The other day my hard-working, underpaid postman delivered your paper through my door.
By some underhanded way you seem to have my address and decided to subject me to your views. “Extinction looms,” screamed the headline; maybe this is an article on capitalism? No, it is a misinformed, badly written article on the Socialist Party in England and Wales.
“The Socialist Party in England and Wales is in crisis - official” was how you opened up your article, gutter press style, and then went on to say that the Merseyside comrades were “ejected” from the SP with no right of appeal. Well, that is 100% wrong. The comrades have, at this stage, been suspended by the October 1998 national committee of the Socialist Party and, as with any suspended comrades, they have the right to appeal against the NC’s decision. The NC’s resolution also made it clear that they would be only too happy to lift the suspensions on any of the comrades who would give an undertaking that they would accept the basic obligations of party membership: carrying out NC decisions and making financial contributions to the national organisation.
I guess that you just couldn’t be bothered with the facts and that your main objectives are to publish scare stories in the hope that members of the Socialist Party will join your sect. There are of course a number more points from your article that are incorrect, but I think the best way to answer them is by referring you to the statement from the NC, which I guess you forgot to print alongside the Merseyside statement.
Just for information’s sake, I’m not on the EC, or the NC of the SP, and I have written this e-mail from work with no contact with comrades from the national centre, so we are allowed to think for ourselves in the SP.
Bexley and Greenwich Socialist Party
No witch hunt
Toby Abse’s crazy and slanderous letter (Weekly Worker November 12) advocating ‘no platform’ for the supposedly pro-Le Pen, child-molesting ‘bourgeois libertarians’ of the CPGB is a textbook example of lies for political ends.
Not being a supporter of the CPGB, and indeed being someone who has frequently criticised their often mistaken tactics and wrong positions, I must nevertheless set the record straight as to Toby Abse’s own motivation. He claims to speak for “the Independent Labour Network, the Socialist Party, Socialist Outlook and the Socialist Workers Party”, and warns the CPGB that “it might be wiser not to campaign in any part of London with large numbers of jews, blacks or Asians”. The implication being that his view of the CPGB as a bunch of pro-Nazi child molesters is about to gain wide currency, and therefore the CPGB are in physical danger. In reality it is comrade Abse who is displaying his contempt for the racially oppressed by his fantasies of enlisting them as physical auxiliaries to his own political vendettas – even the minuscule minority of the oppressed communities who are likely to have the faintest idea what brother Abse is raving on about probably have more sense than to follow him when he maliciously shouts ‘fire’.
What is comrade Abse’s call for a ‘Mancunian’ solution (a purge of the CPGB) really about? It is about his political hostility to openly communist and revolutionary groupings being involved in the Socialist Alliances. Comrade Abse claims the support of the SWP, the SP, Socialist Outlook and other leftists for his projected Scargill-style purge, but in reality he is using them for his own reformist, anti-revolutionary political aims. Brother Abse is stalking far larger political game than the SP or SWP, and his attack on the CPGB is in reality the thin end of the wedge. On October 5, at a meeting of the Independent Labour Network, comrade Abse put his political cards on the table, in arguing that:
“The left slate [in the upcoming elections] should not have too leftwing a programme. It should not call for the nationalisation of the banks, etc. It should have a social-democratic programme, that can appeal to ordinary Labour Party members. We want something that could even appeal to the likes of Roy Hattersley, and if we come out with a programme that is too far left, that will not be possible.”
I was the only person at that meeting to openly disagree with this opportunist and dangerous political perspective, criticising it as “sacrificing the long-term interests of the labour movement for short-term opportunist gain”. But it is not surprising, if comrade Abse is trying to appeal to the likes of Hattersley, he should find himself initiating an anti-left witch hunt in the Socialist Alliance. After all, Hattersley, for all his supposed ‘born-again socialism’ is still utterly unrepentant about the hounding of Militant supporters out of the Labour Party in the 80s and early 90s when he was Kinnock’s deputy.
That is the political reason for comrade Abse’s call for the purging of the CPGB. His characterisations of the CPGB’s supposedly pro-Le Pen article, and their alleged ‘paedophile’ views, are not honest critiques of their positions. The CPGB’s article on Le Pen was simply a commentary on the pitfalls of calling for the bourgeois state to censor political views, even those of the far right. In no sense was it a ‘defence’ of Le Pen. This is slanderous rubbish, an excuse for a witch hunt.
His call for ‘no-platforming’ the CPGB is an outrage, an incitement to reactionary violence worthy of the worst thug elements in the SLP. It should be realised that comrade Abse’s incitement on this is a threat to the bloc partners he claims to have in his pocket, as well as the CPGB, and to independent revolutionary socialists like myself.
I agree with the position that there should be no blanket age-of-consent law, but that lack of effective consent should have to be proved in individual cases. Both the SWP and Socialist Outlook have in the past argued in favour of the same view. Does that make all of us pro-paedophiles who should be ‘no-platformed’? Is that position, which is widely held among a range of ‘far-left’ groups, to be verboten in the Socialist Alliances? Do people who hold this position deserve to be subjected to violence and treated like fascists, as comrade Abse’s letter implies? Or is comrade Abse hypocritical in his bigotry, in being prepared to overlook the fact that some of his claimed bloc partners also hold this position, in pursuit of his opportunist desire to purge the CPGB?
They should wonder if comrade Abse will later turn on them, for the simple reason that he is stalking far bigger game than even the SWP – like unrepentant rightwing witch hunters such as Lord Hattersley.
Any witch hunt in the Socialist Alliances will kill it as a movement for progressive social change, just as surely as it killed the SLP.
Hattersley’s ‘old Labour’ witch-hunts laid the basis for New Labour!
Editor, Revolution and Truth
Blood has been shed in Jakarta. Fighters for democracy have been killed. Habibie and Wiranto must be made accountable.
In Indonesia today a wave of people’s struggle, spearheaded by students, has unfolded, aiming to win justice and popular sovereignty. We, the Indonesian people, have rejected the special session of the Peoples Consultative Assembly. It is full of people who are the product of the May 1997 rigged elections.
We, the people of Indonesia, demand the end of the dual function of the armed forces [the armed forces’ role in politics] and the repeal of the 1985 political laws. These are the two greatest obstacles to the establishment of democracy in Indonesia.
We the people of Indonesia reject the leadership of Habibie because it has been proved that Habibie is just an agent to continue the dirty politics of the dictator Suharto. We demand the formation of an Indonesian Peoples Council as a transitional government.
We now hear that five university students and one high school student have died and hundreds have been wounded. Blood has been shed. But we will not retreat until our ideals of social justice have been reached.
We call upon all those in the international community who support democracy and oppose oppression to:
1. Carry out protest actions outside Indonesian consulates and embassies around the world.
2. Condemn the acts of violence by the Habibie regime which has used the armed forces as its killing machine.
3. Bring Suharto, Habibie and Wiranto before an international court to face charges against the Indonesian people in particular, and humanity in general.
Send aid in the form of money, food and medicine to the people of Indonesia who are struggling for democracy.
Peoples Democratic Party, Jakarta