Penny Hicks, a longstanding SWP activist in Manchester, is one of those who resigned yesterday. She was the dissenting voice on the SWP disputes committee that decided to expel me last November. For January's annual party conference she prepared a 'minority report' on my case, but was barred from attending the conference (despite having attended with observer status in previous years). This is her personal letter of resignation, which I publish here because I think it captures a number of key factors behind why so many dedicated activists feel it is necessary to leave the SWP.
A revolutionary party can make political mistakes, or take the wrong direction or fail to grasp the potential of a situation. The key to the success of the SWP has been its ability to take an honest look at itself and to put things right carrying the majority ‘leading from the front’, whilst taking care to continue to persuade and encourage those unsure or disagreeing.
I feel the SWP is on the wrong track and I do not recognise the current approach as the methodology of the serious outward looking revolutionary party I have been a member of.
Of most concern to me is the change in culture and behaviour in the party emanating from the CC, some of its paid organisers and some national committee members.
What has echoed down the 35 years of my membership has been ‘every member is gold dust’, translated operationally that means showing respect, taking disagreements seriously and behaving with honesty and integrity to each other. Above all - actually caring about our members when they seem to be having difficulty with supporting party activity or with membership.
This culture is being steadily eradicated. Erroneous procedural rules are being invented to meet a political end. Defensive knee jerk reactions are informing decisions and a cavalier atmosphere is prevailing. It would be easy to place this at the door of the national secretary but the entire CC is accountable.
The latest issue of correspondence re Lindsey German’s resignation for me simply encapsulated the disrespectful way her resignation from the CC was handled together with those of John Rees and Chris Nineham. To simply write off the years of contribution is not a way I would treat any of my life time friends and/or comrades or expect to be treated myself. The secretary’s comment that the SWP would seek to work constructively with the Convener of the Stop the War Coalition ‘where possible’ is high handed to say the least. The SWP had gained respect as the only serious party on the left because it has always sought to work constructively in a united front; it is an obligation on revolutionaries to make constructive work possible.
Please terminate my membership and be assured I understand the legal banking obligations.