Monday, July 08, 2013

SWP opposition statement

Following yet another crack down on the opposition by the SWP's central committee - this one abysmally timed and pitched - the opposition has cohered around a statement which deserves support:

The SWP’s National Committee met on Sunday 7 July 2013 and voted by 26-6 to suspend four comrades and make wider moves to shut down any organised opposition to the party leadership. This move is a smokescreen. It is a deliberate attempt by the leadership to escalate the crisis rather than address the critical problems facing the party.
The state of the party today testifies to the poor quality of the Central Committee’s political judgement. At each stage since the complaints of sexual predation against Martin Smith first came to light, the CC has decided upon actions that have exacerbated the situation and deepened the polarisation within our organisation.
Over 400 people have resigned their party membership since January. Attendance at the Marxism festival looks set to be half that of last year. Significant sections of the left are boycotting the event in horror at the leadership’s actions. The overwhelming majority of our student members have left, and there is no strategy to rectify this situation. Over 15 party workers have resigned their positions since January – or been sacked.
Urgent action needs to be taken if we are to avoid the total collapse of our organisation. The latest decisions advanced by the CC and agreed at NC demonstrate beyond any doubt that the party’s leadership would rather shut down political debate by using crude disciplinary measures than engage with the very serious political questions this crisis has exposed. This is despite the CC’s own declaration in January that “members of the SWP are of course free to discuss face-to-face or online and … to get together to seek the outcomes that they want to achieve”.
The appalling handling of the second complaint against Martin Smith – complaints that he sexually harassed a party worker reporting directly to him – further demonstrate the complete failure of the party leadership to put our politics on women’s oppression into practice.
The leadership’s first reaction was to deny that a second woman had come forward. Then they turned to delaying tactics, stringing the complaint out for over four months with a series of contradictory excuses. The disputes committee twice refused to hear the case. Under pressure they have now offered a hearing, subject to certain conditions, and are presenting this as an adequate resolution to the whole issue.
We demand the following immediate measures as a first step towards acknowledging the seriousness of this crisis and beginning to redress it:
● the four suspensions must be immediately lifted
● end all disciplinary threats against dissident members 
● open up the pre-conference discussion period now
In the meantime all remaining party workers who support the SWP opposition have resigned from their positions in solidarity with the four victimised comrades. We refuse to fall silent and allow the leadership to continue on a course that will destroy our party. We urge the central committee to step back before it is too late.

200 comrades have signed thus far.