Tuesday, 12 February 2013

When Is a Conference Not a Conference?

Whatever else one does at it, at a conference, one confers. That's definitional. The clue is in the name. One compares views, one consults, discusses.

What kind of animal, then, is the meeting that the CC have called for 10 March? A sermon? A fingerwag? It pleases them to call it a 'one-day special conference', but whatever they intend it to be, a conference is not it.

One might expect a CC that have presided over and by their own actions, errors and intransigence precipitated the worst crisis ever to face the SWP, an unprecedented uprising of anger among previously loyal members, to display a modicum of humility or concern. A sense that there are lessons to be learned. A willingness to listen. But in a favoured formulation of the CC's most withering polemicist, not a bit of it.

We know this is not intended to be a 'conference' in any meaningful sense because they have told us. They've been perfectly explicit. The meeting's purpose is not to discuss or confer, but to 'draw a line', 'to reaffirm the decisions of January's conference and the NC'. As far as they are concerned, the outcome of this 'conference' is a given: the role, therefore, of attendees is to swallow what they are given to eat.  The alternative is that the CC, with pontifical infallibility, already know exactly how the discussion will end.  From that point of view, who needs a full preconference discussion?  They will be happy to know that a vacancy has just opened up in Rome for people with such gifts.  But not everyone is as smart as the CC – give the rest of us a chance.

Even from an entirely cynical point of view, one might expect the CC, given the catastrophic situation they have wrought, to express a willingness at least to listen, even if they had no intention of actually doing so. But no. Whatever else they can be accused of, no one can say, on this issue at least, that they dissemble. They are explicitly clear that they do not intend to engage with any arguments.

This overweening self-righteous arrogance still staggers. SWP members deserve leaders who listen to them, as ours have made clear they will not.

The CC assert that they have “not sought to stifle arguments. That accusation is laughable after the last four months.”  By implication, they claim credit for the fact that there has been and continues to be a growing chorus of disapproval of their actions and methods.  In a sense, they are correct.  By expelling four comrades before conference and suppressing a legitimate faction, they provoked the most raucous debate in the party’s history.  True also, by effectively issuing gagging orders in conference report-backs and in Party Notes, then leaving members hanging out to dry when the controversy went public, they incited the vocal dissidence of hundreds of members now organised in a faction.  If they want to claim credit for the last four months, they are welcome to it.

The CC may attempt to split the opposition. There are, of course, differences among us: some comrades may disagree with some of the Democracy Renewal Platform’s opinions and approach. We are eager to discuss such issues in comradely fashion. But in case the CC attempt to instrumentalise any such legitimate debates and try to turn some against others, we urge comrades to consider the light in which the CC holds *all* of us.

The In Defence Of Our Party Faction is several hundred members strong. It includes countless well-known and leading members of, in many cases, decades'-long standing. As well as hundreds of 'lay' members, it comprises members of the NC, ex-members of the CC, collaborators with Cliff, writers for party publications, activists who have been our public face for years. This is an unprecedented grouping of loyal and well-respected militants. 

How does the CC respond?  

In defending ‘those involved in the DC case’, they say: ‘We do not operate a regime of innuendo and slurs’. They go on to demonstrate this by claiming that several hundred party members are 'unpolitical', our faction irresponsible. They claim that we wish to 'plunge the party' into internal debate. That we manoeuvre 'bureaucratically'. That our document has - and by implication we have - 'nothing to say about the economic crisis and the fightback', and other important political issues.  The CC does not operate a regime of innuendo and slurs, but would like it to be known that their opponents are unprincipled opportunists.

We will deal with the canard that the opposition is 'unpolitical' elsewhere. The CC enjoys pretending that a lack of explicit reference to David Cameron or the BNP, say, in a document means that it is unconcerned with 'the real world'. This is trivially obviously untrue, just as it is true, of course, that the opposition to the formal processes here raises crucial political issues of women's liberation, democracy, cadreisation, and more.

Here, however, we focus on the attitude of the CC to members. Which is an insult.

It is perhaps not wholly surprising - though it is disgraceful - that disobedient student members might be so attacked. It is astonishing and disgusting that the CC think they can get away with traducing *anyone* in the party who disagrees with them, including so many important and respected figures, in this manner.

This goes beyond disrespect. It is contempt. For many years, a cliche of CC exhortations has been that 'every member is gold dust'. More dust, this document would suggest, than gold.

