  58. faslehood on said:

    #50 and #63
    Lets face it, this site is all about slagging each other off. If you really thought there was genuine discussion here then you must be gutted lol
    What is true is that for all the debate which is a very positive development inside the SWP the party still remains focused on the crisis and both trying to build resistance and also taking on the ideological arguements alongside others.
    I say that because for all of Andy’s bluster and rants about the revolutionary left Respect is next to invisable in the day to day struggles. They have a stall with Galloway outside Woolies in Bethnal Green which is good except on the Respect website it triumphantly proclaims that 8 members were present. In the heartland with Galloway they get 8 members!!! The alarm bells must be ringing. As Andy stated the organisation is on the verge of collapse and has no presence, no branches and no recruits. It does not bode well.
    As someone who really wants Respect to do well and succeed although not a member I think we need to discuss on this great site the terrible situation Respect has gots itself into. It affects those beyond the memberhip and its in that spirit of openess and comradely affection I call for the minutes of the Nat exec which had a bust up about the conference to be put up by Andy.Andy made these statements about the collpase of respect on Liams blog so of course its in the public domain.

  59. Yes, it would be interesting to read all about democracy in action but since Renewal doesn’t have a democratic structure that’s accountable to its members then that will be impossible I’m afraid. Instead we have to rely on random comments from disaffected ex-SWP members who line up with anyone who will listen to them repeat how they were right all along while ironically complaining that the SWP CC never admit they are wrong. Projection isn’t limited to cinemas it appears.

  60. Molyneux sets up a schema in his article that sounds perfectly plausible (to an SWP-trained Marxist, at least), but is hopelessly flawed:

    His ‘beef’ with Neil Davidson is that his analysis roots the SWP’s failure to grow in, “the subjective”. Not thoroughly objective enough, not enough balance of forces, concrete conditions/obstacles etc.

    But Molyneux doesn’t want to be accused of ‘fatalism’ either. He just asks that the subjective element (I love that phrase), be put at the end of the explanatory chain.

    But, even if we accept that ‘explanations’ for what’s up with the SWP should follow Molyneux’s sequence, what is to be done with that final, weakest, link? All of the examples Molyneux gives, all of the errors, imbalances and failures to assess (or permit realistic discussions of) “conditions”, all collapse back onto personnel.

    People, not tidal forces of history, made the decisions that led to this debacle. And whether you *think* capitalism is on the verge of collapse or not, you won’t get a genuine debate going on the question unless people are both encouraged and permitted to have sharp disagreements. People like ‘Ray’ above, or his mate, ‘falsehood’, help create and maintain the shitty little corners they feel powerful in. They are, in a sense, like Rees, the subjective embodiment of what socialists aren’t.

    So for all Molyneux’s warnings about looking to the “objective” conditions that underpin the malaise I say, sure, but how and when are you going to rid yourself of the link in the chain that’s still clamped around your throat, the final link, the subjective one?

    In a way, the SWP is over. I mean as a platform for functional sociopaths, like Rees and his bag carriers.

    I’ve never quite looked forward to a New Year in quite the same way!

  61. John also makes it clear that he wants ‘firmer’ more ‘decisive’ leadership of the kind he has always been keen to provide.

    I always disliked those speeches John gave in which he would explain ‘the real nature of political leadership’ and it would turn out to be what he had done recently.

    Nor is this just a question of personal arrogance, I also think John holds an elitist theory of leadership …

    … the question of John’s removal from the CC is bound up with the question of improving party democracy because it is seen by the members as asserting the principle that no one is ‘above’ accountability and that is why it is popular in the party.

    Glad we got there in the end, John M.

  62. keith copley on said:

    Anyone who has been a member of the SWP for any length of time, particularly in the 1990s, will be familiar with the stullifying culture within the organisation. An internal culture developed which, as others have pointed out, was top-down and deeply undemocratic. That, in turn, was born out of a frantic, voluntaristic attempt at growth which defied the reality around us. Because it wasn’t based on reality it had to be imposed by hectoring and bullying.

