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Icepicks at dawn in the SWP

This is a guest post by Howard Fuller

The crisis inside the Socialist Workers Party continues with the Central Committee coming out fighting for its own survival as the rebellion against its leadership grows. In the latest “Party Notes” the CC seems to be in almost complete denial of the situation that is causing the SWP to be falling down around their ears:

The party has seen a lot of discussion and argument since conference. And these issues will no doubt be raised at the National Committee (NC) meeting on 3 February. The 50 comrades elected by our recent conference will want to have their say.

The NC is an important political body whose task is to question, advise, guide and assist the CC. There will be report-backs from the 3 February NC to branches.

Comrades have complained about some of the material that has appeared on blogs, Facebook etc. People are tired of slurs, lies and unsubstantiated allegations. Such matters, and what action to take, will also be discussed at the NC.

We need to make sure we are not paralysed and do not become unable to intervene in the class struggle.

We are moving ahead with the perspectives we agreed at conference. These were sent out last week in the post-conference bulletin. This is what our democracy looks like – debate, votes and elections involving all delegates and then carrying out the decisions in a united way.

We are not going to overturn the decisions made two weeks ago by a very open conference, the highest level of our democracy.

That is why the CC opposes the call for a recall conference, a demand that emerged even before the decisions of the 4-6 January conference had been sent to every member and which seeks to brush aside the decisions just made by the delegates.

It is also clear that as part of the discussions some people are raising a wider debate about the direction of the party. This does not mean that everyone who has raised issues about the recent events is attacking our political tradition. But some are seeking to overturn important parts of what we stand for – and the politics we reaffirmed at conference.

There are some people who want to replace a Marxist analysis of women’s liberation with one centred on patriarchy theory. Others believe that changes in capitalism have altered the structure of the working class so fundamentally that it is no longer the key element in the battle for socialism.

Others, outside the party, are making attacks on the SWP as a way to buttress Labour.

And in his article on why he is leaving the SWP, “Donny Mayo” attacks the party over recent events but then goes on to attack its attitude to Syriza and its failure to back Len McCluskey for Unite general secretary. He then delves deeper and claims there is a “global crisis of old-style Trotskyist Leninism” and that the SWP is an example of a “historically outdated model” and that democratic centralism has become an “increasingly cultish mantra”.

We need to win people to our analysis of exploitation and oppression, Leninism today, and the revolutionary party.

Please note that if branches are going to discuss motions they should be circulated to all branch members in good time in advance. This is to ensure that comrades have a democratic right to take part in the discussion. After consultation with the chair of the Conference Arrangements Committee, any motions for a recall conference have to be in by 5pm on Friday 1 February. This is to make the NC aware of them.

Trouble is a lot of their members just are not listening and the opposition has now set up its own blog which Richard Seymour claims has had over 15,000 “hits” within the first 8 hours of it being set up. Trouble is these “hits” are mostly for the wrong reasons, that of Political voyeurism. The whole episode continues to both fascinate and appall in equal measure.

However for all their “good intentions” it seems that more scandal is coming to light about the SWP on Socialist Unity as one post notes:

I’m not feeling too understanding about the SWP – I’ve seen this kind of s**t covered up before and anyone who asked awkward questions was silenced pronto.

There then follows an accusation against a local hack in Northern climes who allegedly “attacked” 3 women and got suspended by the party for 2 years. Apparently the local party “Grandees”then “forgot about it”. The “women didn’t.” The informant then concludes:

That’s the organisation Seymour and Meiville are fighting to reconstruct. Give it up guys, you can’t reform a malignancy.

The conversation between the comrades gets somewhat heated as one writer concludes:

he attacked 3 women in the district and the (local) honchos got rid of him quietly. No reporting it to the police, not even a crap disputes committee, they wanted it hushed up. He got “banished” from the SWP for 2 years, and he’s due back in the summer.

Exactly how many more scandals can there possibly be in a small organisation of just 2,500 or so members. Why has it taken an allegation of a serious crime to expose all this? The SWP “opposition” includes people who have been active in the heart of the party for many years. Has all of this really gone unnoticed until now? The organisation itself is now far too tainted to continue as it is, so a split of some kind will be seen in the weeks to come.

As for women’s rights, the SWP complain about people comparing their internal workings to “Sharia law”. Perhaps ideology and theology are sometimes not so different after all!