SWP National Committee Debates the Crisis

Here are the motions:


Motions to the SWP National Committee, 3 February 2013

Motion one: Central Committee

1) The SWP stands out on the left by the fact that it has a history of genuine democratic debate without permanent factionalism. We have developed democratic and accountable structures from our branches, elected district committees, the national committee and disputes committee, central committee, party councils and conference. In the recent period these structures were re-examined and strengthened by the work of the SWP democracy commission. We have full confidence in these structures and the method of democratic centralism.

2) This newly elected National Committee notes that the commission on “What sort of Party do we need?” that set out the democratic principles for guiding our current practice was approved by 239 votes to 91 by annual conference in January 2013.

3) At the core of democratic centralism lies the understanding that we have full and honest debate among comrades in order to reach decisions followed by united action to implement and argue for those decisions.

4) We therefore condemn the actions of those members who have circumvented these principles by campaigning to overturn conference decisions outside the structures of the party, using blogs and the bourgeois media. Many of these contributions have been characterised by the use of slurs, abuse and un-comradely language that seem designed to stop serious debate and make joint work impossible, as well as damaging the party’s reputation.

5) This undermining of our democracy should stop forthwith. We reaffirm the right of the Central Committee to impose disciplinary measures for violation of our democratic constitution.

6) Many of these contributions have been fuelled by the outcome of the Disputes Committee report to conference. This NC affirms its belief in the integrity of the comrades on the DC and of the investigation they conducted. We note the DC was re-elected without challenge at the January 2013 conference. The DC report was approved by conference and the case concerned must be regarded as closed.

7) This NC notes that immediately following the original DC hearing of this particular case, information about it was leaked to people, some hostile, outside the party. This helped fuel rumours and misinformation about the DC within the party. This NC also notes the disgraceful covert recording of the DC session at conference and the appearance of a transcript on a site hostile to the party in addition to the reports and debates in public blogs and internet forums regarding these internal party arguments.

8) This has created difficulties for any future DC hearing. Therefore it is in this light that the NC thinks it sensible to consider these issues, in particular:

i) how the future confidentiality of DC proceedings can be safeguarded
ii) how future findings of the DC should be reported to the party

These issues should be considered by a body composed of four members elected from the National Committee today, two from the Disputes Committee and one by the Central Committee. It will report to a subsequent meeting of the NC.

9) The NC supports the right of the CC, in consultation with the Conference Arrangements Committee, to set out a reasonable deadline for calls for a special conference. We do not believe that it can be acceptable for such calls to be collected together over a period of several months. This would institutionalise a practice of constantly presenting motions to our branch meetings. The NC agrees that the deadline for the recent calls for a special conference was 1 February.

10) We believe that underlying many of the recent debates in and around the party lie a series of vital political questions where we need to seek urgently to assert, develop and win our political tradition. Some of the key debates include:

a) The changing nature of the working class.

b) Lenin’s conception of the party, and its relevance in the 21st century.

c) Oppression and capitalism.

d) The trade union bureaucracy and the rank and file.

e) The radical left, the united front and the SWP.

11) The CC and NC are strongly committed to leading and facilitating extensive discussion and debate around such issues in every forum of the party. This requires a serious, systematic and urgent effort in all our publications, through branch and district meetings, wider party events such as Marxism and through educationals and day schools.

Central Committee

Motion two: Sue Caldwell

This National Committee agrees to censure those comrades, including Richard Seymour who have repeatedly and publicly criticised decisions made at Conference 2012. The SWP provides many opportunities for comrades to raise disagreements and discussion in a comradely and constructive way.

We are a democratic centralist organisation which means that having arrived at a decision we carry it out in a united manner. A very small group of comrades are attempting to operate in a way that amounts to a permanent faction by encouraging others to agitate against decisions that have been made. Most members are outraged to see attacks on our Party in the right wing press using ammunition provided by our own comrades, most of which consists of factual inaccuracies. The refusal of these comrades to accept decisions made by Conference is shameful and an insult to the Conference delegates.

Such activity should not be allowed to continue. The attempt to call a recall Conference has not been successful and the vast majority of comrades want to get on with the many challenging tasks that we face in the outside world.This National Committee supports the Central Committee in taking whatever action it sees fit, including expulsion from the Party, against any comrades who continue to act in this fundamentally undemocratic way following a clear warning.

Sue Caldwell

Motion three: South Yorkshire District Committee

South Yorkshire District Committee believes we face many challenges in the coming period. Yet, the 20,000 that demonstrated in Lewisham and the protests in Sheffield against austerity cuts also highlight the opportunities we have in building working class resistance to the Government’s austerity agenda.

Our agreed perspectives arm every party member to intervene effectively and to increase our political influence within movements, workplaces and colleges. That is why we re-affirm the decisions taken by our 2013 national conference.

South Yorkshire District Committee also believes that:

• Democracy is a method by which an organisation takes decisions.
• Democratic centralism is essential, not just as an abstract national principle, but as the germ of party activity in each locality or party unit. Once you accept the need for coordination and centralisation in this way, you also have to accept mechanisms to make it efficacious.
• Those decisions only make sense if they are binding on members of the organisation.
• If they are not binding, there is no point in their being made. If a minority can ignore the will of the majority, why bother about finding out the will of the majority? Why go to all the effort of having elections, counting votes and so on? You cannot have democracy without some means of ensuring compliance to majority decisions.

Yet, since conference, a minority of comrades refuse to abide by those national conference decisions and continue to factionalise in public through blogs and facebook pages.

This District Committee condemns the derogatory, ill-informed and abusive comments that comrades face when challenging this factionalism.

This abuse of our democratic structures seriously obstructs our capacity to build politically, undermines our ability to seize opportunities and move forward. The stakes are too high to miss. Therefore, South Yorkshire District Committee calls on the National Committee, the Conference Arrangements Committee and the Central Committee, leading bodies of the party to:

1. Insist that all members abide by the decisions of our national conference.
2. Affirm that any failure to heed such a call contravenes our constitution and flouts our tradition of democratic centralism.
3. Uphold the right of the Central Committee or Disputes Committee to impose disciplinary measures for any violation of our democratic constitution.

South Yorkshire District Committee

Motion four: Jim Wolfreys

Addressing the Crisis in the SWP

In the weeks since conference a crisis of unprecedented proportions has opened up in the SWP. This cannot be wished away. It is not going to be possible simply to proclaim an end to the debate raging throughout the party and beyond. What is required now is decisive leadership that is able to provide a political response, rather than procedural solutions, to the immediate issues raised by the Disputes Committee session at conference. National Committee should therefore endorse the following measures:

1. An acknowledgment by the Central Committee of the widely held concerns within our organization and internationally in our tendency, and in the wider labour movement, about the handling of the dispute, and an assurance that we are taking steps to learn from this criticism and address problems.
2. A review of Disputes Committee (DC) procedures in relation to cases involving allegations of rape and sexual harassment. Sufficient time should be allocated at the next Party Council to discuss ways in which the DC and its procedures can be strengthened, with space also allowed for votes on proposals brought forward by branches and the leadership.
3. X to stand down from any paid or representative roles in our party or united front work for the foreseeable future.
4. No disciplinary action against those comrades who have publicly expressed concerns over the DC’s conduct and findings.
5. Full support for the comrades who made the complaints. Zero tolerance of any attempt to undermine them and others who have raised criticisms of the DC report. Action to ensure they do not suffer any detriment in the party because of the position they have taken. An end to the punishment of party workers who have expressed concerns over the dispute.

Jim Wolfreys

Motion five: Penny Gower/Sally Kincaid

‘This National Committee, a body elected by the delegates to SWP Annual Conference, has every confidence in the procedures, practices and personnel of the previous and current Disputes Committee, a body elected democratically by delegates to our SWP Annual Conference.’

Penny Gower/Sally Kincaid

Motion six: Penny Gower/Donny Gluckstein

To aid the report back process from SWP National Committee, the following international response be distributed electronically to all members, and paper copies to be made available at branch meetings:

‘Dear Comrades

Obviously this is an extremely difficult time for the party. We are under attack from many different sides ranging from the Daily Mail, to others on the left, a small section of our own members and a (small) international group of academics and intellectuals, threatening a ‘boycott’ of our publications and events.

I am not in Britain but I have received a number of messages and enquiries so I just wanted a) to say where I stand on all this b) to wish everyone well in the circumstances.

My position is one of strong support for the SWP and its democratically elected CC.

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.

Secondly, I think Alex Callinicos is right in his article on Leninism in Socialist Review: the question of Leninism and the revolutionary party IS at the heart of this debate. Many of the ‘opposition’ deny this (and complain it is a ‘straw man’ etc) but the fact is that the actual behaviour – as opposed to their formal declarations- of those who have gone public, in the bourgeois press, on their blogs and on Facebook (and FB IS public) shows that they either have a very different conception of the party or no real regard for it. In particular, a question I would put to Richard Seymour (and to his supporters) is do you believe that party rules and norms, which you must be aware of, do not apply to you or is it that you disagree with them all and think that everyone should be allowed to attack the party publicly in any way they like?

By the way, anyone who claims to be reclaiming the party for ‘the best in the IS tradition’ by doing this, simply does not know what they are talking about. I can assure them that it is impossible to conceive of any of the comrades who actually forged the IS tradition – the likes of Cliff, Hallas, Foot and Harman – ever doing such a thing.

There is a much wider issue here. It is clear that there are very powerful anti-party moods out there – nationally and internationally – look at the Indignados, at Occupy and so on. These reflect a widespread radicalised liberal individualism. When such moods are widespread and common in the movement they are frequently, and to some extent inevitably, reflected inside the party in one form or another. One form taken by this at the moment is not just anarchism/autonomism but yearning for a ‘broad’ ‘pluralist’ type party a la Syriza. Richard Seymour and Owen Jones, for example, both seem to favour this.

I, however, continue to believe that the building of an independent revolutionary party – as advocated by Lenin and Trotsky (and Gramsci) – is necessary for revolutionary victory. It is a vital, but also very difficult task and I think that achievements made should be defended not thrown away. Those who say, for example, the whole CC of the SWP should resign or be thrown out clearly have little regard for the party’s future. I also continue to believe, as I have always argued, that democratic centralism is not only necessary for effectiveness in the class struggle but also the most DEMOCRATIC form of party organisation because it controls and holds to account leaders. In the current situation it is not the CC who are not subject to democratic accountability but the likes of Richard Seymour.

Finally, I would say that this is a wretched time for many of us – the feeding frenzy on the net, added to by some who should know better, must make many comrades feel sickened. But I think the only way forward for the party is to stand firm in defence of its democratic decisions, [whether or not one agreed with each and every one of them] not yield to pressure, and continue the work of developing the struggle against the real enemy. I appeal to all comrades to adopt this course of action and to everyone who is doing this I send my solidarity.

John Molyneux’

Penny Gower/Donny Gluckstein

Document from Sean Vernell and Mark Campbell

This is NOT a set of specific proposals to vote on, but is designed to provide political context and encourage debate

Leninism in the 21st century

This paper was written before we saw Alex’s timely article in the forthcoming Socialist Review. We feel that it complements his article and we hope it will be read in that light.

The SWP finds itself in one of the worst crisis in its history. Significant and long lasting damage could be done not just to the SWP but the Leninist tradition if the party does not develop a coherent political and theoretical defence of the party and its tradition located in the period that we are in.

The debates, although started over an internal issue, have created a feeding frenzy amongst our political opponents outside the party within the wider movement and not just from sectarian groups.

The arguments surrounding the Disputes Committee’s report and the subsequent vote at conference has opened up a far wider debate about political parties adhering to a Leninist concept of the party reminiscent of the debate on the left in the late 70′s and early 80s around ‘beyond the fragments’ (see Laurie Penny and Owen Jones articles).

These arguments go beyond democracy and political parties to take in debate about women’s oppression and the question of working class agency. However at the centre of these historic debates is an argument about how the left should build a movement against the capitalist system. This is what lies at the heart of all these debates and it is this that we must address both internally and externally if we are to defend the Leninist method from its detractors. What follows is an outline of the kind of response we need to develop to rise to the challenges placed upon us since party conference.

Disputes Committee reform
It is clear that the political problems faced by the party go far beyond the issues raised by the procedures and organisation of the party’s internal structures. However, we should not be defensive about looking at how the party dealt with the case in question.

We believe the NC should decide to set up a sub-group from within the NC’s ranks to look into the suggestions that many comrades have raised in relation to how a disputes committee could and should be run when such serious allegations have been made. In particular, reviewing the processes adopted if such allegations are made against a member of the CC. This sub-group should then report its findings and any proposals to change the process/remit of the DC to the next meeting of the NC for discussion and endorsement.

Democracy and the SWP: locating the argument
The decision by the conference to support the DC report has raised several issues. The one which has generated some of the greatest debate is that of the internal democracy of the SWP. We do not want to rehearse those debates here. We, as have others, have written in IB3 a defence of democratic centralism and a refutation of the arguments put by the different ‘democratic’ factions. We believe if the party is to go forward we need to dig underneath these arguments to understand why they have become the central concern for some members of the party.

Frustration and political passivity
Frustration at the failure of the struggle against pension reform to break through has been given as an explanation as to why some comrades have turned inwards to look for a solution to the problems the movement against austerity has been confronted with since 19th December 2011.

This is an important starting point but in itself does not provide the whole answer. The frustration also stems from a political passivity amongst sections of the membership due to the leadership putting far too much emphasis on branch building rather than building united fronts in the aftermath of the faction fight four years ago.

By political passivity we don’t mean simply that comrades are sitting at home watching events unfold from a far. Comrades can be running around doing lots of different party activities none of which necessarily connects them or the party to the movement let alone allows them to place themselves in a position to offer leadership to the movement.

Over the last two years the leadership have made real efforts to shift this emphasis and has argued for the implementation of united fronts around several issues as an on-going part of the party’s work. As the economic crisis deepens, and the international response by working people across the globe develops, the SWP has rightly argued that we need to be at the heart of these developing struggles and central to that is attempting to initiate united fronts. It is clear to us that there are too many comrades not involved in attempting to build these united fronts. Every comrade needs to be involved in attempting to work with people, who are politically to the right of them, to construct a movement against austerity. It is this failure by a significant section of the organisation that has led to the often debilitating frustration that comrades described at conference.

Too often some party members hold a short-termism view of the struggle. Intervention is seen as the response to moments in which the balance of class forces can be shifted decisively in favour of the working class. The alternative to these moments are viewed as periods to recruit the numbers necessary to intervene in those decisive moments.

Obviously this is an oversimplified picture however it does capture to some extent the approach and short termism which allows some members to ‘flip flop’ from identifying an obvious rise in the class struggle as the moment in which a decisive break through is possible to an overly pessimistic approach, if and when the class struggle doesn’t make the predicted breakthrough. This approach is located within a wider, often unacknowledged, analysis, which is more fundamentally pessimistic, viewing much of the most recent period of history as largely undifferentiated from the “downturn”, apart from the more recent moments of class struggle. It also underlines an approach which ends up being much more resistant to the idea of united fronts as a more permanent feature of our involvement with the movement and struggle.

The gaps between the peaks in the struggle are as important as the peaks themselves. It is in these gaps that revolutionaries must fight for the battle of interpretation about what has happened and how the movement can best progress to the next round. Too many comrades were passive in the build up to the 30th Nov 2011 and became even more so afterwards. In UCU we have had sharp arguments with the left within the union about the strikes around 10th May 2012 and the fallout from them. We built a 100 strong UCU left conference in September as part of an attempt to reposition the left after the pensions action.

We brought delegations to the 1,000 strong UtR conference as part of a wider attempt to reposition the best activists within the movement after the pensions debacle. Around two-thirds of those who attended the conference were non party members. It was encouraging to see so many non-members attend as it clearly revealed the potential for such an organisation to be built. However, it was a real problem that only a relatively small minority of comrades attended and of those that did only around 20% brought anybody else with them.

It is not surprising therefore when members are politically passive in the way we have described above, and are not politically engaged with the movement in this way, or are not working with people to the right of them over a long period, that they end up questioning the party’s perspective of the period. They feel that it is a perspective that does not fit their experiences and therefore draw the conclusion that the leadership is not listening to them. They draw the conclusion therefore that it is not their lack of engagement with the movement that is the problem but instead the democratic structures of the party.

This is why a lot of the arguments at conference were articulated around contrasting “patiently explaining” versus “polemic” and often extrapolating that the failure of the party to grow stems from a failure of the leadership to patiently explain the changes in the situation to the membership of the organisation. And by extension that this could be better achieved if the leadership were more in touch with a wider layer of the party and individual members’ experiences and therefore by extension the old form of leadership is no longer fitting of the needs of organisation. Instead they argue a wider leadership which reflects more broadly all aspects of debate within the party needs to be established.

However it could be argued that the problems of passivity stem instead from a leadership that has been too hesitant to make the sharp turns necessary or has been too divided to make these turns precisely because it would strengthen certain sectional interests within the leadership. Unless we find ways of dealing with this political passivity these arguments will continue to rage. This starts, as always when the party is attempting to make a shift, with a minority who go out to create the facts on the ground, which then can be used to win others to that perspective.

An agreed and shared perspective
This requires an agreed perspective about the period and a leadership capable and willing to fight for such a shared perspective. Agreeing about how important strikes are for an organisation which stands in our tradition does not represent a perspective. Instead it allows the organisation to temporarily unite around some immediate tasks, only to see arguments which are essentially about perspective and an interpretation of the period to re-emerge after the moment of unity is ended.

The arguments however when they re-emerge become ever more deep and far reaching and often take a form which appears disconnected from the dynamics and interpretation of the class struggle.

A perspective requires a more thorough strategic view based on an analysis of the totality of the balance of forces within capitalism in this period of history; it is not an immediate list of tasks for the party to do. In turn this will, as it always has, pose wider theoretical questions about capitalism and political organisation. It is no surprise that a perspective is contested at this time. The period of the downturn allowed a shared perspective to provide the basis of a coherent organisation in which the level of agreement reflected the shared perspective about the circumstances in which revolutionaries were operating and allowed us to be much more successful than other organisations.

That period of shared perspective ended some time ago. From Seattle onwards it has clearly not been a period of downturn like the 1980s. However the overarching nature of the period since Seattle is not agreed or settled. And of course the period since Seattle is differentiated, not least by the economic crisis of 2008 onwards.

