The SWP and Their Quasi-judicial Proceedings

The article in the Independent about the rape-crisis in the SWP probably requires some clarification. I am quoted as follows:

The highly detailed minutes, which run to 27 pages, were first published on Socialist Unity, a left wing blog run by Andy Newman, a Swindon-based Labour Party member. He told The Independent that SWP members contacted him anonymously because they were furious about the way the party had handled the rape allegations.

“I believe that the SWP think they’re outside the law,” he said. “It’s quite clear reading their account of what’s going on that they sort of see themselves as an alternative group in society that is not part of mainstream society. They think someone couldn’t or shouldn’t go to the police because it would damage the party.”

Mr Newman likened the SWP’s disciplinary hearing to an extrajudicial “sharia” system or the much criticised investigations by the Roman Catholic church into clerical abuse that bypassed reporting allegations to the authorities.

I had a reasonably long chat with Jerome Taylor, the Independent journalist, and he had a firm grasp of the issues involved, but inevitably in the course of writing a relatively short article for his paper, the complexity cannot be reflected. The quote about Sharia law was to a certain extent “put into my mouth” and I think reflects Jerome Taylor’s own views rather more than mine. Jerome struck me as a good journalist, and I don’t think he did anything wrong, it is just that he probably interpreted our conversation based upon different political assumptions from mine.

I have written on several occasions arguing against Islamophobic assumptions about Sharia Law, for example in defence of Dr Rowan Williams’ controversial speech that suggested a place for Sharia courts with civil jurisdiction in the UK. I also supported the arguments by Lord Philips, the Lord Chief Justice, which gave welcome clarification to Dr Williams’ argument that

“it might be possible to contemplate, … , a scheme in which individuals retain the liberty to choose the jurisdiction under which they will seek to resolve certain carefully specified matters”. He suggested by way of example “aspects of marital law, the regulation of financial transactions and authorised structures of mediation and conflict resolution”.

So I have no problem with either Sharia law, nor its exercise by Sharia courts, relating to certain prescribed matters. The criminal law is however not an area where private jurisdictions should be able to exclude the remit of the state.

At the heart of the crisis in the SWP is the question of why they felt themselves competent to undertake quasi-judicial functions in a serious criminal matter. Let us look at what SWP members said, in their own words, during the debate about the Disputes Committee report:

“We’re not a law court. We are here to protect the interests of the party, and to make sure that any inappropriate behaviour of any kind by comrades is dealt with, and we do that according to the politics of a revolutionary party.”

“We also however thought it was important to be clear that the disputes committee doesn’t exist to police moral, er, bourgeois morality, so we agreed that issues that weren’t relevant to us were whether the comrade was monogamous, whether they were having an affair, whether the age differences in their relationship, because as revolutionaries we didn’t consider that should be our remit to consider issues such as those.”

“We are unanimous that we came to this with no preconceived agenda, that we used the best methods of the revolutionary tradition.”

“Everybody who sat on this DC sat as revolutionary socialists but also with our world experience.”

And from one of the closest supporters of the woman making the complaint:

“Comrades, we have to welcome the fact that we have a disputes committee. We have no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice. (inaudible) The contribution I’m about to make is in no way to undermine the fact that we have a disputes committee – that is the right way to go.”

Given that rape is a serious criminal offence that would, if proven in a proper court, lead to a prison sentence, let us look at the SWP’s concept of sanctions:

“If we had believed that he was guilty of any misconduct, then we would have either recommended his expulsion or his removal from the central committee, which would have been the two options available to us.”

A number of things leap out, firstly that in the shared perception of the group, being a “revolutionary” privileges them with a superior understanding of how to deal with accusations of rape, better than the established processes of the English legal system. Secondly, that consideration of the prestige and reputation of the organisation was a primary goal of the process; and finally that it would have been appropriate to simply expel someone, had they concluded they were a rapist.  There seems to have been no consideration of how their investigation might taint a proper police investigation, or whether they had a duty to wider public safety to ensure a possible rapist was brought to justice.

The comparison with the past practices of the Catholic Church are clear. Let us reflect upon the Socialist Workers party’s own words about abuse in the Catholic Church:

The recent Murphy report (2009) outlines the role of the Irish church in covering up child abuse. It summarised the church’s motives as follows: “The maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church, and the preservation of its assets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. … …. …. to describe this simply as a “scandal” is to let all those involved off the hook. A criminal conspiracy might be a better description of what took place. “

Let us also remind ourselves of the SWP’s description of the attitude of the Catholic Church, when faced with sex scandals:

In a throwback to the era before widespread revelations emerged, they have attempted to dismiss the allegations … as “gossip”.

Their strategy has involved a number of other themes as well. One of these is to invoke charges of anti-Catholicism and try and portray themselves as the victims. Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, an aide to the pope, set the tone, telling reporters, “This is a pretext for attacking the church… There is a well organised plan with a very clear aim.”

Compare this to the response of Charlie Kimber, National Secretary of the SWP to the publication of details of the current crisis in the SWP:

“It is … an assault on the SWP, its democracy, and our attempts to deal with this issue fairly.

Organisations that have to deal with personal cases and allegations of this sort deserve the right to privacy about the details of the proceedings. …

I do not believe you are motivated by any considerations apart from a desire to damage the individuals involved, and the SWP, and to achieve tawdry publicity.”

The sense of institutional entitlement of the Church obviously relates to their own perception of their relationship with God, and the historical legacy of Ecclesiastical Courts. Religions have codified social conventions and seek to align personal behaviour with expected social norms. Their sense of entitlement therefore reflects the past, but it also provides a referential set of values for their faith community, and aspirationally for the whole of society.

Whereas the Church sought to resist outside intrusion over child abuse by looking to the past; the SWP’s self-referential attitude is based upon the Messianic view of their organisations own future importance, vested as it is in the eyes of the believers, with a historically necessary role of a “revolution”, upon which lies the fate of humanity.

Many SWP members are well grounded individuals, who combine both their membership of the organisation with participation in trade unions, campaigns alongside other people, and normal social interaction. However, a large proportion of the most active SWP members live in a very self-referential world, and to a certain extent they create their own reality around the rituals and beliefs of their group. Particularly as the prestige and influence of leadership positions is conferred by routine work largely only with other party members, and by literary endeavour of books and magazines read mainly by other party members, then patronage becomes an important factor.

Unequal power relationships related to patronage and charismatic authority are typically susceptible to sexual abuse, and the messianic aspirations of the group discourage abused victims from taking any action that would damage the organisation. Paradoxically, in left organisations nominally dedicated to anti-sexism, the fact that promotion and influence is by a self-referential system of prestige related to “party work”, rather than achievement in the outside world, opens up advancement by patronage where leading female members are subaltern to their male lovers.

The self-referential nature of the SWP also explains its sometime dynamism. Its members are organisationally well trained, and acquire good skills in persuading, public speaking and the routine organisation of putting on meetings, writing and publishing posters and leaflets, etc. However, its activity is largely orthogonal to the established mechanisms of civic and political lobbying, opinion forming, and constitutionality engaged with by mainstream political and advocacy groups.

The SWP is therefore very well suited to engaging with novel opportunities for radicalism, because it provides a scaffolding for readily building a campaign, and its advocacy methods are accessible immediately to anyone prepared to take to the streets, without the relatively long period necessary to access more mainstream political infleunce. But as radicalism subsides the SWP struggles to integrate the new activists, as the propaganda routine is not engaged with practical political reform in the here and now; and the SWP’s relative political and social isolation provides no gateway for activists to move from the SWP’s routine into effective engagement with mainstream politics. The resultent high churn rate is reminiscent of New Religious Movements, where modern research emphasises the active role of recruits and converts in seeking membership, and then rapidly “role adopting” the ethos of the group, which provides both an illusion of perpetual growth and dynamism, and also performs the role of reinforcing the optimism of the established members. However, the “role adopters” leave as easily as they join.

The reference to Sharia law in the Independent article came about when I observed to the journalist that clearly the members of the SWP on the Disputes Committee were well intentioned, and by their own lights they believed they were doing the right thing.

Jerome Taylor replied to me that he had in the past reported on Sharia courts in the UK, and observed that in some cases they had exceeded their authority by assuming jurisdiction over criminal matters, but he had likewise been struck by the integrity and honesty of those presiding over proceedings, and the fact that while what they were doing was against the broader public interest, they were doing so in the subjective belief that they were doing the best thing for their community.

