SWP: Reasons to Hate

Martin Smith ‘resigns’ from the SWP

This is a cross-post from Howie’s Corner

The man at the centre of the recent scandals and controversies in the Socialist Workers Party finally fell on his sword and “resigned” from the organisation. This belated action by Martin Smith was brought to our attention by the ever reliable Soviet Goon Boy who wrote:

Here’s the situation, as I understand it. First, Delta has resigned from the SWP. Second, it has been decided that, rather than trying to crudely draw a line under the affair, the Disputes Committee will proceed to hear the second complaint – the sexual harassment complaint brought by Comrade X, which has been postponed several times already – in his absence.

This seems pretty good, if a few bear traps can be negotiated.

It’s unclear, for a start, why this has happened now. I discount the possibility of Delta having had a sudden attack of conscience, because I’m not convinced he has a conscience. It seems more likely that the Central Committee, having been given a torrid time of it by the opposition recently, has leaned on him to get out of the way. That’s quite something, since it’s not so long ago that Alexander was telling anyone who’d listen that Delta – specifically his ability to forge alliances with union leaders – was so vital to the party that losing almost the entire student membership was a price worth paying.

It’s unclear, though this may change soon, what Delta is actually doing with himself. As CC members have noted, he’s not been on the party payroll for quite some time, although this has been an academic distinction as he’s been employed at a party-controlled front. Presumably he’s going to go off to be a mature student, which would explain the appeal being circulated by the Gluckstein siblings to encourage party members to support his studies.

We also don’t know what’s going to happen in the longer term. Perhaps the thinking still is that he can lie low for a period and then be reinstated. But at this point, I’m not sure that the CC actually does have a plan – and the CC has been seriously divided anyway.

Indeed how far does this “resignation” actually go? Phil BC at A Very Public Sociologist continues:

there are three quick points I’d like to raise. First, you don’t need to be steeped in materialist dialectics to understand that this could simultaneously be and not be a resignation. Comrades have time and again pointed out that “Brother” Smith knows where the bodies are buried. He has a handle on the tangled web of shell companies and fronts the SWP uses to store its cash. He’s the one who has the key relationships with useful folk-to-know in the trade union movement. And, of course, he’s a paid employee of Unite Against Fascism. So, the subs may stop, but will the services rendered? I’m going to err on the side of doubt on that one.

Second, it does get the SWP out of a bind. There have got to be a few central committee members breathing a sigh of relief. After all, if the alleged perpetrator of two serious assaults is now outside the party, can revolutionary justice be served when the “defendant” has altogether avoided the Disputes Committee? Something tells me that it is highly unlikely the outstanding complaint against ‘Delta’ will ever be heard.

And lastly, is this resignation permanent or a body swerve? Is Smith going to seek a return to the fold after a decent interval of, say, a couple of years?

Not to be left out the breakaway members of the International Socialist Network have their say:

The women’s struggle for justice throws up the inescapable question of the role of the SWP’s leadership. Throughout the crisis the CC has unanimously backed Delta, smeared opponents, ridden roughshod over democracy and accountability, and steered the party into the worst crisis it has ever seen. They have to go. Any chance of renewal or resetting of the party simply cannot occur while the rest of the current CC remain in place.

To any SWP members who remain we say now is the time to match the women’s courage with your own. Call a special conference and pass a “No confidence” vote in the current CC.

Frankly its far to late for any of that. The SWP has throughout this disgraceful episode shown that is a cult, not a political party. At every stage they put their own organisational interests above the rights of the women who had made serious allegations against “Delta”.

Far from having broken with the bureaucratic and dictatorial machinations of “Stalinism”, they have shown that given the opportunity they would be no different to any of the dictators that they claim to be different from. The antics of the SWP have widely illustrated to (particularly the young) activists that Leninist forms of organisation are all equally poisonous. Their recruitment base in the universities is at an end.

The Professor and his cronies have destroyed the SWP, not a bad thing in my book and it must be remembered that this is not the first time that such a scandal has destroyed a far-left organisation as those who were around in the nineteen-eighties will recall with Gerry Healy and the Workers Revolutionary Party.

A better world cannot be built on the back of centralised, bureaucratic and undemocratic sects like the SWP and their ilk. That way leads to injustice and the Gulag.