Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sour grapes from the SWP

Not able to gracefully admit defeat, learn the lessons and move on, several members of the Socialist Workers' Party at the University of Manchester have started attacking students for democratically booting them out. Dave Sewell, one of the few SWP members who will be on Union council next year has written a rather bitter message attacking students for "not being intelligent enough" to vote for SWP candidates.

As I've come to expect from members of the SWP, the blog allows no open debate - only "approved" messages will be displayed, so I'm reproducing what I wrote here (for the record, anyone can reply here and the messages will appear straight away):

This really is a load of bitter rubbish. Also, I’m surprised to note a substantial lack of criticism of myself - perhaps trying to get away with calling the Lib Dems pro-tuition fees is a lie too far even for the SWP?

“I say lost; politically, the victory was very much ours. When we got out talking to people, in interminable nights trawling the halls of residence and in countless lecture announcements, we would almost always come out with a hugely positive response.”

I got a positive response as well when giving lecture shout-outs, and when talking to students both in halls and on campus. By your logic I won the argument politically as well!

People I spoke to were annoyed with several of this year’s executive and the majority of last year’s sole focus on international issues, leaving them stranded when the University started cutting contact hours, began ‘teaching’ online rather than face-to-face, and closing departmental libraries. That happened when the SWP controlled the Union and look where that got Manchester’s students.

“Some positions were contested by non-Labour candidates, and many of these shamelessly mimicked our rhetoric, promising a fighting union and a free education, all the while conterfactually deriding the potential for radical mass action in favour of engaging with politicians individually.”

I think you’ll find there was just one sabbatical position contested by Labour Students.

In case this is referring to me, I’m afraid that just because one group of people believe something does not mean that other people cannot believe it either. I believe in a free education, so saying that I was “shamelessly mimicking [your] rhetoric” is entirely inaccurate.

Do you not think that we should talk to elected MPs then? Perhaps this is why last year’s executive didn’t achieve anything other than annoying students. I think that talking, debating and arguing with people who actually get to decide whether there will be a free education is a more effective tactic than attempting to overthrow them in a revolution.

“Needless to say, this was a crushing defeat. Although votes haven’t been counted for all the minor positions yet, it looks like the Left will have gone from a position of hegemony to holding just two insignificant posts on the Council (one of them by none other than myself, touch wood) and none on the Executive. The ruling party now control the students’ union that was most expected to challenge their policies next year, and the zionists now control the union with one of the most advanced campaigns for solidarity with Palestine. The implications could hardly be more stark. It hurts on a personal level too. To expend so much energy on what turned out to be a defeat felt like running an uphill marathon to the edge of some massive cliff with Sonic-the-Hedgehog metal spikes at the bottom and not stopping in time.”

The Labour party and the “zionists” control the Students’ Union!? I’m not sure that one out of eight sabbatical officers counts as “controlling”. There are twice as many Green sabbatical officers than Labour Students, but obviously people related to Jews must be Zionist (oh look, I’m Zionist too, and so’s Chomsky!).

“one thing I can guarantee - they haven’t heard the last of us!”

No, students won’t have heard the last of you, because this year we will be turning the Students’ Union around and show how much better it is when it engages with students. When officers are supported by the Union rather than restricted by its rules, when students can communicate and engage with the Union, when the Union delivers results on issues care about, we will be reminding people just how awful the Union was in the days of the SWP, so new students will never make the same mistake again.


a radical writes said...

God not the SWP, I bet they use words like 'borgeoisie' as well

Steve Cooke said...

Well said - I am so glad that the total fruitbats are out.

How anyone from the SWP can complain about other parties stealing their colours is astonishing. Anyone whose ever been in a campaigning organisation where the SWP have tried to infiltrate and corrupt it to thei own ends will understand.

Bunch of self-deluded brain-addled morons the lot of them.

I'm looking forward to my union regaining some sanity.

James Maskell said...

I'm with Chris on this one. The left may have gone round knocking on people's doors and believing that they've got support but they seem to be very much misguided.

I sat in the lectures when the shout outs were taking place. People just thought they were a bunch of nutjobs, not caring about student issues but merely using the SU as a bandwagon for their own political agenda.

Students don't currently see the SU as a Union that does anything for them. They see it as nothing more than a body that serves to piss them off as they attempt to walk unmolested to lectures and avoid having a nightclub flier stuffed in their face.

Throughout the election period I was trying to persuade friends to vote. I was constantly told "I can't be bothered - the Union does nothing for me". The fact of the matter is that only the minority of students support the left and these are the ones who turn out for Union events and Union elections. If the new Executive succeeds in the task of engaging students this year I fail to see how the hard left can come close next year.