For the last two months or so the largest of the far left political parties has been embroiled in a serious crisis over the handling of a case of alleged rape by one of it's leading members. The shock and disgust shown by everybody outside of the SWP Central Committee and its' supporters has been expressed across the Internet and made headline news in the mainstream media.
Yesterday a set of new allegations broke. This time about the Assistant General Secretary of the RMT union which have been outlined previously. The RMT is not the only organisation that is going to be affected by these allegations. Apparently around 5 months ago Hedley joined the Socialist Party, the other main group on the far left. I did not realise this until yesterday and am still surprised as if the SP had recruited such a major figure in the trade unions it would have made some public announcement about this surely?
Whilst all this happened before the SWP's "Comrade delta" affair went global & the incidents referred to by the alleged victim happened before he joined and I find it difficult to believe that the comrades were not at least aware that something was amiss. Otherwise why not broadcast his recruitment which should have been a bit of a coup for them?
Of course the real problem facing the far left is that the Socialist Party, the SWP and the RMT are the three main groups behind the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition. Bob Crow complained about the lack of media coverage as does the latest issue of The Socialist newspaper. Given that the "Comrade delta" affair was "big news" (in far left terms), it was likely that the press coverage would have picked up the SWPs involvement in the TUSC and focused on that.
The other thought that now occurs is that any journalist worth his or her salt would have picked up on the allegations against Hedley sooner. These two stories now combined will seriously cause problems for all three organisations involved in this coalition. The SWP "rape crisis" is in the papers again this morning in the Guardian and discussion of its' implications continue relentlessly across the various blogs and chat rooms that are used by individuals on the left of politics.
The Socialist Workers party "special conference" is due tomorrow and though the outcome of their deliberations will certainly end in a victory for Professor Callinicos's followers, I find it hard to believe that there will not be further consequences for the SWP. How exactly can any self respecting human being remain in such a dark and self-centred cult?
The SWP "brand has now gone beyond toxic. Hopefully it will dissapear the same way the Workers Revolutionary Party did after the Gerry Healy revelations.
The RMTs fate is more important as it is a fine trade union with thousands of hard working members who pay their subs to protect their collective interests. They have thousands of women members who will be appalled that one of their main leaders is in the spotlight like this.
The RMT will not only need to ensure that deal with these (as yet unproven) allegations in a manner that will be seen as transparently fair, given the inherently unequal position of the complainant, but also they will have to reconsider their "alliances". Given that the SWP is part of the TUSC (of which the RMT is the main financial backer), members of their union may not be happy with the continued association. After all the TUSC intervention in Eastleigh was a disaster regardless of any other other considerations.
The Socialist Party will also have some hard thinking to do. They are quite secretive in normal circumstances, let alone when there is a crisis in play, so it is difficult to judge how they will react given they have maintained complete silence on the SWPs problems. Their new recruit Steve Hedley hasn't though. He participated in what became a very public spat on a blog over the delta affair. He wrote:
the closet Zionists are now attacking Martin Smith, any diversion to stop people condemning the Israeli states atrocities
This attribution of blame on "Zionists" has dangerously anti-Semitic overtones and he was taken to task by other Palestinian Solidarity activists such as Roland Rance for making this remark. Frankly it was an absurd statement from a man who we now know may have been throwing stones from inside a glass house himself at the time.
One should always be concerned about conspiracy theorists. I don't think for one minute that Mossad, MI5 or any state agency has had any need to create any internal crises in the far-left. They are quite capable of creating their own.
Given the hostility to Bob Crow and the RMT amongst most of the newspapers it is likely that this story will go further than just a short on-line piece in The Independent. Their union needs to break with the far-left and fast.
The SWP and the Socialist Party are the only far-left organisations with more than just a handful of members. The current circumstances could lead to their demise. I for one will not shed a tear to see the end of these hateful cults.