Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘SWP

Left Wing ‘Alternatives’ to Labour in the May Elections.

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A number of small left wing groups are running their own candidates in the May elections. They include the Communist Party of Britain, The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), and the Northern Independence Party (NIP). One would have expected that anybody trying to create a new left force, with an electoral presence, would have referred to the chequered past experience of the Socialist Alliance, and George Galloway’s Respect Party. That the last figure is now at the head of the red-brown ‘Workers’ Party of Britain, and is in alliance (“all for unity”) with Tories in Scotland, should merit at least a comment.

Sadly they have not. Amongst a sour list of gripes against Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party nobody seems to be able to offer an alternative organisation to the Labour Party. There is nothing wrong with criticising Labour’s policies from the left. But many of these people seem too wrapped up in the culture of complaint that they have not considered what alternative they can offer or what structures and vehicles they could build to do so.

Look at the state of the Canary chief,

The Socialist Alliance, formed in the late 1990s and active electorally the turn of the new millenium, involved the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party, smaller left groups, and independent radical leftists. It also attracted some Labour Left wing people disillusioned with Tony Blair’s leadership and the ‘Third Way’. It was designed to form a proper socialist party, with a green and feminist message.

Let us see how it worked out.

A certain Andrew Coates wrote in What Next?

The Socialist Alliance: A Regional View 2001.

“In The Retreat of Social Democracy John Callaghan suggested in his conclusion that the dropping of socialist policies by social democratic parties may eventually lead to the “recruitment of significant cohorts who subscribe to the new values”. He went on to state that this development becomes “path dependent”: “parties are changed permanently”.2 It is hard to deny that this is exactly what is happening with New Labour. It is difficult to gauge who reads the drivel pumped out by Millbank, and even Blair fans routinely bin the videos of the Leader’s speech that are helpfully sent to all Party officers. Yet they have gone along this far with the Project, and they are going a lot further at a swift speed. The Labour Party has mutated in directions far from its origins. The category of a “bourgeois workers’ party” cannot cope with the 21st Century Party proposals to end delegate structures and constituency links with the unions.3

Having lost over 100,000 members since the last election, the Party is increasingly dominated by a small number of professional politicians – able in many parts of the country to make a full-time living as councillors. Branch meetings are minuscule (my own last one, of a branch which comprises in theory around 180 members, had three people present, one a full-time regional official). Members’ Forums provided an excellent means of channelling discontent, until people realised the futility of sending in contributions that disappeared in final Party documents. The manipulation of the National Policy Forum was obvious to all but the most naïve. The purge of Grassroots Alliance supporters from that body is well underway. In local government, socialists and working class councillors – both a shrinking and ageing group – are marginalised by the Cabinet system.

….

The ability of the left of the Labour Party to mount any kind of serious resistance to these changes is severely limited. Seddon back on the National Executive won’t make much difference. The NEC has few powers and, as Liz Davies described it, is frozen in an ultra-Blairite time warp. Union General Secretaries may protest against Bush’s Missile Defence plans but they are caught up in the “new unionism” of John Monks and the TUC.”

The author expressed optimism that the British left could unite into Continental European style radical left party and win electoral representation.

In late 2001, the Network of Socialist Alliances was transformed into a one-member-one-vote political party called the Socialist Alliance (a title already registered for electoral purposes).

The Socialist Alliance was riven by political disagreements. The Socialist Party left the Alliance in 2001 (after the conference that adopted one member one vote) largely because they would subordinate their own ‘party building’ and attempt to replicate the traditional labour movement’s structures in a phantom form around their own party. while Workers Power left in 2003. Labour Left wingers faced repeated clashes with Leninists, and there were arguments about cheques, and a range of practices by those who put the interests of their own democratic centralist bodies above anything else. In short there was a deep cultural divide between democratic socialists, and variety of radical green leftists, and those from the larger Trotskyist, or in the SWP’s case, State Capitalist Leninist, groups.

In 2003, the SWP, supported by the ISG, led the SA into an alliance with George Galloway and other figures involved in the Stop the War Coalition, to form the Respect Coalition. A minority of the SA objected to the way this decision was carried out and argued that the SWP were using their block vote to push their line. Many of these dissidents objected to Respect on principle and all objected to the way the decision to join it was carried out, many forming the Socialist Alliance Democracy Platform.

