Mike Marqusee on the latest SWP Crisis, and some personal comments.
The recent conflict within the Socialist Workers Party over allegations of serious personal misconduct by a leading member has brought back sharply my own rupture with the (then) SWP leadership, ten years ago, and how this was handled by the party (of which I’ve never been a member).
To explain. After twenty years hard graft in the Labour Party I resigned in 2000 and became active in the Socialist Alliance campaign for the London Assembly. A year later, I was joined in the SA by my partner, Liz Davies, who had been a Labour councillor and an elected member of Labour’s National Executive. Liz was elected chair of the SA national executive in late 2001. As such she was made one of the signatories for the Socialist Alliance’s (meagre) bank account.
In autumn of 2002, we discovered that Liz’s signature was being forged on Socialist Alliance cheques. The forging was being done by people in the SA office, members of the SWP whom we knew to be in daily contact with the SWP leadership. When Liz raised the discovery with the SWP leadership, she was met with hostility. None of this was to be discussed by anybody. That was not acceptable to her. She brought the matter to the SA Executive. In the course of the discussion there it became apparent to Liz that there was a comprehensive refusal to grasp the seriousness of the offence or to take any meaningful measures in response. That was articulated by one SWPer at the meeting who said it would have been wrong not to forge the signature since the money was needed to get placards on a demo. Liz resigned in disgust and I followed soon after.
In the wake of our departure from the SA, we were dismissed as “Labourists” or “reformists” preoccupied with “formalistic bourgeois morality”. SWP leaders put it about that we were going to go to the police about the matter – an allegation that said more about their own petty mentality than it did about us.
The rest of the article here.
I think I am qualified to speak on this matter – it was my good self who revealed the outline of this in Tribune (though comrade Deputy Editor wrote it under his by-line).
As Labour Briefing supporter I followed Mike and Liz, left the Labour Party and joined the Socialist Alliance (SA).
They are some of the best comrades I have ever met in my life.
I was a Labour Party Branch secretary.
I was election agent for the SA candidate in Ipswich shortly after the General Election (2001) – during which I had resigned to join the SA see The Socialist Alliance: A Regional View.
That by-election was not a happy experience.
The SWP candidate Peter Leech was, to put it mildly, not an easy person to work with.
Amongst his many foibles he had this bizarre belief that the SWP were a ‘revolutionary party’.
But I digress.
Comme dirait l’autre, the SWP: I bleeding hate ’em.
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