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January 10, 2013


Richard J

Yes, it does seem like a very transparent bit of distraction, especially in light of the explanation provided by Andy Newman, which looks like a classic bit of journalist quote seeding.

chris y

Also, the real answer to "what would they have done if he'd been found guilty?" is of course "don't be silly, they were as likely to find him guilty as West Yorkshire Police were to catch Jimmy Savile."

Which is also the real answer to the assertion by the CC spokesperson in Seymour's thread that it would be impossible to find a committee of "experienced members" who didn't know Smith well.

If that is the case the CC should certainly have recused themselves, even if they genuinely believed their own BS about not involving bourgeois law and yadda yadda. I'm not hugely fond of bourgeois law myself, but you'd have to be three years old not to realise that the underlying purpose of this charade was to make sure that IF Smith was guilty (and I have no idea whether he is), he didn't go to prison.


I think the Sharia law stuff's a bit yah-boo from the sources you'd expect, unless the SWP have a complex internal code dealing with the things women can and cannot be allowed to do. I think it's just DemCen doing it's thing. Would it have ended up any differently if it had been the Alliance for Workers' Liberty, say?

Richard J

AFAICT, the quote arose something along the lines of:

'I've concerns about the implicit principle that people feel that they can opt out of the criminal justice system if they feel like it.'

'sort of like sharia law, then?'

'that would be a good analogy, yes. But you might also want to consider Beth Din courts and where the limits of their powers end.'


jamie's right, it would have been just the same in any Leninist organisation: it has to be - the very idea of DemCen rules out the necessary minimum level of pluralism that might allow a properly independent investigation.

Seymour is now claiming that his side is the real leadership of his party, not the Central Committee. Well, perhaps. But he's not dealing with the pluralism point either.


But again, who cares. I never liked the SWP (though I like some individual members a lot), but they undeniably mattered on the left even 5 years ago. But now?

They seem very old fashioned some how. Like Harry's Place, Oliver Kamm, etc. Things we used to care about...

belle le triste

"Even in the best case scenario, if the CC is expunged and replaced by an entirely new cadre of activists AND the culture and practice reformed to something approaching sane politics, the name and brand of the SWP is forever tainted. They are toxic."

dick gregory

Phil BC has been making sure not to underestimate the SWP's troubles for a while.
"The resignations will be something of a blow to the SWP." July 2010
"Yesterday's news that long-time leading member of the Socialist Workers' Party, Lindsey German has resigned after 37 years of activity has sent shock waves through the far left...the SWP is thrown into crisis."February 2010
"As for the SWP itself, it has come out of this faction fight badly bruised. It's reputation lies in tatters, it's absurd Respect petition has made it a laughing stock, and most damaging it has lost a layer of experienced activists."November 2007


There is such a thing as going from bad to worse. I thought the Rees/German leadership was pretty disastrous, but the subsequent lurch back to perceived orthodoxy struck me as particularly boneheaded - and that was before I'd heard anything bad about Martin Smith.


I quite agree. However, I suspect that this entire story is an object lesson in how much "an awful lot of things to be decided collectively, in terms of what's best for the community, instead of in terms of an individual with rights..." can look like "what, you can't possibly mean treating High Mucky-Muck Comrade Yankee X-Ray like a criminal?"

Hmm. My own take would be that "deciding collectively what's best for the community" would not so much be "you can't possibly mean that High Comrade Jimmy Savile is an abuser?", as it does under bourgeois capitalism, but more something like "yes, we know High Comrade Jimmy Savile is an abuser, but he has done a lot for the community, so we aren't going to stop him".


Historically, it has tended to be more in the direction of "High Comrade Jimmy Savile an abuser? Are you insane? No, I mean really, are you insane? You are insane, aren't you. Now get into this van and we'll take you off somewhere to get treated for your obvious insanity. Put this jacket on and now it's time for your injection".


Hilariously, that was the attitude taken by the German authorities when a bloke turned up saying "HVB, the bank my ex-wife works for, has been helping criminals launder money". That statement was used as evidence that he must be nuts, and he's been in a psycho ward for the last seven years or so. I mean, a German bank? Laundering money? In Switzerland?



That was a real weird one. I'm also beginning to think that some of the Savile allegations are of behaviour so utterly depraved that it's not 100% impossible that there's some sort of Church-of-Satan thing going on. A thing can be true even if the Sunday Express prints it ...


I did sneakingly like the Guardian's neat multiple-scaled-piecharts-on-a-timeline Savile infographic. Multipies are usually a big no no, but an area-line chart would have been hard to implement without looking gaudy and sensationalist.

(ajay: I blogged it: http://fistfulofeuros.net/afoe/only-a-madman-could-doubt-the-integrity-of/ someone replies, quoting a Der Spiegel piece that basically says "well, he's sort of weird and creepy of course he dun it")


Whoops, sorry Alex.

Richard J

Which reminds me of this story...


Anecdata: I went on the recent march to save Lewisham A&E (10-15,000 people) and SWP-branded signs were conspicuous only by their absence; a far cry from the days when every demo had the ubiquitous placards with Socialist Worker at the bottom.

dick gregory

Placards might be a sensitive subject at the moment.

"One SWPer at the meeting who said it would have been wrong not to forge the signature since the money was needed to get placards on a demo."

Ten years on: a comment on the British SWP

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