Why we are resigning from the SWP

This is from the Solomon’s Mindfield site 

 

Comments are on this post are heavily moderated. Please feel free to leave personal messages and comments below. There are plenty of blogs where discussions about the SWP and the Left Platform are taking place so I would be grateful if those who want to wade into the debate could visit those sites. Thanks to everyone who has contacted me directly and I look forward to working with everyone in the future: we have a world to win!

The letter – which was emailed to Martin Smith, Socialist Workers Party National Secretary, around lunchtime today – is signed by 42 SWP members. A further 18 people who have resigned from the SWP in recent weeks endorse it too. The full lists of names appear at the foot of this post.

‘We are writing to resign from the Socialist Workers Party. We do this with great sadness but the events of recent weeks leave us with little choice.

The immediate reason for our resignation is the attempt by the Central Committee to stop Lindsey German, the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, from speaking at a Stop the War meeting in Newcastle. This demand was justified by the claim that the meeting was ‘disputed’ or bogus. In fact, it was a properly constituted Stop the War public meeting, agreed at two consecutive Tyneside steering committees. Two SWP members tried to block the meeting because it clashed with a party branch meeting. The Stop the War meeting was a success, but was boycotted by the local SWP. The Central Committee demanded that Lindsey should not go to the meeting and ‘reserved the right’ to take disciplinary action if she attended.

Such sectarian behaviour does enormous damage to the standing of the party in the movement. Unfortunately, it fits into what is now a well-established pattern.
For many years, the SWP has played a dynamic role in the development of mass movements in Britain. The party made an important contribution to the great anti-capitalist mobilisations at the start of the decade, it threw itself into the Stop the War Coalition and was central to the Respect electoral project. These achievements were dependent on an open, non-sectarian approach to joint work with others on the left and a systematic commitment to building the movements.

The SWP leadership has abandoned this approach. The task of building broad, political opposition in every area to the disasters created by neoliberalism and war is now subordinated to short term party building. We believe this undermines both the movements and the prospects of building an open and effective revolutionary current in the British working class.

The most glaring mistake has been the SWP’s refusal to engage with others in shaping a broad left response to the recession, clearly the most pressing task facing the left. Even valuable recent initiatives, like the Right to Work campaign, have minimised the involvement of Labour MPs, union leaders and others who have the capability to mobilise beyond the traditional left.

An authoritarian internal regime has developed as a result of this change in direction. In the run up to the recent party conference, four members of the Left Platform opposition were disciplined, three of them expelled. Since the conference, four of the remaining student comrades at the School of Oriental and African studies in London have been effectively pushed out of the party. A comrade in Newcastle was given an ultimatum to resign from a key position in the local movement in January.

 

He resigned from the party and 10 comrades left in protest at his treatment. The use of disciplinary methods to ‘win’ arguments is completely foreign to the traditions to the SWP and should have no place in the socialist movement.

For these reasons we are now submitting our resignations. We do not do so lightly and we will of course remain active socialists and revolutionaries. We all joined the party because we felt it would make us more effective. Sadly, we now feel that is no longer the case. We have, however, enormous respect for the many fine comrades in the SWP and we regard it as essential to continue to work with SWP members in the unions and campaigns, since we all share a broad agreement on the need to confront recession, war and fascism. We remain convinced of the need for revolutionary socialist organisation. In fact, the need for a radical political alternative and resistance on a massive scale has rarely been more urgent.’

William Alderson
Sian Barrett
Christophe Chataigne
Kate Connelly
Margi Corcoran
Adrian Cousins
Anita de Klerk
Noel Douglas
Reid Dudley-Smith
Mark Ewington
Camille Fairbairn
Sam Fairbairn
Neil Faulkner
Des Freedman
Jo Gough
Elaine Graham-Leigh
Maham Hashmi
Madeline Hennigan
Penny Hicks
James Hilsdon
Feyzi Ismail
Sean Jackson
Naz Massoumi
Narz Massoumi
James Meadway
Brendan Montague
Jackie Mulhalen
Chris Nineham
Samantha Carwenne Oxby
Henry Parkyn-Smith
Dan Poulton
Tia Randall
John Rees
Kirsty Richardson
Steve Sacre
Angela Selleck
Mark D Smith
Guy Taylor
Carole Vincent
John Whearty
Tom Whittaker
Hesham Yafai

The following have resigned in recent weeks and would like to endorse this statement.
Elly Badcock
Will Bowman
Jane Claveley
John Cooper
Adam Cornell
Kevin Deane
Tony Dowling
James Kennell
Dave McAlister
Jack McGlen
Viva Msimang
Matt Richards
Sara El Sheekh
Caitlin Southern
Lindy Syson
Owen Taylor
Mark Tyers

 

323 comments on “Why we are resigning from the SWP

  1. titch mitch on said:

    for those of us not following the swp closely-do these two currents disagree on Respect for example-are the resigners more pro or anti-respect?
    are they forming their own grouping?

  2. A loud Yippee was heard across the land at the news. We are going to have street parties and morris dancing,

  3. very sad. but, alas, it was a train that could be seen coming from about ten miles away. the stuff about lindsey is a pretense and a pretty thin one.

  4. I’ve just read the letter on Luna17. I have to say that I found this sentence particularly entertaining: “An authoritarian internal regime has developed as a result of this change in direction”. Er,yeah. Right. It’s a shame that the liberal Rees/German regime was toppled by the dastardly authoritarians who are now running the party…

    What strikes me about the manoeuvring of recent days is the crudity of the methods employed by the LP faction, and the ineptitude with which the Rees/German clique have engineered a split that appears to have left them with less than a hundred supporters. That alone is enough to make anyone think twice (at the very least) before joining them.

    I don’t particularly like either side in the current SWP faction fight, but the hubris and incompetence of the Rees/German gang takes some beating.

  5. MMMMM!!! Can’t see anyone from Scotland (though may be mistaken as I refuse to speak to anyone in the SWP unless I have to) – is their a Scottish dimension? Where are teh Scottish comrades in all of this.

  6. Jim Carroll on said:

    No mention of the pivitol role of the SWP in wrecking the SSP ?.

    Oh er, I forgot,several of the signatories of this letter were running the show at the time.

    Acting as if an authoritarian and disruptive regime within the SWP is anything new must be having the rest of the Left in stitches.

    As someone once said ‘Pass the sickbag, Alice’.

  7. For all those who think there is no difference between the SWP and the SP have a look at Phil’s resignation letter and the following comments from SP members. Then compare it to any vaguely critical SWP post anywhere on the internet for the past… well ever.

    Night and Day.

  8. So, it’s all over, bar the swearing. As Jamie of ‘The Thick of It’ would say: “Goodbye, and thanks for all the varicose veins.”

  9. Anonymous on said:

    The use of disciplinary methods to ‘win’ arguments is completely foreign to the traditions to the SWP and should have no place in the socialist movement.

    wtf, since when, number 9 isn’t far wrong.

  10. The use of disciplinary methods to ‘win’ arguments is completely foreign to the traditions to the SWP

    Comment from Kevin Ovenden and Rob Hoveman, plz?

  11. 4, Come on Jay- I would have thought with your record anyone splitting with more than one member would have your breathless admiration…

  12. #11 well apart from the fact that Phil BC tells us that his mission in life is to get the Gordon Brown regime re-elected !
    Quite why it should be admirable that the Socialist Party is creating converts to the fag end of New Labaour is beyond me.

  13. #19 I think that’s a bit of a simplistic analysis of Phil’s reasons and the SP’s role (if any) in him drawing the conclusions he did Eddie. I think deep down you know that yourself.

  14. Look for those who like Shakespearian analogies (and I should say I certainly DO), I am the cordelia of the SWP. I just can’t help it. Three years of this bullshit is enough. Good luck to all who sail etc.

  15. Assuming that the three expellees also sign up, that would leave this new organisation with a starting cadre of 63 former SWP members. It’s possible that they will also start out with some extra people from around the left or from the SWP’s periphery who agree with the line they’ve been arguing.

    (And yes, I think we can take it for granted that this is a new organisation in the making – the resignation en masse and the line “we remain convinced of the need for revolutionary socialist organisation” leave little doubt on that score.

    So a group of somewhere a little north of 60 members. That’s certainly big enough to be viable. It’s bigger than the likes of Workers Power and Permanent Revolution, about the same size as Socialist Resistance and a little smaller than the AWL. It contains a lot of people with a lot of organisational experience – three former CC members, some more former fulltimers, other experienced cadre. The website which some of their members ran and which will presumably now be dusted off was an impressive effort.

    However, it strikes me that they may be about to discover the very real difficulties which trying to combine a great deal of mass work with a very small core organisation can pose. Their key leaders hold important – and energy consuming – positions in wider movements. That doesn’t necessarily bode well for their ability to lead the kind of organisational nitty-gritty that has to be done in to build an organisation of a few dozen (and which can be delegated elsewhere in an organisation of a couple of thousand).

    Any bets on them taking the (now vacant) name International Socialists or some variaton on the theme?

  16. Let’s all have a go.

    I’d like to here announce my resignation from the human race as well as my determination to refound the Whig party.

    If you apply now for membership now (easy terms available), you will be eligible for a prime investment opportunity. Currently available membership cards numbers 000003 to 000010 are likely to rapidly appreciate in value.

    Contact now – don’t delay.

  17. #20, Phil says;
    “I’ve also become increasingly convinced over the course of the last year that it is in the interests of the labour movement to see the present government returned”.
    http://tinyurl.com/yh3czku
    I paraphrased him but that’s essentially the argument, get Gordon Borown re-elected.

  18. where now? on said:

    It will be interesting to see where thes e people go now and what their orientation is.

    It’s hard to see what they will do around the election. In that regard the SWP seems to be having problems too. Cambridge has been held up as a successful area of SWP electoral activity over the last two years. But it seems their favoured candidate, SWP member Tom Woodcock, will not be contesting Cambridge after all, but someone else instead. By my reckoning there are only two SWP members standing for TUSC, with maybe a third on their way in Tottenham.

    I’m sure there’s a huge sigh of relief in the SWP at the departure of the faction. But the really difficult problems remain.

  19. MichaelC on said:

    Eddie – Do you dissent from the view that it would not be in the interests of the working class to elect a Tory government?

  20. Marx mentions somewhere that all great world-historical events and personages appear, so to speak, twice: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. He forgot to add: the third time as ultra-farce, and the ten millionth time as an episode of Two And A Half Men.

  21. “But the really difficult problems remain”

    No kidding. But now at least its permitted to acknowledge them.

  22. #28 MichaelC, that’s a question that should be directed at the Socialist Party (and I’m thinking you may not have worded that in the way you ment to).
    The Socialist Party are putting together an electoral alliance 2 months from a General Election with their new best comrades the SWP.
    Here we have one of the Socialist Party’s few prominant internet voices announce that he’s off to throw himself into a Labour Party that is dying on it’s feet.
    As I say, why the Socialist Party would want to seek sectarian advantage over their new best comrades the SWP over this as Neil does @#11 is beyond me.

  23. Paper Tigger on said:

    @21: “This will have ABSOLUTELY no effect on the SWP.
    They will soldier on regardless, as they always have.”

    But without the print shop. Wonder whose bright idea that was.

    It’s a pretty comprehensive swathe of destruction Jim Jones has left in his wake. I bet the Dark Forces are wishing Long May He Reign.

  24. manchester on said:

    “But it seems their favoured candidate, SWP member Tom Woodcock, will not be contesting Cambridge after all”

    That’s for the city council elections, and Tom will probably stand in a different ward.

  25. I think we’ll see the Rees/German faction enter into ‘movement’ politics, possibly attaching themselves to an already existing movement or group.

    I can’t see them re-establishing a party or entering into party politics, in all honesty, who will take them?

    John Rees is largely discredited when it comes to party politics. However, I think some will welcome him into campaign or movement politics.

    German and Rees certainly fancy themselves as players and something tells me they’ll open up a new line of attack against the new SWP regime by sapping as much blood as they can out of UAF and concentrating on anti-fascist/anti-BNP activity.

  26. where now? on said:

    #34 I see. I thought it was for the general election, which the SWP announced Woodcock would stand in. Can someone clarify?

  27. Frank Martin on said:

    @32 But without the print shop. Wonder whose bright idea that was.

    It’s a pretty comprehensive swathe of destruction Jim Jones has left in his wake. I bet the Dark Forces are wishing Long May He Reign.
    ________________

    Don’t have a clue what you’re referring to there. :o)

    All I know is that the SWP model of leadership has no means of reacting to problems in their organization. They seem to think their membership are servants or something.

    What I’d like to know is… how did this happen?
    The SWP is one of the most significant forces on the left.
    Is this how things are done… on the left… in general?

  28. Well I’m glad you’re celebrating JohnG, maybe it’ll mean you won’t have to spend all day on blogs so much now you don’t have to have tiresome arguments with comrades about important political differences.

    Personally I think it’s all very sad, and the behaviour from those people I thought of as comrades and the general bile directed toward those with differences is also sad.

    There a number of different ideas of what to do in the LP, because there are a number of different ideas, but rest assured we will do something(s), though we have no delusions of grandeur, nor are we all the puppets of JR or LG, nor are they the sole source of any bad behaviour that has happened in the past, or present–something people on this site seem to forget in their frothing at the mouth.

    So please, people, give it a rest, if you can’t think of anything good to say, maybe this a time to say nothing, and get on with organising, something I’ll be happy to get on with, as I wasn’t able in the way I wanted within the Party anymore.

    Life goes on…

  29. Paper Tigger on said:

    @36: ” I think some will welcome him into campaign or movement politics.”

    And You Will Know Them By The Trail Of Dead.

    @39: “… nor are we all the puppets of JR or LG” …

    Oh yes you are (ad infinitum)

    @38: “They seem to think their membership are servants or something” answers the question “… how did this happen?”

    Well, in large part, anyway.

  30. Comrades leaving the SWP should review whether the SWP internal regime has just worsened recently or its position on permanent factions has always hampered the development of healthy internal debate. Also if they believe the SWP is too interested in short term party building, the members that resigned should not now ape their former comrades in this respect. A new group should not seek quickly to build an SWP mark 2 with Rees/German restored to leadership, but try to build an altogether different organisation with other left groups and individuals. This will not happen overnight but working togther in a non sectarian way in the broader movement with other forces may allow this to develop.

  31. Steve B H on said:

    Is all this true there’s nothing about all this resigning stuff in the latest issue of Socialist Worker?

  32. @41 “And You Will Know Them By The Trail Of Dead.”

    As the meme on the blogs goes, you owe me a new monitor because I just spat coffee out of my nose laughing.

  33. Any mass socialist party, even a revolutionary party run on the principles of democratic centralism, will have to tolerate differences of opinion much more profound than the ones that produced this split. I’ve been following it pretty closely, at least insofar as it’s reported online, and I’m struggling to understand what the two sides each stand for.

