Sunday, 31 March 2013

Women protesters hassled by SWP stewards

Yesterday saw two fairly large demonstrations against the "Bedroom Tax" take place in Edinburgh and Glasgow. One of the speakers at the Glasgow rally was one Dave Sherry, leading member of the Socialist Workers Party and friend of "comrade delta". This caused outrage amongst a number of women on the march who started heckling him.

A number of women have complained about the behaviour of members of the SWP acting as stewards on the march.

A Video has been posted which can be accessed on the link below. It is difficult to hear what is being said (and I have played it a couple of times):

There has been some debate on both the Socialist Unity and Urban 75 websites.

Anna from Glasgow says on SU:

I am not in any party, nor will I. I am a non-aligned student and a feminist. As were most of the young women there. I was there at the demo with a bunch of my friends, and I was shoved in the chest by an old male steward – and I wasn't even booing.. You can try and defend the actions of the swp all you want. But I know what I experienced. A bunch of old white male trotskyists kettled and pushed young women out of the demo. You acted exactly like the police do on demonstrations. In my opinion, if demonstrations are supposed to be safe spaces for women, then the swp should no longer be allowed near them. Some of my friends left saying that they wont come back to another demonstration if the swp are on it. You are damaging the movement by your every action.

The SWP apparently threatened to call the police which prompted Fedayn on Urban 75 to write:

And to add to the irony they threatened to get the police in to arrest the hecklers..... Bourgeois legal system eh??


One rule for them..........

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Another attempt at left "Unity" (part 57)

If you go on a demonstration of any size one of the things you will see is a wide range of different left-wing publications being sold by wild eyed intense activists who will try to persuade you that their particular brand will "wash redder" than any other similar product. These range from the inevitable Socialist Worker and The Socialist to more obscure publications like Workers Power and Workers Hammer.

Each of these publications has an organisation behind it, each claiming to be the true voice of socialism condemning the others in a variety of terms from "reformist" to centrist" or worse "pabloites" (don't ask). If there is one thing all these comrades have in common is that none of them are very good at practising what they preach, co-operation for the common good.

However every so often there is an attempt to bring the left together in one form or another which they hope will also bring in all the "non-aligned" activists that exist all around the country. In more recent times we have seen the Socialist Alliance (collapsed in 2001) because the SWP decided to sow their seed in Respect with George Galloway (though whether Respect can be seen as a left-wing group with its' overt appeal to a very conservative religious base is debatable) which itself collapsed in 2007 leading to a split or two in the Socialist Workers Party.

Another recent project is of the course the Socialist Party sponsored Trade Union & Socialist Coalition which gained a derisory 62 votes in the recent Eastleigh by-election despite the backing of the RMT Trade union under Bob Crow. One other constituent organisation of the TUSC is the SWP which itself has managed to not only split again but also disgrace itself in the process.

Its' no wonder that the far left is often seen in terms of the old Heinz advertising slogan, the "57 Varieties".

Over the years the far left has split, "re-grouped", split again or in the odd case dissolve itself. The last organisation to close itself down was the Revolutionary Communist Party, who had managed to get its' journal Living Marxism into mainstream newsagents like WH Smiths. It decided that revolution was not possible and shut down, though the core activists still work together on the quite bizarre Spiked! website.

Another practically unknown group Permanent Revolution (itself a breakaway from Workers Power) has decided to shut down this week as it was getting nowhere.

However undaunted a few people have set up a new project called simply; Left Unity. The new website leads with an appeal from film-maker Ken Loach to set up a new political party. According to (unverified) reports they have had "5,000" people "sign up"  though whether that's just "face-book" likes is not clear and 35 groups around the country. The basis of the group is "anti-austerity". Their hope is that they will attract the disaffected lefties that sit around bemoaning the current state of the left and coalesce them into a new movement.

What kind of organisation (if any) comes out of this is difficult to see at this early stage. One thing is clear. It has already attracted the attention of one "trot" group, Socialist Resistance who left Respect not so long ago and have been re-buffed from joining the TUSC because they are "too small and don't represent anyone" according to one report.

A discussion has already taken place about will anarchists or "libertarians" will be welcome and whether they should contest elections. Certainly they are backing the self proclaimed "Peoples Assembly" organised by Counterfire, a breakaway from the SWP led by Iranian Press TV celebrities John Rees and Lyndsey German.

There is a Left Unity organisation already in existence inside the main civil service union PCS. This group is firmly in control of the Socialist Party "Grandees" and their dominance of the union has led to PCS becoming weak and isolated over the decade they have been in control. Mark Serwotka (their "Brian") has managed to turn PCS into an adjunct of the very political milieu that these new activists seem to be coveting. Left "unity" has been a disaster for ordinary union members precisely because it has taken the union away from the political mainstream.

There is a movement that already allows for ordinary working people to get involved. These include the Trade Unions and the Labour Party. I know that they are not perfect but the only real choice is between  (a) a series of incremental reforms to better peoples lives or (b) a bloody and murderous revolution leading to dictatorship, where the comrades end up putting each other against the wall.

The far-left is no alternative to real politics and never will be. Wherever they gain control (Liverpool Council, PCS) they cause mayhem and disaster. Where they gain real power (Soviet Union, China, Cambodia) we see oppression, starvation and/or genocide.

Its' good to protest and campaign over various issues like the ridiculous "bedroom tax" that will cause much unnecessary hardship but revolutionary activists must remain side-lined as their "abstract" agendas are divisive and dangerous.

Lenin, Bakunin, Stalin, Mao & Chavez are all dead. Let their ideas die with them.

The future belongs to democracy. There is no alternative.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Steve Hedley issues statement

Over the past few weeks reports have appeared on-line in The Independent and across the Internet about allegations against Steve Hedley Assistant General Secretary of the RMT made by his ex-partner, Caroline Leneghan. He has previously declined to comment due to legal advice, though did resign from the Socialist Party in a separate statement a few days ago.

Yesterday Mr Hedley issued a statement on a website page giving his side of the story following the outcome of an RMT Investigation.

Given the nature of the allegations and the fact they have been raised on this blog I consider it necessary in the interests of natural justice and open debate to publish a link to his statement published yesterday:

Go to:

The whole case arose during a time when everybody had their minds focused by the atrocious goings on in the Socialist Workers Party.

Since neither the Police or the RMT are going to publish details of their investigations further speculation on this case would seem inappropriate.

However domestic violence remains a problem for both women and men. Victims should not be afraid to come forward and seek help either from your local trade union representative or you can seek advice from the following two agencies:



Thursday, 28 March 2013

An Easter break for SWP students (with update)

The Easter break for members of the Socialist Worker Student Societies (SWSS) has this year turned into a "holiday of a special kind". In several cases it now seems to be permanent. No less than five of the SWSS groups have left the SWP "en-mass" Leeds, Brighton & Sussex, Hull, Queen Mary's and Kent.

