‘Appeal to all Socialist Labour Party members’

Re: Disbanding of Vauxhall CSLP

The Vauxhall Constituency Socialist Labour Party has been disbanded by the NEC at their March 15 meeting “as a result of the continual refusal to accept and abide by the constitution and policy decisions of the party”, according to a letter from Arthur Scargill received by the CSLP secretary. The letter goes on to say:

“The NEC will take immediate action to reconstitute a Constituency Party in Vauxhall and issue invitations to those individuals residing in Vauxhall who do accept the constitution, policies and programme of our Party. The NEC decision means that no person holding a party card in the Vauxhall CSLP will be accepted or recognised as a member of the party, and decisions on individual party membership will be taken following reconstitution of the CLP.”

This disbanding and mass suspension of membership is taking place on the basis of false accusations. It is not true that we refuse to “accept and abide by the constitution and policy decisions of the party”. It is true that we do not all agree with all aspects of the constitution and the policy documents - there are a wide range of views within our CSLP, as there are throughout the party. As is our right, we argue our views within internal SLP discussions.

The branch has been criticised for holding discussions on a variety of election policy papers put forward by members of the CSLP. We see such discussions around policy as a means of developing our party policy, as a lead up to the conference in October and possible amendments to the policy documents established at the previous conference and by the NEC. This is a natural process in any healthy democratic party. These discussions do not contradict the need to “accept and abide by” the existing policy as the basis for our national election campaign.

Our CSLP is being victimised because of our defence of party member Barry Biddulph, a comrade who has been informed that he is not a member of the party because he is allegedly not abiding by the constitution. Despite repeated written requests by comrade Biddulph and our CSLP, we have never been given details of how he is alleged to be contravening the constitution. We continue to regard comrade Biddulph as a member of the party until, at the very least, we are given evidence as to why he should not be a member and has had the right to appeal the NEC decision in a democratic process before the whole party.

The members of Vauxhall CSLP appeal to all SLP members to protest strongly against this action. We suggest that you raise the issue in your CSLP and move the following motion:

“This __________ CSLP calls on the NEC to immediately reinstate the Vauxhall CSLP which has been undemocratically disbanded. There needs to be a full investigation of the various allegations made against the CSLP and some of its members, with the results of the investigation open to all SLP members. The final decision on the future of the CSLP should be made at the party conference in October. Until such a time we continue to regard Vauxhall CSLP as a constituent part of our party.”

We are loyal members of the party and we intend to remain so, to sell Socialist News, put forward party policy and recruit to the party. However our ability to build the party has been severely curtailed. Nevertheless, we are continuing to meet and to support our candidate, Ian Driver.

Comrades, we must not allow this destructive act to take place. Our CSLP is being attacked because we do not hold back from criticising the leadership or existing party policy. It is only through discussion and open internal criticism that the party will grow, strengthen and develop. If the party membership accepts the disbanding of Vauxhall branch without struggle, then no-one will be free to state dissenting opinions within the party without fear of disciplinary action.

In this spirit of democratic discussion and debate we are holding a meeting on Sunday April 13 at the White Hart (126 Theobalds Road, London WC1X nearest tube Holborn), to discuss the disbanding of our CSLP, the mass suspension of party members and the voiding of members such as comrade Biddulph. All members of the SLP are welcome to attend this meeting. If you would like further information please contact Alan Gibson.

Passed unanimously, VCSLP