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

Brunel SWSS statement

SWSSBrunel SWSS condemn, without reservation, the politically bankrupt and morally reprehensible behaviour of the SWP central committee, in regard to the crisis currently rocking the party. Student comrades have been met with hostility from groups we were on a previous good footing with. Certain sections of the university staff have now joined this chorus of disapproval, and we now face political isolation, the undoing of all our previous work, as the voices of our critics grow in correspondence to the CC’s silence.

We unreservedly feel that this silence is indicative of a complete failure of leadership, and note that this paralysis is even more egregious when "leadership" was the shibboleth the current CC used to justify its own controversial revised slate. Under these conditions, any student activity must be, at least for the meanwhile, suspended, as comrades feel they cannot sustain the party line, especially when it is being deployed as a weapon against us by our political foes, has alienated us from the movement, and, more importantly, is being rejected by large sections of the party’s own membership.

Nevertheless, and precisely because of the faith we have in our party and the proud tradition in which it stands, we urge the leadership to reconsider its position and to accept the growing call for special conference, the creation of a commission over the Disputes Committee, and would further insist that Comrade Delta should stand down immediately from party and affiliate roles.

In solidarity,

Brunel SWSS

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Portsmouth SWSS statement

SWSSThe recent events inside the SWP have left Portsmouth SWSS comrades in anger and frustration at the actions of the CC.Portsmouth SWSS, like the SWP, have a proud record of fighting for women’s liberation and have gained a high standing amongst groups and individuals who wish to fight sexism on campus. However in light of the recent high profile hearing involving a leading member of the organisation, we find our record tarnished. The relationships built up with those on our periphery are now strained or have ended. Whilst we have no desire to reopen the hearing, respecting the wishes of the comrades involved, we believe that the current processes of the Disputes Committee have been found lacking and need to be reviewed. We also feel that some of the CC’s actions in the aftermath to conference have exacerbated the crisis we currently find ourselves in.

Accusations by some comrades of ‘creeping feminism’ in the party is an insult to all of our comrades, particularly those that have been involved in feminist or women’s organisations in our workplaces, unions, colleges and universities. SWSS comrades in Portsmouth have been able to have numerous successful interventions in these groups because of the analysis of women’s oppression that our tradition has. However, Portsmouth comrades believe that more needs to be done to ensure this analysis is put into practise within our organisation. This will improve our understanding and practise in the wider movement.

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UEA SWSS: letter to the National Secretary

SWSSDear Charlie,

We are writing to inform you and the Central Committee of an incident that has arisen as a direct result of the crisis raging in the party. We feel that it makes our position in our workplaces, and within trade unions at the University of East Anglia vulnerable. An article has appeared in ‘Concrete’, our Student Union newspaper, in relation to a recent meeting that Judith attended with the UEA Feminist Society. The article argues that Judith defended the ‘rape controversy’ at the meeting she gave last week. While the article is fair in its criticism, we feel that:

  1. This development is at odds with the claim in Party Notes that ‘Socialist Worker editor Judith Orr spoke at a very successful Feminist Society meeting at the University of East Anglia last week and her talk on Marxism and Feminism was warmly received’.
  2. This article will have knock on effects for those who are party members and staff or students at UEA, as Concrete is widely read on Campus.
  3. Numerous members of UEA Feminist Society have expressed to us their reservations about working with the Party again in the future. Add a comment

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University of Essex SWSS statement

That our organisation is in a state of crisis is by now clear to all. Attempts have been made by comrades since conference at the start of the month to rationalise this crisis, and at the centre of each of these attempts is the report of the Disputes Committee. The point has been made elsewhere but it is important to reiterate that a mere two fifths of conference delegates approved the Disputes Committee report, a vote at conference that tends to be unanimous. Despite the wish of the Central Committee at the end of Conference for the matter to ‘remain closed’ it was never to be so, even before a full transcript emerged on sectarian blogs.

The party is under attack from many sides and this is highly pronounced on our campuses, not just from our opponents, but those whom we work alongside in the Students’ Union and in our united front work. The position that is being pursued does not allow our comrades to argue with the politics of our tradition; it places us in an impossible bind. Our party has a strong theoretical tradition on women’s liberation and a record to be proud of but this is under threat.

Comrades from University of Essex SWSS were in the dark around the issues of the Disputes Committee report, and at no point in our aggregate was the matter discussed. This shows that despite the majority of the Central Committees contestation at conference that political disagreements in our leadership are open to the organisation; clearly this is not the case. The procedures of the Disputes Committee failed the comrade at the centre of the case, and so, Essex SWSS delegates rejected the report at Conference.

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Queen Mary SWSS statement

SWSSThe current SWP crisis has hit SWSS groups across the country incredibly hard and thus QM SWSS have been unable to build a revolutionary current on our campus. We are under fire from external groups on the one hand, and internal pressures on the other. Other left groups and activists on our campus have voiced their discontent with the way recent events in the party have been handled and have isolated us from working with them in the future. Broad left Student Union election slates, which we formerly stood on with great success, have been closed to us. Our wider periphery no longer wishes to work with us. Leading trade unionists and left academics in our departments have ended the previously good working relationships we held with them. The handling of recent events has meant QM SWSS cannot be an effective interventionist party on campus. The party apparatus has offered us little support: there has been complete indifference to arranging SWSS meetings and stalls and individual comrades have been repeatedly asked to consider leaving the party if they do not feel comfortable to hold the line on recent issues. QM SWSS cannot hold the line on what we believe to be a poorly handled and severely unacceptable turn of events.

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Manchester University SWSS statement

SWSSManchester University SWSS would like to make public that we condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the recent handling of very serious accusations against a leading member of the SWP Central Committee.

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 courts of law – it is therefore completely unacceptable that socialists should consider this a reasonable line of questioning. On the whole the behaviour of the party's leading bodies suggest a worrying departure from the best practices and traditions of our movement.

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