Thursday, 31 January 2013

Leninism was never the answer

The crisis in the Socialist Workers Party seems to be spiralling even more out of control as the latest article on the internal opposition blog International Socialism by Linda Rogers illustrates:

I have also faced the argument that the DC has investigated 9 rapes in the past (I’m not clear on how recently these ‘investigations’ were conducted).  I believe this argument is put forward to reassure comrades of the competency of the DC.  I don't find it reassuring in the slightest; in fact I find it terrifying. 

Nine more rapes? How on earth has the SWP managed to keep all this under raps all these years?

At the same time the leadership have started calling supporters of the opposition inside the SWP to "meetings" to"discuss matters". This has prompted opposition leaders China Melville and Richard Seymour to offer the following advice:

Don't be intimidated. It's our party. You are not alone, much as the CC may wish to make you feel isolated. 

DON'T go alone to one of these meetings. If "invited", accept, and tell the CC member or organiser the names of three other comrades who will be coming with you. Stick to your guns on this. 

Intimidation is obviously expected.

There are questions members of the SWP should asking themselves. What kind of party cult do you belong to? How can an organisation that claims to stand for human liberation behave like this? Why do you exist in a regime of fear?

This has all happened before and I don't mean just the Workers Revolutionary Party under Gerry Healy which imploded for almost exactly the same kinds of problems that the SWP face now.

It is time to really read about what happened after Bolshevik coup in 1917. Lenin and Trotsky laid the foundations of dictatorship. They suppressed all non-Bolshevik socialists and anarchists long before any opposition within the "party" itself.

Read about how Trotsky developed the methodology that was used to suppress the Trade Union and Workers "oppositions" within the Communist Party. See how Stalin learnt from this to use against Trotsky and the left opposition. The whole history of the Leninist movement has been one of anti-democratic political pogroms leading to mass murder and dictatorship.

The ideology is flawed and yet just like a religion there remain those who resort to solace in theological-like iconology around Lenin & Trotsky, utilising their writings as "holy texts" to justify continuing this failed project as if it would have been different only if.... except it wouldn't have been.

The time has come to bury the mythology of Leninism (or Trotskyism) whatever you wish to call it. The near religiosity of the followers of these ideas has led to brutality in state power and even it would seem in the modern day sects that try to continue the failed dream.

The SWP is clearly beyond redemption. If members wish to save themselves then it is time not to reform the party, but to leave it and reclaim their basic humanity away from the cultish regime they have voluntarily placed themselves under over the years.

Social reform not revolution is the answer. Not as "exiting" as revolutionary politics perhaps but at least us reformists are free to think for ourselves.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

I want to be British and I want to be European. Why are the extremists trying to stop me?

Guest Post by Willie Samuel

If I were to be going out for a drink and a nice meal or whatever, and I was given the choice between the UK and the continent I know what I’d choose. I’d choose the continent. Unlike the streets of any UK city, you don’t have to negotiate the vomit and your chances of being drawn into a fight are much less. For me, it offers a poignant  analogy for the debate around membership of the EU.

The argument of the (mainly English) Right is that all things British are better, and that these nasty Europeans are trying to take our jobs and control our wonderful way of life.  Whilst the Right argues against the EU on the grounds that European directives on working hours and safety get in the way of exploitation of labour, you know that isn’t their main concern. It’s all about Johnny Foreigner telling us what to do. 

I fail to see what’s so good about our great British way of life. Public transport in Europe is cheap, efficient and frequent. Streets are safe. As somebody on the centre Left, I believe in breaking down barriers between states. I think it is great that I have the right to live and work in Spain, France, Greece et all were I to so choose.

The forces of Capitalism broadly agree with me. Indeed the Labour Party has placed itself on the side of business. It is odd to see much of Business and the Tories at odds over this, but it shows that the simplistic Marxist analysis doesn’t always apply.

Indeed the far Left and far Right are (not for the first time) often as one in the desire to exit the EU. The far Left see the European Union as an agent of oppression, just as the far Right do. 

David Cameron, in his speech last week, unleashed forces which could lead, not simply to departure from the EU. It could also swing the Scottish Independence referendum towards a YES vote.

Alex Salmond has been handed a useful weapon in his argument that the UK is going in the wrong direction. He can, with some justification, point towards an English Right which is determined to take the course of departure from the EU to pursue their vision of a country free from human rights, working time directives, health and safety regulations to name a few. The Tories remain a small sect within Scotland, they aren’t going to win much support for their departure plans.

Suppose, therefore, that this persuades more Scots to vote for independence in 2014. England, from that point on, has a natural Tory majority. It is then, pretty likely that in 2017 a referendum with take place in England, Wales and Northern Ireland regarding EU membership. Without Scotland the Tories can carry forward their agenda. It is quite conceivable that the remainder of the UK may vote to leave the EU in 2017, whilst Scotland chooses to apply to stay.

