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

Richard Seymour: SWP in Crisis

Socialist WorkerLaurie Penny writes an article about the crisis in the SWP, following up on Tom Walker's very finely written resignation statement. It quotes my long-time friend and comrade China Mieville making some, to my mind, extremely well put observations about the catastrophic nature of this crisis and the roots of it in the party's deformed democratic structures and lack of accountability. It is an excellent piece. And it stands in stark contrast to the shameful whitewash in this week's Socialist Worker, and ironically does more service to the party.

So, let us recapitulate. A serious allegation is referred to the Disputes Committee of the Socialist Workers Party, my party, to investigate. The Disputes Committee is composed largely of individuals who know the accused. The Disputes Committee asks the person making the allegations a series of completely inappropriate questions that, had they been asked of someone making such allegations in a police station, we would rightly denounce them as sexist. Another comrade makes a related allegation against the same accused, and submits a statement. The committee subjects this comrade to similar treatment. The committee reaches a verdict of 'not proven'. The conference of the party is then lied to about the nature of the allegations. The Central Committee and the Disputes Committee collude in a cover-up. They suppress it. This is already a disgrace.

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Good riddance - now sack the rest!

The brave women who stood their ground throughout this scandal are an inspiration to us all.

They are the ones who've been exonerated. It is hard to imagine what they have been through but today, with Delta's "resignation", they can be justly proud of their principled stand and for leading the way in fundamentally changing the culture that allowed the likes of Delta to operate unchallenged for so long.

The women's struggle for justice throws up the inescapable question of the role of the SWP's leadership. Throughout the crisis the CC has unanimously backed Delta, smeared opponents, ridden roughshod over democracy and accountability, and steered the party into the worst crisis it has ever seen. They have to go. Any chance of renewal or resetting of the party simply cannot occur while the rest of the current CC remain in place.

To any SWP members who remain we say now is the time to match the women's courage with your own. Call a special conference and pass a "No confidence" vote in the current CC.

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Richard Atkinson: A resignation statement

SWPI joined the SWP in February 1977, just after the party had changed its name (and always regretted never having been in the IS). I went straight into the thick of things - Grunwicks, Lewisham, Right to Work marches and then the ANL. I lost my job as a result, got thumpings and death threats from the NF and ended up, unemployed with a young daughter, selling the paper on my own in Chester through the Falklands war. Never regretted a moment of it and don’t now.

Later in the 1980’s I got work in welfare rights, a field I’ve stayed in ever since; politically ambiguous because it involves individual advocacy, rather than collective action but it earned me a living and at least did no harm. Did my bit during the miners’ strike and waited for better times. But things are a bit different in a modest provincial city rather than a metropolis. You work with the rest of the left - Militant and CND at the time - because you have to. The SWP kept me active and, yes, probably did keep me out of Cliff’s swamp, preventing cosy compromises.

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Resigning from the Socialist Workers Party

FAO the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party

We, the undersigned, are writing to you to inform you that we can no longer remain in the Socialist Workers Party. The organisation’s tradition of fighting women’s oppression has been seriously undermined by the handling of a number of rape and sexual harassment allegations by the Disputes Committee and the Central Committee and the crisis of democracy and accountability in the party this has laid bare.

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Manchester SWSS disaffiliation and resignation letter

How do you recognise a dissident Marxist? This term is used to refer to people who did not treat their socialism as an inherited canon of knowledge, but at each moment were willing to think their politics anew.’
Dave Renton

SWSSIt is with a great deal of disappointment and a slight sense of demoralisation that the University of Manchester Socialist Worker Student Society would like to make public our decision to disaffiliate from the SWP, with those of us who were members of the organisation now resigning. Many of our reasons for this will come as no surprise to those who have followed the party’s fortunes in recent months and do not need in depth explanation. Yet at the risk of sounding self-indulgent we would like to take this opportunity to make a few basic points both relating to why we are leaving and what we plan to do next.

It goes without saying that the recent mishandling of allegations of rape and sexual harassment against a leading comrade have weighed extremely heavily on our decision. Nothing further needs to be said on the case itself. Those in the know will be aware of places online where they can find much better informed opinions than any we could offer.

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A response to SWSS notes: the National Student Meeting

SWSSOn Saturday 23 March the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) finally answered the calls for a national student meeting. The students themselves up and down the country have been demanding a national meeting to deal with the unravelling crisis the SWP is undergoing. Many of those that called for the student meeting wanted to develop a strategy to keep student members in the party and active after the demoralisation, intimidation and verbal abuse they’d suffered in the run up to and after the first conference in January 2013. The failure of the Central Committee (CC) to call this meeting earlier in the year has resulted in the loss of several SWSS groups (Leeds, Queen Mary’s, Brighton and Sussex, Hull, Kent) and the collapse of many others into inactivity.

Normally, when a national student meeting is called, we aim to get as many students as possible to it, but not this time. This time we were limited to two delegates per university (presumably so we couldn’t make the CC cry - which has apparently happened at previous student meetings) which meant there were less than 30 students representing SWSS nationally. The day was broken into 3 relatively short sessions; General Perspectives, Marxism Festival and NUS Conference.

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