Post-Brexit thoughts – moving forward

I’ve been reticent about posting my reaction to the result in the last tumultuous days simply out of self-preservation – like so many other people, my anxiety, anger and stress have been sky high, so I withdrew from online in an attempt to manage my symptoms better and avoid the vicious bullying and name-calling until I could at least get my head together. But the times are calling…

Like many other people I can’t delude myself and celebrate the leave vote as a victory for the left and working class just yet. Yes millions of workers (and middle class people) voted to leave as an anti-establishment protest against the unbearable economic and social conditions – BUT and this is the massive, gargantuan BUT – that understandable rage has been driven and distorted by the most base racism, nationalism and in no way represents a coherent left-wing, united working class rejection of the E.U. and austerity and the capitalist economic system as a whole. Racists everywhere have been boosted by this result and now think they can say whatever hate filled xenophobic abuse they like to anyone who isn’t a so-called British national. Whilst it is true that the majority of the working class voted leave ( the AB group backed Remain by 57% to 43%, while the poorer C2DE category was almost two-thirds in favour of quitting, voting Out by 64% to 36% according to the Daily Mirror quoting ‘Lord’ Ashcroft of all people), the working class are not some homogenous mass social and economic group. Young people were much more likely to vote remain as were communities where the majority of the population are not British born, including in Cardiff, which is a city with a large working class. Nor does it take into account the majority for leave in Scotland or the sectarian nature of the vote in Northern Ireland – two major topics that indicate the escalation of national conflict at risk here and needs proper analysis which I won’t do here).

My own experience is  significant numbers of public sector workers  – of all nationalities and skin colours – voted to remain not because they are ‘soft middle class liberals’ but because of a genuine and deep seated disgust at racism and xenophobia and REAL CONCERNS over job losses and the loss of E.U. funding to the poorest areas of Wales (which is around 90% of it). That’s why we can’t help feeling that our class have just voted for their own bullets – particularly whilst the left are totally ineffective ignored (particularly hard left ‘Lexiters’ such as the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party) and the far right are triumphant.

Working class and middle class leave voters – particularly the majority who did so for nationalist, anti-immigration reasons – are about to receive a rude shock. Nationalist right wing politicians are misdirecting your rage against the most vulnerable members of your own class and are escalating morally bankrupt divide and rule poison which destroys any potential united working class movement against the system. Farage, Johnston and Gove are ruthless Etonian ruling class politicians who – newsflash – support privatisation, austerity, the bankers and the mass immiseration of the working class. They are going to let us rot and destroy each other whilst the ruling class stay in charge. I don’t think it’s okay to sneer at working class leave voters as stupid and ignorant – the E.U. is a rotten, war mongering, anti-worker, elitist institution – but so is the British parliamentary system including the house of lords, so is the monarchy and this  fantasy that Britain can return to its imperialist ‘hey day’ reveals a total ignorance of the real history of working class united struggle against racism, colonialism, imperialism and class exploitation. So whilst I don’t like to insult anyone, it has to be said that racism, bigotry and misplaced faith in Farage to save the NHS or whatever does unfortunately reveal your ignorance and that ignorance is threatening some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met – people who have fled the most appalling, traumatising conflicts in the world and / or are just trying to get a better life for themselves and their families – and I will NOT stand by and let that happen because I’m worried about challenging you. Sorry but now is the time that we must speak out – the far-right must be opposed and the left absolutely definitely now has to get its act together if there’s any hope for our class.

Not all of the leave voters did so far racist reasons, nor was it only white working class people who voted for it but the end result is that Farage and UKIP and the far-right across Europe are celebrating this as their victory, as some of us had tried to warn, and for lexiters to deny this is grossly irresponsible and represents abandoning non-British working class people – WHO ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ECONOMIC CRISIS AND ARE INSTEAD PART OF THE MOST OPPRESSED AND EXPLOITED OF THE CLASS – to an escalation of racist abuse, terror, turmoil and agonising uncertainty now over whether they can stay here. I can’t not do this; my conscience won’t allow it. I’m proud to be for real internationalism and solidarity and think our most important tasks ahead include organising to defend refugees, EU. and international ‘migrants’ (or people in my way of seeing things) and independent working class action, including strike action to protest austerity, cuts, racism and against the bosses – be they nationalist or E.U. bosses. The vote result has happened now and there’s’ no going back, I see no point in a re-run and what we urgently need is a labour movement that can get workers to reject nationalism and racism and instead advocate real European wide workers’ solidarity against the bosses and the politicians, no matter their flags.

The biggest responsibility for the fact that the far-right nationalists and their corporate allies in the mass media were able to distort and twist what could have been a class conscious, internationalist leave campaign lies with the long term strategic failures of the labour movement as a whole, going back decades. The long term betrayals of social democracy by sowing illusions in reforming capitalism, class compromise in the name of ‘partnership with the employers’ and supporting the national bourgeois against independent working class unity across borders, as well as the more recent  specific betrayals of the trade unions and the Labour Party in the U.K. (and everwhere else of course) in failing to build a mass movement against the cuts and austerity has led to this desperate situation where working class people, rightly raging at the system, have mistakenly turned to the elitist, capitalist led far-right and this has been a long term process culminating in the absolute rabid and deeply frightening anti-immigrant mood popularly whipped up by short sighted and dangerous politicians from both the Tories AND Labour. We need to recognise this urgently if we are to turn the anger of the masses around from this dangerous racist and nationalist course to an actual international, socialist outlook. Our key responsibility now is to work out how we are to intervene and rebuild the left once more as a real mass movement of the working class around Europe and beyond.

EU or GB? A plague on both your houses!

Cardiff Marxist Group

I will be abstaining in the EU referendum taking place this month. A vote for EU Austerity and Capital versus Great British Austerity and Capital is not a choice I want any part of. The entire basis of the referendum is based around a faction struggle between capitalists grounded in appeals to nationalist populism. Neither option will provide any kind of victory to the working class, in fact one way or the other, we’ll lose.

Most on the left seem completely split over the issue with various arguments called up in favour of leave, remain and abstain. All have some good arguments as well as bad.

Those arguing to leave highlight the reactionary nature of the EU as an institution, that it is in no  way shape or form a friend of workers (the fact that the TUC argues it is, is testament to their pathetic capitulations). It is responsible for deposing…

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Michael Crick, Peter Taaffe and me Part 2


Part 2

It has taken me a long time to be in the right headspace to write publicly again about my experiences of the Socialist Party but now the healing powers of time and distance, combined with a new political situation following the election of Corbyn last summer and now the impending EU referendum in a toxic climate of growing racism, poverty and mass suffering directly resulting from the ongoing capitalist economic crisis compels me to write.

In part 1 I promised to address the following points:

Why I left the Socialist Party in 2013 (you can also read my resignation letter – still with the original typos – elsewhere on my ) I want to write about this experience in the light of the knowledge I have gained as a socialist feminist activist since then.

Why Michael Crick is accurate about the cultic and atheistic religious  practices of the party, drawing on both my own and many other ex members’ experiences and what is more important, why these organisation features are directly detrimental to the task of building a  real mass working class revolutionary organisation.

What mass socialist party / organisation I advocate instead and how I imagine such an organisation might work with present Socialist Party members today.

I am very concerned about the situation facing our class today and I think the left is singularly failing to develop a serious, well thought out strategy on how we can take on  the system with the class behind us and with us, not relying on our own, narrow networks of activists as if this can substitute itself for a real mass movement. The left is short- termist in the extreme and incredibly shallow in its enthusiasm for populist soft left characters, who usually get there because they have the loudest mouths. Politics is a dirty business.

