One of my most popular blog entries starts off by saying that I don’t know why I bother blogging because I am lucky to get ten hits per day. Chicken and egg syndrome: do I have to blog to get readers?
Well, as Bob Dylan used to say, ‘the times they are a changing’. I guess at least some of what I am saying is interesting to at least some of the people some of the time. My stats are certainly going up. Am I writing what I am simply to get readers? No, of course not. Am I trying to get important information across to as many readers as I can in as short a time as possible? Especially to SWP loyalists and to every non-sectarian socialist who wants an alternative analysis of what is going on inside the SWP today and why it matters to the entire legitimate left regardless of whether they support democratic centralism or not? You bet.
Am I deliberately holding back a lot of information for a variety of reasons? Yes, I am. Those reasons include time constraints and (hopefully) not trying comrades’ patients to severely by and flooding the internet with minor details that provide context but not a great deal more than that, relatively speaking. I am trying my best to be disciplined and not to ramble too much. However, my diagnosed attention deficit disorder (possibly also my diagnosed, but contested diagnosis of ‘autism’) will stop me being as good at this as others might like. I’m sorry but there is not a lot I can do about that. Please bear with me.
There appears to be a little debate about my differences with Andy Newman, Tony Collins and others at their Capitalist Disunity NarkSquad blog, and about my intention to sue the arses of those using it to libel me. Good.
I personally would boycott Andy Newman’s blog if I had a choice, which clearly I do not: these Stalinist hypocrites refuse to let me challenge one iota of their bullshit. However, it is a matter for individuals whether they let themselves get sucked into that sectarian trolls’ paradise. I don’t expect SWP members nor SP members to waste much time there, although I do see some wading through the shit from time to time. I guess there is no party line as far as the leaderships of these parties is concerned. If I was part of their leaderships, I know I would strongly recommend (at the very least) that rank and file of both parties boycott the Capitalist Disunity NarkSquad until they sort out that nest of vipers, which I don’t think will ever happen. But it is a matter for the members of those parties to decide what to do about this.
Having said all this, there are at least a few half decent, non-sectarian socialists there who are giving Andy Newman and Tony Collins a hard time. For that, comrades, I want to pay my respects. Thank you. I very much appreciate the attempt to challenge at least some of what passes for objectivity on that blog.
So long as these decent comrades don’t get banned, for so long as they pose legitimate questions of Andy Newman and Tony Collins, then I will do my best to address those questions. However, I am not going to put everything out into cyberspace. I am holding many things back for a variety of reasons. For instance, despite Catriona Grant’s not having a problem with giving my home address to friends of hers who had previously threatened to help me jump the NHS waiting list, now that my address has changed, I am in no rush to make that public again. I have also taken myself off the electoral register. I did that because Catriona Grant told me on SSP_Debate that she saw no problem with those friends of hers who had threatened to hospitalise me going to the trouble to find where I live by conducting research on the electoral register. Removing myself from the electoral register has meant I have not been able to vote for the last eight years.
I won’t have time to address everything but I will do what I can. I am going to explain why I believe that Chris Bambery is a police spy and what I did to get that investigated by the SWP central committee.