    Is there really no room within the SWP for people who have a relatively minor disagreement over perspectives and tactics?

    Honestly, the whole thing fills me with a deep sense of despair.

  34. Will the left platform have the capacity to change.Many believe no.It will still be seen as unacceptable to all in the left who remember their atrocious behaviour in the GLA and EU elections.

    Their leading acolytes Rees and German are damaged goods within the left and trade union movement.Who will trust them after the Respect fiasco. The unwarranted attacks on Salma,George,Kevin,Rob,Nick and many other hard working comrades.

    Also Rees business acumen is undesirable when he refused george’s advice on the dodgy cheque There is also the equal part, the SWP cc had in all this. It was under their tutelage he ran amok within their democratic centralism structure.

    The hapless Marin Smith fell hook, line and sinker for the German gambit. Queen sacrificed herself and he fell for it. She salvaged a draw. her and Rees position in the STWC is now safe as both of them knew Andy Murray would have told them to step down as spokesperson during this battle for who will represent The SWP. that matter is now closed at the moment by their resignations

  35. Frank Martin on said:

    “Is all this true there’s nothing about all this resigning stuff in the latest issue of Socialist Worker?”

    LMFAO

    Still…… LMFAO…

    Cheers mate… that was brilliant!

  36. Life goes on…
    Comment by noel — 16 February, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

    Its sad that you guys have resigned when some of us are beginning to be active after many years of being sidelined. I somehow agree with GT, because to some of us, your reason for resignation purely on the grounds that Lindsey was not allowed to speak at the Tyneside stop the war meeting does not hold. So, if your reason is down to the direction the Party is taking GT is right in saying “A new group should not seek quickly to build an SWP mark 2 with Rees/German restored to leadership, but try to build an altogether different organisation with other left groups and individuals.”

    As for me, I am pleased that this whole sad and pathetic experience is over. Now all of us should get on with what we know best whether in the SWP or not. Fundamentally, those who call themselves revolutionary socialists must learn to tell the truth for a start. Thanks to who ever, but for the first time I have been invited to attend a meeting at the National office, something I was barred from for 7 years. A small quible but comrades don’t behave like that to others. Good luck to all of you guys and thank you very much for GR, I still have my badges to show for it.

  37. Frank Martin on said:

    “…there’s nothing about all this resigning stuff in the latest issue of Socialist Worker?”
    Still laughing here.

  38. James-have you noticed that they CHOSE to resign? There is something deeply surreal about the chest beating and ripping of garments here. Its perfectly clear after the events of the last few weeks that there was a long term plan to split. At least its clear to me. Don’t expect any bloody tears from SWP members (well aside from the naivity of having allowed things to go this far). Whether other people believe this crap is up to them (I’m particularly incensed by the pretense that this resignation is a protection of the autonomy of the StW: The complete absence of even basic political principle is utterly disgraceful).

  39. James, if you’re interested – the SWP does contain people who have differences over perspectives and tactics. We have differences within our branch and our district, and there have been differences expressed – by people who are still members – at the last two national conferences, the democracy special conference, and the last party council.

    Party members – delegates to conference – elected LG onto the National Committee at the same time as the LP’s differences were put to conference and soundly beaten. I was one of those who voted for her. I’m sorry that she didn’t do what she said she would when speaking at conference, but there you go. I don’t regret voting her onto the NC, I still think it was the right thing to do.

    We don’t really have much space, though, for people who clearly don’t want to be in the party, with the democratic accountability that entails. So they’ve gone. It’s a shame that we got to this point, but once those comrades had decided not to be part of the party, leaving was the right thing for them to do.

  40. Its also worth remembering that when it comes to the leadership of this bunch, not only are you talking about people who thought Left List was a good idea (sadly many of us made this mistake) you are talking about people who STILL think this was a good idea. As the man said: ‘Think about it’.

  41. Dirty Red Bandana on said:

    Congratulations Johng for being so prophetic. Others noted on a number of blogs that a provocation would be staged by one side or the other in order to maximize their advantage when the inevitable split occurred. However, the split does nothing to address the crisis of leadership that exists in your party or more generally on the left.

    As another said: It is time for a more intelligent, energetic left to take shape.

  42. Richard Searle on said:

    If I was to sumarise the last few years. I would describe it as

    ” A dog chasing its tail….in slow motion “

  43. Yes but that remains all our responsibility Red Bandana. Very unfortunately nothing will come of nothing.

  44. Johng is performing his role of ‘othering’ the resigners. They haven’t got the right to be angry at how they were treated with expulsions and attacks, it’s us that have been mistreated! They planned it all along!

    Isn’t that right, John? These guys are now “that bunch”.

  45. not only are you talking about people who thought Left List was a good idea (sadly many of us made this mistake)

    The irony is you thought it was a great idea until you found out just how much the powers did not agree with you. The difference between you and the resigners is you do not have the courage of your convictions. You’d rather be a nice, safe, party man, taking directions from CC on what to think next and othering those who don’t go meekly along with them.

  46. Oh its Aspen again, with his strange views about my politics, based on nothing at all. Are you modernity by any chance?

  47. Frank Martin on said:

    “…there’s nothing about all this resigning stuff in the latest issue of Socialist Worker?”

    Wiping the tears from my eyes here.

  48. Frank Martin on said:

    From Riki Reid:

    The Socialist Workers Party has performed outstanding work on the left now for many years… unifying people against them.

  49. Mark Krantz on said:

    Many of my former comrades in the SWP have decided to resign from the party. There decision is based on substantial political disagreements, as Lindsey’s letter outlined.

    In the SWP both Lindsey and John made important theoretical contributions to our tradition. Along with Chris and many others they helped lead the biggest mass movement ever seen in Britain, against the war. Others who have resigned I am sure all have contributed to building in many parts of the class struggle of many years.

    There contributions are greater than many who blog on this site.

    I was a comrade who strongly argued against the perspective they put whilst in the SWP.

    With the Nazis on the rise with the BNP and the EDL, imperialist war spreading, and the biggest cuts ever seen in Britain on the horizon, now is not the time to focus on disecting the past.

    We will need to rise above the tittle tattle and in order to unite to face the real struggles to come, whatever our political differences from the past.

  50. Dodgy Cheque on said:

    #36 nah, to get involved in anti-fascism you do need to have at last a vague relationship to and sense of the working class, particularly of the organised variety. JR and latterly LG and most of their supporters lost that many moons ago. Amazed no-one else has picked up on the class aspect of the “split”. Not being workerist, but there’s nary a single one of ‘em from a working class background or with much serious trade union experience. Coincidence?

    #46 James – as others have said we do tolerate differing opinions in the SWP. The problem is the LP didn’t have a discernible differing opinion, at least judging by their utterly incoherent ramblings in pre-conference bulletins and branch meetings their members addressed. Their main “difference” seemed to be
    (1) That the SWP membership failed to recognise the continuing intellectual brilliance and god-given leadership qualities of that Trosky-for-our-Times John Rees, and (2) in a shock move, a democratic centralist party (or most political parties for that matter) isnt that keen on its members going off and doing whatever hare-brained vanity project they like, no matter what the cost to the Party (and therefore the entire socialist/revolutionary Left). Or in other words, leap to the Right if you must but go off and do it in your own time.

    Why the vast majority of us unthinking dupes who’ve chosen to stick with the SWP should engage in any soul-searching about any of this escapes me frankly. We’d be far better expending effort on sorting out the very real problems the Left in Britain and elsewhere face.

  51. Well this certainly confirms just how orchestrated the faction’s actions really have been.

    And look:

    ‘ Counterfire

    back soon. ‘

  52. JohnG there was nothing pious about my intention, it says a lot about you and your attitude that you are so hostile, the Left Platform is not lead by John or Lindsey, everything we’ve done has been collectively discussed and no, we do not think the Left List is a good idea, so please give it a rest, we are not ‘a bunch’ we are your ex-comrades, I had up till now put as much (and maybe more) into build the Party finanically and with my labour and had every right to argue with you and everyone else about a serious political difference.

    The fact that you find this so hard to tolerate, the fact that you belittle comrades with years of experience by seeing them as the underlings of JR and LG, speaks volumes.

    Maybe a little time away from the blogs would be good for you.

    If there was a revolution in this country think how many difference of opinion there would be, how many views to accomodate, yet those who are currently very close to you politically but you just disagree over strategy and tactics you ‘celebrate’ being freed from…I dread to think what you actions you’d support and ‘celebrate’ in a real revolutionary crisis!

    So please, as I said before drop the paranoia, and the bile and let’s just get on with whatever we think best to help build 21st century Socialism before it’s too late.

  53. Ferrier on said:

    ‘complete absence of even basic political principle’

    That about sums it up. Some of us told Martin Smith that if he went along with Rees’s Gotterdamerung response to being criticised in Respect then the SWP leadership would not only do serious damage to Respect and the project of a left of Labour force, they would also create a massive crisis in the SWP.

    Never a truer word spoken. The failure of leadership is not only on Rees and German’s part. Smith, Callinicos, Kimber and the late Chris Harman could all have said no, as could influential figures not on the CC.

    Why they didn’t is an interesting, but far-reaching question.

    It may not strike SWP members, who’ve been understandably caught up in a faction fight for nearly two years, but a lot of serious people on the left think that the latest turn of events means they were sold a crock two years ago.

  54. neprimerimye on said:

    #68 “Why the vast majority of us unthinking dupes who’ve chosen to stick with the SWP should engage in any soul-searching about any of this escapes me frankly. We’d be far better expending effort on sorting out the very real problems the Left in Britain and elsewhere face.”

    Which is a very good idea indeed. But unless you come up with some answers as to why this crisis has hit the SWP then you are nothing but a headless chicken at best. All you will do is run from one campaign to the next always recruiting but never growing the organisation and never sinking roots.

    I would suggest that you need to question the nature of ‘leadership’ in the SWP and the impact of electoralism/populism on the organisation. The two being linked as the majority of the current CC approved the moves towards electoralism/populism.

  55. Ferrier on said:

    #70

    Fine sentiments. Did you and your Left Platform colleagues express them over other ex-members two and a half years ago?

    I’d say sanctimonious rather than pious.

  56. lone nut on said:

    “there’s nary a single one of ‘em from a working class background or with much serious trade union experience. Coincidence?” Not really, they were in the SWP weren’t they? What would you expect?

  57. noel: ‘the Left Platform is not [led] by John or Lindsey, everything we’ve done has been collectively discussed’

    Genuine question: when was the collective descision to split made?

    Ferrier: ‘The failure of leadership is not only on Rees and German’s part. Smith, Callinicos, Kimber and the late Chris Harman could all have said no, as could influential figures not on the CC.’

    Yes I think this is right, and to be honest I think this is more-or-less admitted now, even if you read some of things Callinicos wrote over the past year or so…

    Having said that though, there *is* a difference! I am sad for some of the people have thrown their lot with these guys and are no longer with us… but at the end of the day, if feels more like strong medicine – doesn’t taste nice but will hopefully do the organisation some good, as long as we keep proper scruitiny.

  58. Jim McLean on said:

    35# I actually dont care too much, having lived through the 60′s 70′s 80′s and on and on I have watched these spats and changes in the left for decades, remember the WRP sell out, all water under the bridge, I would like the SWP to survive this but I would like Solidarity wound up, the are a divisive force which has caused a split that need not have happened, or at least in that manner. I do not belong to a political party for I believe that in Scotland the National question has totally undermined class based politics, unfortunately when using websites I forget that the readers do not know me personaly and take me too seriously, I am, in a spirit of comradeship ripping the piss. I think I shall start a support group for party’s in turmoil, Polirelate.

  59. Futurecast on said:

    This is fucking awful. But life will go on for all of us. We will work together because we are all socialists who want to improve society no matter how difficult it seems.
    With the greatest respect : those who take a ‘good riddance’ approach to a large number of long-standing people resigning need to up their game and analysis. Saying that doesn’t make me a LP supporter or sympathiser (which i’m not). It means I’m not insane.

    Onwards and upwards 2 all.
    x x x

  60. #75

    Is it more or less admitted? Most SWP members I come across say the split was necessary and inevitable because of left-right, revolutionary-reformist tensions in Respect. They blame Rees for totally isolating the party and for subsequent failings; quite a few blame him for even going down the Respect road in the first place; none of them say that with a more robust leadership that the CC could have prevented an untimely and unnecessary split by reining in Rees..

  61. I doubt they will take the name ‘International Socialists’ as someone did suggest as although it is the natural choice for those trying to pretend that these bad practices are new. However the name is not vacant as was suggested but is now the current name of the CWI in Scotland.
    Whilst someone observed there were no Scottish names on the list (and from my observations no Wesh either) we can assume that they will want to so choice a different name.

    My money at the moment is on something like Democratic Socialists

  62. cliff's ghost on said:

    I expect they’ll call themselves ‘the real SWP’ OR THE CLIFF RE-ENACTMENT action party (CRAP)

  63. Time would have to straighten out before Johng would be accepted by the cc flat earthers. Johng, surely is safe here, spouting his 57 varieties of cabbagge.

  64. Dirty Red Bandana on said:

    Well, never fear. Mark Krantz clearly thinks that he has an flat earthly chance of the CC judging by his rather transparent dance of the cockerel.

  65. How about ‘Actuality of the Revolution’? That would certainly trump billj and pals (and define a proper Lukascian foundation to the group).

  66. Rev9 @ #69 – re: Counterfire- i am subscribed through Google Reader and noticed recently that I had starting receiving articles by RSS feed again, through all of January but you needed a password to access them. This has been in the works since before conference. Alex tried to pretend, hmmm, two days ago, not to know what I was talking about but the new status only confirms the pre-meditated nature of this.

    I agree with Futurecast though – splits pretty much suck ass. In the froth of the moment both sides may think “wheee! we’re free!” but having been through one once (only once, thank christ), I can tell you that the crappiness soon sets in as the factional energy dissipates and it’s back to the daily slog of trying to build – only now your former comrades are hostile and (at least for a time) probably act as obstacles to your efforts. Certainly nobody says hello to each other any more. This may sound juvenile but it can be demoralizing, particularly for newer comrades who aren’t old crusties with thick skin. Comrades certainly need to move on but soberly, not with swirly eyed glee.

  67. I hope the people who resigned remain active. The future is ours comrades. Don’t disappear. Have a rest if you need it and get back to the front line as soon as you can.

  68. Resigning on a Monday?

    That’s good of them to think about the Weekly Worker/CPGB deadline.

    Maybe they’ll take a leaf out of the Revolutionary Democratic Group’s book, and get a page in the Weekly Worker. That’ll be nice.

