Monday, 11 March 2013

UPDATED! SWP "not safe for women"/Caroline Leneghan Update

SWP "Not safe for women"

Despite the efforts of the Socialist Workers Party to keep their conference venue secret, a number of journalists managed to turn up to Hammersmith Town Hall yesterday. In today's issue of The Times reported on the background to the now widely known "Comrade delta" case. They also raised the issue of a "second senior member had also been accused of rape by a woman who claimed she feared expulsion if she contacted police".

Amy Leather a member of the Professors "lynch mob" faction threatened to "call security if reporters remained on private property". Actually "comrade" Leather the Town Hall is public property as I can confirm as a local Council Tax payer. The arrogance of the woman! The Times also reports that members were "ordered not to speak to the press when they left, scurrying silently past with their eyes to the ground". The walk of shame no doubt.

Resignations from the SWP have already started. The most public of which at the time of writing was from Andy Lawson, a former PCS Rep and party loyalist whose defection to the "opposition" came as a complete surprise. To his credit he writes the following:
Resigning from the SWP - My email to the Central Committee:

I am writing to notify you of my resignation from the Socialist Workers Party.

I am making this decision as I cannot in all conscience remain a party member following the travesty that passed for a Special Conference today. Quite aside from the gerrymandering of speaking times, aggregates and delegations, the decisions taken today are not ones that I am in any willing to accept. The effect of these decisions will be to further isolate the SWP from the rest of the Labour movement - already a number of trade unionists and academics are boycotting the party, and this Will only increase now the party has failed this most basic of tests.

The SWP is not a safe place for women. The revelations that appeared in Saturday's Guardian indicate that repeatedly where women have come forward to report rapes by senior party members, their experience has been one of being horrifically mistreated. The statement from Charlie Kimber and Pat Stack is utterly inadequate as a response. I don't care how unpleasant Nick Cohen is (hint - it's very), here we have a woman reporting how she was raped by a party organiser, and what happened to her when she reported it to the party's Disputes Committee. And the official response of the party is to claim she's not being truthful about it. This is unacceptable. This woman, like others, was failed miserably by the SWP when she sought redress from its official structures. I do not believe that any woman can now have confidence in bringing a similar complaint before the Disputes Committee, and abusive men will know they can get away with these acts. Having appeared as a witness at the DC hearing of the Facebook Four, I can confirm that the Kangaroo Court analogy is more than apt. How can I stay in such an organisation? Who would I ever want to recruit to it?

This has not been an easy decision. I joined the SWP in 2002. In that time I have been a Paper Organiser, Branch Secretary, District Organiser and a Fraction Convenor, as well as serving as a shop steward in 3 different unions and a Branch Secretary in the PCS. I value much of what I have learned from other SWP members in that time - even in recent years where I have had significant differences with the party's perspectives, my relationships and discussions with comrades have remained fraternal. However, since December there has been a marked shift in this. I have been personally abused at every branch meeting I have attended in that time, as have other oppositional comrades. Vicious rumours have been spread about me by long-standing party members in an attempt to personally discredit me. I have been physically threatened. All of this because I stood in solidarity, first with the victims of rape and sexual harassment (who party members have happily lied about), and secondly with four comrades who were expelled on a trumped-up charge shortly before conference for their attempts to stop the CC from damaging the SWP in this way. This is not the behaviour of a revolutionary party, it is the behaviour of a cult. I have no intention of remaining in a cult.

Andy Lawson, Hackney East
(a creeping feminist)
The other members of the SWP who do not want to be part of what will only now be seen as a cult should join him, Now, no excuses will be accepted.

SWP Update: Richard Seymour & China Mieville quit SWP along with dozens of other members:

Caroline Leneghan Update:

On Friday the news broke about allegations against Steve Hedley, Assistant General Secretary of the RMT. Caroline is asking for support and has published the following on her blog

Steve Hedley is threatening legal action against me for my statement and anyone that reposted it (he won’t). He did his best to bully and intimidate me into silence and to take away my voice. But I found strength and self-belief and see his tactics for what they are; a continuation of bullying and abuse and I’m not scared anymore. I hope that others will stand with me against this bully, and thanks again for everyone’s support. x

Charlie Pottins makes some good points in his response:

I hope the RMT does something about this and soon, because otherwise I can see the press and employers, and some people in the trade union movement too, leaping at the chance to not only negate any good work Steve Hedley did but to drag down the union and demoralise members. Instead of threats of legal action against you the trade union ought to fully investigate and act upon the charge.

The RMT must not allow this issue to drag and fall into the same quagmire that the SWP has allowed itself to. Unlike the SWP, the RMT is a real organisation of working people and cannot be allowed to have this kind of cloud hanging over it.

Bo Crow should surely be aware that legal action would simply put the matter further into the public domain. He needs to sit down and talk to his deputy fast.

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