So it is a distinct possibility that Scotland will become an independent country, within the European Union, possibly with the Euro as it’s currency. England will depart the EU, taking Wales and Ulster with it. Are we sure that Wales and Ulster will wish to head this way? Tied to a country with David Cameron, (or Boris Johnson) as a leader.

It’s a brief illustration of just how the Tory Right could rip the country apart, simply because of a dislike of the continent. It isn’t quite so far fetched either. It’s why the centre ground of politics needs to wake up.

I can’t end this without a mention of the (extreme) Left. I’ve already pointed out how often they agree with their supposed opponents on the Right. In Scotland they champion an ‘independent socialist country’ and tell people to vote YES for independence. They tend to oppose the European Union, although they seem to have little to say about it right now. My money is on them backing an OUT vote in the IN/OUT referendum.

In summary, both Left and Right are working towards the same scenario which may leave England as an isolated backward looking little country dreaming of a golden age that never was. Scotland as a small insignificant province of a European federation, with Wales and Ulster wondering what to do next. 
It is really time that the progressive centre ground of politics began to assert itself, before a toxic combination of prejudices tears us apart. 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

From a "scratch to gangrene", the impending demise of the SWP

A sign of the seriousness with which the leadership of the Socialist Workers Party is finally taking towards the internal crisis that has exploded in their faces over the "comrade Delta" affair is illustrated in a lengthy feature article by Alex Callinicos that has been published on-line in advance of the publication of the SWP magazine Socialist Review.

Callinicos rises to the defence of "Leninism" (or at least the SWP's version of it) with a polemic against Independent columnist Owen Jones who has written at length about the demise of "the era of the SWP and its kind". The other target of his venom are the attacks on the SWP that have sprung up all over the left as a result of the "internal arguments" that are raging inside his "party".

The fact is that despite his protestations many on the left and the wider trade union movement, let alone critics within the SWP itself do now view the organisation with more suspicion than ever before. The fact that many members, particularly the student wing of the SWP now see their own organisation as "toxic" is unsurprising. His critics inside the SWP are demanding change, but seem unsure that the party is itself capable of change for the better.

The most disturbing piece of his of article revolves around what he calls "the dark side of the internet". Whilst describing the net as "liberating" he and the rest of the SWP leadership have been telling their members to stay away from it as a distraction from building the party, though more likely to try & keep his membership away from other ideas and open criticism of the SWP. Even more so in the current climate.

Callinicos alludes to the use of the "bourgeois courts" and argues that the "revolutionaries" (that is in this case the SWP) do not have the resources to use these and their "principles" prevent them from doing so anyway.  It is more likely that the SWP leadership would not use  law courts to stop criticism of the party because the whole episode would escalate even more out of control  than it is now.

Articles that have appeared in The Independent and the New Statesman have pointed out that the SWP "punches above its' weight" something I would phrase differently as having "undue influence", particularly in the trade unions. For example in my own union PCS the SWP have a couple of NEC members and hold one of the Vice President posts (Sue Bond). The General Secretary Mark Serwotka whilst not a member has appeared regularly at their rallies and meetings though is politically astute enough to realise that probably isn't wise at the moment.

In Unite, the SWP are backing Jerry Hicks against incumbent General Secretary Len McCluskey. Ironically Hicks was expelled from the SWP and will more than likely find their support problematic in the current climate. The SWP also take part in the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition which is mainly run  by the rival Socialist Party (ex-Militant) outfit. They've kept silent about the whole affair until now but like others may be forced by events to publically break with the SWP as this open letter shows:

The SWP is clearly in terminal decline and though won't disappear overnight the growing refusal of other "comrades" on the far left to work with it means the "brand" is doomed to failure. I for one will shed no tears over the demise of this dangerous little cult.

Monday, 28 January 2013

The Left get it wrong on Mali

There was an obvious sign of relief on the faces of the inhabitants of Timbuktu as the French army entered the city and drove away the Islamists who had been oppressing them since last April. The war in Mali is not over yet but the extremists are on the run.

The tales of public lashings (including that of one teenage girl for simply talking to men in the street), barbaric amputations and other crimes against humanity are legion. Its no wonder the people of Mali have welcomed French intervention.

However for those of you have had the misfortune to come across the Stop the War Campaign or some of the fringe groups like the Socialist Party or the Socialist Workers Party will have been told a different story.  These "comrades" are against intervention, their most common argument being "it's for the people of Mali to decide". This sounds fine until you realise that in practise it actually boils down to the ones with guns who actually decide. In the case of Mali its' the terrorists.

In the latest issue of The Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party) they write:

Of course, socialists oppose jihadist and al-Qa'ida -type groups, whose poisonous right-wing Islamist ideology and methods are a deadly danger for the workers' movement and the poor masses generally.

A place where teenage couples risk death by stoning if they hold hands in public is repellent to overwhelming majority of workers and youth.

Absolutely right, but then go on to demand the French withdraw their troops from Mali, a formula which means not only doing nothing but would probably result in the expansion of the Islamists control of the country. More teenagers will risk being stoned or worse!

Exactly how does that help the Malian people?