Andy Newman says that I claim all the evidence I have of Bambery’s being a police spy has conveniently been destroyed. That is not quite true. The evidence was handed to Alan McCombes a couple of months after the Scottish Socialist Alliance’s first conference. At the time I had been appealing against expulsion from the SWP since 1987. Between those years I discovered that Chris Bambery had me secretly expelled and that John Rees was unaware of this. Chris Harman told me that any letters of appeal that I had sent to him personally would have gone to the party’s national secretary: Chris Bambery. Harman told me it was more than his job’s worth to personally get involved in any appeal against expulsion. Although Harman told me that he had never seen about one hundred pages of letters of appeal going back over a period of years and that Chris Bambery would have had those letters, Bambery told me that he had not seen them either. When I explained this to Chris Harman he told me that I should get in touch with Lindsey German. After my conversation with Harman I tried to find Lindsey. However, before I could find her (this took place during a week at Marxism: probably 1993 or 94), a senior Glasgow member of the SWP something happened. Firstly, someone told me that it was the shift of all Glasgow comrades to sell Socialist Worker outside the University of London Union building. I had no problem with that. One of the things I loved about being an SWP member was selling the paper. I could catch Lindsey after the paper sale. Then something else happened. A senior member of the party in Glasgow came up to me. I have refered to this many times before in cyberspace. The name of that individual is known to Mike Gonzalez, Alan McCombes, Frances Curran and also to Phil Burton-Cartledge. I am not sure which side that individual is on in the present SWP split. It is possible that I have let slip the gender of the individual before, but I am not going to mention his or her name today and don’t want to narrow it down by using gender biased pronouns. There is a reason I am not naming him or her. I do not know the level of responsibility of him or her in my unconstitutional expulsion from the SWP. He or she may simply have been obeying orders. Now a lot of people will say that if this person did what I am going to claim then that is prime facie evidence that the SWP has a serious democratic deficit. I am not going to deny that. I am not going to prejudge the motives of that individual. Having said that, I am going to argue that the SWP have got a serious problem when it comes to disciplinary procedures. In explaining how I was unconstitutionally expelled I am going to let the SWP leadership and the rank and file see for themselves that the way they are dealing with appeals contains a massive set of problems.
Why is this blog entry titled Mike Gonzalez and Chris Bambery? I have only mentioned Mike once yet and only in passing? Here’s the thing. Mike has questions to answer. He has been an enigma to me for some time. Mike Gonzalez must know that it is directly as a consequence of two conversations that I had with him that I abandoned my appeal against expulsion from the SWP and got in touch with Alan McCombes, which lead eventually to my becoming a member of Scottish Militant Labour.
In all my years in the SWP I never had a problem with Mike Gonzalez. I respected him. However, he is aware that I was unconstitutionally expelled by Chris Bambery without this going through the proper channels and that this fact had been keep secret not only from Harman, but also from Lindsey German and John Rees at the very least. Mike Gonzalez knows that the senior member of the SWP in Glasgow who took me away from the rest of the Glasgow comrades while I was doing a paper sale outside ULU told me that Julie Waterson had told her that I had been expelled from the SWP many years ago, which was a fact unknown to any member of the branch committee of the SWP in Paisley all of whose members told me that they had got a letter from John Rees asking them to get in touch with me to ask me to return to activity in Paisley, which I did as soon as they approached me. They however were unaware that I had been appealing against expulsion from the SWP from 1987, a fact known to Chris Bambery (although he was later to tell me that he knew nothing about it), known (according to this senior SWP member in Glasgow) to Julie Waterson. This expulsion was subsequently known to Mike Gonzalez who told me he would look into what had happened and get this examined.
Mike Gonzalez was aware that if my expulsion had been unconstitutional, then Chris Bambery and some others within the Glasgow district had been expelling members for years. Mike Gonzalez was aware of who else had been involved in my expulsion, a full-timer who I don’t think lasted long as an SWP member. Mike Gonzalez was aware that when every member of the SWP branch committee discovered that all my papers sales and other activism was, as far as I was concerned that activism of someone who was not a member of the party, someone whose appeal had been progressing for years, they didn’t know what to say. They told me that John Rees knew nothing about my expulsion. They only discovered about my appeal when an aggregate turned up and I was asked to attend. I reminded that that only members get to go to those. They then told me I was a member. It never occured to any of these comrades to question my membership. What this told me was the the way Bambery was expelling comrades from the SWP in Glasgow in a much more systematic manner and that those who got expelled were denied the chance to have their expulsions lifted by means of appeal.
Mike Gonzalez was aware that Julie Waterson, according to this senior SWP member in Glasgow, told her that I had been right all along, and that John Rees was not told about my expulsion because it was not a matter for him! Mike Gonzalez was aware of this and he was aware that this individual told me that Julie Waterson had told him (or her) that I had to wait for him (or her) to get in touch with me to explain when I could reapply for membership of the SWP. This person told me that I was not to discuss this with anyone else. I didn’t know what to do. What happened next?
Mike Gonzalez is aware that after that disspiriting meeting with a senior member of the SWP in Glasgow, I continued to go to all meetings at Marxism 93 (or 94: I forget which year it was). Mike Gonzalez can also confirm that as I was going to one meeting I was asked if I wanted to join the SWP, as everyone at Marxism is asked. I thought to myself, why the hell not?
