If Chewbacca lives on Endor, the SWP must be right: the dynamics of the Respect split

chewbacca-703738.jpg

Well, we’re on the home straight now, and I have to say that George has played a blinder. I must admit that this isn’t how I expected things to pan out – if you’d asked me six months ago how Respect would break up, my prediction would have been for George to self-destruct and the SWP to be left holding the baby. But George has been very canny – he’s chosen his dogs and the sticks to beat them with a lot of care – and he’s been very fortunate in his opponents. My suspicion is that this represents the SWP terminally jumping the shark.

Was the blow-up inevitable? Probably it was, due not least to the tension between the SWP’s vision of Respect as a “united front of a special type” and others’ view that it should function as a party. The major line of division around that has been the SWP’s tendency to keep Respect ticking over at a minimum level between elections, and others’ understanding that sustained local activism was necessary to build an electoral base. This led in some Respect branches to SWP members turning up at the AGM and voting to do nothing; it also made it difficult for non-SWP members to function within Respect. A related issue was whether Respect should be effectively a subsidiary of the SWP, or have a life of its own. Another related issue was whether the monolithic regime of the SWP created two classes of membership in Respect – the now famous “Russian dolls” analogy.

The “Russian dolls” argument is a compelling one, but it is less the product of conspiracy and more of the SWP’s peculiar culture. In the first place, there is the sectist arrogance that sees the SWP as the repository of political wisdom, as the people who see further and better than anyone else. Sometimes they talk about learning from others, in a somewhat metaphysical way, but they generally assume themselves to know best. This is what makes working with the SWP in movements such an enervating experience – they are manipulative, but not usually in a malicious way. Rather, very much like the old adage that what’s good for General Motors is good for America, they assume that what’s good for the SWP is good for the working class.

More to the point in this struggle is the internal regime of the SWP. Put bluntly, if Respect was to develop it needed a democratic culture, and you can’t have a democratic Respect if you don’t have democracy in the SWP. The SWP’s own democratic structures are so stunted and its commandist culture so entrenched that the permanent leadership of the SWP couldn’t but be aware of the danger to their own cosy little regime if, for example, they were to allow free votes within Respect. It was imperative that they hold to their traditional way of working, that the SWP hierarchy would take decisions, and the SWP membership would follow those decisions en bloc within Respect. Hence the experience, familiar to anyone who’s been to a Respect conference, where the SWP members would turn up knowing in advance which way to vote, and would all vote the same way, even on tiny procedural issues. To say this puts others at a disadvantage, or even puts a question mark over the need for discussion, is an understatement.

This is what determines the way the SWP works in its so-called “united fronts”, including its “united front of a special type”. If you look at the CC document’s account of all the people the SWP has worked with on this or that campaign, you will notice that it’s a list of prominent individuals who’ve been involved with the SWP over single issues. But this in itself proves little. Of course the SWP can work well with Tony Benn or Tariq Ali or even Peter Hain on a single-issue campaign. That’s a matter of diplomacy. Their record of working with other organisations, especially in an environment where their control isn’t assured, is frankly appalling.

This MO couldn’t work long-term in Respect. The SWP CC seem to have predicated their approach on the idea that the SWP would consistently call the shots in Respect, controlling the central apparatus, setting priorities, turning activity on and off like a tap. George could be circumvented by stroking his ego, letting him do whatever he wanted and staunchly defending him whenever he went off on a tangent. Other figures were simply treated as useful idiots. Salma Yaqoob was built up by the SWP after her appalling role in stitching up the Brum STWC, but as she developed into a substantial figure in her own right, attempts were made to shut her out of the organisation. As for the Bengali councillors in the East End… not that these people are saints by any means, but I can’t be the only person to have detected a nasty subtext coming from the SWP, an undercurrent of outrage that these unsophisticated peasants should have pretensions to leadership, rather than just following the lead of the white Marxists who know what’s best for everyone.

So it shouldn’t have been surprising that resentment against the functioning of the SWP, especially its leadership, should have grown up in Respect, particularly in those areas not under the firm control of the SWP. And it wouldn’t have surprised SWP insiders that the national secretary of Respect, whose job it was to maintain working relationships, would have fallen out with just about everybody else. And that’s the context in which to put George’s original letter – amidst the speculation about a snap election, it was painfully obvious that Respect was in no condition to face an electoral contest. And so George made a number of criticisms – quite measured ones in the circumstances – and proposals for putting Respect back on an even keel.