In this context, the reference to Sharia law is obviously not about how Sharia law might itself deal with the issue of rape, but is related to a discussion of how competing and different legal jurisdictions operate within a polity. I observed to Jerome Taylor, that for religiously observant people from minority communities, there may be important practical benefits in using the services of courts from their heritage background. As I have written before

We should also recognise that people who choose to self-identify with a religious community, and its associated laws and ethics have a right to do so. The actual, and so far relatively successful, experience of multi-culturalism and convergence towards consensual liberal values in British society has not been on the basis of any campaign for secularism, but has succeeded by offering choice and empowerment.

But in those areas like contract law, inheritance and family law, sharia courts could be incorporated into the English Legal System in the same way that Jewish Beth Din courts already are. In this way, we could engineer a situation where individuals can choose which code to adopt. Of course any choice to use religious arbitration would have to be mutual and based on free and informed consent.

This encourages the secular legal authorities to respect the plurality of our society, and recognise people’s different senses of identity; and simultaneously it puts pressure on the religious communities to evolve towards the wider norms of society.

Recognition of Jewish, Islamic or other religious arbitration by the law of the land means that communities do not rely upon extra-judicial pressure. At the same time, recognition and incorporation of religious courts means that the state’s civil courts institutionalise their right of supervision over those religious courts to ensure natural justice, and that their use is consensual.

However, we must also agree that with the legal theorist, Ayelet Shachar,who raised the problem that any model that ends up ‘franchising’ a non-state jurisdiction could reinforce its most problematic features and further disadvantage its weakest members: ‘we must be alert’, she writes, ‘to the potentially injurious effects of well-meaning external protections upon different categories of group members here – effects which may unwittingly exacerbate preexisting internal power hierarchies’

Any attempt to franchise any authority over sanctions for criminal behaviour to non-state actors is open to abuse. In that sense, and that sense only, the quasi-judiicial proceedings of the SWP are analogous to those who might seek to extend the jurisdiction of sharia courts in the UK to criminal matters. But the comparison was not one I even made, it was suggested to me by the Independent journalist, Jerome Taylor, and I responded to him by distancing myself from the implication.

It constantly amazes me that people on the left have so little experience with dealing with the mainstream media that they fail to recognise how the arguments become distorted by the political assumptions of the newspaper. Exactly the same happened last year when I was beaten up by some for a quote that was inserted by the Guardian sub-editors at the insistence of their lawyers into an article I wrote and which I had never seen before publication.

113 comments on “The SWP and Their Quasi-judicial Proceedings

  1. It constantly amazes me that people on the left have so little experience with dealing wiith the mainstream media

    …or haven’t learned from their experiences (same paragraph).

    Otherwise: wriggling.

    What do you think about Richard Seymour’s statement that the article in which you feature is “racist” and “aimed at an EDL audience”?

  2. daggi: …or haven’t learned from their experiences (same paragraph).

    Well what are you going to do? Relating to the mainstream media has its downsides, but also its upsides. You do lose control, so it is a question of how much you are prepared to tolerate it, and how much it matters, in excahange for accessing a bigger audience.

    daggi: What do you think about Richard Seymour’s statement that the article in which you feature is “racist” and “aimed at an EDL audience”?

    I didn’t write the article, but I am sure that Jerome Taylor will be suprised to learn that the paper he writes for is aimed at an EDL audience. If Seymour actually described Taylor as a racist, then I think there would be an arguable libel action there.

  3. Andy Newman: If Seymour actually described Taylor as a racist

    That’s not what I wrote, and not what Seymour wrote. He described the article as “racist” (and the rest quoted above, both in one tweet).

  4. daggi: That’s not what I wrote, and not what Seymour wrote.

    Fair enough, I haven’t seen the tweet.

    I think that the emphasis on a comparison with Sharia law had unfortunate undertones, to say the very least. But I can see from the point of view of the Indy that it was a sexy angle, and the fact that Jerome Taylor had previously written about Sharia law suggest that may have been the angle he wanted from the outset.

  5. SWP (ex) Loyalist on said:

    China, Richard and many other less high-profile SWP cadre are now in open revolt against the CC and its gross errors of judgement.

    It’s time to ask serious questions about the real reason why the ruling clique is SO determined to hang onto power and protect its own, including Comrade Delta.

    It’s money. A dozen or so old guard leaders have lived for years on the income from legacies, investments, subs and sales. Apart from the Prof, with his academic salary and inherited wealth, most of them would be on the dole if they lost control of the Party machine.

  6. SWP (ex) Loyalist: It’s money. A dozen or so old guard leaders have lived for years on the income from legacies, investments, subs and sales. Apart from the Prof, with his academic salary and inherited wealth, most of them would be on the dole if they lost control of the Party machine.

    OH YES

  7. If what you say is accurate Andy, given how many people will use the quote as a stick to beat you with, if you haven’t done it already, I suggest you contact Jerome Taylor and ask him to edit the article so as to make it clear that those are his thoughts and not yours.

  8. Feodor: suggest you contact Jerome Taylor and ask him to edit the article so as to make it clear that those are his thoughts and not yours.

    I think it may be going into the print edition anyway. It is just one of those things, and I don’t think that Jerome did anything wrong, I just think he will rememeber the emphasis of the converstaion diferently from me, as he has different political assumptions.

    He struck me as a good journo, it is just one of the pitfalls of political life

  9. SWP (ex) Loyalist on said:

    Andy Newman,

    So much more I could say on this but I’ll leave it to others. Some of the comrades now in revolt really do know where the financial bodies are buried. If the truth comes out, Comrade Delta may not be the only one hauled before the bourgeois courts.

  10. Blair Peach on said:

    Much as I dislike the SWP, the fact is that allegations of and controversy about alleged sexual assaults have been used to smear Julian Assange, to try to wreck the Occupy movement, and are now being leveled against a senior figure in the SWP. The claim made in The Independent newspaper is that Andy Newman stated on Socialist Unity that “I believe that the SWP think they’re outside the law”.

    Given the way that the police colluded in covering-up for the MURDER of Ian Tomlinson, helped cover-up for the DOZENS OF CHILD RAPES committed by Jimmy Savile, and lied and cheated in relation to Hillsborough and Orgreave etc, the SWP were right to try and deal with this on their own, because THE POLICE AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM ARE TOTALLY CORRUPT

    That’s not to say that the SWP dealt with this well, but you’d have to be really stupid to think that the allegation against [DELETED]could ever be dealt with fairly by the COPS

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ranks-of-the-socialist-workers-party-are-split-over-handling-of-rape-allegation-8448429.html

  11. Jellytot on said:

    @9Some of the comrades now in revolt really do know where the financial bodies are buried.

    Finances in these sorts of groups has always been incredibly opaque. There could be “official” bank accounts, “unoffical” ones and even ‘tenners stuffed into showboxes’ somewhere? Who really knows?

    It’s rare that any of the rank and file even question where the money comes from and where is goes. To even discuss something as ‘vulgar’ as finance would be considered bourgeois and un-socialist and, in truth, a lot of the young members are probably, and understandly, unworldly in this area.

    The leadership likes to promote the convenient (for them) impression that they are always perpetually skint, on the absolute breadline and the cupboard is close to being bare.

  12. Blair Peach on said:

    “The quote about Sharia law was to a certain extent “put into my mouth” and I think reflects Jerome Taylor’s own views rather more than mine. Jerome struck me as a good journalist, and I don’t think he did anything wrong, it is just that he probably interpreted our conversation based upon different political assumptions from mine.”

    If Jerome Taylor put words into your mouth he’s not a good journalist he’s a LIAR, and the fact that the words in question happen to have been “Sharia Law” suggests his political bias is strongly influenced by the kind of mind-set that characterises the English Defence League

    You’re being set-up

  13. daggi: tell us about the ISO split and the insurance business.

    In brief, and from memory, though I do have emails saved somewhere with all the details.

    I heard from both sides of the Atlantic that someone who had been a SWP member in the UK moved to the USA and joined the ISO. He was then tragically killed, IIRC in an accident, and there was a huge life insurance pay out.

    His will left the bulk of it to the SWP. The ISO argued that they were due a share, but the SWP sent someone (who I won’t name) over to the USA who settled the estate, and returned to London with all of it.

    The ISO argued that they were entitled to some of the money, and pointed out that if it was an International Tendency”, then they were roughly the same size as the SWP at that time, so why did London get all the money. When rebuffed by Lord Callinicos they started asking some very pointed questions about international fund raising drives that had been conducted over the years, allegedly for South Korea, or Zimbabwe or whereever, which thay had paid tens of thousands of dollars into; they asked to see the books, and have proof where the money went.

