The SWP Central Committee has tried to draw a hard line between recent events inside the party and the wider Socialist and Trade Union movement. The SWP CC has made two arguments to defend the indefensible. The first is that affairs inside the SWP are a purely internal matter, and of no concern to other Socialists or trade unionists. Secondly, that those Socialists who do raise the issue in public are not living ‘in the real world’ where nobody cares about such ‘small matters’.
However, the issue has been raised in the election for UNITE’s General Secretary – the largest union in these islands (UNITE also covers the whole of Ireland). The SWP CC can hardly claim anymore that the party’s internal affairs are not an issue ‘in the real world’, nor that it is a ‘small matter’. The SWP CC’s behaviour has been raised in a particularly despicable manner by Broad Left incumbent, Len McCluskey. Below, we post the reply by Rank and File challenger, Jerry Hicks.
Furthermore, other trade unionists do have a real interest in questioning the indefensible behaviour of the SWP CC. If anyone examines the signatories of the statement of SWP members in support of the CC, they will find that quite a few invoke their particular trade union membership, e.g. BECTU, BMA, EIS, FBU, GMB, NUJ, NUS, NUT, PCS, PROSPECT, UCU, UNISON, UNITE, USDAW. If the sort of allegations raised in the SWP were to be raised in any trade union against one of its officials, and swept under the carpet in a similar manner, there would quite rightly be outrage. Socialists should apply higher, not lower standards in their conduct, than those found elsewhere.
FOLLOWING IN THE FINE TRADITION OF FRANK CHAPELL AND ERIC HAMMOND
Len McCluskey’s election campaign spirals into the gutter.
Right now many of our members are facing cuts in their pay, losing their jobs, they are witnessing our NHS getting privatised and many are punished by the Bedroom Tax. Unbelievably the Labour Party bigwigs decided not to oppose Workfare and defend the rights of the unemployed.
I believe that we should be putting all our energy into fighting this rotten government rather than having this election. However, the Union called for one, so I had to respond. I’m doing this not to stand against Len McCluskey, but to stand for the position of General Secretary as our members need a different approach, with strong action not more of the same.
I’m experienced enough to know of the knockabouts and the shadowy tactics that get used in these elections. But I’ve been personally shocked by some allegations that have swirled around McCluskey’s camp towards me, I won’t list them here but there is one bit of mud being thrown at me that I cannot let stick.
A Unite Branch Secretary from Plymouth City Council and Regional Sector Committee Chair tweeted. I have voted for@Unite4Len for GS. I want a GS who doesn’t condone sex crimes against women. This libellous message was then shamefully repeated by Steve Turner, Director of Executive Policy at Unite and I understand is Len McCluskey’s campaign manager.
As this is a two candidate election, this clearly refers to me. It is also clearly untrue. I do not and never have condoned sex crimes against women. Bro Turner knows this, as do the others, and they have posted this maliciously in order to slur my name.
Let me be clear, the idea of violence against women makes me sick. I support various women’s movements including the One Billion Rising protests that took place across the world last Valentine’s Day. There is no space for sexism or racism anywhere and especially not in our movement. I am intolerant of all forms of discrimination, I am proud of the Equalities Campaigns by our union. We will continue to build on them if I am elected as General Secretary.
A few people have tried to link the support I have received from the Socialist Workers’ Party to my attitude towards women. I received and accepted support from them well before I became aware of the recent allegations about sexual misconduct. I am not a member of their party, and I do not condone how its Central Committee has dealt with the allegations that were brought to them. Ironic though given that Len McCluskey met with the Socialist Workers Party asking for their support.
I see Feminism as an essential part of our movement. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water, there are both former and current members of the SWP that I will continue to work with, as long as they are principled anti-sexists and anti-racists.
Solidarity is the bedrock of our movement, it is the source of our strength and our victories. When one of our members is attacked, we all respond because we see it as an attack on all of us. So if our female members are under attack, we all must fightback. We can’t win against this government with one-hand tied behind our back. This is what my years as an elected representative at Rolls Royce have taught me.
When any of our members win, we all win. I’m standing to bring the experiences of the rank-and-file committees like the Sparks and the Blacklist Support Group into the heart of our union. We need change, as more of the same isn’t delivering for our members or our country.
Jerry Hicks 22nd March 2013
The list of pro-Central Committee SWP members, and the trade union membership they describe themselves by can be found on:- Support for SWP Central Committee Statement
For an examination of another aspect of the crisis currently enveloping the SWP see:- The Crisis In The SWP:- The failure of the Central Committee’s ‘recruit, recruit, recruit’ tactics
For good collation of material of about the ongoing crisis in the SWP from all viewpoints see:- http://www.jimjepps.net/?p=273