One common theme of both the Socialist Party and the Stop the War Campaign is that civilians are in danger of being injured or killed in the fighting. Of course that is a risk, but then these organisations are not run by pacifists.

Both groups are both run by Marxist revolutionaries who err... actually believe in the violent overthrow of capitalism in the tradition of the Bolshevik Coup of 1917. Their mentor, a certain Vladimir Ilyich Lenin believed revolution came out of the barrel of a gun.

The Stop the War Campaign is long past its' sell by date having been set up to oppose the Iraq War and today relies on the Counterfire group (a break-away from the SWP) to keep it going.

These shrill revolutionaries and armchair anti-imperialists have nothing to offer the people of Mali (or anywhere else) but continued oppression under reactionary Jihadists.

Sometimes the West has to act and this is one of these times.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Blow to Socialist Party's PCS strike strategy

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has narrowly rejected a call for a strike in March by a margin of 22 to 20. This means that the attempt by the Socialist Party to utilise NUT along with the PCS to launch "co-ordinated strike action" (or General  Strike) has already fallen flat before the ballot has even started.

In his latest blog piece Martin Powell-Davis, of the NUT Executive and Socialist Party memberbemoans the decision and calls on supporters of the far left to "keep up pressure on the executive". He cites the meeting held at NUT HQ attended by "nearly 300" reps as evidence of support for a dispute in the union.

Powell-Davis also says that the NUT should not wait for the other main teachers union the NASUWT to agree to take part. (Which remains unlikely it has to be pointed out.) Problem is that according to one former leading NUT activist, ordinary members don't want to take action on their own and are fed up of seeing their disputes "undermined" by members of other teaching unions crossing their picket lines because they are not involved in the dispute.

For most teachers the potential involvement of PCS is not seen as important no matter what the comrades might argue. They want other teachers to take part or any dispute in their sector is doomed from the start.

This brings us back to the PCS union led by the Socialist Party. Mark Serwotka has until now always made it clear that "PCS will not act alone", but according to reports coming out of a meeting of the PCS NW Regional Committee this may all soon change.

There was an "indication" that the NEC was "wrong to tie industrial action to other unions" and that "PCS should lead the charge" and go it alone. A prospect that most PCS members would not see as being of any use. It must be remembered that as has previously been pointed on this blog the call for a strike was used by the far left in PCS to launch their 2013 election campaign. I am not alone in noticing this, as Dave Vincent writes (albeit from a different perspective) in the latest issue of the Weekly Worker:

Our members do not want to waste money they do not have on some token action just to make the leadership look good or help the Democracy Alliance retain control in the NEC elections in April-May.

Members of PCS would be ill advised to let the current National Executive Committee to continue in office.

The NEC is dominated by members of the Socialist Party (and their Socialist Worker Party allies), all of whom put their loyalties to their political sects before the members of the union.

There is an alternative in the 4themembers group of politically mainstream trade unionists.

Go to: Now Updated!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Call to action - Korean public sector union president on indefinite hunger strike

Guest Post by Eric Lee of Labourstart

The President of the Korean Government Employees' Union (KGEU), Kim Jungnam, launched a hunger strike in the streets of Seoul outside the offices of the Presidential transition committee on 15 January.

He is protesting the sacking of 137 workers, among them the union president and general secretary, who are being punished for their union activities. They are accused of being leaders of an "illegal organization" -- the KGEU.

President-elect Park Guenhye, daughter of the dictator Park Chung-hee, will take office on 25 February.  She has pledged to achieve social integration. The KGEU is demanding that she recognize the union and reinstate the sacked employees.

Kim will continue his hunger strike until these issues are resolved.

We call upon trade unionists around the world to show their solidarity by sending off messages of protest and solidarity today.

Please spread the word - share this message with your friends, family, co-workers and fellow union members. Thank you!

Korean unions are not the only ones suffering from attempts to delegitimize them - so are unions in Russia.  Yesterday, IndustriALL global union launched an international campaign in support of two union locals at Bashneft, an oil company, who are under attack from the management. The administration is trying to undermine the Russian Chemical Workers Union and replace it with a company-controlled Labour Council.  It will take you just a moment to add your support to the online campaign.

Finally, for those of you who live in Europe, I encourage you to support the call by public sector unions on the European Commission to propose legislation implementing the human right to water and sanitation, and promoting the provision of water and sanitation as essential public services for all.  They've gotten over 500,000 signatures -- one of the largest online initiatives we've ever seen by the trade union movement.

That's great, and they need more support, but let's also do what we can to ensure that the campaign in support of Kim Jungnam and the Korean public sector union is also successful.  Spread the word!

Go to Labourstart for international trade union news:

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Far left launch election campaign in PCS

As expected the far left in PCS has launched its' election campaign hot on the heels of the announcement by the PCS National Executive Committee (NEC) that the union will be balloting for industrial action. The same situation happened last year as the comrades utilise their dominance of the PCS to push through their political agenda and retain control of the union.