    It was at this point that the SWP in London suddenly discovered that the ISO had been “too slow” to respond to the World Trade Organisation protests in Seattle, and Callinicos and IIRC even Cliff, started phoning members in the USA, seeking to destablise the Chicago leadership.

    Both sides did very well at trying to present the argument as being about politics, but it was just an undignified familly squabble about a will.

    There are amusing details that I would have to check the old emails about – but that was the gist of it.

    The story of a former SWP treasuer’s unsual pension arrangement was much more funny, but I don’t think it can be shared on a blog.

  14. Blair Peach: If Jerome Taylor put words into your mouth he’s not a good journalist he’s a LIAR,

    No, I think that he will have remembered a different emphasis of the conversation to me, because he has a different political background and assumptions. We did discuss Sharia courts, so he isn’t lying.

    Blair Peach: the fact that the words in question happen to have been “Sharia Law” suggests his political bias is strongly influenced by the kind of mind-set that characterises the English Defence League

    No, we were discussing Sharia courts because he had reported instances of Sharia courts well-intentionedly but wrongly seeking to exercise jurisdiction in potentially criminal matters.

    We weren’t discussing Sharia law in the sense of it being inherently inferior to English law.

    I can see why a journalist would see this as a sexy angle.

  15. anticapitalista: “was to a certain extent “put into my mouth” ”

    Yes because we did discuss the issues of the Catholic Church and Sharia courts; so it wasn’t a lie that we discussed it. It is just that I didn’;t make the comparison in the perjorative way that the article implies.

    However, in so far as I actually made a comparison it was to say that both the SWP Disputs Committee and Sharia Courts are run by well intentioned people, trying their hardest to display personal integrity, but when refferring to criminal matters, they simply shouldnt be doing it.

  16. Jellytot on said:

    @14As for the sharia comments . . . pretty disgusting and clearly aimed at making members vulnerable to EDL attack at a time when they are engaged in internal disrpution and perhaps cannot defend themselves.

    Pretzel logic and I’m genuinely clueless as to how the EDL should factor into any of this.

    @14That’s not to say that the SWP dealt with this well, but you’d have to be really stupid to think that the allegation against XXXXXX could ever be dealt with fairly by the COPS

    Why shouldn’t the “COPS”, CPS and the Courts assess and adjudicate on this incredibly serious case in the same manner as any other of the same magnitude?

  17. anticapitalista on said:

    #16 Are you claiming that the ISO around the time of the Seattle protests had a membership roughly the same size as the SWP?
    Got any evidence for this?

  18. Porkine Pig: clearly aimed at making members vulnerable to EDL attack at a time when they are engaged in internal disrpution and perhaps cannot defend themselves.

    Because up until now EDL members have only had warm fuzzy feelings of affection for the SWP?

    Because the EDL all read the Indy, and will be choked up with rage at the disregard for the rule of law shown by the SWP Disuptes Commitee?

    Because SWP members will be so distracted that they will miss their Krav maga training?

  19. SWP (ex) Loyalist on said:

    “As for the sharia comments . . . pretty disgusting and clearly aimed at making members vulnerable to EDL attack at a time when they are engaged in internal disrpution and perhaps cannot defend themselves.”

    That’s ridiculous. It was a crass comparison on the part of the journalist not an incitement to violence, nor was it intended to be. Stop throwing up smokescreens and address the real issues here.

  20. Porkine Pig: If the accused and the accuser are happy to keep the matter out of the bourgeois courts and prevent police nosing in their business I don’t see what is wrong with the SWP dealing with this internally

    Public safety. This is an allegation of a serious criminal matter, and there is a public interest in investigating rapes and prosecuting rapists. Otherwise you are saying that it is appropriate for community pressure to be brought to bear – consciously oR otherwise – not to report rapes to the police

  21. Jellytot on said:

    @16there was a huge life insurance pay out. His will left the bulk of it to the SWP.

    The figure I’ve heard was mind-boggling.

    If true then it would have put the SWP up there with the Tories and Labour in terms of their income for that year.

    The question is, “Where did it all go?”

  22. Gazza's toolbox and spanner collection on said:

    “making members vulnerable to EDL attack”

    There’s a bit of a diversion going on here. StormFront and the EDL types had already picked up on this story earlier this week because of Delta Force’s position in UAF.

    Blaming Andy for an angle the Indy takes is a bit of a red Herring.

    The far Right had already been handed a potential gift with this debacle regarding someone so prominent in the anti fascist movement,

    but then I suppose some people already realise this which is why he’s been packed off to Greece for the 19th Jan mobilisations.

    Others may argue that this trip is no more like a some well paid Jolly with the kudos of going to Greece.

    As if his presence would actually contribute to anything in Greece, its not like they’ve already got a shit load of problems to deal with without Harry Worth turning up

  23. anticapitalista on said:

    #25 That won’t do. The SWP probably claimed a membership of several thousand (I dunno, at least 2 maybe up to 5) while the ISO probably (proudly) claimed at just getting into the four figure mark after being much less for so long.

  24. Gazza's toolbox and spanner collection: StormFront and the EDL types had already picked up on this story earlier this week because of Delta Force’s position in UAF.

    For what it is worth, some years ago all my personal details were posted on StormFronr, speculating upon my Jewish origins, and inviting people to visit me at my home and hold me to account.

    so I am unimpressed by keyboard warriors of the left sweating because the EDL don’t like them

  25. anticapitalista on said:

    #27 ” … but then I suppose some people already realise this which is why he’s been packed off to Greece for the 19th Jan mobilisations.”

    Utter bollox. The mobilisations and UAF leadership participation was decided months ago.

  26. anticapitalista: The SWP probably claimed a membership of several thousand (I dunno, at least 2 maybe up to 5) while the ISO probably (proudly) claimed at just getting into the four figure mark after being much less for so long.

    I don’t beleive that the SWP’s membership has been over 1500 for a long time. I remmeber when I joined in 1978 real membership fgures used to be published, and at that time it was about 3200, and the SWP was demonstrable larger in 1978 than it is today, or was ten years ago.

    Around the time of Seattle, the ISO were claiming over 1000 activists.

    Now I neither know nor care whether the ISO were realy the same size as the SWP(GB) because that is a detail that is really secondary, the ISO’s argument was that they were a big boy too now; and in Ahmed Shwaki’s memorable phrase, Callinicos needed to rememeber that the USA isn’e a colony anymore.

  27. anticapitalista on said:

    #31 Well I dispute that the real reason for the split was down to money as you claim. Now it probably caused bad feelings to put it politely, but the ISO was expelled on the initiative of the Greek SEK due to the ISO’s support for those that split just before the SEK conference in 2001. The issue for the split in Greece was certainly political and centred on the emerging anti-capitalist movement (though there were other issues) with the ISO POLITICALLY agreeing with those that left SEK.

  28. Gazza's toolbox and spanner collection on said:

    30 -”Utter bollox. The mobilisations and UAF leadership participation was decided months ago”.

    Doesn’t mean Delta Force has to go as the UAF representative, there are others in the Leadership of said body.

    But one does have to say that it would be rather convenient that he’s out of the country while the shit is pelting at the fan.

    Anyway the ground is moving very fast at the present, who knows, he maybe picking up a a P45 by the end of the month.

    Though I do note, as always the loyal follower from abroad that you’ve yet to comment on the substance of the allegations, if not that, then maybe the events unfolding on Lenin’s Tomb

  29. The criticism of the reference to Sharia is very cynical and is a totally transparent attempt to provide a smokescreen. I hope it won’t be repeated.

    The suggestion by Blair Peach that “the SWP were right to try and deal with this on their own, because THE POLICE AND THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM ARE TOTALLY CORRUPT”, is just ridiculous. Socialists should have no illusions in the courts, but that in no way justifies the idea of a small radical political party should investigate crimes themselves, ALONE. Where would that end? With Callinicos et al playing the role of detectives in a game of vigilante justice?

    The fact is that the court system enjoys at least the passive support of the vast majority of the social base of society, and to talk of an alternative to bourgeois justice before that has begun to change is thoroughly out of step with most interpretations of Marxist theory.

    Does anyone know if the two factions formed plan to continue organising? Have seen Seymour’s blog, so presumably he’s about to get expelled? It is to be hoped that if the SWP can be reformed in the wake of this it will be, but that if this crisis is terminal, it would be far better for the end to be swift. The opposition should look at the pockets of WRP paper sellers who still appear from time to time and consider their options carefully.

  30. anticapitalista: The issue for the split in Greece was certainly political

    the issue of the split was political, refracted through money, because it was about the pretentions of the London leadership, and the insufferably English assumption that what happens in England is exemplary and normative for the whole world, and that it is rather vulgar for foreigners to cling to their own silly ways when London can set such a good example.