According to the latest report on the International Socialist Network site, the Professor's supporters have been trying to ensure that they have control of what's left of their "student" organisation. Sheffield students (more on them later) write that:

Normally, when a national student meeting is called, we aim to get as many students as possible to it, but not this time. This time we were limited to two delegates per university (presumably so we couldn’t make the CC cry - which has apparently happened at previous student meetings) which meant there were less than 30 students representing SWSS nationally. The day was broken into 3 relatively short sessions; General Perspectives, Marxism Festival and NUS Conference

The lead off covered everything from Cyprus to the bedroom tax (important issues, no doubt) but failed to even mention students until the final five minutes of a 25 minute speech, which many in the room found quite bemusing. The 5 minutes dedicated to the students actually drew out a number of laughs and sneers from the student delegates, who were justifiably confused by the lack of discussion about student strategy. The strategy was under-developed, detached and vague; carry on as before; relate to local campaigns; build SWSS groups and privatisation is bad!

Not impressed seems an understatement: seems the chair may have overestimated the reaction there would be to Charlie’s lead-off, and there was silence. Absolute silence for 5 minutes, broken only by nervous laughter and the shrugging of shoulders. The students had come to talk about how to keep SWSS together nationally, to develop a nuanced strategy in the face of fragmented and localised struggle, and to hold their leadership to account for the bizarre mixed messages SWSS had received for the previous few months. We didn’t know how to respond to this patronising, generalised, detached lead off about the crisis of capitalism and the bedroom tax campaigns. Did Charlie realise 150+ people had already left, that SWSS groups were falling apart and that we’d just come through the biggest faction fight the SWP has ever seen? It seemed not.

They conclude:

It became clear during the meeting that there was, in fact, no proper student strategy.....

From the sound of it there are not that many students left anyway which will be a real problem for the SWP leadership as their "revolving door" membership has very much relied on the recruitment of members from the universities.

There has now been a mass exodus of SWP members in Sheffield:

However indications are that not everyone who is leaving the SWP is going to the International Socialist Network. There is yet another project called Left Unity (a highly original name) which is attracting some. The reason for this is not clear but an indication of problems already arising within the ISN were highlighted by in the comments under the student report:

I fear much of the culture of the SWP that lead to this sterile meeting is being carried more or less unchanged into the International Socialist Network......

Wake up IS Network, if you want a different outcome you have to do things differently from the start and not just rely on having the right answers, because as we all know everyone thinks they have them.

Democratic accountability only happens when everyone has the information and power to contribute.

Oooh democracy and participation, there's a thought!

Sigh, for some reason these people never learn from their mistakes.

Lenin got it wrong comrades, can't you see that? The way the "delta" case was dealt with is symptomatic of the "Leninist" mode of organisation. It automatically leads to autocracy. Then when in power, mass murder.

"Simples". Really it is.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

SWP "rape crisis" fallout reaches India

The crisis in the Socialist Workers Party has already had some consequences internationally with the withdrawal of the Serbian and Croat groups (which most observers didn't even seem to know existed) from their International Socialist Tendency. A small group of individuals quit the Canadian International Socialist Organization. The latest casualty for the SWP is what is left of their "reputation" such as it was any way.

There is a "worthy" magazine for Marxist intellectuals called Historical Materialism, which  contains the kind of articles "that take three months to write and two hours to read" as Andy Brooks General Secretary of the New Communist Party once told me about another similar journal. More to the point it engages in self wallowing Marxist navel gazing.

Nonetheless it attracts an audience, which includes a readers group in India. As you will recall rape has become a major issue in India since the highly publicised rape and murder of a student by a gang in Delhi last year. The "comrade delta" case has resulted in protests to the organisers about the participation of the SWP which could lead to boycotts or disruptions. The organisers issued the following statement:

Statement from the organising group of the Delhi HM conference

Over the past few days there have been suggestions that the journal Historical Materialism (HM) is run by Britain’s Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), that the SWP is associated with the Delhi HM Conference on 3–5 April 2013, and that in light of the rape crisis in the SWP, the Delhi HM conference should be boycotted or disrupted.

Both propositions underlying the boycott and disruption call are absolutely false. HM has always been an independent journal, and is not controlled by the SWP or any other group. Three out of the 12-member Editorial Board were members of the SWP. During the recent controversy, all three have resigned their membership of the party in support of democracy and gender rights. Furthermore, there is no connection whatsoever between the SWP and the Delhi HM conference.

Participation at HM conferences across the world has always covered a wide spectrum of left-wing political thought. The Delhi HM conference includes participants from India and abroad and will continue this tradition of plurality. Members of the organising group of the Delhi HM conference, which is broadly Left in its composition, believe that equality between the sexes is central to building ‘new cultures of the Left’. This struggle must address violence against women wherever it occurs. Since the recent crisis in the SWP involves rape charges, it caused deep disquiet amongst us.

The bulk of the preparations for the conference, including the selection of submissions, took place well before the recent SWP controversy, yet the fact that one out of around 140 papers selected was by an SWP Central Committee member was used in the disinformation campaign against the Conference. As the success of the Conference is the organising group’s prime concern and we have no wish to be associated with the crisis of any other group, we asked the sole member of the SWP CC who was to attend the conference not to attend. The HM Conference remains an open event and its organisers cannot prevent the entry or exit of participants or stop anyone who chooses to speak from the floor of the Conference discussions from doing so.

Dilip Simeon
Gautam Mody
Harsh Kapoor
Kamal Chenoy
Rohini Hensman
Rosa Basanti
(On behalf of the Delhi Conference organising group) 26/3/2013

This has displeased the "Professor" immensely who has replied thus:


Dear Organizing Committee,

I was very surprised to receive your communication. You ask me ‘to withdraw [my] decision to attend’. But I only made that decision in response to an invitation to participate in your conference. So what you are in fact doing is withdrawing your invitation, as is indicated by the fact that you have already deleted me from the conference programme. I think you should take full responsibility for the decision you are actually taking.

I understand of course how important the issue of rape and sexual violence is in India, especially after last December’s gang rape and murder in Delhi. It is also a very important question in Britain, and for me personally, as it is for the Socialist Workers Party. We are strongly committed to women’s liberation. We took the rape allegations against a leading member extremely seriously; the controversy over how the party handled these allegations is indicative of that seriousness. The special conference that we recently held to resolve this controversy has set up a committee to review our procedures, and we intend to use this to reinforce our efforts to combat the oppression of women.

It is not for me to judge how grave the danger of disruption to your conference is. But an appeal circulated by an academic at JNU does not reflect well intellectually or morally on those agitating against my presence at the conference. This document is a farrago of nonsense that treats allegations as proven fact, cites tendentious opinion pieces as ‘reports’, and includes the laughable assertion that ‘the journal Historical Materialism is allied, and … is known to be principally operated by Socialist Workers Party members and supporters’.

