Wednesday, 10 July 2013

SWP Crisis! Suspensions, interventions and factional ramblings UPDATED

The latest crisis in the Socialist Workers Party continues to amaze and amuse in equal measure with the Central Committee's decision to lift the suspension of four members being the latest development today. This undoubtedly is due to the immense pressure the Prof and his supporters are under over keeping their annual Marxism 2013 bash afloat.

Charlie Kimber, the SWP National Secretary has issued the following statement:

As you may know, the National Committee on Sunday suspended four comrades from membership pending an investigation. There was evidence that these four had initiated or signed up to a bank account which was designed to finance a split from the SWP and to make a different group financially viable. We have received assurances after the NC that "the bank account has been closed" and that there will not be any similar account created. 

We have also been told that comrades are "not agitating for a split". The Central Committee is pleased that these undertakings have now been given. We call on all comrades to end factional activity and to take part in discussion inside the party structures, publications and at Marxism 2013. On that basis we are lifting the suspensions on the four comrades that were passed at the National Committee on Sunday. 

Meanwhile the latest bulletin of the remaining "oppositionists" states:

On Sunday the SWP leadership suspended four comrades for association with an oppositional bank account. The CC has now lifted these suspensions with immediate effect on the assurance that this account will be closed.
We welcome this decision. The disciplinary action was always a distraction from the real issues at stake. The SWP is in a crisis caused by the utter failure of the leadership to put our principles on women’s oppression into practice, and by its refusal to engage with the urgent political questions raised by those opposed to its course.
It is thanks to the pressure of over 250 comrades who signed the statement on this website over the last three days that the CC has had to backtrack on its decision. This rapid about-turn has exposed the entire episode as a bureaucratic manoeuvre and a farce.
The CC still has not addressed the political questions the crisis has raised. The party is still in a potentially terminal crisis. And it is clear that a resolution to this situation is beyond the ability of the current leadership. We therefore demand:
● that the case by a second woman against ████████████ is immediately, transparently and effectively resolved.
● that the pre-conference discussion period is opened immediately to let an urgently needed democratic debate occur through official party channels.
● that the leadership and all other members cease the attempts to silence, sideline and vilify the opposition within the party.
Update already!

Oh dear the opposition has upset the Central Committee with its' the above statement and has responded with this:

Statement from the Central Committee
Comrades in the opposition faction have responded to last night’s statement from the CC with a vitriolic assault. They have underlined their desire to harm the party, not to make it more effective.
The working class in Britain faces an enormous onslaught.
Internationally the situation in Egypt, Turkey, Brazil and elsewhere shows the crucial need for revolutionary organisation.
The stakes for socialists are very high. The future of the SWP is not to be treated as a game or a trivial matter. But that is what the faction is doing.
At the weekend the SWP’s National Committee (NC), the party’s main elected leadership body, met. It discussed serious information that had been sent to the SWP Central Committee regarding factional activity.
The information included the plans of a sub-faction within the main faction who were preparing a split in the party.
The SWP is an open democratic party with no history of the kind of factional organisation outside our conference period that has wrecked much of the left.
But we now know that a number of members have been organising on this factional model for months.
After a long discussion the NC voted both to oppose this factional organisation and to support the suspensions of four people who were involved in setting up a bank account to fund a split from the SWP.
In response, the four suspended members gave assurances that the bank account that had been set up to fund a split had been shut down, and that there was not going to be agitation for a split.
Pete G, for example, told the CC, “I am not paying into any bank account to fund a split. I am not agitating for a split.”
Søren G also said, “I am not agitating for a split from the SWP” as well as stating that he was not paying into any such account.
Hanif L said he wasn’t paying into an account and pointed to how he had increased his subs to the party.
Of course under normal circumstances the four would have remained suspended and could have been expelled.
However after months of difficult debates and arguments in the party, and with Marxism just a few days away, CC members felt it was necessary to take their assurances in good faith and to try to unify the organisation.
In the hours since the lifting of the suspensions the four have issued a statement that shows not the slightest recognition that their behaviour was wrong.
It states that the lifting of the suspensions – rather than being a move towards unity – is proof of “bureaucratic manoeuvre” and that attempts are being made to “shutdown opposition”.
This last claim is a little ironic after a number of faction members said they were withdrawing from meetings at Marxism 2013 that the organisers had invited them to speak at!
The four seem to have learnt nothing.
They are clearly not interested in joint work and would rather put factional activity ahead of the unity of the organisation.
Do these comrades really think their methods help to build a serious Marxist party or to strengthen the fightback against austerity?
The SWP is not a debating society. It is a revolutionary organisation with a long history of serious work in the movement.
We repeat our call for the end of all factional activity and for the faction to take down its website.
It seems that for some people the “cut and thrust” of factional intrigue is far more important than building working class resistance to austerity.
Such people are arrogantly irresponsible.
At Marxism 2013 we intend to take up all the political issues recently raised in our organisation as part of the wider debates in our movement. There is a big audience at Marxism, including many non-members of the SWP, who want answers to the major political questions we face.
We are not prepared to see the SWP wrecked by those who put their faction before the party and the working class.
Central Committee, 10 July 2013
In other related news to Marxism, the UCU Students Union (the owners of the venue the SWP are using for this event) are planning to intervene not only at the event itself but are also holding a meeting: The student movement, the left and women’s liberation. How can we fight sexism in our movement? and other workshops in parallel with the SWP's bash. Please see my post at Harry's Place here for further information including the student unions full statement.

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