Is the Socialist Workers Party about to split again? Report of their National Committee shows the organisation is in serious trouble.

This is a cross post from Howie’s Corner

As regular readers will know a further spat of in-fighting has occurred in the SWP. Their leadership took umbrage at one of their leading members setting up a blog where (heaven forbid) he had the temerity to differ with the Prof and his cronies. So concerned were they, that they actually called a special meeting of their National Committee.

Rumours started circulating this evening that four members of the SWP have been barred from attending the Marxism 2013 bash and one has been told he will no longer be required to speak! So much for “debate” then!

One of their members Mike Pearn posted the following report on Facebook, but has now been taken down. However it has been shared widely and a copy of this is published below for your information:

The SWP’s National Committee met on Sunday 7 July 2013 and voted by 26-6 to suspend four comrades and make wider moves to shut down any organised opposition to the party leadership. This move is a smokescreen. It is a deliberate attempt by the leadership to escalate the crisis rather than address the critical problems facing the party.

The state of the party today testifies to the poor quality of the Central Committee’s political judgement. At each stage since the complaints of sexual predation against Martin Smith first came to light, the CC has decided upon actions that have exacerbated the situation and deepened the polarisation within our organisation.

Over 400 people have resigned their party membership since January. Attendance at the Marxism festival looks set to be half that of last year. Significant sections of the left are boycotting the event in horror at the leadership’s actions. The overwhelming majority of our student members have left, and there is no strategy to rectify this situation. Over 15 party workers have resigned their positions since January – or been sacked.

Urgent action needs to be taken if we are to avoid the total collapse of our organisation. The latest decisions advanced by the CC and agreed at NC demonstrate beyond any doubt that the party’s leadership would rather shut down political debate by using crude disciplinary measures than engage with the very serious political questions this crisis has exposed. This is despite the CC’s own declaration in January that “members of the SWP are of course free to discuss face-to-face or online and … to get together to seek the outcomes that they want to achieve”.

The appalling handling of the second complaint against (Delta) – complaints that he sexually harassed a party worker reporting directly to him – further demonstrate the complete failure of the party leadership to put our politics on women’s oppression into practice.

The leadership’s first reaction was to deny that a second woman had come forward. Then they turned to delaying tactics, stringing the complaint out for over four months with a series of contradictory excuses. The disputes committee twice refused to hear the case. Under pressure they have now offered a hearing, subject to certain conditions, and are presenting this as an adequate resolution to the whole issue.

We demand the following immediate measures as a first step towards acknowledging the seriousness of this crisis and beginning to redress it:

* the four suspensions must be immediately lifted
* end all disciplinary threats against dissident members
* open up the pre-conference discussion period now

In the meantime all remaining party workers who support the SWP opposition have resigned from their positions. Many members who support the opposition are withdrawing from speaking at Marxism in solidarity with the four victimised comrades. We refuse to fall silent and allow the leadership to continue on a course that will destroy our party. We urge the central committee to step back before it is too late.

The SWP is continuing to fall apart at the seams and their previously “prestigious” Marxism festival has already faced boycotts by most of the academics and left-wing “celebrities” that normally attend. The event is about to get even smaller.

The SWP is rotten to the core.


The statement above has been reposted to an SWP discussion blog. It has so far attracted 165 signatures.