A period most on the left saw as different from what had gone before but often without being able to locate it within a wider historical period. This failure to debate and therefore grasp the nature of the period we are in has led to some of the problems identified above. It is an urgent task for the party to return to developing this kind of wider perspective which can allow the organisation to regain coherence in relation to the real objective circumstances and opportunities and engage in and lead debate within the rest of the left.

Students and the party
It is clear that many of our students are amongst the most concerned about the decisions taken regarding the disputes committee and more generally about the democratic structures of the party. At Party conference many student members described themselves as part of the ‘Milbank generation’ and it is from here that we need to start to understand why so many of our students do not seem to share the party’s current perspectives of the period or of the organisation of the party.

The impact of the defeat students suffered over the rise in tuition fees and cuts to the EMA clearly had a demoralising impact on those students who led the way in the fight against austerity. This is understandable but not inevitable. What has deepened the students’ distrust of the way the party works and the perspective the party has is the way that we organised our student intervention in that period.

The Milbank demonstration was a united demonstration jointly called by the NUS and UCU in response to tuition fees and cuts to EMA. After the Milbank riot there was an immediate struggle for leadership inside the student movement among the radical left and the official student machine who wanted to regain control. The rising influence of autonomism had shaped the radical left on campus ideologically and those ideas were part of the movement we were engaging with.

The leadership of the party did well at making sure that we were indentified with the fees and EMA campaign. However the setting up of the Education Activists Network (EAN) as a joint student and worker united front and the characterisation of students as the ‘detonators’ of struggle was a mistake. Rather than drawing them away from autonomist common sense that exists within student politics it unintentionally reinforced many of the central tenets of autonomist politics.

By trying to construct a student/ lecturer united front, rather than a student united front, it confused the understanding of the relationship between the working class and the oppressed. The SWP has always understood that there is an unequal power relationship between lecturers and students. Organising a united front that attempted to politically organise both was a mechanical attempt to win students to see the working class as the key agent for change and to winning workers to take up the fight of the oppressed (the student). PhD students were both workers and students and so the movement no longer needed to distinguish between them. This relegated the centrality of working class agency and the dialectical relationship between the street and the workplace.

This also denied our students their chance to cut their teeth in leading the strategic arguments amongst students, which often led them to relying on the authority of the lecturers to win the arguments. This led to a number of serious problems.

First it meant that many students started to see the campuses as spaces where there were effectively no differences in the social base between those who worked as lecturers and those who were students. Second that it meant that for some of our lecturers it meant focusing on building amongst students rather than lecturers.

It dawned on some of us that this approach was really becoming a problem when at the height of the struggle, in meetings packed full of students, the top table was controlled by forty something lecturers. Finally it meant that EAN increasingly turned into an election vehicle for our candidates for NUS and UCU elections. This clearly narrowed the potential to build a broad student united front built around the struggle against fees and cuts in EMA.

These problems were compounded by the party leadership describing the student role within the struggle as the ‘detonators’ of struggle. This is something the SWP had always argued against. Chris Harman in the Fire Last Time criticises the student ‘red base’ approach to student politics for their position of seeing students as the detonators of struggle. Of course there are key moments in history where certain acts can ignite a wider conflagration of struggle. The 1905 revolution was famously sparked by print workers taking strike action over payment for commas. May 1968 started by students being expelled after being caught in the dormitories of the opposite sex.

However, understanding how key moments can spark struggle is not the same as revolutionaries seeing themselves as the ‘detonators’ of that struggle. It is this approach that has led to the worst adventurism and substitutionism by revolutionaries in the past.

The theory of the offensive, another name for the detonator theory, was disastrously applied by the KPD in Germany in 1923 when the leadership argued for its members to attempt to start the revolution in certain German states believing their acts would galvanise the whole of the German working class into action. Needless to say it had disastrous consequences for the revolutionaries involved as well as the whole of the international working class movement.

Therefore the mistakes from Milbank onwards have meant that rather than leading students away from autonomism and towards seeing the working class as the agent for change it has made our students much more susceptible to the lure of autonomism and the short cut politics which that tradition entails. Forget winning the working class to the struggle we can do it on their behalf. When no break through occurred after Milbank, moralism and frustration filled the void.

For an interventionist party – yes but what does this mean?
At conference the CC organised around their statement ‘for an interventionist party’ to distinguish themselves from the abstract, pessimistic and passive approach being put forward by the various different factions. Of course this is a useful starting point to draw a clear line between those of us who understand that the period is one full of opportunities for revolutionaries to intervene and lead effective struggles.

However the notion of an interventionist party can mean different things to different comrades. For some it means building real united front’s within the movement and for others it means abstract party building and intervention in the struggle , for example simply turning up to meetings selling the paper and trying to indentify the ‘ones and twos’ that will join.

Therefore it is important that we indentify which version of an interventionist party we are referring to. As we have outlined above we understand that is the former not the latter. We feel that it is an important distinction to make because the abstract version does not fit and leads to a sectarian and passive approach to the movement in the present circumstances.

One of the reoccurring questions that is raised when debating the state of the party is the issue of why hasn’t the party grown from the different mass movements over the past decade. It’s worth pointing out that no other revolutionary left organisation has grown substantially in the most recent period and hence the answer perhaps lies in an analysis that attempts to grapple with some of the objectives circumstances facing the revolutionary left.

This is of course something that is being done by some sections of the left, many have argued this for years whilst some are more new to it, drawing the conclusion that the failure of the revolutionary left lies in systemic changes within the working class. It is clear that such false analysis of the objective world and the analysis that starts with the internal organisation of Leninist parties are becoming mutually reinforcing at the moment. As indeed they did at the time of ‘Forward march of Labour halted’ and ‘Beyond the Fragments’.

It is therefore vital that we begin a process of analysis that does not locate the key to growth simply within structures that fitted the 1980s or within an end to Leninist organisation. An analysis that also attempts to understand the more objective issues which to some extent have inhibited the growth of the revolutionary left in this country and others without drawing the conclusion that class as the central agency of social change is no longer relevant.

The party has elsewhere provided a useful starting point as an explanation of why organisations that adhere to Leninist organisations have not grown by pointing to the decline of social democracy and the collapse of Eastern European regimes. We need to return to this analysis and develop it.

Such an analysis is essential as without one these debates usually end up simply looking at the internal structures of the party, the state of the branches, how regularly they meet and are organised, as an explanation as to why we have remained a similar sized organisation over the past thirty odd years.

What has reinforced such a poor starting point is the experience of scrapping branches in the period when the party was attempting to build RESPECT. It is now widely accepted that this was a mistake and did damage to the party’s ability not only to recruit and develop new members but also hampered our ability to build the movement. However, often when discussing these issues the baby frequently gets thrown out with the bath water.

The mistaken conclusion for too many comrades being that the key to success for the party and the class is the routine and organisation of SWP party branches, often, but not always, posed in opposition to other forms of organisation such as broader united front work. The motivation to break up the routine of the party was brought about by the desire to shift the party so that it could rise up to where the most advanced sections of the class were at. The structures that we had built up in the 1980s and had allowed the party to successfully position itself throughout that period (allowing the party to come out of the 80′s as the most significant and cohesive amongst the various far left parties) had now become an obstacle to taking the movement and the party forward.

Unfortunately, we did not move quickly enough to come up with alternate structures that allowed members to meet up and discus their intervention and assess how it was going and where new people could be brought along and new members could be introduced to our political traditions.

Our party structures should stem from an analysis of the objective period we are in. Grafting on 1980′s structures into the 21st century in a period of mass movements will not help us grow or develop the kind of party that can successfully lead in the class and attract the most advanced fighters.

Realigning the left
The realignment of the left was a phrase that we used a lot at the beginning of the millennium. The struggles around the Balkan war, Seattle and the Iraq war allowed the SWP to put this into practice by initiating, with sections of the left, first the Socialist Alliance and then more successfully RESPECT. The failure of RESPECT to break through to become a significant force within British politics as a home for a much wider left should not make us fear attempting to try such initiatives again when the opportunity presents itself.

Trotsky argued that for a mass revolutionary party to be built in western democratic societies there would have to be significant splits from the mass Social Democratic parties. Such a new left formation cannot be conjured up out of thin air, the right circumstances have to be in place, primarily a mass movement against austerity. However it is important that the party has this as a central strategic aim and that party members and the movement understand that this is one of the strategic goals of the SWP in this period for the foreseeable future. Owen Jones’ opportunistic article in the Independent attacking the party and its Leninist traditions and pronouncing that such forms of organisation are dead was a clear attempt to position the Labour Left to lead any new realignment. He doesn’t call directly for people to join the Labour Party but instead a new ‘left network’ which he and the likes of McCluskey hope will be a bridge into the Labour Party.

Again, there are echoes of the late 1970s when after the Wilson/Callaghan government and the election of Thatcher there was a debate amongst the left about where to go. The IMG, an independent Trotsky party with some 4,000 members, argued for its members to ‘enter’ the Labour party. Combined with this were Lynne Segal’s and Shelia Rowbotham’s book, ‘Beyond the Fragments’, a book that essentially attacked what they defined as “macho” Leninist organisations. These were key defining moments that convinced a generation of activists to join the LP. At the time the SWP put out a call for the IMG and us to join forces to create an organisation of some 7,000 to act as a pole of attraction outside the Labour Party. Sadly we did not win this argument and the left missed an opportunity to build an organisation that perhaps could have had a say in the direction the left and the movement took during the 1980s.

We need to be alert to new possibilities for the call of new political formations. However, simply going around like the Socialist Party do sloganising around for the need for a ‘new workers party’ would not be a serious example of how to go about this. But ensuring that in our publications we promote the strategic need for the left to realign is something that we should do. If we are not alert to these possibilities others will step in and seize this initiative. This is why, although we shouldn’t expect much to come from Jones’ call for a new ‘left network’, we should take him up on it to see where they want to go with it.

For a political and theoretical setting out of our stall We also believe that the party needs to produce a new publication that presents an overarching analysis of the period we are in and offers a way forward. There is a battle of interpretation about the kind of period we are in. There is a pessimistic version often put forward by sections of the trade union bureaucracy summed up well by Sally Hunt, UCU GS, when she describes the last decade as ‘the reactionary decade’! On the other hand there are left theoreticians like Alain Badiou who are much more upbeat and optimistic about what opportunities this period of history offers. He refers to what is taking place around the globe as a ‘rebirth of history’. Unfortunately his politics leads him away from locating working class agency as the key to offering a way that human liberation can be achieved.

There is also a debate to be had about class. This publication will need to take up some of the arguments being put forward by different sections of the left including many of our ex comrades. What does the British working class look like? Mass unemployment, so far, whilst growing, has not seen so many workers put on the dole compared to past economic crisis. Instead an increase in part time working, hourly paid and agency has grown leading some on the left to put more emphasis on the precarious nature of the working class. This in turn leads them away from seeing the working class at the point of production as the key agency. These debates are reminiscent of the ‘core and periphery’ arguments we had to have with the left in the 1980s.

The publication will need to locate the period we are in today by looking back at the ‘Fire Last Time’ explaining why the resistance will not take the same form as then, that was a period of boom where shop floor organisation was built upon sectional economic strength and lead to the early 1970s strike movements etc. At that time the rising economic confidence and organisation grew into a generalised political offensive by the working class, in this period the last decade has shown that it is the other way round, where a higher level of politics is fermenting economic struggle and a new confidence amongst the organised working class.

It will also need to provide an analysis of the struggle since 1999 to the present day. Explaining how the continuity of these different struggles has influenced and shaped the struggles we are in today. We feel that a failure to recognise how the past movements have shaped and laid the basis for the present campaigns we are involved in hampers comrades’ ability to intervene in them correctly. Therefore, this must be seen as an important part of our analysis.

Finally the analysis will need to locate the struggles in Britain today within the wider international struggle that we are not in the same chapter but are in the same book as the struggles in the Middle East, North Africa and across much of Europe. It should provide an analysis of the strategies the ruling class today are deploying to attempt to make working people pay for their crisis and the shape of the resistance to that struggle.

We understand that there are ISJ articles being written that revisit important debates about women’s liberation and rape and sexual violence against women. We believe this will help in defending and clarifying the Marxist position on these important issues.

Conclusion
This paper is motivated by the desire to develop and offer an analysis of why the party has reached such an internal crisis and provide a political and theoretical framework as a way out of it. We believe now is the right time for the party to put forward a clear assessment of where we are and the way forward for the movement.

Sean Vernell and Mark Campbell

286 comments on “SWP National Committee Debates the Crisis

  1. For the most part Utterly delusional! It is like watching Nero play the lyre as Rome burns

    It will be interetsing to see how much suport there is for Jim Wolfreys

  2. SWP (ex) Loyalist on said:

    Reading the CC motion reminds me of what Talleyrand said of the Bourbons: “They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing”

    Callinicos, Kimber and Smith may win today but they and what remains of the SWP old guard are destined for a sad, lingering slide into irrelevance. The world is changing around them and they no longer understand it.

  3. I know bcause I was there... on said:

    Have these fuckwits no sense of history – a Pyrrhic victory looms for the CC.

  4. I know bcause I was there... on said:

    ExSWPmember: The new longest suicide note in history!

    So oblivious of what the mood/view is out there on the left and the catastrophic consequences of this position that it makes you think there are dirty tricks at play.

  5. SWPmembere1 on said:

    As a member of the SWP this is very depressing. In fact, unless there is at least some support for the Jim Wolfreys motion then the party is doomed.

    It is particularly sad that John Molyneux has become his own critic. It is very poor show to reject grassroots calls for more democracy when he seems to be only pro-democracy when it’s him challenging the CC alone.

  6. SWPmembere1 – just wanted to apologise, for some reason the spam system grabbed your comments, deleted them as spam and then blocked you from accessing the site at all. I think I’ve fixed it, so you should have access again & your comments should be visible.

  7. Sad to see such a spineless defence of the current bureaucratic centralist regime by John Molyneux, whose “intervention” is yet another green light to the leadership to begin the cycle of expulsions once the party council is out of the way. Afterwards he can go back to performing his role of “loyal opposition” (or court jester to be more precise).

    I agree with what others have said in earlier comments. For those of us who still held out hope that there was something to be salvaged, this is – bar an astonishing and highly unlikely victory by the democratic opposition – the end of the road so far as support and tolerance for the SWP is concerned. Their journey to becoming an irrelevant sect, which began in the mid/late 1970s and has gathered pace ever since, has finally been completed.

    “Stick a fork in their arse and turn ‘em over – they’re done”

  8. Howard Kirk on said:

    I would like to think that the first line of the CC motion, ‘The SWP stands out on the left by the fact that it has a history of genuine democratic debate without permanent factionalism’ will be delivered by a stand up comedian.

  9. Graham Day on said:

    Andy Newman: It will be interetsing to see how much suport there is for Jim Wolfreys

    Though a call for a “review of procedures” on investigating accusations of rape doesn’t look like a recognition that “the party” isn’t competent to investigate serious criminal offences… and that’s what the SWP have got badly wrong in this case.

  10. Alan Adair on said:

    So how will the SWP’s trade union cadres survive this?
    If I was a trade unionist nominated for branch election supported by these dozy, septic, toxic wazzocks I would quit!

  11. Jellytot on said:

    The only small island of relative sanity in a sea of floating turds was Jim Wolfrey’s contribution.

    Apart from that there are so many conceits it’s difficult to know where to start. This, in particular, caught my eye regarding students,

    “When no break through occurred after Milbank, moralism and frustration filled the void”

    For “moralism” read the younger, student SWP members’ outrage at the “Comrade Delta” affair and subsequent whitewash.

    John Molyneux’s “Letter from Abroad” was just an exercise in party hackishness.

  12. secret factioneer on said:

    The CC motion is thoroughly rotten, that much is obvious to anyone but the most craven of party hacks. Of whom we clearly have too many.

  13. On a purely historical note, this statement, ‘The IMG, an independent Trotsky party with some 4,000 members, argued for its members to ‘enter’ the Labour party’ seems erroneous. I think John Callaghan in his ‘The Far Left in British Politics’ stated that the IMG had around 400-800 members by the time it re-entered the Labour Party.

  14. These anti CC activists are no cleaner than the CC.

    Why didn’t they object to the other 9 cases the CC “tried”.

    They all sink together

  15. secret factioneer on said:

    I don’t know what makes you think I knew about them, Mark. The writer of the piece in which that info was put out there says she has only very recently learned of them.

    Here is the IS blog on the Central Committee motion.

  16. There’s none so blind as those who will not see.

    All very depressing but entirely predictable – entirely predictable from the outset.

    Worth emphasising the ‘old’ aspect here. Nothing wrong with getting on speaking as somebody in their late 40s, but it’s noticeable that the average of the motion proponents must be at least 50. This speaks, no doubt, to the division the SWP crisis has exposed between a younger net generation, influenced by recent strands of feminist thinking, Occupy and so on, and an older layer of time servers who have lived all their lives inside the party and regard the party as their party, their way as the way and so on. In a certain sense, they’re right. But fundamentally their wrong: the endeavour to build a mass Leninist style party over the last 40 years hasn’t succeeded. And now all they’ll have left is themselves for comfort: little or no credibility in trade unions, student unions, anti-racist and austerity campaigns, few if any intellectual fellow travellers and a further diminished membership as younger activists leave.

    Odd that Richard Seymour and co haven’t submitted a motion with concrete proposals. The one by Jim Wolfreys simply seeks to defend their right to speak out. One explanation is that they would need to go through a branch. But obviously that isn’t so as the motions above are mainly from individuals.

    Finally, I would reiterate something I’ve said before, notwithstanding the lack of a motion. Given the wall of condemnation and hostility that ‘the oppositionists’ clearly face – laid bare in tedious detail above – I think they deserve more credit and respect than many have given them on SU. Who, in all honesty, would like to be at the national gathering today? Anyone who has been in the organisation (most of us) can imagine it. Callinicos will begin with a superficially sophisticated overview of the situation, after which speaker after speaker will denounce the web plotters, spliters, anti democrats, autonomists and tell them to go now or be expelled.

  17. Mark: Why didn’t they object to the other 9 cases the CC “tried”.

    They wouldn’t have known . Firstly most of the oppositionists are young, and other cases may have been years ago. Secondly, the Disputes Committee report is typically brief and bureaucratic, and so opaque that what they are talking about would be unclear to anyone except those closely involved.

    Also, we now learn that in at least two cases, the SWP concluded that a rape had taken plwace, and left it at that (after expelling the individual)

  18. Sam64: Odd that Richard Seymour and co haven’t submitted a motion with concrete proposals.

    I suspect that they don’t have any supporters on the NC, or certainly any brave enough, it is a rubber stamp committee mainly of the most hardened loyalists.