  31. anticapitalista on said:

    #33 “Though I do note, as always the loyal follower from abroad that you’ve yet to comment on the substance of the allegations, if not that, then maybe the events unfolding on Lenin’s Tomb”

    A loyal follower of what? I haven’t posted anything of substance here for months to show any supposed ‘loyalty’.

    I am not going to comment here on the substance of the allegations since there is no point. The comrades in Serbia haven’t posted here either, nor as far as I can tell over at Lenin’s Tomb.

  32. jim mclean on said:

    Andy Newman,

    It has always been hurtful to my conceit that I am so low on the radar that I have never made Redwatch although with my concerns over sharia Law I might one day make Islamophobia watch or whatever. The only time I have been threatened in a serious manner was when I defended the Social Workers in relation to Cleveland and pointed out the class divisions between those who were exonerated and those who were convicted of an offence. I notice that on the nasti site they are stating Delta is a Jew, oh well shit for brains i assume.

  33. anticapitalista on said:

    #35 You’re taking the piss eh?

    The split in Greece had absolutely nothing to do with any supposed ‘pretentions of the London leadership’. It is insulting of you to suggest that comrades here in Greece were manipulated by the Great Powers. So us foreigners can’t think for ourselves?

  34. anticapitalista,

    I couldn t care less why you split in greece, I was referring to.the reason chicago split from London. Hoe that then played out followed Cannons dictum that people have two reasons for what they do. The good reason and the real reason.

  35. David Ruaune on said:

    Is part of this crisis, I wonder, partly to do with Callinicos being the last man standing? If it was a cartoon, in its classic phase, you’d have Cliff, the leader,with a funny accent, Harman, sort of the biggish one, bit of an all-rounder and very manly, Hallas, the drunk, and Callinicos, the clever one (because he wears specs an walks around with a book an that). And a couple of feisty gobby women. But then later, you only have Callinicos, the clever one, trying to be everyone else, including being the leader. And then it all goes to shit.

  36. Sam: Does anyone know if the two factions formed plan to continue organising? Have seen Seymour’s blog, so presumably he’s about to get expelled?

    Seymour argues in a comment on his blog for comrades (when asked by a SWPer what should be done next) to mobilise for a recall party conference.

  37. anticapitalista on said:

    I’ll sign off by saying that the statement by the comrades in Serbia clearly refers to political differences (as well as the obvious others) with the SWP and with what the Greek SEK is doing in relation to building ANTARSYA rather than supporting (critically) SYRIZA.

  38. Gazza's fishing Rod and sandwiches on said:

    Also mentions 100 membets prepare to fight, if I read this right, then he may get a knock on the door in the middle of night. It appear to be picking up a head of steam

  39. daggi: That’s not what I wrote, and not what Seymour wrote. He described the article as “racist” (and the rest quoted above, both in one tweet).

    No,. on his blog Richard Seymour asks who would use the language used in the Indpeendent Article, and then says the answer is “racists”

    One last thing. There is an article in The Independent about this case. It uses the phrase “socialist sharia court”. It is miles away, in tone and spirit, from Laurie Penny’s piece. I would urge people to think carefully about who wants to use the sort of language deployed in the Independent article. I think the answer is, “racists”. I would also point out that, as far as I know, the Independent did not speak to any party members. My advice is to disregard that piece.

    It is a carefully calibrated argument from Richard that both I and Jerome taylor are racists.

    A bit rich from Seymour who said absolutelly nothing when a leading SWP central committe member said that the problem in respect was than no white people had been elected in Tower Hamelts.

  40. David Ruaune on said:

    daggi: mobilise for a recall party conference.

    That seems about right – the SWP and the newspaper “Socialist Worker” and the SWP website should openly admit that they are in crisis and trying to deal with it, that rules on the restrictions of factions are at least temporarily out the window, and set a provisional date for a recall conference.

  41. Feodor on said:

    @Andy, #8 – Fair enough.

    @Jellytot, #13 – You’d think that open and transparent book-keeping, with the accounts signed off by the membership (or more feasibly, an elected segment of the membership and/or the national conference), would be an important feature of any democratic socialist body. (What’s the standard practice in mainstream parties, esp. the LP? I really have no clue.)

    Just as many groups seem unwilling to analyse their own internal power dynamics and structures, they also seem oblivious to how resources are used and who, if anyone, is benefiting from the party coffers. If I had to pass verdict on why much of the far left is in the state it is today, I’d say these two factors have far more impact than an over-reliance on the dated theories of certain Russians.

  42. @Daggi Thanks-will be interesting to see how successful attempts to recall conference are…

    @David Ruane Definitely-they need to openly acknowledge what has happened and put this out in the open. They also need to clearly articulate what they did, why, and there reasons for siding with Delta. At the very least, they owe it to the membership.

  43. daggi: Seymour argues in a comment on his blog for comrades (when asked by a SWPer what should be done next) to mobilise for a recall party conference.

    All the stuff about fighting to reform the SWP seems to rather naively assume that control of the SWP is about politics, and who wins elections to the Central Committee.

    In reality the issue is more about who are the trustees, and who actually owns and controls the physical and finanicial assets.

    The SWP leadership will have learned a salutory lesson when George galloway’s supporters changed the locks at Respect;s Bethnal Green offices.

  44. Sam: They also need to clearly articulate what they did, why, and there reasons for siding with Delta.

    Before they do anything about the Delta case, they shoudl take LEGAL ADVICE.

  45. Andy Newman: the issue is more about who are the trustees

    Companies House and other websites with the same data show it’s mainly the same few people (some such sites helpfully show “other companies with the same directors” etc. – though only a few, after which you have to sign in/buy a login).

  46. David Ruaune on said:

    I agree with what you’re saying Feodor, but would add that capitalist companies, local councils, and so on are quite opaque, despite all sorts of guff about open government. Future (starting from now, it seems) left organisations must structure themselves to be as transparent as possible (which is, I think, what you’re getting at) and “best practice”, taken by me to mean “who does this well?” is a way to start. Baby steps for the would-be vanguard.

  47. Andy Newman: the issue is more about who are the trustees

    Companies House and other websites with the same data show it’s mainly the same few people across many SWP companies (some such sites helpfully show “other companies with the same directors” etc. “xxx was also formerly/is also currently a director of East End Offset Ltd, of Larkham Printers & Publishers Ltd.” etc. – though only a few, after which you have to sign in/buy a login).

  48. daggi: Companies House and other websites with the same data show it’s mainly the same few people across many SWP companies

    Quite so. Faction fights are highly messy businesses, and deposing the “political leadership” of the CC will not necessarily entail replacing the directors of those companies, even assuming that all of the cash is even where it is supposed to be.

    the real control of the SWP is held by those who control its assets, and who thereore ultimately control the payroll.

  49. Andy Newman: the real control of the SWP is held by those who control its assets,

    I wonder how much really is in “The Hallas Foundation Limited”? (‘assets’ worth £489 – for a company supposedly involved in real estate, not much. What does it own or operate? The well-known phone box for the post-split organisation?) Someone could ask the aristocrat Professor.

    Larkham (Previous name: “Witchbay Ltd.”) seems not worth to be going after: The latest Annual Accounts submitted to Companies House for the year up to 31/03/2012 reported ‘cash at bank’ of £5. Haha.

    etc etc

  50. David Ruaune on said:

    Andy Newman: In reality the issue is more about who are the trustees, and who actually owns and controls the physical and finanicial assets.

    And the rest of 52 – that’s a quite frighteningly cynical post, Andy. I hope the good guys get the assets, and would hate to see good guys being naive and losing assets to the bad guys, but the issue is not over assets; it’s about people who want a better world.

  51. Andy Newman: In brief, and from memory, though I do have emails saved somewhere with all the details…

    It was at this point that the SWP in London suddenly discovered that the ISO had been “too slow” to respond to the World Trade Organisation protests in Seattle, and Callinicos and IIRC even Cliff, started phoning members in the USA, seeking to destablise the Chicago leadership.

    Both sides did very well at trying to present the argument as being about politics, but it was just an undignified familly squabble about a will.