  69. SWPmember on said:

    Have been predicting the exit of lg & jr et al for a year, and think this necessary stuff and we (swp) can emerge better. but not automatically. To agree with an opinion above – johng the sniggering good riddance tone you’ve adopted is dreadful. That YouTube gag is shameful. One of our first steps should be a bit of effing humility. Not bc the majority position is wrong overall – I am onside, I think the lp are being voluntarist as hell, lg’s complaint that there’s not enough stick bending is scary in it’s implications and the ‘authoritarian’ jibes coming from lg & jr are breathtakingly cheeky given the source- but bc all there are here are less bad options and we shouldn’t crow at a catastrophe just bc we think it could have been a worse catastrophe. Get our house in order. And that means humble pie not just in the usual bs ‘we should have been harder tougher earlier’ line.

  70. daveyboy on said:

    #81 – and to demonstrate their willingness to break with an institutionalised habit and build broad left opposition to fascism they’ll enter a general election candidate in the Barking constituency.

  71. A Marxist Socialist on said:

    “The letter – which was emailed to Martin Smith, Socialist Workers Party National Secretary, around lunchtime today – is signed by 42 SWP members. A further 18 people who have resigned from the SWP in recent weeks endorse it too. The full lists of names appear at the foot of this post.”

    Unfortunately the new intake at Universities across the country in October will make up the numbers.

    Why are we even showing the smallest interest in what happens in the SWP?

  72. Sanitory Janitor on said:

    If the HRC can force the BNP to take non-white members, I wish they would now force the SWP to take working class members.

    All these wadical wevolutionaries we not be missed on the council estates.

  73. It’s hard to feel much sympathy for those going though I’m told those left are worse.
    But looking at the banal circumstances in which LG appeared threatened with disciplinary action and saved the leadership the trouble of expulsion by resigning, how would you explain this to anyone?
    Was the STW convenor cleverly manouevring by getting invited to a STW meeting the same night as an SWP branch meeting was being held? What if the SWP comrades had been really clever and changed the evening of their branch meeting? Then what?
    It’s bad when branch meetings don’t take place over a long period, but also bad in my experience when they are held religiously, without regard for the campaigns and struggles to which they ought to relate.
    And is it not taking “democratic centralism” to absurdity for the SWP CC to be deciding whether a STWC meeting can go ahead in Newcastle?
    Whatever the Lindsey German-John Rees faction intended they have drawn our attention to something badly wrong with the SWPs attitude to the broader movements and people with whom it works.
    That they were part of this does not detract from the picture.
    It’s funny that one of those contributing to this discussion calls himself “dodgy cheque”. I was thinking of the episode when a bit of party discipline might have been in order, in the days of the Socialist Alliance (RIP), when some people apparently thought it fun to make out cheques to each other. Nothing colossal perhaps, but enough to thoroughly piss off the comrade whose signature they forged.
    How long will it take before people realise that calling yourself “the party” and thinking you can lead the working class does not mean you can (and I am not singling out the SWP alone for this), and certainly does not give you a licence to treat others as unimportant?
    Now your family bust-up is out in the open you won’t get this genie back.

  74. swp member: I think that’s very sensible. And it’s irritating that the SP are forcing the SWP to eat so much humble pie. Don’t, please, go down that route. A bout of crass economism is the last thing we need.

    As for johng being OTT, put it down to the poacher turned gamekeeper syndrome.

  75. Can’t help thinking this is all to do with ego and nothing to do with politics.

    It’s symptomatic of an organisation, and a movement generally, which is out of touch with the working class.

  76. In fact the more I think of it Nas that is a very odd thing for you of all people to say. I can recall numerous posts where you have called on the SWP to acknowledge the mistakes made during the Respect split.

  77. neil: we must be at cross purposes. Unless you mean my point about the SP. I found Clive Heemskerk’s article about the SWP joining the SP-dominated coalition gloating in the extreme. It was a very poor advert for left collaboration.

  78. Now it IS beginning to look like it might be meltdown (didn’t this morning), if one SWP faction (the smaller) chooses the Stop The War Coalition as the battleground.

  79. neprimerimye on said:

    #79. The comrades you refer to may have a good point but what they are doing is reducing the crisis that has hit the SWP to a question of leadership alone. But what of the politics involved?

    Would it not have been better if the SWP had structures that enabled the leadership to listen to what the membership was thinking? Would it not have been better if the party culture, as suggested by Chris Harman, were such that such structures could be developed? Would it not have been better if politically based tendencies and factions, that is to say the structures that would enable the leadership to listen to the members, were allowed to exist openly?

    I say openly as the mass walkout of the wrong Platform people proves that factions can always exist underground if there is felt to be such a need and that will impact negatively on the party.

    Finally if some comrades always believed that Respect would dissolve in a left right split – a proposition that I agree with – what was the class basis of this split? I would suggest that the right wing within Respect was petty bougeois sociologically and politically. In other words the very existence of Respect should always have been regarded with horror by decent communists.

  80. I thought that Clive Heemskerk’s article was a very good advert for left collaboration. It wasn’t an honest assessment which pointed out that there are real and actual differences between the to organisations, rather than being two seperate groups for the sake of it. The article pointed out though that despite these real political differences it was very possible to work together as well

  81. “Would it not have been better if politically based tendencies and factions, that is to say the structures that would enable the leadership to listen to the members, were allowed to exist openly?”
    The problem with that is almost every left org. that has allowed permanent factions has split into nothing. The IMG was a principled, dynamic organisation, which became so ruptured by factional differences it didnt have a chance at survival.

  82. johng lets himself (and his comrades) down by aiming playground taunts at people he used to lionise.

    Why do so many on the left react to setbacks or disagreements by behaving like emotional illiterates?

  83. Dear Koba on said:

    #81

    “I expect they’ll call themselves ‘the real SWP’ OR THE CLIFF RE-ENACTMENT action party (CRAP)”

    can I suggest “the fuck circuit”

  84. Nas: Ok I understand now.

    Well the simple explanation is that there are people in the ranks of the SP and TUSC who are unsure the SWP should be involved at all, especially those with memories of the Socialist Alliance.

    Humble pie doesn’t come into, given the SWP’s ability to say one thing and do another, it its simply the case that Clive felt he had to address those concerns. They weren’t going to go away by pretending the SWP’s record doesn’t exist. Surely you must understand these reservations?

    The Socialist Party will work with organisations where agreement can be reached but it’s not our method to hide political disagreements with people we work with. This is as true today as it was when we were in the Labour Party working with the Bennite Left. People may not like it but you always know exactly where you stand with the Socialist Party. Is that really such a bad thing? If SWP members had been able to express their unhappyness with how Respect was going and non SWP members could have done the same maybe the whole Galloway letter might not have come as such a shock?

    Just a thought.

  85. As someone who was expelled over 35 years ago from IS, I get a feeling of déjà vu. Instead of a healthy political culture, in which there is a democratic right to organise factions, the SWP resolves its political differences by expulsion. And the Central Committee continues to preside over its continuing political disasters by resorting, in time honoured fashion to the use of bureaucratic methods of dealing with its opponents.

    Not one can I ever remember the CC indulging in anything remotely akin to critical self-analysis – where did we go wrong and why? Instead we have empirical descriptions of situations such as ‘downturn’ whilst failing to see the bigger political picture, one of a declining political militancy in the organised working class. This is why the BNP is continuing to make gains in the very areas that the far-left should.

    It is in the above sense that the disputes between Lindsay German/John Rees/LP and the Central Committee make little sense. Where is the political gulf between them? In essence German is complaining about dictatorial, bureaucratic methods based on a fundamental dishonesty. The problem is that this is a regime that she and John Rees had no problem presiding over when they were in a majority! Were members facing expulsion when she was on the CC accorded basic democratic rights as opposed to a nod and a wink from the Chair?

    The political differences German mentions in her resignation letter, a counter-position between ‘the movements’ and turning inwards is no different. The movements have largely failed. Respect was a clear disaster and Rees’s part in that is clear and obvious, a failure though endorsed by the CC as a whole. I suspect that she hasn’t learnt any lesson as to why it failed or indeed why it was misconceived to begin with. StWC has been treading water for some time if people are honest. It is no longer a mass movement. A united front around the recession is meaningless because one’s reaction to the recession involves fundamental differences in both tactics and strategy and the demands that emanate from this. The problem is that if the Right to Work Conference was built from the top down, and I suspect that wasn’t possible, it could only be a gloss on the failures and worse of the trade union leadership.

    The problem for German is that the Left Faction were nothing of the kind. If they are honest they were seeking to move the SWP further to the Right whereas the CC wants to retreat into the bunker.

    The real question, how to build a united left and anti-capitalist party, is not answered by either faction. The reality is that the SWP is a failure both in its own terms and that of the wider left.

  86. Think of this as the advice of your Marxist Agony Aunt:

    1) And now for something completely different? The future for the former ‘Left Platform’ comrades and friends.

    I hope the new left group departing from the SWP can experiment with some new tactics. They should try something different to the SWP and not compete on the same ground (nothing worse than rival political firms fighting for the same pitch, exaggerating their differences and the errors of the other. The closer the politics and m.o, the more viscous the hostility!)

    The comrades of the new formation are small in number – but they could for instance, have enough members and resources to set up a cracking left daily news and comment website. A few dozen activists, with decent politics, writing skills, talent, cohesion and a little money could create a news source that we need – one that is updated continually. People thirst for a regular supply of ‘new news’ and interactivity – hence the success of blogs like this. Imagine if this was done by a larger group with more resources and not trapped by classic blog architecture? Such an effort could relatively easily become popular with a little imagination. It could use embedded video with mini-documentaries – about the struggles today, about history and ideas – and also use talking head news bulletins and discussion. It could also also employ the powerful new ‘web.20′ social networking facilities to create a community of readers. Such a website is in demand! It could easily become compulsive viewing – and not just in the UK but anywhere on Earth where the English language is understood. I don’t see why with a little effort the left could not approach or match the online operation of a major bourgeois news source, but with socialist ideas. If they did this I might even join and help. a small group could have a big impact this way. It can be the new form of the ‘political scaffolding’ discussed in ‘What is to be done’ – but for for the twenty first century).

    But the former left platform et al would also have to grow and change, putting the bad habits of the past behind them. Rees especially has made mistakes – but he can change. Back in the 1980′s and 90′s, when I was still an SWP member, he was OK – he seemed quite reflexive about the organisation and self critical. Later, when I encountered him in the Socialist Alliance he seemed to have lost it a bit by then, becoming more crazy and arrogant, unrealistically and grandiosely ‘boosterizing’, claiming to have brought down Blair, etc. But on a more personal level he, along with Lindsey were the only CC members who ever actually spoke to me like an equal – in my experience the rest would mainly blank you in bars at Marxism and only talk to each other! So he (and others) might need to re-adjust his style, find his grounding again. They need to learn from their own treatment from Smith et al – don’t treat your comrades like shit! Abandon the authoritarian and bullying practices that have given the far left its bad name. It is also always easier for smaller groups to be less hierarchical, which will help to abandon the bad habits acquired by the SWP over the long years of the downturn. In fact, it might be an idea to rediscover the libertarian ‘Luxemburgist’ spirit of the 60′s International Socialists, the light but successful touch that enabled such rapid exponential growth in the late 1960′s and early 70′s before the party was hardened by faction fights and ossified into what Cliff imagined was ‘Leninisation’.

    So maybe there there could be some hope, something salvaged.

    2) Carry on party building: The SWP majority.

    They have lost some good and talented comrades. But plenty more remain. The new CC is doing what is necessary to maintain the party core – and we need the SWP to survive. We should not pretend that this is not a retreat – we really need a broad new left of labour party – and since the debacle of the Respect split, the SWP have retreated from this. But while we have rehearsed the reasons for the split (and no denying Rees or the rest of the CC all played a very poor role here) what is done is done. And beyond this, with the prospect of a Tory government, much of the organised workers movement will be pushed back towards Labour, thus closing the political space for a new left of labour electoral force that has been there for the past decade for us to try and operate in. The British far left has failed in this task, for both objective and subjective reasons. It’s a shame, (and we should not shy away from the lessons, – like some) but the key question is: What next?

    In this situation it is probably best that the SWP rebuilds its branches and own solid routine, and organises a series of partial united fronts around todays limited struggles while making socialist propaganda, and getting some new recruits. It’s not what the left or the working class as a whole needs – we need a new, broad political and fighting front. But as we saw with Respect and the SA, the SWP is not the right tool for this job. So we might as well leave it to get on with what it does best. And we will need its capacity to react quickly to events and generalise the struggles that emerge into new fronts and mass campaigns. But it would be nice if the SWP also learned some lessons from recent problems and became less authoritarian and bullying – both in its internal regime and in its behavior in some campaigns. The democracy commission was a good sign, but the situation of German’s departure does not bode well for an improved regime.

    More generally, it would be a good start if the two sides here avoid the clichéd response to left splits – of blanking each other, denouncing each other, undermining or competing with each other – this would be a bore for us in the wider movement! Have an amicable separation, explore different paths, but remain polite, keep disagreements clear, political and confined to the proper forums, and work together when and where you can.

  87. “Instead of a healthy political culture, in which there is a democratic right to organise factions, the SWP resolves its political differences by expulsion.”

    Factions are allowed, there was a healthy debate, the majority supported the current CC.

    “Not one can I ever remember the CC indulging in anything remotely akin to critical self-analysis – where did we go wrong and why?”

    We’ve had a democracy commission which is more than can be said for any other left organisation recently.

    “Instead we have empirical descriptions of situations such as ‘downturn’ whilst failing to see the bigger political picture, one of a declining political militancy in the organised working class.”

    That’s exactly what the downturn theory is all about.

    “Respect was a clear disaster and Rees’s part in that is clear and obvious, a failure though endorsed by the CC as a whole.”

    Respect got an MP elected and led the way in embracing the Muslim community to fight against Islamophobia. Without it there would now be very little organised opposition to Islamophobia. Not bad for a coalition not long in existence up until the split. Despite it’s faults and eventual split perhaps you could point to a more successful UK left coalition in comparison?

    “The real question, how to build a united left and anti-capitalist party, is not answered by either faction. The reality is that the SWP is a failure both in its own terms and that of the wider left.”

    As opposed to who? While the SWP isn’t exactly blazing a trail in all areas ATM I’m not seeing the rest of the left doing much better. If you call the UAF, Right to Work, industrial work and StW the bunker then perhaps you’re right. Considering we agree on “a declining political militancy in the organised working class” over the past decades it’s ironic that, rather like the moralising of the LP, you blame the SWP for the current state of the left.

  88. “More generally, it would be a good start if the two sides here avoid the clichéd response to left splits – of blanking each other, denouncing each other, undermining or competing with each other – this would be a bore for us in the wider movement! Have an amicable separation, explore different paths, but remain polite, keep disagreements clear, political and confined to the proper forums, and work together when and where you can.”

    I can’t see why anyone in the SWP will have a problem working with the LP. Now that they aren’t in the SWP pretending to have dissolved their faction as they agreed to do the SWP no longer has to deal with these games. The air will now clear, the LP can operate openly and the SWP can pursue the strategy that the majority have voted on.

