Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Lindsey German Resigns from SWP!

Shocking but true! A comrade has forwarded me this incredible email exchange between Lindsey German and SWP national organiser, Martin Smith. There is background to this dispute, which is dealt with here on Alex's site. I will just say that after 37 years loyal service to the SWP, I find it amazing that Martin Smith can treat the resignation of one of its best known activists in such a cavalier fashion.


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.

Lindsey

...

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.

Martin

...

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

...

Lindsey,

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)

49 comments:

Anglonoel said...

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

Looks like the 'Have A Nice Day' and 'Missing You Already' bits were missed out.

BenSix said...

I find it amazing that Martin Smith can treat the resignation of one of its best known activists in such a cavalier fashion.

While I'm always sceptical as to the validity of leaked emails, let me be the first to say, "She was never in the SWP...".

nationofduncan said...

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


Ouch.

Impressive scoop you've got here btw Phil, before Socialist Unity or Leftist Trainspotters. The Weekly Worker just can't compete with the internet.

neprimerimye said...

Whoever forwarded this correspondence to you has a most undeveloped sense of loyalty.

Mark P said...

Are you sure about this Phil?

Phil said...

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

My considered response is on line 3.

Dave Semple said...

I just read the whole comments section over at Alex's place and all I can say is, "Good grief." I don't think anything more politically nuanced is necessary.

It's sad and all that people are resigning, but basic democratic accountability in the SWP doesn't exist. Normally one trades a complete independence for that accountability; with accountability missing, there's no political party. Just people ordering everyone around.

I think the greatest problem for the Left Platform of course is that up until recently this included the ex-CC members.

Red Maria said...

Phil,

Is this absolutely definitely certainly for real?

ModernityBlog said...

So the SWP is going to implode?

Hmm.

ModernityBlog said...

Really, the SWP has never caught up with the Internet and how things get leaked quicker than you can say "Cabinet Office", and there is little real secrecy nowadays.

Eventually most things come out, so keeping this hidden was never possible, but I do wonder how many others will leave?

Seems like I read the SWP is in financial troubles too? Not sure, all in all they are not a happy bunch.

What does Lenin's Tomb say? anything? or will he wait a week before putting the boot into her?

Lobby Ludd said...

Neprimerimye:

"Whoever forwarded this correspondence to you has a most undeveloped sense of loyalty."

Given the paucity of information, it's not clear that this is so, really. If Martin Smith, or the entire CC, is acting in a high-handed manner or manufacturing a problem, then you have to ask the question, 'loyalty to what?'.

It would be helpful if we knew what the 'disputed', or otherwise, StW meeting was, and why LG was instructed not to attend it.

blogh said...

I find it amazing that Martin Smith can treat the resignation of one of its best known activists in such a cavalier fashion.

Don't be amazed - Stalinist groups always treat such resignations in such a cavalier fashion.

Phil said...

Mark and Red Maria - I have no reason to doubt these emails authenticity. The comrade who forwarded them would not yank my chain.

Eddie Truman said...

Scoop of the year if it stands up, kudos.

Anonymous said...

One down - a few more to go !

And don't accuse the SWP "leadership" of being Stalinists. She is breathing and not about to venture out on a long weekend in Siberia.

T47

Red Maria said...

@ Eddie Truman: Agreed. This is one hell of a story.

Luna17 said...

I can confirm it, yes. I've just got back from the Stop the War meeting in Newcastle - OK, via the pub afterwards - and have just blogged about it. Lindsey was in amazingly good form in her speech. Local Stop the War activists are very unhappy about the SWP leadership seeking to carry these attacks over into the wider movement. As I mention in my post, the local party boycotted the meeting (attended by 35 people).

Red Maria said...

@ Luna17 - see my question to you on Socialist Unity.

ModernityBlog said...

To be honest, the emails might have come from Martin Smith's side, such is the devious nature of the SWP leadership, anything is possible.

The bigger question is what next? for the SWP and for German?

Will they implode?

Will ex-SWPers try to start a SWP Mk II, become completely disenchanted with politics, join the Greens or learn some lessons from this?

I wonder what will happen?

Mikey said...

I'm so happy, oh so happy, this is superb stuff!!

Mikey!

Ms Chief said...

Luna17 perhaps boycotting the meeting was the wrong strategy - I hope youse bought Lindsey a stiff drink?

I am genuinely appalled by this - when I left the CWI I did it in a group and atleast it was marked by a meeting and a vote and even a tear. When the SSP had a split away from it atleast there was shouting and bawling.

Imagine given nearly 4 decades to the SWP (just imagine it - ah!) and the parting remark is don't forget to cancel your direct debit?

Its not good and it is shoddy behaviour. Poor Lindsey I hope Rees is being extra nice to her :-)

Matt said...

"Don't be amazed - Stalinist groups always treat such resignations in such a cavalier fashion."

Hur hur, Stalinist.

skidmarx said...

So Martin Smith does have a sense of humour.
If Lindsey was maintaining contact with the expelled comrades from her faction, it's not that shocking that she was going to follow them outwith the party.

Stu said...

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)

andy newman said...

legal requirement my arse
#

they didn't send me any repoly at all when I resigned from the SWP

Anonymous said...

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

Read - I have been told that my earlier vindictive reply made me sound like a d*ck. Therefore I have been nagged into sending a completely inauthentic almost human reply instead.

ejh said...