    This is such a load of tawdry crap. I was on the Steering Committee of the Canadian IS at the time. We had a leading ISO member at our convention just a few weeks prior to Seattle and argued it wasn’t going to be very big and was going to be dominated by the labour bureaucracy. We argued that it was going to be bigger than they predicted and more important in terms of being a catalyst – there were dozens of buses going from Vancouver, Canada across the border that we knew about. The ISO were sending basically no one besides the local branch and were focusing on mobilizing for a protest outside of the School of the Americas. We were very much secondary to the argument, which was primarily between the ISO & SWP (and not handled very well on either side imho) but we supported the SWP and then the Greeks, who wrote a document criticizing the ISO for downplaying the anti-globalization movement. Whether you think one position was right or wrong is irrelevant to the fact that everybody saw it as an argument about significantly different orientation to an emerging international movement.

  52. SWP (ex) Loyalist on said:

    Callinicos controls the Hallas Foundation. Kimber controls a couple of the other entities. Cox and Orr are also trusted to handle stuff, as is Comrade Delta who remains a director of certain SWP companies (perhaps that’s why he has to be protected).

    However I’m told that the serious money is held offshore.

  53. Xuichal on said:

    Andy, as I wrote it on Richard’s blog as well, even we assume your intention was not pure, does anyone care whether, apologies for the analogy, Daily Mail breaks a scandal story about Cameron. Were not for your last week posts, trust me, Richard Seymour had not written the post he wrote today. The attack on the unfortunate Shariat Court misunderstanding between you and the journo, is a deviation from the real issue. Well done for opening the can of worms. Richard Seymour and the rest of rebels are contradicting themselves badly by insisting on a different outcome from DC. It will take them a long time to realize, given all the limitations, police in this case was and stil is, the only authority to deal with the matter. Keep up your good works and don’t worry about the hurried blackmailing.

  54. Jellytot on said:

    @49You’d think that open and transparent book-keeping, with the accounts signed off by the membership (or more feasibly, an elected segment of the membership and/or the national conference), would be an important feature of any democratic socialist body.

    I agree but they would use the excuse that the Vanguard Party of the WC needs to hide it’s funds from the agents of the Ruling Class who would….blah, blah, blah…zzzzzz.

    @60Whether you think one position was right or wrong is irrelevant to the fact that everybody saw it as an argument about significantly different orientation to an emerging international movement.

    For the rank and file and the middle cadre it was but all that Andy if stating is that there were other financal issues at stake – issues that would have purposefully kept from the vast bulk of the membership by a section of the controlling leadership.

    Maybe it’s time for Andy to dip into those emails ?

    @61However I’m told that the serious money is held offshore.

    As I’ve long suspected too.

  55. Jellytot on said:

    @47It is a carefully calibrated argument from Richard that both I and Jerome taylor are racists

    That’s the same conclusion I came to when I first read those comments – I then thought that maybe he was suggesting that the original article could be used by racists without the authors being intentionally racist themselves.

    Don’t no, I think he’s actually accusing you of being racist.

  56. Lurker on said:

    The person who died in the car crash was an ex-ISO member. He was one of a group of members who had been expelled by that organisation post-Seattle. Part of the reason for the political split was those expulsions – and they were comrades who were up to that time unknown to the SWP leadership. It is inconceivable that the ISO expected to get any part of any legacy.

  57. Feodor on said:

    Jellytot:
    I agree but they would use the excuse that the Vanguard Party of the WC needs to hide it’s funds from the agents of the Ruling Class who would….blah, blah, blah…zzzzzz.

    Don’t be so cynical Jelly! We both know it’s kept secret because that’s the only way they can then use it to fund and arm their international comrades who are, at any moment now, going to overturn the government of Far-Far-Away-Land…

    After all, how else will Lord Farquaad ever be returned to his rightful throne?

  58. Graham Day on said:

    A number of things leap out, firstly that in the shared perception of the group, being a “revolutionary” privileges them with a superior understanding of how to deal with accusations of rape, better than the established processes of the English legal system. Secondly, that consideration of the prestige and reputation of the organisation was a primary goal of the process; and finally that it would have been appropriate to simply expel someone, had they concluded they were a rapist. There seems to have been no consideration of how their investigation might taint a proper police investigation, or whether they had a duty to wider public safety to ensure a possible rapist was brought to justice.

    I agree entirely with this, and it’s evident that neither side in the internal SWP dispute really get that the problem isn’t one of democracy in the SWP. The problem is an institutional culture that doesn’t think it strange that a woman would make a formal allegation of rape to a body other than the police, and which thinks the party can legitimately take responsibility for dealing with that complaint itself. The fact that it then proceeded to handle the situation in the most arrogant and cack-handed manner imaginable is almost to be expected, given the starting point. This isn’t a problem that’s going to be solved by more “democracy” and “openness”. The well is poisoned, and the comparison with how the Roman Catholic Church has dealt with allegations against it’s priests is well made.

  59. Graham Day: the problem isn’t one of democracy in the SWP. The problem is an institutional culture that doesn’t think it strange that a woman would make a formal allegation of rape to a body other than the police, and which thinks the party can legitimately take responsibility for dealing with that complaint itself.

    If the complainer does not want to go to the police, or cant go to the police, the party must investigate the complaint- and they must do it fairly- which they have not done.The whole culture of the SWP and the lack of democracy is the problem. In a real socialist organization bullying, assault etc would not be tolerated by the membership. In terms of internal democracy the SWP is a sick joke. In the form it has existed for 30 years plus the SWP deserves to die and be replaced by an organization controlled by its members where honesty and open debate are encouraged and the truth is sacrosanct.
    An organizations of equals that strives to tell the truth to the working class and not attempt to manipulate them through deceit and dishonesty.
    Instead we have had an organization which resembles a collection of benighted serfs ruled over by a self perpetuating elite. A pathetic travesty masquerading as a socialist party. A real socialist party is sorely needed and possibly the present rebellion by the rank and file of the SWP will be step forward towards such a party. Lets hope so.

    sandy

  60. sandy: f the complainer does not want to go to the police, or cant go to the police, the party must investigate the complaint- and they must do it fairly- which they have not done.

    This is bonkers, redolent of a warped psychology and magical thinking. The idea that any organisation in Britain in the 21st century could even believe that it has the expertise, moral or legal right, and wherewithal to take it upon itself to investigate and sit in judgment on an allegation of rape is beyond belief.

    Some people on here, such as Sandy, really do think they are living on the cusp of revolution and that they speak for the working class. It is delusional and dangerous nonsense.

  61. Graham Day on said:

    sandy,

    Sorry, you’re exhibiting exactly the attitude I alluded to.

    The point is that the SWP are not competent to investigate a serious criminal offence, and they had no reason to think they were. No mainstream political party, no trade union, no co-op, no business would take it upon themselves to do this. They would either report it to the police directly or offer full support to the complainant in going to the police.

    The SWP won’t suddenly become competent to be judge and jury on these crimes because it becomes “more democratic”, or “controlled by it’s members”. It will in fact never be competent to investigate them. And if SWP members don’t understand that then, frankly, there is no hope for them.

  62. Graham Day: The SWP won’t suddenly become competent to be judge and jury on these crimes because it becomes “more democratic”, or “controlled by it’s members”.

    This is the crucial point. The issue is not one of democracy or accountability but legality.

    Perhaps out of this sordid mess can come some clarity about the relationship between self anointed revolutionary sects and the real world. It really is disturbing to realise that many otherwise intelligent people have bought into what can only be described as a cult mentality.

  63. John
    70# John

    I certainly dont think we are on the cusp of socialist revolution and i dont claim to speak for the working class. But there can be many valid reasons why a woman who has been sexually assaulted by a “comrade” would not be willing to go to the police. They may be illegal or wanted by the state etc. They may simply not want to involve the state because of lack of trust and previous experience. In that case it is not reasonable for a socialist party to say go to the police or we will ignore the matter

    I have knowledge of a situation in Glasgow in the early 80s where a female marxist comrade was sexually assaulted by a republican trade union militant after a union meeting. I dont know why she did not go to the police but i would think there was good reason. Action was taken on the left to ensure that it did not happen again. I wont go into detail but there can be such cases and where the allegation is denied and the police cant be involved something has to be done. Domestic violence is another such matter- we cant just ignore it within the left or say it is solely a matter for the police if the complainer does not want them involved. It is her decision if she does not want to go to the police. Of course i accept that the norm would be to go to the police but who disagrees with that? Not me!

    sandy

  64. sandy: It is her decision if she does not want to go to the police.

    But is it though once the allegation has been made? Because on the other end of a serious allegation like this are the rights of the accused to have his or her name cleared if the allegation is false or untrue.

    This is the problem. The accused has claimed that he didn’t do it, yet way this has been handled suggests a whitewash with his name and reputation now irretrievably damaged regardless of the facts.

    No one in the SWP has the right to investigate and exonerate anyone of the allegation of rape.