The leadership's position has demonstrably and repeatedly failed the test of reality, but they still expect a cowed membership to rubber-stamp it. Let us make no mistake about that position. The points the CC demands we sign off on include the following:

- That there is no failure of our sexual politics in a process that includes asking woman comrades alleging sexual misconduct by a leading male comrade about past relationships, and whether it's true that one 'likes a drink'.

- That the outrage greeting an investigation of rape allegations by a committee of friends, acquaintances and colleagues of the accused is entirely inappropriate.

- That the CC was and remains correct in their assessment and insistence that the matter was 'closed' while it was not only a cause of immense anxiety among members, but was being openly discussed in both the left and mainstream press.

- That there is nothing untoward about the expelling of four comrades discussing the case online on the Kafkaesque grounds that their explicit disinclination to factionalise constituted secret factionalising.

- That the gross misrepresentation of the views of critical party members in the official Party Notes is unproblematic.

- That to question the views and actions of this CC at this time constitutes a breach with Leninism itself.

- That despite the mass rage of our student cadre and the loss of more and more members in demoralised despair, there is no crisis facing the SWP.

- That 'the party is not shunned or isolated', despite growing numbers of external comrades, left intellectuals and trade unionists explicitly refusing to work with us and/or expressing their grave concerns.

- That, despite all the above, the leadership have made not a single error during this debacle.

These bizarre and insulting contentions are what the CC peremptorily demands members agree to at the 'special conference'. Anyone minded to vote with them should be clear that that is what they are getting behind.

The only way the CC can possibly expect to carry the party to such absurdities is not by rational comradely argument - they have, recall, already stated that they have no intention to engage in any - but by relying on uncritical, default, knee-jerk loyalty of sufficient numbers.

We have a higher opinion of the party membership than the CC does. We do not believe they will nod any such rubbish through.

We demand a conference worthy of the name, with a proper pre-conference discussion period - indeed with discussion at all - at which both the immediate issues and the wider problems of democracy, accountability, party structures and regime which have given rise to this catastrophe are fully aired. We must break the hold of this increasingly delusional and sclerotic leadership, so the SWP might renew its culture and represent the best of the IS tradition.

Alex, Oxford
Andy, Hackney East
China, Brent and Harrow
Gareth, Camden
Jake, Euston
Jamie, Tottenham
Jules, Liverpool.
Marcos, Euston
Penny, Oxford
Richard, Hornsey and Wood Green
Rowan, Brixton
Sam, Islington
Steffan, Swansea
Steven, Liverpool
Will, Canterbury

Monday, 11 February 2013

Stop the Bullying!

The main weapon of the Central Committee and its loyalists has undoubtedly been straw manning. “You’re renouncing Leninism!” they cry, “You want permanent factions!” they shout. Nobody’s renounced Leninism. Some comrades want permanent factions. Many comrades are criticising their conception of Leninist organisation. Many, many more are specifically criticising their handling of a rape allegation.

But it is the beginning of a frightening process. The next stage after the straw manning is the denunciations: anyone who is dissatisfied with the Disputes Committee being comprised of friends of the accused and the way that the women were treated by the Disputes Committee and Central Committee must be a feminist, an autonomist or a Menshevik.

This has become quite frustrating. Many of the opposition have spent years building the party. The natural progression of the above is to claim that we haven’t, are intent on destroying the party and are responsible for the transcript being leaked to Socialist Unity. Where is your evidence? One comrade said that one of the speakers in the Disputes Committee session threatened to leak this from the podium when she said it would be all over the sectarian blogs. No comrade, that was a warning, an accurate one at that, and one you perhaps should have listened to.

After the straw manning, the denunciations and the slander comes the bullying. This is by no means universal. Many of the Central Committee’s supporters have been clear that they oppose a special conference and want the matter closed, and have debated this strongly in branches and district meetings. Many have been civil. Many have not. The bullying is inevitable – some of the supporters have been wound up by the Central Committee and themselves. They think that years, for some decades, of their lives are going to waste because of the likes of us, and they’re incredibly angry.
Firstly I’d like to make this clear: The Socialist Workers Party is in crisis because it mishandled a rape allegation. It is not in crisis because oppositional comrades said the Socialist Workers Party mishandled a rape allegation. By that logic, it matters not that the SWP did something wrong, but that they got caught. We have seen this logic before with the OFFU cheque affair, a logic rightly denounced by comrades at the time. Like then the blaming of the opposition is delusional and inward looking. Look at the class comrades, they’re appalled by this.