    These changes happen incrementally, but the fact is they exploded into the open around the bust up with Respect. The SWP can point to left-right tensions within Respect and the dangers of opportunism, etc. All that is undoubtedly true and needed to be dealt with. But the way things played out only served to show that the SWP was not able to deal with them. The tantrum it threw, replete with ludicrous hyperbole about witch hunts and all, was embarrassing to watch. As Ken Loach put it, “the SWP doesn’t want comrades, it wants subjects.”

    So Respect imploded and the SWP was left with the Left Alternative or whatever its called – an electoraol united front which doesn’t stand in elections and where the majority of its existing councillors have defected to New Labour and the Tories. You just can’t fuck things up on a scale like that an expect no long term repurcussions. So the ‘leadership’ has turned in on itself and the knives are out.

    But the problems run much deeper than this or that unpleasant character on the CC, and deeper than Molyneux is prepared to acknowledge. SWP members have to face the fact that, in the midst of an unprecedented upsurge against militarism, a widespread anti-capitalist movement, the degeneration of social democracy and now an economic crisis, the SWP remains a deeply unpopular choice of political home for vast majority of those radicalisee by these events. Despite these documents flying back and forth, a real attempt to to get to grips with why that is has not yet begun in that organisation.

  63. #64 — Falsehood. In fact, I am with you all the way on this; I agree with much of what say.

    I am just cynical about the future of the far left in general. This is based on our appallingly bad 150 year history of splits, arguments and bitter feuds –, and other issues I can’t mention here, since the eyes of dialectically-distracted comrades are far, far too sensitive to be exposed to my heathen opinions.

    *Whatever happens in this case*, we can look forward to several more generations of this sort of thing — let’s hope intelligent life on the planet lasts long enough for us to alter our sectarian and un-comradely behaviour.

  64. Dimitris on said:

    A… it seems we are in the verge of a cultural revolution in the SWP theese days. The monolithic CC split in two factions seeking to dominate the party and each of the waring parties adressing the red guards for support. This may be a perfect chance for the “kids” (I mean the members) to try to recapture some of the gains of the “revolution” for themselves (as in the original cultural revolution). I just hope what comes next is not an SWP version of Deng Xiao Ping and the four modernizations policy!!!

  65. I’m glad to see that the overestimations of the late ’90s have been brought up as part of the discussion here, but I query the periodisation. I think that a fuller assessment of these issues would have take into account the “anti-capitalist” line which emerged after Seattle, and among other things led to the disastrous split with the ISO USA. If SWP members can now acknowledge the mistaken perspectives and failure to grow which resulted from these over-the-top analyes, surely it follows that the break with the ISO must be seen as part-and-parcel of those political errors. For all its talk of unity, the SWP has so far shown only sectarian scorn towards these (IMO, healthy) organisations which profess IS politics but operate outside the tendency. Why not unite the SWP opposition around a perspective which combines a thorough critique of the decade 1995-2005, plus an orientation towards reforming the fractured branches of the tendency (i.e. USA, Australia, Greece etc.)? I say orientation, clearly there are issues to be resolved – but it should be seen as a desirable outcome.

  66. faslehood on said:

    whats funny is this
    1. SWP..no debate
    2. SWP there is a debate but we will still slag it off!!

