Thursday 27 November 2014

SWP Bullies London Black Revolutionaries

I'm not familiar with London Black Revolutionaries but looking at their Facebook page it appears they do some very good, if not strictly lawful, work. From active solidarity with the homeless and immigrants, to protesting against racist police murders in the US, they're a refreshing change from the would-be Lenins of the far left. As you might expect, hearing a bandwagon trundling along in the distance, the SWP tried to get a piece of last night's LBR-arranged 5,000 strong 'FromLondon2Ferguson' protest outside the American embassy. According to this LBR statement below, the SWP didn't take kindly to something being organised without their "assistance". It has been lightly edited.
Reply to Weyman Bennett/ Sabby Dhalu / Stand Up To Racism & Socialist Workers Party from London Black Revolutionaries

We would like to clarify a recently alarming statement on behalf of Stand Up To Racism posted to us by Dennis Fernado and Sabby Dhalu.

From the hours of 25/11/14 3:00pm - 26/11/13 1:00am. LBR Organisers received a bombardment of calls from SUTR organisers.

We would like to refute some accusations being made.

At 1am of the 26th of November. SUTR approached us with the possibility of some of their Non-Socialist Workers Party members to speak as speakers of both events. We made the democratic decision to of course allow the families of those killed in police custody to speak at the event, as some have been arranged too already. We would like to convey respect and solidarity to all speakers of both events.

Our organisation received a plethora of threats from Weyman Bennett over the phone, ranging from the threat to dismantle and “go to war” our organisation if we continued to “ignore the leaders of the movement” and secondly, if we ever organise events within Anti-Racism, that we must be obliged to speak to SUTR/SWP.

Secondly, veiled threats were received to make individuals known to the police if we continued to host [the event] ... additionally, that the police had stated to SUTR that LBR's demonstration would need heavy policing as it appears to be friction between the two demonstrations. We would like to state that there is to be no friction between the two organisation on the day of the demonstration which is for the sole purpose of Unity. We are disappointed that individuals are using the police as a way to threaten and bend the democratic decisions made on behalf of our organisation as a method to get what they want.

Today, public letters stating individuals names were published and we take this as an extremely threatening move against our Organisation.

At London Black Revolutionaries we take these threats extremely seriously, a number of threats was made against the safety of our organisation and individual members which were redacted later in the conversation. These threats have set the tone and approach of our organisation from the outset towards SUTR and as such, we have chosen to remain separate from SUTR & the Socialist Workers Party. 
Furthermore, there are a number of issues as highlighted above, as well as wider political issues which remain unresolved over allegations made against members of the Socialist Workers Party regarding Rape, and as such, organisations and speakers within our demonstration take issue with, including ourselves.

In the same conversation, Weyman Bennett asked for the terms of which both demonstrations would happen tomorrow [Now Today]. The only agreement made was that SUTR’s demonstration would end at roughly 6:30pm and had only been setup in the first place because of his political responsibilities to the families and to contacts in Ferguson. As such they needed a demonstration to take place so that they would appear on the 6pm News. We were assured that after this they would no longer be holding a demonstration, that there would be no presence from themselves and that there would be absolutely no interference of our planned grassroots vigil/protest.

Further accusations have been lodged that a joint event was agreed. We are safe to say that the solidarity vigil organised by London Black Revolutionaries & The National Union of Black Students never agreed to this proposition nor do we know anything of it. The extent of cooperation proposals came at 1am of 26/11/14 whereby it was asked whether we could accommodate some of their speakers. To which we replied on an individual basis it was a possibility, but that we would not be liaising with them [SUTR Organisers] but with the speakers directly i.e Diane Abbott.

Response to new terms:

As stated, we will continue ahead with the arrangements made for our demonstration to start at 7pm. Our organisation will not be forced by threats overt or subtle or lies to bow into another organisations demands, nor will we b co opted or forced into making decisions by way of applying pressure to individual organisers. We are a politically principled, militant and grassroots organisation that puts the working people first. We are disappointed to have to spend time which could have gone into organising a bigger and more vibrant demonstration on political in-fighting from left organisations. We ask that all harassment cease on behalf of SUTR organisers and that on the day both demonstrations will take place as planned. The decision to make a second demonstration at 5:30pm is a highly sectarian move and political motivated but we have no political say and frankly there are more important issues at the moment.

This event is black-led and organised by young grassroots black activists in the local community and is set to be large for this reason. For the sake of showing unity – if we want to move beyond political point scoring and egoistical posturing in who is "leading" any [or no] movement – then please attend the 7pm demonstration and show unity.

We wish to spend no more time on this matter. 
We are BLACK - we are YOUNG - We are READY TO FIGHT
There are two sides of every story, but I've had brief associations with "comrade" Bennett in previous years. These included attempts to undermine the position of Stoke Socialist Party in the North Staffs Campaign Against Racism and Fascism by claiming it was manoeuvring to take it over (it wasn't) , and also gossiped and lied about a prominent local Labour Party member who was less than bowled over by the SWP's approach to organising a broad anti-fascist campaign. These experiences in mind, I know who to believe.

