Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

SWP Central Committee Votes for ‘Discipline’; Left Union Activists Warn of Consequences.

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The SWP crisis will not go away.

Despite a Kremlin style clampdown on news we hear that at the 50 strong SWP  National Committee last Sunday there were only 8 votes against the Central Committee  motion.

Well-known activist  Mark Bergfield has resigned from the CC.

Unless information to the contrary magically appears this means that these sections of the resolution will come into effect:

4) We therefore condemn the actions of those members who have circumvented these principles by campaigning to overturn conference decisions outside the structures of the party, using blogs and the bourgeois media. Many of these contributions have been characterised by the use of slurs, abuse and un-comradely language that seem designed to stop serious debate and make joint work impossible, as well as damaging the party’s reputation.

5) This undermining of our democracy should stop forthwith. We reaffirm the right of the Central Committee to impose disciplinary measures for violation of our democratic constitution.

Now we would think it normal, in a political party of the left, for the Central Committee to make public  their decisions.

Apparently not.

No information, as far as anybody seems aware,  is yet public.

There are, of course, precedents on the far-left  for this furtive secrecy.

In 2010 it came out that the French group, Lutte Ouvrière , had kept the death of its founder and leader, Robert Barcia, alias Hardy, to itself for over a year

Meanwhile this is arousing interest.

Open Letter to the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party from Union Activists. 


We are all union activists who work with SWP members in our union branches, in the various democratic bodies in our unions and in the wider union movement. Some of us have SWP members in our workplaces, some of us participate in SWP led campaigns or vote for SWP members in elections. Many of us, whatever our politics, recognise that our SWP comrades can be relied on to speak up for our class and union members’ interests, to be at the forefront of campaigns, to turn up on picket lines, and to support those of us who are victimised for our union activities. *

For these reasons, we have not been able to ignore the recent crisis in the SWP. We have been concerned, and at times appalled, as we have heard about complaints being swept under the carpet in 2011, disciplinary committees including close friends of the accused, women quizzed about irrelevant details of their behaviour and drinking habits, SWP members instantly dismissed for discussing these matters, while another member who has been the subject of complaints continues to represent SWP campaigns, and the revelation that the word ‘feminist’ is used as an insult within the party.

After more observations the letter continues,

While many of us welcome the recent open letter from academics and others who speak at SWP events, our message to you is different. We are not saying we won’t work with SWP members. That isn’t even an option, while we are in the same unions we will of course be working side by side. But, your members are right, it has changed things. We are dismayed, we are appalled, we feel uncomfortable round SWP members unless we know that like many of your members, they are equally appalled.

The letter concludes,

If the CC continue to respond by ignoring the issue or closing down debate, as well as losing some great activists, you are going to find your remaining members have a harder time organising, campaigning, and making connections with other union members, through no fault of their own, but through the fault of their Central Committee, who are putting them in an impossible position.

Fortunately there is still time to reconsider, and we hope that you do.

Signatories on site.

This letter is making waves.

Some people on the left have been saying they simply no longer want to work with the SWP – at all.

Meanwhile the Weekly Worker (Podcast) talks of the SWP preparing a purge – here.

This may explain the deathly silence from their leading internal opponents, as they await its coming.

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