Since this is a conference sponsored by Historical Materialism, let me remind you that I am a longstanding supporter of the journal and, along with Marxist intellectuals of many political tendencies, a member of its International Advisory Board. I have tried to support HM’s development both in Britain and internationally. Your decision damages HM’s commitment to promote Marxist theoretical development independently of organized political alignments.

So I regret your decision – not just for this reason, but also because I value my long-standing connections with the Marxist intellectual left in India. In taking this decision, based directly or indirectly on interested misrepresentations of debates inside the SWP, you run the risk of compromising your own intellectual and political integrity.

This is to say nothing of the personal inconvenience and expense you are exposing me to by withdrawing your invitation a week after you had circulated a programme that included me as chairing one session and speaking at another, and barely a week before I was due to fly to India. This is quite unacceptable in what is meant to be an academic conference, and it is also not how socialists should behave towards one another.

In comradeship,
Alex Callinicos

I love that bit about "not how socialists should behave towards each other".

Lynch mobs anyone?
This article has been cross-posted at Harry's Place which is now back on-line following a "denial of service attack". You can't keep a good website down. Welcome back Harry!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Is PCS a union in decline?

Not for the first time I was approached by a member in Balham this afternoon who asked for "a form so she could resign from PCS" as she was "fed up with the way Serwotka is running the union".  I managed to talk her out of quiting, for now anyway as she tells me she'll think about it after the union elections due in a few weeks. Already one member on her section has quit the union and there have been rumblings amongst other long-term members in other offices.

One member in Wandsworth recently asked if there was another union we could all join. Of course there is, but it is not a solution I could recommend and persuaded her to stay as well. Such musings about PCS are not confined to members either.

There have been a recent spate of good PCS Reps deciding to quit their posts (but not their membership) in recent weeks in Newcastle and now the Home Office where a Branch Chair has resigned her PCS posts but will continue union work as the Joint Branch Secretary in the FDA. For those of us who oppose the Serwotka/Socialist Party leadership of the union this only makes our job more difficult.

Meanwhile things are  already getting more difficult for reps as we head to the new and severe restrictions on our union activities. For the first time, like ever a note was sent round to a number of Branches who had not registered delegates to the DWP Group Conference in May. This means there are a number of people waiting to see if the withdrawal of "paid time off" will be re-instated for DWP Reps to attend. As far as I am aware we are the only Group that has been affected this year.

The current dispute is behind the concerns of a lot of members at the moment. The strike was launched on the basis of support from just one in five members, which in turn led to a turnout on the day of around one in three members, less than 95,000 out of the 250,000 that were eligible.

Yet the far-left who are behind the strategy are in complete denial as the latest issue of Socialist Worker shows. An article by Sian Ruddick* claims that 250,000 members struck. we know that's not true so why mislead readers with a figure that is distorted beyond all reality? She quotes our glorious leader Mark Serwotka as saying:

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka told Socialist Worker, “Today has been a success—the strike has had a significant impact.

“We in the PCS are going to continue fighting these attacks. But we all know it’ll be much easier if other unions joined us. A general strike would transform the situation....

Actually the impact is far less than he claims. With less than half the members on strike and support varying between Departments and locations the union is actually exposing its' inherent weakness. Management know the true level, so its' only members that these people are trying to kid.

There is another half day strike planned for Friday 5th April. We were told that this was to coincide with the increase in our Pension contributions. In the HMRC the strike will have no effect as this anonymous comment from the PCS Indy (chat room) explains:

As an HMRC rep, how can I explain to members why we are going on strike on the 5th of April when on that day our computers are down for the annual update of our software for the new tax year?
Management will be delighted at our stupidity as it is exactly what they would have wanted as they have no work for us. They are probably sorry we didn't go for a whole day's strike. 

I suppose we will have to tell members that this day was chosen because our elected officers in HMRC group are so far out of touch, they don't know what goes on in HMRC and that somebody had told them the 5th of April was the end of the tax year so it seemed like a good idea to them at the time. 

Whatever we tell them, it will be a disastrous loss of credibility for PCS to take industrial action on a day we have no work. 

He is not the only one with concerns as another anonymous Rep says:

I'm an ex-rep, not a current rep, but still a member and not completely without principles. But it is my honest view that this campaign was dead in the water when the ballot result was announced. And it's also my honest view that under better leadership the union avoided compulsory redundancies, avoided the fall-out with the department that led to facilities being suspended and reps sacked (happened before and after my time but not during it), supported the national campaign better than ever before, built membership and started to think strategically. 

If the current campaign is the best PCS can do, I think my loyalty and the loyalty of many others who came out on 20 March will be sorely tested.

Dave Vincent writing in the Weekly Worker addresses the problems of the dispute thus.

What do I think should have been done? We should have waited a few more weeks until PCS national conference in May and then decide in light of what other unions are doing. Instead conference may now see a divisive and heated debate on the strategy of coming out alone and too soon rather than attempting an inspirational way forward, as some other unions finally start to fight back. Our members will only take so much action.

PCS could end up doing itself more damage than good by continuing this politically motivated dispute. Mark Serwotka, the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party are hell bent on pursuing a line for a General Strike which is not for the benefit of union members, just a sectarian strategy to recruit more members to their deranged cults.

Members need a proper union, not one that is used and abused by by organisations with interests that differ from that of most members.

Time to reclaim PCS not leave it.

Join us. Go to:


* I have been asked by Sian Ruddick (PCS Birmingham) to clarify that this is not her and the writer in Socialist Worker is a full timer in the SWP.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Monday Updates: Tommy Sheridan quits & Mary Bousted speaks out

Tommy Sheridan quits anti bedroom tax Campaign

Last week I reported a furious row breaking out in the West Scotland Anti-Bedroom Tax Campaign. A report initially appeared on the Socialist Unity website that attracted such venomous debate that it has now been taken down by their Editorial Team. In the meantime the controversy has led Tommy Sheridan and three of his "supporters to quit the steering committee.

In a Press Statement they say:

The principled socialist Tony Benn famously declared he was resigning from Parliament to get more involved in politics. In a similar vein we are collectively stepping down from the West Scotland Anti-Bedroom Tax committee not through differences or disagreements with the aims and objectives of the West Scotland committee that we all helped to establish but to try and cut across divisions which have regrettably developed since the founding meeting on Wednesday 13th March.

It seems Tommy Sheridan remains a very divisive individual within the myopic world of the Scottish far-left. Even his resignation statement has kicked off a debate amongst the comrades over at Socialist Unity.  Apparently he has not been invited to speak at the Glasgow Rally on March 30th as he is apparently aware that his appearance would indeed be divisive.

It would seem his first attempt to revive his political career has failed.

ATL pass motion of no confidence in Micheal Gove

The BBC reported that the moderate union, the Association of Teachers & Lecturers passed a motion of no confidence in Education Secretary, Michael Gove this afternoon. Mary Bousted who became one of the outstanding trade union leaders during last years Pensions dispute said:

ATL is moderate. OK, maybe we lost that label for a while when we were driven to national strike action for the only time in our history, but it has been restored since. I hope you see me as moderate – I know my colleagues on the TUC General Council do. But this morning, it is my duty to be less than moderate. I owe it to you, to our members, to the whole profession, but most of all to all those children and young people we teach, and their families. It is my duty to castigate the man who is undermining everything we stand for.

