Statement of the Socialist Alliance National Executive on the split in Brisbane branch

Statement of the Socialist Alliance National Executive on the split in Brisbane branch

24 Socialist Alliance members issued a resignation statement over the night of July 2-3. Most (but not all) of the resignations come from members of the 21st Century Socialism tendency who are resident in Brisbane. It is important to note that some members of the Tendency outside of Brisbane have chosen to reject the option of splitting the party and remain members of Socialist Alliance.

The resignation letter rehearses many of the Tendency's arguments in relation to electoral work, Green Left Weekly and online voting in Resistance. The letter falsely claims that, "While tendencies/factions are technically permitted in Socialist Alliance, it quickly became abundantly clear that any serious challenge to the party’s entrenched leadership layer cannot be tolerated."

In fact, despite the irresponsible way in which the Tendency raised their objections, they have had full freedom to argue their views in Alliance Voices and at the recent national council meeting. Prior to the formation of the Tendency, those with similar views have had full freedom to advance them at national conferences, NC meetings and in Alliance Voices. Members of the Tendency both before and since its formation have been elected to leadership bodies in Socialist Alliance and Resistance.

The resignation letter also claims that, “Leading party activists have been driven out of the party”. This also is false.

Contrary to claims that the NE responded to their complaint letter with threats of counter claims, the NE's response was to caution all Socialist Alliance members about comradely conduct in the discussion and to encourage members to prioritise political discussion rather than procedural measures, so long as it was possible to advance on this front.

What the Tendency objects to is the fact that their views and proposals (with some exceptions) have been rejected by the party's democratic decision making processes - at national conferences and NC meetings (which include delegates elected from branches across the country).

The resignation letter falsely claims that the decision by Alex Bainbridge to move to Brisbane is the "final straw" responsible for their resignation.

Contrary to the information being spread by the split group, Alex was not 'sent' to Brisbane to 'replace the organiser'. Alex wrote to the branch leadership (BCC) and made it clear that he was prepared to take on whatever assignment the branch wanted him to and would work under its direction.

In fact, Alex's decision to move to Brisbane came only after split preparations had already clearly begun. Notably, the Brisbane BCC meeting on June 9 made a decision to change signatories on the lease of the Brisbane Activist Centre. The existing lease had more than three months to run and there was absolutely no pressing reason to cut it short (except preparations for a split).

Prior to that (as early as May 5), the BCC had decided to change signatories on the Brisbane Activist Centre bank account.

The split group changed the locks on the Brisbane Activist Centre around the same time they announced their resignations. They retain control of the Activist Centre bank account and have made clear they don't intend to return it into the hands of Alliance members. The contents of the office (including equipment and items donated by members and supporters over 3 decades) and the bookshop stock have also been undemocratically and illegitimately appropriated by the split group.

In particular, comrades should be aware that the Brisbane branch leadership prior to the split have been pursuing a project at odds with the building of a Socialist Alliance branch. One of the former branch co-convenors, announcing the split on Facebook admitted as much when he wrote they were prepared to be part of Socialist Alliance "so long as we could do things the way that worked for us".  This was further reinforced by the statement in the resignation letter that “Socialist Alliance has now become a fetter on the political project that has been (our emphasis) built in Brisbane”.

This way of doing things has meant deprioritising support for and distribution of Green Left Weekly in Brisbane, and downplaying the public profile of Socialist Alliance at rallies and public events. A recent example of this was at the June marriage equality rally, where tendency members made no effort to distribute SA placards. Instead, some chose to carry anarchist flags. These members made no effort to distribute Green Left Weekly on the day or profile the Alliance or march as a Socialist Alliance contingent. The Brisbane branch members who resigned have played virtually no role in distributing Green Left Weekly in the first half of this year and have criticised other members for promoting Green Left Weekly within the branch.

The Brisbane branch of Socialist Alliance is currently numerically weaker but politically consolidated since the split. We affirm a commitment to rebuilding the Alliance in the Brisbane area and to continuing to support Green Left Weekly.

It should be noted that a third of the names on the resignation list were of relatively new members in Brisbane, who had not attended a conference or gathering or even met other Alliance members outside of Brisbane, since joining. The reality is that many of these former members were never won to Socialist Alliance's project in the first place.

The Socialist Alliance NE calls on the split group to return Alliance property to the Alliance representatives in Brisbane. Stealing from an activist organisation is a violation of working class solidarity.