This site is an archived version of Indymedia prior to 5th November 2012. The current site is at www.indymedia.org.nz.

An open letter to the Workers Party

in

This is notification that I am to boycott the Workers’ Party’s national conference – Workers’ Resistance – being held in Wellington over Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Conference posters advertise that I will address this conference in my role as President of the Wellington Branch of the Tramways Union, about last years’ lockout of bus drivers by Go Wellington management.

Not only will I not be doing this, but I will discourage any other member of my union speak at this event.

This boycott is in protest to the disgraceful action taken by the Workers’ Party against long serving Party member Jasmine Freemantle. Last week the Workers’ Party expelled Jasmine Freemantle for actions in her current role as President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA).

Jasmine’s account of her expulsion can be found at:
http://expelledfromworkersparty.blogspot.com

I am willing to reconsider the boycott of Workers Resistance, but only if the following occur:

a) The Workers Party overturn their decision to expel Jasmine from the Party,

b) The Steering Group of the Workers Party issues a public statement of apology for the disgraceful way they have treated her.

The Workers’ Party’s expulsion of Freemantle demonstrates the lack of political seriousness of the Party, and that in its current form is not fit to lead workers’ struggles. I hope the Party seriously reconsiders this poor decision.

Nick Kelly

2008-09 President, Wellington Branch of the Tramways Union
2008 Worker’s Party General Election List Candidate
2007 Workers’ Party Mayoral Candidate
2006-09 Organiser, Wellington Branch of the Workers’ Party
2006 President, Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association
2004 Workers’ Party Mayoral Candidate

For further information or comment contact:
Nick Kelly
Cell: 021 58 42 94
E-mail: socialist42@hotmail.com

ENDS

Related

http://expelledfromworkersparty.blogspot.com

Comments

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

come off it Nick, you guys are making the WP and yourselves look worse and worse with your public infighting. go do it behind closed doors and not out in the open where every right-winger can see. it's called discpline and comrades should have it. Just shut up already.

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

Oh no, we couldn't have public political debate could we? Hide everything behind close doors, hush it up...sounds like a Stalinist approach to political debate.

Re: Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

This is not political debate, this is mud slinging.

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

Or hide everything behind an anonymous post - hi there fellow Stalinist!

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

a lack of transparency and honesty is a massive part of that which has kept humanity (and workers for that matter) so separated thus far..

being transparent keeps everyone honest

its admirable coming out with a statement like this.

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

Tim Bowron, Jasmine Fremantle, Nick Kelly...is anyone still left in the Workers Party except the old school Stalinists?

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

Yes there is. "Old school Stalinist", or any kind of Stalinist, would be the last term I would use to characterise the WP.
Cheers,
John

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

Public spats and undisciplined members, by that I mean petty insults in public rather than reasoned debate, is a sure recipe to ruin or cause a gaping wound in a political party.

Just look at what happened to the Alliance when petty personal attacks were played out in public two or three times. The party went from membership numbers in the tens of thousands and as many as 13 MPs (1996-1999) to just over 500 members and 0.08% of the vote in a short space of time.

It is very sad to see the Workers Party squabbling like this. Pull yourselves together!

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

The trainwreck involving my former comrades in the Victoria University branch of the Workers Party that is currently playing out on indymedia and in the pages of the student newspaper Salient is certainly a depressing spectacle - except of course for the denizens of the right wing political blogosphere who predictably enough are taking enormous pleasure from the whole debacle.

I don't propose to comment on any of the specific concrete issues here, as if I wanted that kind of pointless aggravation I wouldn't have needed to resign from active membership of the Workers Party back at the start of the year. All I can really say about the cycle of charges and counter-charges following on from the decision to expel VUWSA president Jasmine Freemantle from the WP is that neither side comes out looking particularly good.

However, I would like to venture some observations about what I see as the underlying causes driving this kind of self-destructive behavior on the left, which is by no means unique to the WP.