And the SWP CC’s response to that was to declare war, although their reticence showed they were finding it hard to think of a casus belli. A proposal to reduce the power of Rees was portrayed as an attack on the SWP, although George let it be known he would happily have any SWP member other than Rees in the national secretary’s position. SWP leaders started making savage attacks on a man they had been almost uncritically supportive of for four years. Then you had the surrealism of the 29 September Respect NC, where SWP reps were part of a unanimous vote for a package of measures that seemed to assure peace in our time, to be followed the next day by an SWP Party Council where the CC proclaimed that there was a left-right split in Respect, and George was determined to drive out the “socialists” (i.e. the SWP and its close fellow travellers).

Some of the SWP’s behaviour since then has simply been blatant organisational skulduggery. Notably the rows over conference delegates – moribund branches being reactivated to elect slates of SWP delegates; attempts to have fraudulent “student delegations” accredited on the basis of numbers of people indicating a vague interest at freshers’ stalls; the argument that the mostly Bengali Tower Hamlets branch, where fewer than 10% of members are in the SWP, would be best represented by a delegation consisting in its majority of white SWP members. The last case was especially hilarious, as the SWP was calling for gender, ethnic and political balance in a branch it didn’t control, while everywhere the SWP had a majority it turned out the comrades’ idea of “balance” was an 80-100% SWP delegation. This puts into a different light the SWP’s demagogic calls to “let the conference decide”, and appeals to the democratic rights of the Respect membership on behalf of an organisation that doesn’t allow its own members much in the way of democratic rights.

Many of the SWP’s actions, however, simply seem irrational, and can be best understood in terms of the SWP’s own functioning. That’s probably the best way to approach the CC’s Big Document on the Respect crisis. The document itself, in rhetorical terms, is little more than an inordinately long-winded version of what South Park fans will instantly recognise as the Chewbacca defence. There is a lot of fun to be had for someone in unpicking all the hypocrisies and terminological inexactitudes – I am immediately struck by the carping about Galloway’s earnings from the very people who voted against the principle of the workers’ wage, and also by the critique of “communalism” which has been borrowed off-the-shelf from the AWL. Non-SWP members of Respect will hardly be convinced by a document that obviously refers to a parallel universe, so little resemblance does it bear to their own experience, but that isn’t the point. Like all the CC statements during this crisis, it is primarily for internal consumption, and its main purpose is to whip the membership up into a frenzy of party chauvinism.

And where has all this left the SWP? Taking the thousand or so signatures on the CC’s loyalty oath as a starting point, we can firstly discount the CC’s wholly fictional claim that the SWP has 5900 members. Given that the loyalty oath contains some joke signatures, more than a few people who haven’t been active in years and a large number of “Respect supporters” (i.e. SWP members who have either refused or not bothered to join Respect), it’s open to serious question whether the SWP could even command a majority of Respect’s 2000 members in a democratic conference. That would put SWP membership at a forty-year low, which is a hell of an achievement for the post-Cliff leadership.

And the only way is down. The expulsions of Wrack, Hoveman and Ovenden may be passed off as unfortunate, but losing people like Jerry Hicks and Gary McFarlane starts to look like carelessness. One may expect further defections – certainly, the SWP’s “Real Respect” conference, where they are going to be in a room with themselves, will lower morale quite considerably. They will find it exceedingly difficult to forge alliances with anybody for years to come. What could possibly redeem their position slightly would be a turn back towards hard Trotskyist politics, but there is absolutely no evidence that the recent leftist rhetoric has been anything more than rhetoric. What we are likely to get is a small, isolated, propagandist and sectarian SWP with populist Respect politics, which is no earthly use to anybody.

As for the other half of Respect – I’m not inclined to hype up the possibilities. The most optimistic thing I can say at this point is that they will be more open than the SWP, and the Renewal conference may see a genuine discussion about ways forward. Which isn’t much, but it’s more than we’ll get from the SWP.

42 Comments

  1. chekov said,

    November 5, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Hmmm, I doubt whether even johnny cochrane would be able to defend that SWP document without blushing. Stuff like the following:

    “A record of fighting unity and open, honest argument

    There is a reason we have such a reputation.”

    I mean, their members would have to be seriously brainwashed to believe that they have such a reputation, not to mention isolated. A brief conversation with pretty much any non-member in the world would be enough to clarify what their reputation is.