So I ask the question: does Michael Gove know he has a problem? I think, perhaps, amazingly he does not; surrounded, as he is, by fiercely loyal special advisors with ready fingers on Twitter – meting out abuse for anyone who dares to question their beloved leader - and bolstered by a hand-picked chief inspector.. Loathe as Michael is to meet anyone who might have a different point of view, he blithely forges ahead – like the officers in the Charge Of The Light Brigade – pardon my adaptation – cannons to the right of them, cannons to the left of them, volleyed and thundered – there's not to reason why, there's not to make reply – into the valley of death goes Gove and his hundreds.
She continues:
Michael Gove often talks about his moral purpose, about his desire for the most disadvantaged children to succeed in our schools. It is an ambition ATL shares with the Secretary of State, but not his means. But moral purpose and endeavour lose their shine when they are undermined by poor judgement, poor behaviour and the stench of a cover up – all of which hang like a fog over Michael Gove and the DfE as calls for inquiries into bullying of civil servants, misleading the Education Select Committee over allegations of bullying and abuse by DfE insiders, and contraventions of the special advisers' code mount. There is just too much going wrong in the state of the DfE for it to be ignored. And the truth will out. It's leaking out already and it looks rotten.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

"We are the people the Daily Mail warned you about"

It was sad but laughable to see an advert on the Bookmarks website headed: "We are the people the Daily Mail warned you about".  I'm not sure when the advert appeared but since this is the book shop of the Socialist Workers Party, you'd think they would take it down. After all what the Daily Mail have been writing about recently is hardly a positive story.

But then I suppose that is the least of the SWP's worries at the moment. The decline of their influence has begun to show. At last weekends Unite the Resistance rally in Sheffield around 200 people are claimed to have attended, though the one photograph published on-line would seem to suggest a much smaller audience than they claim, with empty seats in clear view of the small table of speakers at the front.

Certainly the meeting was smaller than the last one which claimed over 300 attending last year. With PCS nationally in dispute and a local campaign to defend Lee Rock, the sacked PCS Assistant  Branch Secretary* you'd think this campaign would attract more. The main speaker was Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary someone who has been known to be close to the SWP for years and one that would be expected to be able to command a decent audience, but not on this occasion it would seem.

According to Richard "Lenin" Seymour of the former SWP opposition, the Unite the Resistance campaign has been shedding supporters and backers as has Marxism 2013, normally the biggest gathering of the left in the UK. Some well known and regular international speakers from Canada will certainly not be turning up as they along with a number of other members of the Canadian International Socialist Organization have quit due to the ISO's refusal to even send a letter to the SWP about it's disgraceful shenanigans.

In a statement of resignation published on the International Socialist Network website they say:

1. Opposing violence against the oppressed, including violence against women, is a question of principle for socialists.

2. There has been an allegation of very serious sexual violence involving a leading member of the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party UK (SWP).

3. The SWP Central Committee has failed to deal with this with the seriousness it deserves. It has persistently rejected efforts by a substantial number of its members and supporters to address this adequately. In fact, members of the SWP have faced disciplinary action for attempting to remedy this situation.

4. The International Socialists (I.S.) in Canada has been for many years, and remains, a member of the International Socialist Tendency (IST), of which the SWP is the largest and leading organization.

5. In January 2013, delegates to the annual convention of the I.S. in Canada voted (14 to 2, with one abstention) to reject a resolution calling on the leadership to write a public a letter of concern over these matters.

6. It is now March. The SWP has held a special conference on this issue. The SWP leadership remains intransigent. The leadership of the I.S. in Canada still remains silent, and therefore continues to be undifferentiated from the SWP in the IST.

7. Silence is not an option. On principle, therefore, we the undersigned can no longer remain as members of the International Socialists. Regretfully, please accept this as our letter of resignation.

Three of the signatories are Abbie Bakan Paul Kellogg and  Suzanne Weiss.

Meanwhile this weekends Unite the Resistance meeting in Wales announced that some advertised speakers were not attending. They also had to change venue which had previously been in Cardiff University without any explanation. I wonder why?

I remain surprised to see Jane Aitchison still involved with this SWP front organisation. Most people are running for the hills when the SWP are seen coming. I also hope Mark Serwotka urgently reconsiders his connections with UtR/SWP. They are currently circulating a petition pushing his call for a General Strike mass strikes on June 26th, not that there will be many takers amongst most unions.

If there is one thing that the whole recent debacle in the SWP has taught us is that the far-left are just groups of sects and cults that should be shunned by the working class. They have no credibility in their thoughts or their actions.

The time has come for mainstream trade unionists to grasp the reins and take back the trade union movement from the negative influence of these nutters and build unions fit for the twenty-first century.

* Lee Rocks Defence Campaign can be found here

Saturday, 23 March 2013

A Saturday Miscellany: SWP, Free Speech & Camel Fighting

SWP: defending the indefensible 

There is an oft used expression that "any publicity is good publicity", except of course it isn't as the Socialist Workers Party have found out recently to their cost. As we all know their "reputation" such as it was anyway, has been dragged through the mud as everyone outside their cult as well as a large chunk of their own members were appalled at the way the "Professor" and his "Lynch Mob" have handled allegations of a rape inside their organisation.

Any "normal" organisation would sit down and seriously consider the way they operate and even perhaps accept some "humble pies" given the circumstances, but no, not in the case of the SWP. A surprising "defence" of how they handled the rape allegations appeared in the Guardian Comment is free section on Thursday March 21st where "Central Committee" member Julie Sherry attempts to defend the indefensible.

She claims that the "matter was investigated and reported as openly as possible". Trouble is no one actually believes that. The committee that "investigated" the matter consisted of 7 people who all knew "comrade delta" and included his (then) "partner! No court in the land would have allowed such a biased "jury" (and I use that word very sparingly in these circumstances) to deliberate on the case in hand.

I have covered the on going scandal in some depth on this blog as have others elsewhere, but you may be interested to read Richard (Lenin) Seymour's reply in CIF the following day here.

The SWP has now had a "minor" split with the formation of the International Socialist Network and the quitting of four of it's student groups. We are told more to come.  The SWP is not only no longer the largest organisation on the British far-left, but it hasn't been for some time with barely a thousand members. The ISN are holding their inaugural meeting next month.

This story is going to run a bit longer it would seem.

Free Speech under threat

Last week the consequences of the Leevson Report for freedom not only for the press, but also for bloggers became disturbingly clear. This has not been the only attack on freedom of speech and opinion as the Times reports today. The decision of the High Court to uphold Boris Johnson's ban on a Christian advert on London buses that said: " Not Gay! Ex-Gay, post gay and proud. Get over it!".

