Sunday 20 October 2013

SWP: untruth about me from Callinicos and Kimber

SWP saga continues.

People and groups within the SWP are producing documents and counter-documents. In some of these, some people are referring to or quoting me. This is because I wrote an 'Open Letter' here on this blog and replied to Nick Grant and John Rose, also here. Alex Callinicos and Charlie Kimber have chosen to make partial replies to these within documents addressed to the membership of the SWP. I note that they have chosen not to reply directly to me - and this is of course their absolute right - but in so doing their replies are highly partial and, as I have observed, do that old trick of dismissing the content of what I'm saying because, they deem, I'm coming from the wrong place a) because I'm not a 'leninist' and b) I'm not a member of the SWP.

Frankly, that's a crap way to argue. As I've said, one of the things that anyone in politics has to take on board is that sometimes people coming from that 'wrong' place say right things. That means we have to engage with what people actually say or write and not simply leave it that they are coming from this wrong place, therefore their argument must be wrong.

However, in their latest document, Alex and Charlie deal with the following passage that I wrote in a reply to Nick Grant. Here's what I wrote:

"You raise all the old objections about police and an apparent sympathy with the wishes of the accuser that the case be heard by the SWP. I repeat, in case you haven't read it: the procedure to have followed was

1. Suspend the accused on full pay with no prejudice, ask him to withdraw from all party activity including organisations he was actively involved in like LMHR and UAF.

2. Offer the accuser(s) help. If they wanted it, they could have it. If they didn't want it, they didn't have to have it.

3. You could have said clearly to the accuser that the SWP is not the appropriate forum for considering a matter like this. This is not only or simply because it is defined by the state as 'criminal'. It is actually for humane reasons that the procedures that you could or would put in place to 'hear' this case would be (and were) totally inappropriate. The SWP didn't do better than what people do in workplaces. It did worse.

4. Then the organisation could have waited. It is not possible to know what might have taken place next and I'm not making any presumptions about guilt or innocence, true or false accusations here. What you and I could do, though, is draw up a flow chart of possible outcomes, all of which seem to me to be better than what has actually taken place! For example, the parties concerned might have chosen to go to mediation - yes - with people known and respected by both parties. Perhaps either or both parties might have chosen to go to people known and respected by both for 'help'. Perhaps either or both would enjoy having a private confidential space in which to say how or why they were in the situation they were in. This may or may not have resolved the issue. I'm not someone who thinks the talking cure solves everything but who knows, on this occasion it might have helped. What do you think?" "

Alex and Charlie respond to that passage with this:

"Michael Rosen has canvassed from outside the SWP an alternative approach- namely that we acknowledge that we are incapable of dealing with cases as complex and open to dispute as those involving accusations of sexual misconduct and in future support anyone making such an accusation in going to the police."

Someone tell me otherwise, but I can't see anywhere in my writing (above) which entitles Alex and Charlie to make this statement. I mentioned the police purely in order to make the suggestion that whoever set up and ran the procedures in question had in mind that the SWP's system of justice was superior to that of the police. In fact, as we now know it wasn't. But let's leave that to one side.

My list of suggestions (by no means original) do not involve a suggestion from me saying that the SWP should 'support' someone 'going to the police'. In case Alex and Charlie don't follow what I was suggesting it involves offering support and advice until such time an accuser takes a path of action, whilst pointing out that the SWP is not an organisation or forum equipped with what it ever it takes to solve such matters. I then went on to suggest - perhaps foolhardily - outcomes that might follow from such a procedure - none of which, in the passage above, involve mentioning the police. I left that matter open. It would be quite possible for an organisation like the SWP to offer help and support up until the moment when accuser or accused chose to go to the police ie not offer support to someone taking the matter to the police!

For Alex and Charlie to make this statement about me at best is 'jumping to conclusions' or 'not reading what I wrote'. At worst it is wrong, a misrepresentation or an untruth.