The far left in PCS hide behind a number of "fronts" in PCS.  They present themselves to members as the Democratic Alliance, which itself consists of the Left Unity group and their fellow travellers in the PCS Democrats.

Left Unity is the larger of the two groups and is itself an alliance of the Socialist Party,  the Socialist Workers Party, a few remaining Communists, some odds n'sods plus a number of left-wing Labour Party activists amongst others. 

The control of the organisation is firmly in the hands of the Socialist Party and is organised in such a way to maintain their control. The main leaders of the SP are John McInally (PCS Vice-President), Chris Baugh (Assistant General Secretary) and PCS President Janice Godrich. Dissent is always firmly dealt with as the experiences of ex-Socialist Party supporters Jane Aitchison (deposed as DWP Group President) and Rob Williams (thrown off the NEC) show.

Their latest missive published on the Left Unity website says that "PCS has continued to grow in strength and reputation as a fighting union" the leaflet goes on to claim that "the union has achieved negotiated settlements which have protected members interests".

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Under Mark Serwotka and the Socialist Party the union has continually failed to make any significant achievements on members behalf. The nearest they got was protecting pensions under the Labour Government and then for entirely sectarian reasons ran candidates against Labour (as the Trade Union & Socialist Alliance ). In order to protect members interests the return of a Labour government would have been in our interests as the new Coalition Government has thrown out our Pensions deal.

In fact as a result of their leadership PCS has become marginalised even in the rest of the trade union movement and started the union on the course to becoming a political party by "standing and supporting candidates" in Parliamentary elections.

This continued politicisation has also completely undermined our unions facilities. 

Following  disastrous attempt to launch a poorly supported strike in the UK Border Agency on the eve of the Olympics, the Tories retaliated with plans to withdraw the bulk of trade union "facility time", which when implemented in later this year will leave PCS in the weakest position in its' history. Some success comrades!

PCS members can no longer afford to leave the union in the hands of these Marxist fools. Their blinkered ideology and barmy ideas are beginning to erode the unions credibility beyond repair. 

PCS must return to mainstream trade unionism before its too late.

Monday, 21 January 2013

PCS: Ballot hijacked by the Socialist Party

PCS has announced that it will be running a strike ballot following the rejection by Sir Bob Kerslake, Head of the Civil Service, to enter into negotiations over pensions, pay and conditions of service. This decision comes as no surprise to anyone.

In the run up to Christmas Janice Godrich, PCS President and leading member of the Socialist Party had been speaking at a tiny lobby of the TUC calling for co-ordinated strike action (a euphemism for a General Strike). Added to this the constant calls of the SP and its "front" organisations the National Shop Stewards Movement and the so-called Trade Union & Socialist Alliance for a General Strike, the plan was obvious.

John McInally (PCS Vice-President), the Socialist Party's chief "fixer" in PCS wrote a substantial article a couple of days before the strike call was made by the PCS National Executive Committee in which he says:

Most serious trade union activists and members now know a 24-hour general strike is the most effective way to start to take on this government.

Trade union leaders who are serious about organising action in a "coalition of the willing" should discuss coordinating their ballots - as was done for the N30 pension strike last year.
Attacks are increasing. But the resistance against austerity is also. The cowardly role of right-wing trade union leaders will be sharply exposed.

PCS's fighting, campaigning leadership, along with its battle-hardened activists...... blah, blah...

Combined with an unnecessary attack on the now retired TUC General Secretary we can see that the Socialist Party is attempting to raise the political temperature by using the unions to pursue its' own sectarian interests.

The letter to Management from PCS was designed to be rejected. As most of us realise the pensions dispute is long over and the pay freeze is here to stay for a while longer regardless of our feelings on the matter. With workers losing their jobs in Jessops, HMV and Blockbusters members realise that there would be little public support for a major campaign on pay. As for conditions of service, these are yet to be formalised and presented to us. Its all vague (if disturbing) talk. But remains talk at least for a little longer.

For these reasons its' hardly surprising the Government are not going to enter into "negotiations" over issues that have long passed their "sell by date" or are not yet ready to to deal with. Serwotka, McInally & co all know this but for them the struggle is all and the stakes for them are high.

With their main rival the SWP collapsing around them, the Socialist Party are obviously hoping to come out as the biggest "gang on the block". Trouble is as we all are well aware the SP are just as undemocratic as the cult of the SWP. The SP have the same basic politics and practise of "democratic centralism" that is the root cause of all the evil at the heart of Marxism-Leninism.

In the mean time the misuse of PCS under their leadership continues. This strike will achieve nothing and further sideline PCS as a trade union. The Socialist Party know this but as usual put their interests first.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

SWP: Purges and growing isolation

The latest (but as yet unconfirmed) news is that a series of purges are now taking place inside the Socialist Workers Party. According to comments from an SWP member published on Tony Greenstein's blog, several members have now been expelled and staff are being sacked from their Vauxhall office. 