  2. ejh said,

    November 5, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    The usual cynic writes: if their membership is so low, why is so much time spent discussing them at such depth?

  3. Liam said,

    November 5, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Time permitting I intend to do a deconstruction of the CC statement. Your take on events is on the money. It’s a shame things have ended up like this. There was a period when it looked like the SWP was slowly learning to work with the left as opposed to ignoring or denouncing it.
    As for the Renewal conference its significance is that it will pull together all the people who have had a bellyful of bureaucratic manipulation and are keen to build something plurlalistic. There will be rows and disagreements in it too but they won’t immediately lead to bullying, hectoring and exclusion. That’ll be a nice change.

  4. Garibaldy said,

    November 5, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    I reckon the SWP will continue along as it did before, and expect it to put lots of its resources into the councillors who are loyal to it. And that seems to me to be a key question here. Finance is the bane of any organisation. And the SWP seem to have a lot of it. George will continue to exploit his expenses to the maximum, as he should, but whether the Renewal people can match the scope of the SWP in this area I doubt. That may hamper their development, and allow a larger voice to small business people than GG would want.

  5. Darren said,

    November 5, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    “Was the blow-up inevitable? Probably it was, due not least to the tension between the SWP’s vision of Respect as a “united front of a special type” and others’ view that it should function as a party. The major line of division around that has been the SWP’s tendency to keep Respect ticking over at a minimum level between elections, and others’ understanding that sustained local activism was necessary to build an electoral base . . . “

    Some wise commetator on the Socialist Unity Blog hit the nail on the head when they pointed out that what precipitated this implosion was the fact that they were all expecting Brown to call the election this autumn.

    But for that, all the interested parties in Respect would have continued to paper over the cracks and the contradictions.

  6. Liam said,

    November 5, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    That’s true Garibaldy which makes it important for the new formation to develop a distinct political profile and an attractive internal culture. That will be a big part of the discussions on the 17th I’d guess.

  7. Andy Newman said,

    November 5, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    In answer to ejh’s queston, if theya re so small why are they so big, which is a good point actuallY, I wrote the following as part of another project:

    Left wing politics in Britain has been moulded over the last two decades by the enormous transformation of the Labour Party. As long ago as 1990 Bea Campbell pointed out that the Labour Party was becoming a party of opinion rather than a party of activists in a movement . Although the party still has a broadly progressive electoral base, and links with trade unions, it no longer articulates the aspirations of those supporters. As Jon Cruddas MP has argued: “New Labour has quite consciously removed class as an economic or political category. It has specifically calibrated a science of political organisation – and indeed an ideology – to camp out in middle England with unarguable electoral successes. Yet the question remains as to whether the policy mix developed to dominate a specific part of the British electoral map actually compounds problems in other communities with different histories and contemporary economic and social profiles.”
    As a consequence of Labour abandoning working class politics the party no longer has an active membership base at a local level, and this means that in many progressive campaigns, for example against the war in Iraq, against the fascist BNP, or in defence of Council Housing, the relatively small forces of the far left, most notably the SWP have a disproportionately important role. The SWP are large enough, and well organised enough to carry forward various campaigns, for example they are very active in Student politics, and their placards and newspapers give them a high profile on demonstrations, so in some contexts they seem to be the most prominent advocates of socialist ideas.

  8. Madam Miaow said,

    November 5, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Thanks, Splinty, for another wry, cool-headed orientation around where we are right now. Saves me having to plough through the increasingly demented battles at SU.

    Why is their tiny membership a surprise? Having seen duh Party’s actual figures which were clearly a fraction of the 10,000 they were claiming (“Never lie to the class,” Hah!) I did try to get a debate underway when it was evident the “comrades” weren’t at all perturbed by this and other disinformation. Certainly, most of the SA committee have known since around 2002.

  9. Worldbystorm said,

    November 5, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    I’d second MM’s comment.

    I think people here are paying attention because many have been members, are members or have had dealings with the SWP. But I don’t think that in the wider world it makes a whole heap of difference, as I’ve noted over on the CLR. It is fascinating though. I think, like Andy, that it is a case of good promotion. SWP has been very successful in promoting itself around the anti-War issue, just as it did – to a degree through the ANL way back when. That locked into a narrative extant from 2002 to 2006 where opposition to Blair increased and increased. Now that Blair is gone the boil appears lanced and the issue begins to dissipate. No surprise then to add onto what has been said about how the failure of Brown to jump towards a snap election that the project began to founder. On the other hand, promotion is only promotion. The reality – and the insight into membership – may be quite different again….