What strikes me about the statement is the entitlement of Bennett and his acolytes. Remember, the SWP is an organisation that has suffered the worst crisis in its 60 year history and recently appealed for unity among leftists. What this episode demonstrates is this toxic tub of toy town Trots have learned nothing from their rape allegation cover up, nothing from the revulsion they inspire in the wider left, and nothing about how to repair their organisation. Their attempt to bully London Black Revolutionaries demonstrates why they should be avoided at all costs and never be allowed to pimp off campaigns and movements not of their making.

Image Credit
Hat tip Howie's Corner


Anonymous said...

Being one of its spokespersons, how did that beacon of global justice, New Labour, engage with this very laudable endeavour?

Phil said...

Secondly, veiled threats were received to make individuals known to the police if we continued to host [the event]


Phil said...

As this statement says nothing about "New Labour" I haven't the foggiest. But I note LBR were prepared to liaise directly with Diane Abbott.

Anonymous said...

New labour wouldn't touch these people with a barge pole. Stop living in denial.

jimboo said...

Secondly, veiled threats were received to make individuals known to the police if we continued to host [the event]

You cite another lesser known SWP tactic, they also try to get people bottled by the police and the youngsters arrested lack the legal support the SWP members are provided with. Result Bobos go home to mummy and daddy and the WC kids spend a weekend in the cells.

Phil said...

New Labour doesn't exist. Are you one of those people who still talks about the ConDems as if it's really clever political humour?

And you're wrong as well. "New Labour" Diane Abbott was invited, and it's likely a smattering of party members attended too. What is more significant than your carping is that this very successful demo by people of *all backgrounds* avoided derailment by the SWP. So instead of your whataboutery you might want to reflect on why the "most advanced section of the working class" tried to bully another revolutionary organisation?

Speedy said...

You're right - New Labour is no more.

But what's left?

It is genuinely difficult to see anything distinctive about it - it is just a social democratic blob which is only attractive as an alternative to the truly awful Tories.

It will probably win the next election in coalition with the SNP and LibDems (as I hope it does) but it will be the worst thing that could happen to it.

ejh said...

Today, public letters stating individuals names were published

Are these where we can see them?

Phil said...

I don't know. If there are any updates I recommend checking out the LBR's Facebook page. Link is at the top of the post.

Anonymous said...

New labour dead? You really are living in a fantasy world.

New labour/Labour, would never promote, initiate or want to be seen to be associated with a crowd like this. No, they/you dance to the tune of the Daily Mail and the gutter press. See New labour's hopeless capitulation on issues such as immigration.

Whatever the faults of the SWP, they actively seek to build movements like this. New labour seek nothing other than the continuation of the status quo.

Phil said...

Of course the Labour Party wouldn't arrange a protest of this character nor do many of the things LBR do. That's because it's a vote-catching party of government, and the political wing of a movement that encompasses a very wide range of opinion. It's a mass organisation to which mass organisations are affiliated. It does amuse me that often times so-called revolutionaries, like our SWP-crawling anonymous friend here reacts against the Labour Party like a spurned lover and condemns it for never doing the revolutionary things it was never going to do. Who really has illusions in Labour?

Anyway, this is about the SWP's behaviour. I would have thought it incumbent upon them to behave to an altogether higher moral standard. Yet to charges of bullying and threatening LBR with the cops, our friend says nothing. The moral vacuity gripping the SWP extends outside its ranks, if indeed anonymous isn't one of those who thinks rape cover ups aren't a resigning matter and still gives the SWP their time and their cash.

Southpawpunch said...

"Secondly, veiled threats were received to make individuals known to the police if we continued to host [the event]"

Really? By the SWP? They've turned cop snitches, have they?

This is either:

2)'cleverly' written bollocks i.e. leaving a reader to think it was them when they don't actually claim that, or something like that
3) evidence of a truly remarkable turn by ostensible revolutionaries

Shame on the author for reporting such obvious lies or at least a gross distortion.

And, no, I'm no fan of the SWP

Jason Hill said...

Phil, I'm not going to comment on the main thrust of your article. I will just say that it don't think it's particularly helpful or relevant to bring up the issues around NorSCARF, which go back several years and have already been discussed to death elsewhere. But, as you have raised it, I believe that you are being a little disingenuous in claiming that the Socialist Party were not manoeuvring to take over NorSCARF. I believe that the SP's proposal for NorSCARF to adopt a so-called 'Charter for Change' (in fact, the main points of the SP's political programme) WERE part of a takeover attempt. In fact, the SP's proposal was decisively rejected by the 2004 AGM of NorSCARF: the majority of the NorSCARF membership felt that NorSCARF should stick to opposing racism and fascism without adopting the SP's programme. NorSCARF has never been a front for the SP or SWP or, indeed, any other political party, and I hope it never will. (Disclaimer: I am writing this in my personal capacity, and my views do not necessarily represent those of NorSCARF.)

