Monday 21 October 2013

Comrade Delta goes to university

The saga of Martin Smith took a fresh turn today as his placement at Liverpool Hope University became public knowledge. A feminist campaign Angry Women of Liverpool have put up posters under the Socialist Wanker banner "outing" Smith and suggesting a connection between his funded PhD course and another of the SWP's professors, a certain Michael Lavalette.

Michael Lavalette is best known as the sole local Councillor belonging to the Socialist Workers Party in Preston, though it has to be said he has stood for election under a couple of labels (Respect and Independent Socialist) but never as an SWP candidate. That he is a University Professor was not known to me, but apparently he is head of the Social Work, Youth and Justice Department at Hope University.

That Smith is at University at all seems to have quite rightly caused more than some consternation amongst concerned women's groups is hardly surprising. However he appears to have been given a "funded" PhD course and the presence of a leading member of the SWP on campus has raised eyebrows as to the veracity of his award.

There is no evidence given that Professor Lavalette has in any way abused his position as the authors of a report on-line allege, (which I have not linked to for legal reasons) but it should come as no surprise to either Smith or Lavalette that many will conflate the two.

I am informed that getting one of these funded places (I also wasn't aware such things still existed in these days of student loans) is a big commitment on the part of the University concerned and there are procedures in place to ensure transparency.

Nevertheless this appears to be an issue that will not simply go away. Local activists have begun a campaign not only to remove him from Hope University but also to keep him out of "activist circles".

Of course it does need to be pointed out that Smith has not actually been convicted or even charged with any crime and no doubt this puts the University in a difficult position given the notoriety of the individual concerned.

However, one does have to ask what Smith was thinking by becoming a student. The effects of the SWP crisis hit university politics in a big way. Surely he should have realised there would be some adverse reaction?

There will be more to come on this story of that I am sure.

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