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The Saker
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SWP: Expelled before conference begins

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | other press author Thursday January 03, 2013 13:08author by Peter Manson Report this post to the editors

Once more the SWP central committee has acted to silence critics and cut off debate,

How the SWP Junta treat their members with contempt. Peter Manson writes on how dissidents are treated.

Commenting on the contributions from a minority of Socialist Workers Party comrades in the second of this year’s Pre-conference Bulletins, I wrote: “It is most encouraging that these … comrades … are clear-sighted and courageous enough to make such far-reaching proposals - proposals aimed at transforming the SWP into a genuinely democratic-centralist force, capable of playing a leading role in the struggle for the mass party we so desperately need”. I concluded: “It remains to be seen for how long they would be tolerated if their ideas began to make headway” (‘An anatomical investigation’, November 8).

Unfortunately, however, even before those ideas have had a chance to make such headway, the central committee has responded in the only way it knows: by summarily expelling two of the comrades who had written such powerful criticisms, together with two others who are alleged to be involved in “secret factionalism” alongside them.

Expelled, but not from heaven
Expelled, but not from heaven

The four expelled members are Paris Thompson (Leeds), Tim Nelson (Bristol), Charlotte Bence (London) and Adam Marks (London) - the first two had contributions published in the Internal Bulletins, as the documents are known. Ironically, temporary factions are permitted during the three-month pre-conference period and we are in such a period right now (the 2013 SWP conference will be held in London over the weekend of January 4-6). But the SWP constitution stipulates that the central committee must be notified of their formation in a document signed by “at least 30 members of the party”.

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author by Luciferpublication date Thu Jan 03, 2013 13:14Report this post to the editors

Full text at link.

Socialist Workers Party faction declared

Around 100 comrades have signed the founding document of the Democratic Opposition, a temporary faction within the Socialist Workers Party.

Watch what you're saying there, comrade!
Factions are only allowed in this organisation in the immediate lead up to annual conference and must dissolve immediately afterwards – see below for the three pre-conference discussion bulletins and our comments on them. As the DO comrades write, while the spark for the formation of the DO is the expulsion in this pre-conference period of four SWPers for forming a what the leadership dub a "secret faction", far more is at stake as "this incident raises serious questions about democracy in the SWP in general and about the coming conference in particular." (see Peter Manson in the last issue of the Weekly Worker).

The CPGB has written to the DO, welcoming the formation of their faction as we believe that "the bureaucratic centralism that dominates at all levels of our movement has to be fought: in our view, this is an essential part of shaping our class into a future ruling class" (full text below).

1. Statement of SWP Democratic Opposition

2. Response from the SWP Central Committee

3. Message from the CPGB

4. New document from DO faction

5. Pre-conference bulletins

Statement of SWP Democratic Opposition
Four comrades have been expelled for forming a ‘secret faction’ during the discussions prior to SWP conference. The expelled members had been legitimately concerned about the handling of very serious allegations directed at a CC member and the way that this was being handled by the organisation and had discussed about what this represented and how comrades could ensure the matter was dealt with properly.

There had been some discussion about whether to declare a faction or not. Some comrades, out of concern for how these matters had been dealt with previously, were in favour of doing so - but other comrades were worried that this might be premature or even disloyal. It is for having this discussion and sharing these concerns that the comrades have been expelled.

Importantly, the accusation of ‘secret faction’ was made against those concerned about declaring one whilst those in favour of declaring one have been referred to as ‘honest’ in a number of report backs from the CC to affected local branches, implying that those expelled were ‘dishonest’. We unreservedly reject this description as slander against the four excellent and valuable comrades who have been expelled.

We feel that this incident raises serious questions about democracy in the SWP in general and about the coming conference in particular. First of all, it cannot be right that a discussion about whether to form a faction is used as evidence of a ‘secret faction’ when it is in the general discussions of the pre-conference period. On a basic level, if we cannot have discussions about whether to form a faction or not, then, in reality, factions are de-facto impossible to organise and the right to form them is purely notional.

Watch what you're saying there, comrade!
Watch what you're saying there, comrade!

