Richard Seymour and the CPGB

Chris_Harman SWP Richard Seymour

Jara Handala 14 February 2013 09:02

Thank you for this important article.

Today I had a letter published in ‘Weekly Worker’, mainly about the consequences of the CC calling a Special Conference in violation of the SWP Constitution, but also importantly discussing the abuse that comrades are being subjected to by supporters of the Permanent Callinicos Faction (Undeclared)…

[by “Permanent Callinicos Faction,” Richard Seymour’s gang means the central committee that has had the audacity to get elected at conference, TD]

I have just made an extended comment on these 2 matters, but placed it not here but on the ‘Stop the Bullying!’ page coz of the urgency of that matter, & the need to build support in the labour & socialist movement to stop it happening.

I also comment at as Jara Handala coz that is my name. The day the members take back their Party I shall turn around, just as my Palestinian comrade will himself turn around one day.

Lotta continua!”

This ludicrous comment is to be found on the website of Richard Seymour’s faction. These people are anti-Leninists to the core. But they are anti-Leninists who hate it when their SWP comrades remind them that this is precisely what they are. Given that they are celebrating articles written by idiots who say that the future of Marxism lies in isolating themselves from their party with no intention of creating a new democratic centralist organisation nor joining another one; given that they believe the future of political organisation lies in embracing Rosa Luxemburg’s 1904 ideas which called for sharing the party with Eduard Bernstein… The fact these idiots don’t even know they are anti-Leninists exposes their leader (Richard Seymour) as a clown. Furthermore, he and his fan club are clowns who take great pride in openly boasting about how they will use the enemies of the Socialist Workers Party to further their aims.

Andy Newman’s Capitalist Disunity NarkSquad is a tool of Ed Miliband’s One Nation Tory perspective. No one is in the least surprised to discover that it is one hundred percent in solidarity with Richard Seymour’s attempt to destroy the SWP.

Richard Seymour’s other base of support is the CPGB. They have a long standing policy of lying within the workers’ movement to destablize the fragments of the left. In this week’s Weekly Worker, their ‘editor’ (who actually is NOT the real editor of their paper, a fact that I have been told is a well-known fact within their organisation) has been reduced to appealing for financial support to help them pay damages and legal costs to the tune of thousands of pounds. Someone will sue them otherwise. Manson can count himself very lucky that the socialist left doesn’t have the resources nor inclinations to sue the pants off the CPGB or they’d be up shit creek without a paddle.

Peter Manson says his paper tries to be accurate but accepts occasionally getting things wrong by mistake. Complete and utter bullshit. Manson says the letters page of his paper is open to all critics to put the record straight when he gets something wrong. Again, I know from bitter personal experience that Manson is lying through his teeth.

Peter Manson is personally up to his neck in helping those who committed perjury alongside David Cameron’s Director of Communications to send Tommy Sheridan to jail, echoing Chris Bambery at the time who tried to frame members of the SWP while he was still a member of the SWP’s central committee. When I tried to get Manson to set the record straight, he point blank refused. He also refused to print any letter from me explaining that he was deliberately shit stirring, shit stirring that was picked up by the Scottish Editor of the Sunday Herald who was eventually exposed to have been working hand-in-glove with Alan McCombes to frame Tommy Sheridan. This bourgeois hack repeated Manson’s nonsense, which lead to me getting into trouble with the SSP’s national secretary because he (Allan Green) assumed I must be the source of Manson’s bullshit since I was about the only member of the SSP who at the time was willing to have any association with them, an association I ended as soon as I saw the way Manson was misrepresenting what was going on. Manson is a particularly nasty shit stirrer. Why he indulges in such behavior is a mystery. I should have ended my relationship with the CPGB long before this point, but that was the last straw for me.

