Friday, 15 March 2013

Nick Clegg, Nick Heath, SWP: Crisis Cover-ups!

The Strange Death of the English Liberal-Left
THE news of the travails of Nick Clegg, as he tries to explain how got into mess of 'knowing', but not being 'aware of specific complaints' of inappropriate behaviour by a senior Liberal Democrat, Lord Rennard, towards a number of women dating back to 2008, comes on the back of the other problems and allegations regarding the late Liberal MP for Rochdale, Sir Cyril Smith.  The scandals of a sexual nature have tended to attach themselves to the Liberals and Tories over the years (one thinks of the Profumo Affair in 1963), while it has been pointed out that the Labour Party has more in the way of financial scandals.

Now the Metropolitan police are to interview Lib Dem officials to talk about if a crime has been committed in connection with the claims of sexual harassment against the ex-party chief executive Lord Rennard.  The Daily Telegraph has reported that one of the accusers of Lord Rennard, Helen Jardine-Brown, a former boss of fund raising in the party, who made an complaint 4-years ago, was paid a £50,000 settlement by her employers accompanied with a gagging clause conditional on her silence.  Recently, Lib Dem peer Baroness Hussein-Ece told the Daily Mail, that there were similarities to the Jimmy Savile situation. 'There aren't sufficient checks and balances in place,' she said.

In The Guardian, 27th, Feb. 2013, Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale, who first raised concerns in parliament in November about Cyril Smith's activities, said that there is a pattern whenever allegations of sexual abuse emerge inside the Lib Dems.   He added:  'They bury their heads in the sand and claim to know nothing,' he said.  'For the sake of Rochdale victims, Clegg has to stop stonewalling and now come clean on what his party knew about the sexual abuse carried out by Cyril Smith.'   Now there is further evidence from the police files that Cyril Smith tried to meddle with the police probe according to Simon Danczuk.
In January, another left of centre party, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), was engulfed in allegations of rape and sought to resolve the matter through what some of their media critics have described as a 'socialist sharia court' cover-up to investigate rape accusations against a senior member instead of reporting them to the police.  The reasoning of the SWP leadership, outline by a member, was that as they had 'no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice' they would engage in a bit of do-it-yourself proceedings in the spirit of the quasi-judicial.  The result seems to have been a bit of a judicial circus in the forensic investigation of the facts of the case. 

Andy Newman, a Swindon-based Labour Party member described the SWP's conduct thus: 
'It's quite clear reading their account of what's going on that they sort of see themselves as an alternative group in society that is not part of mainstream society... they think someone couldn't or shouldn't go to the police because it would damage the party.' 
Mr. Newman, it seems, likens the SWP's disciplinary hearing to an extrajudicial 'Sharia' system or the much criticised investigations by the Roman Catholic Church into clerical abuse that by-passed reporting allegations to the authorities. 

The minutes of the SWP's disciplinary committee show that allegations were put against a 'Comrade Delta', a senior member on the party's central committee.  These accusations were made by an unnamed female member of the party, who says she was assaulted over a 6-month period between 2008 and 2009.  The minutes show that she did not want to go to the police.  The disciplinary committee cleared 'Comrade Delta', with six out of seven members of the committee supporting his story of what happened.  But when the case was later put to party members, the disciplinary committee's decision was only accepted by 231 votes to 209 votes. 

In his resignation letter, the SWP journalist Tim Walker wrote: 
'I thought that they took the case seriously, this was not a jury of his peers, but a jury of his mates.' 
A friend of the female complainant, who was not allowed to attend the disciplinary hearing, said that she felt betrayed by the party, and another said that the woman thought, naively, that 'if she put in a complaint to the party it would be dealt with in line with the party's politics and our proud tradition on women's liberation... sadly her experiences were quite the opposite.'

The Independent newspaper has contacted the SWP's head office for a comment on the allegations but got no reply.  The SWP was formed in 1977 out of the International Socialists, it considers itself a 'revolutionary party' in the tradition of the Russian politician Leon Trotsky.