It also appears that Hannah Dee has also been kicked off their Central Committee. There is reason to believe that Judith Orr (a long term SWP hack) who backed the victims in the botched internal disciplinary "process" may be next.

What is clear is that there is open rebellion going on inside the SWP led by Richard Seymour (of Lenin's Tomb) and China Melville (a well known writer). Already SWP students in Leeds and Sussex Universities have published open letters attacking the SWP leadership.

There has been talk amongst the "comrades" that other activists on the left are beginning to shun  the SWP. A letter has been published by students at Essex University who are now publicly calling on the local SWP students to issue a statement:

We, the undersigned, believe that in the past week details have become public of alleged sexual abuse and rape within the Socialist Workers Party involving a senior party member, and of a Disputes Committee meeting that ultimately failed to take these allegations seriously, going so far as to question the victim's personal life and relationships. This is totally unacceptable anywhere, even more so when it comes from a socialist group that claims "We campaign for real social, political and economic equality for women". Actions such as these hint at a culture of victim blaming and misogyny, which the party is supposed to be taking a stance against and which we are sure it's members must be appalled by. A commitment to equality must be put into practice, not just in writing.

A rival Trotskyist organisation has also issued a statement in which they state:

The SWP is now going through arguably the most turbulent period in its history. This will have an impact on the entire radical left in Britain and will also affect left currents internationally. If the SWP disintegrates this will be a profoundly negative outcome as it will mean the demoralisation and fragmentation of thousands of activists who relate to the party and a weakening of the class struggle left in unions and campaigns. It will also shape the views of tens of thousands of activists whose understanding of revolutionary Marxism is strongly influenced by their contacts with the SWP. In particular the radical left is looking to see how the party deals with issues of internal democracy, women’s rights and its understanding of feminism. The right wing in the union movement is also following it closely and we can expect that they will use it in dishonest polemics against the entire left.

I forget where I read it but one commentator has suggested the SWP won't last another week. I think that's a wee bit of an exaggeration but certainly the organisation is in terminal decline. For those of us who fight political extremism that will be a good thing. 

Lets hope the comrades finally learn the lesson that Marxism-Leninism in any form just doesn't work.

Friday, 18 January 2013

The bizarre claims that Jews are behind the SWP Crisis

The far left is very strange place indeed judging by the current crisis in the Socialist Workers Party.  How the comrades seemed to think they could act as both "Judge & Jury" in the matter of a serious crime such as rape has been a matter for much discussion both on the Internet and some of the major newspapers. You'd think it couldn't possibly get any worse.

But it does.

A few days ago Harry's Place published a series of exchanges taken from one of these so-called "anti-Zionist" blogs. On it there are some disturbing exchanges involving Steve Hedley, the Assistant General Secretary of the RMT union. Commenting on the current crisis in the SWP he says:

the closet Zionists are now attacking Martin smith,any diversion to stop people condemning the Israeli states atrocities

This proved too much for even some of the regular visitors to that particular website.

Go to:

As if that wasn't bad enough the following was written by Gilad Atzmon, Jazz Musician and anti-Semite:

I met some very nice people in the SWP, but I also came across their many Jewish gate-keepers and tribal operators.

Atzmon then goes on to claim that Martin Smith is not being pursued as a "sex offender" but because:

They harass him because he gave me a platform in spite of the Jewish demand to ban me. They want to bring Martin Smith down simply because he didn't obey his tribal masters.

Even more bizarrely he writes about SWP dissident Richard Seymour (editor of Lenin's Tomb) and Laurie Penny (New Statesman journalist) in the following manner:

Our Jews and their very own Sabbath Goyim, Seymour and Penny must be in total despair.

At one time the SWP touted this absurd little bigot around the Labour  and Trade Union movement.

So now you know. Its' "the Jews what done it". Don't they always.

That's anti-Semitism pure and simple.

These two men should be ashamed of themselves.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

At the other extreme - "comrades" at war

The continuing crisis inside the Socialist Workers Party continues to dominate most of the blogs that cover the affairs of the left. Some of it is out of sheer sectarian glee but there are some very serious issues that will impact the far left and their periphery for some time to come. For those of us who are active in the unions the SWP has always had an "undue influence" in our affairs, the PCS in particular.

Candy Unwin who presented the "findings" of the SWP "Disciplinary Conference that was eventually leaked to Socialist Unity by a very disgruntled member (who had gone to the trouble of recording then transcribing the whole sorry affair) is (I believe still) an active member of PCS. It was ridiculous to say the least that in her presentation she decided to tell SWP members that  (amongst others) Mark Serwotka (General Secretary of the PCS) allegedly "knew" of the affair "within a week".

Unfortunately information about this complaint wasn’t kept confidential in the way that we had asked. In fact, people outside the party, such as Chris Bambery, members of Counterfire, members in Unite Against Fascism, who then told Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of PCS – all these people knew about the case within a week of the hearing, before we’d even finished our final report.

Whilst Mark Serwotka may be "close" to the SWP politically, he is not a member and frankly this distasteful affair is nothing what so ever to do with either him or our union the PCS. 