Firstly, as I've previously noted on this blog, for a variety of reasons New Zealand society at the moment is characterised by levels of class consciousness and struggle so low as to be almost non-existent. As such, any political organisation (whether revolutionary or reformist) that seeks to appeal to notions of collective solidarity or common interest and build mass support is likely to come up against the fairly solid and impassable barrier of public indifference and apathy.

This phenomenon of protracted political downturn has been responded to by left-wing organisations in this country during the past decade or two in a number of ways -

1. Hyper-activism - trying to galvanise the masses through sheer subjective willpower. Often accompanied by a watering down of political programs in order to boost the chances of generating "broad" appeal.

2. Sectarianism - a conservative strategy based on maintaining the apparatus of a political party or propaganda group with its own distinctive confessional statement of ideas and principles, which supposedly embodies the true interests of workers or "the residual memory of the class" despite the current absence of any working class political constituency.

3. Colonising the student- and trade-union bureaucracy - moving in to fill the void left by the political and organisational collapse of social democracy, in the hope that this will facilitate access to a wider political audience.

During my 10+ years of involvement in left politics, all of the organisations I have belonged to have incorporated at various times one or more of these strategic approaches.

On the face of things, all of these strategies have a certain logic to them. However, I would argue that the very phenomenon of political and social isolation which they seek to overcome in the end dooms all of these projects to failure.

The isolation of the left means that all of these groups are lacking in human resources and especially politically-experienced cadre, with the result that when (for instance) the left succeeds in capturing positions in trade unions or students' associations often their representatives are not equipped to competently discharge their responsibilities. In addition, simply by taking these positions the left do not overcome their isolation since for the most part the various collective "mass organisations" are in reality only paper tigers with very little participation from the rank-and-file.

Meanwhile, those who take the alternative route of hyper-activism soon burn-out and disillusion their members when the various "grassroots" campaigns fail to capture the popular imagination, while the proponents of the sectarian approach also lose members for simple lack of a compelling reason for anyone to stay (and hardly inspire many new members to join!).

Common to all of these strategies in my experience is the frustration that members inevitably feel at their continual political isolation. Often this leads individuals to increasingly rely on the organisation as a kind of social network and refuge. Unfortunately when some of these social networks or relationships break down, this can cause the organisation itself to become dysfunctional and for personal differences to be converted into political ones.

Thus we have petty personal squabbles blown-up into full-blown polemics, with the lines of battle determined by the ever-shifting bond of personal loyalties rather than any rational criteria.

Ultimately, there comes a point for most members (as there did for me) when these negative consequences flowing from trying to maintain a political organisation (with all the implicit additional requirements of a common program, publications etc) in a period of protracted political downturn simply outweigh all of the benefits (real or hypothetical).

At this point I think it is necessary to stand back and assess whether in fact it is worth it to dive back immediately into the political maelstrom, or whether it is better instead to await the coming in of a more propitious tide (i.e. a significant shift in the relation of social forces) before doing so.

Re: Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

" the coming in of a more propitious tide (i.e. a significant shift in the relation of social forces) before doing so."

You see, that's based on a completely unsubstantiated belief - that such a tide will ever "come" of its own accord. That's the same nonsense as the Alliance spouts when Jim Flynn talks about being a "party in waiting". It's exactly the same as Christians waiting for the second coming of Jesus, or perhaps Twelver Shi'ite Muslims waiting for the Mahdi.

Face facts. Anyone who's not politically active in whatever way seems best to them right now is guaranteeing (a) that the day "the tide turns" will be further away; (b) when it comes, they won't have a clue what to do about it.

Re: Re: Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

"Christians waiting for the second coming of Jesus"
Well, he did say he was going to return, several times, and Christianity has outlived any man-made political movement by centuries.

