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Muddle, passivity, conformity

category international | worker & community struggles and protests | other press author Thursday January 26, 2012 13:25author by Peter Manson Report this post to the editors

A report and analysis of the recent British SWP conference. Complete article at url.

Ten days after the Socialist Workers Party’s January 6-8 annual conference, the official record of the decisions taken landed in SWP comrades’ email inboxes.

According to national secretary Charlie Kimber, this report provides members with “a summary of the debates, commissions and motions” (Post-conference Bulletin January 2012). But it does no such thing. It lists all conference decisions, including the final version of motions and ‘commissions’ after any amendments, but it says not a word about the “debates”. So SWP members are none the wiser about points of contention, about arguments for and against; nor are they informed whether there was any opposition at all to any of the leadership’s proposals, or whether any votes were close.

The truth is that, as usual, all the decisions were either unanimous or overwhelmingly carried. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that in and of itself. But the problem is that in the SWP only such an outcome is considered acceptable by the leadership. Views that seriously challenge those of the central committee are strongly discouraged and in practice blocked. Any comrade known to oppose the CC’s trajectory will find it very difficult, if not impossible, to be elected to conference as a delegate. The leadership simply instructs local officials to mobilise against such comrades. ...

Talking of ‘democracy’, the CC itself was re-elected as a block using the notorious, ‘take it or leave it’ slate system. No alternative slate was proposed, so once again the existing members retained their places on the nod. However, the number of CC members was increased from 13 to 14 by the addition of “a trade union activist whose name has been withheld to protect them from their employer” (Socialist Worker January 14).

But the name of this individual is published in the Post-conference Bulletin, and was previously published in Pre-conference Bulletin No1. These bulletins are supposed to go out to all 7,000 “registered members” - ie, anyone who has filled in a membership application form within the last two years. So much for security.

SWP comrades really should consider the use of pseudonyms.

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