Phil said...

No Jason, there was no take over attempt nor was it even discussed. Remember, we are talking about the second half of the last decade when I was somewhat involved in the SP. This was the period in which Bennett made his comments.

Jason Hill said...

Obviously you have the advantage of me, being a former member of the SP yourself, and you know what was discussed in your organisation. I can only state things as I saw them in early 2004 - and to many members of NorSCARF, not just me, the 'Charter for Change' proposal appeared to be a ham-fisted attempt to turn NorSCARF into an SP front organisation. I could go into further details to prove my case, but I really don't see any point in having an argument about the events of ten years ago, so I'll let things rest there. (As always, my comments are made in a personal capacity.)

Stand up to racism said...

Please find below the statements from Stand up to racism which call for unity, and refute the allegations that are being made. Please also note the report on Stand up to racism's website which outlines how we built both demos, called on the hundreds attending our event to stay for the next protest and gave our PA to the LBR event when it was clear they had no PA facilities.

1. Weyman Bennett on behalf of Stand up to Racism, response to allegations posted on London Black Revs Facebook event page on 27 November 2014:

Dear Comrades,

I am writing to clarify some of the points you have raised.

Firstly we wrote to you before the event fraternally and in the spirit of unity requesting a joint event or explicit support for one another’s events. We do not accept that we have been sectarian, threatening or accusatory towards your organisation. We explained we called the event at the earlier time because we knew that some sections of the media were able to make the earlier time and we asked you to join us. Also we did not behave in a sectarian manner to your organisation on the evening of the event, when you arrived at the protest, you had no PA facilities, we were pleased to lend you our PA.

I refute the allegation that I was threatening and refute the allegation that threats were made to make individuals known to the police. For most of my life I have been threatened and physically attacked by fascists and racists. I choose to direct my energy at racists and fascists, not those on the left or inside the anti-racist movement.

Lastly, Stand up to Racism is supported by a number of trade unions, faith and community groups. If you have issues with any of the organisations that support Stand up to Racism please address them to the relevant organisation.

In unity

Weyman Bennett, Stand up to Racism Organiser

Stand up to racism said...

Stand up to Racism response 26 November 2014 to London Black Revs post below:

Thank you for speaking with me earlier. I just thought it would be helpful to clarify Stand up to Racism's position on the events outside the US embassy tomorrow in solidarity with Michael Brown's family, friends and all those campaigning for justice and against racism in the US.

We believe unity of all black people and anti-racists against racism is crucial.

In the spirit of unity, on learning of your event at 7pm outside the embassy, as I was busy with various appointments, Weyman contacted you with a view to agreeing that there should be one event with one start time. We thought that you had agreed to having one event with a start time of 6pm. We were under the impression this was the case, as your Facebook page also changed its start time to 6pm. So later we were were a little surprised when we saw your Facebook page with a start time of 7pm and a misleading description of Stand up to Racism as an SWP front.

I realise perhaps there may have been some misunderstanding so I don't want to rehearse previous discussions.

However I would like to reach an agreement with you on a way forward:

1. If it is still possible ideally we would like to have one event with one start time. We realise as there is less than 24 hours to go this may be difficult, but this is our preferred option and we would like to discuss this if possible. If we agree this I would suggest the event is jointly called by Stand up to Racism and London Black Revs, and is jointly chaired by the two organisations as we have called the events and the other organisations are listed as supporters of the event and get an opportunity to speak. We should agree a list of speakers. I would suggest a 6pm start time as this earlier time has already been advertised so people will turn up early any way, then for those that turn up at 7pm the event should continue till well after 7pm with an end time of around 7.45pm. Of course we are happy to discuss the detail with you.

2. If option one is not possible can I suggest we support and publicise one another's events? We can advertise our event with the earlier start time and advertise your event at 7pm, agree that we support each other's events and each send a speaker to the events.

3. Stand up to Racism's event tomorrow has the support of amongst others Marcia Rigg, Carol Duggan and Diane Abbott MP. Generally Stand up to Racism is also supported by the TUC, its affiliated unions including a number of senior black trade unionists, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, other faith groups, migrant rights, refugee and a range of community organisations. Such broad support underpinned the success of the UN Anti-Racism Day march and rally called by Stand up to Racism earlier this year which attracted around 10,000 attendees culminating in the biggest national anti-racist demonstration for almost two decades. Therefore reducing such a campaign to an "SWP front" is not accurate to say the least. We would be grateful if you could remove this attack from your Facebook page.

I realise it is very late so can I suggest we reach an agreement on whether we are having one event or two events by 7.30am Wednesday 26 November?

I look forward to hearing from you.

In unity,

Sabby Dhalu
Stand up to Racism Organiser