  19. Right so it would have to have come from either a branch or from somebody on the NC? Presumably therefore they’ll be nobody at the meeting in person to villify..

  20. Sam64: I would reiterate something I’ve said before, notwithstanding the lack of a motion. Given the wall of condemnation and hostility that ‘the oppositionists’ clearly face – laid bare in tedious detail above – I think they deserve more credit and respect than many have given them on SU.

    Let us unpack that.

    A lot of the oppositionsts are admirable, despite couching the form their opposition in rather aracane SWP speak, the content is brave.

    However, it is not being unfair to look at the difficulties that lack of political cohesion will cause them in the next phase

    Nor is it unfair to expect some reflection and self-examination from the older and more experienced oppositionists who have i) known about the Delta affair for a long time and kept silent; and ii) themeslves exhibited many of the most unfortunate bullying traits of the SWP in the very recent past

  21. Sam64: Presumably therefore they’ll be nobody at the meeting in person to villify..

    It is not enough to condemn the opposition, it is also necessary to denounce those who are half hearted about condemning the opposition.

    It is not enough to say you agree that the Delta case was handled well, you have to believe it too.

  22. Ah yes, I can imagine it! You cynicism is even greater than mine but I’m catching your drift.

    After AC they’ll be gap when in any normal political organisation of any type, the opposition would respond. But there won’t be any, despite much reference to inner party democracy by the good Lord. So, somebody with some tenuous grasp on reality and conscientious will speak from the floor to say that ‘whilst he/she condemns the actions of Seymour and co, we have to acknowledge that they did articulate certain concerns about how the handling of the Delta case wasn’t all that it could be’. At which point, they’ll be some guffawing and speakers after speaker will pipe up to condemn any attempt to justify the outrageous slurs upon the disciplinary committee, the CC and the good name of the wider party.

    Something like that.

  23. prianikoff on said:

    re.20 on ‘Realigning the left’

    It’s not just the membership figures that are wrong, it’s the political history. This makes me wonder if time and the ‘revolving door’ has led to a deterioration in party culture.

    The original left unity proposal came from the IS in 1968
    - the IMG turned it down and only Matgamna’s Workers Fight group joined IS.

    In the late 70′s, the IMG initiated the first ‘Socialist Unity’ campaign, standing some candidates in the 1979 election.
    This initiative was associated with a tendency in the IMG led by Phil Hearse.
    It pulled in some small groups, such as the ex IS-opposition (the Workers League) and ‘Big Flame’, a libertarian syndicalist group.
    The election campaign was small-scale and not very succesful.

    After which, there was an attempt to draw in the SWP to a unified organisation.
    Both groups published articles in each others journals -
    one by Sparks and Glatter for the SWP and one by Ross and Grogan for IMG.
    The former two SWP’ers went to the IMG’s conference in Feb 1980, listened politely, said “thanks for having us” and left.
    i.e. it was the SWP which declined the Unity offer.

    This rejection strengthened the tendencies in the IMG that were in favour of a return to Labour Party work.
    As did Thatcher’s election and the growth of the Bennite left and
    The “Beyond the Fragments” Conferences was tangential to all this.
    I attended the London one, but guess that most of the people involved dropped out of active politics.

  24. To Andy Newman:

    Clearly someone on or close to the SWP NC leaked this confidential set of motions to you – and whoever did that clearly has acted without any thought to the possible consequences of this action, but in deciding to publish the motions you too have some responsibilities. I am therefore requesting that if you are going to keep these motions up on your blog (which you undoubtedly are because you have no respect for the collective democracy of the SWP) you might at least edit slightly the names of those comrades in this document to protect them from any possible victimisation at work. So for example you might have ‘Mark C’, ‘Jim W’ etc etc rather than full names.
    As a trade unionist yourself I think this is a reasonable request – you clearly want to attack the SWP, but surely you would not want to line up with those who want to see ordinary SWP members witch-hunted out of their jobs?

  25. prianikoff: It’s not just the membership figures that are wrong, it’s the political history. This makes me wonder if time and the ‘revolving door’ has led to a deterioration in party culture.

    I thought the same thing.

  26. The trouble withthe above request, genuine as it undoubtely is remains accountability.

    Actually I’d want to know as a trade union member what position SWP members have taken on this issue. It has all kinds of ramifications in terms of their political work as it absolutely reflects their values. So any risk of victimisation, real or otherwise should be weighed against that. At least 3 of those named are leading activists in the UCU, at least one an NEC member, when they stand for election in their union why shouldn’t UCU members know what position these individuals took on a rape allegation in the political organisation they are also members of?

    Personally, I hope the leaker is able to publidh the names of those who vote for each motion.

    Mark P

  27. Snowball: you might at least edit slightly the names of those comrades in this document to protect them from any possible victimisation at work. So for example you might have ‘Mark C’, ‘Jim W’ etc etc rather than full names.

    I did check, and everyone of the names quoted is already clearly and publically associted with the SWP on the SWP’s own websites.

    Some of them are prominent trade unionists, for example Mark Cambell stood for GS of the UCU.

    Sally Kincaid is divisional secretary of Wakefield & District NUT.

    I think their trade union colleagues have a right to know the views of those representing them, and who stand for union elections

  28. ‘However, it is not being unfair to look at the difficulties that lack of political cohesion will cause them in the next phase’

    Perhaps not a coherent political programme etc. But as I said before, I’ve thought more impressive is some concrete, practical, well thought out proposals on InternationalSocialistblog for breathing some democratic life (something I think most of us would like to see) into the SWP through enhanced voting procedures etc.

    ‘Nor is it unfair to expect some reflection and self-examination from the older and more experienced oppositionists who have i) known about the Delta affair for a long time and kept silent; and ii) themeslves exhibited many of the most unfortunate bullying traits of the SWP in the very recent past’.

    It’s the case – whether one likes it or not – that whistle blowers aren’t generally hitherto saints themselves. On the contrary, they are often arrogant, somewhat aloof, rather contemptuous of others, with some financial independence. That’s no doubt why they are not always popular, even if it’s known what they say is true and outrageous. But their words do carry vehemence. Perhaps rather more humility would be welcome but I find Seymour and co preferable to the incredibly conformist types who make up much of the older generation of SWP members.

  29. Sam64: Perhaps not a coherent political programme etc. But as I said before, I’ve thought more impressive is some concrete, practical, well thought out proposals on InternationalSocialistblog for breathing some democratic life (something I think most of us would like to see) into the SWP through enhanced voting procedures etc.

    To be fair, I think that as it has gone on, the politics and content of the opposition has improved.

    Sam64: I find Seymour and co preferable to the incredibly conformist types who make up much of the older generation of SWP members.

    Indeed, but please note that the pressure about who knew what and when is really intended to be a healthy stimulus to force them to reevaluate why they didnt speak out sooner. And therefore to rethink a bit more deeply how that came about.

  30. Andy: I am sorry I don’t think your defence really stands up. There is surely a difference between writing in a personal capacity in Socialist Worker or something and being identifiable as an elected member of the National Committee of the SWP. Plus I am pretty sure that not everyone mentioned (eg Sue C?) is such a well known activist as ‘Mark C’ for example. And surely everyone who is an active trade unionist in their relevant unions can in any case work out who say ‘Sean V’ or ‘Mark C’ are without needing the full names up.
    Mark P’s idea of wanting Socialist Unity to publish the full names of NC members on here is grossly irresponsible given many/(most?) of these members are rank-and-file trade unionists – and surely if there is even a risk of victimisation this should be a paramount over-riding concern for any socialist before their own voyeurism.
    In any case, given the disgraceful way that the SWP Opposition are acting currently, I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole NC debate isn’t livestreamed on Socialist Unity today for the whole world to see, in which case this request of mine might be immaterial.

  31. Snowball

    If governed by Andy’s proviso, only of the individual is already well known publicly as an SWP member there is no reason names should not be published. As a UCU member I want to know which way SWP members in leading positions in my union voted.

    And this anonyminity as a defence againt blacklisting hoardly holds as almost every NC member wil have addressed SWP public meetings, Marxism meetings using their real names, surely?

    Snowball’s concerns are well-intentioned I’m sure but this matter I’m afraid is not going to go away, however much some might wish it would. Hiding the names now taking positions in the SWP debate on the issue isn’t going to help matters, one bit.

    Mark P

    Mark P

  32. Karl Stewart on said:

    Snowball, how can you justify as “leninist” the expulsion of four members of your party for having a private, pre-conference political discussion, when the party led by lenin did not expel two leading members for speaking out publicly against the October insurrection on the eve of that insurrection?

  33. Pingback: SWP NC – Central Committee Motion « Grumpy Old Trot

  34. Karl – I might well write something longer on my blog at some point about ‘Zinovievism’ and ‘Leninism’ – but I’m afraid I don’t have time now so you will have to wait for that. It might be worth noting for now that Lenin himself did want the two leading members expelled in 1917, but was outvoted.

  35. Karl Stewart on said:

    The point is that they weren’t expelled.
    The real Bolshviek Party – the one that actually existed in the real world, the party you guys spend your whole lives pretending to be, that you justify evrything you do by reference to – that party, at the time when it was on the very eve of launching a seizure of power, in conditions which were extremely dangerous, did not expel these two leading members despite their speaking out in public against agreed party policy.

    You, by contrast, operating in conditions of absolute safety, not on the point of launching an insurrection, not under any threat whatsoever, chose to summarily expel four non-leading members for having a private political discussion, a discussion that absolutely no-one noticed or paid any attention to.

    And you justify this act of petty bullying by reference to “leninism”.

    Ultimately, you’re a private organisation and you can choose who you allow into membership – but it’s an utterly grotesque lie to pretend that those expulsions had anything whatsoever to do with “leninism”.

  36. Karl Stewart on said:

    And what’s even more grotesque is that not only do you applaud this petty bullying, but that you beg Andy to protect the anonymity of those organising this bullying.

  37. secret factioneer on said:

    I think Andy is wrong to publish comrades’ names. I wish he wouldn’t.

    I am quite proud to be attacked by Snowball, mind.

  38. #9/12/18

    Particularly disappointing to see that John Molyneux has learned to love Big Brother.

    When I was involved in SWSS as a student, John was always very critical of the party leadership, especially when there were ‘visitations’ from the Central Committee to Portsmouth branch or the southern district committee etc. Even his departure for Ireland seemed to be partly a way for him to give up the endless (and fruitless) informal struggle to get the CC to see sense. For him to come out behind Callinicos and Kimber, despite having a freedom of action unknown to most party members, is unforgivable.

    The article at #17 is spot on IMO and probably explains John’s capitulation:

    Callinicos is playing into a fear many SWP members and sympathisers hold. He is trying, albeit badly, to appeal to those who think the leadership’s handling of this has been pretty awful all round but are desperate to see the party survive – he wants to scare them into silence by pointing to the wilderness we will all surely find ourselves in without his very particular conception of a ‘Leninist party’. Reformism! Movementism! Never mind that he is the one willing to tear the party apart in order to protect one man.

  39. Pingback: SWP crisis: who is saying what « Jim Jepps

  40. Karl Stewart on said:

    secret factioneer:
    I think Andy is wrong to publish comrades’ names. I wish he wouldn’t.
    I am quite proud to be attacked by Snowball, mind.

    I disagree comrade, I think in this instance, these individuals who have spent their whole political careers smearing genuine communists as “stalinists” richly deserve to be exposed for the lying,cowardly, bullying stalinist hypocrites they are!

  41. 18th century philosopher Bishop Berkeley, as well as Lenin, is now being used to defend the SWP politbureau. Berkeley says of the Central Committee in the Three Dialogues, that the Central committee “perceives nothing by sense as ordinary mortals do, their will is absolute and independent, causing all things, and liable to be thwarted or resisted by nothing … the Central Committee Knows, or hath ideas; but the Central Committee’s ideas are not conveyed to by sense, as ours are”

  42. “In any case, given the disgraceful way that the SWP Opposition are acting currently, I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole NC debate isn’t livestreamed on Socialist Unity today for the whole world to see, in which case this request of mine might be immaterial.”

    what actually is the point of this sentence? it appears to be to smear those of us in the swp who are fighting desperately to put right an horrific crisis created by the leadership bungling the handling of a rape allegation (and, i would argue, that has deeper roots in a shift in the party towards bureaucratic centralism); by conflating us with andy newman and socialist unity, who i believe is publishing this stuff for his own reasons (settling old scores in the main).

    and here’s the problem, snowball – if you can’t debate honestly, why should anyone listen to what you have to say?

  43. Karl Stewart: I disagree comrade, I think in this instance, these individuals who have spent their whole political careers smearing genuine communists as “stalinists” richly deserve to be exposed for the lying,cowardly, bullying stalinist hypocrites they are!

    What are you basing that on? Just that they are members of the SWP? If the NC comrades listed above have been personally guilty of acting like that (I don’t know), then fair enough, it would be ludicrous to go out of your way to maintain their reputations. But if it’s just guilt by association, that’s a bit steep.

    The SP for instance has the annoying habit of referring exclusively to ‘Stalinism’ and ‘Stalinists’. I am a member. Presumably my identity (admittedly only semi-hidden; I use my personal email on SU which includes my full name) would be fair game, regardless of what effect this had on my personal life?

  44. “Keith Watermelon”, is it possible now for you to pause and reflect on how you treated your opponents in 2007 & 2008, and why there is such hostility to you on here?

    I know it’s convenient for you to believe that SU is beyond the pale, cos it fits with your narrative that you’re somehow above it all. But you can’t really do that until you honestly acknowledge just how shitty your behaviour was towards me and others in 2007, 2008 and beyond. You did your best to create an atmosphere of hostility and anger, doing so under a pseudonym at all times.

    You and your allies were the very model of party hacks at the time – you were completely unable to debate honestly.

    Now, I don’t think you have to be held to account every day for the rest of your life, but now that you’ve had a glimpse of the nastiness, lies and smears that come from the loyalists, maybe you’ll gain a lot of you stop and realise that you dished it out happily against me and others – while we posted under our own names and thus could be held to account, most people here still don’t know who “Keith Watermelon” is.

    As it happens, the arguments you have made about the nature of the CC are identical to the arguments I made over and over again on here in 2007. I say that not to sneer at you, but to ask you: Can’t you see why we reacted to you the way we did? You, and so many others who are now in the opposition, made it your priority to try to drive us out of the movement. To this day, none of you have ever acknowlwedged a) the damage you did and b) the basis for how you acted, and how to stop the same mistakes from being made again.

    See, those of us who you see as “settling scores” said in 2008 and 2009 that the party would face one crisis after another, cos it had refused to face up to the behaviour that led to the Respect split. We are seeing identical behaviour now. We both know it. Alex’s fake arguments and smears are identical – although the event where he made some of his comments about people trying to destroy the SWP was the same event where one of the ‘facebook 4′ said George Galloway was a homophobe.

    Some people feel there are scores to settle, cos you and your allies behaved so shockingly towards us. I don’t think we need a Truth & Reconcilliation Commission to sort this out – maybe a DC could investigate it all impartially – but you will keep making the same mistakes unless you can stop and realise that you lied, smeared, distorted and attacked people, from the safety of a pseudonym. Yes, you were caught up in the madness of the Respect split – but from our side of things, we never tried to drive any of you out of the movement. We never assaulted any of you. We never stole your newspapers and threw them in the bin. We never refused to let you in to meetings. We never tried to stop your leading people from speaking at events. All of this was done by you guys, and you’ve never stopped and accounted for it.

    That’s one reason why much of the left doesn’t have much sympathy with the opposition: You’re the guys who were the most vicious during the Respect split, and you’ve never analysed why you acted like that. You’ve never even looked at what happened. You simply treated us as enemies, and decided to fight dirty – and once you’d decided to do that, you didn’t give a fuck about what a marxist (or a leninist) was supposed to act like.

    I know that most of you will be feeling shit at the moment. I’ve been there, and I sympathise. It’s deeply unpleasant when you have really committed yourself to the party and its leadership, and as soon as you disagree with them, you’re cast out and treated like shit. You’re all gonna feel you have to leave, cos if you don’t get expelled, they’re gonna make you feel so unwelcome, you will feel you have no choice. It’s gonna be hard. They deliberately make it hard. These people are utter bastards who may well read a lot of Marx, but they have no claim to actually be “marxists”.

  45. Keith Watermelon: who i believe is publishing this stuff for his own reasons (settling old scores in the main).

    Well my reasons are not the same as yours, becasue we have different politics.

    But as my “old scores” relate to the culture of bullying and denogration of political opponents by the SWP, then my expose of the SWP’s current position is both related to “old scores” and politically relevent.

  46. Karl Stewart on said:

    Manzil,
    Firstly I’m quite angry about the way the SWP leadersip have and continue to behave.
    Secondly, these are people who have consistently referred to ALL communists as “stalinists” regardless of our views on the Stalin period – the crimes which almost all of us unconditionally condemn – and yet here they are expelling people for having private political discussions with each other and today planning a purge of those who have publicly disagreed.

    If that isn’t “stalinism” then what is?

    Their utter hypocrisy makes me furious Manzil – and that they claim that this has anything at all to do with “leninism” is disgusting.

    And then to cap it all, we have snowball begging Andy to protect the anonymity of the characters planning this purge – he specifically asks for anonymity for those who’ve put their names to the purge motion – in case it embarrasses them in their trade union positions.

    That’s why I call them cowards, liars, bullies, stalinists and hypocrites!

  47. Mike Martin on said:

    *32 ” The original left unity proposal came from the IS in 1968
    - the IMG turned it down and only Matgamna’s Workers Fight group joined IS.”

    Not quite true. In 1968 I was in the IMG Office with with Ernie Tate and Pat Jordan when Tony Cliff and John Palmer came in unannounced. The dockers had just turned out in support of Enoch Powell and Cliff took this as the occasion to declare that ” within ten years it will be either socialism or fascism. We have to unite.” He put forward 4 basic points as a platform for a fused organisation.

    We said that we would discuss the matter at our NC in 2 weeks time. Cliff retorted; ” Two weeks!! You are the democratic centralists, decide now!” IMG NC did not reject the proposal but put forward an additional point as a basis for further discussion. (It was probably to do with support for National liberation movements). This was sent in a letter to which no reply ever came.

    Mike Martin

  48. prianikoff on said:

    MM@57

    As the subsequent faction fight with Matgamna showed, Cliff’s 4 points weren’t an adequate basis for organisational fusion.
    Maybe a United front anti-racist campaign along the lines of the ANL would have been a better idea?

