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In regard to the slanders against me

By Dave Riley

For the past five years I have been intermittently slandered by members of various tendencies on the left here in Australia. While I can't do very much about those despicable cowards who actively and aggressively malign me in private conversation, three people have been the source of published slanders against me: Steve Painter ( a member of the NSW Greens) , Mark Lockett ( a member of Solidarity) and Peter Murray ( a member of the Freedom Socialist Party).

I don't want to pursue this issue to the nth degree and get caught up in the petty, factional and conspiratorial world of these small minded sectarians but I do want to archive my last response on the matter especially as the web is a brutal search engine and such sites like Bob Goul'd's Ozleft wallow in slander and innuendo in regard to the matter of the Socialist Alliance and have never offered me any right to reply to any of the slanders the site has published about me.

This is a rather disgusting window into how some groups and individuals engage in personal assassination in the name of advancing their political perspectives

Eventually Dave decided to join the DSP. I have no inside information about the date on which he took this decision. But when SA conference delegates voted to elect him onto the SA national committee, they were well aware of his views on the way forward for SA, which were similar to those of the DSP. -- Chris Slee

Thankyou Chris for your comradeship. (And Peter for asserting some respect in this exchange).

I had no control over what the DSP said (nor over what inner party factionalist recall) within the DSP in reference to me as I was not a member of the DSP nor did I attend any of its internal meetings for years prior to rejoining in late 2005.

Did I collaborate with the DSP? You bet I did! because the DSP membership were the best Alliance builders, the most committed to creating a new party out of the gaggle of elements that made up formation.They were absolutely committed to the Alliance as much as I was and there was no way the Alliance could be built without working with the DSP membership.

My location in the Socialist Alliance between 2003 and late 2005 was one where I was being sought out and consulted by both the DSP and the Non Aligned Caucus.

Everyone knew where I was coming from in terms of my past association with the DSP and all my perspectives were argued for either vocally by myself (and no other) at successive National Executive meetings and within the pages of Alliance Voices.My views were well known. For good or ill, that's all my own work and I was very vocal in advancing my POV -- a POV that was developing as my experience of the Alliance became richer.

But instead of arguing against the political positions I advanced, the preferred response was to malign me as a DSP stooge. In fact anyone who actively agreed with the general perspectives of advancing the Alliance as a new broad left political party, a multi tendency socialist party, was inevitably denigrated either as a member of, or a stooge of, the DSP.

We had SA meetings here in Brisbane where leaders of one of the small affiliates went around the room bullying every comrade present by accusing them individually of being a DSP member. In one local meeting I was abused by an ISO leader because I had owned up to visiting the Activist Centre between meetings.

This warped political debate in the Alliance and many comrades kept their heads down and mouths shut for fear of being so baited. In fact this heated factional climate drove many comrades out of the Socialist Alliance and the ongoing dispute was stifling the SA's day to day activity and trajectory.

My particular burden was that I didn't buckle under to that pressure. And my burden now is that I'm still wearing the consequences of my stance.

What about the 'Non Aligned Caucus'?

The NAC only had a formal existence in preconference periods in the lead up to the 2003, 2004 and(I assume) 2005 conferences of the SA. It had no formal structure, existed hardly beyond the one 2003 manifesto and was run, (2003/2005) by an ab hoc steering group of four.If indeed I was on it, then I was a casual fifth wheel. If people rang me up I'd say what I thought. If I was supposedly a DSP stooge then more fool them -- perhaps they hadn't been listening to what the small affiliates were saying about me.

While it initiated the original document and secured all the signatories, NAC was not able to organize those who had signed the 2003 statement which called for the Alliance to advance towards a multi tendency socialist party.It was rather a national tendency that existed only or primarily at conference periods.

But the original NAC perspectives outlined in the 2003 manifesto had been more or less achieved at the 2004 conference. Nonetheless, the position was advanced coming out of that conference that the NAC should reform itself into a faction only for 'non aligned members' of the SA. I -- and a couple of other members of the SA -- disagreed with that perspective and we were dropped from the circle ( not formally, but collaboration ceased). ( What was then said about me personally behind my back, I don't know.)

We reasoned that the SA needed another permanent faction like it needed a hole in the head. The small affiliates determined factional alignment against the DSP's integration into the SA , despite overwhelming conference endorsement of that perspective , was draining the project of political focus and energy .

The real task wasn't to encourage further factional alignment, and replicate the chronic entrenched factionalism of the ALP, but the business of day to day politics and for comrades to take responsibility for running the Alliance at all levels.

[For some background on this debate go here for a sample.

However, in the lead up to the 2005 conference I did indeed formally negotiate with the DSP for the specific purpose of drafting changes to national structures. As soon as we finalized our initial draft proposal we published it in Alliance Voices and I later moved it at the conference in conjunction with SA National Convenor (& DSP member) Lisa McDonald. This proposal was carried.

[See conference minutes: Socialist Alliance Discussion Bulletin Vol 5 No 8, June 2005 ]

What followed was the very worse year in the Alliance's history. The political and morale consequences of the Howard re-election in 2004 set in. A major factional dispute developed in the DSP; and among the small affiliates who were democratically elected to national executive by conference the FSP representative ( Peter Murray's org) withdrew after 1 (or 2) meeting(s) and the ISO'er boycotted the national body after 1 meeting. The bulk of the ticket elected by the small affiliates and now split NAC voting block -- had exited the SA National Executive by the end of the year.

Three of the four NAC figures withdrew from the Alliance completely and the DSP had to pull back some of its generous unconditional financial support for the project. After another year the ISO formally withdrew from the SA. So the DSP carried the weight of organising the Alliance's work in partnership with those 'non aligned members' who had not been swayed by the factional heat. Today these comrades (plus others who have joined since) are standardly dismissed as DSP members or DSP stooges -- or, as it is casually argued, that they do not exist.

For my part, I'll be leafleting a local railway station with some of these 'ghosts' from 6am tomorrow morning as part of our election campaign here.