Hard cash and comradeship

This letter has been sent by the Communist Party of Great Britain to the Socialist Alliance national executive committee

Dear comrades,

The financial contributions of the Socialist Alliance’s principal supporting organisations are in urgent need of review. Once a new, acceptable agreement has been reached, the CPGB will, of course, fulfil its obligations completely.

Indeed this has been our practice. We should also point out that it was at our initiative that it was first agreed that the SA’s principal supporting organisations pay an equal sum. Specifically, that we should finance a national office - at the time this required £160 a month from what was then six organisations (since then the Socialist Party in England and Wales and Workers Power have both broken with the SA).

Throughout 2002, only the CPGB fulfilled this mutually agreed pledge directly. The Socialist Workers Party discounted debts to its printshop (which doubtless helps maintain turnover). Others paid far less.

Our Provisional Central Committee decided to suspend monthly payments to the SA for two reasons. Firstly, the failure of other principal organisations to meet their contributions.

Our representative on the EC has complained about this on a number of occasions and naturally this was fully reported in the Weekly Worker.

Secondly, the climate in the SA has undergone a radical alteration over the last year - for the worse.

Effectively the SA was closed down for the duration of the US-UK war against Iraq. Instead of rising to the unprecedented challenge and the huge opportunity to make a qualitative breakthrough, the SA was disappeared from view. Prime responsibility for this rests with the SWP leadership. For example, its members were instructed by Chris Bambery, SWP national secretary, to concentrate on SWP recruitment and selling Socialist Worker. Furthermore, no SA speaker featured on any of the Stop the War Coalition’s platforms (we still do not know whether the SWP argued for or against this).

Then, at the SA’s much delayed national conference, there was an attempt to exclude Martin Thomas from the new executive. We should point out that comrade Thomas represents the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, which is now the second largest of the principal supporting organisations. This was in gross violation of the SA’s principles of inclusion and toleration and surely would have been highly damaging. In all probability the AWL would have staged a walkout. Thankfully, the threat by the CPGB to boycott the SWP’s slate forced a rethink.

Nevertheless, the national conference saw the SWP impose a dramatic shift in overall political balance. SWP representation on the EC leapt from three to 13 and the Resistance/ISG bloc was rewarded with six seats. Previously, the SWP had three and the other principal supporting organisations one each.

It soon became clear how the SWP intended to use its new voting strength. Steve Godward - SA vice-chair - was ousted. His ‘crime’ - opposing the SWP’s ‘peace and justice’ turn. Then there was the move to replace Marcus Ström of the CPGB as nominating officer - once again because of his minority viewpoint.

This was followed by the AGM of Birmingham SA. At the initiative of the SWP any officer who dared express doubts over the opportunist ‘peace and justice’ turn was purged. Another gross violation of the SA’s founding principles of inclusively and toleration and proof that the SWP’s behaviour in Beds SA was no aberration.

Sectarian intolerance has replaced the comradely relations that characterised the SA at its best. At Marxism 2003 CPGB members were even subjected to physical assault (perhaps at the initiative of Chris Bambery). Naturally the CPGB wrote to the SWP in protest. We expected an honest investigation and an assurance that there would be no repetition. Sad to say, the SWP has not even deigned to reply.

Unfortunately the SWP now sees its allies in the SA - apart from the most supine - as the problem. Nowadays communists are a barely tolerated minority, not valued partners. In such circumstances, we think it is entirely appropriate to review the CPGB’s financial contribution.

The CPGB would agree to directly help fund the SA to the tune of £160 a month - if there was proportionality and a strict honouring of financial agreements. For example, contributions could reflect EC representation. The SWP would in this case pay £2,080 monthly and ISG/Resistance £960. Alternatively, we suggest a sliding scale based on claimed membership.

Comradely relations must be re-established as quickly as possible. Meanwhile old arrangements are no longer tenable.

With communist greetings

Mark Fischer
national organiser
Communist Party of Great Britain
October 14 2003


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SWP (donation by repayment of East End Offset)




Communist Party of Great Britain




Workers Power




Alliance for Workers’ Liberty




International Socialist Group