This is Lindsey German's letter of resignation:
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.
A Very Public Sociologist has the full exchange between Lindsey and SWP National Secretary Martin Smith.
EXTRA: Martin Smith, in his email to Lindsey German, claims the Tyneside Stop the War meeting was 'disputed'. This is not supported by the facts. He is referring to the fact that Tyneside SWP members mischievously informed him that the meeting was somehow not legitimate, a claim he then chose to support.
I've just retrieved the minutes of Tyneside Stop the War's monthly organising meeting on 4 January. This was, despite forbidding weather conditions, attended by 13 people (plus there were apologies from 3 others). The turnout included 5 SWP members, 3 of whom were Left Platform supporters and left the SWP last week. But that still leaves 2 supporters of the leadership who remain in the SWP and presumably reported back to party members.
The meeting was chaired by the group's elected convenor, who is neither a current or former SWP member. The minutes were taken by the group's elected Secretary, who is also neither a current or ex member of the SWP. The minutes were circulated, on 8 January, to the full email list which has hundreds of contacts on (including many SWP members locally).
Here is the paragraph from the minutes that refers to the public meeting plans. I've blanked out 2 names - these are the 2 SWP members at the meeting who have not since left the party. The national demo reference is because there was speculation at the time about a protest in March.
'Public meeting: it was agreed that we should try to set up a public meeting in Newcastle or Northumbria University on 10th, 11th or 12th February, to build for the demonstration in London in March. ---- and ---- to investigate rooms at their universities, Tony to ask about possibility of a National Stop the War speaker, and to ask Mahmoud Kurdi, who will be back from the participation in the Viva Palestina convoy (see national website for its progress). The anniversary of the first day of last year’s bombardment of Gaza was December 27th.'
By the time of the next organising meeting (1 Feb), a room had been booked at Newcastle University for 10 February. Lindsey German had agreed to speak on behalf of Stop the War, alongside Mahmoud and Peter Brierly (Military Families campaigner whose son Shaun died in Iraq). Unfortunately, Peter had to withdraw from the meeting on Tuesday of this week. Martin Smith was aware Peter had cancelled when he instructed Lindsey not to attend, so he knew her absence would scupper the meeting. A leaflet had been produced and circulated (with names of speakers) by the time of the 1 Feb meeting.
Despite these developments, a number of SWP members turned up at the 1 Feb meeting and argued the meeting should be cancelled or postponed. 'Independents' at the meeting rejected this, and left the meeting deeply concerned by what seemed to be an attempt to undermine the group's efforts by people who have no active involvement in Stop the War whatsoever (one party member who attended hasn't been to an organising meeting since 2003).
Tyneside SWP then failed to adhere to the way forward democratically agreed at that meeting. It instead boycotted the public meeting. Two members (including a paid organiser) turned up to sell Socialist Workers outside the meeting beforehand, but didn't stay (I should say 'tried to sell', as I don't think they had any success). The regular SWP branch meeting went ahead as usual. Tyneside SWP had of course done nothing whatsoever to publicise the Stop the War meeting, despite having student members who could have helped deliver a student turnout (a university room had been agreed on precisely this basis). There was still a turnout, however, of 35 people.