For a few years prior to Tommy Sheridan’s resignation, I had a lot of – mostly unsolicited – material published in the CPGB paper. On one occasion, Manson told me that I was one of only a handful of contributors whose contributions didn’t require substantial editing just to make it legible. Manson told me that they had about six members who wrote under about twenty different pen names. They did this to con the rest of the workers’ movement into thinking they didn’t simply exist as a paper organisation, which was a rumour going around since no one seemed to see more than a handful of their members in the real world. They felt the need to counter the allegation that they were posing as a substantial organisation that simply did not exist, and they did so by pulling dozens of imaginary writers out of a hat.

By the way, the CPGB published two of my letters/articles under pen names without permission, which they would not have received had they asked. They also tried to persuade me to write about the crisis inside the SSP in the wake of Tommy Sheridan’s resignation as national convenor under a variety of pen names so I could say in public what I couldn’t in private. I told Manson that unlike Alan McCombes, Eddie Truman, Frances Curran, Caroline Leckie, Rosie Kane etc, I would not sink so low as to brief against any member of the party in the shadows, regardless of how low an opinion I had of them, and I had nothing but contempt for all of McCombes supporters at that point. Anything I felt the need to get off my chest I would do so publicly, inviting others to defend themselves publicly, if they felt up to it. These cowards, naturally, refused to come out in the open, preferring to brief against me in the shadows, denying me any opportunity to set the record straight; something else they all had in common with Peter Manson and Paul Hutcheon.

I have seen more than one original draft that appeared in the CPGB’s paper that ended up as extremely well written pieces of journalism and analysis. Whoever wrote these articles, it most certainly was not the semi-literate individuals who claimed credit in their paper. Their original drafts were a joke.

I have been told that one article in their paper about a meeting was written by someone who was at the time a friend of mine. He told me he never wrote one word of it. He simply passed on to Peter Manson information down the phone after he had picked up second-hand information that he’d gotten from me.

To some extent most of the above is excusable. Nothing to boast about, but a hell of a lot worse happens on the left. Most left-wing organisations start small. I have seen similar cons perpetrated by at least two other organisations, although to nowhere near the same extent as happens under Peter Manson’s ‘editorship’. But these are extremey minor lies compared to the real story of the CPGB.

The CPGB do not even try to hide the fact that they carry out entryist work inside the rest of the left. Typically they do not send cadre into their competitors under false pretences, probably because they are much more likely to get caught. They have done this before, mostly the Socialist Party, but it is not a tactic likely to yield much fruit, more likely to simply waste the talents of the cadres they already have. They have been trying such entryism inside Ed Miliband’s party for some time. I wouldn’t have expected that to work very well, but I don’t know how it’s going. Within most of the fragments of the left they are more inclined to nurture comradely relations with a few individuals, and then try to recruit them. I see nothing wrong with that. Most groups want to steal the best activists from competitor organisations. But the difference is that long before they sign anyone up, they make clear to them that they do not want them to publicly switch allegiances. On the contrary, they do their best to try to persuade you to act as a spy inside your original group. I know this from personal experience.

