The SWP’s undeclared links to Stand Up To Racism and its sudden surge in popularity are suspiciously coincidental. The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) are widely branded as ‘rape apologists’, a charge which has left them shunned from campuses. As the SWP student societies dwindle in numbers, Stand Up To Racism campaigns only seems to gather strength.
But do students know what – or who – they are campaigning for?
The far-left Socialists Workers Party (SWP) fractured back in 2013 amid allegations of sexual assault and ‘kangaroo courts’. But after a mass exodus of over 700 members, it seems to have re-branded itself to start recruiting again.
The SWP are a toxic organisation of misogyny and rape apologism and complicit in a cover-up of rape allegations against their ex-National Secretary ‘Comrade Delta’. The kangaroo court which cleared Delta of rape was an internal panel comprising of friends and colleagues of the accused. The panel also interrogated the alleged rape victims on their drinking habits and sexual exploits. The accused has not faced police questioning to this day.
Unfortunately it seems like not many students know this nowadays, and many are blindly following an organisation that is dangerously backward. Lest we forget, the objective of recruiting an army of new members is to overthrow the UK government and install their own regime.
Considering this, there is no surprise why the SWP would want to hide behind the charitable glaze of an anti-racism campaign.
Writer Tom Freeman described their recruitment strategy like this:
“The SWP is not large and does not have a good reputation. One of the ways it operates is to attach itself to broader groups and campaigns, so it can steer their agendas and find new recruits. For instance, the SWP was key to setting up the Stop the War Coalition.”
Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) is the new anti-racism bloc the SWP was also key to setting up. It was formed in early 2014, just after the furore over 2013 allegations of sexual assault had started to fade but the memory remained. According to SWP members it’s not a front, it’s just a coalition – without any official documentation of this anywhere on the SUTR website and events pages.
Weirdly enough, SWP members set up socialist literature stalls at every rally to entice people into joining their cause, yet nowhere in the SUTR founding statement is the Socialist Workers Party mentioned, or any representatives of their newspaper the Socialist Worker. This seems most bizarre considering the SWP’s instrumental role in founding the group and pervasive involvement in street-level operations.
Stand Up To Racism is aimed at students who want a good cause to shout for that are generally left-leaning, as I’m sure you can imagine. But although its president is the friendly face of Shadow Home Secretary and Labour MP Diane Abbott, the overwhelming majority of its grassroots organisers and speakers have clear SWP links.
In fact one of its co-covenors is outspoken socialist revolutionary Weyman Bennett, a man who sits in the central committee in the SWP. He was also one of the only two full-time staff for it’s anti-fascist front Unite Against Fascism (UAF), which he’s advocated for on Channel 4 News, Daily Politics and various other outlets too. Bennett is also alleged to have led a campaign of harassment and bullying towards a rape victim in the SWP, but can conveniently distance himself from this scandal. When he appears at rallies he almost always appears under the guise of his UAF/ SUTR credentials, rather than his much more known association with the SWP.
Bennett and others lead the charge into the UK’s universities. The SWP have long had a foothold in student societies across Britain which bought in the bulk of their student memberships. But as a result of the SWP’s rape scandal, some universities have apparently given up on their own Socialist Workers Student Society (SWSS).
Wikipedia tells me (without citation) that students have tried to ban their SWSS from Edinburgh University, Sussex University and Goldsmiths, University of London:
- Edinburgh University seemed to be unsuccessful at banning the SWSS. Why? The SWP threatened legal action against the student union trying to ban them. Their sporadic social media posts were up to May 2015, but nothing after that so far.
- Sussex University decided to not ban the SWSS with a vote of 44 for and 141 against. But as political blogger Howard Fuller put it; “A victory for free speech and democracy but a clear warning to the SWP that their days of recruiting students (and anybody else) to their cult is going to be difficult, if not impossible.” The Sussex Uni SWSS remains slow but active.