It’s  important to remember the lessons of Syriza in Greece = a left wing government which tries to work within the capitalist paradigm and does not build a mass working class movement to take on the bosses and the capitalist class in its entirety has proved itself impotent whilst the Greek working class is starved and punished by the bosses institutions of the E.U. etc. It’s important to recognise that neither right wing nationalists or the E.U are the friends of working class people. Both sides loathe the masses and have nothing but contempt for us. This is why I don’t want to vote for either side in the upcoming EU referendum. I reject both but funnily enough, european socialism and unity against the bosses (no matter their flag) is not on offer on the ballot. Like millions of others in Britain I am totally disenfranchised by the capitalist system.

Nor do I share Peter Taaffe and the SP’s optimism about what a ‘no’ result on June 23rd would entail. They see it as a chance to bring down Cameron and imagine that it will led to some kind of mass movement to overthrow the government – a profound misreading of the situation in Britain today in my view. The labour movement is weak and class struggle here is possibly the lowest it’s ever been whilst the far and populist racist right are in the ascendancy, as a result of the historic failiure of the left to offer a credible alternative to the right in the first place.

Whilst it is true that some genuine and very long standing socialists and trade unionists support Corbyn and certainly not all of them are careerists and are instead principled working class fighters in South Wales, the right in Labour remain in charge in Wales and are determined to implement the Tories cuts and accept the logic of the market and maintain the status quo and their inflated, removed  lifestyles of m.p.s, a.m.s, councillors and union officials alike whilst ruling out strike action and defiance of the anti union laws.

Whilst there are strikes taking place in Britain, the overall level of struggle is very low.  Life is just getting worse for most of us, clinging desperately to day to day survival as we are. I don’t think the working class here has the class consciousness and confidence RIGHT NOW to unite in mass struggle against capitalism and reject the evil of racism against immigrants. British nationalism is dividing the working class here extremely effectively. This is the danger we are in and it’s vital that we are able to make a realistic assessment of where we are if we as a movement are ever able to develop an effective strategy to build a mass movement against capitalism on an international basis.

Although working class people are correct in rejecting the European Union as an elitist, bureaucratic club of the European bosses (dominated by Germany and France), it is equally mistaken to fall for the divide and rule tactics of the racist UKIP and the Brexit Tories led by Boris Johnston. We need working class unity against both sections of the capitalist club fighting it out for power in this referendum of no choice. The so-called democratic parliamentary system which gives us this referendum is based on lies on all sides and ensures that working class people will always remain powerless and exploited whilst the rich stay in charge, whatever the results.

In the first part of this article, I promised to elaborate on why I left the party when it would appear that we  are roughly on the same side, even though there are the differences I have outlined so far. If I was a member of the Socialist Party now, I would be unable to express any differences of opinion that I have with the leadership regarding their analysis of current events, their programmatic demands and campaigns on say the European Union, for instance. The leadership argue that debate must be internal but when a decision agreed then everyone must publicly advocate that position publically. There are countless ex-Militant and Socialist Party members not only in Britain but in many countries of the world where their international organisation, the Committee for a Workers’ International, has or has had a presence who have been victims to this policy of ‘democratic centralism’.

For example, In the last 2 years comrades have been forced out for daring to contradict the leadership’s analysis of the causes of the capitalist economic crisis and putting forward their own marxian analysis and denounced for seeking factional rights in the organisation as is their right to do so according to the party constitution; it is an absurd situation which indicates the level of control and censorship the leadership maintains over its members in order to maintain their positions. What is valued most in the organisation is unquestioning and unthinking loyalty to the leadership around Taaffe at all costs.  Loyal members parrot the E.C.’s arguments and refuse to consider any of the evidence staring right in front of them that indicates that the E.C. MIGHT NOT BE 100 PERCENT RIGHT about something (say choosing to defend known domestic abusers in their organisation rather than supporting the survivors – in the sincere and honest opinions of a number of former members and independent activists from around the world) because they are ‘busy’ organising the ‘revolution’. Newer members of the organisation are duped and brain washed, just as I was for the many years I stayed in the organisation.

Many of the older and more experienced members – often otherwise good socialist campaigners – are afriad of change and do not want to be forced out of their little socialist church where everything is safe and the leaders do the thinking for you. Unfortunately group delusion on this scale does not prepare you well for actual events, for life, is not black and white and socialists are as weak, fallible and flawed as anyone else  and that is the truth. Our movement has the right and the duty to admit mistakes and do our best to make our organisations as inclusive of the most oppressed sections of the working class, not least women and people of colour as possible and open up to the working class – we are not living under the Tsarist dictatorship, this is Britain in 2016!

I’m keenly aware that this is not just about my own particular story in Militant / Socialist Party history; there are many former members who lived and breathed this way of life and have their own stories to tell.  My direct experience is of the organisation in decline and well after the Militant hey days. I was a small child in the early 80s so everything I know about the organisation from that time comes second-hand. When I joined as a student at Swansea University in 2000 I was recruited by Alec Thraves, the local full timer, at the time the Welsh Secretary of the Party and to do this day member of the International Executive Committee of the CWI (Alec is named as one of the leaders in the appendixes of Crick’s book). Alec impressed me with his impassioned defence of Militant’s record and as a devoted member I immersed myself in the Militant folklore from the older comrades who had made the headlines back in the day. I also remember Alec denouncing Crick’s book as a right-wing hatchet job – I never bothered reading it as a member.

Then, when I left the party in despair and disgust in 2013 I made contact with a number of the former leaders, full timers and rank and file ex members from the 1980s up to the present day and from around the world (including Scotland, Germany, Sweden, the U.S., France and Ireland) and these comrades – many still active as socialists in the movement to different degrees – by sharing their own experiences of the organisation started to help re-educate myself and better understand how my own experience of sexism, bureaucratic centralism (always misrepresented by the SP as ‘democratic’ centralism) and political ostracism resulting from my dissidence was part of a much wider and deeply rooted long term malaise in the organisation which comes from treating marxism as a religious doctrine, exerting cultic control over members’ lives and maintaining power for the elitist high priest-like status of the leadership.

I critique Peter Taaffe and his ruling clique for their unwillingness to admit their human faillibility so it is only fair to admit my own fallibility which anyone who has ever known me can tell you about. Hopefully most people who know me though generally think well of me and that does seem to be the case. When I was challenging the leadership both internally and then later externally in early 2013 I made my own mistakes and no doubt I make mistakes now. Possibly my negative view of the strength of the working class to unite in mass struggle, as a result of the many mistakes of the left, including the Socialist Party, is too one-sided. I just know our people are suffering more than ever before and it’s always been shit under capitalism but right now the left are just not up to the tasks and responsibilities facing us and are not learning any of the main lessons of working class history so far – socialism can not be achieved through parliament and the repeated and unfortunately predicatable betrayals of all the main so-called workers’ parties including the Labour Party, the Communist Party and the two main Trotksyist organisations in Britain – both the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party and whilst it was still around, the Workers Revolutionary Party.

We are not in a position as a class by any means to take on the bosses’ class properly when the majority of the left in all its many guises to this day has massive illusions in capitalism and its main institutions including the U.K. parliamentary system, the legal system including the police and the courts and the European Union and the Socialist Party is unfortunately part of this process, despite their absurd claim to be ‘the’ revolutionary party. There is no open or public recognition that a major reason why we are in the shit today is because social democracy – the Labour Party and the trade unions – were made part of the capitalist state when they chose to support World War One and their ‘own’ capitalist class in that war over a hundred years ago, betraying workers internationalism in the struggle to unite to overthrow capitalism! The Labour Party and trade union bureaucracy have been consistent ever since in maintaining the rule of capitalism as can be demonstrated by all the major historical events of the last century including, alongside the Communist Party, selling out the 1926 General Strike which is a defeat our class here has never recovered from. We haven’t had a general strike in Britain ever since and that is the minimum which is required if we are ever to get off our knees again as a class and stop these Tory bastards and have even the opportunity to consider how we can fundamentally change society in our collective interests.

