The Left,  Trots

The Sexist Workers Party Crisis Continues

Gareth Dale notes that the Socialist Workers Party has been denounced as the Sexist Workers Party. I feel that is as good a name as any and worthwhile to use.

Judith Orr is the editor of Socialist Worker. She was invited to speak last Thursday at the University of East Anglia Feminist Society on Marxism, Feminism and Women’s Liberation. The invite was issued before the sordid allegations against Comrade Delta were made public. When they were made public, Hattie Grünewald of the UAE Feminist Society had this to say to the members of her society on the society’s  Facebook group page:

In the interest of free-speech and lack of censorship, we are not planning to withdraw our invitation; however, we do plan to hold Judith accountable for the actions of her party. We hope you will come along and support us in this; however, if you feel that you would rather not attend, we understand.

The meeting did go ahead. The SWP Party Notes claims that Orr’s talk was “warmly received.”  This claim can be compared with the report of the meeting in the university students’ newspaper, Concrete:

After giving her intended talk on women’s liberation at the meeting, Orr opened up the floor to questions. Several audience members expressed concern at the SWP’s handling of such serious allegations.

It was questioned whether it was fair of the SWP to deal with the matter internally instead of going through the court system, and whether an internal body could effectively punish such a serious offence if the party member had been found guilty.

Orr maintained that the SWP were “more accountable than any other organisation,” being entirely intolerant of sexism, racism, homophobia, or any other hateful prejudices within their party.

One can question as to what report is likely to be more reflect the truth: the one from the SWP party notes or the one from the student newspaper.

I think we need to be to told about any relationship between Judith Orr and Comrade Delta. Are they just comrades in the same party acting in a comradely fashion, or is there something more? My sources tell me there is a stronger relationship. If this is true, Judith Orr’s motivation for defending allegations against Delta and the party’s handling of the case may not just be simply a matter of party loyalty. But then again, this is all rumour, and as Charles Dickens’s Gradgrind might have approved being said, “we want nothing but Facts.”

Update January 25, 2013:

UAE staff and SWSS members have written to the SWP Central office!

Dear Charlie,

We are writing to inform you and the Central Committee of an incident that has arisen as a direct result of the crisis raging in the party. We feel that it makes our position in our workplaces, and within trade unions at the University of East Anglia vulnerable. An article has appeared in ‘Concrete’, our Student Union newspaper, in relation to a recent meeting that Judith attended with the UEA Feminist Society. The article argues that Judith defended the ‘Rape controversy’ at the meeting she gave last week. While the article is fair in its criticism, we feel that:

1.       This development is at odds with the claim in Party Notes that ‘Socialist Worker editor Judith Orr spoke at a very successful Feminist Society meeting at the University of East Anglia last week and her talk on Marxism and Feminism was warmly received’.

2.       This article will have knock on effects for those who are party members and staff or students at UEA, as Concrete is widely read on Campus.

3.       Numerous members of UEA Feminist Society have expressed to us their reservations about working with the Party again in the future.

Therefore we would like to ask of the CC why the specifics of the meeting were omitted from Party Notes when they directly affect comrades at UEA? Party Notes is supposed to be a guide for how comrades are to deal with political issues in the coming weeks however we were not informed of a subject that directly affects us. We would like an explanation as to why the CC failed to warn UEA comrades about an issue that we have to face in lectures and in the workplace, as it is impossible for us to respond to questions relating to this meeting if we are kept in the dark as to its details.

Emma Rock, Norwich Branch (UEA Staff and Unison)

Jack Brindelli, UEA SWSS/Norwich Branch

Jacob Porter, UEA SWSS/Norwich Branch

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