Whilst lots of progressive minded people might welcome this outcome, it actually came with a wee bit of a sting in it's tail. The Times reports that "Mrs Justice Lang said that the ban on the Christian advert was lawful, but that in allowing the the Stonewall poster (Some people are Gay, Get over it) TfL had fallen below the standards to be expected of a responsible public body".

Whist being refused a Judicial Review, the judge has allowed leave to appeal since the issue involved the question of free speech.

In a democracy we all have to accept that free speech comes with a price. Someone, somewhere is going to offend somebody somewhere else. That is something we are all going to have to learn to live with if freedom of speech is to survive.

A Just Fatwa

Wherever there are animals and human beings there are always those who seem to wallow in animal cruelty. The Times reports that a group of Clerics have decided that animal fighting (including dogs, camels and birds) are haram or forbidden.

I freely admit that I hadn't heard of camel fighting, but since readers of this blog know I oppose all blood sports this is one fatwa I welcome.

Don't forget that there is an organisation in this country that campaigns against blood sports (which despite bans continue "in secret"). The League Against Cruel Sports

Friday, 22 March 2013

Middle East - A Two State solution is the only way forward for peace

President Obama's visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority has brought new hope to those of us who wish to see the years of deadlock in the seemingly never-ending Middle east Conflict come to an end. Not only did the US President reaffirm his countries commitment to Israel as an ally, he also spoke of the need for a Two-State solution with a viable Palestinian state co-existing alongside Israel.

His visit was only "marred" by terrorists attempting a provocation by firing two missiles into southern Israel  from the Hamas controlled Gaza strip, on the eve of his visit in a half-baked attempt to disrupt any attempt to get peace.

One major achievement of Obama's visit was his hand in getting Israeli Prime Minister to apologise for the Flotilla fiasco in 2010. The BBC reports:

Israel's prime minister has apologised to Turkey for "any errors that could have led to loss of life" during the 2010 commando raid on an aid flotilla that tried to breach the Gaza blockade.
Benjamin Netanyahu also agreed with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to compensate the families of the nine activists who were killed.
Mr Netanyahu had previously only expressed regret for the deaths.
The deal was brokered by US President Barack Obama during a visit to Israel.
Mr Erdogan's office said he had accepted the apology, "in the name of the Turkish people"

For too long organisations like the pro-Hamas Palestine Solidarity Campaign and their ilk in the trade union and labour movement have been allowed to get away with pursuing a one-sided campaign against Israel rather than working for peace. There is an organisation that presents a clear alternative to the destructive far-left dominated PSC campaign.

Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine.

Their Mission statement reads:

The solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is clear – and has been accepted in principle by both sides.  Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side, within secure and recognised borders, is the only workable solution to a conflict that has dragged on for decades.

Israel has already taken a number of steps towards this goal, most notably by agreeing to the Oslo Accords in 1993 and later by the unilateral withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Lebanon and Gaza.  Palestinian moderates lead by Mahmoud Abbas support this process.

People of goodwill everywhere want a process to succeed delivering peace, justice and reconciliation.   Trade unions can play a positive role here, and often do.

The International Transport Workers Federation, for example, has done much to bridge the gap between transport workers unions in Israel and Palestine and to reach ground-breaking agreements.  The International Trade Union Confederation has encouraged dialogue between the Israeli and Palestinian national trade union centres.  And individual unions in a number of countries have invited Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists to their conferences, helping to promote discussion and agreement.

This is the traditional role of trade unions when faced with disputes of this kind – bridging the gap between nations at war, encouraging peace, justice and reconciliation.  It is a role we can be proud of.
And yet in recent years, a number of national unions and trade union centres have changed course and abandoned that role.  Instead, they have rallied behind those Palestinians who are opposed to the peace process.  Some have gone so far as to deny Israel’s right to exist.

A number of those unions have called for boycotts and sanctions directed against Israel, and only against Israel.  They are attempting to demonise the Jewish state, to deny it legitimacy, and to whip up hatred against it.  Sometimes that hatred even spills over into anti-Semitism.

Those unions are wrong – terribly wrong.

We believe that the time has come for trade unionists around the world to join forces in support of genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace with justice, based on a two-state solution with secure and recognised borders.
There are already unions and associated NGOs in a number of countries which support this goal.  But they are fighting this battle alone, each in their own country.  It is time we united our forces.

TULIP aims to do the following:

1. Unite those groups – unions and NGOs – which are already fighting within the labour movement against the boycott of Israel and for genuine peace, justice and reconciliation.

2. Produce a multilingual global website, print publications, and provide information and opportunities to begin the process of turning back the tide and encouraging unions to play a constructive role in the peace process.

3. Work together with Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists and associated NGOs to find ways to provide practical on-the-ground assistance — rather than empty slogans.

At the moment, the opponents of a two-state solution are on the offensive, working hard to promote their destructive agenda of boycotts and sanctions targetting Israel.

It’s time for trade unionists in all countries to go on the offensive ourselves, to challenge the apologists for Hamas and Hizbollah in the labour movement.

We have no illusions that this will be anything other than a long and difficult process.  But we also know that we have no choice.  We cannot abandon the field to those whose goal is the destruction of any chance for a real Israeli-Palestinian peace.

We welcome trade unionists from all countries to join us.

For further information:

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Tommy Sheridan returns like Lazarus or...."Brian"?

John Cleese was interviewed many years ago about his inspirations for some of the scenes in his file The Life of Brian. He said that he had passed by some paper sellers who were all from various far-left groups who seemed to hate each other more than their supposed enemy, the Government. From this came the Peoples Front for Judea and The Judean Peoples Front with the sketch about what have the Romans done for us.

Lots of laughs to be had of course, but there is a serious observation in this comedic interpretation of the sectarian squabbling of the far-left sects. Socialism is as I understand it, the idea that people should co-operate and work together for the common good. Sounds great doesn't it? Trouble is I have yet to meet a group of socialists actually capable of achieving anything like their ideology would suggest.

Recently we have seen how badly behaved the comrades of the Socialist Workers Party are. I don't intend to repeat that (continuing) story since it has been covered in depth both on this blog and elsewhere. However, another story has now come to light of "a different kind". The return of Tommy Sheridan to active politics through the West of Scotland Anti-Bedroom Tax Campaign. The squabbles have already begun after just two meetings!

Tommy Sheridan is the former MSP and leader of the Scottish Socialist Party that once was one of the most successful far-left groups in this country, boasting six members of the Scottish Parliament, a number of local councillors a "united" socialist organisation containing all the main groups and feted by the press. This is now all gone, mainly due to the "actions" or should I say "activities" of one individual, but also to a large extent to the behaviour of the other "comrades" in the SSP.

