Thursday, 11 February 2010

Lindsey German resigns from the SWP-wakey wakey comrades...

Copyleft from Alex Snowdon from his terrific blog Luna 17: Reporting the Resistance

I may just comment on this one myself over the weekend.


Lindsey German resigned from the Socialist Workers Party this afternoon. Lindsey has been an activist in the SWP for nearly 40 years, including 30 years as a Central Committee member. She edited the magazine Socialist Review for 20 years and has written a number of books, including Material Girls: women, men and work and A Question of Class. Since October 2001 she has been convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, of which she was a co-founder.

Lindsey was instructed this morning, by the SWP Central Committee, to withdraw from speaking at a Tyneside Stop the War Coalition public meeting in Newcastle this evening. This was an attempt to undermine her work in Stop the War. It was also geared towards damaging those of us in the Tyneside StW group who have recently resigned (or been expelled) from the SWP. It follows a series of examples of the SWP leadership undermining Stop the War (or particular comrades' work in it).

Lindsey refused to cancel her speaking engagement - which was in her capacity as national convenor of Stop the War - and instead resigned from the SWP. Tyneside SWP boycotted the meeting - attended by 35 people, not one of them a member of the party - and went ahead with a routine branch meeting instead. Two local party members turned up beforehand, to sell copies of Socialist Worker, but didn't stay for the public meeting.

This is the email exchange:

Dear Lindsey,

On behalf of the CC, we are repeating our request that you don’t speak at the disputed StW meeting in Newcastle tonight [Wednesday 10th February]. We expect you, like all SWP members, to respect our decisions.

We also think that it is imperative that you meet with members of the CC at the earliest possible opportunity. Could you please give us some dates when you are free.

Martin Smith (SWP National Secretary)

Dear Martin,

I asked Judith whether I would be subject to disciplinary action if I went to Newcastle. Your reply is ambiguous on this question. Could you please clarify. The STW meeting is not disputed, as you put it. It was agreed at two Tyneside STW steering committees, despite our comrades raising why I was going to the meeting. I therefore think your request is misplaced.


Dear Lindsey,

We have already made our decision very clear to you. If you ignore our request we reserve the right to respond as we see fit.


Dear Martin,

It is clear from your reply that your request is in fact an instruction not to speak in Newcastle tonight at the Stop the War meeting.

I regard such a course of action as damaging both to the party and STW. The meeting is properly constituted as evidenced by two sets of minutes of steering committee. There is no good reason for me to withdraw and none that I could possibly justify to STW members locally or nationally.

I have always tried to prevent internal disputes from damaging the movement. I feel that you have brought these disputes into STW and that is unacceptable.

It is therefore with the greatest regret that I am resigning from the SWP. This is a very hard decision for me. I joined more than 37 years ago and have always been committed to building it, which in my view meant relating to the wider movement.

I was on the CC for 30 years, edited the Review for 20 and played a major role in the movement and party building. My respect and affection for many party members remains, and my commitment to socialism as ever. I hope to continue working with them in the wider movement.

Lindsey German


I acknowledge receipt of your resignation and have amended our records accordingly.

Please note it is your responsibility to inform your bank to close your Direct Debit/Standing Order.

Martin Smith (SWP National Secretary)


Anonymous said...

Interesting how you and Alex haven't published the final email from MS to LG and MS's account of these events which have been published elsewhere online.

Clare Solomon said...

I dont know of any other published email. Enlighten us with your wisdom then please...

Anonymous said...

From the comments:

"The reply from Martin Smith was a legal requirement. The actual response following this was as follows:

Dear Lindsey,

I am responding to your letter of resignation you sent to me earlier today (my earlier acknowledgment was required for legal/banking purposes).

On behalf of the CC I would like to say that we regret very much your decision to leave the SWP. We are very surprised that you regarded this matter as a resignation issue.

As we made clear to you in our correspondence we felt the disagreements could have been resolved at a meeting between you and ourselves.

The question of disciplinary action was brought into the discussion by you, not by us. Your resignation is your personal choice and was not forced on you or demanded by the Central Committee.

I would also like to assure you that we will continue to build the Stop the War Coalition and where possible work with you in a constructive and positive way.

Martin Smith (SWP National Secretary)"

Anonymous said...

Hahaha legal requirement.

florence durrant said...

Anonymous said...
Hahaha legal requirement.

Well, this is my little wisdom that I love to share with others, and it is very simple, 'do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.' Seven years of being persecuted by some SWP comrades for a crime I never committed is enough to turn a saint into a murderer. Yet, I believe in letting bygones be bygones for the sake of building resistance to capitalism, because it is capitalism that is my enemy. As individuals we are all insignificant in the broader movement.

