Exit Delta

We have movement! Finally!

Here’s the situation, as I understand it. First, Delta has resigned from the SWP. Second, it has been decided that, rather than trying to crudely draw a line under the affair, the Disputes Committee will proceed to hear the second complaint – the sexual harassment complaint brought by Comrade X, which has been postponed several times already – in his absence.

This seems pretty good, if a few bear traps can be negotiated.

It’s unclear, for a start, why this has happened now. I discount the possibility of Delta having had a sudden attack of conscience, because I’m not convinced he has a conscience. It seems more likely that the Central Committee, having been given a torrid time of it by the opposition recently, has leaned on him to get out of the way. That’s quite something, since it’s not so long ago that Alexander was telling anyone who’d listen that Delta – specifically his ability to forge alliances with union leaders – was so vital to the party that losing almost the entire student membership was a price worth paying.

It’s unclear, though this may change soon, what Delta is actually doing with himself. As CC members have noted, he’s not been on the party payroll for quite some time, although this has been an academic distinction as he’s been employed at a party-controlled front. Presumably he’s going to go off to be a mature student, which would explain the appeal being circulated by the Gluckstein siblings to encourage party members to support his studies.

We also don’t know what’s going to happen in the longer term. Perhaps the thinking still is that he can lie low for a period and then be reinstated. But at this point, I’m not sure that the CC actually does have a plan – and the CC has been seriously divided anyway.

However, this is movement. This is very significant. It removes one logjam, and does give an impetus to moves to open the party up. Which is all to the good. Now the serious work begins.



Filed under Left Politics

22 responses to “Exit Delta

  1. Rob

    You still can’t even say his name!

  2. Meanwhile there was marxism 2013. >But that event, getting together loads of fighters to think about how to move our class forward, merits not a line one your blog. Because your priorities are not about that.

    • You might consider why it got many, many fewer fighters than it did last year.

    • Tony

      John your entire MO for 6 months has been to belittle people who are angry over Martin Smith’s actions. All you’ve done – over and over and over again – is sneer at people’s arguments, glossed over the real anger, and made out that there’s no problem.

      You are part of the rotten culture inside the SWP, and you don’t deserve ever to be taken seriously as a socialist – you’ve forfeited that right.

      The fact that every time this is mentioned, you say “look over there” just like you’ve done now, shows that you actually don’t give a fuck that several women say they were raped/assaulted by a former leading member of your party.

      You are part of the problem.

  3. Justin T

    Surely the complaints committee will immediately decline to hear the second complaint and insist instead that it be taken to the police or dropped and that the member bringing the complaint is in absolutely no danger of disciplinary action for doing so but will be supported until the outcome of the police investigation or any trial.

    Smith is just as entitled to clear his name as the complainant is to have the allegation properly investigated but because of the CC’s need to sustain an atmosphere of paranoia in order to maintain its position as the only legal clique the victim is denied justice and the accuse the opportunity to clear his name. It could be that the victim here is the accused but we will never know thanks to a botched and biased internal procedure favoring the ruling clique.

    Obviously under conditions of illegality and police state or tyranny it might, it certainly would, require that randomly selected juries of party members here allegations of this sort but any genuine revolutionary party in such a situation would be busting a gut to ensure things like this didn’t happen in the first place so that inappropriate activities and relationships are not indulged or ignored simply because, especially because, it is one of the leaders that is accused.

  4. It looks from the outside that the people with the sort of analysis needed to effect a significant transformation are those who’ve already been driven out. Although the current leadership is much weakened by the resignation they still retain the habits of manipulating debate and controlling the apparatus and that apparatus is quite a material advantage in an organisation in the habit of being browbeaten by it.

    It’s just as likely that comrades will continue to drift away either because of a revulsion of the leadership’s handling of the allegations and subsequent treatment of the victims. The only way this can be stopped is for a coherent alternative perspective to be fought for inside organisation. However anyone doing so has to accept that the incumbents will not give up their positions without a massive fight. Though given how catastrophically badly the current leadership team has handled every single aspect of this process its claims to have any special wisdom can only be greeted with a hollow laugh.

    • Tony Collins

      Indeed Liam – immediately after the bruising debates last week, Socialist Worker reports that over 3,000 people went to Marxism this year. Thus, at the first chance they had, they lied about something so simple.

      These small things tell us a lot. Just as the apologists’ “look over there” tactics do.

  5. There’s an excellent report of Marxism 2013 and assessment of the current by Paul Leblanc here.


  6. Liam – you’re confusing your own political sympathies for an analysis of the actual situation. You might not agree with the Pat Stacks or Ian Birchalls (or 200-300 others, prior to Marxism) political perspectives but I don’t think that it’s the case that the SWP won’t survive unless they pursue the route that the ISN seems to have embarked upon. There are many roads to Rome (and not a single far left group in Europe or North America has gotten past the first set of traffic lights).
    And, as for the apparatus, the recent reversal of suspensions exposed the fact that a significant chunk of an already weakened apparatus is sympathetic to the opposition – including cadre in key locations. That not only effectively limits the CC’s ability to rest upon this as a weapon, but will also make them nervous to attempt to do so. No one can now be trusted to be “loyal.”
    This isn’t over by a long shot but the defenestration of Smith is a rearguard action and demonstrates, I think, that momentum is now on the side of the opposition – for the moment. The irony is, if Smith had done this 8 months ago, the crisis might have been averted (over this issue, in any case). The CC has maneuvered themselves into a situation where yesterday’s “good enough” is today’s “just the beginning”. And they have now alienated their only truly loyal base, the hardcore Smith supporters.

