rees and german resign from “left alternative” leadership

today’s ‘left alternative’ members’ bulletin announces the resignation of socialist workers’ party leaders john rees and lindsey german from the national committee of  the swp’s post-respect electoral front. no political explanation has been given for this move, although it is clearly part of the swp’s attempt to shift direction after their electoral debacle in may.

much as they played up their political differences with george galloway’s ‘respect renewal’, the swp in fact stood in the may elections on a near-identical platform: the “party” put forward a manifesto of warmed-up social democracy and soggy reformism, and did not even stand under their own name. once ‘respect’, then ‘the left list’ and now ‘the left alternative’, the swp’s electoral turn has never been anything other than opportunist and populist, vacillating between communalism and ‘bread and butter issues’ and thus failing to provide any answers at all to the crisis in working-class political representation and the left’s lack of ideas.

after failing to get swp councillors elected via respect and thus deciding to break with galloway, the swp has now turned to new panaceas. not only has it drawn up a minimalist ‘people before profit charter’ with no roots in any real trade union struggles, it has turned to a brand of anti-fascist ‘activism’ which has no strategy for stopping the bnp other than calling them ‘nazis’ and lacks any class politics… but which is useful for giving swp members ‘something to do’ and shoring up the group’s base.

the ‘left alternative’ and expensive electoral campaigns will be abandoned. maybe rees and german will be turfed out of the leadership of the swp itself – although this seems unlikely. even replacing them would just be rearranging the deckchairs on the titanic, however. note that there has been no public discussion of this fresh change in direction by the swp, and no explanation is given for it. this is not how marxists behave. rees, german and other swp leaders will want to change course but save themselves, and they will succeed unless the swp membership take a long, hard look at their organisation and its direction, and fight for class-struggle, revolutionary politics.

below we reproduce the relevant section of the ‘left alternative’ members’ bulletin:

“Left Alternative Members Bulletin 10th September 2008
“1. Statement from Left Alternative officers

“The officers of the Left Alternative are sad to have to inform our members of the resignations of John Rees and Lindsey German from the officers group and National Council. However, they remain members of the Left Alternative.

“John and Lindsey have been tireless members of the officers group and National Council since the inception of Respect. As National Secretary, John has provided consistent judgment and direction in the most difficult political circumstances, while Lindsey has been our inspirational Mayoral candidate in the GLA elections in both 2004 and 2008.

“The National Council, at its meeting on 6th September, agreed a unanimous vote of thanks to John and Lindsey for everything they have done for our organisation. We are proud to have them as members of the Left Alternative and look forward to continuing to work with them in campaigns from Stop the War to the People before Profit Charter.”

8 thoughts on “rees and german resign from “left alternative” leadership

  1. This has to be a joke. Whats there explanation for it?

    The SWP must be losing loads of members. Running all these fronts is pointless and does nothing to advance revolutionary politics. Probably doesnt even help them keep up their membership numbers.


  2. if this is true, then i’d suggest that actually rees and german have been dumped.

    they may have lost support from the rest of the nc, or more importantly, from within the swp cc. they were central leaders of respect, and played a major role in the split, and possibly they are blamed for this, or at least they are implicated badly in it, and a new start without them is maybe desirable. possibly the swp calculate that with different figureheads the ‘left alternative’ may appeal more to other sectors of the left. i seriously doubt that will be the case though.

    anyway that’s my interpretation.

    it could all be a publicity stunt by ‘the commune’ though :-p


  3. It’s true. I also receive Left Alternative members’ bulletins. It seems clear that they are winding down the Left Alternative. Whether that also means that Rees & German have lost ground in the SWP leadership is open to question.


  4. Andy Newman’s blog – – has published the following SWP CC motion on the Left Alternative:

    The Left Alternative

    1) The potential for a left alternative to Labour has rarely been greater. Recession and inflation are undermining the claim that the market is the solution to economic problems, and more and more people are aware of the shortcomings of New Labour. Privatisation is utterly discredited, while the rising wealth of the elite is bitterly resented.

    The level of trade union struggle is on the rise, and union conferences are discussing whether or not to continue supporting Labour. Many union conferences and political meetings see people crying out for a radical electoral alternative.

    The events in Georgia have underlined the fragility of the world order, the potential for great power clashes, and the way imperialist violence is structured into the system.

    But no force has filled the gap to the left of Labour.

    Respect achieved real gains, but it has been wrecked by the Galloway-inspired split. And sadly the Left List could not make a breakthrough. It does not have wide support outside the party.

    2) Moreover the subjective factors are not so good. There seems little hope of any national figure breaking away from the Labour Party to help create a radical alternative.