There has been a renewed focus on “confidentiality” with regards to the Disputes Committee proceedings.  We have to be clear that confidentiality is always

important. But confidentiality is not the same as secrecy. Confidentiality protects the interests of victims of violence and abuse. Secrecy endangers them. We need to ensure that in these distinctions are understood by members of the Central, National and Disputes Committees. How to ensure confidentiality is going to be explored by members of the Central, National and Disputes Committees. The Disputes Committee deals with issues of an incredibly sensitive nature. There is usually no reason for these matters to become widely known by the party and usually they don’t. However, if something goes terribly wrong as has happened here, if the Committee questions a woman about her previous sexual relationships or her alcohol consumption, then the Committee deserves scrutiny otherwise it becomes an unaccountable, shadowy and sinister panel. At such times the distinction between confidentially and secrecy becomes crucial. The anonymity of individuals must be protected. Failures of process must not be concealed. Secrecy as opposed to confidentiality in regards to a leading member sexually assaulting young female comrades, would frankly be dangerous.

The bullying has to be addressed. Comrades involved in bringing the dispute have been experiencing this for months. Malicious aspersions have been cast on their character and political background and they have been shouted at and intimidated. Little action seems to have been taken.

Comrades across the party have been heckled, shouted down and intimidated at aggregates and branch meetings. When they have complained about this they have been heckled, shouted down and intimidated. Young comrades have received nasty messages from those much older than them. They have been threatened with violence. Why is this happening? Because the leadership is presiding over and at times taking part in the slander of oppositional comrades. There have been disturbing reports of threatening behaviour by leading members. A district organiser has threatened one of the expelled comrades with violence. If the rhetoric and slander does not stop we could be very close to an assault taking place.

Raising, as Alex Callinicos has done, the spectre of 'lynch mobs' of angry members if the debate continues after the special conference - even if this is a metaphor used at a particular moment - is irresponsible. Alex has refused to acknowledge anything wrong in what he said when spoken to by comrades. This kind of inflammatory rhetoric will filter down through the organisation and is likely to encourage the culture of intimidation and bullying we’ve described.

Both sides feel that the other is risking the hard work we have all put into this organisation. But this article should be taken as an appeal as well as an analysis. Take a step back comrades, it is getting out of hand. Stop the bullying.

Toni Mayo
Andy Lawson
Alex Anievas
Martin Percival
Will Rolfe
Richard Seymour
Gonzalo Pozo-Martin
Tom Brook
Gareth Dale
Penny Schenk

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A brief note on the CC's call for a special conference

Having claimed that the opposition to the Central Committee's current strategy and perspective is limited to a tiny minority, the leadership of the party has been compelled to acknowledge the seriousness and depth of the crisis that they are in.  Their acknowledgment of the faction, setting aside the astoundingly misjudged tone of said acknowledgment (about which more later), is a small sign that they at last recognise reality.

Even so, the response is characteristic of the ham-fisted, bureaucratic short-cuts that they have deployed throughout this debacle.  The CC's response calls a special conference on 10th March, just over four weeks from now.  We want a special conference.  But this is, in fact, a manoeuvre of exactly the same type as the arbitrary deadline imposed on motions for a special conference prior to the National Committee.  Its purpose is approximately the same: to drastically curtail the period of debate.  Article 4 of the party constitution states: "Three months before each Conference the Central Committee opens a special pre-conference discussion in the organisation."  Accordingly, we have called for, and continue to call for, "a full pre-conference period".  It is the right of members to a full period of discussion, and the need for it is obvious.  If the most profound crisis in the history of the party does not require an unhurried, serious, in-depth debate, then what does?

We urge members to reject yet another arbitrary deadline, and demand their full constitutional rights.  We also urge members to send a clear signal of opposition by joining the faction if they have not done so and, if they agree with us, joining the platform.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Statement of the Democratic Renewal Platform

We welcome the formation of a faction which recognises the widespread discontent within the party. We declare our intention to join immediately, and invite others to do so.

In recent weeks, the lack of leadership from the Central Committee (CC) over a very serious crisis concerning the handling of sexual harassment and rape allegations has been compounded by a hostile approach towards internal criticism. It is clear that these criticisms are not limited to a tiny minority, but come from broad spectrum of comrades across the country. 