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author by Luciferpublication date Thu Jan 03, 2013 13:19Report this post to the editors

Tony Cliff, May 20 1917 - April 9 2000

Tony Cliff was an important figure on the revolutionary left in the 20th century and the organisation he founded and led in its various manifestations is today the largest revolutionary organisation in this country- the Socialist Workers Party. This substantial political obituary of Cliff by Jack Conrad appeared in the Weekly Worker over the month following his death, and we publish it again to help dispel some of the myths SWPers are told about the politics of our organisation and their own.

Tony Cliff May 20 1917 - April 9 2000
A 20th century revolutionary - part I
"In many ways Tony Cliff embodied the steadfast courage, tireless dedication, and ultimately the failure of 20th century revolutionary politics. Whereas the 19th century begins with communistic sects and closes with mass working class parties, the 20th century showed an entirely opposite pattern ... Objective factors played a major role here - the treachery of social democracy, Stalin`s counterrevolution in the revolution, Nazi terror, the long post-World War II boom. Nevertheless subjective shortcomings contributed too, including those of comrade Cliff"

...continue reading

A 20th century revolutionary - part II
"All problems go back to labour. According to Tony Cliff`s theory the allocation-labour (A-L) relationship, whereby the bureaucracy-as-collective mobilised labour-power in the Soviet Union, is presented as analogous - or exactly the same - as capitalism`s use of money-capital to purchase labour-power ... In fact the USSR saw neither generalised commodity production nor the generalised buying or selling of labour power. Furthermore there was neither surplus value, capital nor money. Undeniably from the 1950s onwards target figures were increasingly given rouble-names. Yet this in itself by no means justifies the conclusion that the social formation was state capitalist."

...continue reading

A 20th century revolutionary - part III
"Unlike most disciples of Trotskyism Tony Cliff must be distinguished by his rejection of a revolutionary programme of any kind. Short-term advantage rules. As a result the SWP is unable to present its own membership and the working class as a whole with its principles, methods of struggle and strategy for achieving the aim of socialism (and communism) in the form of a testable and democratically sanctioned set of logically unfolding statements."

...continue reading

A 20th century revolutionary - part IV
"Having asked why Tony Cliff was so determined to belittle Lenin and paint him a Menshevik prior to 1917, I answered in part three of this article that - along with the whole school of orthodox Trotskyism - basically the answer is to be found in Cliff`s own economistic approach to 'contemporary politics', whereby democratic questions are viewed at best as secondary, if not ghastly traps to be avoided. As promised, I will now expand on this answer in this the fourth, concluding, part."

...continue reading

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author by Luciferpublication date Fri Jan 04, 2013 02:00Report this post to the editors

In response to criticism and the forming of factions by SWP members, the central committee has produced an urgent pre-conference statement. Full text at link.


The annual conference of the Socialist Workers Party gathers this weekend in the shadow of a challenging situation. The global economic and financial crisis drags on despite the last minute deal between Obama and the Republicans to stop American capitalism falling over the fiscal cliff. The Arab revolutions continue, but confront tough opposition, whether in the form of Mursi’s power-grab in Egypt or of Assad’s bloody war in Syria . Politics continues to polarise in Europe , as we see with the rise of both Syriza and Golden Dawn in the Greek polls.

Here in Britain , the trade union leaders have sabotaged the pension strikes and failed to respond the new attacks mounted by the coalition – for example, scrapping collective bargaining for teachers and union dues check-off in the civil service. The assault on the poor is reaching near-crescendo levels. And the NUS demonstration last November underlined that there will be no easy rerun of the student revolt that exploded in November-December 2010.

Two groups of comrades have decided in the last couple of weeks to form factions. This is their right during the preconference period. But one might think that these decisions would have prompted by the objective situation and that the comrades concerned are trying to offer distinctive political approaches to how we should address it. Not a bit of it. As their names (the Democratic Opposition and the Democratic Centralist Faction) indicate, both these factions are turned inwards, concentrating their fire on the Central Committee for its alleged handling of two episodes and proposing changes to the party’s democratic structures.

SWP Central Committee: Feeble riposte
SWP Central Committee: Feeble riposte

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author by Elricpublication date Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:38Report this post to the editors

Full text at link.