    I’ve said it before, I have had zero dealings with them politically other than their being the background (this is in Ireland) and no particular axe to grind. But. There seems to be amongst people I know politically a very strong antipathy towards the SWP as a formation, although not to individual members. That’s of interest to me naturally.

  10. Binh said,

    November 5, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    I’ve heard it said that the ex-SWP is the largest group on the British left. When they expel leading comrades on thin pretexts (Ovenden, Wrack, etc.) it’s not hard to see why. Unfortunately, judging by what I read on Lenin’s Tomb, this crisis won’t precipitate any regime change in the SWP and they’ll keep hammering away in futility instead of trying to make an honest appraisal and re-evaluation of what’s gone wrong. It’s really a shame.

    They’ve managed to destroy and mangle the IST they helped found. There is not one group, not a single group, in the entire IST who have been successful in any real sense over the last two decades. The only exceptions have been some of the expelled groups like the US ISO, the Australians, and the International Workers’ Left in Greece. All the remaining groups in the IST have either remained extremely small, suffered splits engineered from outside, or disappeared into obscurity after fundraising drives carried out through the ISJ.

    The current leadership of the SWP has as many successes under their belts as the neocons do. Nothing but a string of “catastrophic success” one after the other. Hence the decline in membership from a stated 10,000 in the early 90s (who knows if that’s true) to 1-2,000 or so today.

  11. Mike said,

    November 5, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    Sure the reason for many of us being interested in the SWP is that many of us were in the group once upon a time. But there is also the fact that on the ground the SWP is the biggest of the many small fish claiming to be sharks. When fishing it is hard to avoid the sharks and I have no wish to be sharkbait!

    Socialists Out of Respect!

    Socialists out of Respect (Renewal)!

  12. ejh said,

    November 5, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Mike’s group is, I believe, just short of double figures at the moment…

  13. ejh said,

    November 5, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    Mike’s group is, I believe, just short of double figures at the moment…

  14. franklittle said,

    November 5, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    Commenting briefly on this over at CLR but my admiration on the title of your excellent analysis. I burst out laughing for some moments when I saw it causing my partner and her brother, neither of whom are at all political, to take a look.

    I suspect it would take too long to fully explain.

  15. Andy Newman said,

    November 5, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    I understand that the 10000 figure came from some Stakhonivite full-timer who lied to Cliff, who was always willing to believe good news that confirmd his wisdom. Cliff then spoke the number publicly, and it coiudl never be gainsaid.

    Actually what I would descibe as a “MIke Pearn turn” would be the most sensible option for the SWP now in terms of institutional survival, but it would take a lot of political courage.

  16. Andy Newman said,

    November 5, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    ejh

    T be fair, Mike group is only 9 short of double figures

  17. Mike said,

    November 6, 2007 at 6:21 am

    The 10,000 figure has a sadder origin than Cliff giving in to self delusion, which malady he was prone to it must be said, and lies in the relaxation of membership criteria in the early 1990’s. In short the ‘Leninist’ criteria that all members work under and in the appropriate party bodies was dropped allowing the offical growth of a large layer of inactive members to develop. this was cemented by the membership campaign of the day, the dash for growth, which consisted of signing anybody and everybody up regardless of the nature of the political relationship the group had with the individuals concerned.

  18. Alex Nichols said,

    November 6, 2007 at 7:51 am

    I think when discussing SWP membership figures the quoted numbers are usually derived from the print-run of membership cards.
    Which is a bit like calculating the guests expected at a wedding by counting the confetti.

  19. entdinglichung said,

    November 6, 2007 at 9:54 am

    nice article … I remember the German SWP-clone “Linksruck” in my hometown around 2000/2001 claiming around 80 members, at rallies or demonstrations, you rarely spotted more than 20 of them (some of them always from neighboring places)

  20. andy newman said,

    November 6, 2007 at 10:44 am

    #17 Mike

    There was indeed a shift, becasue prior to the early 1990s every member had to be reregistered every year, and reregistration in january was an occassion to visit the more passive comrades, have a chat with them and check they were still interested.

  21. Mike said,

    November 6, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    I’m glad our memories as to the formal abandonment of ‘Leninist’ criteria by the SWP agree Andy. As I recall that reregistration was also the occasion for the dropping of inactive members. What the Comintern described as a purge!

