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.