The central committee was delivered a body blow at this weekend’s conference - but for dissidents the fight must go on, argues Paul Demarty

A lot can happen in a few short weeks. The last issue of this paper reported the expulsions of four Socialist Workers Party members, on charges straight out of the imagination of Franz Kafka.1 Between then and the January 4-6 conference, it is fair to say that the SWP has had a busy holiday season. Two substantial factions declared themselves, and the central committee found itself split at the 11th hour.

Unsurprisingly, when the votes were counted, the CC won the day on all the key matters to come before conference. Yet by SWP standards it is hardly a victory. Given how comprehensively stitched up its model of ‘democratic centralism’ is, substantial minorities voting in open defiance of the CC line in itself represents a serious blow to the leadership. The closest vote at conference was won by a margin of just 22 - with 18 abstentions.

So what has become abundantly clear over the last period is just how fragile an organisation the SWP is. Allegations of sexual misdemeanours (and worse) against a leading member ended up setting off an explosive chain reaction that left the SWP in disarray come its conference. All of this is down to the sort of organisation the SWP is: its bureaucratic structures and political disorientation have made an explosion of this kind inevitable.

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author by Luciferpublication date Sat Jan 12, 2013 20:57Report this post to the editors

What does the SWP's way of dealing with sex assault allegations tell us about the left?
When it comes to sexual violence, why should progressive organisations be held to different standards?

How do we deal with sexual violence on the left? Here's a case study.

The Socialist Workers' Party, for those who aren't familiar with it already, is a political organisation of several thousand members which has been a prominent force on the British left for more than 30 years. They are at the forefront of the fight against street fascism in Britain, were a large organising presence in the student and trade union movement over the past several years, and are affiliated with large, active parties in other countries, like Germany's Die Linke. Many of the UK's most important thinkers and writers are members, or former members.

Like many others on the left in Britain, I've had my disagreements with the SWP, but I've also spoken at their conferences, drunk their tea, and have a lot of respect for the work they do. They are not a fringe group: they matter. And it matters that right now, the party is exploding in messy shards because of a debate about sexism, sexual violence and wider issues of accountability.

This week, it came to light that when allegations of rape and sexual assault were made against a senior party member, the matter was not reported to the police, but dealt with 'internally' before being dismissed. According to a transcript from the party's annual conference earlier this month, not only were friends of the alleged rapist allowed to investigate the complaint, the alleged victims were subject to further harassment. Their drinking habits and former relationships were called into question, and those who stood by them were subject to expulsion and exclusion.

Laurie Penny writes an article about the crisis in the SWP, following up on Tom Walker's very finely written resignation statement. It quotes my long-time friend and comrade China Mieville making some, to my mind, extremely well put observations about the catastrophic nature of this crisis and the roots of it in the party's deformed democratic structures and lack of accountability. It is an excellent piece. And it stands in stark contrast to the shameful whitewash in this week's Socialist Worker, and ironically does more service to the party.

So, let us recapitulate. A serious allegation is referred to the Disputes Committee of the Socialist Workers Party, my party, to investigate. The Disputes Committee is composed largely of individuals who know the accused. The Disputes Committee asks the person making the allegations a series of completely inappropriate questions that, had they been asked of someone making such allegations in a police station, we would rightly denounce them as sexist. Another comrade makes a related allegation against the same accused, and submits a statement. The committee subjects this comrade to similar treatment. The committee reaches a verdict of 'not proven'. The conference of the party is then lied to about the nature of the allegations. The Central Committee and the Disputes Committee collude in a cover-up. They suppress it. This is already a disgrace.

But word does get around. People begin to hear what has happened, and are outraged. They begin to hear of senior party members spreading the most disgusting rumours about the two women involved. Many members, especially young members, begin to kick off about it. It becomes clear that this will be an issue in the party conference of 2013. So, there is a preemptive strike against four members for participating in a Facebook thread discussing the case, which is alleged - on the basis of selective excerpts - to be evidence of 'secret factionalising', which is prohibited. The expulsion is enacted immediately, with no due process, no disciplinary hearing. The four comrades are expelled by email. This is totally at odds with the party's usual procedures. It is a clear bureaucratic manoeuvre to stymy the upsurge. But it produces a revolt. A group of comrades form a faction to contest the expulsions, campaign for the rejection of the Dispute Committee's report on the allegations, and challenge the party's democracy deficit. (Naturally I join this faction.) ...

author by Luciferpublication date Sat Jan 12, 2013 23:34Report this post to the editors

Podcast: SWP conference special report

A special podcast on the Socialist Workers Party's internal crisis and annual conference.