The Socialist Worker organiser at the Paisley Branch told me that Chris Bambery had told him that I was a member of the party and had been all along, but that I would be expelled unless I dropped my appeal against expulsion which Harman told me would have been dealt with by him, although all one hundred pages of documents that I had sent to Chris Harman went to Bambery against my wishes. Bambery told me that he never saw any of these documents any more than Harman did or John Rees or Lindsey German. As I say, Mike Gonzalez knew nothing about my expulsion neither. Nor was he aware of how Bambery had been secretly expelling others in Glasgow. Mike Gonzalez is also aware that when the senior Glasgow member of the SWP discovered that within minutes of my meeting with her had rejoined the SWP, she had a second one-to-one meeting with me. Mike Gonzalez is aware that although he (or she) had just told me me that I had been expelled back in 1987, according to what Julie Waterson had told her (but had been told by the Socialist Worker organizer at Paisley that Chris Bambery told him that I had never been expelled in 1987 nor at any other time, but would be expelled unless I dropped my appeal against expulsion ever since that point)…. When this senior Glasgow member realised that I simply signed up to the SWP once again rather than wait for my appeal to be re-examined, this individual told me that by rejoining the SWP I had got myself in trouble again. This person told me that I had been told that I was not to tell anyone about our meeting (which I had not), but was to wait for him (or her) to get in touch with me to tell me when I would be allowed to reapply for membership. I guess he (or she) had not explained that carefully enough. I was told that, according to Julie Waterson, I would never be allowed to reapply for membership unless I did what I was told which was to refuse to discuss anything with any other member and wait for this senior Glasgow member to get in touch with me. Months passed and that person never got in touch.
Then one day Mike Gonzalez saw me drinking coffee at a cafe at Glasgow University. He he down and we had a wee chat. He asked why I had stopped going to meetings. What was I supposed to say? This senior SWP member in Glasgow told me that if I went to any meetings, tried to sell the paper when asked, spoke to any SWP member about my anything he (or she) said to me I would be denied any opportunity of ever being allowed to reapply for membership. But I decided to test the waters. I was pissed off waiting for months. What reason did I have to believe that person would ever get back to me? I told Mike that I had been told I was banned from all SWP meeting and selling the paper and that I was also told that I was not allowed to talk to anyone about this. Mike persuaded me to break my promise to this individual and I did. I told Mike everything that I have said in this blog entry and a whole lot more.
Mike told me to leave things in his hands and he would get things sorted out. I trusted him. However, months passed and he never got back to me. I got tired of waiting so I decided to see if I could make contact with Chris Harman personally again. Remember, we had spoken shortly before Julie Waterson’s emmisary told her that I had indeed been expelled back in 1987 although neither Harman, Rees nor German was aware of this. Since last speaking to Harman I had learnt a lot more. He told me to speak to Lindsey German to sort this out, but Julie Waterson (on the central committee at the time) had apparently been aware of my expulsion even though Chris Bambery had told me he knew nothing about it. Something else I forgot to mention above….
When the members of the Paisley branch committee invited me to an SWP aggregate (which turned out to be the trigger for them to discover that I was under the impression that I had been expelled in 1987 wheras they told me that it was John Rees who sent them a letter asking them to get me back into activity as a member of the party), I told them I couldn’t attend the aggregate since I wasn’t a member. They told me they would see what they could discover about my expulsion and about my appeal. None of them could discover anything about this. They told me that as far as they were concerned no one had any evidence that I had ever been expelled. They told me that they had asked others and discovered that the invitation to the SWP aggregate stood. I attended since no one had any objections. During that aggregate a member came up to me asking me to reregister. I told him I couldn’t since I was not a member. This person who was reregistering members had, he told me, been told nothing about my expulsion nor about all the letters of appeal that I had sent over a period of years to Chris Harman. I was told that I could reregister as a member if I wanted. I told him thank you very much but I am going to persist with my appeal because the one hundred or so pages of letters to Chris Harman makes clear that if my expuslion had been unconstitutional, then I am just the tip of an iceberg. I am not going to go through all this again and I want the circumstances that lead me out of the party to be investigates.