We live in communities crushed by the  Labour, trade union and CP led defeat of the miners in 84/5 and the children and the grandchildren and the great, great grandchildren of the fantastic working class fighters of both the 1980s generation and all our fore mother and fathers before it are examples of mass working class struggle that today’s generation and all those youngsters coming up behind us need to learn from a.s.ap. if we are ever going to have a chance to survive and live half decent lives again. Whilst it is great that soft left ideas are gaining mass support around Corbyn it is not because Labour will save the working class but because the class struggle is not over despite what the Blairite right think and the Corbyn phenomen is just an early, babyish in fact phase of the movement trying to rebuild itself again under this fercious attack from the ruling class. To have any chance of actual success we need to rediscover our revolutionary history and dig deeper than the official Labour movement narrative – remember these are the people who helped Crick try and smash working class socialist resistance to their system in Liverpool. For all the flaws of Militant / the Socialist Party, that doesn’t detract from the heroism of EVERY WORKING CLASS PERSON in Liverpool who fought the Tory government’s funding cuts and built jobs, homes and services in that legendary city in the early 80s.

But now let’s get to the heart of why I had to finally leave  the Socialist Party – sexism on the male dominated left of which unfortunately the SP is but just one example. I’m going to be blunt for brevity. All three of the Trotskyist organisations have (or in the WRP’s case, had) major problems with women members in particular reporting experiences of sexism, abuse and cover up by powerful male leaders. So many voices – and there are many of us, although not all of us have gone public yet – can’t be discounted the way an individual can be. I will always stand with my sisters including Caroline Leneghan (please read her International Women’s Day statement from 2013 as well as my resignation letter from the SP) and many other female comrades I know personally who have shared their experiences of abuse from members of the Socialist Party with me but at this stage do not want to be named. Encouragingly other women are starting to come forward and long may this continue.Recently the CWI (the acronym of the Committee of the Workers’ International, ‘the intenrational’ of the organisation) has been rocked by domestic violence and rape cover up scandals, leading to very public splits in Sweden and in Australia.

I know that I promised to write about what working class revolutionary organisation I would like to see develop and how independent socialists, anarchists and working class revolutionaries might / could / possibly work with present day Socialist Party members who are willing to engage in a dialogue about the health of their organisation and acknowledge that problems do indeed exist and recognise the contributions of the rest of us, not least their ex members, of which we are many and growing. I will do so but in what will be part 3, where I will also return in more detail about the sexist culture of the Socialist Party and its various other unfortunate organisational characteristics, to put it far more politely than they deserve.

So, until Part 3 then,

Viva La Revolution

Sara M



Michael Crick, Peter Taaffe and me

Now, I haven’t posted on this blog for two years but that doesn’t mean I disappeared all that time. I’ve been published since in The Screaming Violets (a feminist socialist magazine),  Independent Socialist Network’s theoretical journal, the (now disbanded) International … Continue reading

Stop Violence Against Women! The history of International Women’s Day and some suggested lessons for us today

This unfinished essay is based on my ‘Stop Violence Against Women’ protest speech to celebrate the socialist and working class history of International Women’s Day and its lesson for our struggle at the Cardiff Feminist Network protest of the same name today. It goes into the issues I will raise today in greater depth than is possible in a twenty minute speech! It is to be continued – I haven’t had time this weekend to finish typing it up due to the amount of IWD events on, but will update this blog with the rest of the essay asap!

Stop Violence Against Women! The history of International Women’s Day and some suggested lessons for us today

The theme of this protest today is stop violence against women for a reason – too many of us have personally experienced gender based violence – be it physical, sexual, emotional, financial or psychological – and / or know women who’ve suffered it. We all know the chilling statistics here in Wales and England – two women a week are killed every week by a partner or ex partner. This constitutes nearly 40% of all female homicide victims (Povey, (ed.), 2005; Home Office, 1999; Department of Health, 2005 cited by Women’s Aid website.)

Our struggle today, seen here in Cardiff in the enthusiasm and courage of the women (and their male allies) who marched last night for ‘Reclaim the Night’ and today for abortion rights and who gathered on Unite the Union’s protest against cuts with the and their impact on women is just a glimpse of what is to come: a rising of women,. A rising not only against gender based violence and the basic human right to control our own bodies, but to fight for our economic and social justice in all its forms. To fight against a system which, for example, denies us legal aid when fighting for access to our children when the abuser is rich, as I know one sister of ours currently faces. To fight against a system that means endless cuts to benefits, jobs and services. A system which means huge numbers of working class women rely on violent loan sharks to borrow money they don’t have at astronimical rates, even facing ‘Payment in Kind’ or rape, when unable to repay said debt (revealed at a recent training day for Citzen’s Advice Bureau). Our NHS is under attack through huge and long standing cuts here in Wales, which we need access to when we experience the violence we suffer because of our gender e.g. Sexual Assault Referral Clinics, counselling services. Then there is the chronic under funding  of  non NHS provided specialist services such as Rape Crisis Centres and Women’s Aid, which has gone on for years.

I think we can trace our fight for women’s rights today through an unending chain of resistance across the world from Egypt to Spain to the U.S. to Wales. A chain unbroken and extending over a hundred years of International Women’s Day. I think we have the right to know the history of International Women’s Day and what lessons it has for us today. It empowers us to know where IWD comes from and who fought for it and it was working women fighting for their rights – to end poverty wages, endless working hours, unsafe working conditions, child labour, the right to paid leave, maternity rights, childcare,, access to abortion and the right to join a trade union. For example, there was the heroic struggle of the mainly women and migrant mill workers’ strike of 1912 in Lawrence, Massachussets (

Great struggles of working women like this was the direct inspiration of the founders of International Women’s Day. The world may have changed beyone recognition from a hundred year’s ago, yet the struggle against oppression, injustice and exploitation remains as urgent as ever. Many of the conditions these women were organising against remain very much in today’s workforce, including right here in Cardiff. The lawrence workers went on strike partially over a 56 hour week, for example – a reality also for so many of today’s workers, many of whom are women. In addition to the key, inescapable question of class, oppression takes many forms: gender, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, to name some of the best known. Yet all are enforced by a global economic system called capitalism – private ownership of the economy organised for profit and not social and environmental need. Today, I focus on class and gender, which is not in any way to minimise any of these other forms of oppression because they are all burning issues our movement must challenge and educate ourselves on.

Born of women workers’ struggle in the U.S. and Europe, IWD was proposed by socialists, in particular, Clara Zetkin at an international Women’s conference preceding the Second Socialist International conference in Copenhagan in 1910. The conference voted for Zetkin’s resolution for an International Women’s Day and a year later, in 1911, the first one was held. Over a million participated in protests in Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Germany. IWD was used as a mechanism to protest  against WW1 from 1914 onwards. This is worth remembering today and the best way to continue in that spirit is to protest against war, whether in the Crimea, Iraq, Afghanistan or the apartheid and occupation of Palestine, to give just a few examples. Other key issues for IWD originally, some of which have already been listed, were the fight for universal suffrage (still an aim in many parts of the world!), equal rights (we’re still fighting!), no employment discrimination (women are still being sacked for being pregnant in Cameron’s U.K. In 2014!) and access to education and training  (still a huge issue for millions of women and girls around the world).

Furthermore, it’s impossible to discuss IWD’s history without commenting on this day’s significance for the start of the February Russian  Revolution (In the old Russian calender, the day was March 8th): women factory workers in old St Petersberg came out on strike for ‘Bread and Peace’ to protest the carnage of WW1 and the chronic food shortages facing the Russian masses. This triggered a revolution which overthrew the Tsar four days later when he abdicated in response to these events.

