Report from the National Commitee
The SWP’s national committee met on Sunday to address serious issues about how we organise, debate and act as a revolutionary party.
This is an era of a new and inspiring phase of the Egyptian revolution, and of great revolts in Brazil and Turkey. In Britain the attacks from Ed Miliband on Len McCluskey emphasise the political ferment caused by Labour’s failure to confront austerity.
But each of these battles underlines the need for an independent socialist presence, and a party that is capable of contributing to the resistance, clarifying political ideas and fighting for socialism.
Since the SWP’s special conference on 10 March the party leadership has pushed hard for an outward looking approach, engaging in the struggles to confront racism and fascism, against the bedroom tax, in defence of our NHS and much more.
We have seen successes at trade union conferences, in working alongside others in UAF against the EDL after the Woolwich murder, in broadening the benefit justice campaign and building for the People’s Assembly.
At the same time the party has initiated a series of debates in its publications and at Marxism 2013. The recent editions of the Review and International Socialism are full of controversy and argument.
We want this combination of discussion and intervention in the struggles of the working class to continue. The SWP is perfectly capable of debating and simultaneously working together.
However, such discussions have to be open to all.
the central committee was made aware of a section of members who have organised secretly to work separately from the rest of the party and to intervene at Marxism 2013 as an independent group. They have organised around a website and have a national structure of meetings, internal communications, elections and a bank account to wage an internal fight.
The NC voted to call on these comrades to dismantle the website, stop acting as a faction and to engage with the rest of the party. Nobody was expelled for such activity, even though it clearly breaches our party rules and the decisions of party conferences.
Contrary to rumours that have been circulated, no member of the CC called anyone in the party a “cancer” or demanded “blood”. Again and again CC members and other leading NC members insisted that political differences need to be addressed through political argument, not through expulsions or administrative measures.
Four comrades were suspended from membership pending an investigation. These four had initiated or signed up to a bank account which, according to its organiser, “is an account specifically for a split group. It is a different account to the one set up for the faction. This one is for making a new group financially viable so that when we go we can hit the ground running.”
That really is going too far. Does any party member think this is acceptable?
Nobody was sacked after the NC, although it is true that many NC members expressed dissatisfaction with paid employees of the party being part of a secret faction.
The NC also heard that the CC had acted to ensure that the Disputes Committee hold a swift and fair hearing of a current case, if necessary co-opting people to form an acceptable panel. There will be no CC representation on the panel that hears the case.
We want a fair approach to any such complaints, and an elected review body will soon report on suggested improvements to the process. These will be discussed throughout the party.
We look forward to continuing the crucial political debates that are important for SWP members and everyone on the left – about the shape of the working class today, the role of the Labour Party and the trade union leadership, about how socialists should organise, about how to fight women’s oppression and racism and many other issues.
But we also need a strong socialist spine to all the fightbacks. We want everyone to cease secret organising and engage with the democratic debate that is taking place inside the SWP.
The left is not so strong and so confident in Britain that it can blithely encourage splits and fissures. It’s a time for greater unity, not less. Anyone who now smashes up an organisation of several thousand revolutionary socialists with precious roots in workplaces and communities is playing with fire.