  89. an unintentional silly moment from barry kade: “the more viscous the hostility!”

    Viscous hostility sounds like the kind of things that happen at fetish parties, not socialist parties. Maybe that’s what the real difference was about!

  90. What is really interesting and soul-destroyingly depressing all at the same time is how a group of people who are, one would assume, united by a passionate hatred and indignation at the injustices of capitalism and have been, in many cases for a long number of years, side by side desperately trying to build an organisation that can resist that, can hate each other so much. I mean, you’d think that sort of experience would establish some kind of bond between them. On the one hand, socialists are trying to convince people that it would be possible to organise society in a different way, based on democracy and solidarity. But then those same people would seem to be some of the most vindictive, ego centric, arrogant, anally retentive, rude and just plain unpleasant social misfits you’d ever have the misfortune to meet.

  91. I heard JR and LG have been in touch with Max Clifford regards a piss and sell-out book. A failed “menage a trois” between Respect,STWC and the SWP.

    Socialist Unity, the poor man’s and woman’s News of the World and Sun, have gained the sole rights to give daily salacious tittle tattle.

    The editor Mr Swindon Rambler, “said I know the authors are a bit iffy, but we must protect and inform the left at all times, and I hope they get a right good wank out of it. I hope they can get rise, morning, noon and night”, he said exhaustively, with bags under his eyes. I was more than happy to shake his sticky hands,

  92. Jo who did I used to lionise? And as for the ‘play ground taunts’, well, sorry, but I don’t think the latest twist deserves to be dignified with a serious response.

  93. “JohnG there was nothing pious about my intention, it says a lot about you and your attitude that you are so hostile”

    Noel you are at present doing everything possible to damage the SWP, and those who lead Left Platform already did enourmous damage. How you have the barefaced cheek to even comment on the behaviour of others is a mystery to me.

  94. Lets wait for a shiny new website and publication from the splitters. I think it is quite obvious that the Left Platform have been planning this since conference and decided to force the CC to push German. Saying that, if an aspiring revolutionary party can’t even contain such small differences within its ranks, how will it ever move beyond a confessional sect.

  95. johng – it looks as though the SWP needs no help when it comes to damaging what little credibility it has left. surely now even you can see there is something intrinsically flawed with the political culture that pervades within your organisation. no amount of democracy commissions can paper over the cracks of a party which aspires to lead the working class to the promised land by substituting itself for that class. no roots in the class anywhere, an organisation that floats from one campaign to the next, leaving behind in its wake acrimony and mistrust among those it comes into contact with.

    the russian revolution has been and gone, john. this is british society in the year 2010. perhaps this latest debacle should be viewed as a wake up call.

  96. I can remember one LPer proudly announcing that he called the new Respect ‘Celeb Respect’. I was profoundly uneasy about this kind of cavelier attitude to what was a serious split on the left which would have serious consequences not just for us and for them, but the whole of the movement. Today we have the curious situation of Celeb Respect without the Celebs. Its impossible really not to note quite how irresponsible all of this.

  97. yeah we’re the swp and everyone hates us well we DONT FUCKING CARE!!

    GOOD RIDDANCE JOHN REES you were a prick when you were edinburgh head honcho and your a bigger prick now. we don’t need you .

    we will miss Chris Harman though. Rest in Peace comrade x

  98. George Galloway’s speech “it was the best of times and it was the worse of times” coupled with Nick Wrack’s speech about “Respect sailing into new waters” has now been seen as the correct course of action for a new political party, in dealing with plotters. I wonder if there is any lessons to be had for the STWC.

    Because the splitters, the left platform and the SWP will feel they have nothing to gain if they do the honourable thing by stopping being spokespersons for the STWC during this war of attrition. For our’s and the peace movement’s sake I hope Andrew Murray has a quiet word with both parties

  99. I think it says something that barrykades thoughtful comment at #111 gets nothing but contempt by swp robotrots. It seems that for some the swp can be wrong in the past, and they might be wrong in the future but they are always right in the present, it’s so depressing.

  100. Do you think your wrong in the present Ryutin? I think that would be a bit of a strange thing to think.

  101. I think you can believe the organisation you’re in has on a number of serious probems whilst still being a committed member – john molyneux’s done that for a number of years – admittedly you might not want to publicise that on the internet, but a few of the same names will defend the latest turn with the same hardline tunnel vision no matter what has happened

  102. Well I’m not sure about that. How exactly is the SWP to blame for these resignations? Claims that there was not a serious debate are simply untrue, claims that we wanted to intefere with the functioning of StW are simply untrue, and claims that we are moving away from united front work are simply untrue. Given that, I don’t understand what it is we have done wrong in this case. Plenty of other things I can point to. But not in this case.

  103. well i was just saying that some swpers react to criticism in a way that more resembles a cult than a serious organisation and that the comment #111 is a sensible and fair call for forward movement. I think its call for a non-sectarian radical left news source is particulary on the money. I owe a lot to the swp – though own view of the kind of organisation we need is closer to portugal’s left block than cliff’s version of leninism, and I dont think much of the Left Platforms perspective – i had my political education in the party and still have affection for most of the comrades i met.

  104. Andy Wilson on said:

    #123: “Saying that, if an aspiring revolutionary party can’t even contain such small differences within its ranks”

    But these were not small differences. Ultimately what was at stake was whether the SWP wanted to continue being guided by the kind of politics that made the Respect split so pointlessly acrimonious and, frankly, disastrous. The vast majority decided that they didn’t and even went so far as to spit out some of their most senior and experienced members in order to put things back on track. I would have thought that on this blog of all places it might be recognised that this is excellent news.

    Looking through the list of those who have resigned I recognise only a few names that I know: one or two of them are people I like and respect, and who will no doubt be missed, but the majority are precisely those who were central, over a long period of time (going back way before Respect was launched) to establishing a quasi-militaristic command and control system of leadership within the SWP. As I’ve said elsewhere, they could get away with this so long as it remained simply a disease of the internal organs, as the overwhelming majority of SWP members are fiercely loyal, but this approach was bound to shatter in contact with the wider reality implied by the turn outwards (SA, Respect, etc). I would go as far as to say that the outcome was more or less inevitable. It was infinitely frustrating to watch as it happened, but now it is over it is good to see the party draw the right conclusions.

    Another point: while the SWP have just lost a few tens of people from the membership list it’s also likely that there will be a small but significant number of people who remained essentially loyal to the SWPs politics even though they were demoralised and/or marginalised by the Rees-German leadership. Those people will be delighted now that the root problem has been addressed. If they had simply drifted away from activity then it’s possible they will get involved again; if they resigned or had been expelled they may be applying to rejoin. I don’t say that this will involve huge numbers but there will certainly be a reflux. I already know of a couple of people that have rejoined or applied to rejoin as a result of these changes. If I were still in the SWP I would be dusting off my old contact and membership lists and heading off to have some serious discussions.

  105. Dustin the Turkey on said:

    “The Socialist Workers Party has performed outstanding work on the left now for many years… unifying people against them.”

    Basically, the SWP is the giant alien telepathic squid from “Watchmen”.

  106. #134

    “Those people will be delighted now that the root problem has been addressed.”

    Have all the copies of Cliff’s “Lenin, Building the Party,. vol 1″ been burnt then?

  107. Stockwell Pete on said:

    I know that everyone is entitled to have their say about these events in the SWP but, once all the excitement has died down, I do wonder how much things will really be any different. I expect the SWP to carry on before, doing some good work but damaging its potential because of their primary need to stay in control at all costs – and to recruit from whatever it is they are prioritising. OK, so we’ll presumably have one more smaller grouping of socialists around Rees/German. But beyond that, what will change?

    I think that Dennis’s observation #117 is very interesting though and similar concerns have been expressed on other blogs including Madam Miaow and Splintered Sunrise – considerations that might have been called in the past “the personal is political” i.e. how should revolutionaries relate to those people who they come into contact with on a day-to-day basis during the course of the struggle, whether they are inside or outside “the party”.

    We had these sorts of discussions in the SWP at the time of the bust up with Women’s Voice and Flame (around 1980) and things got very nasty then too. Attitudes varied among comrades. Some were upset about the way they were spoken to and treated on occasions and sometimes they even dropped out of activity because of it. Others were more robust about things and took the view that it was unrealistic to expect a piddly organisation like the SWP (around 4,000 members then) that was being buffeted by much more powerful social forces to be “nice”.

    Whatever we view we took, I think that most of us realised that there is nothing quite so contradictory as being a revolutionary socialist in the sense that we all are, first and foremost, products of a process of “capitalist socialisation” who then want to go out and destroy the very society that produced us. In a sense we strive to create a future where people made like ourselves no longer exist, if you see what I mean.

    I do think that this is a very neglected area of consideration for the left. I tend to take the view that the autocratic and bullying behaviour displayed by leading figures on the left (not just in the SWP) is a “learned behaviour” – and that it is most definitely mainly the product of a long period of defeat and retreat for the working class movement in Britain. So I don’t think that it is inevitable, or caused by democratic centralism, or anything like that.

    Of course, I do recognise that the individual psychologies and social backgrounds of certain people are important considerations too. I don’t have any answers really – I just feel that we all need to get our heads around this issue of personal relations a bit more because if we can’t trust one another then we can’t really build anything.

  108. ryutin I think Richard Seymour’s comments on the Tomb are useful. Although I also think they probably need to be balenced by Andy W’s one above:

    I don’t think “good riddance” is the right approach. Many members will be relieved that this is now all ‘over’, and I can’t imagine there will be many tears over this, but the SWP has just lost a sizeable chunk of big names and activists. The number resigning is a small percentage of the party’s membership and not that portion with deep roots in the organised labour movement, but this is still a serious split. And it arises from the wrong practises of the past, in which a decent-sized chunk of good activists were educated in a method of organisation that they now erroneously believe to be the essence of Leninism. We all defended this because of the successes we had during that period. But even when it started to produce serious problems, we still defended it – in part due to the vitiation of party structures that would have enabled a proper accounting of these problems. Only after some appalling mistakes did the party move. Putting all that right has predictably left a minority who were cultivated and promoted in the preceding period feeling as if they are an embattled vanguard defending the ‘real’ political heritage of the IS, hence the split. I’m not donning the hairshirt, but the appropriate response here is humility and a willingness to learn from our past mistakes.

  109. “Whatever we view we took, I think that most of us realised that there is nothing quite so contradictory as being a revolutionary socialist in the sense that we all are, first and foremost, products of a process of “capitalist socialisation” who then want to go out and destroy the very society that produced us. In a sense we strive to create a future where people made like ourselves no longer exist, if you see what I mean.”

    Are you saying that some people who suffer from self-loathing resort to left politics to rationalise (and hopefully exorcise) their condition?

  110. johng says “the appropriate response here is humility and a willingness to learn from our past mistakes.”

    How does that square with posting a link to ‘Celebration’ by Kool and the Gang, as you did upthread? You’ve already proved your immaturity and now you’ve added hypocrisy, inconsistency and disingenuity to the characteristics you display.

    Go see a shrink, pronto.

  111. Jo – I didn’t say that. Richard Seymour did. As I replied to him, I agree that there was systematic miseducation but I find the effrontary and arrogance in the treatment of most of the membership hard to forgive.

  112. Stockwell Pete on said:

    #139 “Are you saying that some people who suffer from self-loathing resort to left politics to rationalise (and hopefully exorcise) their condition?”

    No. I wasn’t really meaning that. Although I suppose that many of us were well aware of our particular shortcomings, or things that we had done wrong in the past, but even if we were then I think that there was an attitude of “we aren’t going to be hung up about them”, or paralysed – and that we would make the best contribution that we could to the struggle for a better society.

    We did talk about these things at times together though, or at least the comrades that I knew did. I don’t know whether comrades do so much these days – our society has become atomised, or individualised, in so many ways now. And I also wonder whether having journals and organisation called “Women’s Voice” that included regular discussions on personal politics made this a bit easier to do.

  113. Incidently, the list f people resigning is more than similar t the list who signed the motion on “no platform” for Party Council last year:

    William Alderson, Richard Allday, Elly Babcock, Sian Barrett, Alex Brooke, Andy Brown, Jane Claveley, Kate Connell, Margie Corcoran, Adam Cornell, Adrian Cousins, Kevin Deane, Anita de Klerk, Tracy Dodds, Noel Douglas, Tony Dowling, Gary Duncan, Sam Fairbairn, Neil Faulkner, Des Freedman, Lindsey German, John Gilmore, Dave Goodfield, Jo Gough, Elaine Graham-Leigh, Louise Harrison, Madeline Heneghan, Joe Henry, Penny Hicks, Dave Holes, David Hughes, Feyzi Ismail, Gerry Jones, Spencer Jordan, Rachel Kendall, David Lowden, Naz Massoumi, Narzanin Massoumi, David McAllister, Jack McGlen, Caron McKenna, James Meadway, Brendan Montague, Viva Msimang, Jackie Mulhallen, Katya Nasim, Chris Newlove, Chris Nineham, Jesse Oldershaw, Edmund Quinn, John Rees, Matthew Richards, Andrew Robbins, Mark Smith, Alex Snowden, Clare Soloman, Alliya Stennett, Lindy Syson, Guy Taylor, Vladimir Unkovski-Korica, Paul Vernell, Carole Vincent, John Whearty, Gordon White, Tom Whittaker, Somaye Zadeh, Andreja Zivkovic.

    It will be interesting to see where the likes of Paul Vernell go now.

  114. David Ellis on said:

    The temptation for the breakaway will be to try and be `more SWP than thou’ to begin with. That is natural but it must be swiftly overcome. It is an unsustainable position and will soon see the fledgling group reduce in size. The sooner, in the light of their own disgusting treatment, they begin to cast a critical eye on the whole post-War history of revolutionary socialism and how it rapidly degenerated into bureaucratised centrist sects and cults heavily affected by stalinism and became a component of the Cold War system of British politics during the long post-war boom the better. Don’t get caught up in an activism arms race with your ex-comrades. Select directed specific activities that are not mindless and demoralising and start writing histories and theoretical pieces about your experiences. Chuck out all the Gramscian stalinist muck and Cliffe’s state capitalist ultra-left yet strangely opportunist differentiation branding exercise. Rediscover politics and Marxism and humanity.

    p.s. I’m very much looking forward to hearing more intimate details about the discussion that took place in the SWP around operation wreckspect now that John Rees is a liberty to reveal and discuss them.

  115. Andy Wilson on said:

    #145: David, you forgot to mention that they need to employ ‘Scientific Marxism’. That’s not like you. Are you suddenly retreating into mysticism?

  116. David Ellis on said:

    Sorry Andy forgot to mention scientific socialism that time. How long do you think you will survive your renewed membership before it all comes flooding back by the way?

  117. #149

    I fear that david Ellis may have mislaid his Ouija board, and his direct channel to Trotsky-speak has been interrupted, so now he is extemporising.