In a letter to Andy Newman, the National Secretary of the SWP Charlie Kimber attacked the publication of the document and referenced the way trade unions deal with such matters as a reason as to why this issue should not be in the public domain. This has now solicited a response from Linda Rodgers, SWP member and Shop Steward in Scottish Women's Aid to write to the  SWP Central Committee thus:

As anyone who works in an organisation or operates in a trades union knows full well this matter would NOT

have been dealt with through internal mechanisms. The procedures for investigating disciplinary matters or 

disputes between colleagues are not used by organisations or trades unions to investigate serious crimes. How 

could you not know that? Or are you just assuming that a sheepish membership will accept this untruth?

The appalling way in which this whole issue has been handled is causing huge ructions inside the SWP which will according to most observers lead to a split. Further than that (and frankly a more healthy reaction) the whole episode is causing some comrades to question the foundations of the whole philosophy of the authoritarian Leninist tradition. The anonymous author of an article on the Counterfire website suggests:

Leaving to form a new version of the SWP is not an option: it is an historically outdated model and the last thing the British left needs is another small Trot organisation.
My hope is that something will rise in the SWP's ashes. That enough people will leave, soon enough, and together enough (i.e. not just drifting off) so as to allow for some sort of regroupment of the radical left; a coming together of those who understand some of the problems described here (and many others who never felt any of the existing organisations were what they were looking for) into something much more plural.

Why it has taken these people so long to realise that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way these "sects" all organise is surprising. The evidence has been there since the beginning of the of the Bolshevik coup in 1917.

Lets be clear comrades you need to read your own history. "Democratic centralism" (which lies at the very core of your problems) was not introduced until after Lenin and his cronies took power and was used by all of them (Trotsky too!) to retain their grip over power.

Marxism - Leninism has been flawed from the start. It doesn't work and that's why regimes based on the ideas of Lenin and his subsequent heirs have been brutal to the extreme. The rebels in the SWP should be thankful that the "Disciplinary Committee didn't have the use of firing squads because as Lenin always put it "Revolution comes at the point of a gun.

Time to move on and leave the works of these dictators to gather dust on the bookshelf. 

There is political life beyond this flawed ideology. One that's based on freedom and human rights. It's called democracy. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

I never thought I'd agree with (Sir) Leigh Lewis

There have been a series of articles in The Times newspaper over the last couple of days having a go at the Civil Service and Civil Servants in particular.  Their editorial today concentrates on the senior civil servants and states:

When a Government is elected it takes office on a popular mandate. If ministers have a say in the appointment of senior civil servants, as Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister wants there is no reason to suggest that government would not function. It works well enough with a more political civil service in the United States and Australia, for example.

A popular mandate is very questionable at the moment with a Coalition Government that no one actually voted for and in any case the handover in the USA does lead to a certain amount of chaos. I do recall reading somewhere (probably in the same newspaper) that there were some who thought the British system was preferable.

The Times continues;

The vast majority of any bureaucracy is made up of people with no political allegiance. But it is wrong to think that independence at the top is the chief virtue in a Civil Service. More than neutrality a government needs competence, expertise in the detailed delivery of policy and a desire to implement change. There is no huge principle at stake in a reform that would marginally improve the way that government works.

Actually the principle of "checks and balances" in government is very much at risk if the Civil Service is politicised. To have both Ministers and senior Civil Servants to simply rubber stamp every proposal without any kind of thorough and objective review would potentially lead to ill thought implementation of policy. Ideology would be the guiding principle something alien to the unique British constitutional process.

This proposal comes at a time when the government, in particular its' junior partners the Liberal Democrats have been focusing on issues that no one really cares about. The "Alternative Vote" and  Lords Reform are two issues that come readily to mind. This suggested reform of the senior civil service is a more "Tory" distraction from the real issue of concern to most working people. The economic crisis.

Civil Servants are an easy target to bash, but as a trade unionist in the PCS I know that our members work hard on behalf of the taxpayer no matter what department they are in. This is a point picked up by the former head of my own Department, Sir Leigh Lewis (against whom I organised a strike back in the day over screens) so I find myself somewhat surprised to agree with his conclusions published in the letters column of The Times:

"I simply do not recognise the parody of the Civil Service you report. Nor I suspect will the thousands of serving civil servants who will read it but be unable to respond."


Howard Fuller, Branch Secretary PCS South West Thames.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Unite union: SWP kicked out of the United Left

One piece of news about the Socialist Workers Party managed to get buried as a result of the current internal crisis surrounding the allegations against "comrade delta". The SWP has a presence in a number of unions and is usually "buried" inside one the various "broad lefts" that have been established over the years. 

