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

23-11-2013: Steering committee minutes

Minutes of the IS Network steering committee meeting held in Leicester on Saturday 23 November

1. Caucus report-backs

There were no caucus reps present at the meeting, though members of the steering committee who are in the caucuses were present, so they reported back.

Women’s caucus

The women’s caucus had circulated a written report regarding the women’s publication before the meeting.

As yet no assistance from the steering committee is needed for this, except money for refreshments at the first meeting.

The first meeting will be on 1 December.

Women from other organisations have been invited. This should be part of the wider project of realignment.

People are already in the process of writing.

There is a discussion to be had about whether there will be any involvement from men at all, but either way it will be led by women.

There is a lot of talk about skill sharing and passing on knowledge to other members.

The publication shouldn’t just concentrate on women’s issues.

Question of financing the publication. Argued that financial input doesn’t equate to political control. It was suggested that the women’s publication have a separate account under the control of those participating in it, rather than under the control of the IS Network. The Network may donate, and may in fact be the main/only contributor, but the funds will be independent and democratised.

Disability caucus

There has been some discussion.

As yet nothing for the steering committee to action.

There was a discussion about how we fit caucuses into meetings. The next national meeting is the trade union caucus, and we will need to think about liberation caucuses for that.

There has been no movement on the question of the liberation conference. It was agreed that the steering committee would need to provide more support for that. Steve E to contact people from each caucus.

The low number of BME members was raised as an issue. It was pointed out that this was a serious problem for the wider left in general, and in the trade union movement too, and had in fact been a problem for the left in general since the Second World War. Even when the ANL was successful large numbers of black members were not recruited. The left has created problems for itself in black communities - British Jobs for British Workers, for example. The anti-fascist movement, even in majority black areas, seems predominantly white.

It was suggested that we look to pre-existing black organisations to work with, for instance the women’s publication could approach black women’s organisation such as Southall Black Sisters.

Action points

Steve E to contact caucuses about liberation conference.

Ged C to contact BME members to discuss BME caucus.

2. Local groups

West Yorkshire:

Five people in the group, four men and one woman.

First podcast was done.

An autonomism reading group is being set up.

A Communist Forum for the Network and wider groups is planned.

East Midlands:

First meeting will be on 14 December.

Were active around the HE strike.


There were 25 people at a recent meeting.

Planning a meeting on 5 December on sexism and the left. Suggestion that this be put back to January, and approaches be made to people currently in the SWP opposition to attend. On 5 December people should be encouraged to attend the AMM meeting.

Some people want to move towards smaller local meetings rather than London-wide ones.

The expected split in the SWP will likely change things dramatically in London.

A reading group on intersectionality was set up. A left communist reading group is also being set up.

South West:

On 1 December members are getting together to discuss putting on an intersectionality meeting.

Not yet set up as a proper branch, all working on Left Unity.

Reading group being set up in Weston-super-Mare.


Left Unity is being organised.

No branch as yet.

Questions were asked about how people were approaching anarchist groups, and whether they had been friendly. Some contact has been made with them through the Anti-Fascist Network. There have been debates in the anarchist movement similar to ones being had in the revolutionary left after recent issues of sexism, racism and transphobia at the Anarchist Bookfair in London. Afed discussed the IS Network at their conference and may be open to approaches.

A common theme emerging from local reports was reading groups. It was suggested that this be encouraged.

3. Conduct in discussion

Concerns were raised about conduct in discussion, particularly online. A tendency has developed to chuck bombs at each other rather than engage in debate. This is getting in the way of important discussions we should be having.

Liberation politics can be used as a stick to beat others with. While we should normalise calling people out, this should be done in a respectful way.

We need to think carefully about how we communicate with each other.

We need to think of practical steps; the bulletin, for example, will be an opportunity for people to raise debates in a fraternal way.

It was questioned whether we could, or should, police members’ conduct in debate. Should we approach “repeat offenders” or simply make a general argument?

Those of us in elected positions need to be better.

It was suggested that these issues were a hangover from the SWP where there was no real culture of debate and discussion. This isn’t going to be solved overnight.

Suggested that individuals should write something for the bulletin.

4. Revolutionary unity meeting

Waiting on responses from Socialist Resistance National Committee and ACI conference.

ACI conference is in early December- sending a delegation. Travel will be paid.

Workers Power have sent us a response. Will be published on the website, as will responses from others.

Steve E to talk to ACI about how many observers we can have and whether we can contribute at their conference.

Ged C and Keith F to draw up an open letter for other groups.

Suggestion that local groups for anarchist and autonomist organisations should be approached, rather than national.

5. Publications

Publications strategy working group plans to have a teleconference in a week’s time.

Charlotte B volunteered to be the official point of contact with the group.

6. AOB

Tim N to draw up steering committee contact list.

Add a comment

16-12-2013: Steering committee teleconference

Notes of the IS Network steering committee teleconference held on 16 December 2013


Add a comment

Read more: 16-12-2013: Steering committee teleconference

Report of the ISN Trade Unionist Caucus

IS Network Trades Unionists Caucus

Saturday 14 December 


·         There were thirty trade unionists in attendance at the caucus, including members of the IS Network, the Anticapitalist Initiative, Workers Power and the International Socialist League, and independent socialists.

·         The day was roughly divided into three sessions:

1.       General discussion

2.       Liberation caucuses and discussion

3.       Organisation

Add a comment

Read more: Report of the ISN Trade Unionist Caucus

Minutes of ISN Steering Committee 25/10/13

The minutes of the ISN Steering Committee meeting held 25/10/13 by teleconference. ,pdf format

Add a comment

Minutes of ISN Steering Committee 14/10/13

The minutes of the ISN Steering Committee meeting held 14/10/13 by teleconference. ,pdf format

Add a comment