  118. Andy Wilson on said:

    “your renewed membership”

    ftr, my membership has not been renewed. I have, however, successfully applied to be allowed to attend SWP public meetings, Marxism, etc., thus lifting a lifetime ban.

    (massed groans from those who remember me)

  119. David Ellis on said:

    Sorry Andy we are not all capable of making it up as we go along like you. Some of us rely on the past practises and theoretical insights of those who came before us. Sorry about that. I believe some poor bastards still read Darwin and that Newton is taught in our schools. Disgraceful.

  120. “I fear that david Ellis may have mislaid his Ouija board” – oooh, a Marxist ouija board. I want one of those. I have a few questions for Karl about his preferences in beer.

  121. David Ellis on said:

    `(massed groans from those who remember me)’

    Massed sympathy I think. This might be a case of careful what you wish for because you might just get it.

  122. David Ellis on said:

    johng: if you don’t know I can’t help you. We went through all this at the time of Operation Wreckspect and you didn’t know then ether.

  123. Andy Wilson on said:

    “Some of us rely on the past practises and theoretical insights of those who came before us”

    ffs, why didn’t you mention this idea before? I think some of us have been missing a trick. Will it help if I wear a lab coat? I already have loads of pens.

  124. David Ellis on said:

    Andy: I don’t think much can help you now you’ll just have to repeat your previous experiences. That reminds me, was it Mandel who when arrested by the police and asked if he was armed produced a pen from his jacket pocket?

  125. You really think there is a parrallel David? Or do you perhaps just think this is a handy opportunity to recruit?

  126. David Ellis on said:

    #160 Well johng I’m always looking for new friends on facebook where I regularly accidentally type the complete works of Shakespeare and the bible.

    But seriously i don’t think you were able to grasp the mal-treatment of the likes of Ger Francis and Kevin Ovenden at the time of operation wreckspect so you are not going to understand why the LP people feel aggrieved now. Hoepfully the LP people’s treatment will be the catalyst they need to examine more than just recent history as I think it might have been for many SWPers who stayed with Respect.

  127. Andy Wilson on said:

    “Mandel who when arrested by the police and asked if he was armed produced a pen from his jacket pocket?”

    I can imagine it now: Mandel brandishing his favourite BIC while the CRS are clubbing him. Crazy guy.

    Regarding Newton and Darwin (#154), completely co-incidentally I am just reading Newton’s book, Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John, which certainly has things to say about the current situation. Are you perhaps one of the ‘witness’ guys he mentions?:

    “This prophecy is called the Revelation, with respect to the Scripture of Truth, which Daniel was commanded to shut up and seal, till the time of the end. Daniel sealed it until the time of the end, and until that time comes, the Lamb is opening the seals: and afterward the two Witnesses prophesy out of it a long time in sackcloth, before they ascend up to heaven in a cloud. All of which is as much as to say, that the prophecies of Daniel and John should not be understood till the time of the end: but that some should prophesy out of it in an afflicted and mournful state for a long time, and that but darkly, so as to convert but few. But in the very end, the Prophecy should be so far interpreted so as to convince many. Then saith Daniel, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

    For the Gospel must first be preached in all nations before the great tribulation, and end of the world. The palm-bearing multitude, which came out of this great tribulation, cannot be innumerable out of all nations unless they be made so by the preaching of the Gospel before it comes. There must be a stone cut of the mountain without hands, before it can fall on the toes of the Image, and become a great mountain and fill the earth. An Angel must fly through the midst of heaven with the everlasting Gospel to preach to all nations, before Babylon falls, and the Son of man reaps his harvest. The two prophets must ascend up to heaven in a cloud, before the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of Christ.

    ‘Tis therefore a part of this Prophecy, that it should not be understood before the last age of the world; and therefore it makes for the credit of the Prophecy, that it is not yet understood. But if the last age, the age of opening these things, be now approaching, as by the great success of late Interpreters it seems to be, we have more encouragement that ever to look into these things.

    If the general preaching of the Gospel be approaching, it is for us and our posterity that these words mainly belong: In the time of the end the wise shall understand, but none of the wicked shall understand. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this Prophecy, and keep those things that are written therein
    (Daniel XII 4,10, Apoc. i 3).”

    Don’t take offence, I ask simply because I’m curious.

  128. David Ellis on said:

    I think you ask because like all english empiricists you are anti-theory. Your knowledge of the bible certainly singles you out as sect potential however.

  129. Oh c’mon David, you think anyone who leaves the SWP might rethink the SWP and therefore come round to your way of thinking. Rethinking is good when it involves leaving the SWP. But its bad inside the SWP. Thats really the nub of the matter surely.

  130. yeah Newton’s interest in alchemy and prophesy raise the good old demarcation problem don’t they.

  131. David Ellis on said:

    #167 `Oh c’mon David, you think anyone who leaves the SWP might rethink the SWP and therefore come round to your way of thinking. Rethinking is good when it involves leaving the SWP. But its bad inside the SWP. Thats really the nub of the matter surely.’

    I’m sorry, have I been shy in making this point or something? Rethinking inside the SWP is not allowed as the current debacle demonstrates.

  132. On a related point of re-thinking: I think that when the IS was young and fairly marginal the decision to ignore the more esotoric debates between Trots in favour of debates about our activity were entirely justified. I think that one problem was transferring what once signalled a much more open minded attitude into a situation where we were confronted with real social forces was a mistake. In other words part of the top down method was simply the use of arguments against indulging in ‘internal’ and ‘sectarian’ arguments, in order to justify not engaging with real mistakes involving real political forces external to us.

    This does not however mean that there are not actually existing ‘internal’ and ‘sectarian’ methods of argument which are best ignored with us still. Hence my tendency to treat David Ellis’s arguments with a little less seriousness then some others.

  133. Andy Wilson on said:

    #167: no, the nub is that David believes that no one else is really thinking at all. This is paradoxical since, for all his strenuous reasoning, he keeps saying the same things over and over again as if their were no development at all in his thought despite the tremendous intellectual labour he performs. I find that uncanny.

  134. David Ellis on said:

    #171 Andy: I think you’ll find that saying the same things over and over again in politics is a virtue.

    #170 LOL

  135. re #138 thanks johng
    i really hope the swp can develop a more open culture in line with some of the perspectives that davidson and molyneux have penned though i have my doubts about the current leaderships willingness to lose some of there organisation and policy making power. On the ground it would be a good thing for *some* comrades to lose the culture of treating lefties outside the party as either fools who haven’t seen the light, competition or potential cadre

  136. Of course the real debate to be had is why on earth Rosa has been banned from posting her interesting theses on the roots of the current split in the errors of the pre-socratics.

  137. #174

    “why on earth Rosa has been banned from posting her interesting theses ”

    would that I had that power, sadly I can only stop them being posted here on this particular websit, but a globally enforced ban on those ideas certainly has my full support

  138. David Hillman on said:

    We need a primer of proletarian politeness : a guide to courtesy and good manners among revolutionaries.

  139. And that is sadly why we all remain in such a mess Andy. Myself I’m looking foward to new and exciting ways of doing things in a post-dialectical, post-socialist, post-modern and ultimately, post digital kind of enviroment. How about you?

  140. #178

    well I live in Swindon, so we don’t have elan and flair down here, which is why john Rees moved away from Chippenham in the first place I think.

    I must admit to some curiosity about how this will all pan out; and whether the dash and verve can sustain itsef through the dull routine of holding organisation together.

  141. Incidently, as mentioned before, I think there is a gap in the market for a boring party. Its something we should be working on.

  142. “really hope the swp can develop a more open culture in line with some of the perspectives that davidson and molyneux have penned though i have my doubts about the current leaderships willingness to lose some of there organisation and policy making power”

    ryutin, perhaps unsurprisingly I see things as a little less polarised then that. Take two kinds of perspective one by Davidson, one by Callinicos. Davidson as I read him wanted CC members to be more temporary fixtures, and for the leadership to strike a more even balence between full timers and those in work. Callinicos understood the occassion for his argument but was concerned that some of the advantages of ‘professionalism’ could be lost. Behind all this of course was a much deeper argument about ‘building leadership’ and what this meant.

    Those terrified by a discussion like this simply started shouting about an abandonment of Leninism.

    For myself its an argument I’m genuinely unsure about. And I could only become sure about it through seeing the organisation applying our newer perspectives and how things work out in practice. Hence I think Molyneux’s article on democracy as a process. In this context I’m not at all interested in people with ready made recipes (ie allow permenant factions and all will be fine, or on the other hand, do not ask any questions about organisational methods etc, etc).

    So I think its a mistake to think that the debate about democracy is over. I just think it is likely to occur more naturally now in relationship to our practice. Which is how it ought to be all the time really.

  143. Was it Mandel who when arrested by the police and asked if he was armed produced a pen from his jacket pocket?

    Zizek says at the end of the introduction to his anthology of Lenin’s writings from 1917 that it was Lukács in 1956.

  144. neprimerimye on said:

    #170. But John when IS was young it did not ignore the more esoteric debates among the orthodox. some questions it took up and developed new answers that differed from those previously adhered to. Some it placed in perspective and riped into with gusto. For example the Hallas polemic against the lunatic regime and perspectives of the Healy group.

    Others it grappled with and failed to come to a developed position on as with the question of a program. Heck IS even adopted a program, verily a transitional program, which was then mislaid. Probably a good thing too but the debate was never satisfactorialy concluded just postponed…

  145. yeah but neprimerimye (for gods sake how is anyone supposed to conduct polemic like this!) at that point we were in an entirely different world both objectively and subjectively. On transitional programs and stuff. The idea that this must be a constant feature: this is surely just occult.

  146. prianikoff on said:

    I’ll be very interested to see where the Rees/German faction end up.
    The history of “Cliffite loyalist” splits isn’t very auspicious in that respect.

    In my view this is a dispute between the right populist and ultra left wings of the SWP that emerged during the Socialist Alliance and Stop the War Campaigns.
    Neither side is free from blame, especially as Callinicos was instrumental in the idiotic split with the ISO in America. Martin Smith hardly inspires confidence either.

    There’s absolutely no space for yet another socialist organisation, let alone one claiming to inherit the mantle of the SWP.
    But if Lindsey German is true to her role as the “annointed one”, she should be doing exactly that.

    I just can’t see it though. This is just another opportunist split over petty tactical questions and won’t lead to organisational growth for either side.

  147. prianikoff on said:

    #189
    The two traits often coexist in one individual when tracked over time.
    e.g. Bukharin.
    It’s often a sign of schematic thinking that can’t engage with concrete reality

  148. Chippenham has a lot to answer for. Andy Newman, ending up campaigning for a robot Labour PPC with the left wing credentials of an artichoke, Deggsy Wall providing Left cover for an organisation with its fair share of crypto-fascists and dear, dear, Johnny Rees, the Charlie Harper of the British Left. Thank goodness Will Hodgson has got principles.

  149. Insider on said:

    German exemplified all that had become decayed if not completely rotten in the SWP. I remember her arguing in the late 1980s about how the National Committee was an obstacle and the quote ‘old bores’ like Paul Foot, Jim Nichol etc should be marginalised. Not openly argued – that was not her style – but with her salon and confidantes – that was her style. She was the antipathy of revolutionary socialist democracy, a fixer, a back room dealer, a manipulator in the great Stalinist tradition.

  150. Insider on said:

    Oh and fuck me I could never understand why comrades were deferential if not obeisant towards her. Callinicos – never been convinced he’s not a spook – well someone’s got to be.

  151. history tells us things on said:

    Noel

    ‘If there was a revolution in this country think how many difference of opinion there would be, how many views to accomodate, yet those who are currently very close to you politically but you just disagree over strategy and tactics you ‘celebrate’ being freed from…I dread to think what you actions you’d support and ‘celebrate’ in a real revolutionary crisis!

    No, any ‘dissenters’ would have been shot, shame this split didn’t happen before the London European Social Forum which you(and you played a major role) and your comrades basically emasculated and ruined.

  152. “It’s often a sign of schematic thinking that can’t engage with concrete reality”

    You are so right about me P. Actually thinking about it: Spiked or a kind of wannabe SA?

  153. history tells us things on said:

    Oh,and just look, hundreds of posts on the dying SWP and only a few post on the article about the role of N/L in welfare reforms, priorities?

  154. Presumably History tells us, no-one believes that the main task for the left is to get Gordon Brown re-elected.

  155. Peter Crispy on said:

    ’m looking foward to new and exciting ways of doing things in a post-dialectical, post-socialist, post-modern

    and ironic. don’t forget ironic!

    way

  156. Ah, ‘history tells us things’ always the brave activists who criticise anonymously-eh?!

    History might also tell you that to put on an event for 25,000 activists across Europe meant working with the GLA and Socialist Action, something none of us were expecting to be so, ah, fraught…it was a choice between trying to deal with that as best we could or not doing it at all…there was no way the ‘opposition’ could have done anything, and it’s a shame people like yourself don’t have more nous to realise that at the time, and not denounce, as people did, large unions like the T&G who’d put up thousands of pounds to help fund the event.

    In the cultural group which I worked in, I worked hard to get all on board, but of course autonomists wanted to the their own thing, fair enough, I still took the calls and made sure their events were publicised in the ‘official’ newspaper and you can see from the diversity of what was put on that the cultural stuff was open to all…

    http://www.movementoftheimagination.org/images/jamming/New_Cultural_Programme.pdf

    The only other thing I’d say was that was 6 years ago…times change…but if we could get back to having 25,000 anti-cap activists meeting here in London that would be great–if only!

    But then obviously having 25,000 activists together was an awful thing and your right ‘ruined’ the event.

    ps. don’t get me wrong lots went wrong and could have been done better, how could it not when you bring people together for the first time to organise such a big event, but all parties were to blame, not just the SWP.

  157. neprimerimye on said:

    #187. “On transitional programs and stuff. The idea that this must be a constant feature: this is surely just occult.”

    We are in an entirely different situation today? Yup, we sure is. But that does not negate the importance of those questions raised in the 1960s and 1970s. it does mean that we must approach such questions in a different way and some of the answers we arrive at might be radically different from those that were arrived at in the past.

    Frankly John I’m perturbed by your dismissal of the concept of a transitional program. After all one of the major areas of disagreement in the SWP in recent years has been the idea of the United Front. Other than in a pre-revolutionary period, that is to say in the here and now, the United Front is the form which transitional politics most often takes. A position once held by the IS I note.

    What is occult is the suggestion that the formation of a petty bourgeois dominated party is the United Front sui generis or that a tactic is also a strategy.

    Sorry to be telegraphic but I’m hurried.

  158. Armchair on said:

    With regard to pens and weapons, can I refer people to the scene in Casino where Joe Pesci makes rather interesting use of one.

    Ironically Mandel was an authority on crime fiction.

    The above is a gratuitous diversion from the subject of the thread btw and there is no hidden sub-text.