Phil - how happy would you be if your private emails were to be published on the internet? What are your criteria, do you think, for allowing yourself the breach of ethics which reproducing them entails?

Halshall said...

The turnover of members in the SWP is legend.
Many years ago a loyal SWP comrade and friend said that there had been an estimate of 20 thousand ex-members ! (and that was around 20 years ago).
When I left (about seven years ago) nothing was said after 11 years membership, but when I was a student member some 30 years ago and Lyndsey was my local organiser she personally phoned me to stay in touch.
Now (if true) Lyndsey has gone. This seems to confirm my belief that the internal regime (or perhaps culture is a better word) in the SWP is it's own worst enemy.

splinteredsunrise said...

Well, this is an excellent scoop. And yet another nail in the coffin of the Weekly Worker.

Phil said...

You might have a point regarding ethics, ejh, but I don't remember you going round attacking Martin Smith's use of private email correspondence to secure the expulsion of comrades like Alex and Clare.

SamG said...

I really can't get my head around this 'scoop' and the name of your site "A VERY PUBLIC SOCIOLOGIST". The name suggest some sort of intellectual academic content but this piece of skulduggery suggests the cheap acts of the tabloid press.

As for this being a nail in the weekly worker, yes to anyone interested in superficial 'scoops' and not interested in serious analytical argument.

What a pathetic state of affairs.

May you burn in hell!

Red Maria said...

Oh come on, ejh. The whole point of being leaked something is that you publish it.

Phil said...

Re: SamG, there should be a law against letting dickheads anywhere near the internet.

David T said...

I will miss her.

ejh said...

I don't remember you going round attacking Martin Smith's use of private email correspondence to secure the expulsion of comrades like Alex and Clare.

I shall file that one under Whatabouttery, which is not a commendation.

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:

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm

Phil said...

Just drawing notice to your blind spots, ejh.

ejh said...

Nope, you're doing precisely what I said you were doing. It kind of compunds the ethical problem rather than addresses it.

Simon said...

You heard it from ejh first, whistleblowing is unethical.

Phil, if you carry on like this SWP bureaucrats may have to think twice before acting like complete c*nts and purging their political opponents.

Phil said...

I don't listen to the likes of ejh. He only ever pops up when the SWP get some stick. If he was genuinely interested in the ethics of blogging he would have commented on previous posts that have touched on the topic.

I see it like this. If you're unethically obtaining private emails to facilitate the expulsion of socialists from a socialist organisation you cross a line. You or your acolytes (however semi-detached they are) haven't got an ethical leg to stand on if the tables are turned and "sensitive" emails are passed on to bloggers. They may not like it but tough shit.

SamG said...

A very public scoundrel said,

"If you're unethically obtaining private emails to facilitate the expulsion of socialists from a socialist organisation you cross a line."

Whereas if you obtain private emails to assist your sectarianism that is all fine and dandy.

Your attempt to take the moral high ground is rather mistimed.

Phil said...

Who said I was taking the moral high ground? I couldn't give a shit really. I know what interests my readership - they like the odd bit of gossip and sectariana inbetween my think pieces.

Btw, I've framed your absurd comment above ("go to hell") and will happily wheel it out whenever I see fit to demonstrate how unpleasant, hysterical and poisonous the SWP's keyboard warriors are.

Phil said...

This will definitely be of interest to everyone who's followed this. Lindsey discusses why she resigned here.

modernity said...

Phil's right, it is a bit absurd for the existing SWP leadership and Martin Smith to complain when emails are leaked.

That’s what happens, this is the age of the Internet, not the 1890s.

And if you’ve have been particularly devious, sectarian and stitched people up in the past, as apparently the SWP leadership has (including Martin Smith), then you really can't complain when rather mild tactics are employed against you

What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

However, what I find surprising is that Martin Smith is a professional politico.

He does this for a living and yet he and the other SWP leadership seem pretty piss poor at political infighting, when they have no built-in advantage.

So don't cry, or weep into your beer for the SWP leadership, they brought this situation about and a few emails are nothing to complain about, their capacious egos will probably suffer more than that by the end of this fiasco.

Anonymous said...

Mere weeks after insisting that hacking into someone's email account, then printing out private emails from it, and then circulating those emails across the internet (with addresses still accessible) was all fine and dandy - it's hilarious to see the Jazz Club now shrieking with outrage that anyone should be so mean as to leak an email.

Lols innit.



The Night Tripper

Anonymous said...

Kind of reminds me of an early Simpsons episode:

Kirk Van Houten: So, that's it. After 20 years, "So long, good luck."?

Executive: I don't recall saying "Good luck."

SamG said...

"Burn in hell" was a sort of joke you know! Not meant to be taken literally (I don't actually believe in hell).

And you were taking the moral high ground because you said,

"If you're unethically obtaining private emails to facilitate the expulsion of socialists from a socialist organisation you cross a line."

And this is misplaced as your following comment demonstrates,

"I know what interests my readership - they like the odd bit of gossip and sectariana inbetween my think pieces."

Phil said...

I don't see how the two are mutually exclusive. But anyway, here's Martin's email to SWP members about Lindsey's resignation (just scroll down to #34 - I would post it here but Blogger has seen it fit to impose a 4,096 character limit on replies).

Anonymous said...

leaking an email sent in official capacity to a prominent member of the SWP? what next, voting for war credits?