Response to the statement from ULU, 13 March 2014
A number of officers of the University of London Union (ULU) have produced a statement regarding the SWP and the annual Marxism event. The statement makes a number of untrue claims about the SWP.
First, it is claimed that the SWP is a "corrupt, rape apologist organisation which prides itself in creating an unsafe space for young women". We rebut these extremely serious but unsubstantiated allegations. They are abhorrent lies. Had those drafting the statement taken the opportunity to consult any of the young, women members in the SWP, including those who are members of student unions affiliated to ULU, they would know this to be far from the case. We oppose any manifestation of sexism and have campaigned vociferously on this matter for decades.
Second, the statement claims that those who came to Marxism 2013 to protest against the SWP "were submitted to verbal and physical abuse by members of the party". We are not aware of any abuse directed towards anyone protesting against our event last summer. No such complaints were made to the organisers of the Marxism event and we have not been made aware of any received by the venues or any other authority. We would not countenance such actions. Indeed, if as alleged in the statement violence was perpetrated against people, we invite those who have signed the statement to substantiate their claims so that we can investigate this serious allegation.
Third, the statement alleges that "the Socialist Workers Party has tried to silence any activist within the party who has tried to fight for justice for the women who have been victims of sexual violence at the hands of the leadership". In addition it is claimed that “criticism of the SWP leadership has been constantly silenced and suppressed at every turn and often met with violent behaviour”. We completely refute these allegations.
We assume these accusations relate to the two serious allegations made against a former member of the SWP who was, at the time of the alleged incidents, on the leadership.
We sought to address these through our internal disputes procedures. Subsequently we acknowledged that there were problems with some of the structures of our disputes procedures. So in spring 2013 we began a thorough going review to ensure we put in place procedures adequate to deal with such allegations. These were voted on and accepted at our December 2013 conference. The full report is available here: https://www.swp.org.uk/press/dispute-procedure-review
The leadership of the SWP also said sorry to the two women for the suffering caused to them by the structural flaws in our disputes procedures, the way in which the two cases became subject of political conflict within the party and slurs on the Internet.
Both these facts have been reported in our publications and on our website. See the report on our conference here: https://www.swp.org.uk/content/swp-conference-december-2013 and the statement issued on 20 Dec 2013 here: https://www.swp.org.uk/content/central-committee-statement-20-december-2013
Far from dissent being silenced in the party, there was extensive debate and three national conferences were held in 2013. The allegation of violence being used to silence and suppress criticism of the SWP leadership is another unsubstantiated lie.
Finally we note that a national meeting of SWP members recently took place in ULU on 2 March 2014. Indeed the SWP often books rooms in ULU. We cannot fathom why, if those who have signed the statement really do have oversight of the bookings at ULU, and they really do believe their allegations against us, they were prepared to accept this booking but have now made such a public statement regarding the Marxism 2014 event. Our only conclusion is that this is a malicious attempt to smear the SWP by publishing vicious but unsubstantiated lies about the organization.