Chris Bambery resigns from SWP

April 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm (Champagne Charlie, left, sectarianism, SWP, wankers)

Letter to SWP National Secretary Charlie Kimber

Socialist Workers Party fist logo

10 April

Dear Charlie,

After 32 years membership of the Socialist Workers Party, during which I was National Secretary for 17 of them and editor of the Socialist Worker for five, I am resigning forthwith both from the Central Committee and the Socialist Workers Party.

The relentless factionalism in the organisation, driven by the leading group on the CC, shows no sign of ceasing and is doing enormous damage to the party . It is a cancer eating away at its heart.

At the special CC held on Friday 8 April I was told by Martin Smith I played a ‘filthy’ and ‘disgraceful’ role in the party, a ‘foul role in Scotland’ and despite the CC ‘fighting hard’ to integrate me I had ‘spent the last year and a half organising against the CC.’ Such accusations were repeated by Martin’s supporters and were not refuted by yourself as National Secretary.

While not recognising the reality of such slanders, I pointed out if you believed them immediate action would be required against any CC member believed to be involved in such behaviour. None followed.

It is simply untenable to sit round a table or work with people who believe, and are spreading, such slanders.

These slanders are not just aimed at me but those who have worked closely with me in building the party and wider initiatives, particularly so in Scotland which I’ve held responsibility for since 1988 until I was asked to step aside this year to help prevent ‘factionalism’. This step was criticised at a Scottish steering committee by some members who argued my role in the significant development of the Scottish districts, particularly amongst younger members, had been important. They too have been subject to similar slanders.

The party has been afflicted by factionalism for four years and grips the leading group on the CC who seem addicted to it.

It has damaged our united front work in all the campaigns – Right to Work most obviously but in all others. Stop the War is now treated with derision by leading CC members.

In recent weeks there has been no lead or drive from the CC in turning the party towards building the growing anti-cuts movement. The current article in Socialist Review and the post 26th party notes on the way forward after 26 March both have virtually nothing to say on anti cuts campaigns.

Martin Smith has attempted to blame me personally for the weaknesses of Right to Work despite the internal arguments which have held it back from its inception and which have brought it near to derailment.

While all of us wanted to see the party grow the stress on party building has increasingly meant ‘intervening’ from the outside rather than recruiting whilst working alongside those who are building the movement.

Since Friday’s CC I have been made aware that a major factional attack was being once more orchestrated against myself.

The SWP prided itself on being free from factionalism and on its record in helping initiating and building strong and genuine united fronts. That has been damaged.

I was one of the only two remaining CC members who had worked with Tony Cliff in a leadership role. Having worked closely with him on a daily basis for many years with, I believe the CC’s current approach goes against everything he stood for. His analysis of Lenin’s ideas laid great emphasis on taking a firm grip on the ‘key link in the chain’. Its been clear for some time that the question of austerity would dominate the political scene, yet we’ve failed to position ourselves at the heart of the anti-cuts movement and our influence is not what it could of been. This is not the place to go into detail about the party’s recent history, but Right To Work was initiated in bizarre circumstances (I learned the news from Party Notes) and the CC as a whole has never applied systematic pressure to push the formal position through the party.

For all of my 32 years as a member I have given everything into building this party, even making serious financial sacrifices including loaning considerable sums of money during the financial crisis which has affected the party in recent years, money I am still owed.

A revolutionary party is an instrument for making a revolution. If it is blunted or broken another must be built. I maintain the firm conviction that a party rooted in working class struggle that fights constantly for Marxist ideas whilst building unity on the basis of action is essential for the battle for socialism. For that reason, to take this road is not an easy decision, but it is one I have been forced to take.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Bambery

H/t: Luna 17


  1. jim denham said,

    Comrade Tom writes:

    What a joke. This resignation makes a mockery once again of the idea of party democracy and demonstrates just what a low opinion Bambery has of the membership. Any serious party leader would have exposed the factionalism and attempt a political fight in the membership to quash it, not walk off because someone calls them names.

  2. Mikey said,

    Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day….

  3. baldric said,

    I though that the S.W.P.had more in common with Trotsky and Lenin than Marx and Engels.Confused socialists eh!.

  4. blereg commentrryer said,

  5. ajohnstone said,

  6. charliethechulo said,

    From Nooman’s blog:

    This is the letter of resignation by 39 SWP members in Scotland

    Dear CC and Party Members,

    We, the undersigned, are writing to inform you of our resignation from the Socialist Workers Party. This is not a decision that we have taken lightly: for all of us, it is an immense emotional and political strain to abandon an organisation in which we have invested countless hours.

    Following the last split from the Party we were told there would be an end to factionalism. It is our position that this was not followed out
    in practice: factionalism persists at the very centre of the organisation. Allegations have been made against some of us and will
    undoubtedly continue. However, we have been committed to building the party as well as intervening in the anti-cuts movement, both on
    campuses and through Right to Work as well as relating to the Arab revolutions. We have not departed from the party line; indeed, we have
    been at the forefront of developing the organisation.

    We are appalled by the factionalism which has driven Chris Bambery from the SWP. This is a consequence of a culture that pervades
    sections of the organisation and flows from the majority grouping on the Central Committee. This has impacted negatively on the work of the
    SWP, primarily demonstrated in a retreat from systematic united front work.

    In particular our work around the Right to Work campaign has been confused and patchy across the country, primarily because the Central
    Committee – as a whole – did not drive that perspective from its inception.

    In the build-up to the 26 March we could have been organising to get every possible local anti-cuts and trade union activist working together to carry out mass leafleting, but the message from the centre was to concentrate on building it through our paper sales. Those were, of course, vital; but we also needed to place ourselves alongside the thousands who were working to build the march.