Shortly after I sent something to their paper to try to use it to help persuade the SWP to join the Scottish Socialist Alliance, one member of their Provisional Central Committee told me they thought I should join the CPGB. I told her that while I was happy to make use of their publication, I estimated about 20% agreement with them, informing her that I found their paper prone to ultra-leftism, abstract propagandism, with little appetite for winning the ear of the working class by participation in what worker activists were actually doing in the real world. I told this individual that, by contrast, the organisation I was at the time a member of I had maybe 80% agreement with. I would, therefore, not dream of switching parties. I was then told in no uncertain terms that they would not want me to end my membership of Scottish Militant Labour. My job would be to act as a double agent! I told her  that even if my attitude changed towards these two organisations, I would never agree to act as an entryist within another fragment of the left. That kind of behavior breeds paranoia, making left unity impossible. The only reason I had gotten in touch with the CPGB in the first place was to use their paper to try to help bring the SWP into the SSA, which I was convinced was what Chris Harman would want if he was a free agent, rather than bound by collective responsibility within what I at the time considered a very conservative central committee. I cannot prove that my assessment of the balance of forces within the central committee was correct, but I strongly suspect it was. I also have reason to believe that the attitude of the SML leadership at the time was not at all what I had been lead to believe by Alan McCombes. I know for a fact that when I won the second conference of the SSA to unanimously endorse a motion instructing the SSA leadership to write once again to the SWP central committee to appeal to them to join the SSA, the SML executive were not happy. I deliberately did not consult McCombes because he was excluding me from SML aggregates, presumably because he knew I would argue against a lot of what he was trying to push through the organisation at the time. I did consult my SSA branch and the SSA national secretary (who wasn’t an SML member). Frances Curran told me in private during a break in the preceedings (lunchtime, outside the building where conference was held) that the SML executive felt bounced into voting for my motion. According to Curran, they felt they had no option but to pretend to back my motion because to do otherwise would make them appear sectarian. But Curran told me that the majority of the executive tried to find a way to oppose it, they just couldn’t come up with anything. Curran also said the main reason they decided to let the motion pass without trying to stop it is because they felt sure that the SWP would reject the appeal; in other words Alan McCombes fine words of unity with the SWP was for public consumption. He never meant a word of it. McCombes told me in a one hour phone call (initiated by him) a month or two after my discussion with Curran that he was livid when he discovered that the CPGB got hold of my original motion to SSA conference before he got to see it. He worked this out because they printed the original version which was passed in my branch but which got slightly amended after Allan Green asked for a change that made no difference to me whatsoever. I didn’t discuss any of this with McCombes because he had betrayed me in a deal we had made prior to my joining SML, a deal to help Chris Harman try to drag the SWP kicking and screaming into the SSA. Anyway….

The CPGB will be using Richard Seymour as he has used others: that is to sabotage other left wing groups. Once upon a time, Jack Conrad told me that one of the members appealing against expulsion from the Socialist Party had already joined the CPGB. He told me this in a bar in Glasgow after he addressed a small meeting at the Glasgow Marxist Forum. I asked if what he was saying had already entered the public arena because to the best of my knowledge the individual was still appealing against expulsion from the SP, which I believe was mentioned in that week’s issue of their paper. Conrad told me that this was public knowledge, and the individual had abandoned his appeal. But he got this wrong. I was on the phone to their national organizer a day or two after this. When I told him what Conrad told me he was extremely unhappy: not with me, but with his boss. Conrad had jumped the gun. I was not a CPGB member, and this individual was, as I told Conrad, still appealing against expulsion from the SP. I should not have been trusted with such highly sensitive information given that this should be on a need to know basis, and what Conrad had done could have put one of their assets in danger of exposure when they were still trying desperately to use him as a spy inside the SP.

On another occasion, I met one of the branch secretaries of the SWP. He told me he had attended the SWP’s party’s conference recently. He also told everyone at the meeting where I met him that he was a member of a faction that had been expelled from the SWP decades ago. That faction was particularly close to the CPGB, but their politics are an unfunny joke.

I know the CPGB have employed the same entryist tactics on the AWL, but I forget the names of those involved in this. I take it as a given that everyone is fair game as far as they are concerned.

I don’t know which members of Richard Seymour’s faction will be consciously working with the CPGB. The politics of Seymour’s fan club are unlikely to gel very much with the CPGB’s. Seymour and co are probably just trying to use the CPGB to inflict as much damage on the SWP as they know how. They are both out to destroy the SWP although neither will admit this publicly. Are they doing this simply out of revenge? I do not believe there is a single answer. I do not see many of Seymour’s faction ending up as CPGB members.  Probably none. That won’t bother Peter Manson. All he cares about at this point is that they simply have common interests: destroying the SWP.

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2 Responses to Richard Seymour and the CPGB

  1. Pingback: Phil Burton-Cartledge threatens to scab on socialists | WORKERS UNITED

  2. Pingback: Phil Burton-Cartledge: from Lenin to Bernstein | WORKERS UNITED

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