That went well…

Bob Pitt was, alas, right when he had observed that, (What Role for the Socialist Alliance? 2021),

Firstly, “the development of the Alliance into a new multi-tendency socialist organisation, with the SWP at its core, would give the SWP leaders nothing but headaches. Not only would they gain little in terms of numbers from a fusion with the other, much smaller groups who make up the Alliance, but they would be confronted with a state of permanent factionalism in the new “party”, with tightly organised far left sects competing with each other and with the former SWP to promote their own political agendas. Having encouraged Sean Matgamna and his friends to join the International Socialists (the SWP’s predecessor organisation) during another, ill-fated attempt at “left unity” back in the late ’60s, and having suffered a couple of years’ continuous political disruption as a result, the SWP leadership is hardly going to risk repeating the mistake today.

Secondly, “he revolutionary socialist groupings behave like this all the time! Stupid sectarianism runs through the far left like the letters through a stick of Blackpool rock. It’s all-pervasive. Their sectarian outlook lead them to indulge in propagandism designed primarily to advertise, and gain adherents to, their own group – they’re not actually interested in winning anything in the real world. Because of this, they show an almost complete inability to organise any effective campaigns, whether of an electoral or non-electoral character.

Finally, …the problem with the groups comprising the Socialist Alliance, as I say, is not that they have made some isolated error in connection with the general election; rather, their blundering over electoral strategy is part and parcel of a false political methodology. What we have on the far left in Britain is a number of groupings who, under the banner of Marxism, are engaged in building precisely the kind of sects which Marx and Engels spent their lives fighting against. If the Socialist Alliance is to have any positive outcome, it will only be if some of the more serious comrades involved with it reassess that approach, renounce sectarianism and resolve to return to the methods of Marx and Engels. But, frankly, I’ll believe it when I see it!”

TUSC is the vehicle for the Socialist Party, with the connivance of the RMT Trade Union, and some (not very visible) backing from red-browner Chris Williamson. There are 300 candidates standing under the TUSC umbrella, comprising of three regional lists and three constituency candidates for the Scottish Parliament elections; all the regional lists for the Welsh Senedd; a regional list and three constituency candidates for the Greater London Authority assembly; two city Mayoral candidates – in Bristol and Liverpool; and 285 local council candidates contesting seats in 90 local authorities.

Here is Williamson at work, railing against the ‘Israel Lobby’ and its power:

This is their modest ambition, (The Socialist).

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was set up as a vehicle to enable trade unionists, community activists and socialists to stand up and fight at the ballot box against the austerity measures being put forward by all the establishment parties. As such it can be a step towards a future new mass workers’ party.

The Communist electoral campaign is they say, the biggest for years: “the party is actively campaigning in over 40 seats for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Senedd, London Assembly and various English county and district elections.” With a gravitas barely equally the Whippet Northern Independence Party they add, The East will be red

“Nowhere more clearly shows the renewed vigour of the Communist Party than the mobilisation of effort and energy by its eastern district for the local elections.

District secretary Phil Katz said: “The east of England is normally written off as one big Tory stronghold. Yet the region suffers as badly as others in terms of expensive and substandard housing, insecure jobs, poor public transport, environmental degradation and an education system that fails working-class students at every turn.”

In spite of no communists having stood in the area for generations, the party is fielding three highly respected activists this time around: Mark Jones (Felixstowe Coastal) and sitting CPB town councillor Darren Turner (Bury St Edmunds Tower) for Suffolk County Council and Marcus Kearney (High Town) for a Luton Borough Council by-election.”

They conclude,

Steve Handford who is standing in the Heaton ward of Newcastle City Council said, “It’s our time now. The elites had their go and what a mess they’ve made of things. The CPB will transform society for the common good, so that every day the workers win.”

Both the CPB and TUSC are hard line Brexiteers. The Northern Independence Party view on Brexit is not clear, but like the two other ‘alternatives’ to Keir Starmer and Labour they are also, by definition, a more borders party. They therefore will attract neither the internationalist left nor many young people with left-wing views.

