Friday, 5 July 2013

A new crisis in the Socialist Workers Party

Its been a while since the problems of the Socialist Workers Party have been of much interest even to the most inveterate of sectarians, but things are hotting up again with the calling of an "Emergency National Committee". Of course since the SWP has a large "sister" (sic) group in Egypt the vents there might be expected to trigger such a meeting or even perhaps the row over selection in Falkirk might have caught the "comrades" eyes as some kind of opportunity but no, neither of these issues which form the media headlines are at the forefront of their thinking as this leaked letter shows:

From: “Charlie Kimber”

Date: 3 Jul 2013 12:09

Subject: Special NC meeting: THIS SUNDAY
Dear NC comrades,

The Central Committee is calling a special meeting of the National Committee to discuss serious questions that have emerged around the launch of the website and other issues. It will take place from 11am in central London this Sunday, 7 July. It will end about 4pm. Details of the venue will be sent out as soon as possible. Please let me know if you can attend. I am sorry at the short notice, but this is an important meeting.

There you have it. Comrades will be called from all over the country to discuss the fact one of their members is on the Internet again, not something the Professor approves of as we all know following his expulsion of four members over their use of Face Book to discuss not to do something. Of course the blog in question isn't written by some lowly "rank & file" member, it is the work of a certain Ian Birchall, a long term leading member of the SWP who seems to remain in opposition to the leadership.

However they may have to discuss a wee bit more than the antics of one rogue writer on the Internet as more has arisen with regards to the "Delta" affair and Socialist Unity have just published this piece which includes further revelations about continuing complaints against Delta:

KAREN: The next speaker will be X.
(Note – X was named in the conference and spoke openly, however I am not naming her in this transcript)
X: Some comrades will already know that I’m the second woman who’s come forward as part of the dispute, and it’s me that’s been removed from my position in the (removed) department. I wanted to say that I’d been a district organiser for (removed) years and I hope people will respect that I wouldn’t come forward lightly.
I want to start by reiterating what Candy said – that this isn’t a trial, comrades won’t get to hear both sides of the story, so you’re never going to be in a position to decide who you believe. However, comrades can take a position on whether the process you think has been adequate.
I also want to add that I think it’s entirely disingenuous that leading members have denied that there is a second complaint. My evidence was effectively a second complaint, but because of the experience of the first case I’m unwilling to have it heard by the current disputes committee as a separate dispute. I don’t accept the account given that they’re not aware of the substance of my complaint – it’s the same as the account that I’d given in the first place.
I want to just quickly outline why I think there were problems with the way the dispute was conducted. First I think the composition of the disputes committee was problematic. Viv has mentioned that five of the seven were former or current CC members, most of the people have close or long term working relationships and in some cases friendships with the accused, and while I don’t for a second question the personal integrity of the individual comrades, when it comes down to, as they said, whose version of events you’re most likely to believe, I do think it creates an unfair bias in this case.
And I want to reiterate – it’s not an attack on the comrades’ integrity, or as the CC argued in their statement, about questioning the comrades’ ability to apply our politics on women’s oppresion. (inaudible)
I believe the nature of the investigation was fundamentally flawed. The accused was able to see my evidence four days in advance of any questioning to prepare his defence. I was not made aware of the evidence the accused brought to contradict the case, so I had no opportunity to challenge his testimony. I was still denied the right to even basic details of his response – whether he’s denied it ever happened, given a different version of events. None of my witnesses were called. I was never cross-questioned following the accused’s evidence.
Obviously there are instances where people may come forward with malicious intent, so it’s right to investigate claims. However in our tradition we argue that women do not come forward lightly in cases like these. We should start from that belief and attempt to substantiate the woman’s complaint. U don’t believe that the DC in my case shows this to have happened.
Finally – (voice breaks) in my opinion the worst part was the nature of some of the questioning. I was asked if it was fair to say I liked to have a drink. That’s all I need to say on the matter.
Just very quickly, I’m running out of time, but I just wanted to address – because the question of my job has been raised by the factions, to avoid any confusion, I wanted to address this. It is true that I did initially resign. (inaudible) Charlie rightly refused to accept my resignation on the basis that I shouldn’t be punished for bringing forward a complaint. Within days of the hearing I asked to be allowed to return to work, but in many meetings and appeals to the central committee I was repeatedly told that I’d disrupt the harmony of the office.
The worst part and the most stressful part of this is the motivations that have been ascribed to people coming forward. We’ve had accusations of the state – (Karen calls time)
Apparently the allegations about a further complaint will not be held until 2014, which Andy Newman suggests will give the leadership time to drive "X" out of the party. Frankly I'm surprised she is still in it given the underhanded antics of the Prof and his "Lynch Mob" as his loyalists became known as in blogging circles.

It seems this crisis is not going to go away any time soon.

It would almost be worth buying a ticket for their Marxism bash just to see if any fireworks break out. That's if many people actually bother turning up, though the SWP do have a habit of inflating attendance figures.

Watch this space.

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