I also believe that we all reap what we sow in life and in this case there is no need for snutty jokes Anonymous. I can name a few other comrades whose resignition or expulsion from the SWP appalled me and distressed me namely; Mark Steel, Kevin Ovenden and Rob Hoveman just to name a few and yet the SWP continues with its struggles. One can only hope that with time these comrades will rejoin the SWP. The same applies to Lindsey German because to those like me in the SWP she is no different from the three that I have mentioned above.

I am known to take my bag and walk away from an employer if I believe our relationship is beyond redemption. I know how it feels like to walk away from friends, colleagues and patients who look up to me as a professional and how they must think of me for taking such an ubrupt decision. It is not an easy decision, but once I have left, I always feel a million times better than if I had stayed, because it does not mean that is the end of the world, because I am a good nurse where ever I am. The same applies of revolutionary socialists.

Lindsey's resignition from the SWP is nothing of significant in the broader politics. We need to build resistance around struggles not around individuals. I can assure you that give it a few weeks and it will all be history because there is so much at stake for revolutinary socialists what ever organisation or lack of it.

Anonymous said...

The very fact that you can hope that people who the SWP leadership (yes, including Martin Smith and Alex Callinicos) treated so badly would rejoin shows that you have no understanding at all of what's happened here.

How about you reframe it: Have you asked the SWP leadership to apologise for the public lies and smears against those it expelled and drove away? Are you asking Martin Smith to ask if those comrades would rejoin?

You always frame this as if each individual who has been driven away is at fault. No, this is the method by which the SWP CC controls dissent.

Time to wake up.

florence durrant said...

Anonymous said...
'The very fact that you can hope that people who the SWP leadership....'

If your response is to my post, please do address it to Florence because I have a name as I have nothing to hide.

Now, in my books this is how an apology works: You accidentally step on my toes; you turn round an look at me and say ‘I am sorry I stepped on your toes.’ That is an apology that I accept.

I have nothing against Martin Smith, Alex Callinicos or the CC. As a victim of some SWP comrades including some of those in the CC my reason is very simple. For your own benefit let me elaborate by using the wording of an apology that I expect to get from those who owe me an apology.

“Florence, we are sorry for trying to ruin your life. When you joined the SWP, paying £5 a month and followed that by giving the Party a £100 cheque our revolutionary instinct was aroused and we knew you were an imposter. So we set out to prove that. When we found out that you were married we sent a scout to your now ex husband's school to find out about your marriage. We found out that your husband was a well educated white man with a good job. So we bugged your mobile and tracked down all those who knew you. We found out that you had a brother who has a PhD and what he told us about you worried us so much. To buy us time we sent you to a district that is 32 miles away from your home and asked the comrades there to investigate you as well. What they told us about you worried us deeply. We are sorry we interrogated all your friends and relatives, we even went to Africa to find out what other Africans thought of you. We followed every person who was not a member of the SWP that you tried to befriend and warned them against you.

We are sorry that we did not think you were intelligent enough to answer our questions properly. We are sorry that when you complained about comrades sexually harassing you we turned a blind eye because we did not think that it amounted to sexual harassment. We are sorry because we failed to appreciate your hard work that you put in the Party. We are sorry that this resulted in comrades and their friends abusing their power and breaking into your house, stalking you, sending abusive emails to you, throwing eggs and drinks at you. We are sorry that what ever lies we tried to frame you with never stuck. We are sorry that seven years down the line you proved all of us wrong.”

Anonymous, we all come from different walks of life with different life experiences. I choose to stand on the shoulders of revolutionaries rather than stand on the shoulders of ants. Hence I don’t need any apology from anyone so as to remain active in the SWP!

Rosa Lichtenstein said...

Sad though this is, the above report and comments read like a far left version of Groundhog Day: we've seen this sort of thing so many times, and not just in the UK. Wherever the revolutionary left organises we witness the same problems: complaints of lies, slander, bullying, bureaucratic and anti-democratic CCs, etc., etc. Are we just unlucky, or is there a deeper reason?

I have tried to explain why this happens and will continue to happen, and what we can do about it, here:

Anonymous said...

It's funny that anyone should think that Smith's final email - sent after a hasty emergency CC meeting - actually makes him look better in some way.

Rather than someone trying to hide an almighty great fuck-up.

The Night Tripper

luna17 said...

As The Night Tripper points out, surely nobody can really believe the belated follow-up email from Martin Smith makes him (or his actions) look any better. Someone will have told him how awful it looked, hence a hasty attempt at appearing courteous. This must be obvious.

I've seen Martin Smith's disgraceful letter circulated to SWP members - it contains a number of lies and slanders concerning Tyneside Stop the War. This is a remarkably insensitive and divisive way to operate. The convenor of Tyneside StW has already drafted a statement about Smith's claim (in one of the emails) that Wednesday's public meeting was 'disputed', showing this to be false.

Anonymous said...

Oh. No.
Rosa Lichtenstein! The Ken Dodd of the left.
He so crazy...