Download file:

author by John Mitonpublication date Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:43Report this post to the editors

The British Socialist Worker's Party is hardly atypical among political parties, among left-wing groups, among organisations of committed people or, indeed, among groups of friends and colleagues in having structures in place that might allow sexual abuse and misogyny by men in positions of power to continue unchecked. One could point, in the past 12 months alone, to the BBC's handling of the Jimmy Savile case, or to those Wikileaks supporters who believe that Julian Assange should not be compelled to answer allegations of rape and sexual assault in Sweden.

author by John Mitonpublication date Sun Jan 13, 2013 13:01Report this post to the editors

The GPGB podcast linked to by Lucifer yesterday concludes by advising SWP dissidents to have no compunctions about lying when dealing with the SWP central committee.

author by fredpublication date Sun Jan 13, 2013 16:47Report this post to the editors

"The British Socialist Worker's Party is hardly atypical among political parties, among right wing groups, among left-wing groups, among organisations of committed people or, indeed, among groups of friends and colleagues in having structures in place that might allow sexual abuse and misogyny by men in positions of power to continue unchecked. "

There, fixed that one sided sectarian bullshit comment for you!

These things happen both sides of the political divide. Predators are predators.

Julian Assange however is being well and truly stitched up just for having consensual sex.

author by JoeMcpublication date Sun Jan 13, 2013 16:50Report this post to the editors

The CPGB podcast advising SWP dissidents to lie without compunction repeat allegations of rape that have been made against Martin Smith , the former national secretary of the SWP in the UK. Elric Lucifer presents this podcast to readers of Indymedia Ireland along with extracts from a New Statesman article by Laurie Penny , which contains a repeat of rape smears made against Julian Assange.This wasn't Laurie Penny's first swipe at the founder of Wikileaks . Her" Pop culture, politics and feminism" column in the New Statesman took Naomi Wolf to task last September for trying to "persuade the world that the charges of rape and sexual assault of two women currently facing Julian Assange are contemptible." Under the healine "The problem with Naomi Wolf's vagina" Penny berated Wolf for daring to "place her name, picture and reputation behind a title dismissing the serious charges against the Wikileaks founder as mere persecution by 'the world's dating police'."

A CPGB podcast containing rape allegation against Martin Smith ,and an article defending the rape smear against Julian Assange ,with references to Jimmy Saville thrown in ,have both been linked to on indymedia ireland in a single thread by Elric Lucifer . As the GPGB and the SWP in the UK are both British organizations , Elric Lucifer should state the relevance Peter Manson's article has for readers of this site.Manson referred to the SWP leadership as "a junta", for instance . Would that apply also to the SWP leadership in this country?

author by Baalpublication date Sun Jan 13, 2013 19:06Report this post to the editors

Ranks of the Socialist Workers Party are split over handling of rape allegation
Trotskyist group exonerated official because it doesn’t believe in ‘bourgeois court system’ to deliver justice

The Socialist Workers Party was engulfed in crisis tonight over allegations that it set up a “socialist sharia court” to investigate rape allegations against a senior member instead of reporting them to the police.

The scandal, which has opened up deep splits within Britain’s largest far-left party, emerged this week when disaffected members leaked minutes of a controversial disciplinary meeting which exonerated the official accused of rape and sexual assault.

The furore has led to the expulsion of key members and multiple resignations.

Today Tom Walker, a journalist at the party’s paper, Socialist Worker, became the most prominent member to quit the party in disgust.

In a devastating critique published on the rival Communist Party of Great Britain’s website, Walker excoriated the SWP’s handling of the rape accusations, alleging that the hearing as a “kangaroo court” and “amateur justice that was doomed from the start”.

The minutes of the disciplinary meeting, which was held during the party’s December conference, detail how SWP leaders were determined to keep the matter away from the police and official authorities – with one member stating that the party had “no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice”. ...

