John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

How did Communist parties handle issues of internal discipline and democracy in Lenin’s time? The recent intense discussion within the British Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) and beyond has heard claims that the SWP rests on the traditions of democratic centralism inherited from the Bolsheviks.

John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

Some extended thoughts about Stephanie Bottrill, the woman who committed suicide because of the bedroom tax.

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the killing of Blair Peach by the police. David Renton looks back at Blair Peach’s life as a poet, trade unionist and committed antifascist

Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

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

Bunny La Roche of RS21 on Nigel Farage's visit to Kent

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

Financial Appeal

We're up and running! An appeal for funds to kickstart the IS Network

Financial Appeal

Jules Alford: Reflections on 2011 SWP conference

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SWPAs the crisis engulfing the SWP continues to unfold it seems the significance of the 2011 SWP conference and the ‘special session’ (we call it that for want of a better term) devoted to an informal complaint made by a young female comrade against the leading party member later dubbed Delta, becomes increasingly apparent. Yes you read that right, this issue first arose two years ago in 2011.

It was at this ‘special session’ that the allegations made by a young female comrade (later known as comrade W) first became ‘public’. That is ‘public’ after a fashion because at the time the complaint remained an informal complaint and was therefore not forwarded to the Disputes Committee; and because at the time no one spoke of rape or sexual assault, while the subject of sexual harassment was only coquetted with in the most euphemistic fashion. When the conference ended most party delegates were still in the dark as to the nature of allegation against Delta.

 

Instead the ‘special session’ initially derived its notoriety from the standing ovation, foot stamping and the chant of “the workers united will never be defeated!” that Delta received from a significant section of the assembled delegates after he was allowed to make a speech in a session supposedly meant to address the fallout of the informal complaint made against him. Two years later comrade W, badly let down by the party’s internal disputes process, would demand a similar opportunity to address an SWP conference but would be denied by the CC.

This is not to suggest that this is how a formal or informal complaint should have been dealt with but simply to note that such a demand appears to have been a desperate demand to be seen and heard when the flawed Disputes Committee process let comrade W down and compounded the failures of the CC stretching back two years. A serious complaint against a leading party member by a young female comrade was not dealt with on the unflinching principled basis of intransigent opposition to sexism that was a hallmark of the IS tradition. The latter, hard won position which surely owed something to the emergence of radical feminism in the late 1960s and 1970s entailed a comprehension of the roots of women’s oppression in class society but did not imply global immunity from its effects.