Some might ask why these events are significant and relevant for us today. Yet I think some of the insights provided back then by activists still hold true today. For example, and forgive me for quoting a man at a feminist event, but the great American socialist Eugene Debbs made this pertinent statement:

“I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars while millions of men and women who work all their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.”

There are socialists and left wingers out there who don’t think IWD is particularly important. This was also true 100 years ago. The fantastic socialist feminist Alexandra Kollantai argued against these views powerfully. For example, in 1913 she said:

“’Women’s Day’ is a link in the long, solid chain of the women’s proletarian movement. The organised army of working women grows with every year. ……………..The women’s socialist army has almost a million members. A powerful force! A force that the powers of this world must reckon with when it is a question of the cost of living, maternity insurance, child labour and legislation to protect female labour.” Alexandra Kollantai, Women’s Day’ February 1913, Pravda

What a message! We can take direct inspiration from it today. And what is the reality of women’s economic position in ‘modern’ 21st century capitalism? The following U.N. Statistics sum it up in four key facts:

Women are 50% of the world’s population

Women work two thirds of the world’s working hours

Women receive 10% of the world’s income

Women own less than 1 % of the world’s property

Yet as the example of the Russian Revolution shows, precisely because of women’s double burden, they are more often than not at the heart of struggle.

And what is the state of the movement today? It is vital that the labour movement and wider protest movement puts the struggle against gender based violence high on the agenda. Gender based violence is a huge barrier for women to take part in struggle – anywhere in the world. This is seen graphically and horrifyingly in Egpyt where right wing state forces at different stages of the revolutionary struggle have consciously used sexual assault and harassment as a divide and rule tool to stop women participate in protests and undermine a united struggle against poverty, unemployment and social and economic oppression in Egypt. Yet our Egyptian sisters courageously continue to organise and fight back. We can be proud of our internationalism – the recognition of women’s and working peoples’ struggle across borders is a guiding principle of this day and our movement.

Furthermore, the above example of state orchestrated violence is just one of so many internationally. War and state orchestrated violence are used by governments as their method of maintaining their power and economic ‘order’ and enforcing submission, be it their own people or other nations. No wonder then that violence against women is so normalised. The so called personal nature of domestic and sexual violence follows the political. And political violence at the hand of capitalist states is used to enforce economic domination and dictatorship over the working class and poor across the world.

The labour movement is essential to defend and fight for our economic, social and political interests. But so too is the feminist movement. We need to work with each other, discuss with each and listen to each other and continue  our long standing relationship with each other – indeed, many of us are part of both already. It’s important to remember that so many of the historic gains won by women here came from by organising within the labour movement. Equal Pay legislation was won by striking female Ford workers in Dagenham. Gender based violence impacts all women, irrespective of class, and it’s great that women can unite to oppose it but ultimately, for the majority of us, we can’t limit ourselves to fighting to end this oppression on an individual basis,  whilst ignoring the system itself. Trade unions have a powerful role in helping to combat violence against women and defending their both female (and male) members in this situation. Thanks to the work of socialists around the Campaign Against Domestic Violence of the early 1990s, for example, many trade unions here adopted policies to oppose domestic violence. But the work can’t stop there and many female trade unionists continue to champion women’s rights in the movement today. …………………….

This essay is not complete. It’s nearly twenty to four in the morning and I need to go to sleep now. I work full time, study part time, with impending deadlines for both and I also need to take time out to relax to look after my health during my week, so I find it hard to fit in all my political activity into my life – this is why I’ve not got this essay based on a speech finished yet, despite my own self imposed IWD 2014 deadline. But, ahh, here is about 60%. For anyone who’s read this far, I suspect where you can see this going. To be continued!

Sara, at ridiculous o’clock in the morning, International Women’s Day, 2014, in Caerdydd, Pay de Galles


International Women’s Day 2014: a new opportunity to struggle for women’s rights in the labour movement and internationally

Well this isn’t going to be a long post for sure, but just to say after many months of silence from this blog ( although I certainly haven’t been silent), I will publishing on here again to mark International Women’s Day 2014 and to report on the various IWD protests planned in my city, Cardiff, including the Stop Violence Against Women protest I’ve helped to organise alongside fellow activists in Cardiff Feminist Network on the day. I will be publishing the speech I plan to give at this event about the socialist and working class as well as feminist  origins of IWD and what lessons it has for women and the labour movement today. That’s it from me for now! In struggle and solidarity, SaraImage

Resisting Oppression Sexism in Activism: ROSA Statement: Oppose Violence Against Women in the Labour Movement

UPDATE MESSAGE ABOUT THE ‘DIFFERENCE’ BETWEEN ROSA (Resisting Sexism and Oppression in Activism) and the Socialist Party Ireland’s own ‘ROSA’ organisation 27 Juin 2013

Hello, Laura Fitzgerald of Socialist Party Ireland has contacted me to complain about our decision to use the acronym ROSA (Resisting Oppression Sexism and Activism) as part of the title of our statement as the Socialist Party Ireland set up an organisation called ROSA some time before. Whilst I’m happy to say that yes it’s true that myself and other comrades were inspired by their initiative and I think it’s excellent, I’m also happy to clarify that our statement here has nothing to do with the Irish organisation of the same name. Whilst hoping to be sensitive to Laura’s views, those of us who support OUR initiative have discussed Laura’s objections  to use using ‘her’  name and we are not willing to follow laura’s orders as we do not think it’s reasonable. Rosa Luxemberg inspires many socialists, including those outside the CWI and there isn’t a monopoly or ownership of political names, hence the existence of numerous unrelated parties called the ‘Socialist Party’ around the world, for example. Laura’s request unfortunately is not a response to the poltical content of our statement and this is what we are seeking – a debate and exhange on the actual issues, not a petty falling out over who gets to use what names. So just to sum up, I think the SP ireland’s ROSA campaign is great whereas judging by Laura’s initial response, they do not feel able to respond in this sisterly and comradely manner. In the meantime, we will be setting up our ROSA wordpress account group shortly. This is the beginning, Sara and supporters

new signatures added 🙂


ROSA are a network of like minded labour movement activists and working class revolutionaries who share a mutual concern and desire to challenge sexism and oppose violence against women and make the movement genuinely inclusive for all. Our statement below is our collective response to the recent cases of sexism, sexual assault and harassment in the labour movement in the U.K. (and internationally) and the ensuing crisis of the left which it has produced. These cases include: the Socialist Workers Party rape / sexual violence allegations r.e. ‘comrade Delta’ case (Manson, P, ‘SWP Leadership – if you don’t talk about it’, 2013), the RMT domestic violence allegations against a leading male member of the RMT National Executive Committee case (Leneghan, C, ‘Domestic Violence and International Women’s Day RMT’, 2013) and the sexual assault allegations against a prominent male trade unionist member of the Socialist Party England and Wales (Mayo, S, ‘Just another Woman’s Testimony of Sexism, sexual assault and male abojuse of power in the labour movement’, 2013). Of course these type of cases are not at all limited to left organisations and in fact major capitalist institutions such as the BBC (Haliday, ‘BBC: new child sex abuse allegations ..’, 2013), the Catholic Church (for ex, Bates, ‘Bishops round on Panorama’s claims of abuse cover-ups’, 2006) and mainstream political parties such as the Liberal Democrats (Syal, R, ‘Liberal Democrats under pressure to reopen old claims of sexual harassment’, 2013) are all deeply embroiled in their own scandals of this character. The common pattern in all of these cases is that the relevant organisational leaders tend to be complicit in covering up reported abuse and silencing the victims / survivors; All of these stories of abuse are symptomatic in varied and complex ways of a deeply unequal, sexist and violent yet ‘modern’ globalised capitalist society.