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author by Lord Of The Fliespublication date Sun Jan 13, 2013 19:23Report this post to the editors

KAREN R: This is the section on the disputes committee. My name’s Karen R, I’m from Manchester and I’m going to chair this session. There are two items for discussion under this session. One will be a report from the disputes committee, and people will have the opportunity to challenge that, at the end of which there will be a vote on whether or not to accept the report from the disputes committee. The second part will be an election for a new disputes committee.

I understand that there are very strong feelings around the report of the disputes committee this year, and I think it’s important that we do try and explain some of the ground rules on which this debate will take place. Clearly we’re talking about very difficult issues and I think it’s important that we do understand that we do that properly and we take that seriously. ....

KAREN: The report’s been accepted. There were 231 votes for accepting, 209 votes to reject and 18 absentions.

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author by @publication date Sun Jan 13, 2013 20:37Report this post to the editors

"Comrades, I want to start from something I think we can all agree on, which is that we are very proud of the party’s politics and tradition in fighting women’s oppression, and I think we saw this in action this summer where the rest of the left really failed the test of the Assange case, getting the issue of imperialism wrong and on the issue of women’s oppression. I think George Galloway paid the price for that and Respect paid the price for that. We stand head and shoulders above any other organisation when it comes to fighting for women’s liberation."
from the conference transcropt

Tom Walker had no other option to resign. His position untenable after taking such an unethical position on the Assange extradition case. Anyone with a neuron sees the extraditon to Sweden as a stopover for life in solitary confinement in a U.S. supermax for a person the U.S. views as major impediment to their conduct of war. Why is this context ignored by the SWP. Could it be they were in a rush to use the Assange case to carry on their post-Respect feud with Galloway once he made what many regard as a inappropriate "bedroom etiquette" comment

The Stop the War Coalition (StW) and SWP have been negligent in relation to the Bradley Manning case whose family is British and was raised in his teenage years in Wales. Solidarity with both Manning and Assange should have been major priorities for anti-war activists for the last 2 years, it hasn't. The high powered character assassination campaign led by the Guardian may explain why people have been fearful to go near Assange. Toxic, guilt by association etc etc But what of Manning? The state, of course, attacked Manning's sexuality and the Guardian adopted a "Manning is mad, Assange is bad" position. But does that explain his abandonment by the British anti-war scene?

In the Assange case there was no rape complaint. There was a request for a HIV test and a very dodgy police interview with a broader agenda. When the woman making that request sensed she was being used for a larger agenda/ fit up she left the police station and refused to sign a statement written by the interviewing police officer (not audio or video recorded).

Assange co-operated with a police interview while in Sweden and has remained open to further interview by Swedish police in Britain for the last 2 years. The Swedish prosecution have refused to carry out further interviews with him. Why? Because they are not serious about carrying out such an investigation seems to be the obvious conclusion. The offer for interview is still open at the Ecuadoran embassy.

As far as I know, the present position of the Ecuadoran government, Amnesty International and Assange himself is that if Sweden will guarantee that he will not be sent on to the U.S. to face the probability and life in super max for his journalist activity he would return to Sweden. Amnesty International in Sweden, William Hague etc. oppose this position.

Meanwhile those working on opposition to the extradition of Assange now have a liberal left lynch mob joining the British state who wish to define them as "rape apologists","saddos", "devotees", "followers". One imagines this was the case for those who, in the early years, took up the case of the Birmingham 6, Guildford 4, Maguire 7 and other Miscarriages of justice in Britain. Advocating for these demonised people was presented as being soft on putting bombs in pubs. These accused were regarded as toxic and people who should know better adopted a hostile position without seriously investigating the cases. It is the same situation now with Assange.

Politics is not a game when it comes to people's lives and liberty. Don't passively follow the line whether it is handed down from the state, the Guardian, the SWP or subcultures closer to home.