  65. Graham Day on said:

    sandy,

    The unwillingness of the victim to go to the proper authorities (which itself raises the question of why not, something I’d expect a socialist to think worthy of consideration) doesn’t justify self-appointed bodies or individuals in taking the law into their own hands, however well intentioned they may be.

  66. I think to be fair Sandy does have a point here to some extent. If, for example, the alleged victim genuinely did not want to go to the police, for whatever reason, but did want to ensure that no other member of the SWP suffered the same experience and made a complaint to the party on that basis, action of some kind would have to be taken. It couldn’t simply be ignored, and I say that while acknowledging that such action will necessarily run the risk of prejudicing any subsequent trial. The fact is that the SWP had no right to persuade the alleged victim either way. I’m not saying that I don’t think someone who suffered that shouldn’t go to the police if that were at all possible, because they should, clearly.

    Of course, it’s very possible that the reason she did not go to the police is because she was pressured not to, and if that is the case then the SWP as an organisation is as tainted, corrupted and institutionally insane as the WRP.

  67. John

    we are back where we started- the reason this has been so badly handled is the SWP is undemocratic and its culture is of a hierarchy dominated by a self perpetuation clique.

    I have no time for any ultra left nonsense claiming that socialists can never report crimes to the police or give truthful eveidence in court. In the SSP we even had idiots who claimed that members of the SSP were forced by party loyalty to lie for the big chief in a bogus defamation action. Thankfully the majority did not agree.In effect the SWP and CWI split the SSP on the question. If you were not willing to lie for the leader you were a scab.

    But simply to say to a victim go to the police or we will ignore the matter is not good enough.

    sandy

  68. SWP (ex) Loyalist on said:

    When she first told comrades, the woman who has accused Comrade Delta of raping her was informed by a regional full-timer that if she went to the police it would be used by the state and the SWP’s other enemies to damage the Party and undermine the cause.

    No pressure, then.

  69. sandy: In the SSP we even had idiots who claimed that members of the SSP were forced by party loyalty to lie for the big chief in a bogus defamation action. Thankfully the majority did not agree.In effect the SWP and CWI split the SSP on the question. If you were not willing to lie for the leader you were a scab.

    This is an entirely different issue, Sandy. The two are not the same at all. One involved allegations of consensual sex the other is an allegation of rape. Are you suggesting they even belong in the same category?

    sandy: But simply to say to a victim go to the police or we will ignore the matter is not good enough.

    You continue to miss the point. The SWP should have immediately sought legal advice and acted on that advice. Ignoring this allegation was not an option, neither was investigating it themselves.

  70. Graham Day on said:

    sandy: simply to say to a victim go to the police or we will ignore the matter is not good enough

    No-one says that. There are many appropriate actions an organisation could take in that situation. Setting itself up as judge and jury over a serious criminal offence isn’t one of them.

  71. Graham and John

    If the member does not want to go to the police re a serious criminal allegation she has against another member( rape, assault etc) and she approaches her organization to do something what should they do apart from telling her to consider going to the police

    A concrete answer would be useful please

    sandy

  72. Manzil on said:

    Sam:
    I think to be fair Sandy does have a point here to some extent. If, for example, the alleged victim genuinely did not want to go to the police, for whatever reason, but did want to ensure that no other member of the SWP suffered the same experience and made a complaint to the party on that basis, action of some kind would have to be taken. It couldn’t simply be ignored, and I say that while acknowledging that such action will necessarily run the risk of prejudicing any subsequent trial. The fact is that the SWP had no right to persuade the alleged victim either way. I’m not saying that I don’t think someone who suffered that shouldn’t go to the police if that were at all possible, because they should, clearly.

    Of course, it’s very possible that the reason she did not go to the police is because she was pressured not to, and if that is the case then the SWP as an organisation is as tainted, corrupted and institutionally insane as the WRP.

    But a political party is not competent to rule on an allegation of a serious criminal offence.

    The wishes of the alleged victim do not change this. A political party does not have the resources to determine the guilt or otherwise of the accused. From what we have learned from the Delta case, it was simply a case of the disputes committee arbitrarily choosing to believe one individual’s story over another. This is no indictment of them: they could not have done more, as there is no professional investigative body within the SWP. But this only goes to affirm just how inappropriate it was for them to presume themselves able to conclude whether or not Delta had committed the alleged rape.

    Not only does the party not have an obligation to accede to a request that it ‘investigate’ an accusation of rape (as opposed to reacting to a verdict, as the major parties did in the aftermath of expenses trials etc.), it does have an obvious moral responsibility to explain why it is not an appropriate agent for resolving this issue, but why the established court system, however obviously flawed, is.

    Instead, there appears to be a conception amongst the SWP ‘majority’ that its self-proclaimed role as ‘the revolutionary party’, and the demands of ‘Leninism’, place it in an exceptional position: that it must act as though it is the sole arbiter of justice, the sole means of rectifying conflicts and injustices, inside the party and out. It is an utterly absurd proposition, and would rightly be considered outrageous if the Lib Dems, the Co-op Group, UNISON, or the RSPB presumed to act as the SWP has done.

    Imagine if the Labour Party had acted likewise. Socialist Worker would undoubtedly, and correctly, have contributed to the resultant furore, and probably taken the opportunity to draw various wide-ranging political conclusions from it. The only difference is that the SWP leadership seem to have legitimised the view that its organisation is qualitatively distinct from all other non-state bodies. The comments about ‘moral, er, bourgeois morality’, being ‘here to protect the interests of the party’ and acting ‘according to the politics of a revolutionary party’ are all worrying signs that the comrades have become thoroughly detached from a realistic self-appraisal of their place within society and the labour movement.

  73. Xuichal on said:

    “If the member does not want to go to the police ”
    Anyone who has been in SWP for more than 6 months knows it is not that woman does not want to go to police but that she does not dare to go. A friend who got battered by a SWP member 8 months after he had left the party, even when the police got involved asked them to let off the perpetuator of an ABH, reasoning “the last thing I want is the accusation of having brought bourgeois police to deal with a socialist”. It is mental but do not undermine the power of cult-ideology.

  74. Graham Day on said:

    sandy,

    Well, they could start by getting legal advice. And I’m not a lawyer. But off the top of my head:

    1) Explain that such an offence can only be dealt with through the courts.

    2) Have a supportive discussion with the complainant to find out why she or he won’t go to the police

    3) Do whatever possible to help the complainant to a position where she or he can go to the police e.g. via independent counselling

    4) If the complainant still won’t go to the police with the criminal allegation, then the organisation may wish to adjudicate on the matters it is competent to decide on. The organisation could also report the matter to the police itself, I believe, though that’s not something I’d like to see happen in this sort of case.

  75. It is difficult to prescribe to someone what they “should” have done when they believe they have been raped by a leading “comrade”.

    I suppose nobody has ever bothered finding out WHY she did not want to go to the police? I’m not even talking about the pressure that has been alluded to here. What if she didn’t want to go to the police because she genuinely, truly believed that she is part of a revolutionary vanguard, an organisation full of wonderful, dedicated revolutionaries whose political understanding of the world, including women’s liberation, is vastly superior to that of “bourgeois” justice? What if, after long and careful exploration of her principles, she actually decided to submit her individuality to the party (many people have done so in lesser situations)?

    That may sound silly and naïve, but it seems to me just one of the many conceits that a bright-eyed college freshman may have when they “join the revolution”. Similarly, what if she simply genuinely believes in the necessity to circle the wagons, in the idea that any attack on a CC member and dedicated anti-fascist must objectively work in favour of the EDL, who are, after all, not just a bunch of marginal football hooligans, but a serious Nazi threat? Why would she think all this? BECAUSE SHE IS A MEMBER OF A PARTY THAT HAS BEEN ARGUING ALL THESE THINGS IMPLICITLY AND EXPLICITLY FOR YEARS, AND BECAUSE IT IS INHERENT IN THEIR FORM OF ORGANISATION.

    Of course, the people who lead the party weren’t born yesterday. They must have seen enough of the world to realise that, yes, the leadership of a small political party is not actually fit to determine whether one of their own is a rapist. But if the alleged victim decides to submit herself to the party’s authority in this matter, purely because of her own naïve belief in the justness of this discipline, then that’s just nice for them, really. That makes things a lot easier. It doesn’t matter if they genuinely believe that they have exonerated the accused, what matters is that they can tell this to their members and threaten expulsions.

    The experience must have been less pleasant for the complainant, when she sat down with the best and brightest talents of revolutionary politics in Britain, the most dedicated bolsheviks in the country, who then proceeded to interrogate her about her drinking habits, and then told her that she was not allowed to attend the meetings where they would present their findings.