Nevertheless, this statement focuses itself on the crisis in the labour movement as these organisations are our vehicles for struggle against the system itself. This statement is intended as a socialist follow up contribution to the recent ‘End Violence Against Women’ discussion initiated by a number of different left organisations and union activists, including the Socialist Party England and Wales (SP) statement ‘Combating violence against women: A socialist perspective on fighting women’s oppression by Deputy Secretary, Hannah Sell ,which was published this April (2013).

However, within our grouping, marxists, socialists, anarchists, trade unionists, community campaigners, feminists, LGBTQIA activists, anti-racist / fascists and other lefts are welcome to participate with us and discuss and debate left political ideas and issues. We are not a political party and therefore do not demand or think a democratic centralist approach is possible in this form of organisation at this stage, but we do promote the fullest democracy and debate, guaranteeing every comrade the freedom to publish their own political material where possible.

Our aim is to create a network which is both an educational tool, a discussion forum and a support network for left activists who have experienced problems of sexism and other discriminatory treatment such as racism, homophobia and transphobia etc. If you share our determination to challenge, engage and hopefully change the existing labour movement organisations on these issues please contact us.

We encourage and facilitate open, honest, self reflective and democratic discussion. We do not claim to be infallible or above criticism; instead, we hope to help create a culture on the left which is better able to be genuinely inclusive, democratic, self critical where appropriate, open and collaborative and equal. We think all activists are diamonds: precious, rare and indispensible so long as they abuse no other; activists have the right to remain healthy and not become so over worked, under valued and exhausted to the point at which they end up burnt out. This is no way to treat people; therefore we also want to put the humanity back into the activism of socialists, anarchists, trade unionists et al.

We intend to address the issues of under-representation of women, as well as ethnic minorities and all those who fall outside of ‘traditional’ gender and sexuality binaries in later material. Women are overwhelmingly the majority of inter personal violence survivors and it is this sexism and misogyny we wish to protest against whilst at the same time we wish to make it clear we are opposed to ALL abuse, all forms of discrimination, bullying and harassment. We will expand on this question further on in our statement.

We propose in our statement a number of positive, constructive measures and action points which socialist, anarchist and labour organisations may wish to take to help improve and minimise the organisational problems of violence against women and all discriminatory, hostile and bullying behaviours and actions on the part of some of their members, where this problem exists. But above all, we recognise that these problems are political in character and therefore require political solutions.

Therefore, we hope our contribution here is received in the constructive and comradely manner in which it has been written by ourselves. To repeat the point again, we are NOT proposing the creation of a new party nor are we claiming that we have all the answers – we do not. However, at least some of us are former members of at least one prominent socialist organisation (The Socialist Party) England and Wales, for example) and we wish to note that many of us in this position of former membership regrettably feel we have been ‘pushed out’ and excluded from politics by our former organisation(s). This is a major factor in our decision to organise this network in order to allow us to continue actively in socialist, trade unionist, anarchist and left wing politics.


Whilst our title statement puts our focus on violence against women, we of course recognise how anybody can experience inter- personal violence and sexual abuse and this is equally abhorrent. Both socialists and anarchists as human beings are firmly opposed to all interpersonal violence and abuse and wish to help make the labour movement a safe and inclusive place for EVERYONE. Capitalism as an ideology, its violent, ‘dog eat dog’, selfish pursuit of self (and capitalist) interest and its glorification of war, distorts human pyschology to such an extent that all humans can experience violence, degradation and abuse. Nevertheless, women are the primary victims of violence and abuse in society whilst men are the primary perpetrators because women are systematically devalued and degraded by a capitalist society based on both class and gender division and inequality whilst even working class men, exploited as workers, nevertheless are socially conditioned to enjoy so-called ‘male priviledge’, which of course, the most conscious and socially aware men reject (not all men are abusers, far from it). For instance,we quote Women’s Aid on the key question ‘Who are the victims of domestic violence?” on the aspect of gender:

Gender is a “significant risk factor” as women are more likely than men to experience interpersonal violence, especially sexual violence, and to experience severe and/or repeated incidents of violence and abuse. “Women are the overwhelming majority of the most heavily abused group. Among people subject to four or more incident of domestic violence from the perpetrator of the worst incident (since age 16) 89 per cent were women”. (British Crime Survey, Walby & Allen, 2004) – (Women’s Aid website 2013 )

All survivors of inter personal abuse, irrespective of gender, age and sexuality should be entitled to full and specialist NHS support free and on demand but it is vital we highlight the risk to specialist support services for women in particular. We are opposed to all cuts to jobs, homes and services, including all budget cuts to specialist services, including for women and children who have experienced interpersonal violence. Furthermore, we are opposed to the capitalist class’ attempt to destroy the welfare state both in the U.K. and internationally; we are ardent in our opposition to capitalist austerity and many of us campaign for an internationalist socialist world as the only secure basis to create a genuinely, equal world based on co-operation and solidarity, with the wealth produced and distributed democratically with society run and managed by the majority, whilst anarchist comrades do not call for this on a socialist basis.

However, the dual oppression of women as both workers and as women under capitalism means we live in a society where rape culture is normalised and violence against women is endemic. Two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner (Homicide Statistics, 1998) – 1 woman killed every 3 days ( – Women’s Aid, 2013). It is essential that we make reference to this historical and social context in order to raise consciousness of the battle for women’s rights within the labour movement. Furthermore, we are stating that whilst we acknowledge that both abuser and abused can vary in gender and sexuality (e.g lesbian domestic abusive relationships), in the clear majority of cases, it is women abused by men and this illustrates the structural inequality of patriarchal capitalism in the 21st century. It is crucial that we don’t lose sight of the central issue at stack here; the gendered dimension of interpersonal violence in the political, social and economic context of Rape Culture in modern globalised capitalist society, whilst at the same time, we remain utterly opposed to any forms of abuse, irrespective of the gender identity of the culprit.

Furthermore, we understand why many activists prefer the term ‘survivor’ to ‘victim’ as the first term is positive and suggests recovery is indeed possible in contrast to ‘victim’ which implies helplessness (VictorytotheToils, ‘Betrayal: A critical analysis of rape culture in anarchist subcultures’, 2013). However we have chosen to use both terms to both emphasize the harm done and the possibility of recovery and to reflect how individuals are free to define themselves as they see fit.

Finally, the lessons of the Socialist Workers Party UK (SWP) case (Newman, A, ‘Statement of the Democratic Opposition’, 2012) also needs to be addressed in full at a later point. We will publish more material on this question as soon as we are able, as well as other issues raised directly or indirectly by the statement below. This is followed by an appendix and full bibliography for your information.

STATEMENT: Oppose Violence Against Women in the Labour Movement

  1. It is of utmost importance that the labour movement is a place in which anybody can feel comfortable to come forward with any allegations of sexism, violence or sexual assault in all its forms without being judged and with confidence that the allegations will be examined seriously and democratically with the fundamental agreement that no comrade is indispensable. This can only be achieved if the leadership of the labour movement actually do take up cases seriously and in an informed and sensitive manner, democratically with an attitude that nobody is indispensable and that they must have the membership’s confidence in their ability to do so.
  2. Our starting point should be to believe the survivors, the majority of whom are usually women; just like we approach the question of racism; start from the viewpoint of the oppressed. We need to acknowledge how difficult and brave it is for a member, especially a rank and file member, to come forward with an allegation against another member, especially if the latter is in a prominent or leading position. We recognise how these are frequently, although not always, political relationships in which an unequal gendered power dynamic is at play with the alleged abuser, usually male and the abused, often female. All of our comrades are vital with an as important and equal contribution to make to their party / labour organisation as their better known leader comrades. We need to support comrades who come forward with such allegations – it is our duty of care: anything less is not acceptable.
  1. It is also important for such leaders to acknowledge the facts around false allegations of rape / sexual assault / domestic violence – only a tiny minority of such allegations are false and no more common than false allegations for other crimes such as burglary etc. Such cases should be contextualised on the basis of our Marxist understanding of women’s oppression and the social reality of rape culture in society (Bowcott,O, Rape investigations ‘undermined by belief that false accusations are rife’, 2013).