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author by JoeMcpublication date Sun Jan 13, 2013 23:24Report this post to the editors

Peter Manson , the author of the above article, which purports to be written in defence of democracy within the left, is the editor of the CPGB's Weekly Worker. On Jan 10 the Weekly Worker carried an article written by Tom Walker in which the former SWP journalist boasted about his authorship of a Socialist Worker article that had called for Assange to face rape charges :

"Of course, I am dead set against the capitalist police and courts, and the way they treat people. That doesn’t mean we can go off and set up our own. The SWP itself called for Julian Assange to face rape charges in Sweden, in a Socialist Worker article I am proud to have written."
"I do not see why what is good enough for Assange is not good enough for the party’s leaders."

author by Luciferpublication date Mon Jan 14, 2013 00:25Report this post to the editors

Walker was expressing his own opinion about Assange, The Weekly Worker regularly publishes articles by non-members.

The C PGB have supported Assange from the outset.

As Julian Assange divides a confused left, Paul DeMarty seeks clarity
And so, suddenly, the British state - which, as the headline statistics will tell us, cannot muster up the enthusiasm to convict any rapists at all under normal circumstances, and indeed only outlawed marital rape two decades ago - has reinvented itself as a crusading force against sexual violence. All options have been considered to get Assange out of this country, to be questioned (he has not yet been charged) by Swedish prosecutors - up to and including storming the embassy.

The Julian Assange furore is about war, not sex, argues Paul Demarty
The American feminist, Naomi Wolf (an odd sort of feminist, it is true, but at least identifiably leftwing in sympathies), has been merciless in her criticism of this whole circus from the very beginning, penning a sarcastic letter of thanks to Interpol back when the allegations first arose, proclaiming herself “overjoyed to discover your new commitment to engaging in global manhunts to arrest and prosecute men who behave like narcissistic jerks to women they are dating”.3

Like elephants, the establishment, and its leftist patsies, will never forget such a sin. And so it has been truly remarkable to note the almost universal slamming that Wolf’s new book on vaginas has received (for all this writer knows, well-deserved; but remember, these are the same journalists who said nice things about Caitlin Moran’s How to be a woman); and how frequently her dismissal of the accusations against Assange has factored in as subsidiary evidence against her in these reviews - a tic which unites the Evening Standard, The Guardian, New Statesman and, alas, Socialist Worker.4

Hands off Assange
Of course, following the Wikileaks publication of 251,287 secret - and hugely embarrassing - US embassy cables, there has been a concerted effort to smear and vilify its central spokesperson. Self-evidently, this is part of a campaign by imperialism and its stooges in the corporate mass media to smother, mute and eventually close down Wikileaks - and, indeed, all other such independent outlets. This is not to resort to fanciful conspiracy theories, but rather just to state an obvious political reality, regardless of the swirling minutiae that surrounds these events or the exact nature of Assange’s character or conduct. Without doubt, the nature and timing of his arrest could not be more beneficial for imperialism and the political establishment as a whole - revenge at last?

author by Yetipublication date Mon Jan 14, 2013 01:54Report this post to the editors

I can’t see how the SWP is ever going to change.

I left the party because I opposed their support for the Religious Hatred Act on the grounds that it was an unnecessary and bad law. I was a member of Respect and the SWP at the time and I remember clearly how other SWP/Respect members opposed the new law and were easily convinced by me and one other non­-SWP member that it was a bad law. I even remember arguing with John Rees a few days after that it was a bad law and he stated publicly that there were pros and cons in supporting it. This was not quite what he said a day or two later when he decided that all SWP members should now support it. This meant, of course, that all the SWP/Respect members who were opposed to the law in Waltham Forest now supported it against all their previous independent judgement, and despite the fact they had voted to oppose it in a Respect meeting before John Rees instructed them to change their minds. This highlights the root of the problem. ...

Steve White

author by Elricpublication date Mon Jan 14, 2013 01:59Report this post to the editors

As an active Socialist Workers Party member, I’ve collected my thoughts enough in order to write a statement of sorts regarding the central committee’s recent expulsion of four long-standing party members and the forming of the Democratic Opposition faction. I registered my support for the faction and urged others to do the same, especially those attending national conference in a position to affect the outcome of matters.

The CC states that four comrades were expelled for forming a “secret faction”. I think this is outrageous for a number of reasons. Expulsion should be reserved for only the most serious misdemeanours. I don’t think party members going about forming a temporary faction (as is their right around the time of conference), however ‘secretly’ or clumsily, justifies such a serious punishment. It sends entirely the wrong message to the wider membership and, in practice, means a less accountable central committee if members don’t feel they can challenge things. We don’t need a climate of fear, but free and open discussion. ...