The chronology of a lot of this is difficult to follow. I accept that. I keep refering at different points to conversations that address other significant conversations in the past. This will create confusion but I will try to fix it as the difficulties become clearer to me after I have posted this.
Anyway, since Mike Gonzales never got back to me I decided that, notwithstanding being threatened by Julie Waterson’s emissary never to attend an SWP meeting ever again until he (or she) told me I could do that, I could not pass up the opportunity to speak to Chris Harman when he came to Glasgow to do a public meeting. I suspected that given everything else I knew, Julie Waterson’s emissary would probably not have been able to tell the rest of the party that I could not attend this public meeting. Clearly the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing in Glasgow. If Waterson’s emissary tried to ban me as I turned up to this public meeting, he (or she) would have problems explaining why I was banned to all these other SWP members. I got in the meeting no problem. I looked to see if Mike Gonzalez was there. He was. I waited until after the end of the meeting and I walked up to Mike Gonzalez to remind him about her meeting and his promise to sort out the situation that had arisen from Julie Waterson’s apparent expulsion of me while keeping Harman, Rees, German, the entire branch committee at Paisley knowing. Mike Gonzalez pretended he could not remember the long conversation I had with him about all of this, a conversation that he had initiated, one that forced me to break the terms as set out by Julie Waterson’s emissary vis-a-vis me not mentioning any of this to anyone until he (or she) got back in touch with me.
Mike Gonzalez may pretend he cannot remember our long conversation, but I certainly can. I can recall a lot more details. And I am happy to swear about the truth of all this in a court of law, under oath, with the threat of being convicted of perjury should I fail to convince a jury. And this brings me to something else.
Mike Gonzalez was one of Tommy Sheridan’s witnesses who challenged those who committed perjury alongside David Cameron’s director of communications. That means something to me. That is one of the reasons why I have kept quiet about him. However, now that he has thrown his lot in with Richard Seymour, I am more than happy to out him and to explain what I know about what Mike knows about Chris Bambery’s secret expulsion of SWP members in Glasgow going all the way back to the early 1980s.
I want to reiterate that I am not mentioning the name of this other individual who claimed to be acting as Julie Waterson’s emissary. Not just yet. although that name is known to Mike Gonzalez, Alan McCombes, Frances Curran and one or two others. I forget if I passed on the name to Phil Burton-Cartledge when he used to communicate with me via email when he was a member of John Chamberlain’s spies within Peter Taaffe’s Socialist Party. I do know that while I may or may not have mentioned his (or her) name, I certainly told Phil Burton-Cartledge everything else that I am telling the rest of the world here today. I also told all this stuff to Dave Parks. All of it and more was known to Alan McCombes and to John Chamberlain. It was also known to a senior member of the AWL in Glasgow and, via him, to Martin Thomas. I admit that I only have the word of this senior member of the AWL in Glasgow that he passed on the documents I gave him to Martin Thomas. What happened to them I can’t say for sure.
I never went public about Mike Gonzalez’s betrayal of me for the same reason I am still withholding the name of the senior Glasgow member who told me he (or she) was acting as Julie Waterson’s emissary. If one or both of these comrades were simply obeying orders, this is a different level of problem to that of acting maliciously. Others have been passing on information and their credentials I do not challenge.
If Mike Gonzalez and/or this other senior SWP member in Glasgow simply did what they did because they were told to, that counts against them both in my book. They should have told whoever issued these orders that they were not going to do these things. However, that is different from acting maliciously. If Mike Gonzalez publicly calls me a liar, then I do that to him. He betrayed me. He is aware that Chris Bambery and possibly Julie Waterson too were secretly expelling SWP members in Glasgow and had done from the early 1980s. Mike Gonzalez can confirm the name I gave him of Julie Waterson’s emissary. What that individual’s role is I can’t say. But to the best of my knowledge he (or she) is still a leading member in Glasgow.
When Mike Gonzalez told me at that packed Glasgow meeting that he didn’t know what I was talking about, I felt utterly betrayed by him. I had wasted months of my life waiting for him to keep his word and get this thing sorted out. But he knew that I had no witnesses. So I went to the front of the meeting and tried to talk to Chris Harman before he was whisked away. I did get to talk to him but he told me he could not speak about disciplinary issues. That was all he was prepared to say to me while surrounded by hundreds of SWP members.
