SLP clique ignores members

Since we published the SLP’s Republican Constitution Working Group document in last week’s Weekly Worker (April 18), Janice Fowler, convenor of the group, has written to tell us that this document has not been circulated by the steering committee.

Furthermore other members tell us that the document and amendments agreed by the Trade Union Working Group have been ignored, with Carolyn Sikorski taking a unilateral decision to rewrite it herself! At the March 2 meeting in London the Ireland Working Group agreed some deletions to the paper which now appear again in the circulated document produced by Pat Sikorski.

Below we print Janice Fowler’s letter to us and urge all SLP members to protest against these bureaucratic manoeuvres. If the SLP is formed by such methods rather than through open discussion it will become the property of a bureaucratic clique, not the class as a whole, and will therefore be dead for revolution.

Lee-Anne Bates

I note with interest the coverage the Weekly Worker is giving to developments within and around the SLP. My attention has been drawn particularly to publication of the document produced by the Republican Constitution Working Group.

Unfortunately, the opportunity to read this document has been denied to the wider SLP membership and it is looking increasingly unlikely that it will be presented to the May 4 conference unless members protest about the way the document has been handled by the steering committee.

As the convenor of the Republican Constitution Group, I submitted the working paper to the national SLP in good time for it to be circulated in the pre-conference discussion period. I was then telephoned by Brian Heron, of the steering committee. In the course of the conversation he proposed that we remove all reference to workplace councils - thus effectively removing workers’ control from the paper. Furthermore, he wanted to delete our demand for abolition of the monarchy.

My view, later endorsed by the working group, was that the paper should be circulated to the membership in its entirety for discussion. Amendments could be put forward by the steering committee or the membership and be fully debated. We were given a verbal assurance that if we did not agree Brian Heron’s proposed deletions the paper would still be circulated.

We have now been informed by comrade Heron that he reported to the steering committee that discussions on the Republican Constitution paper were not concluded and that he recommended that the paper was not circulated.

In reply I confirmed that the working group was not prepared to accept the deletions. I again requested that the steering committee circulate our paper in its entirety with any amendments. He said it may not be possible because of lack of resources. He confirmed that the paper would be “made available” on May 4. We are concerned, however, that this does not necessarily mean that it will be debated or even appear on the agenda.

The working group has written a letter of protest to the steering committee. We have pointed out that the consequences of this failure to circulate the document are:

  1. Members who do not attend conference will not be given a copy of our paper.
  2. Branches will not be able to discuss our paper prior to conference.
  3. Members will be unable to submit amendments to a paper they have not seen. Only the steering committee will be in a position to draft amendments.

We will be urging all SLP members to make sure they get a copy of the paper and to protest through their branches at the failure to circulate this paper.

Janice Fowler
Convenor RCWG SLP South London branch