At the conference of the Socialist Workers' Party which took place on 9-10 January, the expulsions of dissident members Clare Solomon and Alex Snowdon were confirmed.
Both members were expelled for "factional behaviour" — a charge which was backed up with evidence provided by emails that the SWP Central Committee got hold of by hacking into their accounts. Solomon and Snowdon were members of the minority “Left Platform” within the SWP.
They were expelled because the Central Committee judged their membership of this small minority platform to be a danger to the SWP. Although the SWP’s constitution granted Solomon and Snowdon a right of appeal, neither was allowed to address the hearing at Conference which confirmed their expulsions.
The substantive political basis of the SWP Left Platform, led by former SWP leader John Rees and Lindsey German, is unclear. The rhetoric around the conflict between them and the Central Committee, led by Martin Smith and Alex Callinicos, has Rees and German as the champions of “united fronts”, and Smith and Callinicos as the champions of “party-building”.
But “party-building” here just means building the SWP organisationally — which both factions certainly favour — rather than a fight for political clarity and sharpness. And the Smith-Callinicos Central Committee is scarcely less minded than Rees-German to gear the SWP to being the “best builder” of various “united front” schemes — like the Right to Work conference held on 30 January. Actually these are more “Munzenberg” exercises, enterprises concocted on mini-popular-front lines, with celebrities like the “League Against Imperialism” and other groups, which Willi Munzenberg ran for the Comintern in the 1920s and 30s.
Just as important as the content of the disagreement within the SWP is the way in which the debate is conducted. We want no part of a socialist movement in which dissenting voices are subject to surveillance, hacking, smear campaigns or administrative expulsion. People should have the right to criticise their organisation openly, publicly, and without fear of reprisals.
The administrative restrictions and culture of mistrust to which minority platforms or voices within the SWP are subjected have no place in a socialist movement.
• For a collection of articles on the history of the SWP — from International Socialists to Respect — visit