11 Apr 2011
SWP CC on Chris Bambery’s resignation
Chris Bambery’s resignation
Chris Bambery has resigned from the Central Committee (CC) and the SWP. This is very disappointing, but we strongly reject the analysis Chris has put forward in his resignation letter.
The CC has for some time had worries about aspects of Chris’s work. As Chris’s letter states, the CC asked him to step aside from responsibility for our work in Scotland, and after the evidence that has now emerged of organised opposition to the party in Scotland it is obvious we were right.
If Chris believed there were fundamental problems around Right to Work and other issues, his responsibility in Scotland as elsewhere was to raise these questions and encourage other comrades to do the same.
There was criticism of his role in not effectively helping to build a broad Right to Work (RTW). But far from downgrading RTW, the CC had recently agreed to add another person to help build it.
Chris’s letter recycles many of the argument that came from people who left the party in February last year to set up Counterfire, particularly around the question of the united front. Far from running away from united front work, the SWP is centrally involved in anti-cuts campaigns, RTW activity, trade union activity, Unite Against Fascism, the Stop the War Coalition and the Education Activist Network. All of these involve systematic activity with people outside our ranks.
We have repeatedly stressed the need for full involvement in the anti-cuts movement as well as Right to Work.
Chris raises questions about recruitment. We are proud to be building a revolutionary socialist party. We regard a strong and well-organised socialist presence as indispensable. This does not happen by accident or without relentless effort. But the whole history of the revolutionary movement shows this is necessary.
The argument at the CC that Chris refers to involved him spreading information about internal CC discussions to those outside the CC. Several of us believed he was trying to stir up division in the party—a view which subsequent events confirmed. We are mystified by the allegations of “factional attack” Chris says was being prepared against him.
We do not think that the party is riven by factionalism, nor does it have a culture where it is impossible to raise political disagreement. As our leading comrade in RTW, as a central committee member, and as a member of the party’s finance committee Chris had the opportunity to register political disagreement about all the issues he raises in his resignation letter. In the past year he never has.
Instead he has written key documents for the party’s perspectives, introduced sessions at conference and headed up our work in a key united front—without any open political disagreements. Indeed, he said he had no differences with the perspectives document presented to Sunday’s Party Council—on the day he resigned. He could have attended the council and argued at it. Surely the Tony Cliff who Chris mentions would have done so! But Chris chose not to attend.
A number of other comrades have also left. In our tradition, if you disagree, you try to win your position in the party and seek to persuade others of your case. It is regrettable that these comrades walked away without doing so.
We want the party to move forward in a united way to implement the fighting perspectives agreed at the vibrant and united Party Council meeting on Sunday.