Just to quickly surmise: The News of the World published a story about Sheridan visiting a "swingers" club, he sued and won, then following a further investigation got done for perjury and ended up doing porridge for a year.  To this day I have never understood why he either didn't (a) ignore the report as despite a few sniggers in dark corners of the local pubs would have eventually been forgotten or (b) just tell the press it was nobody else's business and leave it that.

Whatever the motivation it destroyed his political career and wrecked the SSP which feel apart and left the trots even weaker in Scotland than before the project began.

Undaunted it seems that Sheridan has now decided to return to active politics but has some bitter enemies who are now according to reports at the Socialist Unity website trying to oust him from his role in the anti-bedroom tax campaign. Accusations of men bullying women from different "trot" groups allegedly by members of the SSP but they deny this and others say this group are just "ex-members" of the SSP pursuing the party leaderships agenda, though why "ex" members would want to do that is beyond me.

Sheridan is accused of being backed by members of an organisation that "allows its women members to be abused" (a not so oblique reference to the SWP) and ....the argument goes on back and forth in the columns of the SU website. John Cleese, you were right mate!

As for Sheridan? As someone pointed out he's done his time, paid his debt to society and should be allowed to live his life. Whether that should be in the political domain is questionable? The controversies from the NoTW case will continue to dog him for a log time to come now.

I'll end with a quote from Gregor Cubie of the Huffington Post who writes:

How foolish I was ever to presume that a man of such unparalleled, malignant narcissism could ever show such restraint.
Having crept around Gollum-like watching the political traffic of the past year from the roadside, he finally found a bandwagon to jump aboard and, without even bothering to think about the destination or route it might take, seized the reigns and rode off in the direction he thinks will bring him personal glory.
Am I wrong, Tommy? Please track me down if you think so and I'll gladly present your side of the story.

Life of Brian has already told it mate!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Budget news buries PCS strike (UPDATED)

By the time I switched on the news this morning (around 11am) the PCS strike was no longer a lead item on Sky News. The only evidence of it came from a lone placard waver being Vince Cable when he was interviewed at one point and a redneck Tory backbencher at Prime Ministers question time who remarked that "the country had not ground to halt" as a result of the strike.

David Cameron's sinister reply was that they were looking at the need for "efficiencies" or words to that effect. At the time of writing there is no news of the overall turnout provided by either PCS or Management. That argument will begin later no doubt.

Meanwhile the Socialist Worker newspaper has published an absurd on-line claim that 250,000 PCS members are on strike today. This kind of overt politically motivated distortion does not help anyone, particularly the members involved themselves.

The Chancellor has already announced two things of concern for civil servants by (a) implementing a further cut of 1% to all Government departments and (b) has extended the current "pay restrictions" for a further year. The only plank of the PCS strike that had any relevance to members was fighting this. PCS has put in for a 5% pay rise, nice if we could get it, but clearly isn't going to happen.

There is further bad news for the Socialist Party led PCS. About 60% of workers in the NHS have been given a 1% pay rise which although condemned by both Unison & Unite unions have not committed themselves to any action over this. In fact Unite has announced that it will campaign for a higher pay rise in 2014.

Teaching unions have  limited plans for rolling action across their sector but these are not expected until later in the year. This has prompted the usual response from the "comrades" who always manage to find someone who is "angry" about this. However having seen the people who were quoted in  the Socialist Worker report on today's PCS strike, they are all err.. Socialist Worker Party or Socialist Party members like Anna Owens, Derek Thompson and Fidel McLean.

It's good to yourselves.

Prospects of widening the dispute are now negligible.

UPDATE: The Government has now published its' figures on the number of staff out on strike today. Speaking to the BBC, Francis Maude claims that around 95,000 took part in industrial action, which represents a little over one third of PCS membership.

As of 5pm this afternoon PCS had not actually published any claims on turnout, though reports from individual offices have made high claims. The fact is that as usual turnouts will vary from office to office and in different parts of the country.

As expected the Socialist Party have made use of the strike to promote their cause. In Bristol John McInally (PCS Vice President) and Tom Baldwin, both members of the Socialist Party called for workers to have their own party against austerity by which they mean themselves of course.

Not to be left out Lee Vernon another member of the Socialist Party made the inevitable call for a General Strike at the rally outside Parliament. Apparently Candy Udwin of the now infamous Socialist Workers Party's Disciplinary Committee also made an appearance telling us to build soviets "networks of resistance". Surprised anyone left in the the SWP has the nerve to show themselves to be honest.

Meanwhile a further half-day strike has already been set for Friday April 5th starting at 1pm. Disturbingly the PCS DWP group sent round a note to PCS Reps saying they had written to Management asking for them to outline the effect this will have on members. Surely they should have investigated any problems before calling the strike. Go figure.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

In defence of blogging and free speech

Its' not often I bother reading the free newspaper the Metro,  but this morning's headline did catch my attention. "Bloggers caught in newspaper crackdown" screamed out the front page. Undaunted I read further "Bloggers risk being hit with huge damages under a press clampdown which campaigners warned would have a chilling effect on the internet. Apparently "thousands of blogs and websites could fall into the "dreadfully broad" definition of who is a publisher.
The Metro continued by quoting "Freedom Campaigners" saying that it could stop bloggers from writing about issues such as local politics or football club corruption. Obviously the examples they gave are not exclusive and much more would potentially come under the rules that were supposed to "regulate" the Press. A website that attracts complaints and is not signed up to the "regulator" may be liable for "exemplary" damages.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport was quoted as saying "small outfits would not be covered - it would be unworkable". I'd guess that Howie's Corner counts as a "small outfit" in that there is err.. just me.
This is all the result of the Leevson Enquiry which was set up to  examine some of the "bad practices" (and there certainly have been some) by the National Press. Until now it hadn't occurred to me that "blogging" could possibly be under threat, but then not only is this a fairly new blog (just over three months old) I'm also new to the internet as I only got a home PC last December.
I have to say that I would never knowingly publish anything false. Blogging is about opinion, a bit of speculation and an analysis from one's own point of view. It doesn't mean the author (myself included) is always right and there is actually a facility on most blogs and websites that newspapers do not have. The comments box. If the reader does not agree then a response can be made and a discussion take place. The reader could ask for or suggest an amendment or retraction. The internet is instant.
Newspapers on the other hand, whilst having websites with comments facilities are primarily a print medium. At the earliest a retraction or clarification cannot take place until at least the following day and there is no guarantee of that either, which is why procedures exist to make a complaint or in very extreme circumstances take legal redress through the courts.
The use of the internet with all the different forums from websites and blogs to twitter and beyond has opened communication and mass media to everyone with a keyboard. This freedom is unprecedented and is seen by many regimes around the world as a threat to their monopoly of power. The electronic revolution is here to stay.
Such freedom as with all rights, including that of free speech comes with responsibility. There are those who abuse it. There are those called "trolls" who use the web as a forum for mischief and hate. They need to be dealt with as appropriate. The main point is to defend the right to hold an opinion even if someone else doesn't like it. That’s democracy.
Defend blogging, defend free speech. There are plenty out there who will try to suppress dissident and contrary opinions. Let's ensure the web stays free!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Teachers take cautious route to industrial action

The announcement today that the two main teaching unions will be taking forward a"programme of industrial action" has ended months of deadlock within the National Union of Teachers. In a joint announcement with the NASUWT the teachers intend to:

  • continuation of the current action short of strike action instructions;
  • national rallies across England and Wales in April and May;
  • escalation of the national action short of strike action;
  • a rolling programme of national strikes commencing with local authority areas in the North West of England on 27 June; and
  • unless the Secretary of State responds positively to the unions’ demands, a rolling programme of strike action will continue into the Autumn term and will include a one day all-out national strike before the end of the Autumn term.