- Goldsmiths University successfully banned the Socialist Workers Student Society from campus, with students burning SWP literature in celebration.
Strangely enough, Edinburgh University has recently been host to a Stand Up To Racism rally with no obvious objections! Speakers include Ruby Hirsch, an NUS member from the SWP; and Aamer Anwar, the lawyer who defended SWP veteran Tommy Sheridan against a gagging order in 2012.
Sussex University have also played host to Stand Up To Racism in March 2015, with two out of the three billed political speakers vocal far left members; Zak Cochrane, a very active SWP member who speaks at most SUTR and SWP events; and Aaron Kiely, member of the Student Broad Left, an organisation which allegedly has close ties to Socialist Action.
Goldsmiths also has an active Stand Up To Racism group and an event for a demonstration was recently shared by the Goldsmith’s SUTR Facebook group. SUTR purportedly were marching in support of #BlackLivesMatter. But it’s safe to assume that they didn’t inform students that SUTR has been disavowed by Black Lives Matter UK because of their associations with the SWP. Independent London journalist ‘indyrikki’ writes:
“…but as a small group carrying a large ‘Stand Up To Racism’ banner led people out of the park, the SWP issue reached boiling point as female activists refused to march alongside SWP representatives, including Gary McFarlane, on account of the SWP’s mishandling, cover-up, apologism and sexism regarding rape allegations over several years.”
Black Lives Matter UK, the largest of the UK #BLM movements, also signed an open letter to speakers attending the Stand Up To Racism 2016 conference in October calling for a boycott due to Weyman Bennett speaking. Columnist Owen Jones ultimately pulled out because of this.
These are just three events. Stand Up To Racism hosts protests and vigils around London almost every week, led mostly by Cochrane and Bennett.
Vice-chairman of Stand Up To Racism and Labour politician Steve Hart said:
“So let me be clear: Stand Up to Racism is not an SWP front. It grew out of Unite Against Fascism, because some of us thought that we should clearly distinguish between the very specific battle against fascism and the growing campaign against racism.”
Steve Hart and journalist James Bloodworth debated the issue on Daily Politics.
At every London-based Stand Up To Racism event I have been to, Weyman Bennett and Zak Cochrane have been un-billed but leading the marches, as well as several regular faces from the SWP that won’t be named.
What I find most concerning is that the relationship between SUTR and the SWP isn’t declared anywhere on the SUTR website, and the students who are invited to the SUTR rallies via Facebook are very very rarely linked to content hosted by SWP sources. In fact, so far I haven’t found one instance.
If you are still unconvinced, I ask you this: find me a picture of a SUTR rally without SWP branded placards. It is damn near impossible.
The SWP also been sell their literature at every event. Watch this video of Zak Cochrane speaking as evidence of how brazen their stalls are: (SWP stall @0.19)
There is irrefutable evidence that the SWP is heavily involved with SUTR, and that SUTR have only arisen since the SWSS have been disgraced from Uni campuses.
Stand Up To Racism has good intentions on the surface. Who doesn’t want to stamp out racism on campus? But this is the appeal of Stand Up To Racism, and this is why it has been so effective. Nobody wants to be the one to question the motives of an anti-racism campaign, but there is damning evidence that the SWP has too much influence for it not to be a fluke.
The SWP are piggybacking on a well-meaning cause to recruit the numbers they lost due to their rape scandal. But even Black Lives Matter UK has disavowed them (as the Socialist Worker continue to advertise their allegiance), and that speaks volumes to me. From the blog I cited earlier:
“The SWP were there of course, with a batch of their branded banners, and with plenty of newspapers to sell. A BLM speaker asked for people to sign up online to an email list (on their FB page), but suggested that ‘other groups’ in the park may also ask for email addresses, and to use discretion whether to do so – a reminder that not all groups shared the same clear agenda.“
Hopefully this can also serve, too, as a reminder that not all activist groups share the same clear agenda.
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