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 with your name and branch
- to sign up to our platform, email 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:



  1. A mole in the pole on the platform in the fraction of the faction in the party of the working class. You're creating something bright and beautiful here I can smell it.

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  4. I am not and have never been a member of the SWP, but you are all very brave taking this stand and I wish you well.

  5. Comrades can see my response to the above over at the Tomb.

  6. Replies
    1. Hi Justin - would you email us? Thanks!

    2. I have done that and find myself not on the list! Interesting.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Please sign me up to this platform, I have already signed up to the faction. Cheers. Penny - Oxford

    1. Hi Penny - could send us your email address? That's the only other detail we need. Thanks!

    2. Hi thanks, great.
      My address is:

      Because the silly bugger has been outflanked by the cretins on the C.C.

      Thank you!

  8. COME ON YOU MISERIES, LAUGH! nothing else to live for

  9. I have just read, with regret, Andy Lawson's resignation email sent to the CC.

    I hope the DRP can make a collective decision as to how you want to continue your campaign to make the SWP a healthy organisation that revolutionary socialists would want to join & even enjoy being part of.

    I know we all have our limits but it is better for all reformers to stick together, & not leave in an individual way.

    I am very angry with the perpetrators of abuse against Defence members, & I only hope you can defeat them politically. They are a disgrace to the labour & socialist movement, bullies, & cowards.

    I hope you can work out a successful strategy to overcome these destructive dinosaurs.

    Twice in the last few days I had quoted from Andy's piece in the PCB on the Facebook Four when commenting at 'Socialist Unity'. He had presented an evidenced argument that any rational person would agree with. The 4 comrades & all who want a healthy SWP have had no better advocate than Andy Lawson. The fact he couldn't stomach it any more just shows how sick the SWP is.