In the debate that is currently blazing within the SWP this is the most potent argument in the Central Committee’s arsenal. For we all agree that the annual conference is the highest institution of our democracy. The report at the centre of the row, the Disputes Committee report, was accepted by conference, with 231 votes in favour, 209 against, and 18 recorded abstentions. Nobody, to my knowledge, has disputed the accuracy of the count. “For the sake of democracy and unity,” the CC argues, “all members must accept the vote. Just look at the numbers, and read the constitution!”This argument simply won’t do. Some would say its flaws go back to the pre-conference discussion period and the management of conference itself. There were aggregates at which comrades who sought to raise the issue of the DC report were denied the floor; important information was withheld from the party prior to conference; comrades were expelled for pre-conference discussion; a properly formed faction was suppressed; and the factions which the CC did allow were not given proper factional rights. These are real concerns. But even if the conduct of pre-conference debate and the organisation of conference itself had been impeccable, the argument would still be unsustainable...
Thursday, January 24, 2013
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Gareth Dale writes on the argument that SWP members should "respect the authority of conference":