  22. andy newman said,

    November 6, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Yes I can also think of one of two members in the old way of doing things who were encouraged not to reregister, which of course was an unconstititional form of expulsion.

  23. ejh said,

    November 6, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Actually Comintern purges used to be rather more enthusiastically conducted…

  24. Binh said,

    November 6, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Failing to re-register inactive members is not a purge, it’s honesty. If you think registering inactive members is OK, I would urge you to read Lenin vs Martov on what is a member at the RDSLP Congress in 1903.

    And what the hell is the “Mike Pearn turn”?

  25. Andy Newman said,

    November 6, 2007 at 10:17 pm

    A Mike Pearn turn would be for the SWP to take the route advocated by MIke pearn, commenting here as Mike.

    Which as i would characterise it, (but perhaps he misght describe it differenty) would mean
    A return to defending the theoreticall heritage of working class revolution, state cap, building an ideologicaly and theoretically robust cadre, prioriticing workplace politics and having very little impact on the big bad world.

  26. ejh said,

    November 7, 2007 at 8:32 am

    I would urge you to read Lenin vs Martov on what is a member at the RDSLP Congress in 1903.

    Do we have to?

  27. Madam Miaow said,

    November 7, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Further to Binh’s point, a typical phone-round would yield members such as:
    1) John Smith, Flat 3, 1 Clapton Sq, Hackney E8
    2) Mr J Smith, 1 Clapton Sq E8
    3) Jay Smith, Flat 31 Clapton S1 E8
    4) Ms J Smith, Hackney E9
    5) Jonathan Smythe, Clapton St E8
    6) Jonny Smiff, good bloke. Bought a paper off me once.

    Of course, all would turn out to be the same person. Sometimes your solicitous inquiry into their health and status would be met with a tirade of, “I told you four years ago to take my f**kin’ name off your f**kin’ list.”

    Sadly, any attempt to do so and tidy up the records put you firmly in the dog-house.

  28. Binh said,

    November 7, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    Madam, I had no idea things were that bad in the SWP.

  29. Martin Lynch said,

    November 7, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    It certainly is miraculous. The SWP clearly has no significant membership and those there are thoughtless robots. Yet somehow its members seem to manage to initiate, and play a crucial part in sustaining, a whole number of serious organisations including Defend Council Housing, the Anti Academies Alliance, Unite against Fascism, Love Music Hate Racism, Stop the War Coalition – not to mention Respect!

    It’s also a puzzle how the SWP comrades are at the heart of so much of the left and rank & file organisation in the Trade Unions, given that there are so few of them, compared to the hoards of other activists. And then there is that summer event they organise, involving thousands of people – far bigger than anything else of its kind on the left. Perhaps it’s because others gave up on any real attempt to change the world and instead spent their time sniping at other socialists on some bitter and rather incestuous blogs

  30. Mike said,

    November 7, 2007 at 11:44 pm

    Following on from Andys description of a Mike Pearn Turn as “A return to defending the theoreticall heritage of working class revolution, state cap, building an ideologicaly and theoretically robust cadre, prioriticing workplace politics and having very little impact on the big bad world” I would like to make some corrections to his amusing remarks.

    1/ I’m not bothered too much as to whether a Marxist propaganda group adheres to a theory of state capitalism leave alone Cliffs particular theory. I am concerned that such a group would be thoroughly Anti-Stalinist and personally remain an adherent of the state cap concept.

    2/ I strongly disagree with the suggestion that I’m only interested in a workplace orientation. In fact my view is that a Marxist propaganda group would have to politicise its workplace work far more than IS did back in the 1970’s.

    3/ Contrary to what Andy might think, he has some justification however, I’m not uncritical of the old IS of the 1965-1974 period.

    4/ The approach I advocate, not that far from that of the ISO today although I’m more prepared to look to influences outside the IS Tradition perhaps, has been more succesful in the real world than the endless socialist unity projects touted by various deserters from revolutionary communism.

  31. Madam Miaow said,

    November 8, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    “It’s also a puzzle how the SWP comrades are at the heart of so much of the left and rank & file organisation in the Trade Unions …”

    In the same way as a cuckoo performs in the nest compete with destruction binge. People like Karen R are the exception, not the rule.

    “And then there is that summer event they organise, involving thousands of people – far bigger than anything else of its kind on the left.”

    Getting smaller and shorter, Martin.

