Thursday, 21 March 2013

The SWP Central Committee Breaks its Silence

Well, kind of.

In this article in the Guardian, Julie Sherry of the CC comments in public for the first time.

However, it's a case of smoke and mirrors. None of the substantive criticisms of the SWP's handling of this matter are responded to in any meaningful sense. In particular, the following questions remain unanswered (and I'm sure there are many more):

1) Why was it considered acceptable for Delta to be investigated by a panel of his mates (including his ex-girlfriend)?
2) Why were the two women who brought complaints questioned in a sexist way, about drinking habits and past relationships?
3) Why was Delta given weeks of access to Comrade W's evidence before being questioned, yet she still hasn't seen his?
4) Why does anyone think it's acceptable for a national secretary in his late 40s to abuse his position to start affairs with teenage new members?
5) Why have critical SWP members been bullied, slandered and ostracised by the party leadership and its loyal supporters?
6) Why were 4 comrades expelled just before conference when all they did was discuss their concerns regarding this matter privately with other comrades?
7) Why did the SWP think it could investigate a rape?
8) Why did the CC get the recent conference to pass a motion asserting 'Delta's right to a political life in the swp'?
9) Why were the women who brought complaints slandered as liars by party full-timers?
10) Why was 2011 SWP Conference not told of the allegation that had been made against Delta?
11) Why was the other woman, who brought a sexual harassment complaint against Delta, removed from her job working for the SWP after making her complaint?
12) What about the other rape investigation into a full-timer, discussed by Solomon Hughes here?
Sherry claims that:
"Everyone, rightly, took this issue extremely seriously, in line with our commitment to fighting for women's liberation. This is a world away from the culture of cover-up in organisations like the Catholic church, the BBC and the Liberal Democrats."
However, no explanation as to how the SWP's approach differs from that in these other organisations is mentioned. Indeed, the case referred to by Solomon Hughes is highly reminiscent of a priest being moved to a new parish when they've abused their position. One might also mention that Sherry's Dad was a member of the Disputes Committee in question - so has something of an undeclared interest.

Sherry claims that Laurie Penny's remark that "For some men on the left, it seems, feminism is just a petty bourgeois distraction from the real fight" is "highly offensive to SWP members, particularly to women members who have been at the forefront of fighting sexism." Offensive maybe, but it's hard to see how it can be an attack on women when it's directed against sexist men. It also happens to be true. At a recent SWP meeting, a former CC member was heard to explain that "the SWP doesn't agree with feminism because the Communards (Paris Commune) were killed by women". With this kind of nonsense floating around, it's difficult to see how anyone can claim the SWP doesn't have a problem.

In short, woeful. This fools nobody, and serves as nothing more than political spin. It certainly offers no hope or help to those SWP members who have stayed in the organisation but continue to take a principled position regarding this affair and the treatment of these women. Rather, it indicates a leadership that continues to put it's own interests above those of both party and class, and as such is utterly inadequate.

This post reflects the views of the author - Keith Watermelon - only.


  1. Sherry's missive has gone down like a lead balloon in the Guardian's comments section.

  2. Why was it considered acceptable for Delta to be investigated by a panel of his mates (including his ex-girlfriend)?

    That parenthetical detail had passed me by, and I'm gobsmacked all over again (this story just keeps on giving). Could they have found anyone less appropriate to adjudicate a claim of sexual assault by Delta? Why on earth didn't she recuse herself? Why wasn't she asked to stand down? Presumably there was a conversation about this...

    Are you harbouring any bias, conscious or unconscious, with respect to this individual? Think carefully.
    - No, definitely not. I am a revolutionary socialist, and revolutionary socialists know no bias.
    Good, good. Carry on.


  3. There is a circular quality about all this (I think first referred to by Linda Rogers on this blog). If its really true that revolutionary socialists are different from other people when it comes to normal human frailties how does one explain it if one of them is guilty of sexual abuse? Of course one doesn't.

    1. It also means that a Marxist analysis of why this sort of thing keeps happening doesn't actually apply to Marxists! Psychology

      [If you are using Internet Explorer 10, you might find that this link doesn't work unless you switch to 'Compatibility View' (in the Tools menu). That appears to fix the problem.]

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. In which the daughter of one of the members of the vilified SWP Disputes Committee, herself recently promoted onto the CC to replace someone who had opposed the DC handling of rape allegations, explains how SWP procedures are entirely free of bias.

    1. I think sometimes we could do with a cast of characters, like at the start of a nineteenth-century novel. Or perhaps just a family tree.

    2. you can just imagine the staff at the guardian pissing themselves laughing when they got the letter/email from the CC asking for space to hang themselves further in comment is free.
      Once they realised the name the CC chose to go under was the daughter of a DC member, they must have been even more amazed by the CC's stupidity - or maybe like us, they're getting used to it.

  6. Comrades will like the cartoon on page two of this week's Socialist Worker: it has two Catholic priests reading the Leveson Inquiry Report. One says to the other 'Self-regulation's always worked for us.'

    Replace them with two CC members...

  7. Great reply to Julie Sherry from Richard:

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