Presumption of Innocence

It is important that any person accused of committing interpersonal violence and abuse is given the right to defend themselves by the investigating party, be it the police or a revolutionary party, for example. We are very sensitive about genuine concerns regarding the principle ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and understand and respect that this is both a genuine and legitimate concern of socialists, particularly if they personally know and respect the accused (Sell, H, ‘Combating violence against women: A socialist perspective on fighting women’s oppression‘ ,2013). However, sometimes these concerns on their own are in practice one sided and there is the danger that legitimate concerns as above are used opportunistically and / or naively to ignore the equally important questions, particularly when armed with the facts around the actual rates of false allegations. The following questions need to be addressed adequately by investigators of such complaints:

– What evidence does the victim / survivor provide e.g. personal testimony, medical evidence, photographs, diaries, witnesses etc?

– What legitimate, evidence based reasons are there to disbelieve the person making the allegations?

– What precisely are the benefits for a survivor to make a false allegation?

– What is the balance of power here, the gendered power dynamics of personal / political relations in the case in question?

– Was the accused in a position of power or authority over the alleged victim / survivor?

– Is the survivor / victim vulnerable in any way?

– Is it not possible to make an informed assessment of the verity of the complainant’s claims and if not, who could be consulted for expert advice, e.g. specialists in the relevant field, e.g. specialised NHS workers?

– Surely it is reasonable for the survivor / victim to be believed, as any suggestions otherwise may actually compound and worsen the original trauma?

– How can the organisation concerned do its best to MINIMISE any further distress to the victim / survivor and what support has been offered to them?

All of the above must be factored in a fully rounded analysis AS WELL AS the right of the accused to defend themselves and be ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Everybody has the right to a fair trial, including the complainant and not just the accused.

Nevertheless, if an investigating party concludes it is unable to verify which of the two parties is to be believed then the answer to this dilema is to hand over the investigation to the relevant authority which will be in a place to do this e.g. specialists within the organisation and / or an outside body e.g. the police in cases of criminal acts.

  1. Therefore, this is a message to the socialist left and the labour movement as a whole: if you are complicit, however naively and well intentioned you may be, in trying to protect misogynistic abusers and sidelining and abandoning (usually) female survivors, you reap what you sow: you WILL be implicated in these scandals and will suffer the inevitable political damage including both attacks from the bourgeois press and the other left wing parties etc.
  1. Our movement must be a genuinely equal environment, free from sexism, racism and homophobia as much as possible. Whilst we acknowledge these are primarily political issues, we advise organisations to also consider the lessons of organiisations which have used pro-active measures such as adopting a ‘Safer Spaces Policy’, or guidelines for appropriate behaviour, such as the policy Occupy Sheffield adopted on 20th November 2011 at the evening General Assembly. By a safer spaces policy or guidelines we mean a set of mutually agreed rules of conduct to pro-actively promote healthier, constructive relationships and minimise and hopefully help PREVENT sexism, racism, bullying, abusive and harassing behaviour and actions of group members, providing clear mechanisms to challenge such unwanted behaviour, deal with internal complaints and create a supportive group environment within the given organisation(s).We quote the Occupy Sheffield policy in full in the appendix. It could assist triggering an internal discussion on how members are expected to behave with each other and help raise their consciousness from the day they join and such policy or guidelines would need to be adapted and revised so that it is 100% relevant and applicable to each organisation concerned, if such policies are not already in place. Members would both benefit from and become much more aware of their own behaviours and actions from the adoption and internal discussion of such a policy.
  1. We recognise the danger of the capitalist establishment using the political issue of male abusers of women (or any other cases of abuse) as a means to attack socialists accused of such crimes to weaken the socialist struggle as a whole (Sell, H, Combating violence against women: A socialist perspective on fighting women’s oppression‘, 2013). Violence / abuse of women cases also raise important questions for revolutionary socialists on how we deal INTERNALLY with prominent socialist abusers AND what methods of recourse we advise survivors / victims to take within the remits of capitalist democracy e.g. We support the right of victims to report violent and abusive crimes to the police and to access relevant support on the NHS etc e.g. Sexual Assault Referral Clinics etc. But above all, Violence Against Women cases which have emerged since (and will emerge) on the revolutionary left and the labour movement as a whole raises the key question: Do we continue to politically collaborate with known, evidence based proven, abusers? What evidence do we have that they have sufficiently changed and are the survivors – usually women, but not always – asked for their input into possible disciplinary action against the abuser?
  1. The SWP Comrade Delta case (Newman, A, ‘SWP Democratic Opposition Statement’, 2012) is now notorious and discussed by working class people across the U.K., Eire and throughout the world. We think it is correct to start from the premise that the women who made the allegations were telling the truth, as the mostly likely situation statistically speaking alone, let alone when we consider the power dynamics at root in this and other cases within the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) ( Leneghan, C, ‘Domestic Violence and International Women’s Day RMT’, 2013) and the Socialist Party England and Wales (Lewis, B, SPEW: Peter Taaffe and his own scandal’, 2013). The two female complainants in the SWP case were rank and file members, possibly with none of the power or status or authority of the full time leadership of the SWP. It’s an act of courage for rank and file members in any party to come forward with allegations of rape, sexual assault and harassment against a party leader. Survivors like this often worry if they will be supported and believed by their organisational leaders and may even fear a hostile and unsympathetic response, especially as SOCIETY disbelieves women and other survivors every day in ‘our’ most popular capitalist newspapers e.g. The Daily Mail and The Sun etc.
  1. Furthermore, the answer for socialists uncertain they can take a survivor’s word on its own is to factor in the evidence (e.g. the survivor may well be receiving counselling, doctor’s support, plus accessing any other specialist services such as Women’s Aid and NHS Sexual Referral Clinic units). In fact, socialists should advise survivors in this position to access this support immediately and offer a specially trained advocate from the organisation itself to support the survivor.
  1. Therefore it is the duty of socialist and labour movement leaders to ensure they are fully educated in the complex and varied issues around domestic violence / rape / sexual assault / harassment so they can use an evidence based approach when investigating internal cases of this nature (Fightback, ‘Socialists and sexual violence claims an evidence based approach’, 2013) including seeking out specialist support from relevantly trained comrades and seek advice from relevant organisations i.e. Women’s Aid.