    But, if they weren’t interested in further discussions, I wonder why Cliff and Palmer bothered showing up at all?
    As one of the them reads this blog and sometimes contributes, maybe he could explain.

    The trouble is I think what would have actually happened in the early 70′s would have been endless “spot the Menshevik debates” and, probably, very little joint activity.

  49. Manzil on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    I share your anger, Karl.

    That said, the names published above include Jim Wolfreys’, whose proposed motion, while not perfect, seems very positive and in tune with the general approach of the opposition.

    When Socialist Unity first posted the opposition statements, their signatories’ names were correctly redacted. Shouldn’t the same have been done for him now?

  50. Elements of this debacle remind me of the comment attributed to Dr Schweitzer, when asked what he thought of western civilization: ‘I think it would be a good thing.’ Only in the case of the SWP the question would be, ‘What do you think of democratic centralism in the SWP?’ – to which the answer today must be that given by Dr S.

  51. stuart on said:

    Manzil,

    That would depend on what rules and values Socialist Unity are playing by.

    There has been a polite request to preserve anonymity on an unauthorised document (shouldn’t be displayed anyway) that reveals the activity of some left-wing activists lest employers are made aware. Who on the left could possibly oppose that unless they believe there is a greater benefit to be made from pursuing a witch-hunt?

  52. Karl Stewart on said:

    I also agree with Jim Wolfrey’s position and he should be proud of it. I also think all those who’ve stood up to the leadership bullies should also be proud of themselves and keep it up! I’m sure I’d have loads of political differences with them, but they’ve showed courager and integrity.

    Those “CC” members, however, who’ve put forward the “purge” motion are scum and they should hang their heads in shame at what they’re doing.
    And they can have absolutely no complaints at being exposed in the wider TU movement – these are people who’ve voluntarialy put themselves forward as “leaders” of what was until recently the largest non-Labour party of the left. They know it’s fairly high-profile at the moment and it sickens me that they’ve got “snowball” to come on here and beg for anomymity.

  53. Manzil: When Socialist Unity first posted the opposition statements, their signatories’ names were correctly redacted. Shouldn’t the same have been done for him now?

    Yeah but then Weekly Worker published the names anyway. And it wasn’t me who passed on all the names to Daily mail.

  54. stuart: There has been a polite request to preserve anonymity on an unauthorised document (shouldn’t be displayed anyway) that reveals the activity of some left-wing activists lest employers are made aware.

    ALL of those named are very publically known to be leading members of the SWP, and their names appear regularly on the SWP’s own web-pages and in their printed publications.

  55. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman: ALL of those named are very publically known to be leading members of the SWP, and their names appear regularly on the SWP’s own web-pages and in their printed publications.

    They will have agreed to that but not to what is displayed here. It smacks of witch-hunting.

  56. Mike Martin: ” Two weeks!! You are the democratic centralists, decide now!”

    And that is the Cliffite “understanding” of “democratic centralism” in a nutshell. No democracy, lots of centralism.

  57. Manzil on said:

    Andy Newman: Yeah but then Weekly Worker published the names anyway. And it wasn’t me who passed on all the names to Daily mail.

    I’m not expecting you to police the Daily Mail or the Weekly Worker.

    If people with a malicious agenda – like the Mail – want to victimise socialists for their political activity (let’s be clear, the Mail didn’t write that article in the hopes the disputes committee members would be better socialists!!), they’ll probably find a way. That doesn’t mean we should make it easy for them.

    Karl says they’ve ‘put themselves forward as leaders’. Well presumably so have the opposition! That doesn’t mean if they are victimised for that they were ‘asking for it’.

    There’s a difference between pointing out someone’s personal hypocrisy, and just saying they don’t deserve the basic consideration of other socialists because they happen to belong to a certain group.

    As stuart says, Snowball’s initial request seemed to me perfectly reasonable and inoffensive. I mean, haven’t we all gone through the motions of referring exclusively to ‘Comrade Delta’?

  58. Karl Stewart on said:

    stuart: They will have agreed to that but not to what is displayed here. It smacks of witch-hunting.

    The witch-hunting is in the CC purge motion Stuart.

    Andy quite rightly has not published any personal details of anyone here, has not compromised anyone’s personal security, but what he has done, also quite rightly, is pointed out who is saying what in this debate, which is a good thing.

    It would be wrong for him to help you and those leadership elements you’re representing here in covering up this bullying and denial of democracy, given that the pre-conference expulsions and the planned ourge at such variance with the public positions your organisation claims to hold.

  59. Karl Stewart on said:

    Manzil, there is a big difference here in that the stalinist CC elements are putting forward a political position, not defending an extremely serious personal allegation.

  60. Dennis Tourish on said:

    Readers of all this might be interested in material I wrote yonks ago about cultism on the Trotskyist left. Though written with Militant Tendency (of which I was a member) in mind, much of it may be applicable to the SWP in these circumstances as well.
    http://www.rickross.com/reference/general/general434.html
    And for anyone who wants further material, a member of the Socialist Party as now is started a long debate a few years ago with me on these issues, which can be accessed at
    http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=60690

  61. Manzil on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    Manzil, there is a big difference here in that the stalinist CC elements are putting forward a political position, not defending an extremely serious personal allegation.

    I reiterate that evidently not everyone named above represents the ‘Stalinist CC elements’. At the very least we should be able to adopt a comradely attitude towards people who even by your own terms have no reason to ‘hang their heads in shame at what they’re doing’ but are in fact trying to do good?

  62. prianikoff on said:

    #70 Professor Dennis Tourish, Aberdeen Business School
    “Cults” blah, blah.

    I think anyone who resorts to the “cults” analysis should be kicked into the long grass straight away.
    I’ve met very few “cultists” in any left-wing organisations over the years.

    The problem with the SWP (rather like the WRP) was that it was declared on a spurious basis.
    Most of the working class base that IS gained between 1968-75 was destroyed in the process and the SWP increasingly relied on a regular levy of inexperienced students to carry the work. Such a social base is prone to being ultra-left.

    The main thing is to create an accountable full time leadership and have some degree of autonomy for local branches – something that still existed in the IS in the 70′s . But unless it makes a conscious effort to “turn to the class” again and recruit workers, it won’t get anywhere.

    One of the better arguments for the “brutal turn” the US SWP made under Barnes, is that it made it harder for the FBI to penetrate the party.
    Police agents prefer to be free-wheeling players like Mark Kennedy, or comfortable University Academics.
    They’re not going to put up with years stuck in a meat-packing factory or down a mine.

    Of course, going lower and deeper into the class, means having to deal with MORE not less issues of interpersonal violence. But the left needs to stop ponsing about places like ULU and telling the ephemeral student lefties to recruit a worker within six months, or face suspension to candidate membership with no voting rights.

  63. Karl Stewart on said:

    Manzil: I reiterate that evidently not everyone named above represents the ‘Stalinist CC elements’. At the very least we should be able to adopt a comradely attitude towards people who even by your own terms have no reason to ‘hang their heads in shame at what they’re doing’ but are in fact trying to do good?

    Hmmm….of course I’m not including the pro-socialist members in any of my criticism. However, I’d still be inclined towards the more open approach there too. We’re not talking about critical issues of personal security here are we? This is about a political debate and where people are coming from politically.

  64. rger carberry on said:

    ref 13.
    “I bet they are pleased all the motions are published here before their meeting even starts!”

    …whose a clever boy? (quite sad!)

  65. The most intriguing issue raised by the SWP crisis is why so many decent revolutionaries end up in cults that reproduce all the worst aspects of capitalist society. There are no easy answers to this question but the following writings help make some sense of the situation:

    Janja Lalich, ‘Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults’ – http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=D1Ayf63SfnwC&printsec=frontcover&source=#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Martha Grace Duncan, ‘Only the Marlboro Man: A Psychological Study of a Political Agitator’, Political Psychology, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1987) – http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3791298?uid=3737968&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21101623096391

    Daniel Shaw, ‘Traumatic Abuse in Cults: A Psychoanalytic Perspective’ – http://www.danielshawlcsw.com/traumabusecults.pdf
    Simon Pirani, ‘The break-up of the WRP – from the horse’s mouth’ – http://piraniarchive.wordpress.com/home/investigations-campaigns-and-other-stuff/the-break-up-of-the-wrp-from-the-horses-mouth/

    Maurice Brinton, ‘Suicide for socialism?’ – http://libcom.org/library/suicide-for-socialism-jonestown-brinton

    Andy Wilson, ‘Imputed consciousness and left organisations’ – http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/884/imputed-consciousness-and-left-organisations

    Dennis Tourish, Tim Wohlforth, ‘On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left’ – http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xXcsNRUuHEUC&printsec=frontcover&source=#v=onepage&q&f=false

    John Sullivan, ‘As Soon As This Pub Closes’ – http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/critiques/sullivan/pub-index.html

  66. stuart on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    The SWP are not witch-hunting if they are simply carrying out their own rules, that is the distinction. I’m trying to ascertain what ‘rules’ Socialist Unity are abiding by.

    I think those of us who consider ourselves as left need to take a broader look at this situation. The SWP opposition will probably be defeated and the party will remain intact. Many who regularly post here will perhaps have to realise that they’re not as influential as they think. Thankfully there is a limit to how much damage a regular stream of gossip can actually do.

    This is what is worrying me so much about this witch-hunting mentality, it is being ‘normalised’ on the left. Surely it would have been unthinkable 30 years ago when Militant were under attack from the Labour right.

    It is not as if there is a healthy vibrant left-wing organisation that people can simply jump into as a rival alternative. This is less of a problem for Andy as he has embraced the Labour Party. But many others on here are not so enthusiastic. Calls for ‘left-unity’ ring hollow when, like it or not, the SWP will be very much part of the left. You cannot build left-unity on the basis of a witch-hunt.

  67. Karl Stewart on said:

    stuart: Karl Stewart, The SWP are not witch-hunting if they are simply carrying out their own rules, that is the distinction. I’m trying to ascertain what ‘rules’ Socialist Unity are abiding by.I think those of us who consider ourselves as left need to take a broader look at this situation. The SWP opposition will probably be defeated and the party will remain intact. Many who regularly post here will perhaps have to realise that they’re not as influential as they think. Thankfully there is a limit to how much damage a regular stream of gossip can actually do.This is what is worrying me so much about this witch-hunting mentality, it is being ‘normalised’ on the left. Surely it would have been unthinkable 30 years ago when Militant were under attack from the Labour right.It is not as if there is a healthy vibrant left-wing organisation that people can simply jump into as a rival alternative. This is less of a problem for Andy as he has embraced the Labour Party. But many others on here are not so enthusiastic. Calls for ‘left-unity’ ring hollow when, like it or not, the SWP will be very much part of the left. You cannot build left-unity on the basis of a witch-hunt.

    Socialist Unity is just a place for debate and as far as I’m aware, the only “rules” are regarding non-discrimination in posts.

    As regards the SWP, as it’s a private and voluntary organisation it can do as it pleases, but when that you expel people for having a private political conversation and claim that this is “leninism”, this is a lie.

  68. and there's more on said:

    I for one am quite heartened to see that Jim Wolfreys’ is the lone voice of reason at the NC today. He will be undermined and eventually driven out of the “party” though, and I’m guessing he realizes that. I am also pleased to know that all UCU members in SWP are not blind apologists like Sean Vernell. So should I have to interact with them politically I know which one to treat with respect and who to treat with the contempt he deserves.

    Also, Stuart, I promised you that if you continued to defend the indefensible on SU that I would continue dropping f bombs on you and your “comrades”. One more piece of s*** from you on here and I will tell everyone who Comrade Delta is consensually shagging on the CC, and no, it’s not JO.

  69. Karl Stewart on said:

    That isn’t “gossip” is it Stuart, that’s fact. You did indeed expel four members pre-conference for having a private political discussion among themselves.
    You have als justified this on the basis of “leninism”.
    It has also been pointed out to you that the Bolshveik party, immediately before it launched an insurrection, did not expel two leading members for speaking out publicly against the insurrection, despite the fact that it was agreed party policy and was about to happen.

    As I said, by all means allow in or throw out whomsoever you please – but it’s a lie when you call this leninism”

  70. Graham Day on said:

    Karl Stewart: As regards the SWP, as it’s a private and voluntary organisation it can do as it pleases

    One thing it can’t do as a “private and voluntary organisation” is investigate and rule on serious criminal allegations. Which is the error that’s doing for them.

  71. and there's more on said:

    Or how about the name of a female UAF worker who was “made redundant” after she questioned the inestimable Weyman Bennett about the Comrade Delta situation back in 2010 ?

  72. stuart on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    But this arena is not about ‘debate’ in the sense that most would understand, it is a very much a controlled environment with no real acountability. What is more, documents are being selectively displayed in such a manner as to raise serious questions over how he left should conduct itself.

    The SWP is a political organisation with a set of rules and procedures.

  73. Karl Stewart on said:

    I think it’s the bullying that’s doing it for them Graham. The thing with bullying is that once enough people stand up and say No, it becomes that bit harder to maintain the fear in future.
    It may be on this occaision, as Stuart boasts, that the elite may “win” today, but next time they’ll find it harder, and then the time after that they’ll find it harder still.

  74. Bob: Here’s an old review I did of Dennis Tourish and Tim Wolforth’s book, if anyone’s interested.

    I agree with you that while sensationalistly interesting Tourish an Wohlforth’s book is shoddy work. In partcular because it doesn’t challenge Lifton’s cold war assumptions about brainwashing

    There is a battle ground here, becasue Kathleen Taylor’s book “Branwashing” from 2004 has been widely praised, but she follows Lifton, and explicitly regards mainstream ideology and beliefs as more virtuous, whereas of course history comprises many examples of mainstream ideology being supplanted by people whose own ideology started in cults – the USA is perhaps the most obvious example of a society that was founded originally by cultist settlers.

  75. stuart on said:

    and there's more:

    Also, Stuart, I promised you that if you continued to defend the indefensible on SU that I would continue dropping f bombs on you and your “comrades”. One more piece of s*** from you on here and I will tell everyone who Comrade Delta is consensually shagging on the CC, and no, it’s not JO.

    Nice to see you upholding the healthy standards of debate on the left.

  76. stuart: Calls for ‘left-unity’ ring hollow when, like it or not, the SWP will be very much part of the left. You cannot build left-unity on the basis of a witch-hunt.

    You may not be invited to many things any more.

  77. stuart: What is more, documents are being selectively displayed in such a manner as to raise serious questions over how he left should conduct itself.

    Yes, e.g. the “serious question” of whether allegations of rape should be dealt with internally by a panel of the accused person’s chums and anyone who disagrees coerced into silence…

  78. and there's more on said:

    You are not of the left any longer Stuart, you’re part of a cult. Blindly swallowing the lies of your leadership does not make you a Leninist, it makes you a patsy. Did any of you independent thinkers wonder why Jo Cardwell suddenly reappeared as a CC candidate after years away ? Could it have ANYTHING to do with her consensual relationship with Comrade Delta ?

  79. Karl Stewart on said:

    Stuart, let me get this straight, the SWP leadership that you speak for, think that Lenin was too soft on “dissidents” and that they should be summarily expelled for their opposition.

  80. Manzil on said:

    Karl Stewart: Hmmm….of course I’m not including the pro-socialist members in any of my criticism. However, I’d still be inclined towards the more open approach there too. We’re not talking about critical issues of personal security here are we? This is about a political debate and where people are coming from politically.

    True, it is at least a political debate.

    However, and although obviously the SU admins are not responsible for it, we should be aware there is considerable attention being focused on the SWP by the press, from the Indy through to the Mail. From people who have no interest in discerning between pro-leadership and opposition factions within the SWP, or probably between the SWP and the rest of the Left.

    Consequently I think it is potentially dangerous to abandon in such circumstances a presumption that we should err on the side of caution when dealing with people’s identities.

  81. Karl Stewart on said:

    Yes, as I’ve said before, people’s personal privacy and security must absolutely be respected.
    But in general, one should be prepared to defend one’s political positions openly.

    A large part of the reason why bullying and abuse continues is often largely because it’s covered up, kept quiet and those being bullied are in fear of speaking out.

    If, as Stuart boasts, his faction has won the day today, then a lot will now depend on whether his faction will now go forward with a full-scale purge of the socialist faction or whether the socialists’ stance has forced them to move more cautiously.

  82. Uncle Albert on said:

    Manzil, : “no interest in discerning between [...] SWP and the rest of the Left.”

    You’ll be suggesting we re-enact the scene from Spartacus next: “I am Comrade Delta.”

    We’ve put up with their arrogance and wrecking tactics for decades. Now they’ve messed up big style. Let them take the rap.

  83. Manzil on said:

    #94. No argument there. I just don’t think the bullying/abuse will stand or fall based on whether SU chose to redact the surnames of the people listed above.

    Uncle Albert: You’ll be wanting us to re-enact the scene from Spartacus next: “I am Comrade Delta.”

    We’ve put up with their arrogance and wrecking tactics for decades. Now they’ve messed up big style. Let them take the rap.

    By “them” you mean anyone in the SWP, no matter their behaviour during this situation?

  84. Graham Day on said:

    Manzil: we should be aware there is considerable attention being focused on the SWP by the press, from the Indy through to the Mail

    A couple of minor pieces don’t equate to “considerable attention”.

  85. Uncle Albert on said:

    Manzil: no matter their behaviour during this situation?

    Fair point. So let’s limit it to those who continue to exercise power and influence – those who, in the words of an ex-associate, reported in today’s Observer, are “sexless and ugly … leading men. But they always had women. If you slept with one of them, they promoted you.”

  86. Graham Day: A couple of minor pieces don’t equate to “considerable attention”.

    A two page spread in the Mail yesterday, Nick Cohen in the Observer today, Full page in the Times last Saturday, Full page in the Indy a while back and two other pieces in the Mail and Times.

    I wouldn’t be suprised if it reached the Tabloids soon

  87. Karl Stewart on said:

    roger carberry: I suppose that would make you happy?

    And summarily expelling people pre-conference for having a private political discussion presumably makes you happy??

  88. Manzil on said:

    Uncle Albert: Fair point. So let’s limit it to those who continue to exercise power and influence – those who, in the words of an ex-associate, reported in today’s Observer, are “sexless and ugly … leading men. But they always had women. If you slept with one of them, they promoted you.”

    Generally agree – although as I said before, I think that it’s when people misuse their positions, rather than being in a position of leadership per se, that should open them up to criticism. And in this case at least one of the named individuals appears to be using their position positively.