    the reality is in terms of the revolutionary left the SWP is by far the largest in UK. Now it has its faults and all that but it has worked with many others during the STWC and continues to do so, also UAF where I see 300 turned out this week in Brighton to stop the fascists. But of course this is not mentioned on this site. I also see Benn doing a meeting in chesterfield alongside Reissman. Corbyn, Benn, Begg have in the last 2 weeks shared platforms so the idea that no one works alongside the SWP is just not the case.Whatever SUNs desire to samsh the revolutionary left I am afriad this site simpy will not do that. The idea that the SP and its deep sectarianism offerrs an alternative is frankly laughable. Any organisation which effectively boycotts the STWC is not worth the time. Workers Power.. well enough said!!
    The branches of the SWP are still a long way off what they were but sorry to upset you but they are significantly better than a few years back.
    lets compare the woolworths closure..
    Respect… 1 noted stall and in Bethanl Green Repsects heartlands and it draws Galloway a few cllr and 3 members!!! this is the only place where anything is done and it can only mobilize just a handful.
    SWP up and down the country members campaigning and making an impact.
    Ok but you have an MP which is true, except the reality is he will loose at the next election and Galloway knows it and starts to be friendly to New Labour. In response to his calls for the left to rally round new labour in by election against the SNP and the left there is absolutely no debate at the respect conference on this huge shift. The fact that Respect arranged a counter rally at the GLA elections oppossed to the LMHR carnival which got 100 people. Now this was a deeply sectarian move and frankly a complete disgrace. There appears to have been absolutely no discussion at all inside Respect on this dreadful behaviour. Recently of course Andy argued that the ISR bullied the Respect organisation into a decision re conference. Once again the members didn’t know about a very terse debate with Andy et el wanting to cancel the conference. You would have thought something would have appeared on the SUN site, but no. We now see Galloway praising Darling and Brown over the economy!! no discussion or debate at conference or national exec!!.
    Lastly the fact that a leading member of respect and recently elected to their national exec can call for the sacking of local govt workers, claim single mother get preferential treatment compared to Men should make Respect members sit up and smell the coffee. Respect is coming to an end, Galloway wants out and it is heading for oblivion at the next election. whatever shortcoming in the SWP, it will still be fighting and I think with a much improved internal culture. A stronger SWP is in the offing and lets face it thats doesn’t amke many of you lot very happy does it?

  67. There are no PR internal documents that are not published. We do allow comrade to post “think” pieces on our website, we do want to break from the bureaucratic monolith that has been the tradition of the Trotskyist (and not just the Trotskyist) left since WWII.
    The SWP’s failure is a result of the profound changes to world capitalism with globalisation, the growth of capitalism worldwide and the marginalisation of the left from the 1970s/80s onwards, which was consolidated by the collapse of “socialism” with the USSR from 1991 onwards.
    The SWP alongside the rest of the left (SP, Workers Power, AWL and so on) simply deny that anything fundamental changed to world capitalism as a result of its expansion across a third of the world’s surface and doubling of the world’s working class.
    They claim without any empirical evidence whatsoever, that the period say between 2003-2007 was one of stagnation and decline. Why do they lie like this? Because their estimation of the period has nothing to do with fighting for working class politics within it, but everything to do with building their sect like organisation. Rees describes rotten method better than most.
    Its plain that the SWP theoreticians, notably Harman, simply have no answers to this. They have written nothing meaningful on it in the best part of two decades. Its not likely that they’re about to do so now.
    So paradoxically its also in the interests of the SWP, that this debate is opened up, inasmuch as it might then produce some answers worth hearing.

  68. faslehood on said:

    Bill : and what has workers power given us. great insights!!! well frankly I think I will pass on that one. Now the fact that you think a 1/3 of the globe was socialist in some form is really a problem for you to explain. Why was it defeated, why did the workers not like their workers state etc etc. Its an old arguement but the fact remains Workers Power and all the orthodox trots became soft on stalinism.

  69. redbedhead on said:

    “They claim without any empirical evidence whatsoever, that the period say between 2003-2007 was one of stagnation and decline. Why do they lie like this? Because their estimation of the period has nothing to do with fighting for working class politics within it, but everything to do with building their sect like organisation.”

    What planet do you live on? Have you noticed the ongoing collapse of capitalism? Did you think it just, you know, came out of nowhere? The massive increase in debt beginning around 2001, itself merely an increase in an already existent trend, was a reflection of and a precursor to the present collapse. Debt was a cover for the fact that capitalism was only growing as a result of a massive speculative bubble and not because of real, sustainable expansion. Jesus, you don’t have to be a Marxist to know this (but it helps).


    Or if a couple pictures is all you want to look at, these two give you a sense:
    The first one shows the rise in debt

    The second shows the massive decline in capacity utilization throughout this decade:

    The third one shows the decline in wage and salary disbursements as a percentage of GDP. Notice the massive decline after 2000.

