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John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

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Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

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Bunny La Roche: Nasty Little Nigel gets a rude welcome to Kent

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Financial Appeal

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Financial Appeal

Keith Watermelon: The SWP Central Committee breaks its silence

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Well, kind of.

Julie Sherry in The GuardianIn 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.