    @ Graham Day, as Andy points out, I think you’re being very blase. Would Newsnight have to dedicate an entire show to the SWP before you’d accept that eyes are on the Left that ordinarily wouldn’t be?

  89. roger carberry on said:

    Karl Stewart: And summarily expelling people pre-conference for having a private political discussion presumably makes you happy??

    No it does not make me happy, and if I was still in the party, I would fight for their re-instatement, BUT it would not make me discuss what is going on in the party, or at confidential meetings, in public domains such as this.

  90. Graham Day on said:

    Andy Newman, I’d missed the Times pieces, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on whether that’s “considerable”. The Mail pieces are certainly opportunistic and throwaway IMO.

    Manzil: Would Newsnight have to dedicate an entire show to the SWP before you’d accept that eyes are on the Left that ordinarily wouldn’t be?

    If the SWP had any real influence then Newsnight would dedicate an entire show to this scandal. The fact that the mainstream media can’t really be bothered to make hay in this situation, where the SWP have managed to shoot themselves in the foot while it was lodged firmly in their mouth, demonstrates how marginal the ultra-left are.

  91. Karl Stewart on said:

    roger carberry: No it does not make me happy, and if I was still in the party, I would fight for their re-instatement, BUT it would not make me discuss what is going on in the party, or at confidential meetings, in public domains such as this.

    But it’s that very secrecy that allows it to keep happening Roger!

  92. Manzil on said:

    David Ruaune:

    Graham was right until yesterday though – it was my position, that the mainstream press weren’t regarding it as newsworthy.

    I disagree (or rather, I disagree that the attention it had received didn’t necessitate increased caution by everyone commenting on the crisis), but even if that weren’t the case, it’s a bit of a shame for Graham Day that time passed and he was commenting today, then, isn’t it?

  93. Manzil on said:

    Graham Day: If the SWP had any real influence then Newsnight would dedicate an entire show to this scandal. The fact that the mainstream media can’t really be bothered to make hay in this situation, where the SWP have managed to shoot themselves in the foot while it was lodged firmly in their mouth, demonstrates how marginal the ultra-left are.

    In which case it shouldn’t cause you any angst to be better safe than sorry.

  94. Karl Stewart on said:

    I know it may well seem to people in SW that what the hell business is it of mine what goes on inside your party.

    And on one level there is a point there to a certain extent.

    But if you consider that your party claims that it wants to overthrow capitalism and establish a new state – in which it would exercise power, then it’s not unreasonable for those of us outside of SW to look at how you exercise power where you are in charge.

    The only place you’re in charge is within your own ranks and if you expel people for having an “unauthorised” private political discussion, then it’s not unreasonable for us to conclude that that’s how you’ll treat the rest of us if you ever gain power.

    So it kind of is our business to a certain extent.

  95. Graham Day on said:

    Manzil: I disagree that the attention it had received didn’t necessitate increased caution by everyone commenting on the crisis

    The SWP has decided that they’re competent to investigate and rule on serious criminal allegations, but we should show “caution” in condemning this level of arrogance because the Daily Fail is being nasty to them?

    They’ve brought this on themselves and we should leave them to swing in the wind.

  96. Graham Day on said:

    Manzil: In which case it shouldn’t cause you any angst to be better safe than sorry.

    No, but it does cause me angst to indulge your conceit that the SWP, SP etc are anything other than marginal.

  97. I thinbk Graham touches on a good point. The left are so marginal that no one really cares amongst the class that the left boast they represent that anything affecting the SWP, SP etc etc etc is relevant.

  98. Karl Stewart on said:

    I think Graham’s trying to have it both ways here. He first said the SWP crisis wasn’t in the mainstream media – then it was shown to him that it is being covered.
    Then he says well we don’t need to exercise caution in how we discuss the matter because no-one cares what happens here any way.

    So no disrespect Graham, but if it matters not at all to you, then why are you commenting here?

  99. Manzil on said:

    Graham Day: The SWP has decided that they’re competent to investigate and rule on serious criminal allegations, but we should show “caution” in condemning this level of arrogance because the Daily Fail is being nasty to them?

    They’ve brought this on themselves and we should leave them to swing in the wind.

    Graham Day: No, but it does cause me angst to indulge your conceit that the SWP, SP etc are anything other than marginal.

    No, you should show caution in flinging people’s names around – especially when, as I have repeatedly pointed out, they include people who appear to share your views on the crisis.

    My ‘conceit’ has nothing to do with it (I don’t think I’ve ever actually argued that the entire anti-capitalist Left is anything other than marginal… I do however wish that were not the case, whereas you seem to be motivated by nothing but hostility towards it). I would, additionally, note that your incredible belligerence (for some reason extended to me) is quite unhinged, and should probably be taken into account when people consider whether your uniform position of “sod ‘em all” is reasonable or defensible.

  100. Howard Fuller on said:

    Ever since the story about “comrade delta” broke other eyes have been watching the fallout in the SWP.

    I’ve discussed the way the SWP has dealt with “rape allegations” inside their organisation with many members in my union branch who are appalled at the thought that the SWP think themselves above the law. For these “comrades” to think they are somehow above or outside the norms the rest of us have to live with is simply wrong.

    As for anyone differentiating between the sects that form the “far left” forget it. The SWP & Socialist Party names sound too similar for starters and not lets forget that they both operate in “front formations” like PCS Left Unity.

    Inside the unions, especially PCS where the “far left” is highly entrenched and has been for years it will be difficult for supporters of other groups to disassociate themselves from all this, especially those who insist on perpetuating the politics of “Leninism” which is clearly at the root cause of all the failures both personal or political over the years.

    There has never been a successful revolution based on the ideas of Marx, Lenin or Trotsky. Revolutionary socialism is inherently
    authoritarian and far too many people have compromised freedom of thought inside the Marxist milieu over the years to the point whereby such failures have never been adequately addressed.

    Back in the eighties the similar crisis inside the WRP should have given you all adequate warning of the way “Leninist” cult(ure)always turns out.

    Now you are all facing another crisis of “faith”. Marxism-Leninism will always fail. It is just a secular religion that makes false promises through secular saints (or not as we can all see in both the WRP, SWP etc).

    The time has come to end the era of the political “zombie” of “the party” and return to “free thinking” and actual democracy which exists in our society today despite the obvious flaws and faults. Reform not revolution is the answer.

    Leninism is dead. Leave it in the dustbin of history.

  101. stuart on said:

    Jay Blackwood: Yes, e.g. the “serious question” of whether allegations of rape should be dealt with internally by a panel of the accused person’s chums and anyone who disagrees coerced into silence…

    Your take on this is scarcely different from the Daily Mail or Nick Cohen. Think!

  102. Manzil on said:

    Howard Fuller: The time has come to end the era of the political “zombie” of “the party” and return to “free thinking” and actual democracy which exists in our society today despite the obvious flaws and faults.

    Naaaaaah.

    Daniel Bensaid: A politics without parties (whatever name – movement, organisation, league party – that they are given) ends up in most cases with a politics without politics: either an aimless tailism towards the spontaneity of social movements, or the worst form of elitist individualist vanguardism, or finally a repression of the political in favour of the aesthetic or the ethical.

    Show me all the world-changing reforms Unlock Democracy has won, and I’ll happily sign up.

    People decrying parties and whatnot generally seem to be either well-off ‘lifestyle politics’ advocates who don’t actually want to change anything beyond their own shopping patterns, or else people denouncing party politics as old-fashioned while ironically regurgitating the modern-day equivalent of the (anti-democratic) Federalist Papers’ line on factionalism and the vulgar mob.

    Leninism’s dead. Fine. Never had much use for it. Organisation isn’t. It’s the lifeblood of democracy, unless you think the guy with the biggest wallet (and thus the loudest voice) should monopolise the debate. Political parties are about as relevant as trade unions and for much the same reason.

    Unity is strength, innit.

  103. Karl Stewart on said:

    Yes of course Stuart, but rules only exist for the purpose of providing a means to achieve the organisation’s key opbjectives.

    And in this instance, it appears that the expellees were in any case abiding certainly by the spirit of the rules in holding a pre-conference political discussion.

    Your dominant faction’s unbelievably rigis and dogmatic interpretation of those rules – that their discussion may not be through the “facebook” medium and that therefore they must be expelled – is a ludicrous interpretation of your rules and clearly against the spirit of your own rules.

    (Rules which are, already ridiculously prescriptive)

    To me, it seems a sign of good health, in itself, that people inside a political organisation should have “extra-curricular” political discussions among themselves – it should be generally perceived by a helathy leadership as a good thing and something to be encouraged.

    It should particularly be seen as a generally good thing when this takes place during the pre-conference period, when everyone should be discussing the way forward.

    For me, and I think I’m in a minority among commenters in this regard, it is these summary pre-conference expulsions that have disturbed me the most here.

  104. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    The paradoxes of hypocrisy are outstanding on this thread. The very people who are arguing for the public naming of SWP members on this, and other, threads are the same people who have argued in the past that it is alright for contributors/posters to use false names, nom de plumes and so on because they could be open to, correctly, hostile attack from the State and employers.

    As Socialist Party member I politically oppose the theoretical and tactical concepts of the SWP and I consider the majority of the time they are both opportunist and sectarian. I have been both bullied by their members and also worked with them in campaigns over the decades I have been in involved in socialist politics. I consider this idea of Left Unity, whatever that means, as a non-starter at this stage. What is needed is not Left Unity of Lefts, Socialist and the rest all gather together under the leaky umbrella of one party, but instead the building of a new federated working class political representation organisation which is in reality more on the agenda at the moment than some imaginary Left unity. Yes there will be temporary Left coalitions to that the Left can ‘march separately and strike together’ on some issue or another, but that is all; and if anyone thinks that at this juncture there is going to be anything else, then they are not as Marxist as they think. I say for a new mass, or even semi-mass, workers’ party drawing together anti-austerity campaigners, workers and young people to provide a fighting, political alternative to the capitalist Labour Party and other pro-business capitalist parties.

  105. Graham Day on said:

    Karl Stewart: I think Graham’s trying to have it both ways here. He first said the SWP crisis wasn’t in the mainstream media – then it was shown to him that it is being covered.
    Then he says well we don’t need to exercise caution in how we discuss the matter because no-one cares what happens here any way.

    So no disrespect Graham, but if it matters not at all to you, then why are you commenting here?

    No Karl, that’s not what I said. I’m aware it’s been covered in the media, but in my opinion that coverage is not “considerable” (your opinion may differ), and pretending that it is to indulge the ultra-left in their messiah complex – the conceit that lies at the root of this case, where the SWP think themselves competent to investigate a serious criminal allegation.

    My concern in this thread is the suggestion that we should “exercise caution” in a way that will only help the SWP evade the consequences of their own actions. As I said earlier, they’ve brought it on themselves.

  106. Manzil on said:

    Karl Stewart: For me, and I think I’m in a minority among commenters in this regard, it is these summary pre-conference expulsions that have disturbed me the most here.

    I think people are disturbed by them, it’s just that they’re ‘nothing new’. Our expectations were already low. Whereas the Delta case was a whole new frontier of awfulness to explore.

  107. Graham Day on said:

    Karl Stewart: For me, and I think I’m in a minority among commenters in this regard, it is these summary pre-conference expulsions that have disturbed me the most here.

    Not the notion that the SWP Disputes Committee has a role in investigating an allegation of rape…?

  108. Karl Stewart on said:

    I’m not suggesting the “Delta” situation is not awful, more that I honestly don’t know quite to what to make of it, so I haven’t particularly commented on that. Others on here clearly seem to either know or have known some of those involved and have commented perhaps from some knowledge.

    However, the pre-conference expulsions appear to me to be in defiance of the SWP’s own constitution – certainly the spirit of it.

  109. Just a question- has Alex Callinicos got a new job in the social media marketing team of the FT? His Facebook feed seems to be dedicated to getting people to subscribe to the FT.com- with any posts that have comments on the recent turmoil in the SWP being deleted.

  110. stuart on said:

    Karl Stewart:

    For me, and I think I’m in a minority among commenters in this regard, it is these summary pre-conference expulsions that have disturbed me the most here.

    I doubt that you aware of the actual facts, I suspect your alliance is more emotional. And I think this goes to the heart of much of the discussion on here, posters tend to go with what they want to believe rather than with a genuine apprasisal of the facts, facts which by the very nature of this case cannot be available to us all. And then they will still stubbornly attack the SWP even when the bourgeois media takes a position identical to them.

  111. Howard Fuller on said:

    Manzil,

    I am far from being an “Anarchist” as you seem to imply.

    Like most people don’t have much faith in the parties that exist today, but will certainly orientate towards Labour at election time. Its’ the only realistic option.

  112. Karl Stewart on said:

    With respect Stuart, these four were indeed expelled pre-conference.
    And they had held an “extra-curricular” political discussion among themselves.
    My understanding is that the reason for their expulsion was that their discussion, although “private” in their eyes (on a private “facebook” page), was not considered “private” by the CC faction as the “internet” is considered “public”.
    Therefore, a rigid and dogmatic interpretation of your own rules was applied and they were summarily expelled.

    I don’t do facebook either and I don’t truly “get it”, but having teenage children I do appreciate that for those in their 20s and younger, it’s as much a medium of normal conversation as you and I might chat verbally.

    It was an extremely harsh and arbitrary decision by the pro-CC faction and reflects exceptionally badly on them.

  113. ‘Just a question- has Alex Callinicos got a new job in the social media marketing team of the FT?’

    Better than that Pete, his weekly column in SW, that has been going for at least 30 years now, is generally a rehash of an FT article. ‘From a Marxist perspective’ of course..

    So Stuart, just what is the score? Was there a reasoned debate at the NC today? Inform us. If you weren’t there yourself, presumably your in touch with people who were.

  114. Tommy O'Toole on said:

    stuart,

    Like the delegates at SWP conference, who were given the CC’s “case for the prosecution”in their delegate packs – a handful of quotes from 20+ pages of discussion, together with a fee paragraphs for each expelled comrade, putting the worst possible spin on quotes removed from their context? Why not distribute the whole conversation to delegates and allow them to make up their own minds?

  115. secret factioneer on said:

    We think there might have been 50% more votes for some kind of sanity than what we expected. Sadly, we expected 6.

    More to come. We knew that stuart’s faction would win the vote today. As has been made clear, that is not going to shut us up.

  116. stuart on said:

    127/128/129,

    Were they an official faction? Were they acting as a faction? What are the wider political implications? Is it really about three indiviuduals in dispute or does it signify other agendas? I sincerely hope that the NC can arrive at a set of decisions that takes the party forward in this difficult time.

  117. Jellytot on said:

    @125And then they will still stubbornly attack the SWP even when the bourgeois media takes a position identical to them.

    The “bourgeois” media frequently attack the Chinese Communist Party, Cuba, the former Soviet Union, Syria, to name but a few.

    That doesn’t stop people from your tradition providing an echo chamber for such attacks.

  118. Karl Stewart on said:

    stuart,

    I’ve no idea if they were an “official faction” or not. Surely in a period in which your own faction’s constitution claims to encourage debate, they should have been given the benefit of doubt.

    I’ve been told they were expelled not for organising a pre-conference faction (which your faction apparently does “allow”) but for discussing whether to form a faction (which apparently your faction does not “allow”).

    Work that one out!!!

    In the real world, in a healthy rank and file trade union body for example, it’s perfectly normal for a few people to talk informally outside of the formal structures to pursue a particular course. And there’s no “requirement” to first seek “official permission” for such informal discussions. And it’s utterly unheard of for anyone to be disciplined for this.

    What you’ve done here is utterely bonkers.

  119. Jellytot on said:

    @99A two page spread in the Mail yesterday, Nick Cohen in the Observer today, Full page in the Times last Saturday, Full page in the Indy a while back and two other pieces in the Mail and Times.I wouldn’t be suprised if it reached the Tabloids soon

    Any idea if this will ever reach The Guardian, even if in their CIF section?

    Panic stations in the CC if it does although I reckon the SWP leadership will probably ride this out largely intact.

    The SWP has purposefully designed its internal structures to make any internal coups incredibly difficult and the so-called ‘Opposition’ have few avenues other than resigning en masse or awaiting explusion.

    The leadership will probably judge that this will all blow over and normal service will resume by the time of Marxism 2013. The brow-beaten old guard will remain, the oppositionists will leave and they can get on with recruiting a new batch of freshers students with short memories.

    My own view is that they are fatally holed below the waterline no matter what happens in the short to medium term.

    To paraphrase Lincoln’s “Slavery Sir?…It’s Done” quote from the new movie:

    “The SWP Sir?…It’s Done”

  120. secret factioneer on said:

    AN – please would you remove the details from and there’s more’s post above? They give clues to the identity of the complainant, which is just not acceptable.

  121. stuart: Jay Blackwood: Yes, e.g. the “serious question” of whether allegations of rape should be dealt with internally by a panel of the accused person’s chums and anyone who disagrees coerced into silence…

    Your take on this is scarcely different from the Daily Mail or Nick Cohen. Think!

    Yes, and well done for supporting the leadership that has presented the loathsome pro-war hack with a stick to beat the whole of the Left with. Nice work.

  122. and there's more on said:

    Unless the whole of [Gotham City] district recruited just one female student in the past 5 or 6 years (which given their self proclaimed recruitment successes, I find hard to believe) I fail to see how the victim can be identified.

    Or do you just not want anyone on this site to know how young she was and what a power imbalance there was between her and the saintly Delta ?

  123. secret factioneer on said:

    I want Delta out of the party for good. I agree with your reasoning. I understand and share your anger. You are wrong to provide details about the complainant, accurate or otherwise.

  124. and there's more on said:

    And I understand your caution secret factioner, but until SWP loyalists start seeing the victim as an actual person, a young woman who wanted to put her side of the story but was denied the opportunity by the party machine, then we will not get beyond vague references to state plots and misrepresentations of Leninism.

    Having said that, if Andy wants to take out the reference to [Gotham City] then that’s fair enough. But the so called “cadre” up there should be ashamed of the way they treated the victim. Here’s another name for you Stuart you sheep, Helen Salmond, last seen at 2011 conference furiously shouting at the victim’s supporters for daring to open their mouths about the case.

  125. secret factioneer on said:

    I hope AN does remove both remaining references to the district.

    The sheer inhumanity and heartlessness of some of the CC faction is breathtaking, I agree, ATM.

  126. Jara Handala on said:

    stuart,

    Hi, Stuart, could you explain something to me (& maybe others), something puzzling me.