The guidance from the U.K. Domestic Violence charity Refuge is also instructive and should be studied closely by all investigators. Here they address the vexed question: Will he change? []

  1. We support the right of survivors to report sex crimes to the police and should not put any pressure on victims not to do this out of a misguided and misunderstood conception of party / union ‘loyalty’. We cannot be complicit in the silencing of survivors of abuse. Our duty is to champion their fight for justice and publicly condemn the abuser, no matter the ‘perpetuator’s power or position.
  1. We should advise survivors / victims to seek specialist support from their G.P.S, therapists, specialist support services such as sexual assault referral services, Refuge, Women’s Aid etc. Whilst we recognise that organisations / parties can’t provide these services ourselves, our duty of care means we should offer both personal, political and practical support, including publicly if requested by the survivor.
  1. Equally, it is the duty of the leadership to organise an intensive and far reaching campaign of political education about violence against women and interpersonal violence in general and to directly challenge sexist, misogynistic and abusive behaviours. Women and all survivors (irrespective of gender and sexual orientation) should be playing the leading role with the full and active support of their organisations. Likewise, women and survivors generally should be given the space and practical and political support to organise to discuss these burning political issues and to educate the membership as a whole about this complex topic.
  1. As one anonymous female comrade herself testifies:“The whole issue of domestic violence is mind-blowing, I used to work for Women’s Aid and had all the theory and all the training yet still got caught up in his snare of psychological warfare- questioning whether it was my fault, minimizing it, allowing myself to become isolated and control gradually be taken over my life. The issues are so complex and not being believed/ questioning yourself/being isolated causes more damage than the bruises. – i.e. the response of society does inflict more damage than the actual event, in a lot of cases.”.
  1. Furthermore, we do not ask each worker to prove they are being exploited, because we know how work is organised under capitalism, how profit is taken from the mass of workers. While we seek information on the specifics of a workplace situation, we do that on the basis of a broader analysis. Similarly, our analysis must proceed from knowledge about how gender oppression works” [Fightback, ‘Socialists and sexual violence claims an evidence based approach’, 2013].
  1. We are opposed to all interpersonal violence and abuse of power but at the same time we believe women’s equality should also be at the heart of anybody who believes in the anti-capitalist struggle to change society (especially in the heart of socialist and anarchist revolutionaries); it is also a fact that over half the world’s population and indeed a majority of the working class in the 21st century are women. There can be no strive towards a better society without our female comrades! We don’t want to be a part of a movement that alienates women or anybody else wanting to fight for Socialism.
  1. We are in favour of bringing these issues to the fore in the light of the SWP’s scandal of it’s attitude towards both women’s emancipation and internal democracy (or lack of!) at a time where the capitalist media have jumped on the case and used it to demonise left-wing politics(Malik, S and Cohen, N, ‘Socialist Workers Party leadership under fire over rape kangaroo court’, 2013). We think socialist and left parties and trade unions must issue a statement on the shambles that emerged with kangaroo courts, significant splits and the afore-mentioned attack on the credibility of the left as a whole. We believe that remaining silent on the issue is irresponsible, unjust and damaging.
  1. It is the responsibility of elected leaderships of such bodies to:

a) Reassure everyone in the movement that we oppose violence against women (and any other form of interpersonal violence) within our own ranks and will immediately investigate the accused, allowing said comrade the right to self defence, but equally important, supporting the survivor and centring the energy, care and attention for the survivor, not leaving the survivor isolated whilst concentrating solely on supporting the accused. This is particularly the case if the evidence is clear, if the survivor’s testimony, witnesses, medical and police evidence prove insufficient for said investigators

b) Secondly, it is the responsibility of the leadership to issue a statement on violence against women in the labour movement, drawing on lessons learned from previous cases as well as ongoing ones from this crisis.

c) Thirdly, it is an opportunity to clear the name of said organisation(s), explain the actual campaigning record on these issues and address the questions of democratic centralism, including putting the issue in it’s broader social, economic political context; Internationally, we are in an era of growing revolutionary opportunites for struggle alongside the threat of counter-revolution from the capitalist powers following the Arab Spring and massively increased radicalisation of the working class and women in particular across the continents. This debate has to be taken in this context, including not least the changing mood in U.K. society on this issue too e.g. the impact of the Jimmy Saville scandal, the Catholic Church and related cases throughout the political and cultural establishment here r.e. the main capitalist parties and their own sexist crises such as in the recent cases concerning the Liberal Democrats (all previously referenced). We should outline our political programme for women and the working class here and internationally and our specific programme on rape / sexual assault /domestic violence / sexual harassment etc.

d) Fourthly, it is an opportunity for organisations to reflect upon their own handling of such cases up until now and draw the necessary political and organisational conclusions and to educate the membership on women’s oppression – the double oppression of working class women.

In this time of crisis we look to the leadership! But as activists and revolutionaries we also share their responsibility in taking the revolutionary struggle forward and this is why we can not be silent on this issue.”

  1. Some of our comrades and indeed friends have approached us with the argument that by demanding action we are failing to understand that this is a reflection on wider society, that we don’t understand that we aren’t immune to these issues because some of us are a part of socialist organisations and parties. In reply, we say this:

‘We are active Marxists and our approach is explicitly based on Marx and Engels’ analysis of women’s oppression as the product of the rise of the family, property and the state. We do understand that we live under capitalist, class, patriarchal society and that these issues are a product that comes from that. We understand that even amongst those workers and youth that are economically and politically inclined to socialist ideas, from an embryonic instinct to an advanced consciousness, sexist and other discriminatory attitudes are common- but they must be clearly addressed and challenged by both the leadership and members as a whole.’

  1. Yes, this is a situation that isn’t helped by the mainstream propaganda inflicted on the class every day, of course owned by the capitalist class themselves. We understand that there are no invisible filters surrounding the left that only allow within our walls those purged from discriminatory attitudes. We also understand that people can change over time but we are adamant in the duty of care we have towards our women comrades and all oppressed comrades that fall victim to these vile products of this corrupt, decaying society we are so determined to overthrow. The task is to launch a mass campaign of political education on women’s oppression and how it is absolutely linked to the class struggle. The two are entwined, you can not be a class fighter if you are not also a firm fighter for women’s rights within the movement itself.
  1. Moreover, we do not believe that every man in society is capable of sexual assault or other forms of violence and abuse of women. We are sure our comrades also acknowledge this. But we need an informed, evidence based assessment of such individuals and above all we must ensure the survivor is satisfied that the attacker has both changed sufficiently and has adequately apologised and reformed by fully admitting sole personal guilt and responsibility for said crime(s). If either the survivor and / or the evidence indicates otherwise, immediate disciplinary action should be considered once an investigation has been completed, with a recommendation of expulsion if the offence is a criminal one.
  1. We do not think any leadership in this position should consider it a ‘choice’ between the abuser (recognised as guilty by said leadership following a fair investigation ) and the survivor. Instead the outcome of such an investigation needs to be clear: expel the criminal and keep the survivor. If you do the opposite and keep the assailant on a mistaken and incorrect notion of ‘socialist forgiveness’ the damage you will inflict to our struggle will never be forgiven by those of us with the political integrity to speak out.
  1. Furthermore, we are writing this statement in the sure knowledge that the most radicalised women, workers and above all else, the youth, share our sentiments and zero tolerance attitude. Yes, it is true that sexism and misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia and all such social issues will not be eradicated under this decaying, crisis ridden capitalism system

.However it is both correct and laudable internationally for the Rage Against Rape, One Billion Rising movement, the SlutWalk protests and Reclaim the Night etc campaigns to have it as their aim to stop violence against women now and fight with every inch of our bodies to make the labour movement and social struggle a safe space for women today, a safe place for the revolutionary struggle to take place as we fight for an end to this rotten, corrupt, decaying capitalist system and its replacement by a genuine socialist system where capitalist distortions can be overcome once and for all; This could be achieved by a revolutionary struggle to overthrow the capitalist oppressers and bring the ownership and control of production into the majority’s hands. This process could transform both economic, cultural and social life, eradicating the state, private property, the money form and begin the end of millenia of class division and patriarchy. This new, equal society would create the material conditions to enable abundance for everyone and would give each new generation greater freedom and opportunities than the last in ways we can only dimly imagine now.

