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SWP Chief Responds

A comment has appeared on our blog purporting to be from Charlie Kimber, SWP National Secretary. I cannot say for certain whether it is a genuine comment, although I suspect it is because it appears that Richard Seymour has responded to what appear an identical statement that he has received with a blog post of his own. Not long after Kimber’s statement appeared, John R, also in the comments, provided a spoof annotated version of the statement. Readers can determine themselves whether the annotations are reasonable. Given at Harry’s Place comments disappear from view after one week, I thought I would copy Kimber’s statement and the spoof annotated version to a main post for the record.  Before doing so I wish to make a make a comment of my own and then highlight something from Seymour’s post.

Kimber’s statement contains the following line: “Our party has a proud tradition of fighting for women’s liberation.” This all depends on your view. The party’s view published in Women’s Voice, which was described as Women’s magazine of the Socialist Workers Party, is that “women’s liberation can only be achieved by linking its struggle to those of the working class and overthrowing the capitalist system.” (Source: Blake Baker, The Far Left: An Exposé of the Extreme Left in Britain, [Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1981], p.56). At any rate, the SWP closed down Women’s Voice. I was once told that the reason was that sexism does not happen within the Party and that campaigning separately for women’s liberation was a bourgeois deviation from the class struggle. In fact, this view is why much of the feminist movement is sneered at by Trots: it does not necessarily tie in class struggle to women’s oppression.

In his critique of the statement, Seymour implies that party loyalists, repeatedly trotting out the line, are insane:

Serious members, hard as nails people, long-standing cadres, are being pushed to the point of resigning. I urge people to stay, and to fight. But one hardly blames those who have had enough of the Kafkaesque nightmare, enough of listening to people spout demented gibberish in meetings and aggregates, enough of hearing the same lies repeated, enough of wildly tenuous historical analogies, enough of cheap realpolitik passed off as wisdom. How many times can you hear, “well I was at a paper sale this morning, and no one mentioned it” before you start thinking of having people sectioned?

Seymour also confirms what is widely known, and that is that the Central Committee is already split. For as he says: Kimber’s statement “does not even reflect the views of everyone on the CC.”

Kimber’s statement:

There has been a series of attacks on the Socialist Workers Party in the media and by assorted bloggers. They concern the party’s handling of serious allegations against a leading member and the arguments (partly arising from the case) leading up to and during our recent conference.

This was an internal matter and we had promised full confidentiality to all involved. So we strongly condemn the publication of a transcript of a closed session of the conference discussing this case. The transcript was publicised against the wishes of the complainant herself.

The attacks are a travesty of the truth. We live in what remains a profoundly sexist society, as is shown by the sex abuse scandals and cover-ups in mainstream institutions such as the BBC and the police.

However, the SWP is not an institution of capitalist society but fights for the overthrow of the system. Our party has a proud tradition of fighting for women’s liberation, as is shown, for example, by our consistent campaigning over the decades to defend abortion, and by our criticism of George Galloway for his remarks about the Julian Assange rape accusations.

Reflecting this tradition, our internal structures seek to promote women to leading roles and deal rigorously with any action by any member that is harmful or disrespectful of women.

It is in the context of this commitment that we took allegations against a leading member of the party very seriously.

Unlike the BBC or any other establishment body faced with such an allegation an investigation into this complaint immediately was set in place.

The complainant made the choice not to go to the police, who are notorious for their systemic failure to defend women. Instead she asked for her complaint to be heard by the body within the SWP charged with dealing with disciplinary cases, the Disputes Committee. We respected that choice.

The Disputes Committee is a body of experienced members who had been unanimously elected by the previous conference. The attacks on it as a ‘sharia court’ are little short of racism.

After a lengthy and thorough hearing, the Disputes Committee did not uphold the accusations and decided to take no disciplinary action.

Five of the seven members hearing the case were women, and one has experience as a rape counsellor. These included two members of the Central Committee, the elected leadership body of the SWP. Its members (who are always a minority on the DC) work with the DC to ensure the political integrity of the party, and to ensure the concerns and decisions of the DC are fed into the CC’s work.

At all times great efforts were taken to support the complainant.

Had the Disputes Committee believed that the accused person was guilty, it would have expelled him from the SWP immediately.

The case was discussed at length at a session of our conference, which voted to accept the report and overwhelmingly re-elected the Disputes Committee. Far from being a cover up this sort of open discussion shows that our procedures and elected bodies are accountable to our membership.

