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

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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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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