Regrettably, the CC’s attempt to provide a perspective thus far has been limited to blaming internal critics, the left beyond the party, and the right-wing media for the crisis. This is a political failure, insofar as it results from a shocking failure to apply our sexual politics, and has revealed a serious deficit in party democracy. But it is also an untenable strategy that risks doing irreversible damage to the party’s standing in the movement. And it damages our ability to work within united fronts and alongside others on the left. 

The motion carried at the recent National Committee meeting unfortunately serves not to solve this crisis but to deepen it. The attempt to curtail democratic rights to call a special conference, and threaten disciplinary action against comrades opposed to the present CC strategy, must be opposed. We also oppose the ill-founded expulsions of four comrades over this issue before conference. 

For all these reasons, we welcome the creation of a broad, united faction. And we support any project that aims to promote a genuinely democratic, tolerant culture in the party. 

We pledge to work constructively inside the faction for its declared aims, and urge other comrades to join and work alongside us. 

We also call for a special conference at which to address the issues raised by the faction. The purpose of the conference should be to identify and correct those aspects of our work that have led to the current situation, not only organisational structures but also failures in long-term analysis and perspective. We believe it must include in its remit the issues of party democracy and the structure and practices of the Disputes Committee. It must allow a full pre-conference period with internal bulletins to allow for the most thorough debate. The right to call such a conference is guaranteed by the constitution and we refuse to accept any arbitrary time constraints placed upon this. 

Further to these points we would also like to suggest that our crisis points to severe internal deficiencies that urgently need to be remedied. 

First and foremost, we must rectify the culture wherein female comrades could be so badly treated, and the term ‘feminism’ used as a term of abuse for those who object. We as a party have nothing to fear from a serious political and theoretical engagement with feminism as it exists today. We should therefore, in addition to examining the processes that led to our present crisis, work on developing and updating our traditional perspectives on women’s oppression, and women’s liberation. 

Second, this crisis may be the most the severe we have experienced in recent years, but it certainly isn’t the first. In the last ten years alone the party has been hampered by the Respect split, the split with what is now Counterfire, and the later split with what is now the International Socialist Group. We believe these crises are the culmination of deep-seated problems in our long-term perspective, and our methods of organisation, problems which we have never fully addressed or resolved. We will work constructively alongside other comrades in the coming period to address these fundamental issues. 

In our view, the combination of a large full-time apparatus, a Central Committee that frequently resorts to bureaucratic means in order to assert its authority, and the way in which the various party bodies are elected, serves to produce a mostly unchanging leadership which is able to hold the monopoly on the development of perspectives. This restricts the space in which to develop alternatives. 

Third, there is an ungrounded fear of frank public debate in the party. The entrenched scepticism about the internet, though justifiably repudiating cyber-utopianism, is symptomatic of this phobia. Whereas the party once published internal bulletins in the Socialist Review, we now worry about comrades carrying on debates on social media. Worse, some comrades mistakenly think that such debate is the major cause of our crisis. Full and open debate is actually the way out of the crisis. We regard the diverse contributions from comrades to the International Socialism blog, for example, as a sign of health. It demonstrates a desire to develop alternative perspectives honestly and openly. 

In a way, the CC has been right: this argument is about the sort of party that we want to build. The party aspires to be part of a mass party that can lead the working class. Such leadership would be impossible on the basis of secrecy and paranoia, since this necessarily excludes the class from the party’s debates and decision-making. 

As Tony Cliff wrote in 1960: 

 “Since the revolutionary party cannot have interests apart from the class, all the party’s issues of policy are those of the class, and they should therefore be thrashed out in the open, in its presence. The freedom of discussion which exists in the factory meeting, which aims at unity of action after decisions are taken, should apply to the revolutionary party. This means that all discussions on basic issues of policy should be discussed in the light of day: in the open press. Let the mass of the workers take part in the discussion, put pressure on the party, its apparatus and leadership.”

We are the Democratic Renewal Platform. Please join us.