    Warwick Two demonstrated that the major unions have little stomach to challenge Brown. Even the leaders of the smaller unions seem unprepared to take a lead at the moment, and launch a political project to the left of Labour.

    This doesn’t mean all is well between New Labour and the union bureaucracy. Anger over pay is increasing. And even if there is no stomach for a fight with Brown, there is little or no enthusiasm for him. These tensions promise openings for the future, but we can’t base our short-term electoral
    perspective on this prospect.

    The Left Alternative is not strong enough to create a broad alternative at the moment – but can play a role in helping realign the forces on the left so long as it does not claim to be the answer.

    Therefore for the time being we are likely to find ourselves working around a number of different initiatives.

    The obvious ones are:
    · Public Services not Private Profit – as
    Mark Serwotka said at Marxism this year and at his meeting with Charlie and me [Martin Smith], he was hoping that PSNPP would stand or support candidates on the left in the near future.
    · Also we are seeing small groups of councillors in the North West alongside local unions (FBU/NUT and trades councils) wanting to see greater co-operation between the left and left independents and discuss creating an electoral pact.
    · None of these are a panacea for the growth of a new left. We do not need to choose one route. We should use the space between now and any election for real discussion, joint working and debate.
    · In the present period we may see more Convention of the Left type conferences as organisations jostle for position. For instance the Socialist Party claims that it is going to re-launch the Campaign for New Workers Party stating that they have a wider platform which includes
    – McDonnell / Serwotka / Crow and Wrack (we may have to intervene in this conference) .

    3) Where next for the Left Alternative?

    We want to avoid if possible any bruising election contests. We should only decide to stand on a case by case basis.
    The Left Alternative should push its supporters into arenas like the Charter, PSNPP and support left candidates in their campaigns.
    It should be reduced to minimal, but still existing, role.

    This needs to be reviewed regularly because this situation could change very quickly.

    4) The role of the office LA structures
    a) If we agree to the general picture outlined then certain organisational changes need to take place.
    b) LA cannot operate on anything like the level it has done previously.
    c) We should continue to have an elected national body to oversee the LA. This should meet monthly for the moment and play the role mainly of co-ordinating the limited number of bases we still have.
    d) The office should produce a monthly e-mail newsletter, and direct activists into arenas such as the Charter, Public Services Not Private Profit, and supporting election campaigns if and when they arise.
    e) Occasional propaganda should be produced and the website should be updated regularly.
    f) The office must also play a role in clearing the debts that the Left List / Left Alternative has accumulated.
    g) The LA staff will be reduced to 1 full time post: [reference to individuals removed.]
    h) We should look into the possibility of finding smaller/cheaper premises.

    5) Transition

    a) Chris B to remain on the steering committee until the October conference.
    b) Charlie K and Martin S to go onto the LA steering committee at the conference.
    c) In the run up to October conference the CC should discuss who should oversee the LA work after the conference. In the meantime, Chris, Charlie and Martin can both oversee the work and be the CC point of contact.
    d) Alex or Chris H will introduce caucus on the Friday before the NC.

    Martin Smith
    Approved by Central Committee 27 August 2008


  5. Martin Smith would appear to have staged a leadership coup. Assuming he is backed by Bam-Bambery this represents a major change in direction for the SWP. Given that this coup has been carried out behind the backs of the ‘party’ membership it is not positive hower good it is to see the demotion of the two headed beast that has seemed intent on destroying the SWP.


  6. In the present period we may see more Convention of the Left type conferences as organisations jostle for position. For instance the Socialist Party claims that it is going to re-launch the Campaign for New Workers Party stating that they have a wider platform which includes
    – McDonnell / Serwotka / Crow and Wrack (we may have to intervene in this conference) .

    If the SWP are correct, and the SP are not telling porkies, do you realise how significant this is? McDonnell and the three big left union leaders supporting the CNWP? That would immediately lead to the expulsion of McDonnell from the Labour Party, and give CNWP a real legitimacy on the left, and in the workers’ movement. It would probably also mean the de facto neutering of the Labour Representation Committee in its current form…

    For my own part, I’m sceptical, but this has to be the most interesting thing to surface from this stream of gossip…


  7. The statements being ciruculated by the SWP and SP that John McDonnell MP and Crow, Serwotka and Wrack are about to support the CNWP are not true. as was the statement PCS was calling a conference on political representation previously announced. In fact PCS conference agreed a motion on a conference on Proportional Representation! McDonnell himself has clarified that his is all news to him. Having attended the recent National Committee of the Labour Representation Committee it was certainly not being proposed there either. The only new initiative is the trade union coordinating group which was announced on the site.



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