  159. Richard Searle on said:

    #201. I would very much agree with Noel.

    The one organising meeting that I attended at ULU for the 2004 ESF was enough to test the patience of a f**king saint.
    How others hung on to make it happen should be congratulated, warts and all
    I re-call one particular Manchester based Italian autonomist who took sanctimonous disruption to a new heights

  160. Interesting news. But I for one don’t see much, if any, difference between the way that Rees, German operate to the way in which what’s left of the SWP operate. Isn’t that part of the problem? German knows how the party operates as she helped to create and shape it that way. I think I’ll be eating my hat before Martin Smith and his gang introduces a more open and democratic culture. Learning to listen to people would be a start, but that seems beyond some people.

    The rot started a long, long time ago and anyone who tried to challenge it was forced out by a combination of factors and people. German and Rees forced many people out – not through open debate – but innuendo, whispering campaigns and all the rest of it. Smith operates in exactly the same way.

    All this talk of ‘we had a debate and they lost’ sounds to me like the managers at work who say ‘we’ve investigated all these allegations properly but there is no evidence that this manager has been bullying anyone’.

    The thought of still being a member of the SWP at work with the likes of Smith, Bradley, Baksh, Bennett trying to ‘give direction’ and ‘leadership’ Phew…the mind boggles.

    Oh – and have I missed something – but where is that figure of the night, Bambery in all of this?

    One other comment – I was quite taken aback at how weak German’s letter of resignation actually was. If the best that can be mustered after 37 years in the same party is to reference those ludicrous books by Cliff on Lenin….

  161. salman mirza on said:

    this split to me is sad and I hope things can be sorted out

    however Il speak as I find, the majority of calls, emails around things like UAF, volunteers needed for leafleting picket lines, stop the closures campaigns etc are from the SWP

    so all this SWP bashing doesnt sit comfortably with me

    highlight of my year so far?

    going on anti EDL demos and the right to work conference both of which the SWP was central in building; my view is even though its not perfect the SWP still is the best organisation on the left

  162. #206
    actually if you are referring to who I think you are referring to, she is a friend personal of mine from when she lived in Swindon; and while I would neither defend her moralistic politics nor her disruptive behaviour, to be clear, she is a member of Rifondazione, and comes from an orthodox PCI background, she is not nor has she ever been an autonomist.

  163. Salman Mirza: I understand your sentiment. A question – what will you and the SWP in Birmingham do over the next ten weeks to advance the left?

  164. ‘The development of the system of socialist sects and that of the real workers’ movement always stand in inverse ratio to each other. So long as the sects are (historically) justified, the working class is not yet ripe for an independent historic movement’.

    Karl Marx

  165. Richard Searle on said:

    Andy, I hope we’re not referring to the same person. There’s 6 billion on the planet and she was a one off.

    There is valid point made by Noel, there’s one thing to be booking a room for a meeting in your neighbourhood, its quite another to book a few rooms for 25,000.

    Some people thought these buildings and the costs of hiring them would just magic out of thin air, while they sounded off, others just got on with sorting it and doing what ever was necessary to achieve that end.
    It was also the case of you weren’t going to please all of the people all of the time.

    Critically, and this a key issue for discussion of our current woes, the context of the London 2004 ESF was different the first ESF Florence in 2002
    .
    This first ESF took place in the run up to the war, with a rising movement, and it culminated with a demo of one million. The following day in Florence, the convention of social movements following the ESF took the decision was set to make 15th February 2003 a day of protest, which was then carried through to the World Social Forum

    After the high points of 2003, Bush’s visit, there was a slow decline in the numbers that turned up for the STW demos, not dramatic, but a tailing off, but it was also from an exceptional high water mark.

  166. Rorschach on said:

    Nas – I’m guessing your #210 is a non-too-subtle reference to the forthcoming election? If so, I think everyone should back Salma, but I can’t see her winning.

  167. “Everyone should back Salma, but I can’t see her winning.”

    Go on treat yourself – try harder to imagine her winning. It’s is possible to do. It might make it easier for you to actually back her with some activity.

  168. ger francis on said:

    ‘A question – what will you and the SWP in Birmingham do over the next ten weeks to advance the left?’

    They will be advancing the left in Birmingham by going to campaign in Preston.

  169. Actually to further Richard’s point on the ESF, and the real politik involved…those of us in the SWP at the time and involved in GR did a hell of a lot of work to have the event held at the Truman Brewery and around Brick Lane, which would have been much more of a ‘movement’ type area/space, central and near loads of working class areas…we even got to the point of booking space provisionally…but Ken wanted it at Ally Pally so Haringey council could get the money–so it went there…of course this was against the process etc…but what could we do, we tried to argue but money talked…bearing in mind it cost around half a million to hire Ally Pally and that’s the kind of costs we are talking about.

    Mariangela was no hope to this process at all, autonomist, orthodox PCI, Rifoundazione member or not…neither were those who moaned…

  170. Off to Preston? Thought as much. Of course there they must think Val Wise has a chance of winning? No, they claim no such thing.

    Sure she should be supported. But to ship activists from a place where a left candidate could win to one where they can’t says it all.

    This guff from the SWP about supporting the best placed left candidates, while shipping people many miles away from their campaigns, says it all.

    It’s not serious. And whatever the results, many people will see it as such.

    Another poor political choice.

  171. It must be a blessing for lots of people here that there is a SWP. So they can point to its mistakes, failures, evil ‘democratic centralism’ etc instead of discuss what they have done to advance the left and set an example. Surely with so many comments about how it shouldn’t be done, some should have taken the lead in building a party that shows they way in creating an electoral alternative for Labour, building the StW, fighting the BNP, resisting the economic crisis etc. This blaming game is symptomatic for the state of the left in Britain – trapped in a quagmire some start to hit around them.

  172. #223 – actually large numbers of people who have posted comments here – or are part of this general debate *have* spent years building that very party…only to find themselves forced out or expelled when they have disagreed with the leadership. And a fair few continue to be politically active.

    There’s nothing wrong with democratic centralism – but I think a number of people would rightly question the SWP’s definition of what ‘democratic’ actually means.

    As for building Stw…the name ‘Lindsay German’ springs to mind…

  173. I’m very much looking forward to hearing more intimate details about the discussion that took place in the SWP around operation wreckspect now that John Rees is a liberty to reveal and discuss them.

    Good luck with that. What do you think he’s going to say – “I chose to turn a challenge into a crisis, destroyed the RESPECT project as we knew it, broke with some good comrades and tried to pretend nothing had happened, and that bastard Smith didn’t stop me!”?

  174. “This blaming game is symptomatic for the state of the left in Britain – trapped in a quagmire some start to hit around them.”

    The thing is this blog doesn’t represent the left. The majority of the left are getting on with the very things you recommend. That includes the SWP. It’s only in blogdom that it seems there is left paralysis because the internet is effectively an atomised and powerless arena full of gossip and rumour. In the real world activists are building the anti-nazi opposition and fighting against cuts and job losses. Take the sectarian infighting on here with a pinch of salt. Most workers don’t even know this blog exists and could care less. They’d much prefer dealing with what affects them in the real world.

  175. #190 i doubt it, i anything history has proved bukharin right that after the failure in germany a slow development of socialism in russia was the only way to save the ussr from years of repression or counter revolution

  176. two swp statement

    defy defy when alan mcoomes went to went to jail with the ssp minuites

    phone call from london next week comply comply

    shower o politcal chancers

    mi 5 6 and other state agencies must be swetting like peodos

    as the true revelutioary left has fuckedd up badlly with internal politics

    it bad to gloat but ha ha ha

  177. The big picture is not what the midwife said to Marx’s grannie. She obviousily said “it’s a boy”.

    The varnished points tossed too and thro by the heady adherants of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and a host of other dead men talking,on this blog,has no impact or relevance on the working classes struggling for a decent life.

    It is is obvious we need transparency, accountability and a unity programme through collective thought and responsible action.

    We cannot educate cabbage like Johng or German on how to learn to tie their shoe laces, wipe their arse, pull up their trousers, comb their hair before they ever again attempt to present themselves as a political view. In both their births the midwife shouted “It’s a wee Shit”

  178. ger francis on said:

    ‘We cannot educate cabbage like Johng or German…’ etc etc

    Larry, if you have got something to say, keep it political, and leave out the abuse.

  179. My building site abusive education tells me that is the only way to deal with people who assume higher education, and want to baffle workers like me with their grasp of political theory. As I say they can even tell you what Marx’s grannie was told by the mid-wife.

    Ger, I detect from your tone, my irrational thoughts lies uncomforable with my party. It is you that is lumpen “reactionary”. I have fallen out with you

  180. David Ellis on said:

    #184 `So I think its a mistake to think that the debate about democracy is over. I just think it is likely to occur more naturally now in relationship to our practice. Which is how it ought to be all the time really.’

    Highly unlikely. The problem is that the SWP is not marxist it is centrist (vacilates between reform and revolution). It decides on policy by sticking a wet finger in the air to approximate which way the wind is blowing on that particular day then it makes a rough pragmatic estimate of how to pursue that policy in its own best interests. If it was to suddenly introduce the democratic side of the democratic centrism equation and `let a thousand flowers bloom’ it would find that every member has a different view and the CC would quickly find itself harvesting a very strange crop of mis-shapen vegetables before exploding in a (insert number of members left) different directions. Bit of a dilemma for Smith hence the need to keep the autocratic lid firmly shut.

    Nobody wants factions in a marxist party but it is pure utopianism to believe that marxism can be developed without discussion and conflict or that those discussions and conflicts can be settled bureaucratically or through arbitrary time limits, disciplinary measures or thought control.

    John quoted Marx above and rightly. The sects had a certain justification during the glacial politics of the Cold War. They no longer have such a justification or basis for survival.

  181. David Ellis on said:

    #225 “I’m very much looking forward to hearing more intimate details about the discussion that took place in the SWP around operation wreckspect now that John Rees is a liberty to reveal and discuss them.”

    `Good luck with that. What do you think he’s going to say – “I chose to turn a challenge into a crisis, destroyed the RESPECT project as we knew it, broke with some good comrades and tried to pretend nothing had happened, and that bastard Smith didn’t stop me!”?’

    Yes, I know it’s a big ask but I’m hoping Rees will have some evidence of how prominent members of the current CC were responsible for Operation Wreckspect and that he possibly didn’t agree with it but under party discipline went along albeit with the overenthusiasm of a hack. It would be a good step down the road to recovery.

  182. Paper Tigger on said:

    @229: “The varnished points tossed too and thro by the heady adherants of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and a host of other dead men talking,on this blog,has no impact or relevance on the working classes struggling for a decent life.”

    Too damned right.

    All this waffle and blinding with science just looks like a deliberate distraction from their actual behaviour towards working class people whose side they purport to be on. Start treating comrades like comrades. Don’t lie. And remember that “respect” has a real meaning. That might be a good beginning.

  183. “If pigs could fly”.
    German and Rees will take the answers to grave.

    Respect is recovering by putting all of it behind them and it will take at least three elections to do so

    My heart will always be with Respect but not my mind. Ger francis does know the differnce of a spade, from a shovel. Telling me to let go.

  184. ger francis on said:

    ‘have they said they’re not going to help Salmas campaign at all?’

    The SWP post ‘Party Notes’ on their website and according to it they are instructing their members in Birmingham to do their general election work in Preston. They make no reference to Salma’s campaign nor have they approached us locally with any offer of help.

  185. David Ellis on said:

    #237 Tie pickle. This just shows that despite the weasle words Operation Wreckspect is still ongoing.

  186. Surely,Ger, It was predictable.

    However, we must hope that some will see through their actions, that to advance their vanguardism, it is best to start at home.

  187. Karl Stewart on said:

    Thanks Mike, LN certainly seems an odd character. I thought DE was a Respecter too, has he left?

  188. BTW, I do not crave recognition like karl going from one group to another, looking for a home for his weary head.
    Why don’t you get together under the tweedledum and tweedledee banner. You are so like minded

  189. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    I’m looking forward to discovering how many, if any, SWP members will actually be able to vote for Val Wise in Preston. If there are by chance one or two, the likelihood is that they are either students or ex-students. Most of their more prominent members who have a regular income live in the posher bits of the city that are outside Preston parliamentary constituency. And of course they managed their hegemony in Respect by regularly shipping members from Burnley and changing the name from Preston Respect to Lancashire and Preston Respect.

    I am completely stunned at the information that the SWP are instructing their Birmingham membership to go up to Preston. Not least because they will be passing by Karen Reissman’s constituency in Manchester ;)…

  190. manchester on said:

    John why does Party notes tell Birmingham members to go to Preston, when you lot have been making so many noises about supporting Salma?

    Is this the new SWP in action?

    At your party council are you going to be arguing hard that all Birmingham activists should stay in Birmingham and help Salma?

    Do you really think the way to build the left is to completely ignore the fact that there is a major possibility of the left winning in Birmingham?

  191. manchester on said:

    And John are you really comfortable with the idea that “all London” is being told to go to Tottenham, instead of doing any work at all in the one constituency where it’s vital that the left win?

  192. swoppie on said:

    Ger: ‘nor have they approached us locally with any offer of help.’

    what about nationally?

  193. Salman Mirza on said:

    “208: Hi Salman. Didn’t I once see you in a Reservists Against The War program on TV? :-)

    Comment by Andy Wilson — 17 February, 2010 @ 9:46 pm”

    bloody hell you’ve got a good memory!! yes that was me

    good luck to salma and hope to see her and ger in dudley on the 4th april

    im not going to preston either but good luck there too

    building the left for me will mean fighting against the EDL, council cuts, right to work stuff (as ive mentioned earlier)

    its probably a flaw in my character but never really got into the election stuff (i only did it last time as i got to drive a big bus and blast out public enemies f*ck the police driving past small heath police station!)

  194. ger francis on said:

    Re 250. No. There have been no national approaches.

    Re Salma being in dudley on the 4th april, highly unlikely I would have thought. That soon to the GE I fully expect to be knocking doors in Hall Green.

  195. I don’t know but I’d be hopeful that after this Sunday their might be. I’ll ask about it anyway.

  196. Bill Bo Baggins on said:

    Taken from from Farty Goats, sorry I mean Party Notes, 15th Feb from the SWP website.
    I didn’t quite believe this until I saw it posted here.

    Can I request from johng, to know what he’ll be arguing at Party council as to regards to helping out the other left candidates, like the ones nearer home
    or is its just this little collection they’re be supporting.