    • johng

      Thing is shawn a lot of the internal opposition don’t disagree a huge amount with the IS N (at least not so much on the issues you raise). In any case as has been pointed out various views exist in both the external and internal oppositions (neither are homogenous blocks) The lines are not nearly as clearly drawn as you imagine (for one thing despite some tensions most of the rank and file are all busily talking to each other all the time: we were all confirming with each other that Delta had indeed, finally, been drop kicked into orbit). I’m very happy to back the internal opposition. But if you think the IS N are bitter and hostile you should talk to some of them! My own sense internally is that the loyalists will be divided between those attempting a laughably unconvincing unity offensive and those who will be even bitterer and nastier, and on the other hand the opposition are going to be very hard indeed (with perhaps a small minority being a bit, I stress a bit, more conciliatory). But I suspect in the immediate future we’re looking at a very bitter fight indeed. The big issue is going to be what happens with the pending cases. I suspect if nothing satisfactory emerges there is going to be civil war. I don’t think the lines are between those inside the SWP and those outside. I think the line is between those who are still revolutionary socialists and those who are corrupt timeservers (or something very much worse). And I know plenty of people inside the SWP who think the same. But good luck to them. We’re not on different sides.

      • haha – perhaps the dark side of the internet is really this having the same discussion in two places simultaneously on facebook and on a blog.

        I don’t think on the points you raise here that we disagree at all. It’s more on an estimation of the degree and permanence of the damage that has been done by this bloody farrago. That’s also, obviously, the character of the ISN’s disagreement with the internal opposition – the latter have decided to stay and fight, which suggests by definition that they believe that there is something worth saving or they would leave themselves, unless they’re masochists because it’s ugly and going to get a lot uglier, as you say.

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  8. Perhaps my intervention in the meeting on Stephen Lawrence’s racist murder 20 years on at Marxism 2013 set the cat among the pigeons.

    I referred to the Channel 4 Dispatches/Guardian investigation into a Special Demonstration Squad (police) infiltrator into “the Militant Party united front Youth Against Racism in Europe” as the speaker put it (it was actually Militant Labour, previously the Militant Tendency and now the Socialist Party, but that’s nitpicking) who was trying to find dirt to smear Stephen Lawrence’s family. The YRE and another “Militant united front” Panther (of black and Asian people) organised the first demonstration to close down the British National Party HQ. I was in Militant Labour at the time and went on that demo.

    I had a copy of the new book “Undercover” by Guardian journalists Rob Evans and Paul Lewis in my bag and read out front page headlines “They steal identities, they break the law, they sleep with the enemy, the true story of Britain’s secret police”

    I also read part of a paragraph (at the start of page 16): “‘It was a shadowy section where people disappeared into a black hole for several years,’ recalls one officer who infiltrated the revolutionary Socialist Workers Party in the 1980s.”

    I also talked about a leader of the CWI (which links the Socialist Party to similar organisations around the world) who quoted half a sentence from an internal document during the debate around the setting up of the Scottish Socialist Party at the 1998 European School of the CWI (without naming him). I resigned shortly afterwards due to the position of the British and international organisations’ position on the SSP and since I felt, rightly or wrongly, that infiltrators had become dominant as we shrank in size (and preferred to inform others from the outside rather than get expelled).

    Anyway, at the end of my speech, I just happened to mention Martin Smith alias Comrade Delta (implying that he too was an infiltrator). There were some calls of “Shame!” and someone didn’t think that this meeting was appropriate to mention him – but bearing in mind that he was employed by Unite Against Fascism, it was very relevant in my opinion…

  9. Recent ex

    It’s now two weeks since the CC called an NC to suspend four members of the opposition. As soon as they did, I wondered how long it would take the opposition to launch an open letter.

    Surely no one in the SWP can still believe the CC has any grasp of political reality (unfortunately I suspect this is a rhetorical flourish), everything they do fails.

    PS I hear the good professor has talked about “mistakes”, I for one would be fascinated to hear what those mistakes were.

  10. jack

    Good riddance to Delta, but that was a symptom, not the disease. A culture of democracy, not deference, needs to be fought for in the SWP. The leadership who have presided over this, in particular his Lordship of Snooty, need to go too.

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  12. Peter Emms

    Yes it was a symptom. The CC liked to keep the membership in a permanent state of paranoia because it made it harder to question their politics and eventually, some appear to have realised, what they did however depraved. Apolitical sect perspectives plus an established bureaucracy (thanks to the long cold war – centrist sects are usual much more volatile and short-lived) linked into the official labour and trade union one as its left face. I mean come on who in their right mind even believes that the abolition of politics from your orgnanisation via the banning of factions is anything to do with Bolshevik or Marxist history? Very briefly as the STalinists began to emerge and in the teeth of post-civil war economic chaos official factions were banned but politics wasn’t. Ideally there are no factions in the revolutionary marxist party but in practise they are unavoidable and are the route through which progress is made and clarity obtained. Otherwise you end up exploding as the bureaucratically imposed consensus disappears and it turns out nobody agreed on anything. We are not looking at a civil war here but disintegration. A few small groupings will be left with some of the SWP’s assets but none of those factions will be anything other than outright liquidationists or Mini Me versions of the useless original.

  13. more nonsense for anyone who can see the light side of the dark side

  14. anon

    minor point but I think even the sharpest of outside observers are overestimating the good professor’s role in all this. he is not the Svengali he fancies himself as. the brains of the MS operation is MS. the professor simply provides the ideological gloss on an opportunist position. that has been his MO for the past 15 years as far as I can tell.

  15. Brendan Campisi

    If anyone is under the impression that using bureaucratic maneuvering to avoid dealing with issues of oppression is somehow a new problem in the SWP, have a read on the story of the I.S. Gay Group in the 70s. It’s eerily reminiscent of the current situation.