    But of course, these problems are all irrelevant. Why use reason and open discussion when you’ve got a bureaucracy at your disposal, and the ability to formally or informally dispose of anyone who deviates? Then you can just say: “Well, she didn’t want to go to the bourgeois state. That’s great, because we don’t believe in that either. We have exonerated the accused, and that’s that.” They’re forgetting that technology has caught up with them.

  76. Graham Day on said:

    Manzil,

    Exactly.

    Making the numbers a bit more appropriate, imagine if a women member of some shire Conservative Association alleged rape against a leading member of that body. Imagine that she didn’t take that allegation to the police, but to the CA board or whatever (wouldn’t happen of course, she’d go to the police or do nothing). Imagine that the CA appointed a group of the accused’s chums to investigate and adjudicate (wouldn’t happen, she would be referred to the police). Imagine if this group’s investigations consisted of a couple of interviews, after which they decided that their pal was a thoroughly good egg who had done nothing wrong.

    Imagine, now, what we would all have thought about it.

  77. Linda Kronstadt on said:

    Let’s hope sharp minds ask why Seymour and his mate’s statements have been made now that plausible deniability is no longer possible. And for how long they knew that a crime had possibly been committed in their organisation.

    Such operators. An illuminating lesson in how posh boys do it.

    The attacks regarding the Sharia quote are such a transparent attempt to derail the substance of the debate that it’s laughable.

  78. Graham Day: Imagine, now, what we would all have thought about it.

    We wouldn’t have even heard anything about it, and it certainly wouldn’t have been compared in the Daily Mail to the catholic church or sharia law.

  79. @ SWP (ex) loyalist

    If thats the case then I hope the hole rotten house of cards falls down.

    @ Manzil

    I’m not suggesting that the SWP could act as judge and jury, but I do think Sandy is right to say that some action would have had to be taken if it were the case that the woman did not want to go to the police. That could have started with your suggestions at #84.

  80. prianikoff on said:

    The “Independent” article by Jerome Taylor is misleading on several points.
    It implies that the leaked document is “the minutes of a controversial disciplinary meeting”
    This clearly isn’t true.

    He says that the woman making the complaint ” .. was not allowed to attend the meeting”.
    (The only “meeting” referred to up to this point being the falsely described “disciplinary meeting”)

    What the report actually says is that, when evidence was taken at the original meeting:-
    “we agreed that Comrade Delta wouldn’t be there when either she or her witnesses spoke.”

    Taylor reports a claim that “she was assaulted over a six-month period between 2008 and 2009″
    But the minutes only mention an allegation of “sexual harrasment”:-

    “We noted that the complaint concerned incidents that had taken place over a period of about six months in 2008 and 2009, which was three or four years before we met.
    We also noted that there had been an informal complaint about these incidents from the same woman in July 2010, which hadn’t come to the disputes committee, and at that time she complained of sexual harassment rather than of rape.”

    Andy Newman says:-

    “I believe that the SWP think they’re outside the law”

    However, as the report makes quite clear, the only *sanctions* that the SWP Disputes Committee can apply are suspension, removal from the leadership or expulsion from the party.
    (one member is reported to have been expelled for domestic violence, another for “fighting in a nightclub”)
    This means they have no obligation to defend those members, it they were subsequently prosecuted.

    i.e. they were operating within the remit of their own party rules, not operating a “quasi-judicial process”.

  81. John R on said:

    SWP (ex) Loyalist,

    SWP (ex) Loyalist: When she first told comrades, the woman who has accused Comrade Delta of raping her was informed by a regional full-timer that if she went to the police it would be used by the state and the SWP’s other enemies to damage the Party and undermine the cause.

    No pressure, then.

    This seems to correspond with what Tom Walker said in his resignation letter -

    “It is stated that the accuser did not want to go to the police, as is her absolute right if that was truly her decision. However, knowing the culture of the SWP, I doubt that was a decision she made entirely free from pressure.”

    http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/944/swp-why-i-am-resigning

    Some proof would be good to see though rather than just a statement/point of view.

  82. Some proof would be good to see though rather than just a statement/point of view.

    Remember in 2007 when it came out that John Rees had committed an offence by accepting a foreign donation of £5,000 to Respect? It was absolutely beyond question that the party would have to report itself to the authorities – being a left-wing party, the Electoral Commission would take a massively heavy line on us if it found out.

    So the other side of the Respect split did what *any* serious political party does: It reported itself, and the EC investigated.

    I’m raising this now, cos I’d like people to remember for a moment just how much vicious, nasty bile came out of SWP members’ mouths about those who reported the issue. Some of them are the people who are now in revolt against the CC. They would do well to think about the climate they created, which said that a socialist should never report a crime to the state, ever.

    There are, of course, nuances and principles at stake. But imagine, if that’s the way the SWP reacted to a blindingly obvious and unavoidable need to report a transgression to the authorities, imagine how comrades who were the personal victims of crimes would’ve been made to feel about reporting them to the police.

    There’s one other thing I don’t understand now. In 2007, those same SWP members also went on about the primacy of demcoracy and voting for issues. Well, before the vote at SWP conference on the DC report, people were told openly about the way the victim was treated by the DC. They had no more facts than they have now, and they voted to accept the report – so surely, the party has already voted to accept the report, with all its failings. It looks a little bit like the dissidents are unhappy at losing the vote and so they’re now trying to overturn it – after all, all the delegates who voted had the opportunity to hear the concerns raised. What’s changed, except that the outside world knows what you’ve done?

    I mean, that’s not unusual – after all, look at how the same people swung into action in 2007 to ensure that Galloway’s side couldn’t win a vote. People who had never joined Respect suddenly joined in large number, with opaque methods for arranging delegates to conferences – including the student delegation, entirely controlled by the SWP. Suddenly the SWP instructed people who were actually against the Respect project to get themselves elected to the Respect conference, so they could outvote us. Some of those people are organising the rebels in the SWP now.

    They made sure that our side would be outvoted, using nasty and dishonest methods. OK, well now their side has been outvoted – what steps are they gonna take?

    Are they now actually prepared to say that yeah, they shouldn’t have tried to rig votes in 2007? Are they now prepared to say that they shouldn’t have tried to pack meetings? That they shouldn’t have attacked people who felt the right thing to do was to report issues to the authorities? Cos otherwise, it looks like these methods are fine for them until their allies are the victims. Shouldn’t we have some kind of marxist principles here?

  83. Surely, whether to go to the police or not is a decision that only ‘W’ herself has the right to make? If she has so far decided not to then I don’t think either the DC or CC of the SWP would have any right to overule her decision and report it themselves. A lot of women choose not to report accusations of sexual assault or rape to the police because they do not trust the police or courts to deal with it appropriately. Equally though, if ‘W’ did want to report it, the CC or DC would have no right to try to persuade her not to.

    And surely whether the accusation is reported to the police or not, the party has to decide whether the accused member should be expelled? That shouldn’t be considered in any way a substitute for police investigation and prosecution.

    None of which is to say that the SWP has necessarily dealt with this well, or made the correct decision.

  84. R. This was posted on one of the many blogs discussing the issue:

    ‘You still are in absolute denial about the necessity of police intervention in this case. What the heck you mean “if the woman decided not to go to the police”. Do you know how much pressure she has been under since 2010? Do you know she was told by good comrades/hard comrades, that if she goes to police, the police will abuse the opportunity to collect the HQ’s computers and thousands of people will be exposed, jobs will be lost and party will be destroyed. Do you understand how she has been surrounded by seeming supporters just to make sure she does not go to the police and as we speak she is being fully guided as going to police will destory not only the party but the overall class. Do not give us that bullshit line again please which itself is produced right on top of the beauracratic echelon . Second, you enjoyed your fantasy for the last two years of this ideal militant heaven just because you did not know enough. Ignorance is bliss. Just to a search on the net. Allegation of sexual abuse is not new to the party, search for Bristol 2004 and see who got expelled, man or the woman? Also, many of your comrades knew about these allegations since 2010 and all of them kept quiet. Ask around and see whether any of them, even one, every tried to inquire into it deeper. Where the hell was anyone’s critical sense? Because everyone is programmed to accept the party line and does not even notice, to think about a case they need to know both sides of the argument, and no one wanted to know more about that woman. The heads have been under the sand for too, too long already.’

    http://nathan-akehurst.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/notes-on-swp-crisis.html

  85. BrokenWindow on said:

    Around 95,000 rapes and only just over a thousand convictions for women last year. Whether it is the patriarchal structure of Saria Law or the SWP CC or the Catholic churches continued cover-up of child rape,rape victims must feel they can be heard fairly and not victimised or belittled as women,in the first two cases,or as children,in the latter.

