At its annual conference last weekend the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) faced one of its biggest tests in three decades.
For over a year there has been a debate inside the party that has affected every level of the organisation, including its leading body, the central committee.
As reported on these pages, that debate centred on events concerning the split in Respect.
Prior to the conference, the SWP central committee had voted to propose that the committee to be elected at this conference should not include John Rees, a longstanding member of it and formerly national secretary of Respect.
On the Sunday morning of conference another longstanding member, Lindsey German, stated to conference that she and Chris Nineham were resigning from the central committee and withdrawing an alternative list that included John Rees.
She explained that the three comrades wanted a leadership body which could work together in a united way, and that they were continuing as members of the SWP and would work under the direction of the party’s leading bodies.
On behalf on the central committee that was elected by the conference, Alex Callinicos expressed regret at this decision, arguing that the political differences did not justify the two comrades’ resignation.
But he was confident that the SWP would emerge strengthened by these debates. This stance, and more broadly the positions taken by the majority of the outgoing leadership, were overwhelmingly supported by conference delegates.
On a range of issues, there was full discussion with lively but comradely debate.
Over the coming weeks the SWP will continue to discuss ways of strengthening its party democracy in order to help deal with any such future difficulties and to allow members to debate issues arising from a fast changing world engulfed by economic crisis and war.