  70. Really interesting stuff – a lot more so than most of the comments. Oddly enough I still think Rees was talking a fair bit of sense, although it was useful to be reminded of why he’s got to go. On balance I’m with Joseph:

    1)For Rees against CC maj concerning need for broad political group
    2)With CC maj against Rees in terms of party democracy.
    3)With neither of them in terms of how revolutionaries need to relate to the broad party.

    How this will play out within the SWP is a fascinating issue in its own right, which will have a major impact far outside the ranks of the party itself and is therefore a perfectly legitimate topic of discussion among non-members thankyou very much. I can’t see Rees and German leading a split; their raison d’etre is to be at the heart of the revolutionary party which is at the heart of the united front, and making that believable requires serious resources. But I can’t see them resigning themselves to being rank and file members of a revolutionary party which is quietly giving up on the idea of the united front. I see big trouble ahead, and – although I’m opposed to the SWP and always have been – I’m sorry to say that; splits burn people out, and the last thing we need in the current political situation is a mass exodus from Left activity.

  71. Speak for yourself Phil – some of us are pissing ourselves now the chickens are really coming home to roost. Can’t wait for January to come. The best thing that could happen for the Left is for the SWP to finally disintegrate or end up a tiny sect – they can’t cause any more disruption then with their crap politics and control freakery.

  72. The gigantic elephant in the room is the restoration of capitalism in Russia and Eastern Europe. It doesn’t matter what else is said in this article, anybody claiming to be a Marxist, analysing the material conditions for falling support for the revolutionary left in an imperialist country but who fails to mention this most monumental defeat for the international working class appears, to me, to have an infantile grasp of the politics he claims to espouse. This is the core error at the heart of the SWP’s political make-up. Everything else flows from this.

  73. frenetic on said:

    ‘I very much want to work with forces on the left. The time has never been more urgent for a response to what neo-liberal capital and New Labour is doing to ordinary working people. The recent attack on benefit claimants and the disabled is verging on the neo-fascist with lie detectors being used on some of the most vulnerable and dispirited people in this society. A more democratic SWP, open to self criticism and prepared to engage in real and genuine debate with others on the left would be a huge step forward.

    In that piece by ND, there is not one mention of the scale of NL’s welfare reforms which long term will change the nature not just of the welfare system but also of the country, they are as Verde says, extreme and brutal

  74. Dustin the Turkey on said:

    “anybody claiming to be a Marxist, analysing the material conditions for falling support for the revolutionary left in an imperialist country but who fails to mention this most monumental defeat for the international working class appears, to me, to have an infantile grasp of the politics he claims to espouse.”

    Calling the fall of the Soviet Union (which was a sad day for George as we know) a defeat for the working class is like saying that the demolition of a Sunny Delight factory is a blow to international beverage standards.

    I also find John’s idea that there is still such a thing of restriction of information in the era of the internet almost touchingly naive. When a DVD digital content restriction system implemented by the combined forces of several major Hollywood studios can be thwarted by a 16 year old Norwegian, it’s time to release you shouldn’t type any information on a computer that you can’t handle being freed. In 20 years, we’ll have nano-cameras, and that’ll be the end of privacy; we may as well all walk around in the nip.

  75. Dustin #23 In 20 years, we’ll have nano-cameras, and that’ll be the end of privacy; we may as well all walk around in the nip.

    Thank god in 20 years I won’t care.

  76. skidmarx on said:

    #16 “I am afraid when it comes to democracy then you take the rough with the smooth”

    Not all theft is democracy.

    #17 “And Skidmarx. You’ve admitted elsewhere that you knew nothing of Respect.”

    Sir, I disagree with you opinion. I beg to differ.

    “You were even defending the dodgy cheque the other week – the last bastion of a failed donation.”

    I never said it was the greatest of ideas. But your mates were claiming it would and should end with Rees being dragged off in handcuffs as part of a panoply of lies to force the SWP outwith Respect.