Damon Skinner

author by SWeetPeapublication date Mon Jan 14, 2013 02:32Report this post to the editors

is it that
(a)the (UK) SWP are bullying their members into lockstep?
(b)the leadership make serious errors of judgement in supporting / not supporting campaigns / people
(c)the (UK) SWP are channeling dissent in ways that suit the establishment?

(d) something else (please clarify)

author by Luciferpublication date Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:27Report this post to the editors

The SWP operate a warped form of Democratic Centralism. This thread is mainly about how their Disputes Committee investigated complaints and how members objected to this. In spite of the narrow margin by which the DC report was passed all further debate was shut down by the Central Committee under pain of expulsion.

I think its best to read the posts above, especially those written by SWP members to get a clear understanding of whats going on.

Joe Mc is correct re the New Statesman piece. Walker, is wrong about Assange but this was his resignation statement from the SWP, the CPGB could hardly censor it when the SWP were accused of just that.

The word Junta was used by me me in my introduction to an article, Peter Manson didn't use it. On reflection I was wrong to use it. It doesn't help a rational debate to ensue.

author by JoeMcpublication date Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:46Report this post to the editors

Lucifer posted an audio podcast two days ago that brazenly advised listeners to lie without compunction. Today he writes as if he is interested in a rational debate . But a rational debate is surely about arriving at some approximation of the truth and presumes at least a measure of good intent on both sides of any debate . A rational debate with somebody who takes such an attitude to the truth as Lucifer does is impossible.

author by wageslave - (personal capacity)publication date Mon Jan 14, 2013 19:32Report this post to the editors

Joe, please give the editorial comments a rest and address the article. If it has problems / bias then rather than attacking the messenger, just point them out clearly with evidence. That's the best way.

I'd just like to add, I've stood shoulder to shoulder with very committed activists here in Ireland who were also members of the SWP. I've personally discussed political issues with RBB and found him to be an intelligent, aware and committed person. Rather surprising for a politician!!

There are a lot of good people in this organisation in Ireland. This article is addressing a few undemocratic aspects of it's structure in England. This is not to say that SWP does not also do lots of good things! Both in England and here in Ireland.


author by Luciferpublication date Mon Jan 14, 2013 23:52Report this post to the editors

Here is a response from the SWP Central Committee.

Response to attacks on the SWP

There has been a series of attacks on the Socialist Workers Party in the media and by assorted bloggers. They concern the party’s handling of serious allegations against a leading member and the arguments (partly arising from the case) leading up to and during our recent conference.

This was an internal matter and we had promised full confidentiality to all involved. So we strongly condemn the publication of a transcript of a closed session of the conference discussing this case. The transcript was publicised against the wishes of the complainant herself.
The attacks are a travesty of the truth. We live in what remains a profoundly sexist society, as is shown by the sex abuse scandals and cover-ups in mainstream institutions such as the BBC and the police.

However, the SWP is not an institution of capitalist society but fights for the overthrow of the system. Our party has a proud tradition of fighting for women’s liberation, as is shown, for example, by our consistent campaigning over the decades to defend abortion, and by our criticism of George Galloway for his remarks about the Julian Assange rape accusations.

Reflecting this tradition, our internal structures seek to promote women to leading roles and deal rigorously with any action by any member that is harmful or disrespectful of women. It is in the context of this commitment that we took allegations against a leading member of the party very seriously.

Unlike the BBC or any other establishment body faced with such an allegation an investigation into this complaint immediately was set in place. The complainant made the choice not to go to the police, who are notorious for their systemic failure to defend women. Instead she asked for her complaint to be heard by the body within the SWP charged with dealing with disciplinary cases, the Disputes Committee. We respected that choice.

The Disputes Committee is a body of experienced members who had been unanimously elected by the previous conference. The attacks on it as a ‘sharia court’ are little short of racism. After a lengthy and thorough hearing, the Disputes Committee did not uphold the accusations and decided to take no disciplinary action.