All is not well for the SWP in the Unite union's United Left organisation  as they have been unceremoniously kicked out and have lost a member of the Unite National Executive Committee:

The United Left issued a statement in which they say:
Following the SWP’s decision this weekend to back Jerry Hicks for UNITE General Secretary, the UNITED LEFT  must regrettably carry out the decision previously made to exclude SWP members from all our activities.
There is no doubt that the UNITED LEFT has tried very hard to keep the SWP within the fold in order to maintain the unity of the Left. Once before during the 2010 General Secretary election, the SWP also backed Jerry Hicks in spite of a clear and overwhelming decision at a properly constituted hustings meeting to back Len McCluskey. UNITED LEFT decided on that occasion to suspend SWP members for the duration of the election campaign but they were readmitted into the fold on the clear condition that there was no repeat of this lack of basic discipline.
The SWP’s decision to back Jerry Hicks a second time comes after an even more decisive resolve of UNITED LEFT to reconfirm its support for Len McCluskey. Unlike before, this decision comes after experience of Len’s exemplary role for 2 years in office as UNITE General Secretary. 
They conclude:

Finally we wish to pay a special tribute to Frank Wood, UNITE Executive Council member for Health, who has immediately renounced his membership of the SWP following this weekend’s decision and will be backing Len. Thank you Frank for your courage and your conviction. You are welcome back into the fold and may others like you follow swiftly as well.

Yet another example of how the SWP make themselves unpopular.

In the meantime the SWP National Secretary, Charlie Kimber has issued a sternly worded letter to SWP members which is reproduced on Harry's Place:

Go to:

Unfortunately for the SWP leadership the rebellion inside their organisation continues unabated.  Richard Seymour replies to the Central Committee on his blog Lenin's Tomb:

Go to:

This issue is not going to go away. reports of the alleged "Rape" dispute have now appeared on line in the Daily Mail and in today's issue  of the Sunday Times.

Friday, 11 January 2013

The Socialist Workers Party no longer has a place in the Labour movement!

This mornings newspapers were carrying stories on the fact that the scale of sexual assault on women was far greater than has been previously realised. The Times reported that "one in twenty women is raped or suffers serious sexual assault before the age of 60".

At the same time we have been shocked with further revelations about the activities of Jimmy Saville, the scale of which is astonishing given his high public profile throughout his life.

This was also the week that the treatment of women in India came to light following the brutal rape and murder of a young medical student on a bus in Delhi. The Indian transport unions have begun a campaign to sensitise passengers to women's rights as reported on this blog earlier this week. A very positive step in the right direction.

The so called "progressive left" has been shocked by the widely reported actions of a leading member of the Socialist Workers Party who was tried and found not guilty by members of the SWP themselves, all of whom were his mates.

China Melville writer and SWP member told the New Statesman:

"The way such allegations were dealt with - complete with questions about accusers' past relationships and drinking habits that we would instantly, rightly denounce as sexist in any other context - was appalling. It's a terrible problem of democracy, accountability and internal culture that such a situation can occur, as is the fact that those arguing against the official line in a fashion deemed unacceptable to those in charge could be expelled for 'secret factionalism."

Coverage of this disgraceful affair has also surfaced in the mainstream press as the Independent reports "Trotskyist group exonerates official because it does not beleive in bougois justice".

Go to:

Finally (for now the SWP) has lost a small group of affiliates in Serbia who were issued a statement that included the following:

The scandal involving allegations of rape and sexual harassment against a member of the party’s Central Committee has shocked and angered us. It has exposed the dangers of the current turn. The fact that a full-time party worker was not allowed to continue in her post for raising similar complaints of sexual harassment against the said CC member speaks volumes, as do the expulsions of comrades who raised their voices against the leadership’s handling of the matter. This is conduct that reflects bourgeois management techniques, not the revolutionary socialist struggle for women’s liberation.

There will probably be further resignations from the SWP in the coming weeks.

It is quite clear that this cult (I refuse to to see it as a legitimate political party) has no place in the wider trade union and labour movement.

Trade Union leaders should no longer agree to appear on the platforms of this pernicious organisation.

Unions should also cease funding the various "front organisations" of the SWP such as  Unite the Resistance and the Right to Work Campaign just to name two.

The reason? Women's Rights! They are not negotiable!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The SWP is broken

Following the events at the recent conference of the Socialist Workers Party, one of their leading journalists has had enough and has quit the party claiming the SWP is "broken". Tom Walker has published a formal statement  in which he writes:-

The disputes committee hearing - and by extension the entire mess that followed - should simply never have happened. To be honest, it is nothing short of incredible that it was allowed to go ahead. What right does the party have to organise its very own ‘kangaroo court’ investigation and judgement over such serious allegations against a leading member? None whatsoever.

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.1

I do not see why what is good enough for Assange is not good enough for the party’s leaders.
It is stated that the accuser did not want to go to the police, as is her absolute right if that was truly her decision. However, knowing the culture of the SWP, I doubt that was a decision she made entirely free from pressure.

Do not underestimate the pressure the SWP can bring to bear on members by telling them to do or not do things for the ultimate cause of the socialist society the party’s members are all fighting for. Against the prospect of the liberation of the whole of humanity, they will attempt to make even the most serious issue seem less important than the party’s survival. I do not think the CC are cynical cultists, by the way - I think they believe this themselves.

