We welcome the formation of a faction which recognises the widespread
discontent within the party. We declare our intention to join
immediately, and invite others to do so.
In recent weeks, the lack of leadership from the Central Committee (CC)
over a very serious crisis concerning the handling of sexual harassment
and rape allegations has been compounded by a hostile approach towards
internal criticism. It is clear that these criticisms are not limited to
a tiny minority, but come from broad spectrum of comrades across the
Regrettably, the CC’s attempt to provide a perspective thus far has
been limited to blaming internal critics, the left beyond the party, and
the right-wing media for the crisis. This is a political failure,
insofar as it results from a shocking failure to apply our sexual
politics, and has revealed a serious deficit in party democracy. But it
is also an untenable strategy that risks doing irreversible damage to
the party’s standing in the movement. And it damages our ability to
work within united fronts and alongside others on the left.
The motion carried at the recent National Committee meeting
unfortunately serves not to solve this crisis but to deepen it. The
attempt to curtail democratic rights to call a special conference, and
threaten disciplinary action against comrades opposed to the present CC
strategy, must be opposed. We also oppose the ill-founded expulsions of
four comrades over this issue before conference.
For all these reasons, we welcome the creation of a broad, united
faction. And we support any project that aims to promote a genuinely
democratic, tolerant culture in the party.
We pledge to work constructively inside the faction for its declared
aims, and urge other comrades to join and work alongside us.
We also call for a special conference at which to address the issues
raised by the faction. The purpose of the conference should be to
identify and correct those aspects of our work that have led to the
current situation, not only organisational structures but also failures
in long-term analysis and perspective. We believe it must include in
its remit the issues of party democracy and the structure and practices
of the Disputes Committee. It must allow a full pre-conference period
with internal bulletins to allow for the most thorough debate. The right
to call such a conference is guaranteed by the constitution and we
refuse to accept any arbitrary time constraints placed upon this.
Further to these points we would also like to suggest that our crisis
points to severe internal deficiencies that urgently need to be
First and foremost, we must rectify the culture wherein female comrades
could be so badly treated, and the term ‘feminism’ used as a term of
abuse for those who object. We as a party have nothing to fear from a
serious political and theoretical engagement with feminism as it exists
today. We should therefore, in addition to examining the processes that
led to our present crisis, work on developing and updating our
traditional perspectives on women’s oppression, and women’s liberation.
Second, this crisis may be the most the severe we have experienced in
recent years, but it certainly isn’t the first. In the last ten years
alone the party has been hampered by the Respect split, the split with
what is now Counterfire, and the later split with what is now the
International Socialist Group. We believe these crises are the
culmination of deep-seated problems in our long-term perspective, and
our methods of organisation, problems which we have never fully
addressed or resolved. We will work constructively alongside other
comrades in the coming period to address these fundamental issues.
In our view, the combination of a large full-time apparatus, a Central
Committee that frequently resorts to bureaucratic means in order to
assert its authority, and the way in which the various party bodies are
elected, serves to produce a mostly unchanging leadership which is able
to hold the monopoly on the development of perspectives. This restricts
the space in which to develop alternatives.
Third, there is an ungrounded fear of frank public debate in the party.
The entrenched scepticism about the internet, though justifiably
repudiating cyber-utopianism, is symptomatic of this phobia. Whereas
the party once published internal bulletins in the Socialist Review, we
now worry about comrades carrying on debates on social media. Worse,
some comrades mistakenly think that such debate is the major cause of
our crisis. Full and open debate is actually the way out of the crisis.
We regard the diverse contributions from comrades to the International
Socialism blog, for example, as a sign of health. It demonstrates a
desire to develop alternative perspectives honestly and openly.
In a way, the CC has been right: this argument is about the sort of
party that we want to build. The party aspires to be part of a mass
party that can lead the working class. Such leadership would be
impossible on the basis of secrecy and paranoia, since this necessarily
excludes the class from the party’s debates and decision-making.
As Tony Cliff wrote in 1960:
“Since the revolutionary party cannot have interests apart from the
class, all the party’s issues of policy are those of the class, and they
should therefore be thrashed out in the open, in its presence. The
freedom of discussion which exists in the factory meeting, which aims at
unity of action after decisions are taken, should apply to the
revolutionary party. This means that all discussions on basic issues of
policy should be discussed in the light of day: in the open press. Let
the mass of the workers take part in the discussion, put pressure on the
party, its apparatus and leadership.”
We are the Democratic Renewal Platform. Please join us.
Aidan Sheffield North
Alaina Sussex & Brighton
Andy Hackney East
China Brent & Harrow
Chris Sussex & Brighton
Ciara Tower Hamlets
Danny Man Met SWSS / Rusholme
Jack Leeds Central
Jackson Sheffield South
Jamie Manchester Rusholme
Jennifer Wandsworth & Merton
Jennifer Hackney East
Jess Sussex & Brighton
Kris Wandsworth & Merton
Lewis Sussex & Brighton
Martin Sussex & Brighton
Martin Sheffield South
Matthew Bristol North
Richard Bristol East
Richard Hornsey and Wood Green
Rob Sheffield South
Thom Sheffield South
Tom Manchester Rusholme
Toni Bristol South
In addition, the platform is supported by and in turn supports our
four comrades currently appealing against their expulsion: