It seems that Mark Bergfeld last night resigned from the Central Committee (CC) of the SWP; Mark stood for President of the National Union of Students in 2011, and his departure is further evidence of a generational split in the organisation. At this stage it is speculation, but his resignation may be because disciplinary measures were agreed at last night’s CC meeting, to expel SWP oppositionists.
The comrade Delta crisis has shown that the SWP’s lack of internal democratic structures and its monolithic culture has made it incapable of dealing with a real political crisis. At last Sunday’s 50 strong lay member National Committee I understand that the opposition garnered about 9 votes, which means that the majority acted like rabbits stuck in the headlights, unable to move as disaster hurtles towards them.
Particularly despicable and intellectually hollow was the letter circulated to NC by the SWP’s court jester, John Molyneux. He has in the past championed change in the SWP, but rather in the manner that Jaroslav Hašek, author of “The Good Soldier Švejk” once satirically suggested the idea of a political party dedicated to only those mild reforms acceptable to the Kaiser.
Molyneux believes that the crisis is to do with poor discipline about the SWP’s own decision making:
I attended the recent party conference and believe it was conducted in exemplary democratic fashion. Indeed I am not aware of any substantial complaint about the conduct of conference from any quarter. At that conference the CC majority received the backing of the majority on all the disputed questions after thorough and fair debate. The majority on accepting the DC was quite narrow, but still clear, and on electing the new CC it was substantial (5 to3). The CC, therefore, has a clear mandate to lead. Democracy does not mean that we all get our own way, it means the majority gets its way.
The demand for a recall conference is not a democratic demand but an anti-democratic demand designed to undermine the vote of the majority.
Yes, there are circumstances when the demand for a recall conference is legitimate; for example when there is major new development, such as the outbreak of an unforeseen war or major strike, on which the party is divided as to its response. But this not one of them. Nothing has changed in the outside world except for the public furore CREATED BY THOSE WHO DISAGREED with conference decisions.
No, the crisis is due to the fact that the SWP had the presumption to hold a kangaroo court to investigate an alleged RAPE, with an incompetent panel comprising the accused’s mates, and attitudes to what is appropriate questioning of a woman complaining of rape that would have embarassed the fictional detective, Gene Hunt. The crisis is due to the conceit of the SWP’s leadership that they could overcome the political scandal by reality defying edicts that the matter was closed. The crisis is casued by the scandal of expelling people from an organisation in a brutal and indefensible way. The crisis is caused by the self-interested actions of the senior management clique in the SWP, who are clearly more interested in preserving their own positions at the expense of their “party”, contemptuous of the work, dedication and commitment of hundreds of lay members they are jeopardising. The crisis is a real one as mainstream media attention, and the social media are exposing the lack of democracy, and unpleasant culture of bullying and authoritarianism in the SWP, making the brand toxic.
John Molyneux’s argument that because what has happened in the real world has been precipitated by whistle blowers who oppose the SWP’s mishandling of the alleged rape, then the SWP can afford to ignore it, and try to carry on as normal is risible. What has changed in the real world is that the SWP has damaged its reputation beyond repair; and the loyalist majority are in danger of becoming a full blown cult. Molyneux’s position is forced upon him because to question or jettison the leadership at this stage would endanger the SWP’s existance; but it is timid and contemptible because not to do so creates an even greater risk of colluding in something that is morally bankrupt.