SWP journalist quits party and urges others to do the same. Says “the party’s destruction [is] inevitable,” and “broken for good.” Wants it “left on the shelf of history alongside the Workers Revolutionary Party.” Tells former comrades: “it is time to go” because “The alternative… is too awful to contemplate.” UPDATE contains information of a financial fraud allegation
The crisis in the Socialist Workers Party continues. Despite the fact the Central Committee of the Party has been telling people to “‘draw a line under” recent events and “move on,” this has clearly not happened. Tom Walker, who was a journalist for Socialist Worker, the organ of the scrofulous party, has resigned his position in the paper, resigned from the party and in a blistering attack, published in the Weekly Worker, urges other to do similar.
He refers to the Disputes Committee that exonerated “Comrade Delta” as a “kangaroo court.” He makes the very valid observation of hypocrisy. He noted that the Party called for Julian Assange to face rape charges in Sweden. The bourgeois courts and the criminal process in Sweden were deemed good enough by the Party to recommend their use. Walker comments, with good reason, “I do not see why what is good enough for Assange is not good enough for the party’s leaders.” In an important section that is a damning indictment on the culture in the Party, he states:
It is stated that the accuser did not want to go to the police, as is her absolute right if that was truly her decision. However, knowing the culture of the SWP, I doubt that was a decision she made entirely free from pressure.
Do not underestimate the pressure the SWP can bring to bear on members by telling them to do or not do things for the ultimate cause of the socialist society the party’s members are all fighting for. [Emphasis added]
The verdicts of the Disputes Committee of not guilty of rape and “not proven” for sexual harassment he believes are “utterly meaningless.” In terms of the composition of the Disputes Committee, he had this to say: “this was not a jury of his peers, but a jury of his mates.” It is “obvious,” he argues, that if the Party investigates itself it “is unlikely to produce damning conclusions.” He poses an analogy that would lead to the question as to whether an internal investigation at Wikileaks would have found Assange guilty of rape.
He informs us that the one dissenting member of the Disputes Committee who thought it likely that Comrade Delta was guilty of sexual harassment “has faced some very real abuse for his position.”
The internal handling of the rape and harassment allegations was disastrous for other reasons too:
[T]his DIY investigation will have corrupted the evidence, as well as traumatised the accuser too far for her to want to pursue the case by other means. I am absolutely convinced this traumatisation is very real, as I cannot believe that the issue would have played out the way it has otherwise. The internet may have read the transcript of what the woman comrade’s friends and allies said, but only those who were in the room will have heard the sheer anger with which the words were spoken. If we believe that she was traumatised, then logic dictates that it is very unlikely that the allegations are of no substance.
I mentioned yesterday, the Party is demanding loyalty oaths from members. Walker notes that Party workers are being told that they must guarantee not to mention the case again at the pain of losing their job. And while all this is going on, Comrade Delta “turned up in Hackney on the evening of Tuesday January 8, representing the party at a Unite Against Fascism meeting as if nothing had happened. Next week he is off to Athens, again as part of the party’s work.” Walker is sickened by it. He laments, “A similar accusation tomorrow would be dealt with in the exact same way.”
To use a term with which Trotskyists will be familiar, the SWP is in its death agonies. Walker thinks it is over for the Party, it is just a matter of time:
I believe that not dealing with the issue ultimately makes the party’s destruction inevitable. I am not its destroyer – it has already destroyed itself. Maybe it will be days, months or years, but it is now a permanent time bomb. I cannot imagine how it will hold on to any recruit who knows how to use Google. Sooner or later the whole thing will be used against the party in the unions.
One of his conclusions is this strong recommendation:
To all comrades, I say: it is a wrench, it really is, but the first step is to admit to yourself that it is time to go. I do not know how it will turn out, but at least that way we have a chance to try to create something better. The alternative – for thousands of committed socialists to sit on their hands and keep quiet, wondering if the person next to them is thinking what they are thinking – is too awful to contemplate.
I strongly believe that if everyone who reads this is able to take courage to follow their heart and their principles, then, instead of members slowly drifting off into the wilderness or being gradually drummed out of the party, the SWP can be left on the shelf of history alongside the Workers Revolutionary Party, and something a thousand times healthier built in its place.
I am relieved that Walker is “not planning some new ‘Workers Socialist Party,’” but I suspect that the crisis in the SWP will continue. We at Harry’s Place will keep you informed.
Andrew Coates brings to my attention a further allegation. This one by Mike Marqusee in a blog post he published against the SWP: that ten years ago party members were involved in a financial fraud. I have no information as to the truth of what Marqusee has said and I copy it below for information only.
After twenty years hard graft in the Labour Party I resigned in 2000 and became active in the Socialist Alliance campaign for the London Assembly. A year later, I was joined in the SA by my partner, Liz Davies, who had been a Labour councillor and an elected member of Labour’s National Executive. Liz was elected chair of the SA national executive in late 2001. As such she was made one of the signatories for the Socialist Alliance’s (meagre) bank account.
In autumn of 2002, we discovered that Liz’s signature was being forged on Socialist Alliance cheques. The forging was being done by people in the SA office, members of the SWP whom we knew to be in daily contact with the SWP leadership. When Liz raised the discovery with the SWP leadership, she was met with hostility. None of this was to be discussed by anybody. That was not acceptable to her. She brought the matter to the SA Executive. In the course of the discussion there it became apparent to Liz that there was a comprehensive refusal to grasp the seriousness of the offence or to take any meaningful measures in response. That was articulated by one SWPer at the meeting who said it would have been wrong not to forge the signature since the money was needed to get placards on a demo. Liz resigned in disgust and I followed soon after.
It shouldn’t be necessary to say but for those with doubts: by forging the signatures, these people were making unauthorised use of the dues paid to the SA by its members. They did it not once but repeatedly, and were only found out by accident.
I suspect other disgruntled former members will come forward with further allegations of how they have been treated. If the SWP was a stock, the recommendation would be a short.
“Deep throat,” only identified as a leading Socialist Alliance activist, but a person whose identity I know and trust, has sent me a note confirming the truth of the Mike Marqusee financial fraud allegation.