Sunday, 15 December 2013

SWP: Resignation cycle begins anew! UPDATED!

For the past couple of days the Socialist Workers Party has been meeting again to try and resolve the internal crisis caused by the mishandling of not just the "delta" affair but other cases that suddenly arose as the arguments escalated. The organisation showed itself to be totally inept at dealing with the issues and hundreds of members have left over the past year.

The publication of hundreds of pages of their three Internal Bulletins showed that even amongst those who realised something was fundamentally flawed about the way they conducted themselves there was no way the organisation could recover. Yet another Leninist organisation was collapsing under the weight of sexual scandal last seen when the Workers Revolutionary Party collapsed in the mid-eighties after the Healy revelations.

Just before conference Dave Renton published a guest post on his website which argued:

There is no way out of the crisis in the SWP that does not openly state a clear apology to the women who have suffered abuse and then been attacked for complaining. That needs to be a proper apology in which the leadership explain clearly what the women suffered.

A public apology won’t make it okay. But it will mark recognition that what has happened was wrong and a determination to put it right. There is no way out that does not admit that the party has been tainted by the contradictory attitudes of the 1970s and 80s in regard to sexual harassment and rape and needs to take urgent action to change the culture in which young women complaining of rape and sexual harassment can be accused of “reimagining the experience by viewing it through a feminist prisim”; or of being police spies; or jealous and bitter.

Unsurprisingly the SWP has rejected such an apology at it's deliberations this weekend. Indeed the tone of the majority of the assembled was summed up in this sentence:

we aren't rape apologists unless we believe that women always tell the truth - and guess what, some women and children lie'

Appalling stuff indeed.

Ian Birchall has tweeted the following:

Well, that one's pretty much decided now.

And "Comrade X one of the complainants has just issued this statement anonymously via Twitlonger :

There are many reasons I am resigning after the events of the last twelve months, you can read some of them in my Internal Bulletin piece. I will give only one reason here: a member of the DC claimed at the SWP national conference this weekend that my email account might have been hacked but they were confident that the Central Committee was not responsible. How is it possible that this hasn’t generated outrage? When told that the woman who brought a complaint of sexual harassment has had her email account hacked and one of the emails used as evidence in her case deleted, most SWP members seem content that it is OK because the CC did not personally do it. 

This typifies the problems of the past 12 months. There has been no political will to resolve any of the issues in a principled way. There is no political will to demand that the person who gave the CC hacked emails should have to conclusively prove how they got the emails or be expelled. Instead at every stage smoke and mirrors have been deployed to manoeuvre to win votes and political positions. In the process I have been sacked, bullied, smeared and marginalised but this has been tolerated to prevent Martin’s supporters from leaving and to avoid the CC accounting for their mistakes.

What of the apology? I do not accept as adequate or sincere an apology fought for and said through gritted teeth. I first found out that the CC regretted my hurt and distress when I read about it in their motion. No-one has met with me to communicate it personally. In tragic fashion I have had to speak to a motion to fight for an apology for myself. For months I was told no apology is necessary. Is it any wonder that I am unconvinced by the apology at conference?

A sincere apology would have political consequences. It would require those who have bullied and smeared to face some sanction. Instead the party leadership continue to argue that there is parity between the slandering and smearing of women who have brought allegations of rape and sexual harassment and people, angry at the handling of a rape allegation, calling Alex Callinicos a “wanker”. A comrade who called someone an “idiot” faced disciplinary sanction, while those who claimed I was a police spy have faced none. That this is now the official party position is reason enough to leave.

The potential for a meaningful renewal of the SWP has dwindled. The last 12 months have polarised and entrenched positions. Debate is now refracted through the prism of a bitter faction fight. Too many people have left and continue to leave. For any organisation to remain dynamic and relevant there needs to be a high level of debate and discussion in order to develop the theory and practice necessary to relate to the real world. This crisis has not caused all the problems in the SWP but it has smothered the possibility that the SWP can develop into a serious revolutionary party.

I am not an MI5 agent, so I am leaving to rebuild the revolutionary left in Britain. This will be a process of years not months but for now I leave proud of my time in the SWP, deeply saddened that this is the endpoint and a little excited at the fresh air I can now breathe.

The Party is over, now we wait for the next split and more resignations over the next few days.


Twtter list of resignations here:

Ian Birchall!

Viv Smith (ex CC) leaves as does:

Pete Gillard (member since 1969) who says:

I believe the SWP is no longer fit for purpose as a revolutionary organisation. I haven’t lost faith in the working class. I don’t believe that ‘the movements’ can bring socialism. I reject all the slurs the CC has promoted in attempting to discredit the SWP Opposition. In leaving the SWP, I will play my part in the process of building a new revolutionary socialist organisation, one which builds on the best of the International Socialist tradition. I fully expect to be working and to welcome working with SWP members in my union and in campaigning activities. The revolutionary left in Britain, as a whole, is weaker than it has been for decades. We need to work together.
This indicates new group....

Gill George: Unite NEC quits SWP and is joined by Rob Owen (PCS DWP GEC). Dave Renton finally throws the towel in as well.

The backlash against the SWP has begun. I'll cover this in a later post, here's one that already appeared on line before the latest updates:

SWP not welcome

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