Friend or foe?

Opposition blog?: Doubts exist over authenticity

The Weekly Worker is publishing a statement from the new 'SWP Opposition' blog, but doubts over the blogs authenticity remain, reports Peter Manson

The Weekly Worker is publishing this statement from a blog from the newly created ‘SWP Opposition’ (http://swpopposition.blogspot.co.uk). If genuine it shows that the open rebellion against the bureaucratic-centralist SWP regime is reaching new heights.

However, the big problem is that many comrades in SWP circles are sceptical. I have been told - including by those who you would expect to be in the loop - that no-one knows who is involved. One comrade closely associated with the Democratic Opposition told me: “We are warning comrades away from it”. It was the comrade’s “firm belief” that SWP Opposition is actually a “front” for the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. Those who like conspiracy theories may prefer the notion that it is a central committee provocation, designed to lure actual or potential dissidents into revealing their identities.

In response to my enquiry, I received an email from the SWP Opposition stating that the new faction has the support of “27 members” (“and growing”), including “two former full-time organisers and current and former national council members”. The trouble is, nobody - including, as far as I can tell, those associated with the officially recognised opposition factions set up before the January 4-6 conference - has any idea who these might be.

In view of the expulsion of four comrades just before conference simply for exchanging ideas (including discussing whether to form a pre-conference faction - and then deciding not to), it would be unsurprising if genuine oppositionists decided to maintain secrecy. However, more and more comrades are now openly coming out in opposition to the CC, to its abysmal anti-democratic practices and its disastrous mishandling of rape allegations.

Surely now is not the time to ‘keep your head down’. The campaign for democracy has been building a head of steam and so far no moves have been made against prominent blogger Richard Seymour, for example. If everyone came out openly at this time, the CC would have a real problem. If comrades are not convinced, I would suggest that any secret faction could, for instance, be fronted by one or another ex-member whom everyone trusts.

Whatever the truth about the SWP Opposition, there is no doubt that the SWP leadership - however much it pretends it is now a case of ‘business as usual’ - is floundering.


Open letter to fellow members of the SWP

Dear comrades

Conference is usually the time where the party unites behind the perspectives agreed and the central committee are given the mandate and authority with which to lead us during the struggles of the coming year. The events of the past few months have already given our enemies plenty of ammunition to attack the party. However, the debates leading up to and including those at conference have not successfully addressed the outstanding issues and concerns raised in the pre-conference period and, if left unresolved, will only continue to damage the party further.

The serious allegations made against a leading member of the party have unleashed questions not just about the handling of the case itself, but also around the standard of democracy, accountability and organisation required within the party. We do not wish to revisit the details of the case brought to the disputes committee, but instead focus on the political implications and challenges ahead for our party and more widely for the movement and our class.

We reject the comments made by central committee members and others that to turn inwards now would harm the organisation. There are serious questions outstanding and not to address them will risk the long-term future of the revolutionary socialist project we are trying to build. We are founding this faction as a rallying point for those who believe, as we do, that the issues and concerns raised warrant further debate and discussion.

For a democratic, effective and united revolutionary socialist organisation, join us and fight for change from below.

Yours for socialism

SWP Opposition