As a member of the SWP, if you want to take part in the renewal of our party:

- to join the "In Defence of our Party" faction, email SWPidoop@gmail.com with your name and branch
- to sign up to our platform, email SWPdrp@gmail.com with the same details

Adam  Brixton 
Aidan   Sheffield North 
Alaina  Sussex & Brighton 
Alan  Edinburgh 
Alex   Oxford 
Alice  Edinburgh
Alistair  Sheffield North
Amy  Oxford 
Amy  Portsmouth
Andy  Leicester 
Andy  Hackney East 
Andrew  York
Ben  Barnsley 
Caroline  Stoke-on-Trent 
China   Brent & Harrow 
Chris  Sussex & Brighton 
Ciara  Tower Hamlets 
Danny   Man Met SWSS / Rusholme 
Dave  Liverpool
Dave   Nottingham 
Dave  Brixton 
Dexter  Sheffield North
Emma  Norwich 
Esther  Euston 
Frances  Portsmouth 
Gareth  Camden 
Gary  Stoke-on-Trent 
Glenn   Newcastle 
Gonzalo  Euston 
Hannah  Brighton 
Jack Leeds  Central 
Jackson  Sheffield South 
Jake  Euston 
Jake  Tottenham 
James  Leytonstone
Jamie  Euston 
Jamie  Manchester Rusholme 
Jamie  Tottenham 
Jennifer  Wandsworth & Merton 
Jennifer  Hackney East 
Jenny  Leicester
Jess  Sussex & Brighton 
Joe Portsmouth
John  Euston 
Jules  Liverpool 
Kaity  Portsmouth 
Katrina  Wigan 
Keith  Canterbury 
Kieran  Camden 
Kris  Wandsworth & Merton 
Lewis  Sussex & Brighton 
Liam Thanet
Linda  Edinburgh 
Louis  Islington
Luke  Edinburgh
Luke Liverpool
Martin  Sussex & Brighton 
Martin  Sheffield South 
Matt   Nottingham 
Matthew  Bristol North
Mike  Brighton
Naomi   Canterbury 
Nathan  Oxford 
Neil  Edinburgh 
Osama  Leeds Central
Patricio  Liverpool
Paul  Leicester 
Peter  Norwich
Raymond   Edinburgh 
Richard  Bristol East
Richard  Hornsey and Wood Green 
Rob  Bristol East
Rob  Sheffield South 
Roisin  Sheffield North 
Rowan  Brixton
Sarah Portsmouth
Sheldon   Barnsley 
Simon  Dalston
Steffan  Swansea 
Steven  Liverpool
Thom  Sheffield South 
Tom  Manchester Rusholme 
Tom   Leicester 
Tom  Sheffield North
Toni  Bristol South 
William  Canterbury 

In addition, the platform is supported by and in turn supports our four comrades currently appealing against their expulsion:


Thursday, 7 February 2013

On accusations of heresy

Enter Nick Grant, defending his leaders from the ravages of socialists who disagree with them. His role, and that of others of his ilk, as a bullhorn for CC insinuations is clear. The CC's traducing of its internal critics in Party Notes consists of nudges: no names are given, details are scant, hints are urgent but en passant. The CC wager that the faithful, whose investment in 'official' positions is unshakable, as libidinal as theoretical, eager for diktats to keep them safe from nuance, will parse these nuggets. Thus here. We respond to Grant not because he is an interesting figure in himself - he is not - but because he is a function, a meat-exemplar of the worst kind of loyalism. We argue not with Nick Grant, but with 'Nick Grant'.

'Nick Grant''s pugnacious if incoherent rhetoric involves barking questions as if their implied answers are damning, whether or not they are. We focus on his attacks on individuals, not least ourselves.

'Nick Grant''s accusations are rote. The SWP's external critics are suddenly motivated by 'default abhorrence of bolshevism', their motives questionable. This despite both figures so scowled at, Laurie Penny and Owen Jones, having worked closely with the SWP, spoken at our conferences and to our publications, never making any secrets of their disagreements, but engaging in the kind of non-sectarian debate we could hope would characterise disagreement on the left. Of the growing number of our other critics in the trade union movement and among sympathetic left-wing academics, 'Nick Grant' has nothing to say. They, presumably, also have 'questionable motives'. This is, after all, a given: it needs no proving. They disagree with the leadership who provide 'Nick Grant' with his opinions. This is definitionally questionable. To cite their disagreements with the CC is to invalidate them. Job done.

And us, internal critics? 'Nick Grant' imputes three positions to us, and further, insists they suggest 'a pattern', though of quite what, beyond that unconscionable disagreement with the CC, is unclear.