    The SWP Constitution (section 10) says a faction has to have a minimum of 30 members (Pre-Conference Bulletin #1 at http://www.cpgb.org.uk). The 4 were expelled for being a secret faction when, & this is the funny bit, what they were doing was trying to get these 30 members together so they could submit a faction statement to the National Secretary.

    So, Stuart, how can you or any other member in the 3 month pre-Conference period, set about forming a legal faction without contacting people to get 30 together, & then discussing & deciding what the statement should be? How can it be done within the rules?

    Please let us know, especially as you keep stressing that the facts are all important.

  127. Jara Handala,

    You misunderstand, as I’m sure SWP loyalists will point out. The four were expelled for arguing against forming a faction, which is obviously a sign of secret factionalism. If they’d argued in favour of forming one everything would have been fine, obviously.

  128. Jara Handala on said:

    daggi,

    Well, daggi, if that is true it really is weird in SWPworld. Is it all those dialectics and contradictions, all those things that those of us still trapped in the world of formal logic can neither detect nor understand? I really should go to ‘Marxism’ & get myself educated.

    But seriously. I want to get the facts from the horse’s mouth, from Cde. Stuart. The class deserves the facts & Stuart is the comrade to deliver them to us. The class needs the vanguard to tell it how it is. So come on, Cde. Stuart, let the class know what the facts are. We’re all ears.

  129. Howard Fuller:
    I am far from being an “Anarchist” as you seem to imply.

    Like most people don’t have much faith in the parties that exist today, but will certainly orientate towards Labour at election time. Its’ the only realistic option.

    I don’t think you’re an anarchist. And I voted Labour at the last election, for my sins.

    I do think your argument could potentially cut the ground from under the feet of the Left – from criticising existing organisations to rejecting all organisation. I think politics on the ‘network’ model being advocated by some is as counter-productive as the idealisation of the bureaucratic sect. I don’t believe ‘Leninism’ (as understood and practised by the existing Left) and the party form are synonymous.

    Indeed, I don’t believe modern-day ‘Leninism’ is actually a coherent or uniform tendency – it’s just a rhetorical device to defend a variety of equally second-rate, sectarian political models.

    Now obviously I have different views as to the value and efficacy of socialism and in particular Marxism, but even if that weren’t the case, I think ‘reform’ without strong collective organisations of the working-class, and that includes a political form i.e. a workers’ party able to govern, is impossible.

  130. I note this quote from John Molyneux: “I, however, continue to believe that the building of an independent revolutionary party – as advocated by Lenin and Trotsky (and Gramsci) – is necessary for revolutionary victory.”

    And how’s that going, John?

    As Tom Walker puts it, in a very thoughtful article on his blog : “If you have ‘forty years of experience’ of Leninism, and your organisation is about the same size now as it was when you started, you’re doing it wrong.”

    Maybe that’s what the SWP NC should be discussing, rather than getting into a self-righteous arrogant frenzy over ‘party discipline.’

  131. daggi: arguing against forming a faction

    This is objectively nonsense, comrade daggi. Clearly the “gang of four” were not arguing against forming a faction, but merely arguing for the antithesizing of a faction and hence their expulsion runs counter to the laws of dialectical materialism and against the best traditions of British Leninism.

  132. stuart on said:

    Karl Stewart/Jara Handala,

    The SWP CC have stated their position on the facebook four, their account differs markedly from yours.

  133. stuart on said:

    jay blackwood: Yes, and well done for supporting the leadership that has presented the loathsome pro-war hack with a stick to beat the whole of the Left with. Nice work.

    The bourgeois media latched on to this ‘story’ in their predictably distorted way after an unauthorised transcript appeared on this site. It is disappointing to see that Nick Cohen, who has lied about the SWP in the past as well as smearing the left in general, is claiming to to have received help from Anna Chen.

  134. secret factioneer on said:

    It’s great to have such confidence in your leaders’ arguments that you don’t even have to bother repeating them, let alone justifying them.

  135. secret factioneer on said:

    Presumably not on the dark side of the internet.

    I know the rubbish that has been spouted to justify their bureaucratic manoeuvring, thanks all the same. An argument which can’t even be repeated by an adherent, let alone explained, is not one worth wasting any more time on.

  136. stuart on said:

    secret factioneer,

    But unfortunately, as John Molyneux notes, some are wasting further time on this. The conference has passed and the votes were taken but some are trying overturn what was agreed. This is not in keeeping with SWP tradition and it encourages those hostile to the party.

  137. secret factioneer on said:

    Gosh. Where did you learn that oh-so-very-clever rhetorical trick?

    Discuss honestly or don’t bother.

  138. secret factioneer: I hope AN does remove both remaining references to the district.

    I think the horse has bolted there. The details of which city this took place in have been on the Internet since the lead up to the SWP’s 2011 conference; and it can be deduced easily from the transcript. It is a big city, and I beleive that people within that SWP district know anyway.

  139. secret factioneer on said:

    I’m disappointed, AN. I think that in that particular answer (and not, for the sake of clarity, in anything else you have posted here on the subject) you show a cavalier attitude to her anonymity and a misunderstanding of how such things work. I urge you to think again.

  140. secret factioneer: I’m disappointed, AN. I think that in that particular answer (and not, for the sake of clarity, in anything else you have posted here on the subject) you show a cavalier attitude to her anonymity and a misunderstanding of how such things work. I urge you to think again.

    I am happy to oblige by removing references to the District, if you think it hepls.

    However, I still think that anyone determined to piece together information coudl do so, from stuff published on other webistes.

    Anyway, i am happt to defer to your judgement, and I will make the changes to the comments.

  141. The stuff about the Education Activist Network is interesting. They are dancing around the fact that this obvious front is completely discredited and no one in the student movement takes it seriously. This is clear when you notice that it’s website hasn’t been updated for three months – the SWP are too busy!

  142. secret factioneer on said:

    I think you have got them all, AN. Thanks.

    You are likely right, but a determined detective is always likely to be able to find such information. It is important that we don’t sew illusions in the possible extent of secrecy. However it is also important that we are respectful of a complainant’s anonymity in our discussions.

  143. Student activist:
    The stuff about the Education Activist Network is interesting. They are dancing around the fact that this obvious front is completely discredited and no one in the student movement takes it seriously. This is clear when you notice that it’s website hasn’t been updated for three months – the SWP are too busy!

    It wasn’t even a ‘[SWP-style] united front’ in my experience. It was just the regulars from the Socialist Workers Student Societies and a small periphery of hangers-on, who didn’t like the idea of a ‘party’ but who they hoped to recruit. It’s like saying Jupiter is in a united front with its orbiting moons.

  144. Andy Newman: That very much sounds like the way the SP work, even more than the SWP!

    YRE, CADV, etc.

    I don’t know about those examples, but that’s certainly been my experience of TUSC, NSSN and Youth Fight for Jobs – the only difference being, in those cases, criticism of this is immediately countered by people invoking the ‘social weight’ apparently demonstrated by the official support of various unions.

    But the front-building does seem just like a ‘potential members sorting-office’ that allows the party to work out who’s ‘serious’ enough to bother recruiting. Which I suppose is a way for each group to maintain its overall ideological cohesiveness – an informal check on who actually contributes to the party. Much like constituency Labour parties historically telling students or lefties they were ‘full’.

    I’ve certainly not noticed much of a difference in regard to the SWP and its relationship to Education Activist Network, and even Unite Against Fascism at a local level.

    Thankfully when such ‘fronts’ actually represent a popular feeling and attract widespread activity, they can very quickly become something ‘more’ than intended. And I think the admittedly widespread union support for NSSN and YFJ, for instance, means that in the right circumstances they could play a positive role. But getting to that stage means honestly acknowledging the problematic status quo.

  145. John R,

    Wouldn’t have expected to read comments like this on mumsnet though.

    “The SWP wants to abolish democracy and establish a dictatorship”.
    Of the proletariat

    What sort of democracy do you think we currently live in?”

  146. Manzil: I think the admittedly widespread union support for NSSN and YFJ, for instance, means that in the right circumstances they could play a positive role. But getting to that stage means honestly acknowledging the problematic status quo.

    But with NSSN, the SP actively and consciously weakened its appeal and support from other trade unionists

  147. egregious65 on said:

    I’ve been reading the comments here over the last few days and following the development of this story on various sites and blogs, it’s a pretty disturbing picture that’s been painted but not one that surprises me.

    I quietly slipped out of the SWP many years ago (in fact I was in a branch with Andy at one point, hi Andy :D ); as a member I found myself eventually asking many of the questions about democracy and top down control by a small ruling clique within the SWP that I see being asked now. The answer I came to at the time was that despite having many good people in their ranks the party (then with Cliff & co. at the top) was quite profoundly undemocratic and would be positively dangerous if they ever got a sniff of power. As I recall I came to the view that the party’s structures and attitudes had the potential to ossify into something resembling Stalinism and sadly I see I was not wrong.

    As others have pointed out it seems clear to anyone but the terminally brainwashed that what has gone on and is going on is profoundly damaging to not just the SWP but to the wider left but I wonder if ultimately the death (slow though it may be) of the party won’t throw up opportunities for a more open, inclusive and democratic left, be that in party or in some other form. At the very least I guess we can all be thankful that in future it is less likely that hundreds if not thousands of good activists will be chewed up, burnt out and eventually (like me) fall off the radar into relative passivity.

    I wish the opposition well but I fear they are destined to loose given the bureaucratic maneuverings of the CC clique who seem happy to use all the weapons at their disposal, apart from honesty!

    P.S. Does anyone have any up to date information about what happened at that meeting yesterday and if, as I suspect, the CC have been given cart blanche any moves have been made against the opposition yet?

  148. Manzil on said:

    Andy Newman: But with NSSN, the SP actively and consciously weakened its appeal and support from other trade unionists

    Which I’m not contesting. I’m saying it doesn’t mean it has to be the ‘end of the road’ for the NSSN, but that to play a positive role requires that the SP accept their behaviour in NSSN was alienating towards independent members (and that the decision to use it as a ‘cuts’ body was sectarian tailing of the SWP’s sudden rebranding of Right to Work into Unite the Resistance to compete with Counterfire).

    There definitely needs to be some sort of national organising body for lay officials. If the NSSN is incapable of being that body (and I think it initially had considerable potential to play that role) as opposed to a recruitment trawl for the SP, another initiative will inevitably take its place eventually.

    If I’m correct though, you believe that there is no possibility for socialist groups to correct their mistakes and demonstrate ‘better practice’? I disagree with that, and I hope you’re wrong. Because if you’re right, then a considerable chunk of activists are essentially lost to the labour movement (as the alternative to their organised socialist activity is not, say, the Labour Party, but rather inactivity).

  149. Manzil: you believe that there is no possibility for socialist groups to correct their mistakes and demonstrate ‘better practice’? I disagree with that,

    I beleive the left groups are irreformable and my experience of SA and Respect ( and second hand of SLP) is that they cannot work in broader formations to transcend their limitations.

    Individuals of course can change

  150. Manzil on said:

    Andy Newman: I beleive the left groups are irreformable [...] Individuals of course can change

    Socialist organisations don’t exist outside of the individuals who collectively constitute them. So if people can change, why couldn’t they be reformed? That’s not to say it’s guaranteed or even likely. Mainly, I think, for reasons of material self-interest and habit rather than ideology.

    But big journeys, single steps and all that malarkey.

    And if not THESE groups (or at least not in their current form) nevertheless I don’t think are any objective, insurmountable impediments to the development of a healthy socialist movement in Britain. And it’s a mistake to abandon the idea of building an independent socialist organisation, whatever the obvious and understandable short-term attractions of lowering your horizons to the Labour Party.

  151. Karl Stewart on said:

    stuart: Karl Stewart/Jara Handala,The SWP CC have stated their position on the facebook four, their account differs markedly from yours.

    Yes of course the CC faction is to try to justify these summary expulsions, but the fact remains that they were outwith your own rule and constitution.

    stuart: secret factioneer, But unfortunately, as John Molyneux notes, some are wasting further time on this. The conference has passed and the votes were taken but some are trying overturn what was agreed. This is not in keeeping with SWP tradition and it encourages those hostile to the party.

    The problem with that argument Stuart is that your actions in summarily expelled those members pre-conference in breach of your own rules and constitution rendered your conference null and void.

    There is no obligation on people to accept the decisions of a null and void conference based as it was on that fundamental pre-conference breach of your own rules and your own constitution.

    To simply keep saying: “Because the CC said so” doesn’t change those facts.

  152. John R,
    Guess a farm in Zimbabwe has never looked so good…

    They been taken over last time I heard.
    A desert tent in Mali may be more appropriate for neo-colonialism

  153. stuart on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    Dear comrade

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Such behaviour trampled on our democracy and is contrary to our constitution. Therefore, in order to defend our democracy, we expelled four people. These are all former full-time workers for the party who are thoroughly aware of our democratic rules. They all played an organising role in the group.

    They are entitled to appeal against their expulsions and such appeals will be heard by the Disputes Committee. The Disputes Committee case referred to by the faction concluded at the end of October. The Disputes Committee will present a report to conference where delegates will be able to vote on it.

    Central Committee

  154. Stuart, did they explain why they expelled them by email without even having any kind of hearing?

    Do you think it’s acceptable for 4 ppl to be expelled in this way?

    If not, what have you done about it?

    Do you think it’s an acceptable practice, this “expel people during the pre-conference period” practice?

    It’s now been done 3 times, twice without any hearing at all.

    Do you think it is acceptable?

    For example, do you think it was acceptable in 2007 to say to George Galloway’s only constituency case worker, “you must resign from that job immediately or you will be considered expelled”? What do you think the effect would’ve been on people who were about to be made homeless or deported and who would’ve needed urgent intervention from that member of staff?

    Do you agree that he should’ve been given 48 hours to resign, leaving an MP with *no functioning constituency office*? And when he didn’t resign, do you think it was acceptable for him to be told be had essentially self-expelled?

    Is that acceptable Stuart? Do you think the rest of the movement finds it acceptable?

    Do you think Shelter, or rape crisis centres or battered women’s shelters would’ve accepted that some women would’ve been left critically vulnerable because the SWP forced the only person who could deal with such issues to resign?

    All these things Stuart, are they acceptable?

    Shouldn’t a Marxist organisation do everything in its power to avoid expelling people? Shouldn’t there have been a serious, proper hearing to discuss the proposed expulsions?

    Don’t you think so? If not, please be clear what you are saying. Please also can you say if there is *any* line the CC can cross that you will finally reject?

  155. stuart on said:

    Tony Collins,

    My view on this is very similar to that of John Molyneux. Molyneux is not somebody who has always gone along with the CC in an unthinking manner.

  156. stuart on said:

    Tony Collins: Please also can you say if there is *any* line the CC can cross that you will finally reject?

    5 REM PARTY LINE
    10 PRINT “I AM A ROBOT. I AM A ROBOT. I ECHO THE CC LINE. ALWAYS.”
    20 BEEP 1,5: BEEP 2,0: BEEP 1,5
    30 CLS BRAIN
    40 GO TO 10

  157. Karl Stewart on said:

    Stuart, I appreciate your posting this up.

    Having read it through a couple of times, I do need to say to you that looked at from the outside, expelling people for the actions described here seems quite unbelievable, almost incredible.

    To someone like myself, who’s never been an SW member I honestly can’t understand why you would have reacted in this way to the actions of these individuals as described in that CC account.

    Basically, according to the CC, a conversation between some members came to light in which they decided not to form a faction, but to make their points through the mainstream party structures.

    I just can’t see why that’s considered to be a “wrong” thing to do.

    Is it really the case that the SWP leadership does not allow members to communicate with each other on any internal political issues unless they formally obtain permission to constitute themselves as a pre-conference faction?

  158. stuart,

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

    There is a problem with this as I suspect Stuart well knows but tried to mask. It is impossible to claim that a delegate conference has made a decision so closing the matter to further discussion when the fullest debate has not taken place. Given that the details of the misnamed ‘Disputes Committee’ investigation and decisions were not known by either the party membership or the delegates in the pre-conference discussion period, it was impossible for the delegates to get a mandate, except in the most general terms.

    This undermined the ‘fullest debate’. It is still the case that many members do not know the details or the reasoning even now. The ‘majority decision’ came after next to no systematic debate in the pre-conference period, certainly not at the aggregates or branch meetings. There are therefore legitimate questions about how all this fits with the constitutional and political nature of the SWP’s democratic centralism.

  159. Karl Stewart on said:

    When Stuart asked if I’d seen the CC report on this, I half-wondered if he was going to post up some damning evidence of serious wrong-doing by this group – none of whom I know, or know anything about – but what he posted up was the CC basically saying these people had a discussion about the forthcoming conference and their views on it.

    And that seems to be it, some party members had a conversation about a conference coming up.

    That really is it isn’t it? Am I missing something here?

  160. Karl Stewart on said:

    Stuart,
    Is it honestly part of your organisation’s “tradition” to expel people for having conversations???

  161. stuart on said:

    Chris,

    I respect the view of John Molyneux on this, a long standing experienced member who has never been afraid to question the CC line in the past.

  162. stuart,

    You are welcome to do so but it doesn’t explain anything, especially not specious appeals to ‘democratic centralism’.

  163. Jara Handala on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    #191, 7:34pm

    Superbly put, Karl. You’ve been as clear as day.

    I was wondering why Stuart was so reluctant to show us what the CC’s statement was. Now we know.

    Thanks for being so penetrating & clear (perspicacious & perspicuous, for those who like to see less usual words!).

    Chris,

    #192, 7:39pm

    Again, what an excellent comment, thanks. Richard Seymour has said how utterly shocked he was by what the DC had been sitting on (& no doubt the CC knew its decision).

    Members NEVER had a chance pre-Conference to organise on the basis of what the DC had done. As you stressed, the members never had an opportunity to respond. And now the CC’s edict is that no-one is to talk about it, to forget it. But thanks to the people at Socialist Unity (& the politically brave Conference attendee who recorded the session) the MEMBERS can read what was done in their name, something they would have been denied if the Callinicos permanent faction had had their way.

    As you say, a full & frank, informed debate did not occur pre-Conference, moreover, it couldn’t because the SWP establishment had been totally opaque, refusing to be transparent. They organised a Conference without allowing the members to address one of the most important decisions the party had made in 2012.

    Did the Callinicos faction judge that the members would not be outraged when all this was sprung on them? Perhaps they thought they could control the dissemination of the news from the DC session. It is worrying to realise that without a recording being made they might well have been successful.