  77. We in the AWL wish to congratulate comrade Skidmarx for keeping the glorious tradition of nasty, obsessive sectarianism alive with his continued sniping both here and on Liam’s site.

  78. Lord save us, the AWL complaining about nasty, obsessive sectarianism? What next – Gordon Ramsey on someone swearing excessively?

  79. well being nasty is one thing, wanting a nuclear attack on Iran is another. Fuck me the AWL are having a laugh. If anyone responds by going nuclear then it that idiot Magammna (!) and his nuking AWL buddies. Racist fuckers

  80. Anonymous on said:

    JM: “Two things are crucial here: one is the CC internal united front against dissidents, which has meant that differences within the CC are kept hidden from the membership while any critic is met with an overwhelming rebuttal.”

    Bravo JM! This CC united front was NEVER a practice of the Bolsheviks under Lenin. In 1918, the Bukharin “revolutionary war” faction not only published their program in Pravda, they even had their own newspaper. In March 1921, the Workers Opposition again published their platform in Pravda. Even as late as December 1923, CC members from the majority and Trotskyist Opposition debated each other in front of party cells throughout Moscow.

    Kevin Murphy

  81. I don’t think i disagree with a word of JM’s replies to ND and JR. But then again i don’t think i would have disagreed with a word of it had it been written ten years ago. At that time errors 3) and 4) were already well advanced and totally clear to us on the ground. There was zero chance of influencing the CC on this, even if as an individual you were one of those who was doing the do, ie recruiting people hand over fist, following them up night after night when you got home from work, and failing to hold (m)any because 1) they had not been convinced of the fundamentals of our marxist politics, 2) were not in sustained joint activity/resistance with us over a period of time, 3) and there were no fucking branch meetings to take them to, apart from the uninspiring, morale sapping one man and his dog variety. D’uh! I got tired of being treated like a moron/pawn and quit, as did most of us who could very well see with our own eyes that the Emperor (CC collective) was stark bollock naked. I mean, why bother? I can get treated like an idiot who’s opinion doesn’t count by my boss for free.

    One other thing. Its a worrying reflection on the London centric state of the SWP that in his list of significant members who have been lost by the party in the recent period (Hoveman et al) that Richard Searle and Kay Philips of Manchester have not been mentioned. These two comrades were tireless SWP activists in the north side of the city for two decades, and built up immense trust and respect amongst layers of working class activists there. To have lost them to Respect (where Kay is now national chair i believe) is a massive body blow to the organisation on the ground in Manchester. I suspect that local tragedies of this kind, and i dont’ use the word lightly from the point of view of anyone who cherishes the SWP, have recently been repeated in working class communities across the country.

    let’s face it, the CC is staffed by conceited and egotistical bureaucrats. Why on earth wouldn’t they be? Does our material analysis of bureaucracies suddenly stop explaining our own reality when applied to us?

    If the SWP Conference can carry out a root and branch democratization then many ex-members would come pouring back. And more importantly, young militants would begin joining again. If it tinkers around the edges, the Party will carry on wilting.

  82. benefiting from women's oppression? on said:

    #90 Well said nytram. Apart from Londoncentrism, Molyneux does not seem to have noticed the loss of a number of significant women comrades. These include Jo Benefield, Judy Cox and Caroline Conway, as well as Kay Philips of course.

  83. “Lord save us, the AWL complaining about nasty, obsessive sectarianism? What next – Gordon Ramsey on someone swearing excessively?”

    We weren’t complaining, we were congratulating. Comrades Skidmarx and LL make us proud. Their method – being as divisive as possible, starting from the positions of difference rather than the positions of agreement, relentlessly picking on people: It’s our bread and butter, and we see an opening for us in the SWP if this is the style of working that’s developed as a result of the Respect split.

