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An unexpected challenge for the SWP!

This is a guest post by Howard Fuller

As if the Professor and his ever declining circle of supporters didn’t have enough problems (of their own making it has to be said), the University of London Union on whose premises the Socialist Workers Party are holding their annual “Marxism” festival have intervened big time.

And they are not happy.

The ULU Students Union has not only issued a stern statement about the presence of the comrades of the SWP in their buildings, but are planning to intervene in the debates. In addition they are to hold their own meetings on the issues surrounding way the Prof and his “Lynch Mobs” handled rape allegations against ” Comrade Delta”.

There is a strong inference from their opening statement that the SWP will in fact have to find an alternative venue for future events as the union is planning on changing the system through which such bookings are made.

How their intervention will be met by the goons of the SWP is another matter! In the past complaints have been made by other left wing groups such as the Alliance for Workers Liberty about the way the abuse has been meted out by the “comrades” of the SWP.

As the students point out the SWP doesn’t tolerate dissent in their ranks. Being openly questioned and challenged by organised groups of students and feminists in front of potential recruits will probably expose the SWP for what it really is. A misogynist, authoritarian cult.

    Statement by ULU Students Union:

Marxism’ is the annual summer school event of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP). This year, part of the event is scheduled to take place inside the ULU building on Malet Street.

The SWP booked its rooms at full commercial rate (around £17,000) through the ULU conferencing department, over which we have no direct oversight. We are now putting in place measures to ensure that democratically elected officers have powers over ULU conference bookings in future.

Given the actions of the SWP in the past year, we feel that it is necessary to make our position clear that as elected officers – like many others in the student movement – see the SWP’s handling of recent rape allegations against a senior member as a despicable act of denial, nepotism and sexism.

The handling of the dispute around these allegations has exposed something much deeper that needs to be challenged. During the recent dispute, the SWP leadership has responded to criticism on an issue of women’s rights by calling its critics “feminists”, as if that was something bad. Criticism of the SWP leadership has been silenced and suppressed at every turn.

We recognise that not everyone in the SWP agrees with the behaviour of its leadership. However, given that the SWP is an organisation in which there is little scope for organised internal dissent, allowing the event to continue with no public intervention would be tantamount to complicity in the situation.

It would be wrong for the SWP to use its muscle to shut down debate and escape accountability for its actions. We think that student activists should actively confront the SWP over these issues at Marxism 2013.
There can be no business as usual in these circumstances.

• ULU Officers and other student activists will be attending the event in order to challenge the conduct of the SWP on the issues outlined above.

• We will be holding meetings in parallel with the summer school inside the ULU Building, which will be open to all attendees and students. The content of these meetings will be determined by the ULU Women’s Officer and feminist activists across London.
ULU is currently putting together a series of workshops running in parallel during the weekend. Our main meeting in parallel with ‘Marxism 2013’ will take place on Sunday at 1pm in room 2A. It will be a space for discussion among student and leftwing activists. All are welcome.

The student movement, the left and women’s liberation. How can we fight sexism in our movement?

The shameful events inside the SWP, along with other recent incidents in the left and the labour movement, pose the questions of fighting sexism and women’s oppression not only in society but in our own organisations. What do these events mean? How can we make sure that the student movement and the broader left is not only a safe space but also a credible and effective force for in the fight for women’s liberation?

Speakers will include feminists from the student and labour movements.

Ticket sales might go up now.