I had exhausted all avenues within the SWP. By this time the Scottish Socialist Alliance had formed and I was one of those who joined at the inaugural meeting. I could not believe the sectarianism of those SWP members who refused to join the SSA. I felt it in my bones that Chris Harman would have got the SWP to join if he had a free hand. Clearly the central committee did not agree with me. So the SWP said at that meeting that it was wrong to stand for elections. This didn’t stop me joining. I needed to find some way to get the SWP involved. So, when Chris Harman effectively told me there was nothing he could do to examine my appeal against expulsion (an utterly unconstitutional appeal), I decided to tackle this problem in a new way. Harman was denied access to letters sent to him, which he had told me would have been read by Bambery instead, as national secretary, letters which Bambery told me he had never seen. Harman told me that he could not discuss this with me. He told me that twice. He told me when he was surrounded by hundreds of SWP members. However, he did not simply refuse to intervene when he knew he was being watched. Our previous meeting took place on a one to one basis. While he told me then that he would not be able to look into this, he told me that Lindsey German would be able to investigate. That was what Harman told me to to. But before I had a chance to speak to her, this other senior SWP member in Glasgow told me that he (or she) had been sent by Julie Waterson to tell me that every paper sale I had done for the previous months should never have happened. This individual, by the way, had been on many of these paper sales. Indeed, on one occasion that individual took me with him (or her) to an occupation and we talked to senior stewards involved in the industrial action. Following this, we went for a pint where that individual asked me to work with him (or her) in writing up a report for Socialist Worker. I told this person that I needed to write under particular conditions, do lots of drafts and a report by commitee might not work for me. I don’t think he (or she) was too happy that our names would not appear jointly on that report. That individual wrote something and then phoned it in to the party and it appeared on the next issue of the paper. That individual may or may not have been acting entirely innocently. However, the very least that can be said is that if he/she was just obeying order, then he/she ought to have told Julie Waterson that he/she would not obey these rediculous order. Whoever got to Mike Gonzalez should also have been told to fuck off. I have no idea who it was who told Mike Gonzalez to pretend we never had our lengthy discussion about my unconstitutional expulsion. Anyway…
I was not abandoning my appeal against expulsion from the SWP simply because I didn’t know how to get this addressed by the SWP itself. The party’s appeal procedure was clearly in a mess and it allowed Bambery and possibly Waterson too to use a subset of party activists to expel with no means of getting the expulsions overturned. I decided that I may as well see if I could get the Socialist Party to fix this problem. I wrote to Peter Taaffe and told him I wanted to discuss issues relating to the SWP. I heard nothing until about two months later. Alan McCombes wrote me a letter telling me that he wanted to speak to me about my letter to Peter Taaffe. By the way, I can no longer remember if the letter I sent to the Socialist Party had been addressed to him as an individual. I have not set eyes on it for a long time. I know I did contact the British organisation, and not Scottish Militant Labour.
McCombes and I agreed to meeting in a pub in Paisley and we spoke at a shut off room. I told him everything that is in this blog entry and a lot more. I gave him copies of hundreds of pages of documents with explanations as to the importance of different parts of these documents. I explained to McCombes why I believed that the behavior of Chris Bambery and the unquivocal evidence of his having unconstitutionally expelled SWP members in Glasgow and (presumably) elsewhere in Britain cast doubts on his motives. I told McCombes in explicit terms that I believed he was a police spy. I told him that if Harman was given the evidence I was giving him that he, German and Rees and others would all agree that Bambery had mangled the democracy of the SWP and if he was not a police spy, he still deserved not merely to be expelled but for his behavior (and possibly for Julie Waterson’s too) to become public knowledge, which would guarantee that he/they were kept at bay by the workers movement world wide.
McCombes promised me that he would pass on all these documents to Peter Taaffe. These documents were refered to by me to Frances Curran during lunchbreak at the second SSA conference. They had already been given to John Chamberlain by me during a one-to-one meeting about a year after I gave them to McCombes. I will have a lot more to say about all of this between now and the SWP’s special conference.
[This is a first draft, stream of consciousness post, one I will try to fix to eliminate the worst typos after I get a chance to read it back]