None of these groups or their candidates are in a serious position to win national political power they are either marked by the faults outlined by Bob Pitt, or, in the Whippets’ case, by the heavy responsibility of making political gestures in conditions beyond their ability to grapple with. TUSC/SP have been building for a future mass workers’ party for several decades….The SP’s most recent split, after a damaging international feud and the splintering of its ‘international’ the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), occurred only few years ago in 2019. Sections of their group set up their own rival local body, Socialist Alternative.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 5, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Socialist Worker Calls for an End to Violence Against Women.

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Trotskyist councillor caught up in far left turmoil: rape allegations against comrade : Heritage and Destiny

SWP Protests Today Against Violence Towards Women.

 

 

Rage against the sexist system returned to the streets on Sunday as around 4,000 people protested in central London.

The protest was called by Sisters Uncut after the Metropolitan Police broke up a vigil for Sarah Everard on Clapham Common the previous night. Angry crowds gathered outside the Metropolitan Police’s headquarters, New Scotland Yard, to protest against the cops’ behaviour and the Tories’ draconian policing bill.

Socialist Workers Party leadership under fire over rape kangaroo court

2013.

 A woman has claimed she was subjected to a series of offensive questions about her sexual past and drinking habits after bringing an allegation of rape against a senior member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).

The UK’s most prominent far left organisation is already facing a major showdown over previous handling of separate rape accusations against a senior party figure – identified by the party only as Comrade Delta. This weekend up to 500 members could quit the Marxist group over the alleged whitewash.

The SWP’s leadership is under fire for setting up a “kangaroo court” to hear allegations of rape and sexual misconduct dating back to 2008 against the man. The allegations made at the party’s disputes committee were dismissed by a panel of seven and never passed on to the police.

One alleged victim claimed that during the hearing, she was asked if she “liked to have a drink”.

A transcript of the SWP’s annual conference in January, leaked to the Socialist Unity blog, revealed that senior officials pleaded with hundreds of activists to trust in the committee’s verdict and reminded lay members that the party had “no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice”.

On Sunday, scores of party members will gather in London after the leadership was forced to call a special conference to deal with the growing “In Defence of Our Party” faction which wants to challenge the way the allegations were heard and the organisation’s democratic structures.

Another woman – who cannot be named for legal reasons – has told the Guardian that she also faced a welter of inappropriate questions during her own disputes committee hearing after she reported being raped by another man in the party.

The young female member in the latest case says that the senior party member had physically abused her in front of other party members. Then, she claims, in early 2011 the male organiser pressured her into meeting and then raped her in her bedroom.

She felt that if she’d gone to the authorities, she would have be expelled from the party, because of the SWP’s hostility to the police. “If you go to the police you get kicked out automatically,” she said.

Following the incident she quit the party but a local organiser then persuaded her to take her allegations to party’s internal disputes committee.

The senior party member, who could not be contacted, has previously denied the allegations. However when she arrived at the hearing in late spring that year, she says the two judges in the case, Amy Leather and Pat Stack, were from the central committee.

She described the line of questioning during her hour long cross examination as offensive. “[They asked me] had you been drinking? … Are you sure that you said no, and are you sure you didn’t consent. Was he drunk? Because it would be different if he was drunk.”

She says she was also interrogated about her previous sexual history.

During the hearing two other women made allegations against the senior figure including attempted rape and sexual impropriety.

She says she was called back that afternoon and told the verdict. The committee did not rule on the truth of the rape allegation, she said.

She claims she was told the alleged rapist was going to be suspended and encouraged to read up on women’s liberation. She then says she was warned against speaking about the hearing.

“They said, if you go around calling him a rapist, you’ll be in trouble. If you tell anyone, you’ll be in trouble … They didn’t elaborate. They’re not the kind of people to get on the wrong side of.”

She added that she was coming forward two years later because she believes the SWP is a dangerous environment for women: “I want people to know it’s a systemic thing. They’ve done this a few times, covered things up in the interests of the party and it’s a dangerous environment to be in.”

The SWP has denied a cover-up and says they do not recognise this account of the hearing.

