From the Vaults: New Statesman & Society, July 14, 1995

For those interested in the workings of the Socialist Workers Party, the excerpt from the following article may be of some interest:

Life in the far lane

Mark Perryman

New Statesman & Society Jul 14, 1995. Vol. 8, Iss. 361

…. A dedicated opponent to independent thought in his organisation, [Tony] Cliff has done his level best to ensure that the SWP he founded, and has presided over ever since, is today run only by his most trusted allies, and administered by centrally appointed organisers, hand-picked by the party centre for their wholesome loyalty. It is easy, therefore, for Cliff, his inner-sanctum and personal army of full-timers to create an organisation where “members cannot set the agenda …at party conference, policy is never voted on by the floor…no mechanism for progressing alternative views…party councils are just rallying calls,” as one unhappy member of Canterbury SWP described his party.

Former Liverpool district organiser Andy Wilson, who has recently been expelled, recalls: “In ten years of party conferences, I can’t remember a single new policy that’s come from below, it’s all been dictated to the party membership from above.” It is a bizarre quirk that this organisation borne out of implacable anti-Stalinism has inherited almost all of the Communist Party’s most undemocratic organisational features–appointed party officials, a central committee empowered to re-elect itself, the outlawing of free and open discussion and the exclusion of oppositional voices.

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