He continues:-

I believe that not dealing with the issue ultimately makes the party’s destruction inevitable. I am not its destroyer - it has already destroyed itself. Maybe it will be days, months or years, but it is now a permanent time bomb. I cannot imagine how it will hold on to any recruit who knows how to use Google. Sooner or later the whole thing will be used against the party in the unions. In the absence at the very least of the most grovelling public apology and a massive process of internal reform, I am afraid I think the SWP is broken for good.

I for one will shed no tears for the demise of this nasty little sect. 

This is not the first time the far left has had such revelations. The Workers Revolutionary Party imploded in the mid eighties when Gerry Healy, their  founder and leader was expelled for abusing comrades in the party:

They never learn.

Monday, 7 January 2013

The Left are not above the law

Last year the left got itself in a pickle over the Julian Assange affair after he bolted to the Ecuadorian embassy to escape extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape. The spectacle of George Galloway ranting on his video as both "judge & jury" caused some of the left, the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party to take a firm stand on women's rights in these matters.

Imagine my surprise when a transcript of a session at the SWP's Conference was published on the Socialist Unity website today. As readers will be aware the SWP is in the midst of yet another faction fight. Four members of the party have already been expelled and there appears to be a "generation" struggle taking place. One of the issues at the centre of the argument is the conduct of a former member of the SWP Central Committee.

There has been much coverage of this both on Socialist Unity and the Urban 75 blogs. The main allegation against "comrade delta" is one of "sexual harassment". In such circumstances it would be legitimate for the SWP and any organisation to conduct an investigation. As a Trade Union rep I have been involved representing women members in such circumstances over the years and I would not expect the issues to be in the public domain.

Charlie Kimber, National Secretary of the SWP takes the editor of  Socialist Unity, Andy Newman to task for publishing this document which was anonymously submitted by a disgruntled delegate at the party conference. Problem is there is more to the allegations than just sexual harassment. Rape is mentioned. I consider it entirely inappropriate that the SWP decided to investigate this "in house".

Rape is a very serious crime and any allegations should be referred to the police to investigate as to whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute. Under no circumstances should a private organisation of any nature be judging such allegations.

If any such crime has taken place then it must be subject to legal due process. It is for a court to judge the evidence surrounding the case. It is not for use in a factional debate inside the SWP, and for the record any other organisation.

The left is not above the law.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Hypocrisy of the Stop the War Campaign

In 2003 a very large demonstration weaved it's way through the streets of London calling on the then Labour Government not to go to "war" in Iraq. This was organised by an organisation called the Stop the War Campaign (StWC) set up and organised by the Socialist Workers Party and it's allies.

Ten years on with the Iraq war long over, the StWC is still going albeit under "new(ish)" Management. In that time the attempts by the SWP, George Galloway and his Respect Party to build a far left movement on the backs of pacifist sentiments have not only failed but turned the campaign itself into something other than what most ordinary people who marched that day would ever imagine would come out of it.

Ten years ago Lyndsey German, the "Convener" of the StWC was a leading member of the SWP along with her partner John Rees. The SWP in alliance with Galloway joined forces to build a party which turned out to be specifically targeted at the Muslim community with "leadership" provided by mainly "white" revolutionaries and their like. It didn't last all that long despite Galloway becoming an MP and 12 councillors being elected (for a short while) in Tower Hamlets. They split in rather an acrimonious fashion with George Galloway and his supporters complaining of "control freakery" by the SWP.

Frankly given that most of these people had some experience of the far left, and the SWP in particular this should have come as no surprise. Even Mark Serwotka, the PCS General Secretary became embroiled in the fallout attacking what he called "witch hunting" by Galloway & co.

The SWP left Respect, then had a massive internal falling out themselves as they all attempted to attribute blame on each other which resulted in German and Rees leaving the SWP and setting up their own group Counterfire. Other members left in droves according to most accounts leaving the largest far left organisation even smaller than it was to start with.

The Stop the War Campaign continued, well beyond the event that prompted its foundation and has only popped its head above the parapets to oppose the "war" in Gaza (though notably has never criticised terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians).

Why no campaign against Assad?

The big conflict that has been continuing recently is Syria. One could well ask where the anti-war comrades are. Not a peep out of them against the attacks on civilians by President Assad and his armed forces. The fact that John Rees works for the Iranian Government run Press TV channel might have something to do with it.

The Iranian clerical fascists are backing the Syrian Government. Opposing that war might be a little uncomfortable for some of the StWC comrades.

On February 9th the StWC are having an anniversary conference to discuss the outcome of the Iraq war. Frankly if they did what they said on their label they would be better spending their time picketing the Iranian and Russian embassies demanding an end to these regimes support for Assad.

Not going to happen though. They are selective about which "wars" they want to stop.

Trade unions like  my own (PCS) should now seriously consider stopping their affiliation fees to the StWC.  The organisation is no longer fit for purpose and probably never was.