  84. Don't look back in anger on said:

    Nytram makes a very valid point when stating that “let’s face it, the CC is staffed by conceited and egotistical bureaucrats”. Indeed – they are not just distrustful of the membership but utterly contemptuous of it. I recall a meeting in members of the CC in 1989/1990. One person reported some concerns about holding onto members that had been raised by the branch secretary of Manchester Central branch. This it should be noted was, at the time, the largest SWP branch in the country with a SWP group (not SWSS) of over 35 at Manchester Polytechnic. No slackers here but comrades raising genuine concerns. The issues raised weren’t even discussed but simply dismissed by Lindsey German with the phrase “You can ignore anything he says. He’s just a middle class tosser.”

    With comrades like this, who needs the AWL.

  85. “Critics can be replied to politically and strong arguments put, without making the victim feel like they never want to speak at an SWP conference or council again”

    That certainly rings a bell for anyone who was at the dreadful 2006 Respect conference where exactly the same methods were used against anyone who disagreed with the SWP’s line. That sort of thuggery has no place in any political organisation but is most definitely out of place in a broad formation.

    A contribution to the discussion on how a Marxist current can work to actively build a broader party while retaining its own distinct politics can be found below.


  86. Liam
    But doesn’t Andy claim the ISR railroaded and bullied its views regarding the Respect conference. I think he also claims your organisation are living in a fantasy land. It doesn’t appear to be all sweetness and light.

  87. 93. ‘…simply dismissed by Lindsey German with the phrase “You can ignore anything he says. He’s just a middle class tosser.” ‘

    Y’ gotta laugh though!

    Haydon Gals, to the LSE (Law) straight to apparachniki-land.

    A horny-handed, daughter of toil whose wisdom will be missed…

  88. Incidently I’ve had that idiot DavidT popping up on my email and posting banner headlines that I’ve left the SWP. Its rather flattering to be the subject of such attention on Britain’s foremost Islamophobic site but I’d like to reassure him and his friends that he can still include me in his demented demonology. I mean some things never change right?

  89. #95

    Well I would be suyprised if Liam or the other socialst resistance comrades felt particularly oppressed by my disagreeing with them.

    I expect they think I am entoitled to my opinion, and I would hazzard a guess they think I am wrong.

  90. PJ Callan on said:

    “secondly it is clear from history that when the circumstances were favourable all sorts of would be radical organisations, with politics and organisational practices FAR worse than the SWP (Maoists in Nepal, for example) have been able to grow far more successfully than us”

    Once again, life itself doesn’t comply with the theories of Trotskyism. The CPN(Maoist) are in power because they have learnt the organisational and ideological methods of Marxism-Leninism as developed by K. Marx, F. Engels, VI Lenin, JV Stalin & Mao Tse-Tung.

  91. Dos tres muchas Vietnam on said:

    #100. Perhaps. They certainly seem to have a social base among the peasantry, and it is also interesting that Indian Maoists have been making considerable headway.

    Meanwhile, British Trotskyists have no social base, and in a tacit recognition of this, are busy tearing each other apart. Wake me up when the 100th SWP internal document is leaked…ZZZZZZZZ

  92. Dos tres muchas Vietnam on said:

    #100. Perhaps. They certainly seem to have a social base among the peasantry, and it is also interesting that Indian Maoists have been making considerable headway.

    Meanwhile, British Trotskyists have no social base, and in a tacit recognition of this, are busy tearing each other apart. Wake me up when the 100th SWP internal document is leaked…ZZZZZZZZ

  93. anticapitalista on said:

    #94 Liam,
    Why is it that your blog has nothing to say about what has been going on in Greece for the last 2 weeks?

    Your comrades here are a bit pissed off.

  94. Not half as pissed off as SEK are with the numpties in the SWP, anticap! You shouldn’t try this pretend international stuff. It will only come back and bite you.

  95. The CPN(Maoist) are in power because they have learnt the organisational and ideological methods of Marxism-Leninism as developed by K. Marx, F. Engels, VI Lenin, JV Stalin & Mao Tse-Tung.

    And if only the rest of us would learn the organisational and ideological methods of Marxism-Leninism as developed by K. Marx, F. Engels, VI Lenin, JV Stalin & Mao Tse-Tung, we’d be in power too, dammit.