This will allow the unions to gradually build up a campaign by testing the ground to ensure their strategy really does have the support of members on the ground. The NUT, the more "militant" of the two unions has been cautious despite the attempts by "our friends" in the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party who have been pushing for action unilaterally without the more "moderate" NASUWT.

Martin Powell-Davies a Socialist Party member of the NUT NEC  is trying to push for the NUT to join the call for a General Strike with the "single transferable speech" that his organisation are renowned for in the trade union movement. He claims there are "other unions" calling for concerted action on June 26th  (a date seemingly pulled out of Mark Serwotkas head at a TUC pre-budget rally last week). Problem is PCS is the only union making such a clarion call.

Such talk of a "General Strike" has no basis of support outside the hallowed ranks of the far-left.  Teachers should beware the pernicious influence of the Socialist Party and their SWP allies. These organisations political extremism has wrecked the largest of the civil service unions, the PCS. Even the vainglorious General Secretary Mark Serwotka cannot control his allies as we now know from the reports emerging from the last PCS National Executive.

It is time for members to reject the extremists influence in the public sector unions as they are wrecking the very organisations that we will need to defend us in the long term. The Socialists or Marxists as they really are are using the NUT and the PCS to promote their own political agendas.

There are alternatives:

NUT members can find further information at the  new Broadly Speaking website:

PCS members can find further information at the 4themembers website:

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Serwotka "over-ruled" by Socialist Party in PCS dispute

On Wednesday next week the PCS union is due to have a one day strike to coincide with the budget. The dispute, overtly over Pensions, Pay and conditions of service has already been hijacked by the far-left Socialist Party organisation to promote a General Strike, not that any other unions have yet signed up.

It appears that not all is well at the top of PCS. Mark Serwotka had in fact asked the PCS National Executive Committee to endorse a half day strike to co-incide with the Chancellor, George Osbourne standing up to deliver his Budget speech. However despite including some support from the Deputy General Secretary, Hugh Lanning and surprisingly a SP member Chris Baugh, the Socialist Party/SWP dominated "Left Unity" group on the NEC were opposed to this and wanted a one-day strike.

The far-left had a surprisingly long "caucus" outside the NEC meeting but united around the demand for a one-day strike which carried the day. Mark Serwotka was apparently quite scathing in his response to the "one dayers" around the trotskyist left arguing that they (the leadership) had asked reps what they wanted (which turned out to be a half day strike) and were implementing a policy of a one-day strike which was precisely what reps didn't want.

Serwotka is apparently quite livid about the NEC decision as PCS has lost an opportunity to give reps the chance to influence events. One has to ask how many Reps will be angered and put off trying to contribute to the direction of the union when the controlling political groups on the NEC act in their own self interest.

It has been known for some considerable time that members of the Socialist Party and the SWP take their instructions from outside PCS as we saw when Sue Bond (PCS Vice-President was forced to sign a loyaly pledge to the SWP after voting with the NEC majority to accept the Pensions Offer made by the last Labour Government.

The loyalties of the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party members are always to their respective Party leaderships first and they use their lickspittles around Left Unity to implement decisions that are based on their wider political perspectives than that of the PCS membership.

Consternation over the PCS leaderships plans for not only running, but holding this dispute in the first place are growing as correspondence I have received from around the country shows.

The time has come for PCS to be reclaimed for the members.


Further in-fighting on the PCS far-left

This is not the only area where squabbles are breaking out within the left who run PCS.

Jane Aitchisons attack on DWP Group President,Fran Heathcote's handling of the crisis over facility time for PCS conference is only just one.

For some reason Jane seems to think throwing her lot in with the SWP will help despite their ever growing list of scandals and fall outs is beyond belief. A further fight is pending over who becomes Deputy General Secretary next year when Hugh Lanning has finally retired.

A fight between Stella Dennis and the useless Paul O'Connor is expected within Left Unity, though with the removal of facility time for PCS President, one has to wonder whether Janice Godrich will throw her hat in to the ring. And then theres John McInally who as PCS VP will be in the boat as Janice.....

The situation is further complicated by the allies of Left Unity the so-called PCS Democrats (led by Ian Albert) trying to claim that DGS position is "theirs" by right which could lead to further conflicts within the ruling group of PCS.

With all that's going on one has to wonder how much of a union there will be left for these people to try and control.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

SWP: New scandals, more resignations

The Socialist Workers Party has managed to get itself in the news again today with a substantial article in the Saturday edition of the Daily Mail. Whilst much of what they write will be familiar to readers of this blog there is further information now creeping into the public domain of other rape cases that have also been badly mishandled by the internal mechanisms of the SWP, or "Kangaroo Courts" as they actually are.

The Sheffield case has been "touched" upon by both Nick Cohen in the Guardian and elsewhere on the Internet, but the allegation (without identifying any individual) is that a female member of the SWP was raped and the alleged culprit appears to have been suspended from the party for two years. He apparently has been told to read up on feminism and receives visits from the party to check up on his progress.

It has been rumoured that the members suspension is actually up some time this year. Then what comrades? Business as usual?

Unsurprisingly the Daily Mail reports that "Susan" (not her real name) has left the SWP, but with the constant reporting of the comrade delta affair are the SWP simply going to allow this to happen? After their appalling special conference last weekend the party and its more brain dead supporters seem to be in complete denial of their ludicrous behaviour.

Disturbingly another allegation has now been made public.  The Daily Mail reports:

We have also learned of a third alleged rape case in London, which went before the disputes committee and resulted in the accused — a party member also in his 20s — being expelled from the SWP

How much more of this is there to come one has to ask?

A number of members have already quit the SWP as a result of all these disgraceful shenanigans, the largest group of which is the International Socialist Network which now claims 114 supporters signed up. Additionally we have already seen a from of students from Sussex University quit the SWP.

Now its' the turn of the Leeds students who have "disaffiliated" from the SWP. I note one of the signatories is Paris who was one of the "Face-book 4" who were expelled from the SWP for having a private chat on the Internet. They write:

In response to the recent crisis engulfing the SWP over its mishandling of rape allegations, Leeds University Socialist Workers Student Society would like to announce our disaffiliation from the organisation.
We feel this step is necessary because of the party’s inherent sexism and bureaucratised democratic structure, which has also historically subordinated the role of Socialist Workers Student Society. The treatment of dissident voices within the party and subsequent bullying and intimidation of young members has made our continued affiliation untenable.