    More broadly, why has the LEft got such a problem with women? Is it because,by implication,they won’t do as they are told.Perhaps they’d all be batter of in China where they are ordered by men,of course,to have one baby.Perhaps it’s the supporting of regimes that are frankly sexist to the core. The chickens have certainly come home to roost.

  86. 98# C,

    No, that’s precisely it. I don’t know “what pressure she’s been under” or what she’s been told by other party members. As I already said, the party would have no right to do any of what you allege. If that is what happened then its disgusting, not to mention really stupid.

  87. Jellytot on said:

    @99Perhaps they’d all be batter of in China where they are ordered by men,of course,to have one baby

    The Chinese “National Population and Family Planning Commission” which administers the policy packed full of women at every level including past Chairs Peng Peiyun and Chen Muhua.

  88. Downtown Cabbie on said:

    Comrade W is by no means alone in not reporting her allegations to the police. The overwhelming majority of victims of sexual assault and rape in the UK, irrespective of their politics, do not go to the police – on Five Live this morning the latest Ministry of Justice report was cited which estimates the number of victims of sexual assault in the UK to be approximately half-a-million per year – this includes approximately 95,000 cases of rape in England & Wales, of which only 15,500 are reported to the police, of which only 3,000 lead to prosecution, of which only 1,000 result in conviction. These appalling statistics are a vicious downward spiral – victims believe, with justification, that even if they are believed by the police, the justice system is incapable of delivering justice – they also believe, with justification, that they will themselves be effectively put on trial, by the police,the courts, and the media. The worse the stats, the fewer victims will come forward, the more perpetrators are able to get way with it, the worse the stats will get.
    Add to this the manifold & manifest pressures of being in a Marxist political party which instantly moves into defence mode from what is perceived to be an attack on the conduct & probity of the leadership. The leadership circle their wagons. They provide plausible rationales for not reporting said allegations to the police, invoking critiques of the bourgeois state to not undermining the crucial role of the party at such a crucial time etc etc. These all complement the individual comrade’s personal understanding of the inherent fairness, democracy and accountability of longstanding internal party mechanisms to be able to deliver a just outcome vastly superior to the police and courts. And of course, no one who has has committed time and effort to a set of principles or an organisation that they still have faith in, wants to discredit that organisation by washing dirty linen in public.
    I can well understand why Comrade W did not go to the police.
    But now it is all too public and the stench of cover-up and complicity stinks to high heaven.
    The DC were at great fault in taking the “investigation” forward when the accused had been a close colleague of all of them for perhaps decades. They should have appointed a subcommittee none of which had been previous fulltimers to take the matter forward, and agreed with all parties to stand by their findings. Best practices should have been thoroughly discussed and agreed by all before the investigation started, and all parties should have had full access to all relevant statements and reports with ample time for consideration. It is totally unacceptable that personal questions about lifestyle etc were deemed to be admissable when these have always been condemned in SW etc.
    I do not believe that all delegates knew in advance of the debate at conference what exactly was on the agenda. Not everyone in the SWP lives in the London rumour mill.
    At the very least the SWP should have a recall conference.
    As for Sharia Law I do not believe that I have been in any organisation – from my gym, to my trade union or my workplace – that does not have internal discipline & disputes procedures. The powers are not quasi-judicial. They relate to the organisation itself eg continuing membership, penalties, restrictions, suspension, expulsion or dismissal.
    But for any internal mechanisms to function effectively they need to be seen as credible and fair in the eyes of the membership. The leadership of the SWP is bringing Democratic Centralism into disrepute. The threats, the expulsions, the name-calling has to stop before the whole of the left is discredited by association. The spooks themselves could not be doing a better job.

  89. Pingback: “Leninism” Meets the 21st Century

  90. Interesting comment at Lenin’s Tomb BTW

    David Jamieson
    I just need to say this. The ‘impression’ given by the CC at SWP conference 2011 was never that he had harassed the young woman following a break up – but that he had dumped her and thereby hurt her feelings.

    This has not been contradicted by any of the savants who comment there

  91. Irish/Italian Socialist on said:

    The matter was dealt with internally within the SWP because the complainant didn’t want to go to the police and she wanted her accusations dealt with and resolved within the Party. So the fact that a Disputes Committee was set up to deal with this has nothing to do with trying to conduct an arbitrary investigation or ‘covering up’ the truth, it was because the complainant did not want to go to the police but wanted to resort to her Party as an organisation that she trusted. As a person with any grasp on socialist ideas about the bourgeois capitalist legal system or police force you should understand that rape allegations are never taken seriously by the police and that therefore if a member of the party wished to have this allegation dealt with internally rather than take it to the police (who would probably do little about it especially after three years) than the Party has to take it seriously and has to deal with it and they dealt with it in the best way they could, by maintaining the confidentiality of the two party members involved. If this had happened in any other institution (for example a trade union) the right to confidentiality of both parties would have been totally respected and there wouldn’t be wankers like you posting up photos of [NAME REDACTED] on blogs (which by the way you can be totally sued for because its libel and you labelled him a rapist). It baffles me that in order to discredit the SWP you will go to any lengths and even abandon one of the main socialist principles of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. What I see instead is a witchhunt by certain elements of the left who wish to see the SWP discredited over this.

  92. Irish/Italian Socialist: there wouldn’t be wankers like you posting up photos of [NAME REDACTED] on blogs (which by the way you can be totally sued for because its libel and you labelled him a rapist

    No, but you nearly just did. I have helped you out be removing the name.

    Incidently, I can see you have an intellectual disadvantage, so I will spell this out.

    Noone has said on thi blog that Comrade Delta is a rapist; nor has his picture been posted here in connection with the disputes committee transcript, or the fallout from the investigation.

    There is no possible libel, but I await correspondence from comrade delta’s solicitor in case he feels himself ill advised enough to go down that route.

  93. Irish/Italian Socialist: It baffles me that in order to discredit the SWP you will go to any lengths and even abandon one of the main socialist principles of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

    That is not only a “socialist principle” it is a principle of English law.

    As no-one here has ever expressed any opinion over the guilt or innocence of comrade delta, I fail to follow you. All we have done is report the fiasco of the SWP’s proceedings.

    Incidently, what the SWP have acheived is to deny comrade delta the opportunity to defend his reputation, as their investigation failed so appallingly to meet the standards of natural justice, it will fuel speculation about whether he is guilty or not.

  94. saothar on said:

    SWP (ex) Loyalist: When she first told comrades, the woman who has accused Comrade Delta of raping her was informed by a regional full-timer that if she went to the police it would be used by the state and the SWP’s other enemies to damage the Party and undermine the cause.

    No pressure, then.

    If true, this makes a bad situation a whole lot worse for the SWP.

    If their party leadership could show that they suggested the woman report this accusation to the police, and promised her the full support of the organisation, but that she still did not want to do this, then, whilst not for a second justifying their ridiculous decision to hold an amateur night court session in judgement of someone they all knew well, it would at least explain it.

    But if they actually came out with this dishonest and self-important claptrap, in order to prevent her going to the police, then they are just as bad as those Catholic Church leaders who similarly and routinely covered up accusations of serious sexual crimes in order also to protect the reputation of their organisation

  95. Irish/Italian Socialist: As a person with any grasp on socialist ideas about the bourgeois capitalist legal system or police force you should understand that rape allegations are never taken seriously by the police

    In Britain? In 2013?

    There are certainly all sorts of hurdles in getting convictions, but I can assure you rapists do go to prison.

    Irish/Italian Socialist: police (who would probably do little about it especially after three years) than the Party has to take it seriously

    Had the case been taken to the police, then if the police and CPS had decided not to prosecute, either because the alleged facts if true would not constitute rape in law, or becasue they had no prospect of convincing a jury beyond reasonable doubt, then it would have been proper for the SWP to hold an investigatin and hearing, to the standard of reasonable doubt.

    But they would have had to take legal advice, and operate a propor investigation, not a kangaroo tribunal of “revolutionary justice”

  96. Jellytot on said:

    @108Irish/Italian Socialist: there wouldn’t be wankers like you posting up photos of [NAME REDACTED] on blogs (which by the way you can be totally sued for because its libel and you labelled him a rapist

    While the SWP could certainly afford to fund a libel suit, I’m not sure that they would want all this discussed in Open Court.

  97. Pingback: You’re a Mean One, Comrade Delta « Berlusconi Youth