But participants in the disputes committee hearing described the line of questioning as “disgusting” and described the suspension as a travesty. “The fact that he got basically a slap on the wrist was just appalling.”

“They [the SWP leadership] are putting the interests of the party above the interests of the women … which I think gives a green light to people to behave in an appalling way to women because there’s now been two signals that you’ll get away with it.”

Responding to the allegations of mishandling an investigation, Charlie Kimber, the party’s national secretary said: “The SWP strongly contests major elements of this account of the disputes committee hearing. The woman concerned brought serious accusations to our attention, we investigated, found against the accused and took prompt action. Those are the facts of this case.”

Kimber said the SWP had taken effective action but said that he couldn’t go into further details as the matter was confidential.

He added: “I hope that after the party’s conference [on Sunday] we can move forward united.”

Here is ‘Comrade Delta’, Martin Smith, living the life of Riley:

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 15, 2021 at 12:46 pm

The Last Stand of the pro-Brexit Left, “Brexit could have meant more than this” Socialist Worker.

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Non, Je ne regrette rein.

In his Tour d’ivoire an elderly Mandarin takes a Hittite tablet from his shelves. Reading the cuneiform he smiles at the clumsy use of the ergative case and puts it back. Ten centimetre long finger-nails grasp a porcelain cup of Darjeeling. Perry Anderson turns to his latest works.

The modern Montaigne marvels at the magniloquent phrases, the elegance of the periodic style. The enemy, Perry reflects, is just what the elites of Europe themselves decry and fear most: ‘populism’. His majordome brings a wafer biscuit. Europe’s most gefeiert Marxist pauses. How true, how very veritable, “But what would Brexit actually mean for the European Union, or for Ukania in parting with it? So far, all that was clear was that ‘Blairized Britain has taken a hit, as has the Hayekianized eu’ and ‘critics of the neoliberal order have no reason to regret these knocks to it’, against which the entire global establishment had inveighed.”

He winds up the gramophone and puts an Édith Piaf disc on. A delicious reverie begins,

These apparatus must be broken as organised institutions for any revolutionary transfer of power to occur. This can only be achieved by the creation of a organs of socialist democracy, mobilising a popular force capable of undermining the unity of the coercive unity of the established state, and cancelling the legitimacy of of its parliamentary machinery….The emergence of such forms of second power, incarnating the sovereignty of a proletarian democracy alternative and antagonistic to that of bourgeois democracy must be the long term of the socialist movement. (Arguments Within English Marxism. Perry Anderson. 1980)  (1)

Socialist Worker has also entered the land of dreams.

Brexit could have meant more than this

The feeling against the elites could have led to a Brexit in the interests of working class people. 

That would have broken from the pro-business single market regime but maintained and extended workers’ freedom of movement.

It would have been linked to more money for the NHS and education, a higher minimum wage, action on climate chaos and other issues. This is what supporters of a left exit from the EU (Lexit) argued. To win such a Brexit would have required mass pressure. 

Alas,

Instead the Tories have come up with various versions of Brexit designed to make it even easier for the bosses to exploit people.

So unforeseen…..

One chap who like his peer, Perry Anderson, regrets rein, is now the darling of the Express.

GEORGE GALLOWAY has demanded a clean break from the “fading, failing EU” as Brexit trade deal negotiations were extended until the end of the weekend

“The sun is rising in the East. I want to set sail for there. Brexit Now!”

The former Labour MP, who said he supported the Brexit Party at last year’s European elections, has been a vocal critic of the time the trade negotiations between Britain and the EU have taken.

One of his supporters tweeted: “I agree. Clean break then negotiate a Free Trade Agreement as a truly independent nation.”

Mr Galloway’s calls for a clean break come as Ms von der Leyen admitted it will now be “difficult” to reach a post-Brexit trade agreement as she ordered officials to step up no deal planning.

Here is one group that takes a different view:

 

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(1) Perry Anderson. Ukania Perpetua. New Left Review. 2/125. Sept/Oct 2000.

The European Coup Perry Anderson  London Review of Books Vol. 42 No. 24 · 17 December 2020

Pages 194 – 195. Arguments Within English Marxism. Perry Anderson. Verso. 1980.