Five of the seven members hearing the case were women, and one has experience as a rape counsellor. These included two members of the Central Committee, the elected leadership body of the SWP. Its members (who are always a minority on the DC) work with the DC to ensure the political integrity of the party, and to ensure the concerns and decisions of the DC are fed into the CC's work. At all times great efforts were taken to support the complainant. Had the Disputes Committee believed that the accused person was guilty, it would have expelled him from the SWP immediately.

The case was discussed at length at a session of our conference, which voted to accept the report and overwhelmingly re-elected the Disputes Committee. Far from being a cover up this sort of open discussion shows that our procedures and elected bodies are accountable to our membership. If this case had been raised within a trade union or any other organisation there would be no question that the matter should be treated with complete confidentiality. This basic principle should also apply in this case.

As far we are concerned, this case is closed. This is not a ‘cover up’. It is a determination to reflect the decision of our conference. We believe that both parties to the case should have their right to confidentiality and their right as members in good standing respected.

In solidarity

Charlie Kimber
SWP National Secretary
on behalf of the SWP Central Committee

author by An Drighneán Donnpublication date Tue Jan 15, 2013 16:39Report this post to the editors

What would you expect from a party that supported racist lynch mobs in Libya, and supports sectarian death squads working for the CIA and Mossad in Syria?

author by fredpublication date Tue Jan 15, 2013 19:01Report this post to the editors

I agree that the SWP stances on Libya and Syria were / are serving the interests of imperialism.

I think sometimes in their desire to be seen to support muslim people across the world in their efforts to break free from oppressive regimes, the SWP have been somewhat naive and missed the fact that these "arab spring" revolutions have been deliberately fomented and manipulated to serve the interests of imperialists not the citizens of these countries.

the unpalatable alternative is to consider that they may have been infiltrated which is always a possibility in such high profile organisations

author by An Drighneán Donnpublication date Wed Jan 16, 2013 07:32Report this post to the editors

Sadly, Fred, we are in no doubt about infiltration. Self confessed CIA agent, Madhi al-Harati was a senior activist with the Irish Anti-War Movement, which is an SWP front organisation, and which shares leadership with the Irish branch of the SWP.. He confessed to channeling hundreds of thousands of CIA dollars through Ireland. Does anyone imagine that he didn't use some of this CIA cash to influence SWP \ IAWM policy - which "just happened" to dovetail with NATO requirements?

author by Luciferpublication date Thu Jan 17, 2013 13:31Report this post to the editors

Full text at link under extract. More articles on the issue may be accessed at:

The leadership can no longer lead - but a positive outcome to the crisis requires more than the removal of the entire CC, argues Paul Demarty

The Socialist Workers Party has been waiting a long time for a revolutionary situation. On some occasions, as with the fatuous ‘All out, stay out’ slogan it advanced to striking public sector workers last winter, it has tried, with dismal results, to force one - or delude itself into thinking there is one. Now, it has got one. But there is only one catch - it is not Britain that has been plunged into such a crisis, but the SWP itself.

I am only half being ironic here. Lenin famously defined a revolutionary situation as one in which the rulers cannot rule in the old way, and the oppressed will not be ruled in the old way. While the outcome of this brouhaha cannot be foretold, there is no denying that Britain’s largest (for now) revolutionary organisation is in chaos. The leadership is defensive and rudderless; and, for once, there is open and militant rebellion against them.

It is not hard to see why. The last week has been utterly calamitous for the SWP’s ruling clique. The release, on Andy Newman’s blog, of the now infamous transcript of the disputes committee report and debate at conference was already bad enough. An appalling misstep such as this absurd investigation into rape charges might have been manageable, had the whole thing been kept out of public view. Now, every SWPer from Aberdeen to Cornwall knows what went on - and so do all the people they have to work with in trade unions, on campuses and in other left groups. ...

author by Jim Jeppspublication date Sat Jan 19, 2013 18:07Report this post to the editors

I hadn’t really intended to write anything on this. So I won’t. However, lots of other people have and many of those contributions have been articulate, intelligent and go well beyond the specific issue that brought it all to a head.

So, in an effort to be helpful I thought I’d collect together all the pieces (of any worth) in one place so that people can read for themselves the various perspectives at the link below. I’m bound to have missed some, as I’ve not exactly been dedicating myself to trawling the internet over the last two weeks, but I hope it is reasonably comprehensive.

Related Link:
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