  32. ejh said,

    November 8, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    And yet, still better and bigger than anything anybody else does. If you can’t give credit where it’s due, your criticisms carry less weight than they might.

  33. Madam Miaow said,

    November 8, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    Bigger and shrinking by the minute as the penny drops that we are dealing with a particularly nasty cuckoo.

    The “comrades” smashed up the thriving Birmingham STWC, attacked individuals, other leftist organisations, grabbed the helm of the anti-globalisation movement in Britain only to have it stagnate, destroyed the SA, and so on. We all know those examples by now. I was there, ejh, were you?

    Andy informs us that:
    “SWP member Jane Loftus, who is national CWU President and on the postal exec, is NOT campaigning for a no vote.”

    So for every Karen there’s a Jane. I can give credit but you won’t take off your rose-tinted specs and take a good hard look at the destruction left in the SWP’s wake.

    Tiresome diversionary tactics aside, back to my point at comment No 27: is this a good thing? Or a bad thing?

  34. Binh said,

    November 8, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Martin: It certainly is miraculous. The SWP clearly has no significant membership and those there are thoughtless robots. Yet somehow its members seem to manage to initiate, and play a crucial part in sustaining, a whole number of serious organisations including Defend Council Housing, the Anti Academies Alliance, Unite against Fascism, Love Music Hate Racism, Stop the War Coalition – not to mention Respect!

    It’s also a puzzle how the SWP comrades are at the heart of so much of the left and rank & file organisation in the Trade Unions, given that there are so few of them, compared to the hoards of other activists. … Perhaps it’s because others gave up on any real attempt to change the world and instead spent their time sniping at other socialists on some bitter and rather incestuous blogs

    The American CP did a lot of commendable work in the 1930s as well, but it doesn’t mean their politics weren’t screwed up or that they were totally undemocratic. Citing a million campaigns is little more than padding a resume without some kind of deeper assessment or analysis.

    And if you don’t like what people have to say on “incestuous blogs,” don’t go looking to read them. It’s no surprise that people say these things since there is no room for substantive political differences in the SWP – just ask Ovenden and co.

  35. ejh said,

    November 8, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    I was there, ejh, were you?

    No I wasn’t: nor does it, nor anything else in your posting, either add to or detract from my posting or my point.

  36. Andy Newman said,

    November 8, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    I am interested in martin’s observation about the SWP being “at the heart of so much of the left and rank & file organisation in the Trade Unions”

    I just wondered which country or decade he was refering to.

    In the extremely unlikely eventuality he is referring to the SWP in Britain today, I would be interested to know which unions the SWP have this infleunce in?

  37. November 8, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    […] eventueller Reste streiten kann, zeigt zur Zeit die AWL, wohingegen andererseits wenigstens, wie Kommentar Nr. 27 zu jenem lesenswerten Beitrag endlich Klarheit zu den angeblich hohen Mitgliederzahlen der SWP geschaffen […]

  38. Binh said,

    November 8, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Hicks in his resignation letter said they had 6,000. That’s a rather steep decline from 10,000 in the early 90s. I doubt there’s ever been any discussion of that inconvenient fact in the SWP:

    http://liammacuaid.wordpress.com/2007/10/26/to-the-swp-central-committee-and-membership-from-jerry-hicks/

  39. Mike said,

    November 8, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Hicks in his resignation letter said they had 6,000. That’s a rather steep decline from 10,000 in the early 90s.

    The SWP never had 10,000 active members or even 10,000 dues paying members. The figure was based on the number of people who signed membership applications many of whom were never seen again. A member of Workers Power actually joined the SWP several times on the same day to my certain knowledge in, I think 1993 as I saw the Party cards he was given.

    As for 6,000 today its a joke they are weaker than they have been in decades. South East Wales is down to less than a score of active members from well over 50 some 15 years since. The decline has been less elsewhere but is marked.

  40. ejh said,

    November 9, 2007 at 7:34 am

    Which brings me back to the point I made at #2…

  41. Andy Newman said,

    November 9, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Well ejh

    Becasue depsite their small size, they have the organistaion and dedicatin tomake some campaigns happen (on the plus side)

    and put thousands of activists through the mangle, and disrupted or destroyed left organisations like the SA, SSP, (and if they have their way respect), destroyed relationships of trust and confidence, etc. ) on the negative side)

  42. ejh said,

    November 9, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Insignificant and yet very significant and often both at the same time.

    Fortunately, having been brought up a Catholic, I have the theological equipment to handle this…


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