[Marxism] Excellent letter - Linda Rodgers, Edinburgh, to SWPCC

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Sat Jan 19 16:10:34 MST 2013

01-19-13 Linda Rodgers, Edinburgh, Letter to SWPCC: 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

      Letter to the Central Committee
      posted by lenin

For the Attention of the SWP Central Committee

I am writing to express my condemnation of the process used by the 
leadership of the SWP to deal with an allegation of rape. As the shop 
steward at Scottish Women's Aid I am horrified that the leadership of 
the SWP - of which I have been a member for 18 years - thought that it 
was in a position to investigate a serious crime 
such as rape. Would the DC have investigated a murder? I would guess 
not, but then what does that say about the level of seriousness with 
which the CC and DC treat rape?

The series of decisions made by the CC and the DC around the processes 
for dealing with this allegation of rape and their inability to either 
pull back from them when they started to go wrong, or to respond 
reasonably to criticism after the fact (despite access to a very clear 
analysis of what was wrong with the decisions made) indicate a real lack 
of understanding of rape, its definition and its consequences.

In addition to my concerns about the sheer inappropriateness of some of 
the lines of questioning -as raised by many others - I have a more 
general concern about the lack of specialism in the DC which is required 
when dealing with rape victims, and the separate set of specialist 
skills required when investigating rape when there is only one word 
against another.  This allegation is about rape and sustained abuse 
within a relationship with a huge power imbalance rather than for 
example an isolated incident. My point is not that certain types of rape 
are more or less serious others. My point is that the investigators were 
not trained in understanding and investigating the different 
manifestations of violence against women and the various responses 
required depending on the experience of the woman.

We do reject the bourgeois system of justice but in this case aspects of 
the bourgeois process were used, and having read the available documents 
relating to this case it is not convincing that there was a there a 
clear analysis and understanding of what aspects of an investigatory and 
quasi-judicial process were accepted and which were rejected. Clear 
decisions around process needed to be made and then fully explained to 
the complainant so that she was aware of what exactly she was getting 
into, its limitations and how effective it could possibly be in terms of 
her need for a resolution and could make her own choice on that basis.

This shambolic playing at investigator, judge and jury held a real risk 
of ruining someone's life and it is no thanks to the leadership of the 
SWP and only testimony to the woman's strength if it hasn't.

The response of the CC following the leaking of documents onto the 
and the subsequent media publicity has been the shamefully offensive 
"Statement by the Central Committee in response to attacks on the 
party". This document is only further evidence of the failures of this 

"Had the Disputes Committee believed that the accused person was guilty, 
it would have expelled him from the SWP immediately." This statement 
alone sums up my point. Really? Do you think this could be an adequate 
response to rape? No responsibility to any other woman who might be at risk?

This document also states:

"If this case had been raised within a trade union or any other 
organisation there would be no question that the matter should be 
treated with complete confidentiality. This basic principle should also 
<http://www.leninology.com/2013/01/letter-to-central-committee.html#> in 
this case."

Of course confidentiality should apply; however, confidentiality really 
isn't the issue here. The decisions you made and the way in which you 
handled the investigation are the issues. Focusing on confidentiality is 
a poor attempt to obscure the failings of the process and close 
down the debate.

As anyone who works in an organisation or operates in a trades union 
knows full well this matter would NOT have been dealt with through 
internal mechanisms. The procedures for investigating disciplinary 
matters or disputes between colleagues are not used by organisations or 
trades unions to investigate serious crimes 
How could you not know that? Or are you just assuming that a sheepish 
membership will accept this untruth?

Even by your own terms you failed to follow the "basic principles" of a 
standard trade union process.  I would refer you to ACAS good practice 
guidelines in terms of appointing individuals to panels that don't have 
a personal connection with the individuals involved in the dispute being 

The introductory statement to the document is also untrue:

"A series of attacks on the party have appeared over the last few days - 
many in newspapers which are the sworn enemies of women's liberation and 
workers' rights".

Most of the attacks on the actions of the CC and the DC are not in 
newspapers which are the 'sworn enemies of women's liberation'. Again, 
why lie to us? It does your position no good at all - most of us do have 
access to the internet.  The issue at hand for the membership is never 
what the enemies of women's liberation and workers' rights say about us 
and to us, but rather how we can hold our head up and explain our 
actions and decisions with integrity to the world outside of the party 
with which we come into contact on a day to day basis. Your actions have 
seriously damaged the party's integrity and members' ability to operate.

Finally, it is false to claim that the party is somehow immune from 
sexism. There is no theoretical or evidence basis for making this claim.

I have seriously considered my position in the party over the last few 
days. I know many others who feel the same way that I do.  I have 
decided I want to stay a member, however I can only remain as a member 
of the SWP on the basis that action is taken to remedy this:

· Conference must be recalled and the entire CC and DC need to resign.
· There needs to be an immediate and public apology to both of the women 
who made complaints including an acknowledgment of the mishandling of 
their complaints, and
· An immediate apology must be made to the membership of the SWP who 
have been shockingly let down by their leadership.

I would appreciate a sensible and thoughtful response to this letter.

Linda Rodgers, Edinburgh

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