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SWP infighting gets out of hand

This is a cross-post from Howie’s Corner

It seems the final days of the Socialist Workers Party may be upon us. Over on their various Face Book pages the Professor and his critics are really going for each others throats. An article written by David Renton seems to have really attracted the ire of Callinicos who replied on his personal Face book page with the following:

STATEMENT CONCERNING DAVID RENTON

David Renton has published a highly personalized and public attack on my role in the SWP crisis. It is a farrago of hearsay, half-truths and plain falsehoods dressed up as ‘facts’. He attacks other comrades in the most disgraceful way, grossly distorts how the party works, and, astonishingly for a lawyer, shows absolutely no respect for the principles of confidentiality that ought to operate in serious disciplinary cases.

The genuine issues Renton raises should be addressed in the debates currently taking place within the SWP. But at the end of his piece he makes three specific claims about me with the flourish of a prosecutor summing up. He asserts that it was I who ‘introduced the special session at the 2011 conference’; that it was I who ‘devised the strategy of labelling the party opposition as feminist or autonomist in order to distract from the leadership’s handling of the rape complaint’; and that I was the ‘CC member [who] had the job of “co-ordinating” the relationship between the DC and CC during the rape investigation’.

The first assertion is merely inaccurate, but the other two are completely false.

1. I introduced, not a ‘special session’, but the Central Committee slate at the 2011 conference. Anyone who attended the conference the following morning can confirm that I said then that this had proved not to be the right way to report to the party about such matters.

2. Renton offers no evidence that there was ‘a strategy of labelling the party opposition as feminist or autonomist’ – not surprisingly, since there was no ‘strategy’ (or indeed ‘opposition’ when the W case originally developed). Had any one suggested such a strategy I would have opposed it.

3. Renton also doesn’t offer any evidence for the claim that I was responsible for ‘“co-ordinating” the relationship between the DC and CC during the rape investigation’. Once again, this because it is utter nonsense. More than that, Pat Stack and Hannah Dee know this perfectly well. I look forward to their confirming that this, like much else Renton says, is untrue.

Alex Callinicos 9 October 2013

At the same time the alleged evidence of the events surrounding the case have been leaked into the public domain via the circuitous route of the Urban 75 SWP thread:

“Your National Secretary has a totally inappropriate relationship with a teenage member of the party. He gets her drunk by buying her drinks while not drinking himself. They have sex. She is utterly distraught because she has not consented and did not want sex though, like many rape victims, it takes her a while to put a name to what happened. She asks for help from the CC of her party – they simply tell people that it is just a relationship gone wrong and there is nothing to worry about. Your conference then gives the defendant 10 mins to justify and defend himself, following which he receives a standing ovation and cheers. The young woman is not allowed to put her case to conference at all. She is simply refused. Imagine – you believe the leader of the party you belong to has raped you, then you hear that, in discussing the matter, he has received a standing ovation from your supposed comrades: I mean, really, pause for a minute to imagine what that must feel like. Then, members are expelled simply for planning to raise the issue at conference. Members of the CC lose their position for expressing private opposition to what is happening. Meanwhile something like 400 people – half the active membership – leave the SWP. Then *another* woman complains of sexual harassment. She has witnesses and documents. But the CC simply refuse to hear her case. Indeed, they quietly remove her from her job. Finally they are *forced* to accede – but they insist that the investigation is not allowed to find the accused guilty in his absence (something that would not happen anywhere else). The accused nevertheless – having insisting on remaining in post while hundreds leave the SWP in disgust – now chooses this precise moment to resign, with no explanation whatsoever to the membership. He is indeed found to ‘have a case to answer’. Still there is no explanation forthcoming as to why the CC feel it has been worth shedding so many members and allowing its reputation to be squandered, all in defense of a man who, it appears, probably was in the habit at least of sexually harassing his subordinates even if you prefer to believe he didn’t actually commit a rape.

This damming post if accurate should spell the end for the SWP.


Postscript from Germany

Their German comrades certainly think that is the danger and have written the following:

Open Letter from Germany to the Opposition in the British Socialist Workers Party

Open Let­ter from Ger­ma­ny to the Op­po­si­ti­on in the Bri­tish So­cia­list Workers Party. Re­flec­tions on the 2001 cri­sis in Links­ruck (Ger­man IST sec­tion) and pos­si­ble les­sons for the cur­rent de­ba­te in the SWP. Von Flo­ri­an Wilde

I – as well as others on the Ger­man re­vo­lu­tio­na­ry left – have fol­lo­wed the de­ve­lo­ping cri­sis in the SWP with a mix of great con­cern and a bit of hope. There is an im­men­se dan­ger that this cri­sis will re­sult in a sub­stan­ti­al, long-term wea­k­e­ning of the SWP and have de­struc­tive ef­fects on the ent­i­re In­ter­na­tio­nal So­cia­list Ten­den­cy (IST). Howe­ver, this cri­sis also pres­ents the pos­si­bi­li­ty of a de­mo­cra­tic re­ne­wal of the SWP and the IST – and with it a streng­the­ning of the ent­i­re re­vo­lu­tio­na­ry left.

Read the rest here

No chance comrades. The party is over!