[Marxism] SWP CC caves

Jim Moody jim at redunity.org.uk
Sat Feb 9 12:52:54 MST 2013

Caving in to SWP members' pressure, the CC has now called a special conference for 10 March. This is 
the email sent out today to all SWPers:

From: Charlie Kimber <Charlie at swp.org.uk>
Date: 9 February 2013 13:44:10 GMT
To: Charlie Kimber ext email <joeeamon at aol.com>
Subject: Important statement from the CC and announcement of a special conference

Dear Comrade,

Here is a statement from the Central Committee outlining why we are calling a special conference. 
The call for a faction which is referred to in the statement is attached.

A full timetable for the special conference will be circulated in Party Notes on Monday.

Charlie Kimber, SWP national conference

Statement from the CC

1. The SWP has seen an unprecedented amount of debate and discussion over the last four months. This 
includes pre-conference aggregates, three internal bulletins, the conference in January (with over 
550 delegates, two factions, and faction meetings), post-conference report backs, a National 
Committee of delegates elected from conference and post-NC report backs. Throughout this process the 
majority of the party has backed the Central Committee and rejected the attacks on the party’s 
record and its leadership. But a minority has refused to accept a closure of the matters discussed. 
Instead of the party uniting over urgent issues of the class struggle, a minority seeks to drag us 
into continual internal debate. The latest example is the declaration of a faction, outside the 
pre-conference period.

2. The faction document not only contests issues discussed at the recent national conference. It 
also specifically repudiates the National Committee held on 3 February which rejected the central 
elements of the faction document by 39 votes to eight.

That NC also supported the Central Committee’s motion by 39 votes to eight. It seemed that the basis 
existed for the party to move forward united and to throw itself into the class struggle. The report 
backs from the NC showed an increasing spirit of wanting to move forward. The faction, headed by the 
minority at the NC, seeks to set that back.

3. The faction document is extraordinarily unpolitical. It seeks to plunge the party into months of 
internal debate over issues that in truth were thoroughly discussed at the last conference and 
should have been settled there. It has nothing to say about the economic crisis and the fightback, 
the battle against racism and fascism, the union bureaucracy and the rank and file, Unite the 
Resistance, anti-imperialism, building the SWP - or much else. Presumably the faction supporters 
think the party is getting all of that right.

4. The CC does not accept the right to form factions outside the three month pre-conference 
discussion period. Such factions open the door to permanent factions and permanent oppositions, 
making it impossible to unite and intervene effectively. This time comrades want to launch a faction 
five weeks after the end of conference. Next time it may be five days afterwards. The SWP has never 
seen factions outside the pre-conference period – as certainly a large number of the comrades who 
have signed the faction statement know. The CC is criticised for acting bureaucratically. In truth 
it is the faction which bureaucratically seeks to use the lack of precision in the constitution to 
raise debates it has lost in other forums.

5. The CC rejects the specific demands of the faction document. We do not believe the DC process was 
fundamentally flawed or dealt with the complaint in a manner that besmirched our record of fighting 
for women's liberation. The complaint was a very serious matter which was treated with great care.

We reject the implication that the SWP's present CC, or the CC in place in the run up to conference, 
would allow any comrade who brings a complaint forward to be vilified. We have said repeatedly that 
every comrade has the right to take issues to the disputes committee without the worry that they 
will face pressure for doing so.

We do not agree with driving X from political life "for the forseeable future" when the DC decided 
no complaints were proven against him and no disciplinary action should be taken against him. All of 
those involved in the DC case have the right to be treated as members in good standing. We do not 
operate a regime of innuendo and slurs.

6. The CC has not sought to stifle arguments. That accusation is laughable after the last four 
months. Nor has the CC tried to operate by unpolitical or administrative means. There have been no 
expulsions since conference despite behaviour which is unaccountable, undemocratic and against the 
principles of democratic centralism.

Some of this behaviour has been particularly disgusting – such as recording the DC session at 
conference that then led to the Daily Mail article attacking the women members of the DC.

But despite this the CC did not have, nor does it have, plans for “mass expulsions”. We seek to win 
comrades politically while (as the NC agreed) we reserve the right to use disciplinary action 
against those who wilfully and repeatedly flout party discipline.

7. It is not controversial that feminism can be part of a process that leads people into struggle 
and towards a Marxist understanding of the world. It is a baseless slur that the CC sees feminists 
as enemies. We are always on the side of feminists against oppression. But we are also for winning 
women, and men, to a revolutionary socialist view, not adapting to a different view. We believe 
Marxism explains women's oppression and points the way to emancipation - this is not the same as 
slurring feminism.  

8. It is clear that serious divisions have been created in our party. Sometimes genuine concerns 
have been preyed upon by a small minority of comrades who want a wholly different sort of party. A 
debilitating process of relentless internally-focused debate has gone on for weeks. The NC last 
weekend made clear that this must come to an end. Those who refuse to stop factionalising seek to 
continue the branch motions, the blogs, the Facebook battles and the inward focus for another 11 
months. There must be a resolution - and soon.

9. The fight against brutal austerity and against racism, and the need for a socialist alternative 
cannot be sidelined while we look inwards. The party is not shunned or isolated. The danger is it 
isolates itself by not pushing out. There are signs of new struggles - and great movements across 
the world. Are we going to intervene energetically with all our force as socialists or spend a year 
debating the internal structures of our party?   

10. The CC has opposed the demand for a special conference, and those that agitated for one failed 
to win enough branches to call one. But we cannot go on as we are. Therefore, to establish absolute 
clarity and to draw a line that nobody serious can claim to ignore, the CC calls a one-day special 
conference for Sunday 10 March.

We understand that many comrades who have voted in line with the majority decisions at our recent 
conference and have rejected the call for a recall conference in their branches, or who are simply 
weary of constant internal debate at a time of new possibilities in the class struggle, will not 
want another aggregate and a special conference focused on these issues. However we cannot allow 
factional debate to dominate party discussions for the next 11 months.

The conference will be to reaffirm the decisions of January’s conference and the NC, resolve recent 
debates, clarify some elements of the constitution and move the party forwards. There will be 
aggregates over the next three weeks and an internal bulletin. Pre-conference discussion takes place 
in these aggregates, not branch meetings. Delegates will be elected on the same basis as the last 
party conference. Factions can be formed in the normal manner.  

11. We believe all the decisions of the last conference and this special conference are binding, 
unlike those of our critics who believe they are binding unless they disagree with them. The special 
conference must be the final word. We demand factions accept that - in practice, not words.


Jim Moody (jim at redunity.org.uk) on 09/02/2013

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