    They are now reaping what they sowed, & the crisis is of their own making. It is also despicable that they would rather destroy the organisation than give way.

  164. Jara Handala on said:

    stuart,

    You are remarkably restrained. To say chillingly so would be an exaggeration, but it’s getting there. You need to loosen up a little, engage in the discussion.

    Please don’t be afraid, I’m sure you have some great points to make. Just have the confidence to address the matters we are raising. Because the political cost of all this to the SWP is this: whilst the SWP may try to ignore this whole disaster all those who come into contact with you aren’t. That’s the terrible truth for the SWP: they are becoming TOXIC, no-one wants to touch you, and THAT does harm us all because we need to be as effective as we can in our political struggles against the government & our enemies.

    Your effective abstention here doesn’t help the SWP: it harms it because what you need to do is try to CONVINCE us that the CC has behaved correctly. And that will be so in each & every political action you are involved in outside the Dark Side of the Internet. So why not take the opportunity we are giving you to test your arguments here?

  165. stuart on said:

    Jara Handala:
    But thanks to the people at Socialist Unity (& the politically brave Conference attendee who recorded the session)

    Are you an SWP member?

  166. Karl Stewart on said:

    stuart: Karl Stewart, I don’t think you have addressed the CC statement adequately.

    OK, let’s go through it.

    PAR 2:
    “You will see that the faction refers to the expulsion of four comrades. This followed the CC receiving extensive information about a closed Facebook conversation between a group of comrades.”

    I find it extremely sinister that within your organisation it apparently isn’t considered odd for individuals to report to the leaders on the private conversations of others.

    Par 4:
    “The norms of democratic centralism – the fullest debate before a decision, the united application of those decisions also relies on openness and transparent discussion.”

    I can’t see how that aim is served by creating an environment in which people are fearful that others may report their conversations to the leaders

    Par 5:
    “In this case the CC found that at least some of those involved in the Facebook group had organised secret meetings to discuss internal party matters..”

    The term “secret meetings” is presented here in order to deliberately make these conversations sound suspicious, but exactly the same events could equally have been termed “informal conversations between a small number of people” could they not?

    “…and had encouraged comrades to keep their views quiet in order to boost their chances of becoming conference delegates…”

    Again, or perhaps this could have been a case of a suggestion during an informal conversation that perhaps it might be more useful to put forward these points in a less confrontational manner? Again, another possible perspective on exactly the same events.

    “…Some were prepared to involve non-members in their discussions.”

    But this is not specific or even definite. To say “…were prepared to…” implies that this might not have even happened, and was just merely suggested. And even if they had “…involved non-members in their discussions…” to whom does this refer? Did these people give interviews to hostile press? Or does this mean they spoke to perhaps their non-SWP partners?

    Par 6:
    “They had decided not to become an open faction, preferring their hidden discussions.”

    Why are “hidden discussions” the only possible alternative to becoming an “open faction” Stuart? Why can’t members have informal conversations among themselves without necessarily opting to formally start a faction? Surely there are inumerable ways in which differences of opinion and political discussion can take place. Why forbid informal exchanges of views? And surely if forming a faction is being considered, then there must, necessarily be some degree of prior discussion as to whether or not to from one.
    Otherwise, how on earth is such a decision to be taken?

    “…This is the opposite of real party democracy.”

    Only if one inhabits a reality within which any and all discussion can only take place within a rigid, contrived and carefully controlled context. The truth is that political discussion and the genuine exchange of ideas take place in any number of ways. We don’t first seek formal permission to think, or to suggest an idea. That’s utter nonsense.

    Par 7:
    “Such behaviour trampled on our democracy and is contrary to our constitution…”

    No Stuart, in absolutely any real-world situation, inside any normal political organisation, the behaviours the CC have objected to so hysterically would be considered utterly normal and totally unremarkable. If the CC’s interpretation of these actions is 100 per cent accurate, then the worst I could possibly say about these actions as described is maybe not great, maybe a tad sneaky perhaps – but certainly utterly unremarkable.

    Par 8:
    “Therefore, in order to defend our democracy, we expelled four people…”
    This is the single most sinister sentence in the whole CC statement. It reminds one of the Vietnam War era statement attributed to the US armed forces “we had to destroy the village in order to save it” or the notion that the US destroyed Chile’s democratically elected left-wing government in order to “save democracy.” No Stuart, YOU trampled on democracy by expelling those members for having a political conversation.

    It was a shameful act, an utterly hypocritical and cowardly act of petty bullying.

  167. Jellytot on said:

    @190“I AM A ROBOT. I AM A ROBOT. I ECHO THE CC LINE. ALWAYS.”

    We’re sure you’re not stuart but you have come across as very “Official” (as opposed to “Provo”) on here these past few months.

  168. secret factioneer on said:

    Has the CC majority faction announced the resignation of a CC member yet? Or is it going to be a secret?

    Will there be more resignations to come?

  169. Jara Handala on said:

    stuart,

    Why do you ask?

    Karl Stewart,

    You’re getting as systematic as me!

    The CC talk of “secret meetings” reminds me of a book I got recently: the Moscow-published account of the trial proceedings of Bukharin, Rakovsky, Rykov, Yagoda & 17 other hapless souls, the so-called Third Show Trial of March 1938. The court called it “The Case of the Anti-Soviet Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”. I wonder if it is on Alex’s bedside table?

    And knowing he’s an erudite fellow he must have wondered what was the jurisprudential basis of all the work the Disputes Cttee. does investigating & adjudicating all those serious criminal cases. How far can its competence extend? What CAN’T it judge? Some people have asked, not facetiously, whether there is ANYTHING the SWP Disputes Cttee. wouldn’t deliberate upon. Some have even mentioned murder. Now luckily for Alex & the others help is at hand. A Catalan Marxist, Manuel Vazquez Montalban, has discussed it. The novel may even be sitting atop the Moscow book. It may even be Alex’s secret pleasure on the Dark Side. Its title? ‘Murder in the Central Committee’.

  170. Howard Fuller on said:

    On His facebook page Callinicos says (presumably without blushing:

    What we are trying to work out now is how to protect what we have achieved under unprecedented attack from a group of members who are trying to use pressure from outside to compensate for their weakness within the SWP. This isn’t easy: hence my irritation with some of the self-righteous and ill-informed commentary that has been directed our way.

    Followed by Colin Barker:

    I tend to agree with Alex about the ‘holier than thou’ tendency. I detect touches of Schadenfreude and the settling of old scores in some external commentary. Alex remarked to me once – and in a quite different context! – that sometimes wisdom consists in saying nothing. A useful thought, on occasion.

    So now you know. Listen to your betters and shut the F**k up.

    Cult.

  171. Four Goals on said:

    Howard Fuller: Followed by Colin Barker:

    I tend to agree with Alex about the ‘holier than thou’ tendency. I detect touches of Schadenfreude and the settling of old scores in some external commentary. Alex remarked to me once – and in a quite different context! – that sometimes wisdom consists in saying nothing. A useful thought, on occasion.

    So now you know. Listen to your betters and shut the F**k up.

    This is unfair on Colin Barker and demonstrates the problem of selective quoting. This sentence is part of a longer piece where he writes:

    “Alex wrote: “But it is always necessary to define the limits of diversity, and the parameters of comradely debate. That in itself is a political choice – not just for the SWP, but for the ISO and other revolutionary organizations. No amount of playing holier than thou (I’m not accusing Paul of this but it’s true of plenty of others) can evade this choice.”
    As a general proposition, what Alex says is surely correct. Those limits themselves, along with the parameters of comradely debate, are however also subject to determination by context. One of the things that does seem to have happened – one might say, “for good or ill” – is that what were previously thought of as limits have been altered.

    Until recently, Facebook and similar social media were not widely regarded as places where the internal life of organisations like ours could suitably be discussed. That’s changed, and it’s difficult to imagine that the clock can just be wound back – not, anyway, without heavy costs. I can’t but note with interest that someone has recently posed questions about whether such public internal debate might not also occur in and around bodies like the ISO. Pandora’s Box is open, in a sense, and we will need to learn to live with that.

    Many comrades have, understandably, been very reticent about participating openly in the current shitstorm – and on all sides in the arguments, I’d add. What Alex calls ‘the parameters of comradely debate’ do seem to me to have been breached rather a lot in some of what I have seen – and especially in the ‘comments’ sections that have followed the appearance of many of the flurries of documents. Abusive personal remarks don’t take us forward at all, and it’s been good to see people being called to order sometimes by comrades, on all sides.

    I tend to agree with Alex about the ‘holier than thou’ tendency. I detect touches of Schadenfreude and the settling of old scores in some external commentary. Alex remarked to me once – and in a quite different context! – that sometimes wisdom consists in saying nothing. A useful thought, on occasion.

    If there is a particular point to this, I would say that the understandable wish to wind the clock back to a period when the limits and parameters were generally understood to be different is – at this particular moment – very inappropriate. The present situation is extremely painful and worrying, but the way forward will not be helped by applying extreme administrative solutions. “

  172. old timer on said:

    stuart: stuart

    stuart, stuart, stuart. What the experienced troubadours of the revolutionary, ahem, left have been seeking to reveal is the meta-narrative.

    Comrade Molyneux has his own reasons for sometimes critiquing the CC, but also for largely being loyal over the years.

    Maybe he prefers the leadership of comrade δ. Maybe it was more conducive to him than that of comrades R&G? Perhaps he is afraid the house of cards is shaky and he’s seeking to prop it up?

    Maybe he is rubbing sand in our eyes as a way of proving his loyality?

    But it doesn’t matter. You may like to sleep (perchance to dream). Others appear to be waking up.

    So, sleep well. Don’t let the bed-bugs bite.

  173. secret factioneer on said:

    It’s funny – in a sad way. I find myself reading Karl Stewart and initially thinking “ooh that’s a bit strong”. But it’s not, is it?

    Expelling the four comrades before conference was all those things he says they were.

  174. Jara Handala: “The Case of the Anti-Soviet Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites”.

    If anyone wants a copy in German, an copy is in the window of my local jazz LP/literature record and bookshop, run by someone who clearly has a soft spot for the Millies

  175. Jara Handala: ‘Murder in the Central Committee’

    I’ve read it and it is a good book. Ross Thomas’ on the kidnap of a trade union leader (‘The Yellow Dog Contract’) isn’t bad either.

  176. secret factioneer on said:

    Karl Stewart posted this on another thread, but I’m sticking it here for now.

    (I’ve also very kindly fixed his typo, but I won’t be charging NUJ rates for that)

    Stuart,
    On another thread on this site, there’s an article by someone called Anna Chen entitled “Dehumanisation leads to abuse” which paints a picture of appalling working conditions for SWP employees.

    As you’re this site’s spokesman for the SWP CC, can you answer the following:

    1. Does the SWP pay its employees the London Living Wage of £8.55 ph (£7.45 outside London)?

    2. Are the pay, terms and conditions of SWP employees the subject of collective negotiations between the recognised unions and the employer?

    3. If so, which trade unions are recognised for these purposes by SWP?

    It’s an interesting question, for me. I have to say, I cannot get too excited about low pay for party workers. But I realise from this question that I don’t know how we currently do these things. And I think I should.

    For me it is the Ts and Cs which cause the most worry.

  177. stuart on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    A cautionary tale about factions from the past…

    ‘The practice of building organisations along these lines is much more difficult than the theory: in the case of the SWP we have had bitter experience of sectarian groupings exploiting the democratic structure and ruining untold branches in order to try to win members for themselves; we have also discovered the hard way that a free exchange of opinions and a free formation of platforms before conferences must be prevented by the self-discipline of all those involved from degenerating into ritualistic jousting between a ‘leadership’ and an ‘opposition’ that is reminiscent of bourgeois parliaments,’ (Harman, 1979)

    And now…

    ‘Two factions were formed in the lead-up to the conference to fight for changes in the model of democratic centralism – the system of decision making used by organisations in the revolutionary Marxist tradition – that the SWP has developed. These issues were argued out in vigorous political debates at the conference, and the positions put forward on democratic centralism by the outgoing Central Committee (the main party leadership) were approved by large majorities. Unfortunately, a small minority refused to accept these decisions’ (Callinicos,2013)

    ‘What we are trying to work out now is how to protect what we have achieved under unprecedented attack from a group of members who are trying to use pressure from outside to compensate for their weakness within the SWP.’ (Callinicos,2013)

    By pressure from outside I think he means people like you and Nick Cohen.

  178. Jara Handala on said:

    secret factioneer,

    The declaration of Party commodities being made by trade unionists does vary.

    I don’t have many books to hand to check, but the WRP’s New Park always(?) seems to have on the copyright page this declaration: “Set up, printed and bound by trade union labour”.

    Index Books, owned by a post-Healy fragment (Slaughter, Cyril Smith, Harding, Hunter, Kemp, Pirani), doesn’t.

    US books from the early 20th century often said trade union labour.

    But Verso (& its predecessor, New Left Books) never has. I think the early Pluto Press might have but doesn’t now. (Another question Cde. Stuart can help us on.)

    Lawrence & Wishart never has as far as I can remember – which does surprise me. Did Martin Lawrence?

    And I read about the high-tech hi-quality printing plant owned by the Socialist Equality Party (USA) located near Canada which was sheer hell to work in. (They’re the ‘Northites’, Healy’s final enemy that he could find in the US.)

    It used to be a badge of pride to say one’s books were made by trade unionists. Now it’s all about cheap production & make that profit coz the bloody drones aren’t paying their subs. (Down to 32% now for the 7597 strong SWP – whoops, less the cdes. getting their coats – according to the CC report, ‘Building the Party’, Pre-Conf. Bull. #2, Nov 2012, p.5.)

    But New Park (not South Park, but it was Clapham) wasn’t a bed of roses. Far, far from it. Norman Harding’s autobiography, ‘Staying Red’, describes appalling bullying & violence. ‘The Yard’ could not be described by the Factory Inspectorate as a safe working environment; the management, Thug-in-Chief Healy, could not be said to have carried out his duty of care; perhaps all that was missing was child labour. But if Healy had carried on he might have addressed that by shipping in some kids from China, doing the sort of business deal Socialist Action can only dream of.

    And remember, of course, Mark Anthony France, who comments here, had a terrible time working for the IMG – recall him telling us how Red the Red insulted him?

  179. secret factioneer on said:

    I think the best way to work with people we think of to our right is to say they’re all out to get us and are as bad as Nick Cohen.

    Alex is deluding himself. Or lying. Or both.

  180. Jara Handala on said:

    stuart,

    Morning, Stuart.

    I see the Callinicos permanent faction as harmful to the work of the SWP, harmful to the members, & harmful to the interests of workers & other oppressed people in society.

    ‘The Party’, as you put it, has no interest: that’s just a slippage from the best interests of Callinicos et al. onto the collective, the SWP as a whole. Don’t personify ‘the Party’. At the moment the struggle within the SWP is btwn. the permanent faction & its supporters against those struggling for a sane SWP.

    Callinicos et al. are dragging the SWP into the Dark Side. We all need to do our bit to try and stop that. This is not a trivial matter.

  181. Jara Handala on said:

    stuart,

    Throwing quotes is not discussing. There have been decades of cdes. throwing Lenin & Trotsky quotes at each other. What we need are arguments, not quotes.

    You need to learn what the IS tradition is. Jim Higgins’ account of the Locust is your best intro. He shows how Cliff destroyed the organisation. He shows how the industrial base was shreaded. He shows how Cliff announced to the leadership that they were now a party. It was plainly absurd. And now Callinicos is dragging you all into the Dark Side.

    Get real, Stuart. Just get real.

    And if you want to find out how much the internal regime of the SWP has nothing to do with Lenin’s ideas then spend a few days reading Lars Lih or Paul LeBlanc. Even better watch the many vids they have done on Lenin & the organisational question. Probably http://www.cpgb.org.uk is your best starter; they’re even in HD so your eyes won’t tire.

    Why not give it a try?

  182. About the Left press and volunteer labour. After dropping out of any form of activism around the time Major was re-elected, I was lured back in 5-6 years later, when I was working as a journalist and Red Pepper was having the first of its relaunches. The full story of my time as Red Pepper culture monitor can wait for another time, but suffice to say that pulling together two pages of copy per month doesn’t get done in the odd hour here and there. (Can I just give a shout-out to the great radical historian Paul Gilroy at this point; I’ll never forget just how friendly and co-operative he was when I rang him at home one Sunday. The funny thing was, I wasn’t at work that weekend either, and I would also have preferred to devote my time to relaxing and not being bothered. Who’d have thought it?)

    Anyway, by the time I’d been doing it for a year I was working on my doctorate and supporting myself through freelance journalism. I was mostly doing piecework, but I reckoned it averaged out at around £100 a day, which (after allowing for tax) was just about enough to pay the bills and give me time for my studies. Red Pepper, meanwhile, was taking up something in the region of four full days a month, at a rate of nothing (plus all the review copies you can eat). Something had to give. After talking to other people who had also tried – in some cases successfully – to get a wage out of RP, I scaled down my demands to £100 x 3 days per month. This got a Bateman-esque The Man Who… reaction, so I tried again with £80 x 3 (£240 as opposed to my original estimate of £400 – so I’d already gone down to 60% of the rate I’d charge anybody else). A long silence ensued, at the end of which RP came back offering… £80 a month. Final offer.

    I didn’t even laugh.

    Shortly after that RP sent out a newsletter to subscribers soliciting donations and announcing that the culture pages were about to get an exciting new look. Not that I am… actually, now I come to think of it I am a bit bitter.

    A friend said to me afterwards that most jobs are made tolerable a combination of money, satisfaction and recognition – and there aren’t many jobs that can run on satisfaction alone, or not for very long. At least RP have a good excuse for relying on volunteer labour, inasmuch as they genuinely are short of money. I don’t think you could say that of the SWP.

  183. I completely agree about EAN – when I said a ‘front’ I meant a front for the SWP, not a united front in any sense. There has been a series of shallow fronts among students run by the SWP, and what always has happens is that when they are set up they attract a layer of independent activists, who after a while depart for more serious projects – for the last three years, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (www.anticuts.com) which was founded in large part by refugees from previous SWP front Another Education is Possible. The SWP spent a lot of time and energy trying to wreck the NCAFC but eventualy failed.