If this case had been raised within a trade union or any other organisation there would be no question that the matter should be treated with complete confidentiality. This basic principle should also apply in this case.

As far we are concerned, this case is closed. This is not a ‘cover up’. It is a determination to reflect the decision of our conference. We believe that both parties to the case should have their right to confidentiality and their right as members in good standing respected.

C. Kimber, SWP National Secretary.

Spoof annotated version:

Dear comrade (mug)

There has been a series of attacks on the Socialist Workers Party in the media and by assorted bloggers (which have shown us up for the control freaks we are). They concern the party’s handling of serious allegations against a leading member (sex fiend) and the arguments (partly arising from the case) leading up to and during our recent conference.

This was an internal matter (as all our rape cases are) and we had promised full confidentiality to all involved (to cover it up). So we strongly condemn the publication of a transcript of a closed session of the conference discussing this case (next time, we’ll search you all). The transcript was publicised against the wishes of the complainant herself (Alex, please remind her about this).

The attacks are a travesty (or summing-up, Alex, check which word is correct) of the truth. We live in what remains a profoundly sexist society (which does have its good points), as is shown by the sex abuse scandals and cover-ups in mainstream institutions such as the BBC and the police (and we can teach them a few more lessons).

However, the SWP is not an institution of capitalist society but fights for the overthrow of the system (so me and mymates will be in charge). Our party has a proud tradition of fighting for women’s liberation (the CC makes damn sure they’re liberated) especially, as is shown, for example, by our consistent campaigning over the decades to defend abortion (Christ, just as well, we’ve only got so much dosh), and by our criticism of George Galloway for his remarks about the Julian Assange rape accusations (Got you back, George!).

Reflecting this tradition, our internal structures seek to promote women to leading roles (upon payment in kind) and deal rigorously with any action by any member (oh, er missus) that is harmful or disrespectful of women (HA HA HA).

It is in the context of this commitment that we took allegations against a leading member of the party very seriously (HA HA HA HA. Christ Alex, that was the hardest part to write with a straight face).

Unlike the BBC or any other establishment body faced with such an allegation an investigation into this complaint immediately was set in place (yeh, cos Delta and us all were in the pub at the time).

The complainant made the choice not to go to the police (she would not have dared), who are notorious for their systemic failure to defend women (but not as bad as us). Instead she asked (was told) for her complaint to be heard by the body within the SWP charged with dealing with disciplinary cases, the Disputes Committee. We respected that choice (order).

The Disputes Committee is a body of experienced members who had been unanimously elected by the previous conference (no choice, Comrades). The attacks on it as a ‘sharia court’ are little short of racism (thank fuck, a smokescreen).

After a lengthy and thorough hearing, the Disputes Committee did not uphold the accusations and decided to take no disciplinary action (shock, horror!).

Five of the seven members hearing the case were women, and one has experience as a rape counsellor (thank fuck again, a fig leaf). These included two members of the Central Committee, the elected leadership body of the SWP (like North Korea). Its members (who are always a minority on the DC) work with the DC to ensure the political integrity of the party, and to ensure the concerns and decisions of the DC are fed into the CC’s work (of WATCHING AND CONTROLLING WHAT YOU THINK).

At all times great efforts were taken to support (shaft and undermine) the complainant.

Had the Disputes Committee believed that the accused person was guilty (as if), it would have expelled him from the SWP immediately (HA HA HA).

The case was discussed at length at a session of our conference (time for a snooze), which voted to accept the report and overwhelmingly re-elected the Disputes Committee (no choice again as I said) . Far from being a cover up this sort of open discussion shows that our procedures and elected bodies are accountable to our membership (oh dear,dear,dear. At this point I’ll have to stop for a moment or I’ll wet myself).

If this case had been raised within a trade union or any other organisation there would be no question that the matter should be treated with complete confidentiality (after going to the proper authorities). This basic principle should also apply in this case (shut up, you bastards, he’s a mate, he didn’t mean no harm, she’s a slapper).

As far we are concerned, this case is closed (Oi! Once more! Shut up you bastards! Alex tell them to shut up). This is not a ‘cover up’(you bet it is). It is a determination to reflect the decision of our(me and my mates’) conference. We believe that both parties to the case should have their right to confidentiality and their right as members in good standing respected (except that lying slapper).

Charlie Kimber

SWP National Secretary