Solidarity has much to condemn the SWP for — most of all the way it has funnelled thousands of people who want to be socialists into being bag-carriers for George Galloway, for the Muslim Association of Britain (British offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood), and for the Islamist militias in Iraq.
And in part because we want, and fight for, a proper political confrontation with the SWP on those issues, we are against them being shoved aside and blurred over by slurs and manufactured scandals.
Ripples are still spreading through the left from an item posted on the website of the Socialist Unity Network (a “loyal opposition” group in the Galloway/SWP coalition, Respect) in September 2004.
Liz Davies, former chair of the Socialist Alliance, went public with the grievances that caused her to resign from the Socialist Alliance in late 2002. Her presentation suggested that the SWP, or SWP members, had their hands in the till.
“Five of those seven cheques [from the SA account, which had not gone through proper procedures] were made directly payable to the three individuals involved or to ‘cash’. The five cheques were drawn for a total of more than £3,000”.
Liz Davies’s partner, Mike Marqusee, follows up with a letter to Weekly Worker (18 November) claiming that “we simply don’t know” that those cheques were to cover legitimate office expenses.
In fact we do know. After Liz Davies complained about the cheques, the Socialist Alliance Exec set up a commission of inquiry, composed of non-SWP people, who found that all the payments were substantially legitimate, even though the proper formalities had not been completed.
Liz Davies herself, at the time, was explicit that she was not alleging embezzlement.
There have been rumours of the SWP taking libel action over this affair, but nothing seems to have come of it, so far.
Before she resigned from the Socialist Alliance, Liz Davies had acted for a year and a half as the SWP’s prize-exhibit “left reformist won over to the SA”, saying exactly what they wanted her to say in that role.
Mike Marqusee acted as non-SWP front-man for the SWP’s bizarre “no canvassing” drive in the 2001 general election, and as the defender of their pro-Taliban line on the Afghanistan war, even though on closer inquiry he disagreed with it.
As press officer of the Stop The War Coalition he acted as attorney for the SWP’s alliance with the MAB.
Now Liz Davies and Mike Marqusee have fallen out with the SWP. They never used their positions in the SA or the Stop The War Coalition to confront the SWP publicly on any big political issue.
They withdrew — and now urge activists to shun the SWP, not because of politics, but because of vague allegations about office misdeeds.
From such anti-SWPism no-one can learn anything positive. No-one can he helped towards clearer politics. All that this sort of anti-SWPism can achieve is to channel yet more people into the many little coteries on the left who never challenge the SWP-dominated left conventional wisdom in ideas, but make their stand on sneering against the inherent skulduggery of “parties” in general.
Put up or shut up! Liz Davies and Mike Marqusee should specificy and substantiate their insinuations, or withdraw them.
By gerry bates