  184. stuart on said:

    Jara Handala,

    I don’t know what tradition you are coming from but the SWP tradition is built on this…

    ‘Democracy is a method by which an organisation takes decisions. Those decisions only make sense if they are binding on members of the organisation. If they are not binding, there is no point in their being made. If a minority can ignore the will of the majority, why bother abut finding out the will of the majority? Why go to all the effort of having elections, counting votes and so on? You cannot have democracy without some means (moral or physical) of ensuring obedience to majority decision. When people enter a democratic organisation they necessarily surrender some of their freedom of action in favour of a centralised decision making process – whether or not the organisation calls itself ‘democratic centralist’. It is absolute nonsense to pretend that there is something ‘undemocratic’ about this surrender of individual freedom: democracy depends upon limitation of individual freedom in the interests of majority decisions.’ (Harman, 1978)

  185. Saying “democracy means majority rule” over and over again in slightly different words doesn’t make you a theorist – nor does it give any guidance for dealing with situations where democratic structures fail.

  186. stuart: How would I know if you have the best interests of the party at heart? A bit of a silly conversation if you don’t.

    What are the best interests of the party?

  187. secret factioneer:
    Who gives a toss about the interests of the party,you sectarian idiot?

    Er, fuck you too? I guess…?

    I would like to know what stuart thinks are the ‘best interests’ of the SWP, given the importance he attaches to meeting them.

  188. Manzil: What are the best interests of the party?

    In this case, the preservation of its politics from a minority who seem to be aligning themselves with hostile forces outside the SWP.

  189. Phil: Saying “democracy means majority rule” over and over again in slightly different words doesn’t make you a theorist – nor does it give any guidance for dealing with situations where democratic structures fail.

    The democratic structures are doing fine thank you very much, but problems can and will arise when a minority refuse to accept majority decisions and form an alliance with forces traditionally hostile to the SWP.

  190. stuart: In this case, the preservation of its politics from a minority who seem to be aligning themselves with hostile forces outside the SWP.

    stuart: The democratic structures are doing fine thank you very much, but problems can and will arise when a minority refuse to accept majority decisions and form an alliance with forces traditionally hostile to the SWP.

    I suppose the problem is that casting ‘its politics’ (including the SWP model of ‘democratic centralism’ and the monolithic party) as a permanent feature of the organisation – in the absence of a serious coercive mechanism – depends ultimately on the self-discipline of ‘the minority’.

    And given your characterisation of ‘the minority’ as in league with these shadowy ‘hostile forces’, I doubt however much you invoke ‘majority traditions’ that you will recover from the opposition a widespread and sincere acceptance that the process or indeed outcome of the dispute are legitimate.

    Meaning the alternative, short of a climb-down by the leadership, is either expulsions or continuing civil war, either way causing huge damage to the SWP. Which, if you believe there are ‘hostile forces’ arrayed against the SWP, presumably would be the outcome they ardently hope for.

    So in a way, by making such an outcome more likely, I suppose supporters of the CC like yourself could be described as ‘aligning themselves with hostile forces outside the SWP’!

  191. Jara Handala on said:

    stuart,

    Jesus, another quote. Stuart, are you incapable of developing an argument? Is the state of SWP educational services so poor that you have been unable day after day to present ANY argument? Maybe the Callinicos permanent faction should privatise the SWP educational courses (I know you don’t have any!) coz so far you have shown you can’t think FOR YOURSELF.

    And, Stuart, THAT should really make you think, it should stop you in your tracks, make you freeze. Because if there is one thing a Marxist can do it is to think for themselves. We know even now you have that ability, so don’t be afraid, let your thoughts run free in a logical way, stop quoting & start thinking. Share YOUR thoughts with us, because that’s what we are doing with you. We’re having an exchange of IDEAS & ARGUMENTS. It’s called political discussion. It’s what Marxists & social democrats & anarchists do. It can even be fun on occasions – admittedly all to rare, but anyway, we can but try.

    So I make my plea again, give it a try! Liberate yourself!

  192. Jara Handala on said:

    stuart,

    Compare the Harman quote with this:

    Lenin at the Finland Station. Did he give a speech telling the huge crowd what the majority view was? Did he fuck. He expressed his opinion. There was no Party action taking place that day. He simply spoke. And he spoke HIS mind. That was Lenin. Call it Leninism if you want. It is not Harmanism, Cliffism or Professor Dark Side-ism.

    That’s the difference, Stuart, the difference between being a drone & thinking for oneself.

    The Bolshevik leadership thought Lenin had lost his marbles. It caused a scandal. But Lenin was only doing what was common in Iskra & Pravda, PUBLICLY expressing the DIFFERENCES that existed within the membership. No shutting off of debate either internal OR EXTERNAL. That was the Bolshevik way, that was the way of Lenin.

    What Cliff, Harman & Hallas INSTITUTIONALISED within the SWP was a twisted form of Zinovievism. Read Proyect, read LeBlanc.

    But most of all read Jim Higgins, who not only spoke great sense but he also knew how to write. He’s witty, he has a great turn of phrase, he invents metaphors and imagery. Stuart, he’s not TIRED. The SWP is tired. It’s in a zombie state. It’s become toxic but unfortunately so many of you refuse to appreciate that that is how it is.

    The coming 2 years will demonstrate how isolating this disastrous Disputes Cttee. politics will be for those who remain – unless you pass enough branch resolutions to get a Special Conference. There’s still a chance, seize it.

    But spend some time learning about where the SWP came from. Read Higgins on the Locust at http://www.marxists.org. I promise you, he will make you laugh, smile, put joy into your life. But most of all it will help you think for yourself. And at this moment the SWP needs that for its political survival. I take no pleasure in saying that but that is how high the stakes are.

  193. secret factioneer on said:

    Manzil – I cannot for the life of me imagine how you thought that was aimed at you. stuart is the “sectarian idiot”, talking as if the party has interests separate from the class.

  194. Jara Handala: Did Martin Lawrence?

    I just checked “Lenin on Britain” Martin Lawrence 1932 (with a cracking intro from intro from Pollitt),and Lozovsky’s “Marx and the Unions” 1935. Neither says anything about using union labour, which doesn’t of course mean that it wasn’t union labour

  195. He’s witty, he has a great turn of phrase, he invents metaphors and imagery. Stuart, he’s not TIRED.

    He’s dead, unfortunately, so the SWP at least has that over him. And I think by the time he died (at the age of 71) Higgins was pretty tired; the same thought crossed my mind the other day relative to Al Richardson (who was only 61 when he died). Something it would be really good to get out of this crisis would be a revolutionary left that doesn’t chew people up and spit them out.

  196. The democratic structures are doing fine thank you very much, but problems can and will arise when a minority refuse to accept majority decisions and form an alliance with forces traditionally hostile to the SWP.

    It’s amazing how much ‘false consciousness’ is on display here.

  197. Jara Handala on said:

    Andy Newman,

    #234, 12:02pm

    Thanks for that, Andy.

    I know Kerr in the US in the early 20th century always(?) said ‘trade union labour’ coz I have some Kautsky books from my grandfather. But New Park seems to be the only European one that does, & also 60 years later.

    But it is surprising that L&W and Pluto don’t seem to say anything. (Maybe Mark P will see this & have an idea about L&W and Martin Lawrence.)

    Then there’s Militant, SPEW, AWL & the others. They never seem to say it either.

    And I don’t think Pathfinder says anything. In fact, don’t mention it to them as they may put the prices up even more, marketing themselves as the true proletarian publisher in the petty bourgeois swamp. (Had to find a way of introducing a Cliffism, given it’s that the flavour of the moment.)

  198. Feodor on said:

    Andy Newman:
    When Michael Moore released his first documentary “Roger and Me” it was on condition it could only be shown in unionised cinemas.

    Preferring to focus on his flaws instead, I don’t think many people give Moore the credit he often deserves, as a principled man who’s a good medium for left-wing ideas.

    It was Moore’s films and books, alongside Tony Benn’s appearances on Question Time, that first drew me towards the ideas of the political left. And I’ll always have a soft spot for both because of this.

  199. Jara Handala on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Feodor,

    I saw a very sad interview of him by Amy Goodman on ‘Democracy Now’ when he almost broke down, saying if he had known all the harrassment, abuse & invective his parents experienced coz of his “shame on you, Prez Bush’ Oscar speech he almost certainly wouldn’t have made it.

    I guess he knew thru his feelings what all those blacklisted & recanters had themselves experienced.

  200. Morning Star reader on said:

    For what it’s worth, most of the old CP’s printing was done on the party’s own presses (they had at least three) in London and Watford. All were unionised – nothing else would have been acceptable, especially given the party’s base in Fleet Street. This practice was carried on into the CPB, whose first General Secretary was Mike Hicks, the GPMU Chapel official who was gaoled during the Wapping dispute.

  201. stuart on said:

    Manzil,

    If a minority continues to agitate against majority decisions they place themselves outside of the tradition to which they voluntarily signed up.

  202. stuart on said:

    Jara Handala,

    I don’t accept your analogy here. As Molyneux says, we are not witnessing an ever changing, dynamic situation (like Russia 1917 for example). Nothing has changed since conference other than to continued agitation of the minority against the majority decisions.

    And what successful Leninist party did Higgins go on to lead?

  203. stuart: they place themselves outside of the tradition

    Surely the point of socialist organisation is not to perpetuate “your tradition” but to advance the cause of socialism?

  204. stuart: Nothing has changed since conference other than to continued agitation of the minority against the majority decisions.

    And the increasing damage to the SWP’s reputation, will lead to your further isolation

  205. stuart: So in your 20 years of SWP membership did you not accept the democratic centralist principle as practiced by the party?

    Not much to be honest, that is why I was never realy trusted.

  206. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman,

    But you cannot, IMO at least, advance to socialism without any agreed principles around organisation, principles that are adhered to by members.

  207. Manzil on said:

    stuart:
    If a minority continues to agitate against majority decisions they place themselves outside of the tradition to which they voluntarily signed up.

    Utterly absurd. It’s a political party, not a church.

    Who decides what ‘the tradition’ is? It can’t be the members, because as you’ve made abundantly clear, when you join you ‘voluntarily’ sign up to it. So where are the stone tablets?

    You can see they SHOULD accept the (IMO, gerrymandered) majority decision, because it’s the most effective or ethical thing, but that’s not the same as saying they HAVE TO.

  208. Manzil on said:

    Feodor: It was Moore’s films and books, alongside Tony Benn’s appearances on Question Time, that first drew me towards the ideas of the political left. And I’ll always have a soft spot for both because of this.

    Christ, it’s like you’re my lost twin.

  209. stuart on said:

    Manzil,

    Perhaps the word ‘tradition’ is not that helpful. But the SWP aims to be a party that can intervene decisively in events as and when they happen. They are not a ‘loose’ party whereby everyone can just do their own thing as they see fit. So when you join the party you voluntarily accept the party discipline, you agree to forego your right to ‘do your own thing’. The SWP tries to avoid a situation it describes as ‘government-opposition’ whereby, as in bourgeois parliaments where you get endless ‘debate’ which really amounts to inertia.

    As Alex Callinicos notes, this is why Owen Jones can talk about the party ‘punching above its weight’. This would not happen if the party was held back by endless factional disputes.

  210. Manzil on said:

    stuart,

    How did the Bolsheviks ‘intervene’ and ‘punch above their weight’ given their relatively liberal internal regime compared to the SWP?

    Continuous, rather than periodic and artificial, freedom to criticise and debate is if anything more likely to lead to harmonious and united activity by the SWP. By so severely limiting opportunities for the minority to become the majority, you put far greater stress on the need to ‘win’ internal debates. The scarcity of influence makes it all the more important.

    What do you think this situation is characterised by, if not inertia? we’re not termites, people don’t obey systems that don’t reflect their real needs and aspirations – which are not being met by the current bureaucratic regime in the party. Until that is resolved, by either reform or the excising of the opposition, you will have nothing BUT inertia.

    The ‘government-opposition’ relationship – which the SWP is currently developing, rather than avoiding – has resulted not from legalised factions but rather the efforts of the Central Committee to stamp out any possibility for the minority to actually engage in free discussion (i.e. the pre-conference expulsions), and since then to delegitimise criticisms of its actions.

  211. Karl Stewart on said:

    stuart: ‘What we are trying to work out now is how to protect what we have achieved under unprecedented attack from a group of members who are trying to use pressure from outside to compensate for their weakness within the SWP.’ (Callinicos,2013)
    By pressure from outside I think he means people like you and Nick Cohen.

    I’ve never met Nick Cohen or ever communicated with him Stuart, so that’s a bit silly really isn’t it?

  212. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman: Not much to be honest, that is why I was never realy trusted.

    Well if it wasn’t the democratic centralism that attracted you why did you spend 20 years in a party that you now tell us was institutionally sexist (something I’ve yet to notice)?

  213. The SWP were the subject of a question in a TV quiz just now btw.

    It’s called The Chaser I think.

  214. secret factioneer on said:

    stuart –

    The four comrades who talked to some other people about how to try to persuade the party to deal properly with an allegation of rape against a leading member HAD to be expelled IMMEDIATELY to save the party, or some such bollocks.

    So why is it the opposition being allowed to stay in the party?

  215. Feodor on said:

    Manzil: Christ, it’s like you’re my lost twin.

    :)

    But who is the good twin…and who is the evil twin?

    Stayed tuned folks, all will be revealed in tomorrows episode.

  216. secret factioneer on said:

    Also, why has Mark Bergfeld resigned from the CC? What a great ad for the slate system, eh?

  217. secret factioneer on said:

    But Pete, the CC didn’t need the cover of a hastily-called NC meeting to expel the four comrades pre-conference. So why now? I guess it must be because the opposition is so weak inside the party…

  218. secret factioneer,

    If the CC follow traditional methods then its will be a combination of,1) toe the line or you have excluded yourself, 2)ignoring and using the gossip network to make people feel alienated enough that the drop out, 3)the sit down with an older comrade/full timer organiser talk-that either gets the erring comrade to recant or drop out, 4)with a handful of expulsions to encourage les autres.

    They are past experts at this. SWP comrades who don’t totally toe the majority decision need to take this advice to heart http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/advice-for-comrades-feeling-heat-from_30.html

  219. stuart on said:

    Karl Stewart: I’ve never met Nick Cohen or ever communicated with him Stuart, so that’s a bit silly really isn’t it?

    You don’t have to have met someone to hold a similar political view.

  220. stuart on said:

    Manzil,

    See my post 200 on the other thread, ‘SWP leadership fracturing under pressure’. How the party reacts will be determined by the contours of the class struggle.

  221. Manzil on said:

    stuart:
    Manzil,

    See my post 200 on the other thread, ‘SWP leadership fracturing under pressure’. How the party reacts will be determined by the contours of the class struggle.

    But, reading your comment at #200, your argument is that “Comparisons with 1917 are not valid” precisely because the situation with the SWP is detached from the class struggle owing to the “cumulative anti-party mood, articulated by Labourites”. And now you’re saying criticisms of the party are not valid because the SWP will simply be buffeted along by the development of the class struggle.

    Which is it? Are we talking about the SWP on its own terms, or as part of the workers’ movement?

  222. Manzil: cumulative anti-party mood, articulated by Labourites

    This whole last few weeks has been a slick operation. Firstly Iain McNichol getting a Labour Party organiser to infiltrate the SWP to make the recording; then Ed writing
    all the articles about the SWP. I said to him that I was suprised he had the time with being Leader or the Opposition, but he insisted, he writes them, I just put my name on them. Leave it to us they said, the SWP is our real enemy, not the Tories

  223. #274,

    Can the admin please explain why a whole load of Harry’s Place garbage has been deposited on this site. Is Socialist Unity now twinned with a bunch of supporters of ethnic cleansing?

  224. Take a break, Stuart. You’re clearly not at your best. That is, clearly, obviously, self-evidently a “pingback”, which was left a short while ago and will be got rid of.

    Can you please explain why you claimed it was a “whole load” of stuff?, when it’s clearly – again, self-evidently – an automated link posting. And can you please explain how you jumped to the conclusion that we are “twinned” with supporters of ethnic cleansing?

    Your continued use of this site depends upon you not descending into the same ridiculous childish antics you were engaged in recently.

  225. I’m actually gonna expect a serious answer from you Stuart. You’re not just gonna get away with the same dishonest methods you continually use on here. If you’re gonna make accusations about the people who run the site, you’d better substantiate them. We wouldn’t want you to become like Simon Assaf, who is now calling comrades “spooks” when they disagree with him, and calling other people “scabs”.

    It’s Denham territory, and you know what we do with Denhams.

  226. Tony Collins,

    Thank you very much for removing it and sorry if I over reacted. I think we can agree on one thing. Harry’s Place is vile. I would personally like to see a lynch-mob mentality directed towards any of their regular posters on here.

  227. stuart:
    Tony Collins,

    Thank you very much for removing it and sorry if I over reacted. I think we can agree on one thing. Harry’s Place is vile. I would personally like to see a lynch-mob mentality directed towards any of their regular posters on here.

    Have you lost your mind?

    Lynch mobs mentalities are not good things, Stuart. The issue is not at whom they are directed.

    As for this “we can agree on one thing”, we’re back to the attempted stigmatisation of the Other. Like with the references to internet “filth” (unabridged transcripts of your own conference discussions and so forth) and the unacceptability of non-SWP members commenting on the crisis.

    This is not a healthy attitude. You are normalising unacceptable behaviour. Stop it.

  228. stuart:
    Manzil,

    I think you are being used as a sectarian attack dog by whoever leaked.

    You’re the ones threatening lynch mobs, comrade.

    (More stigmatisation! It’s textbook.)

  229. Howard Fuller on said:

    I would personally like to see a lynch-mob mentality directed towards any of their regular posters on here. (Stuart)

    With unsavoury views like that it is no wonder that I find the SWP an unpalatable organisation.

    You and the “Professor” are welcome to each other if “hate” is your primary motivation.

    I am a trade unionist and an occasional poster to Harry’s Place.

    I assure you we will never walk into the dark again.

    Shalom.

  230. Howard Fuller on said:

    I oppose the far-left, the far right and all forms of religious extremism.

    Besides the fact the far-left have wrecked PCS as a union.

  231. stuart:
    Manzil,

    Part of the ‘opposition’ call you ‘filth’ whilst another part seem to use you as ‘filth’.

    Do you find that by constantly changing the subject, maligning people’s motives, and inferring absurd conclusions from their criticisms, that it makes it easier for you to play the victim, despite defending thugs and bullies who ask alleged rape victims about their drinking habits and relationship history, who expel people for conversing on Facebook, and who threaten lynch mobs on their critics? Is the paranoid delusion of a calculated conspiracy easier to bear than the idea you’re defending the indefensible?