    Preston – Valarie Wise
    Manchester – Karen Reissmann
    Sheffield – Maxine Bowler
    Cambridge – Tom Woodcock
    Tottenham – tbc
    Glasgow – tbc
    Edinburgh – tbc

    Proposed days of actions and areas twinned with TUSC campaigns.
    Since the SWP conference there has been an important discussion about voting Labour in the election. The TUSC campaign gives every comrade a get involved in an election that takes the fight to Labour. Just like our campaign against the BNP we are asking districts and branches to twin with areas standing TUSC candidates and help out on the days of action.
    1. Preston – Merseyside, Birmingham, Black Country and Lancashire.
    2. Manchester / Salford – Manchester District.
    3. Sheffield – Sheffield (inc Barnsley and Doncaster), Leeds, Chesterfield.
    4. Cambridge – Cambridge, Essex, Home Counties and East Anglia.
    5. Tottenham – All London, Kent, South Coast
    6. Glasgow – Glasgow and West coast of Scotland
    7. Edinburgh – Edinburgh, East Coast of Scotland and Newcastle.

    all that travel to these areas, and away from local left candidates.

    Think of the carbon footprint.

    Can I suggest this is discussed at this event

    NATIONAL SWP CLIMATE CAUCUS
    12noon, Sunday 14 March, central London
    This will be happening the day after the TU conference and we will find accommodation overnight in London for any comrades who need it. This will be a very important caucus and every district must ensure at least 2 comrades are attending (not just the climate specialists!).
    It will be a chance to assess the party’s climate work since conference and to talk about recent developments, and how we move forward.

  197. Well we have limited resources Bilbo. I’d argue that we should provide support. But at the same time, as they say, mind your fucking manners. Your approach to coalition building leaves something to be desired.

  198. swoppie on said:

    ‘No. There have been no national approaches.

    Re Salma being in dudley on the 4th april, highly unlikely I would have thought. That soon to the GE I fully expect to be knocking doors in Hall Green.’

    Funny, I’d heard that there had been some contacts at national level, but no agreement.

    Other important points: ‘Fxxx the police’ was by NWA not Public Enemy. And 254 should refer to Bilbo Baggins, ‘Bo’ isn’t a hobbit middle name. Anyway Hobbits have a better understanding of building a fellowship of the struggle than ‘Bill Bo’ does.

  199. Bill Bo Baggins on said:

    “approach to coalition building leaves something to be desired”

    Whereas your defence of the undefendably is a miracle to behold,

    a life time achievement award is on its way to you

    That’s meant as a compliment

    You didn’t address the issue of the carbon foot print I note

  200. swoppie on said:

    I didn’t address it cos its a daft point, obviously. A few minibuses and coaches careering up and down the motorway network come election time contributes a minimum amount of C02 compoared to anyones overall carbon footprint. They’d probably use more staying at home with the heating on. I think you should start arguing for the entire left to stop leafletting in unwinnable seats (ie most) on the basis that it will save a few trees.

    By the way what does ‘defence of the undefendably’ mean? That’s not actually a regular word that you’re using there.

  201. #254 Amazing. The SWP are part of TUSC but they are pulling their people out of areas with non-SWP TUSC candidates.

    How to win friends and influence people!

  202. ger francis on said:

    ‘Funny, I’d heard that there had been some contacts at national level, but no agreement.’

    Yes, myself and Kevin had a meeting with Martin Smith and others quite a while back, but there was no practical offer from the SWP to help with any of our election campaigns. Maybe this will change after Sunday, and I welcome the fact Johng is going to raise it. All help, from whatever quarter, is much appreciated. The SWP probably have more members who live in Hall Green constituency than any other in the city.

  203. tony collins on said:

    I think it would really matter a great deal if SWP members were to pull out the stops for Galloway like they (we) did last time.

    There was some brilliant practical work done there, and it stripped away a lot of nonsense: When a young white student is out canvassing with a Bangladeshi Muslim, the crap about “small businessmen” doesn’t matter.

    I’m worried about what the quote above from party notes shows. I don’t really think it should wait for a party council – I would hope that the SWP leadership would’ve already been encouraging members to get out on the ground and campaign for Galloway and Yaqoob etc.

    I suppose it’s a good test: The leadership clearly (no way around this) doesn’t have any intention of committing any forces to Hall Green, Poplar or Bethnal Green. Maybe the membership can overturn that.

    I still do expect more of the SWP. I don’t expect the SP to devote any campaigning resources to Respect, because it never did. Groups like the CPGB were famous (as far a it goes) for coming to Respect meetings, intervening, then when the meeting finished and everyone went out leafleting, they sold their paper and went home, never lifting a finger and doing actual work.

    I’d still hold the SWP to a higher standard than that (take it as a compliment): I really do hope that people fiercely argue not only that the party should understand the seriousness of a potential victory for the left in Poplar etc., but also strongly castigate the leadership for completely ignoring it up to now. That’s not something that needs to be broadcast in public, but I really, really do hope that if the old methods are gone, then party members will assert their control over the leadership and show them how important it is that the SWP doesn’t just back small electoral challenges with an acknowledged tiny chance, but also very, very serious ones, with practical action on the ground.

    Canvassing & leafleting in Poplar & Limehouse, Bethnal Green & Bow and Hall Green will have an impact far deeper than anything done in Tottenham. If the left is anywhere, it should be first and foremost where we can win. We face the prospect of a hideously right wing parliament this year. If we can keep Galloway there, and get Yaqoob and Miah into the place, the left as a whole will benefit massively.

    Anyone who wants to help is very welcome, regardless of what’s happened over the last few years.

  204. # 260 TUSC is an alliance of organisations, and organisations will concentrate their support on the candidates they support politically. It’s a fairly safe prediction that Socialist Party and Respect members in Tottenham will travel to Walthamstow and Bethnal Green rather than work for the SWP-supported candidate in that constituency, but I assume that would be different and somehow defendable?

  205. “# 260 TUSC is an alliance of organisations, and organisations will concentrate their support on the candidates they support politically. It’s a fairly safe prediction that Socialist Party and Respect members in Tottenham will travel to Walthamstow and Bethnal Green rather than work for the SWP-supported candidate in that constituency, but I assume that would be different and somehow defendable?”

    Exactly! It’s a bloody cheek expecting the SWP to do the footwork for your campaign. Just get on with it yourselves. We’ve got enough to be going on with everywhere else than leafleting for other parties. What a bloody cheek!

  206. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    “SWP-supported candidate” – doesn’t that include Galloway, chjh?

    I’ll actually be prioritising working for one SWP-supported candidate” over one they don’t talk about supporting (ie Respect), but, hey that’s because unlike most of the SWP, I’ll actually be voting for one! :-)

  207. how many of us yearn to work together to give out the strongest message to communities and workers that radical change is needed.

    Ger Francis is perfectly correct to raise his concerns about not working together, this is along with many others on this blog who feel if we do not, we will be in the same quagmire as the GLA and EU elections. can we all take any lessons from it.

  208. They’ll be asking us to stand as candidates for them next! Oh no, that part isn’t required…funny that…

  209. “I’ll actually be prioritising working for one SWP-supported candidate” over one they don’t talk about supporting (ie Respect), but, hey that’s because unlike most of the SWP, I’ll actually be voting for one!”

    Hold on a minute, if I was in Galloway’s manor I’d be voting for him but I’m not travelling over to TH when there’s a lot to do in my own area, Barking and nationally. I don’t expect Respect members to spend their time campaigning for SP, SWP etc. candidates when they have enough to do promoting their own. If Respect want to maximise their impact in the coming election then stop wasting time trying to moralise and guilt trip other people on the left. It just rubs everyone up the wrong way and achieves the opposite of what is intended.

  210. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    Ray, so you’d rather an SWP member in Birmingham Hall Green took the 240 mile round trip to Preston to campaign for somebody who isn’t even a member of their Party and has no intention of ever joining, and is actually a left social democrat politically, rather than lift a finger for a left candidate in their neighbourhood? Jeez – you’ve lost the plot.

  211. tony collins on said:

    Only in Ray world can a legitimate comment about working to actually win a victory for the left become “guilt-tripping” and “moralising”.

    Perhaps you need some escape goats to make the trip easier.

  212. It’s amazing really – the SWP are standing Karen Reissmann in a ‘Manchester’ constituency. But they forget that they have agreed locally to be part of organising a broad, public hustings to select a popular candidate in Gorton. Will Karen be standing in Gorton. You bet. Will the hustings, agreed as part of their ‘Manchester Alternatives’ initiative take place. I predict not a chance. And people wonder why some of us are cynical. The entire electoral strategy of the SWP appears to be – give the branches something to do.

  213. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    The SWP can decide its priorities, in Birmingham, in Tower Hamlets and elsewhere.

    But they should not expect not to be questioned about that when they claim to be supporting three left of Labour candidates who can win, but instead refuse to do anything to help them win.

    At the meeting Ger referred to above, he and I offered various concrete means of supporting SWP candidates at the general election. All that was offered in return was that the SWP would discuss matters internally and phone us back within the week. That was about 16 weeks ago.

    People should just be honest about what they are doing.

    There’s no apparent intention by the SWP of doing anything material to help Respect win in its target seats or do well elsewhere. Ok. That’s life.

    The SWP wants to mobilise for other candidates instead (we are all mobilising against the BNP, btw).

    We’ll soon see the respective merits of these approaches. But let’s not pretend that the calculus the SWP appears to have adopted thus far is substantially different from that which led to the Left List debacle. The mobilisation strategy is about building the party irrespective of the wider picture for the left. There’s no particular shame in that. But let’s not pretend it’s something else.

  214. Billy Bonkers on said:

    Intertesting to see what really exercises and engages the present readership the Socialist unity blog nowadays.Wading through and actually reasding the mass of the present 273 comments is however quite an another thing.

    My feeling is that this can only be healthy. What happens to the SWP and the LEFT PLATFORM in the future and to what extent either will be genuinely interested in or capable of any real internal change is highly dubious.

    Just desserts, jelly and ice cream and yet more jelly all round I´d say, though, have to bne honest ad say that though I really cant stand the arrogant John Rees(anger therapy sessions beckon…surely), Martin Smith is decidedly creepy.

    Where this leaves the MI5 and MI6 MOLES is dificult to say.What´s the strategy here?…split,split, split and split again……divide and rule, divide and conquer.

  215. Billy Bonkers on said:

    BARGEPOLES to the ready and a healthy caution and distance required unless the rest of the Left want to go down with the tainted damaged goods of both destructive parts of what was the SWP.

  216. “We’ll soon see the respective merits of these approaches. But let’s not pretend that the calculus the SWP appears to have adopted thus far is substantially different from that which led to the Left List debacle. The mobilisation strategy is about building the party irrespective of the wider picture for the left. There’s no particular shame in that. But let’s not pretend it’s something else.”

    And let’s not pretend that Respect are particularly interested in anyone elses candidates. Spare us the holier than thou speeches about how hard Respect have tried to build bridges in a thread where Respect members are crowing about the current departure of one of our leading members. 275 comments rejoicing about a split in the SWP compared to less than 100 on a recent thread about left unity on this blog. Like I’ve pointed out before, only on SU do people believe what they say here has any bearing on what happens on the ground.

  217. 1. Preston – Merseyside, Birmingham, Black Country and Lancashire.
    2. Manchester / Salford – Manchester District.
    3. Sheffield – Sheffield (inc Barnsley and Doncaster), Leeds, Chesterfield.
    4. Cambridge – Cambridge, Essex, Home Counties and East Anglia.
    5. Tottenham – All London, Kent, South Coast
    6. Glasgow – Glasgow and West coast of Scotland
    7. Edinburgh – Edinburgh, East Coast of Scotland and Newcastle.

    One of these things is not like the others. OK, Newcastle to Edinburgh is a fair hike, and a lot of the ‘Home Counties’ aren’t all that close to Cambridge, but most of those ‘regions’ make a rough kind of sense. But grouping Birmingham in with the Northwest is crazy. Isn’t there anyone they could be supporting closer to home?

  218. I also find offensive the subtle and not so subtle accusations that not dropping everything to campaign for Galloway or Salma is a conspiracy by the rest of the left to ensure that they fail. Could it be that the world doesn’t revolve around your three candidates and that the rest of the left have enough on their plates to be getting on with.

  219. Part of having an organization having a credible candidate is having the resources to win. Is the Tower Hamlets and Manchester branches of the SWP really that vital to Respect winning seats in London and Manchester? Now if the SWP were running against Respect like the Green Party in Bethnal Green there might be some justification for the above criticism but they’re not so I think there’s an element of mischief making going on here.

    If the SWP are pulling members out of areas where non-SWP TUSC candidates are standing in preferance to their own that is entirely their right as members of TUSC.

  220. For the record, the call in party notes is for comrades to help out on specific days of action. I understand why some people might disagree with it in any case, but it’s not saying that people from Birmingham should go to Preston on a daily basis.

  221. Only an effete imbecile would use the words, “effete” and “imbecile”, to describe anything. But I agree, this thread is a farce. Thankfully it’s not representative of the left.

  222. The voters that strive for real radical social change will despair after the election results analysis. When it becomes clear that a disunited left once more snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I hope that is not the case.

    This Sunday, at their meeting, the SWP have the opportunity to make a major contrbution in the most crucial left unity programme and action since the war.

    Lets hope they can think what is best nationally and then support and act locally, as their only way to deliver a concerted commitment. I want to wish them well in their deliberations, on how to best serve the left and working class communities

  223. tony collins on said:

    Ray, I’m not sure you’ve read the same words as I have.

    The issue isn’t that the SWP should drop everything. I think that’s so obvious, I’m not sure why you missed it.

    As always, every left wing group, whether it’s the SWP or Respect, will have members doing different things. It’s the way it is.

    So the issue isn’t that one group expects another to “drop everything”, and it seems that only in your mind could a discussion about priorities become a call to drop everything.

    But it’s just true that the most effort should be put where the most credible candidates are, unless you believe the only purpose of elections is for propaganda. There are several reasons to stand in elections, but surely if there’s actually a chance that the left could win, isn’t that in some ways more important?

    Or am I missing something?

    It isn’t the case that I – as an individual, as a socialist, and as a resident of the area most likely to return a left wing MP – expect the SWP to solely focus on my area. Of course not. That’s just you trying to promote disunity.

    But I also don’t expect it to entirely ignore it in its main party bulletin, and I don’t expect it to tell its members who live in the damned constituency to travel to Tottenham to work there. I know it’s just for “days of action”, but the clear fact is, party notes didn’t even mention the other serious, credible left challenges and what its members could do to help them.

    Ray, you said if you lived in Bethnal Green you would vote for Galloway.

    You only said “vote”. Nothing else. You didn’t say “campaign for”.

    That’s your choice, but surely you can accept that there’s an argument to be made that in among all the “enough on our plates” stuff, some time in the areas most likely to win would benefit the whole left, as well as left unity?

    And that argument isn’t the binary one you’ve decided to pretend it is – it’s not “Respect demands that SWP drops everything or else SWP will be seen as failure”. It’s “consider the chances we have to win, and send some people to help!” – Prinkipo has already said he’ll be working for TUSC because he lives where a TUSC candidate is standing. And in Respect, people will be completely happy with his decision. Respect members have been out helping the Greens, and will be helping TUSC. We’ve said so from the start. We don’t just say “we’ll support” a candidate or vote for them. The interests of the left require everyone to work for the best possible result, don’t they?