Beyond the realms of the Lib Dems and the SWP, another left-wing tendency is now dealing with a dilemma of a more political nature.  On the anarchist left censorship and restraints of freedom of expression are considered an even greater sin than sexual deviation.  Recently a major row has brewed up among anarchists and their fellow-travellers about attempts to censor the northern anarchists in the Northern Anarchist Network and to put the publication Northern Voices out of business.  Bookshop managers who stock Northern Voices have been approached  menacingly, book-stalls at Bookfairs have been overturned, and the printers of Northern Voices have been telephoned, and on one occasion a couple of years ago threatened with a solicitor.  The leftist group that is now embroiled in this embarrassing political dilemma is the British Anarchist Federation (AF), some of whose members have been involved in political bullying, blacklisting and feeble-minded violence aimed at the censorship and control of the publication Northern Voices, that culminated last December in Barry Woodling being herded out of a Manchester bookfair and forced to climb down a fire-escape. In the 20th Century, the two social movements that harassed shopkeepers to distraction were the mafia in the USA and the German national socialists, but now the perverse anarchists of the AF seem to have taken a leaf out of their book.

Interestingly, Rudolf Rocker and Noam Chomsky, both distinguish libertarian/ anarchist social thinkers, have defined the intellectual origins of anarchism as lying in the two strands of progressive thinking coming out of the Enlightenment: a socialist strand on the one hand and a liberal strand on the other. The historian David Goodway in his book 'Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow' (First published 2006 and now revised & expanded by PM Press in paperback in 2012 and to be reviewed by Derek Pattison in the forthcoming issue of Northern Voices) argued:
'A fruitful approach to understanding anarchism is to recognize its thoroughly socialist critique of capitalism, while emphasizing that this has been combined with a liberal critique of socialism, anarchists being united with liberals in their advocacy of autonomous associations and the freedom of the individual and even exceeding them in their opposition to statism.' 
This split personality of anarchism allows in certain shallow personalities who operate a form of secretive and conspiratorial politics; it is hard for example to decide if the political body that describes itself as the Anarchist Federation has an authentic voice or face. The only AF individual I'm aware of connected with it for sure, is one of its founders Nick Heath, a retired London librarian, who now works in the bookshop of Freedom Press on Wednesday afternoons and successful got the bookshop manager to take NV13 off the shelf last August.  It was Heath, who like Cyril Smith with the police, successfully sought to bully the independent anarchist publication Freedom not to publish material about the attacks involving his AF organisation on Northern Voices and others.  Others in AF are most often known only by their first-names or pseudo-names such 'Sally', 'Andy of London AF', 'Claire of Nottingham AF' and 'Alex the National Secretary of AF', there are also a number of strange miscellaneous AF groupies such as the shy one who calls himself 'Spikymike' and another called Ron Marsden from Didsbury. But no-one from the Anarchist Federation has yet made any official statement or justification for the crazy conduct of their members: indeed one must doubt the existence of the AF as a serious political entity.

The silliness with which these AF people and  the way this rag-tag-and-bobtail 'anarchist' army have performed, has been such that some respectable anarchists have sought to try to pretend that nothing has happened. But to ignore these acts, or just to dismiss these people as 'fools', or to play the Pontius Pilate is to risk falling into the trap that the Liberal Nick Clegg and the socialist SWP is now facing.  All these cases suggest is that the 'left' in British politics, whether Liberal, Socialist or anarchist, is suffering from a deep-seated corruption and lack of serious purpose; Simon Danczuk from Rochdale with his Cyril Smith revelations, Andy Newman from Swindon in highlighting the SWP's misdemeanours, and Barry Woodling in affirming the rights of a free press, are all fighting on the side of political decency.  As Simon Danczuk says of the Lib Dems  and Cyril Smith; burying 'their heads in the sand' may be a pattern but it is certainly not a solution.

There are still a few copies of the printed version of NORTHERN VOICES No.13, available for sale it can be obtained as follows:

Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques payable to 'Northern Voices' at c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH. 

Tel.: 0161 793 5122.



Anonymous said...

Noam Chomsky is a vile rape apologist, why quote him?

chris said...

Yes, Chomsky backs Assange. Unforgivable!

Anonymous said...

And Chomsky's linguistic theory is sinful.