Cheque Book Politics

That hugely ambitious attempt to bundle all the Trots in the country together and market them under one superbrand called The Socialist Alliance is just a folk memory now that Respect has stolen all the thunder, but only a few short years ago the Alliance was being hailed in some quarters as a real political achievement.

Who could disagree that it was ? Getting most of the various Citizen Smiths impersonators working together without too much argy bargy did seem to be a step forward at the time. The whole history of British Trotsktyism up till then had been characterised by handfuls of malcontents gathering in rented rooms, announcing themselves the provisional Central Committee of the Fourth International and denouncing their rivals huddled round different tables above other dingy pubs as splitters, Stalinists and spies.

Sadly the seeming unity of the Socialist Alliance was a chimera. Liz Davies – national chair of the organisation before she left in disgust – spills the beans on what she says was happening to the Comrades subscription money while her back was turned:

“In the Socialist Alliance, flagrant financial dishonesty was practised by SWP full-timers over a period of months. When this was uncovered, accidentally, the SWP leadership (with help from others) blocked all efforts to bring those responsible to account.”

Allegedly some of the senior Socialist Workers Party comrades had been practicing her signature – and then on finding out they were quite good at reproducing it – keeping their new found skills sharp by applying it to a series of cheques totalling more than £3000.

Davies explains further details of the alleged shenanigins below and in a joint statement with Mike Marquesee – who also left the Socialist Alliance at the same time – admits that she thought it was more important that the unity of the Anti-War movement was maintained than for the perpetrators to be confronted.

Several weeks after Liz’s resignation, she was given (on her insistence) a list of 7 cheques on which her signature had been forged. Five of those seven cheques were made directly payable to the three individuals involved or to ‘cash’. The five cheques were drawn for a total of more than £3,000. Liz had been completely unaware, until she received this list, that the forged cheques had been made payable to the perpetrators.

We are sure that activists on the left will understand why, in the autumn of 2002, we were reluctant to make any of this public. We were worried about various potential repercussions and especially about the damage that such publicity might have had on the anti-war movement at a crucial stage in its development (during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq).

Now the Socialist Unity website is in serious trouble with the SWP for daring to wash dirty Trotskyist linen in public. According to ultra-Left scandal mag the Weekly Worker the November Socialist Alliance Executive meeting was very far from being a happy ship:

John Rees butted in and warned that, unless it (the article linked to above)was removed forthwith, he intended to approach the next SWP central committee with a proposal to break a longstanding workers’ movement tradition and begin legal action against the publishers of the site.

Alleging fraud against any organisation is a very serious business and Harry’s Place takes no position on the truth or otherwise of the allegations except to say that the Royal Courts of Justice are going to start looking like the venue for a Respect Central Committeee meeting if Rees does make good his boast and follow fellow anti-war activist George Galloway’s example.