A new socialist organisation is being formed in Scotland. The 39 activists give their reasons for leaving the SWP in the letter below.
Dear CC and Party Members,
We, the undersigned, are writing to inform you of our resignation from the Socialist Workers Party. This is not a decision that we have taken lightly: for all of us, it is an immense emotional and political strain to abandon an organisation in which we have invested countless hours.
Following the last split from the Party we were told there would be an end to factionalism. It is our position that this was not followed out in practice: factionalism persists at the very centre of the organisation. Allegations have been made against some of us and will undoubtedly continue. However, we have been committed to building the party as well as intervening in the anti-cuts movement, both on campuses and through Right to Work as well as relating to the Arab revolutions. We have not departed from the party line; indeed, we have been at the forefront of developing the organisation.
We are appalled by the factionalism which has driven Chris Bambery from the SWP. This is a consequence of a culture that pervades sections of the organisation and flows from the majority grouping on the Central Committee. This has impacted negatively on the work of the SWP, primarily demonstrated in a retreat from systematic united front work.
In particular our work around the Right to Work campaign has been confused and patchy across the country, primarily because the Central Committee - as a whole - did not drive that perspective from its inception.
In the build-up to the 26 March we could have been organising to get every possible local anti-cuts and trade union activist working together to carry out mass leafleting, but the message from the centre was to concentrate on building it through our paper sales. Those were, of course, vital; but we also needed to place ourselves alongside the thousands who were working to build the march.
Consequently the SWP's ability to influence wider layers of people provided by the biggest demonstration in trade union history was restricted. There are some very good SWSS groups, but the Glasgow students were the only SWSS group with any sizable presence on the student feeder march. Amidst arguably the biggest youth revolt in British history - and despite reports of bumper recruitment to the Party after Millbank - this should have been a massive wake-up call.
But rather than face up to the consequences and adjust our strategy, a faction on the CC has turned its attention to Right to Work national secretary Chris Bambery, who has been labelled "disgusting", "filthy", accused of playing a factional role in Scotland and of wanting to wreck the SWP. This culture means that the SWP nationally has not taken up the campaign in defence of Bryan Simpson, with the Morning Star giving it more coverage than Socialist Worker. At the time of the Arab revolutions a pre-existing factional attitude towards the Stop the War Coalition meant too often we did not throw ourselves into building solidarity actions initiated by them.
Chris Bambery's resignation means we can no longer trust a section of the Central Committee. Let us be clear, we are not leaving the organisation just because of Chris Bambery’s forced resignation, but rather because we understand as symptomatic of a disease within the party that has held back its work and development over the past couple of years and distorted its theoretical tradition.
We have fought for a non-sectarian approach to party building and our results bear this out. Our position on this will not change. We intend to establish a Marxist organisation in Scotland.
We wish to express our gratitude to the comrades in Scotland and elsewhere who have shared our frustrations but have not been willing or able to take this last step. We want to work fraternally with the SWP as we do with all groups on the Left and the Trade Union movement.
We wish those in the SWP success in building revolutionary politics. It is painful that it is not possible to move on together.
However, we are all as determined as ever to continue as revolutionary socialists and to meet the theoretical and practical challenges raised by the ruling class offensive and the emerging anti-austerity movement.
Eileen Boyle (Scottish Steering Committee)
Sean Coyle (Scottish Steering Committee)
Lucky Dhillon (Scottish Steering Committee)
James Foley (National Committee and Scottish Steering Committee)
David Jamieson (Scottish Steering Committee)
Pete Ramand (Glasgow organiser)
Suki Sangha (National Committee and Scottish Steering Committee)
Ben Wray (East Coast of Scotland organiser)
Feyzi Ismail teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London, and is active in UCU
More articles from this author
- Confronting connected crises: cost of living and the war
- No Births Behind Bars: The scandal of imprisoning pregnant women
- Climate change and war: The whole social structure needs to be overturned
- Counterfire’s Climate Briefing for activists
- Can we avert climate chaos and meet people’s needs? - explainer
- We have to make Cop26 a turning point for the climate movement
- Unreasonable, unethical and unnecessary: the theft of university pensions - interview