    Consequently the SWP’s ability to influence wider layers of people provided by the biggest demonstration in trade union history was restricted. There are some very good SWSS groups, but the Glasgow students were the only SWSS group with any sizable presence on the
    student feeder march. Amidst arguably the biggest youth revolt in British history – and despite reports of bumper recruitment to the Party after Millbank – this should have been a massive wake-up call.

    But rather than face up to the consequences and adjust our strategy, a faction on the CC has turned its attention to Right to Work national
    secretary Chris Bambery, who has been labelled “disgusting”, “filthy”, accused of playing a factional role in Scotland and of wanting to
    wreck the SWP. This culture means that the SWP nationally has not taken up the campaign in defence of Bryan Simpson, with the Morning
    Star giving it more coverage than Socialist Worker. At the time of the Arab revolutions a pre-existing factional attitude towards the
    Stop the War Coalition meant too often we did not throw ourselves into building solidarity actions initiated by them.

    Chris Bambery’s resignation means we can no longer trust a section of the Central Committee. Let us be clear, we are not leaving the
    organisation just because of Chris Bambery’s forced resignation, but rather because we understand as symptomatic of a disease within the
    party that has held back its work and development over the past couple of years and distorted its theoretical tradition.

    We have fought for a non-sectarian approach to party building and our results bear this out. Our position on this will not change. We intend to establish a Marxist organisation in Scotland. We wish to express our gratitude to the comrades in Scotland and elsewhere who have shared our frustrations but have not been willing or able to take this last step. We want to work fraternally with the SWP as we do with all groups on the Left and the Trade Union movement. We wish those in the SWP success in building revolutionary politics.

    It is painful that it is not possible to move on together. However, we are all as determined as ever to continue as revolutionary socialists and to meet the theoretical and practical challenges raised by the ruling class offensive and the emerging anti-austerity movement.

    Gareth Beynon
    Sam Beaton
    Nik Brown
    Gregor Clunie
    Megan Cowie
    Sean Coyle (Scottish Steering Committee)
    Euan Dargie
    Lucky Dhillon (Scottish Steering Committee)
    Charley Dohren
    James Ferns
    James Foley (National Committee and Scottish Steering Committee)
    Adam Frew
    Rhiannon Garrity
    Dominique Graham
    Karen Huzzey
    David Jamieson (Scottish Steering Committee)
    Laura Jones
    Eileen Boyle (Scottish Steering Committee)
    Natalie Kerr
    Gav Lavery
    Calum Lawson
    Mahmoud Mahdy
    Eilidh McKnight
    Danny McGregor
    Rachel Meach
    Callum Morrison
    Jenny Morrison
    Phil Neal
    Claire Paterson
    Pete Ramand (Glasgow organiser)
    Laura Robertson
    Danny Rooney
    Suki Sangha (National Committee and Scottish Steering Committee)
    Jonathon Shafi
    Bryan Simpson
    Katherine Stewart
    Stuart Tuckwood
    Chris Walsh
    Ben Wray (East Coast of Scotland organiser)

  7. martin ohr said,

    1) I notice that arsehole Richard Seymour has declined to comment on this at all. Is that because Smith/Kimber haven’t got the line out, or because Dicky himself is considering options to join the latest round of splinter groups.

    John Game appears to be on holiday too.

    2) Even Nooman has picked up on the strangely apolitical tone of both resignation letters.

    I mean ffs what sort of revolutionary leaves their party because of a few harsh words or even disagreement about tactics.

  8. Mikey said,

    Singing eye, eye, yippee, yippee eye!

    • martin ohr said,

      Mikey, I don’t know why you’re so happy, at least when they were all in the SWP the madness was contained- now it’s all over the place

      • Mikey said,

        Martin, You have a fair point!

  9. modernityblog said,

    Perhaps other members of the SWP have left to become on-line Trappist monks?

  10. Rosie said,

  11. jim denham said,

    Comrade Stan comments:

    Bambery has not lived in Scotland for years. When he was the SWP CC member with responsibility for Scotland, he used to regularly come up to Scotland to give people the party line. I don’t know who took over from him as the SWPer with responsibility for Scotland.

    – If I was going to place a bet on it, I’d bet they (the people who’ve resigned from the SWP in Scotland – JD) end up as the Scottish wing of Counterfire (which currently has no-one in Scotland).

    – Don’t know what, if any, was Bambery’s involvement in the Galloway lash-up. In fact, I haven’t been able to find anyone in the SWP who is positively keen on the lash-up (although there must be a few). The most honest answer I’ve been given from anyone in the SWP is: Angela McCormick is number two on the list, and it would be good for us if she were elected as an MSP.

    – There are half a dozen or so political reasons which are readily available for resigning from the SWP in Scotland, but none of them figure in the collective letter of resignation.

    – The worst possible reason for resigning from the SWP, and the least political one as well, is to resign as an act of solidarity with Chris Bambery. (The CC should surely be applauded for finally getting round to recognising that he’s ‘filthy’ and ‘disgusting’?) it so far – does not represent anything politically.

  12. Peter Burton said,

    Some background reading for ISG members

    How about meeting up in Glasgow to discuss the contents of the above articles from the AWL site.?

    Pete -Cowcaddens-Glasgow

  13. modernityblog said,


    Please remove the above linkback (June 16, 2011 at 5:44 pm) it is from the UAF Hunting Club, a bunch of Far Right loons.

  14. Rosie said,

    Mod – have removed. Should have looked at it more closely.

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