The heresies are as follows:

i) 'Political disagreement with conference decisions'

We confess, 'Nick Grant' has us bang to rights. It is indeed in the nature of disagreeing with decisions made at a conference (and elsewhere) that one disagrees with decisions made at a conference.

ii) 'A disenchantment with working-class agency in revolutionary strategy'.

In an epigoneal echo of the line of attack launched by the CC in Party Notes, 'Nick Grant' suggests that because of our opposition to the bullying top-down bureaucratic methods of the CC and its clique, we (whose combined membership of the SWP runs to thirty years) have given up on working-class self-emancipation. This contention demands to be read symptomatically. It is, clearly, prima facie both insulting and preposterous, yet 'Nick Grant' seems to expect it to be taken seriously. This expectation bespeaks simultaneous political debasement and self-aggrandisement. Its straw-person slander of opponents and the fetishistic equation of CC decisions with working-class self-activity should provoke nothing but embarrassed laughter.

iii) 'A very partial assessment - because they earn a living from it - of the value of online "debate" and its organizational importance'

We do consider debate - or "debate" - a good thing, whether that debate occurs online, offline, in branches, or anywhere. Unlike the CC, we think a) serious, respectful, open-minded and far-reaching debate is not only necessary but invaluable, and b) that the CC's internetophobia is a pathetic absurdity, an online stable-door bolting while the discussion-horse canters happily away. (Not only is the fact of online discussion now a given; it is overwhelmingly a good thing.  The years-long sluggish and suspicious response of the CC to the internet, exemplified by the embarrassing inadequacy of SWP websites and online resources, is a political dereliction. But we digress.)

'Nick Grant' insultingly implies that our current opposition is motivated by our wallets, though in fact neither of us 'earns a living' from online debate (it is unclear what that would even mean).

There is perhaps a subsidiary implication: that we are effete literati who swan about without getting our hands dirty and have no notion of party building or proper actual honest sweat and toil. This has more traction, not least because of its kernel of truth: we do both make a living writing, and our milieu does include such things as book launches. There is, of course, no contradiction between working as writers and being committed revolutionary socialists.

We contend that the failure to apply our politics of women’s liberation, evident in the cover-up of serious sexual allegations and the utterly inappropriate questioning of the women making them – and notably occluded in ‘Nick Grant’’s list of accusations – is the real source of our crisis, as well as the symptom of a deeper crisis of party democracy.  We contend that the SWP is in profound crisis, is being boycotted by comrades, haemorrhaging members, alienating our best young activists, because of disgraceful and appalling dereliction of leadership, of accountability, of sexual politics, of democracy, for which the CC scandalously refuses to accept a scintilla of responsibility.  We contend this because that is what we, activists and SWP members of many years' standing, see when we survey the political terrain. If 'Nick Grant' disagrees, the onus is on him to prove that the SWP is not in crisis, or even that it is but that the best way out is the ostrich arrogance of the leadership. It is inadequate to do as he does instead, to point out that we are writers, and to raise an eyebrow as if to add so they would say that, wouldn't they?

 - China Mieville & Richard Seymour

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Central Committee's motion to today's National Committee meeting

As is well known in the SWP, there is a National Committee meeting today, Sunday 3 February. It is not current practice in the party for motions to be published in advance. We had decided to conform to this norm (while not agreeing with it) in the interests of party unity. However, others clearly did not agree with us and the motions to today's meeting have been published elsewhere on the web. We do not believe there is any further purpose in holding this information back from members who read this blog, and we therefore publish below the Central Committee (CC) motion to today's meeting. 

We do not know – we are not allowed to know – if this resolution has the support of each and every member of the CC. We do know, from discussions with CC comrades, that there is significant disquiet and concern about direction in which the party in currently being led. We call on comrades within the CC to speak openly and freely about their misgivings.

It is not our ambition here to respond in detail to each point made in this motion. But we do make the following observations:

There has been no full and honest debate within our party over the way allegations of rape and sexual harassment against a leading member have been dealt with – and voting that there has been will not ever make it so. This issue has been grossly mishandled from the very beginning, the CC has not been open and honest with the party and it is clear that the party is not happy with what has happened. No matter how many times the CC decrees that this matter is closed, it is not and it will not be unless and until there has been an honest accounting within the party, in full view of the class.

The threats to expel members, for insisting that allegations of rape and sexual harassment be dealt with properly and for insisting on democratic norms, will not intimidate us.