  1. The struggle for women’s rights is inextricably interwoven with the class struggle and deserves high prominence in the revolutionary programme for the socialist struggle of the working class in all its forms. In the case of revolutionary parties not least, but other labour and social movement organisations should also make the women’s struggle a key and central part of their program for the organised working class. We fight for both the liberation of the working class and women but in fact our struggle goes further than even these bold ambitions: A key part of our struggle is for genuine human freedom and creativity to express our identities liberated from the fetters of socially constructed categorisations which many of us believe is only possible on the basis of a socialist world.
  1. Our socialist and marxist political perspectives for mass struggle and resistance by women, the working class and the oppressed as a wholeare wholly optimistic.
  1. The new generation – young, energetic, fresh and the future leaders of the workers revolution both in the U.K. and internationally – do not share the tired, conservative outlook of silence, inaction and indifference of some of our labour organisation leaders whatsoever. They – we – are the music of the future. It’s time socialists, Marxists, trade unionists and community campaigners everywhere start listening and learn to correct past mistakes.

Viva la revolution!

In struggle and solidarity,

  • Sara Mayo, Carlus Hudson*,  Francesca Cunliffe, Nick Parker,  Jake Ceileachair
  • * Carlus asked for me to include this reservation by his signature: ”

    ‘with reservations on the minor point about the document’s presentation of the anarchist position, but otherwise wholeheartedly supporting the document’


June 23rd 2013


1) Domestic violence – the facts – from


2 women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner (Homicide Statistics, 1998) – 1 woman killed every 3 days

1 in 4 women experience domestic violence over their lifetimes and between 6-10% of women suffer domestic violence in a given year (Council of Europe, 2002)

Domestic violence has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime (Home Office, July 2002)

Every minute police in the UK receive a domestic assistance call – yet only 35% of domestic violence incidents are reported to the police (Stanko, 2000 & Home Office, 2002)

The 2001/02 British Crime Survey (BCS) found that there were an estimated 635,000 incidents of domestic violence in England and Wales. 81% of the victims were women and 19% were men. Domestic violence incidents also made up nearly 22% of all violent incidents reported by participants in the BCS (Home Office, July 2002)

On average, a woman is assaulted 35 times before her first call to the police (Jaffe, 1982)


In 90% of domestic violence incidents in family households, children were in the same or the next room (Hughes, 1992)

In over 50% of known domestic violence cases, children were also directly abused – NSPCC (1997) found a 55% overlap; Farmer & Owen (1995) found 52% overlap


30% of domestic violence either starts or will intensify during pregnancy (Department of Health report, October 2004)

Foetal morbidity from violence is more prevalent than gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia (Friend, 1998)

Cost to society

In November 2009, Sylvia Walby of the University of Leeds estimated the total costs of domestic violence to be £15.7 billion a year.  This is broken down as follows:

The costs to services (Criminal Justice System, health, social services, housing, civil legal) amount to £3.8 billion per year

The loss to the economy – where women take time off work due to injuries – is £1.9 billion per year

Domestic violence also leads to pain and suffering that is not counted in the cost of services.  The human and emotional costs of domestic violence amount to almost £10 billion per year

2)Occupy Sheffield General Assembly Safer Spaces Policy

Everyone deserves and has the right to feel safe. This camp will not tolerate abusive behaviour. Accordingly we ask that people treat each other as they would wish to be treated – with respect and tolerance.

Never touch someone without their permission. If you are unclear whether you have permission or not, then don’t.

Be aware of the connotations of your language. Many common expressions use discriminatory language so think before speaking.

Do not make assumptions about anyone’s gender, pronouns, sexual preference, abilities, ethnic identity, survivor status, or life experiences. Do not be derogatory to anyone about these things.

Be prepared to challenge hateful, discriminatory, or oppressive language.

If you are challenged, do not become defensive, but listen and think and learn.

Be aware of your own privileges when engaging in discussions. Others did not necessarily have what you did or the same life that you have had. Do not deny the validity of other people’s experiences.

Do not film or video people without their permission.

Do not speak over or interrupt other people.

Take care of yourself mentally and physically. Know where to get support and identify where First Aid is available on the camp.

Respect others’ need to safely negotiate the site. Keep access routes clear of rubbish and clutter so that people of all abilities can safely move through the space.

The camp environment can be very intense. If you feel exhausted or stressed take time to take a break from the camp – go for a walk, visit a friend, or phone somebody close to you.

Please help us to maintain the camp as a place of safety and mutual respect. People who violate this policy may be asked to leave the camp.


Author Year Title Web address online Accessed date (appr)

‘Another Angry Woman’ blog, author anonymous


There is nothing unusual about the Steubenville rape’



yes March 19th 2013

‘Another Angry Woman’ blog, author anonymous


I’m on the radio talking about sex and hierarchy’


yes March 13th 2013

‘Another Angry Woman’ blog, author anonymous


Rape in the headlines: is there a war on?’


yes March 12th 2013

Owen Bowcott


Rape investigations ‘undermined by belief that false accusations are rife’ yes March 2013

Stephen Bates


‘Bishops round on Panorama’s claims of abuse cover-ups’ yes 26th October 2006

Cath Elliott and Marsha Jane Thompson


‘Our movement must be a safe space for women’ statement

yes 12th March 2013

Fightback (authors unknown)


Socialists and sexual violence claims: An evidence-based approach’

yes 2013

Josh Halliday


‘BBC: new child sex abuse allegations emerge against staff other than Savile’

yes 30th May 2013
Steve Hedley 2013 ‘Steve Hedley’s Resignation from the Socialist Party’ yes 14th March 2013
Caroline Leneghan 2013

Domestic Violence and International Women’s day RMT

yes 8th March 2013
Ben Lewis 2013

‘SPEW: Peter Taaffe and his own scandal’


yes March 2013
Andy Littlejohn 2013

‘Steve Hedley’s statement – Not “Cleared of Domestic Violence” with a Case Still to Answer’

yes April 7th 2013
Shiv Malik and Nick Cohen 2013

Socialist Workers Party leadership under fire over rape kangaroo court’h

yes March 9th 2013
Peter Manson 2013 ‘SWP leadership crisis -if you dont talk about it yes 21st March 2013
Sara Mayo (published as Sa Kollantai) 2013

Justanother woman’s testimony of sexual assault, sexism and male abuse of power in the labour movement’

yes 11th March 2013
Sara Mayo (published as Sa Kollantai) 2013

‘Follow up statement on -Just another woman’s testimony of sexual assault, sexism and male abuse of power in the labour movement’

yes 9th April 2013
Sara Mayo 2013

Sara Mayo’s resignation from the Socialist Party

yes 11th April 2013
Sara Mayo 2013

A message to members of the Socialist Party England and Wales – part 1

yes 24th April 2013
Andy Newman 2012 ‘SWP democratic opposition statement’ yes 24th December 2012
Occupy Sheffield 2012 ‘Occupy Sheffield Safer Spaces policy’ In this refs section!   November 2012
Refuge 2013

What is domestic violence?

Http:// yes 2013
Hannah Sell 2013

Combating violence against women: A socialist perspective on fighting women’s oppression’

yes April 11th 2013
Hannah Sell 2013 Letter to Sara Mayo

yes 10th April 2013
B.Seaton 2013

‘Is the SWP finished?’

yes 29th March 2013
Rajeer Syal 2013

‘Liberal Democrats under pressure to reopen old claims of sexual harassment’


yes 22nd February 2013
‘To the victors go the toils’ author unknown 2013

The SWP and women’s oppression: a brief history of failure yes March 13th 2013
To the victors go the toils’ author unknown 2013

The Anatomy of a Cover-up: How Organizations Respond to Patriarchy and Reinforce it yes April 12th 2013
To the victors go the toils’ author unknown 2013

‘Betrayal: A critical analysis of rape culture in anarchist subcultures

yes April 12th 2013
Women’s Aid 2013

‘Who are the victims of domestic violence ?’

yes April 2013