  224. I guess one thing to bear in mind is that I don’t recall speaking to anyone outside Respect who agrees with you on the prospects for your three candidates. Now that might be stupid of them, it might not. But ignoring the stupidity or otherwise for a moment, you must see that that does affect how people think about how limited resources are best used.

  225. “Respect members have been out helping the Greens, and will be helping TUSC. “

    Well am one Respect memeber out helping abour in key swing marginals in danger of returning Tories, it doesn’t mean we won’t be sending a car load of Resect suppporters to Birmingham nearer the election

  226. jj – are you suggesting that RESPECT in Hall Green would turn away volunteers who were SWP members?

    (If only there were someone we could ask!)

  227. ger francis on said:

    As I said already, anybody who wants to help with Salma’s campaign is more than welcome. Why would we make the offer if it was not genuine? (She is speaking at the launch of the People’s Charter in the city next Friday so you can ask her directly if you have any doubts). It is simply the case that in Birmingham Salma is not only the most left wing candidate in the field, she is the only one with ANY prospects of doing well. Those who live here who are genuinely interested in advancing the totality of the left, especially with plans for big job cuts hitting the city, will want her to do well, and do everything they can to facilitate it. Those guided by sectarian impulses will not.

    http://www.salmayaqoob.com/2010/02/stop-jobs-massacre.html#more

  228. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    jj – you’ve had your answer.

    Now please confirm that in your view Respect members should be welcomed with open arms where SWP members are standing as TUSC candidates.

    (and by way, I believe that you can take it for granted that those TUSC candidates who are not SWP members WILL welcome them with open arms – in fact at least one TUSC candidate is actually a Respect member).

    Silence or equivocation will be taken as Pythonesque sectarianism.

  229. Kriss: I don’t know on what basis people not in Respect have formed a view about its prospects. As is clear from the responses above it cannot possibly be based on observing the reaction to the campaigns thus far. Instead, I suspect it is that old bane of the left – omniscience from a distance.

    In any case, we’ll see. I can’t help feeling that for some people on the left the last thing they want to see is for Respect to win a seat. I don’t think it’s possible for people to go on for so long and with such venum about communalism and witchhunting without coming to believe it at least to some extent.

    As for Ray’s tantrum – it’s quite simple really, the SWP says it supports Respect’s challenge, but it’s clear that that support amounts to absolutely nothing. There’s nothing sectarian about saying that. It’s just about being clear where we all stand.

  230. “That’s your choice, but surely you can accept that there’s an argument to be made that in among all the “enough on our plates” stuff, some time in the areas most likely to win would benefit the whole left, as well as left unity?”

    No I don’t accept that and it doesn’t matter how you sugar coat your disingenuous comments your meaning is clear for everyone to understand. Stop shit stirring and get on with your campaign.

    “As for Ray’s tantrum – it’s quite simple really, the SWP says it supports Respect’s challenge, but it’s clear that that support amounts to absolutely nothing. There’s nothing sectarian about saying that. It’s just about being clear where we all stand.”

    Spare us the hypocrisy. You and Tony’s double act of self-righteous indignation is rather tiresome. Even when the left is unified in not opposing each others candidates you still try to find a way to sow conflict. It won’t work but shame on you both for trying under the current circumstances.

  231. Calm down, Ray. People are simply pointing out that “support” from the SWP in this case amounts to… well, nothing.

    You have other priorities, which reflect your analysis and assessment of how the SWP can advance. That’s fine. Some of us think those priorities are misplaced. That’s also fine. There’s no need for a hissyfit.

  232. tony collins on said:

    “You and Tony’s double act of self-righteous indignation is rather tiresome. Even when the left is unified in not opposing each others candidates you still try to find a way to sow conflict. It won’t work but shame on you both for trying under the current circumstances.”

    You really don’t read the same words as everyone else, do you Ray?

  233. “You really don’t read the same words as everyone else, do you Ray?”

    Backtrack as much as you both like but your meaning and intention is clear. You should note that no one else on the left is attempting to guilt trip other activists into canvassing for them except yourselves. A lesson to be learned there on how to relate fraternally to others on the left during an election that we’re all actively involved in.

  234. It’s not a guilt-trip, Ray. It’s simply pointing out that the SWP in Tower Hamlets and Birmingham is NOT doing anything to support the local left candidates there. That’s not guilt-tripping, or an attack or a witchhunt or whatever.

    If you say you are supporting somebody. That somebody is entitled to ask what that support amounts to. I see the hypersensitivity has not changed in the course of the recent debate in the SWP.

  235. tony collins on said:

    “Backtrack as much as you both like”

    Backtrack?

    Ray, are you even reading the same thread? I haven’t said a word for hours, except to point out that you don’t seem to be able to read and respond to what people are actually saying. And nas’s comments seem to be fairly consistent too.

    You’re doing a poor job of leading the way in fraternal debate though. Maybe if you tried that instead of creating false enemies, we’d get somewhere.

  236. tony collins on said:

    My suspicion is that Ray wants, once again, to create an atmosphere on here where SWP members and non-SWP members fight all the time. You were very successful at that last time, Ray, and I’m not gonna let you goad me again.

    In that spirit – and in the spirit of genuinely wanting the SWP to help out in Tower Hamlets (and wanting our members to help out in areas where the SWP and others in TUSC are standing), I’ll say that I won’t respond to you again unless you engage with what people are saying rather than trying to start rows.

  237. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    Ray – no-one else on the left would INSTRUCT its members to make a frequent and regular 240 mile round trip from Birmingham to Preston to support a left social democratic candidate who isn’t even a member of their Party and has absolutely no intention of joining them, rather than do something in their locality to support a strongly placed left wing local candidate, who has virtually identical policies, simply because they are better placed to try to ‘control’ one campaign than the other.

  238. I find this obsessive electoralism increasingly disturbing, in the words of Dylan ‘my so-called friends have fallen under a spell / they look me in the eye and say all is well’. Left unity should be forged in a broad-based national network of grassroots resistance around the credit crunch, building action committees in every locale that take up the political and economic questions of the crisis.

    I live in S.Wales where the jobs massacre has been particularly brutal. I can well agree that it is better for left-of-centre candidates who are kinda against privatisation, war and racism etc. win, but really is it that decisive.

    Getting Leanne Wood AM or or Trish Law AM or Dai Davies MP elected in the valleys didn’t stop Hoover being shut down in Merthyr hasn’t halted the closure of Bosch in Miskin and so on. It isn’t stopping universities closing departments and axing staff or the LibDem/Plaid Coalition that run Cardiff Council from privatisation of services etc.

    The “Left-politicians” and the “leave-it-to-us-reformers” will make token rhetorical speeches that everything is bad and terrible, but they are not part of organisations at the base of society trying to work with the people to organise, they don’t offer a lead to the fightback.

    If one set of workers in S.Wales resisted as the workers in Visteon resisted it would present a far profounder challenge to the forces impoverishing our people than getting a left-of-centre politician elected.

    While “the Left” obsesses over this or that lefty politician, thousands of working class people think that all politicians are as bad as each other, that this democracy is a sham, that society is run for the rich – and they are right!

    Maybe time for a broad democratic revolutionary organisation?!

  239. passerby on said:

    Such a tempest in a teapot. From what I read in the party notes – open for all to see on the SWP website – is the proposal that branches twin up with areas where the SWP has someone running on a few days of action. Nothing in the notes suggests not doing work around other candidates, it just states that on a few days SWP members should pile into the few areas they have candidates.
    Can’t see what the problem is with this. I don’t doubt that the SP will probably look at bulking up a few areas where they have candidates with extra bodies on certain key days.
    Not sure why people have their backs up about the SWP asking people to prioritise a few days to support their own members.
    Secondly from what someone said here there is a SWP council where the elections and TUSC will be discussed/debated. We’ll see then perhaps what the more detailed plan is or what other priorities the SWP has collectively decided to engage in.

  240. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    #302 “areas where the SWP has someone running” – this does not include Preston.

    That’s why to send people from the second largest city in the country when there is already a left wing candidate with the same politics on the doorstep, is frankly completely bizarre and shows their hostility towards the very strong campaign on the ground in Birmingham can only be based on sectarian bile and not principled politics.

    Had they told their Birmingham members to go to Sheffield or Manchester, where not only are they geographically nearer than Preston, but the candidates there are actually SWP members, then you might have a point, but this is not the case. The instruction to go to Preston makes only one point – the SWP have no interest in Salma Yaqoob being elected.

  241. neprimerimye on said:

    “the SWP have no interest in Salma Yaqoob being elected”

    Neither does the working class.

  242. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    #304 “Neither does the working class.”

    Presumably Salma’s lack of interest in working class issues is why her website (link already posted by Ger) has an article with the following advertisement:

    Protest at Council Cuts, Tuesday 23 February, 4pm – 6pm, Birmingham Council House, Victoria Square. Called by UNISON, UNITE, GMB, UCATT, AMICUS.

  243. Indeed, Prinkipo. It would also be why Respect’s USP in Tower Hamlets is stopping the sell-off of council estates and campaigning for council housing. And also why George Galloway has been inundated with messages of thanks from BA workers for speaking out in their support against the company, the courts and the government.

  244. 301 right on the money

    but fair play to salma liked her article defending asylum seekers

    http://www.salmayaqoob.com/2010/02/immigrant-vip-club-i-dont-think-so.html#more

    i dont think the SWP “hates” salma and im sure members in the area will help out where they can, on top of all the other stuff they re organising around,

    ive got a limited time to do stuff so il more than likely prioritise around the attacks on jobs i saw question time yesterday and it was one of the best ones ive seen in ages as the suporters in the audience for jobs at corus smashed the panels arguements; i really do hope they go for an occupation

  245. passerby on said:

    Didn’t realise the swp wasn’t running someone in preston, but isn’t that where Micheal lavalette has a council seat? If so i makes perfect sense for the SWP to build up its presence there. Finally i will repeat for those that have a hard time reading, the party notes only mention heading out to that and otehr areas on a few key days. I can’t see why anyone has a problem with that, actually I’d bet most people, don’t just a few looking to take a dig at anything they can.

  246. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    “isn’t that where Micheal lavalette has a council seat? If so i makes perfect sense for the SWP to build up its presence there.” ‘Tis a pity they removed the full time organiser they had in the City then isn’t it? And also explains why Lavalette’s web site, describing him as an “independent” rather than SWP member, is now defunct … And also why the SWP haven’t held a public meeting in the city for some years …

    If that’s a strategy for building up a “presence”, then New Labour is the living embodiment of socialism …

  247. Fred McBattie on said:

    The only way the Hard Left can influence policy making, it to desert the SWP, and then infiltrate the Labour Party as new members. Then act as a ‘Fifth Column’ and try to take the Labour Party ‘Back to the Future’ with old fashioned ‘Scargillism’, Marxist philosophy and all the tried and tested ways.

    Well, Bless You People. You will have just consigned the Labour Party to many, many years of the political wilderness to bewail, moan, bleat and whine about how unfair Life is. That the real fault with all the Ills of the World, the UK etc are all the fault of Maggie Thatcher!

    But no matter, only the stupid, daft and the congentially ignorant might believe youse all, just like they still beleive in Santa Claus.

  248. “The instruction to go to Preston makes only one point – the SWP have no interest in Salma Yaqoob being elected.”

    Fantasy.

    “I can’t see why anyone has a problem with that, actually I’d bet most people, don’t just a few looking to take a dig at anything they can.”

    Reality.

  249. Another Dave on said:

    Prinkipo Exile @ 309 says that Michael Lavalette is listed as an independent. That’s pretty much also the case with the Cambridge people – I don’t know if Martin Booth is an SWP member, but Tom Woodcock’s membership is being hidden away, just as it was in the last council elections when he stood not as a Left List or Left Alternative or whetever the hell the SWP’s electoral front calls itself these days, but as an independent socialist. From a purely tactical point of view I can’t work out why the SWP is so averse to sticking with the one brand and embedding familiarity with the voters.

  250. 313 – Martin is not an SWP member, but an independent socialist and trade unionist. Well known and well respected locally.

  251. neprimerimye on said:

    #305. It is by no means unknown for Tories and Liberal Democrats to protest cuts. That does not make them socialists.

    As I have remarked before Salma Yaqoob will one day make a fine MP.

  252. in despair on said:

    And also why the SWP haven’t held a public meeting in the city for some years …

    Fact

    They are having one in March this year.

    Fact

    The second fact doesn’t cancel out the first – however smug CHJH and Ray may feel.

  253. Maybe tomorrow will be the dawn for a new broad left with the SWP playing their collective and united part.

    Oh, how we wish for tomorrow to come and go with that good news

  254. Interesting to note that most of those leaving the SWP have a personal loyalty to Chris Nineham rather than John or Lindsey.

    Given that J&L ran the SWP for a decade that speaks volumes.

  255. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    #315.“#309 Proof of Preston SWP not having public meetings here http://www.swp.org.uk/meetingsandevents#swp (scroll down a bit).”

    Yes, I know. All this made up stuff about the SWP is tiresome. But why let the truth get in the way of a good old sectarian attack? It’s never stopped them before.”
    ==============================================

    Doesn’t that just prove the truth of the point I made, Ray???

    The SWP withdraw their full timer, don’t hold a public meeting for over 2 years, doesn’t stand or support any candidates in the last local elections, their councillor abandons his website and fails to renew the domain name, describes himself as “Independent Socialist” on the official council site …

    then … suddenly …

    it’s the centre of the universe!

    A public meeting is announce and Party Notes tells their entire Birmingham membership that they are expected to travel regularly 240 miles to support a left social democrat candidate, rather than support the left wing candidate in their area

    Which one of these facts is not the “truth”, Ray????

    And it’s all because the SWP have burned their bridges everywhere else and are desperately trying to thrash around to show their beleagured membership that they do represent something after all.

    (That, I accept, is an opinion, but a reasonable one give facts I suggest)

    If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be comic.

  256. yoghurt corrantsy german on said:

    And it’s all because the SWP have burned their bridges everywhere else and are desperately trying to thrash around,
    Then wouldn’t they campaign for Salma?

  257. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    #323 Because they don’t control Salma’s campaign.

    Any reports from Party Council on election tactics?

  258. There’s a tradition on the left of travelling to other constituencies to help out with canvassing and campaigns.

    Knocking anyone for getting off their backsides and going out to canvass is ridiculous, so if Valerie does stand, people who are willing to campaign for her will be welcomed in Preston.

    When you canvass, you use two organs – your mouth and your ears – it’s just as important (if not more important) to listen to what people are concerned about, and how they express this, as it is to preach the good word of socialism.

    If you have the right listening attitude, you can learn more in an hours canvassing in working class areas, than in a day sat in some stuffy conference room full of people that already agree with you.