The invention of deadlines and the post-facto endorsement of them, is not within our rules and we do not recognise the CC's authority to make such an arbitrary pronouncement. At least 10 branches have so far demanded a special conference and as we add to this number we will insist that the party honour that call.

As we have repeatedly argued, we consider the issues raised and the CC's failures to be those of principle, accountability and democracy. But even in purely strategic terms, given that we are now in unprecedented crisis, are losing members, alienating comrades, being shunned by increasing numbers of close allies in the unions, movements, academia and our own international tendency, it is clear that this astonishingly arrogant refusal to take any responsibility and attempt to control matters by bureaucratic clampdown will also utterly fail to improve the situation members face on the ground.

Linda Rogers
Kris Stewart
Toni Mayo
Andy Godfrey
Hannah Elsisi
Gareth Dale
John Game
China Mieville
Andy Lawson
Jamie Allinson
Richard Seymour
Alex Anievas
Gonzalo Pozo
Adam Marks
Jamie Pitman
Wll Rolfe

The CC's motion reads:

Central Committee

1) The SWP stands out on the left by the fact that it has a history of
genuine democratic debate without permanent factionalism. We have
developed democratic and accountable structures from our branches,
elected district committees, the national committee and disputes
committee, central committee, party councils and conference. In the
recent period these structures were re-examined and strengthened by
the work of the SWP democracy commission. We have full confidence in
these structures and the method of democratic centralism.

2) This newly elected National Committee notes that the commission on
“What sort of Party do we need?” that set out the democratic
principles for guiding our current practice was approved by 239 votes
to 91 by annual conference in January 2013.

3) At the core of democratic centralism lies the understanding that we
have full and honest debate among comrades in order to reach decisions
followed by united action to implement and argue for those decisions.

4) We therefore condemn the actions of those members who have
circumvented these principles by campaigning to overturn conference
decisions outside the structures of the party, using blogs and the
bourgeois media. Many of these contributions have been characterised
by the use of slurs, abuse and un-comradely language that seem
designed to stop serious debate and make joint work impossible, as
well as damaging the party's reputation.

5) This undermining of our democracy should stop forthwith. We
reaffirm the right of the Central Committee to impose disciplinary
measures for violation of our democratic constitution.

6) Many of these contributions have been fuelled by the outcome of the
Disputes Committee report to conference. This NC affirms its belief in
the integrity of the comrades on the DC and of the investigation they
conducted. We note the DC was re-elected without challenge at the
January 2013 conference. The DC report was approved by conference and
the case concerned must be regarded as closed.

7) This NC notes that immediately following the original DC hearing of
this particular case, information about it was leaked to people, some
hostile, outside the party. This helped fuel rumours and
misinformation about the DC within the party. This NC also notes the
disgraceful covert recording of the DC session at conference and the
appearance of a transcript on a site hostile to the party in addition
to the reports and debates in public blogs and internet forums
regarding these internal party arguments.

8) This has created difficulties for any future DC hearing. Therefore
it is in this light that the NC thinks it sensible to consider these
issues, in particular:

i) how the future confidentiality of DC proceedings can be safeguarded
ii) how future findings of the DC should be reported to the party

These issues should be considered by a body composed of four members
elected from the National Committee today, two from the Disputes
Committee and one by the Central Committee. It will report to a
subsequent meeting of the NC.

9) The NC supports the right of the CC, in consultation with the
Conference Arrangements Committee, to set out a reasonable deadline
for calls for a special conference. We do not believe that it can be
acceptable for such calls to be collected together over a period of
several months. This would institutionalise a practice of constantly
presenting motions to our branch meetings. The NC agrees that the
deadline for the recent calls for a special conference was 1 February.

10) We believe that underlying many of the recent debates in and
around the party lie a series of vital political questions where we
need to seek urgently to assert, develop and win our political
tradition. Some of the key debates include:

a) The changing nature of the working class.

b) Lenin’s conception of the party, and its relevance in the 21st century.

c) Oppression and capitalism.

d) The trade union bureaucracy and the rank and file.

e) The radical left, the united front and the SWP.

11) The CC and NC are strongly committed to leading and facilitating
extensive discussion and debate around such issues in every forum of
the party. This requires a serious, systematic and urgent effort in
all our publications, through branch and district meetings, wider
party events such as Marxism and through educationals and day schools.

Central Committee