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

Yes there are a whole branch of young activists in Wellington

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

I didn’t realise that every single student at VUWSA was a committed socialist who wholeheartedly supported the Worker’s Party and all their sanctimonious bullshit infighting and hypocrisy. Because that’s the only reason I can see for the Worker’s Party to attempt to run the Students’ Association, an association committed to representing the Victoria University student body, and then throw their toys out of the pram when they couldn’t.

Also of note - while I still despise the Worker’s Party, I find it hilarious that the WP have excommunicated from the party a VUWSA President who was actually rebuilding their image with at least showing that socialists can separate their party politics from representing the people, while they openly praise the actions of a VUWSA President almost everyone at Vic Uni regards as a monumental cock. Way to win that student support, guys.

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

And if the Workers Party do not fall over, apologise and take Jasmine back into its disgraceful ranks Nick, what then?

Will you form a nice new party?

Return to your Labour party roots?

Or finally see the light and become an anarchist?

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

oh dear god don't let Nick turn anarchist, we couldn't take it.

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

'Or finally see the light and become an anarchist?'

There's yet another religious sect out there looking for converts, is there? Funny how 99.9% of the population never joins any of your churches...

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

At least Jasmine's accountable and honest with her dealings. Sure she's direct but at least she makes it clear where she stands. Lets not forget Cosgrove's a thief and a liar, he owes VUWSA members at least $1200 for travel to Melbourne last year and a report he didn't finish - other than a draft report - most of that was plagirised.

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

Also its important to remember that she is working within a mainstream context in the interests of a diverse range of students. She was able to save three jobs that Cosgrove tried to remove at VUWSA last year. At least Jasmine and the three Vice Presidents are actually re-establishing some credibility at VUWSA. VUWSA was in a state of chaos under the previous two presidents.

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

'true socialist' sounds very much like Nick Kelly

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

it is his phrasing, inside information,bias, and likely choice of pseudonym

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

" ...a state of chaos under the previous two presidents."

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

So things were presumably all good at VUWSA under the president before that.

Now who was that again?

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

i find it amazing that some feel there is a slump in social awareness,

many people i know are going thru increasingly rapid changes in themselves, as well as noticing changes in the social climate nationally and internationally.

self awareness is very important in terms of relating to others,

honest interpersonal dynamics are easily smothered by having to adhere to a group consensus,

in other words how can we understand societal dynamics if we don't understand our interpersonal dynamics.

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

awesome

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

I see that Jasmine has just enlisted the assistance of the Dominion Post in her crusade against the Workers Party. That's going a bit far. Guess I have to revise my political support for her.

Re: Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

A real change of heart or an imposter?

Re: Re: Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

revising only political support?

Re: Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

I see that Jasmine has just enlisted the assistance of the Dominator Post in her crusade against the Workers Party. No surprises there. Guess I have to reinforce my lack of political support for her.

Re: Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

Oh, does Jasmine run the Doinion Post now?

Re: Re: Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

No but she has suspended the VUWSA receptionist for not driving her somewhere

Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

You can't preach socialism and then behave like a scum capitalist employer and seriously think you can get away with it. If it was any other employer (yes, Jasmine is an employer) we'd be standing on the picket line demanding the immediate reinstatement of staff and employment conditions. If anything, expelling Jasmine has given me greater respect for the WP.

Re: Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

Absolutely agree, a real insult to left-feminist politics. Miss Freemantle is absolutely no feminist. Some of the accounts coming from observers are shocking. She has already spent over $20,000 of VUWSA money (i.e. ours) on a solicitor to attack VUWSA staff, she has unilaterally - without warning sent staff home for the flimsiest of reasons, her executive members are kept ignorant - so they don't even realise what's actually going on. I think she should be made to leave!!!

Re: Re: Re: An open letter to the Workers Party

The students are the only ones who can make her leave. According to the VUWSA constitution:

"The Executive, or any member thereof, shall resign when called upon to do so by a two-thirds majority of those members present and voting at a Special General Meeting called for that purpose."