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

Brighton SWSS: open letter to the CC

Brighton University SWSS condemns in the strongest possible terms the Disputes Committee's (DC) recent handling of serious allegations against a leading member of the organisation, the vote which ratified their report at conference, and the subsequent failure of the central committee to address the current crisis.

SWSSWe note the failure of the DC in this case to carry out their investigative process in an entirely impartial way due to their composition, and the implications this has for any outcome they could have reached. We also reject aspects of the line of questioning of the two female comrades that came forward with the allegations as sexist, and at odds with the principles of our tradition. We recognize that the DC was faced with a difficult situation, with lack of precedent to enable them to handle this effectively. For this we fault the CC’s conduct with respect to W and the concerns she raised over the past few years. We also fault them for their failure to intervene and correct for failings in the DC’s procedure when they were so glaringly obvious, and for what many will see as their intentional misleading of the membership around the issue in past conferences.

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Leeds SWSS statement

SWSSLeeds University SWSS condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the recent handling of very serious accusations against a leading member of the SWP Central Committee. We are also extremely disappointed that SWP national conference voted to ratify the decision and process of the Disputes Committee responsible for the investigation.

As many people will have seen from the recent leaked transcript of SWP conference, the conduct of the Disputes Committee fell far short of what should be expected in a socialist organisation committed to ending women's oppression. Questions regarding sexual history and drinking patterns would be rightly condemned as sexist if asked within a bourgeois court of law – it is therefore completely unacceptable that socialists should consider this a reasonable line of questioning. Coupled with the effective sacking from the SWP national office of one of the women that brought forward the accusation, and the expulsions of four comrades for attempting to ensure the issue was dealt with, the whole behaviour of the party's leading bodies suggest a worrying departure from the best practices and traditions of our movement.

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LSE SWSS: statement on the current crisis in the SWP

SWSSWe condemn the handling of two allegations recently made by female comrades regarding sexual harassment and rape. We believe that the way this case was handled by the Disputes Committee and the Central Committee constitutes an unacceptable betrayal of our politics on women’s liberation. We also condemn the suppression of the formation of a legitimate faction created for the distribution of an important statement relating to the case by a number of comrades, during the pre-Conference period. The CC should be aware that these failures are impacting on the ability of SWSS members to work effectively with others.

We call on the CC to acknowledge the gravity of these failures of principle and strategy and to issue an immediate apology to the women involved. An immediate recognition that mistakes have been made needs to be issued. In order to move forward from our current impasse a special conference must be called and a rank-and-file investigate commission in to the Disputes Committee procedures must be formed. Further, we believe that Comrade Delta can no longer be involved in the party’s united front work. It is untenable for him to represent the party in any way at this time.

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Birkbeck SWSS statement

SWSSBirkbeck SWSS calls for comrades to call for a special conference to address the current crisis within the SWP. The fallout from the Disputes committee report into allegations against comrade delta has developed into a crisis for our party. The CC’s handling of the matter since the conference has been both inadequate and misjudged.

Already the crisis has effected our intervention in NUS and will start to effect our intervention in trade unions and the labor movement.

We believe the following are things comrades must demand:

  1. The CC must clarify Comrade Delta's on-going role in the party and our united fronts. This is not about deciding the comrade’s innocence or guilt but limiting damage to our party. The comrade has lost the trust of a significant number of comrades.
  2. The party must formally consider positive proposals for changes to how the DC handles cases of this nature, including those that comrades were not allowed to raise at conference.
  3. To censure the CC for its handling of this crisis post-conference. The party must act to rebuild trust, recognising that over a question of this nature declaring “we have voted” is not enough.
  4. That we reject the CC’s arbitrary deadline for calls for a special conference. A special conference is a means of the membership holding the leadership to account - a vital part of democratic centralism. We reserve the right to wait for the decisions of the national committee before deciding whether to campaign for a special conference.
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Kent SWSS statement

SWSSUKC (Kent) SWSS has voted to pass this statement to make clear that we are dissatisfied with the way the Disputes Committee handled allegations made against a leading member, and the inadequate response from the leadership during the aftermath. The processes used fell far below what members expect from a revolutionary party which aims to address oppression. The current situation is due to the failing of the central committee to acknowledge these problems.

Allegations of creeping autonomism and feminism from the leadership are unhelpful, and appear designed to create divides within the party which do not exist. More open discussion within the party is the only way to reconcile this situation. We are making this statement not to create division, but because we feel it is the only way we can continue to be active members of SWSS on campus.

We are calling for:

  1. A special conference, so that the problems which the party needs to deal with can be dealt with democratically and student voices heard, in order that we can continue to fight austerity, oppression and capitalism in unity.
  2. The removal of the member against whom allegations were made from public positions in recognition of the fact that the Disputes Committee report was barely accepted, and the Chair of the committee did not think he should be exonerated.
  3. A commission into the party's constitution, the make-up of the Disputes Committee, and how it will handle such cases in the future.
  4. The reinstatement of the 4 four members expelled in the pre-conference period, as these expulsions were not made in the best interests of the party.
  5. Proper explanation for why Hannah Dee was removed from the Central Committee at short notice.

University of Kent SWSS

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University of East London SWSS statement

For an Outward Looking SWSS

SWSSUniversity of East London (UEL) Socialist Worker Student Society (SWSS) holds the International Socialist tradition in the highest regard. A tradition founded upon breaking from the evils of Western capitalism and the horrors of Stalinism, and one that fights to this day for real working-class emancipation. A tradition that has fought tirelessly against sexism, racism, homophobia and the class exploitation that capitalism creates. It is as proud followers of this immense political tradition that we feel the necessity to write this statement.

Our SWSS group publicly condemns our leadership’s recent handling of a serious allegation of sexual abuse brought against a leading member of the party. We believe the subsequent inability of the Central Committee (CC) to address the crisis embroiling the party, is paramount to, and indicative of their refusal to accept any responsibility for their bureaucratic mishandling of the case, concerns and political turmoil comrades have faced in both the pre and post-conference periods.

We recognise that this is a crisis that could and should have been avoided. We believe that the reprehensible response the CC have conjured up represents a detachment from the hostility comrades have faced in their workplaces, campus’s and unions, which has paralysed our ability to carry out the interventionist work required of a revolutionary party. The clear demarcation of the leadership’s relationship to the membership, and their insulting disregard for the political turmoil we face in our respective workplaces and campus’s was typified in the most recent pseudo claims in Party Notes, denouncing the political concerns of the emerging opposition as seeking to overturn our Marxist analysis of women’s liberation, and no longer seeing the working class as central to the fight for socialism.

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