Thursday, 19 December 2013

Resignations from the SWP continue....

As Christmas approaches the Socialist Workers Party continues to disintegrate at a rapid rate. The latest resignations include Sue Bond PCS Vice President, Andy Reid PCS NEC, Ian Allinson (Unite NEC) and Jonathan Neale (the SWP's "environmental expert") who got abused quite severely by the Professor at SWP Conference as the Weekly Worker reports:

The day took a nasty turn when the leadership election came up. RtP had proposed an alternative slate that removed both Amy Leather’s faction and Kimber and Callinicos - because of their role in the crisis. Softer elements of the CC such as Michael Bradley, Joseph Choonara were left on. Subsequent arguments ranged from vindictive to ridiculous. Callinicos employed both, opening with the hilarious statement that the CC’s slate represented “a continuation of our current leadership strategy in relation to the crisis”. After the worst crisis and biggest splits in SWP history, hey, more of the same please! He then turned to sneering, ‘denouncing’ Jonathan Neale saying “you’ve debased your politics” and ended shouting “You know nothing Jonathan Neale!”.

Charming stuff.

Another high profile figure to quit is Charlie Hore a member of some 40 years standing who writes:

It is with great sadness that I write to tell you of my resignation from the SWP. February next year will mark 40 years since I joined the International Socialists, but after last weekend's conference I can no longer in good conscience remain a member.

The past year has been the worst year I have spent in the SWP, and I think the worst year in the SWP's history. Over 500 people have already left, including the vast majority of our students; Marxism was a shadow of its former self, with numbers badly down and almost no outside speakers; the Unite the Resistance conference was half the size of last year's; and in the unions and movements, it's almost impossible to find anyone who thinks that we did the right thing. 

Even our successes have been tainted – the Tower Hamlets demonstration against the EDL was great, but we initially failed to offer solidarity to the almost 300 people arrested by the police, and the reaction to the 'Sisters Against the EDL' initiative seemed driven by pure sectarianism.

Over the last year I have fought to get the SWP to change its position on the two complaints against the former national secretary, and I am proud to have done so alongside so many other comrades. We started off convinced of the SWP's principled positions on women's oppression and women's liberation, and determined that those principles had to apply to every member, no matter how important. Like many others, I have been appalled by the leadership's managerialist approach to the crisis, putting party pride above principle, and by the culture of deference to the leadership that has determined the response of too many comrades. 

I'm aware that both of those elements have been around for some time, but I always believed before in the SWP's capacity to learn from and transcend its mistakes. I no longer do so, and I think that an organisation that cannot learn from criticism, and willfully ignores it, is an organisation that will calcify and become sectarian.

I have spent my adult life in the SWP, and I don't regret it for one minute. We have done great things – with the Anti-Nazi League (twice), during the miners' strike, and with Stop the War, among many other things. I have learn a huge amount from comrades I have worked with over the decades, and I am particularly grateful for the opportunities given to develop and extend my writing. Many close friends and comrades I greatly respect will stay in the SWP, and I wish them all well. After a year's debate, conference's decisions on the internal crisis are clear and unambiguous – I cannot defend them, or take any pride in my membership, and so it's for the best that I leave.

In the PCS union only the rabid SWP loyalist Marianne Owens remains on next years Left Unity slate for the NEC, though they seem to be holding on in the NUT and UCU.

Paris Thompson, one of the "Face Book Four" who were expelled for "not forming a faction" has announced that the "International Socialist tradition is now dead". Quick on the uptake that man. However what remains of interest is what will happen to the various groups that look to the SWP in their International Socialist Tendency around the world. No news as yet.

Meanwhile the grouplet that formed around Richard Seymour and China Mielville in an earlier split from the SWP earlier is already falling wonder socialism doesn't bloody work. They have no idea about mutual co-operation, compromise or reason.

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