There will be more to come.

Mores to the point anyone with any sense of common decency cannot remain in the SWP. 

This nasty little misogynist cult does not belong in the labour movement and all trade unionists should now refuse to work with any one who remains a member of the SWP. 

No trade unionist should appear on their platforms (including their numerous "front organisations" such as Unite the Resistance) or agree to write for or be interviewed by any of their publications. 

I make that appeal in particular to my own union the PCS as I was shocked to see a leading PCS activist Jane Aitchison on the front page of Socialist Worker after the very weekend of the SWPs conference of shame. I have written to her and told her apparent co-operation with the SWP was a mistake.

I hope that senior members of the PCS take note. The National Executive Committee should ensure that any links formal or informal with the SWP cease at every and any level. All other unions should also take this course of action.

The SWP is not welcome in the unions.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Steve Hedley quits Socialist Party

In a surprising move, not commented on much (so far anyway), Steve Hedley, Assistant General Secretary of the RMT has resigned from the Socialist Party. Tucked away on the SP website was the following statement:

"Regarding our conversation earlier the police have dropped the case and I'm currently awaiting the outcome of the RMT investigation.

"I am not in control of when the decision will be made and have been strongly advised against issuing a public statement whilst investigations are ongoing.

"I know this puts the Socialist Party in a difficult position and am therefore resigning my membership.

"I will continue to support TUSC and the NSSN and work constructively with SP comrades."

Given the huge amount of damage the "Comrade delta" affair has done to the Socialist Workers Party, one has to wonder "did he leave or was he pushed?". Certainly the Socialist Party Grandees will be relived by his departure since he continued membership would have proved somewhat embarrassing given the widely publicised allegations of domestic violence that appeared on the Independents website and numerous blogs across the Internet.

His union the RMT will be under a lot of pressure to ensure that their internal investigation is seen as fair and above board given all the adverse publicity.  It should be pointed out that Steve Hedley does of course strenuously deny all charges

The far left will remain under scrutiny for some time to come as a result of allegations against two leading activists.

Regardless of the outcome the current petition by Women in the Labour Movement should be signed and supported by all trade union activists.

Please go the article below for details.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Our movement must be a safe space for women

This is a re-post from I urge all readers to go to their website and sign this statement. 

We the undersigned labour movement activists stand in solidarity with all women opposing all forms of male violence against women. We recognise that male violence against women is endemic in society, and that our movement is obviously and unfortunately not exempt.
We believe that our trade union and labour movement has the potential to transform society for the better. Therefore we have a particular responsibility to confront and challenge male violence against women within our movement.
Male violence against women is not acceptable in any case. It must not be tolerated from those who hold office or power in our movement.
We recognise the enormous challenges faced by women victims of male violence, and the pressures which women face, including from abusive men, not to complain about violence and abuse. We therefore believe that, when women complain of male violence within our movement, our trade unions and political organisations should start from a position of believing women.
We believe that all women who complain of male violence have the right to be listened to and supported.
All labour movement activists have a responsibility to work to ensure that our movement is a safe space for women. Because we stand in solidarity with all women opposing male violence we accept that we have a responsibility to women throughout our movement, whether or not we are members of the same trade union or the same political organisation.
We therefore address these demands to all trade unions and political organisations which are part of our labour movement.
Marshajane Thompson and Cath Elliott

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The SWP split, women's rights and the Vatican

SWP splits

Late last night a statement appeared on the International Socialism blog announcing not only the resignation of 72 members of the Socialist Workers Party, but also the establishment of a new group on the left the International Socialist Network. Given the amount of time the "opposition" has had to organise itself, especially since the outcome of the SWP conference was openly pre-ordained  this is very poor start.

Another statement has appeared from members of the Socialist Worker Student Societies at Brighton & Sussex University. They number a mere nine. We'll have to see how many more join the list of resignations over the next few days, especially those that expect to be treated seriously in the trade unions where reps across the political spectrum have been watching the antics of the "comrades" with some dark fascination and (it has to be said) contempt for the SWP for the last couple of months.

One of the main leaders of the new group is the rather verbose Richard Seymour, the blogger who calls himself "Lenin" at Lenin's Tomb. Seymour pleads for understanding in his own announcement of departure from the SWP:

First, I think the party is over. However, many members will stay on in the organisation and attempt to fight, even within the constraints of post-conference 'discipline', for a change in the party. These are among the most talented, committed and active people in the group. Some people weirdly think the current Central Committee is somehow irreplaceable. I think you could put together any random collection of people from the faction, in any number or combination, and they'd make a better leadership. (This isn't to damn them with faint praise.) Their decision to stay on and continue to fight, though I believe it to be mistaken, is very brave given the climate in some parts of the party now. Some members have already put up with months of abuse and stupidity: just off the top of my head, I can think of the insanely arrogant, self-serving statement by Sheffield apparatchiks that was included with the internal bulletin, slagging off the student members for their feminist deviations. Those same wised up hacks are already cracking knuckles and laying down arbitrary rules. People who are ready to stick it out in this context have my complete respect, even if not my full agreement. I stress this because some people outside the organisation, who don't understand what's happening, will rush to assume that every member who doesn't leave is tainted, agrees with everything that has happened, and so on. Don't make that assumption.

I'm afraid that anyone who does stay will inevitably be tainted whether Seymour likes it or not. Ever since the way the "comrade delta" went public, everyone has been appalled at the way this case has been handled by the Central Committee and their lickspittles. Its all so unacceptable.

The emergence of other, similar cases being tried internally, including two where the members were apparently. allegedly found guilty has further compounded the utter disdain that outside observers have for the SWP.

There is no way out except resignation.

The comrades who remain after all that  even Seymour outlines will be shunned by anybody in the trade union and wider Labour movement in just the same way the remaining "Healyites were in the 1980s when they imploded over similar scandals.

There is no future for the SWP.

The Vatican and Women's rights

Given the huge amount of time people have been paying to the antics of a tiny (and now virtually irrelevant) trotskyist sect, it's time to have a serious look at the question of women's rights in the wider world. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has written to the Vatican to "halt its' campaign to stop the United Nations adopting stronger standards on violence against women at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York:

It is shocking that the Vatican is leading an unholy alliance, with Iran, to stop the UN stepping up action to protect women and girls from violence,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. “Hundreds of millions of women have experienced violence, assault and genital mutilation, and hundreds of millions more will if governments, led by the UN, fail to step up action. The idea that somehow ‘cultural or religious practices’ can be used as an excuse for violence, torture, mutilation or murder cannot be allowed to prevail in the modern era. We call on the Vatican and its government allies to drop their resistance to full protection for girls and women.”

Full letter:

Trade Unions must fight for women's rights and against oppression wherever it stems from!