Wednesday 12 March 2014

ULU and Marxism 2014

What did the SWP expect? Did they think their culture of bullying and depravity wouldn't have repercussions for their standing in the student movement, that pool from which they've habitually fished? As far as the University of London Union are concerned - a favoured venue of many a revolutionary outfit - the SWP are now non-people. Below you can find ULU's statement outlining why the SWP will not be availing itself of those facilities this year.

The original Facebook statement can be found here

Statement Regarding Marxism Festival 2014 and the Socialist Workers Party

March 11, 2014 at 3:04pm

Trigger Warning: Discussion on rape-apologism

The Marxism Festival is the annual summer school event of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP). Our rejection of this year's request to book rooms at the University of London Union for Marxism Festival 2014 is due to the fact that the Socialist Workers' Party has, over the last year, proven itself to be a corrupt, rape apologist organisation which prides itself in creating an unsafe space for young women. As elected officers – like many others in the student movement – we see the SWP’s handling of rape allegations against a senior member as a despicable denial of sexism.

Here at ULU we have a clear policy which outlines a zero tolerance stance against sexual harassment and violence. We believe survivors of sexual harassment and aim to offer the best possible support we can. Last year we were angered that the SWP was able to hold Marxism 2013 here but we didn't not have oversight on what type of organisations hired out ULU. ULU is first and foremost a space for student organisation and we aim to put the welfare of students first. We stated that we were going to bring in measures to ensure that democratically elected officers have powers over ULU conference bookings and we did.

At Marxism 2013, many students and mostly women activists, who attended in order to protest against the SWP, were submitted to verbal and physical abuse by members of the party. This only adds to our concerns for the safety of students at ULU when the SWP is present. Furthermore, criticism of the SWP leadership has been constantly silenced and suppressed at every turn and often met with violent behaviour as well as accusations that it is we who are sexist and sectarian.

The Socialist Workers' Party has tried to silence any activist within the party who has tried to fight for justice for the women who have been victims of sexual violence at the the hands of the leadership. Instead of supporting those women, the SWP instead started a victim-blaming campaign and protected the perpetrator. To quote a member of the SWP "we aren't rape apologists unless we believe all women tell the truth, and guess what some women and children lie".

To the SWP, we say that you are beyond help and progressive debate. You are disgrace to the left and we have no wish to help support any growth in your oppressive organisation. The bottom line is that you do not have any right to use this space, you are not welcome here or anywhere near our union and we will not be harassed by your organisation. As students and activists, we stand united against sexism.


Susuana Antubam (Women's Officer)
Natasha Gorodnitski (Ethics & Environment Officer)
Maham Hashmi (Black Students Officer)
Thomas Ankin (Disabled Students Officer)
Andy Turton (LGBT+ Officer)
We welcome other student officers and activists to sign.


Chris said...

The language of this reveals that this is not some noble cause but a rather disgusting piece of political opportunism.

This statement is the very essence of depravity. And those that made it are non people, whatever that bloody means!

Gary Elsby said...

I take my hat of to special branch to be honest.

James Heartfield said...

I have to agree with Chris (above).
This is just political censorship, masquerading as women's rights.
Whatever you think of the way the SWP handled its complaint, the claim that the party are 'rape apologists' leaves hyperbole standing in the blocks.
Every single public statement that the SWP have made on rape, and there are thousands, is explicitly against rape, and all attempts to minimise its importance.
Not only is this stand without a shred of honesty or principle, it is suicidal.
The ULU is threatened with closure. Is this how they intend to build a broad campaign against their own dissolution? By the 'shunning' and exclusion of an organisation that has been highly active in opposing education cuts and defending student unions?
I have often been critical of the SWP's political positions, but this sectarian attack is not criticism of any kind. No wonder the left finds it difficult to rally support.

Gary Elsby said...

You've been accused of rape and you are therefore guilty.

In my Country, Great Britain, it is quite the reverse.

If you're accused of rape you are innocent.

Just think, these students will be on question time in 20 years from now and they'll come out with all Liberal loving innocence laws full of equality and rights.

Today, they want you dead.

Phil said...

Let's be hypothetical. If, say, a leading member of a political party crossed a picket line during an industrial dispute you might expect a range of negative consequences - loss of trade union support, withdrawal of funds and so on. That's what happens, that's real life. Actions have consequences.

So it is with the SWP. I don't know whether Martin Smith is innocent or guilty of what he was accused of. We cannot know and the cackhanded way the SWP presumed to investigate serious criminal allegations has ensured a fair trial will never happen. But what is incontrovertible is that the two women who made allegations were shouted at and abused in meetings, one was sacked from her SWP job, and both were subject to harassment by party members. Any organisation that condones such disgusting behaviour can't be allowed to carry on by the rest of the labour movement as if nothing happened.

Whether ULU are right or not to ban the SWP is a matter for them. But the allegations they make about physical intimidation rings true - similar behaviour has been reported at past Marxisms.

Actions have consequences.

Chris W said...

Personally I fully support the ULU's stance.

The point if Martin Smith was innocent or guilty isn't the major issue, what is more significant is how the SWP acted and that was the epitome of a bygone legal system that they probably opposed (all before you could say the words animal farm), where it was OK to insinuate the accused must be a slut or women have to expect these things.

Also it may have been that in the recent past that the SWP supported woman's issues but with the SWP supporting Islamic extremists it's hard to see these days. If anything with the likes that the SWP support, there's a running joke that UAF is going to be renamed 'Unite just against Fascists we don't like not against those we do'.