by Rosalind Robson
The 17 July 2013 issue of The Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party) carried a feature “End Violence Against Women”.
The feature included an extract from a booklet by Christine Thomas about the social attitudes which underpin violence against women, an account of the Campaign Against Domestic Violence (a 1990s campaign set up by the Socialist Party’s forerunner the Militant Tendency), and a list of demands to tackle violence against women.
There are some problems with Thomas’s book (Women and the Struggle for Socialism) which are worth debating (for instance her attitude to sex workers organising is inconsistent). However the printed extract (and much of what else is available online) was, in general, thoughtful. Heather Rawling’s account of the CADV was also fair enough, although she might have emphasised how CADV was just part of those efforts in the 1990s to get the trade unions to take domestic violence seriously.
Then someone from the Socialist Party’s editorial team deemed it necessary to tack on a series of demands. Most are not so much wrong as perfunctory and shallow. Everything demanded is defined as “decent” — “decent support”, “decent housing”, “decent education”. If we are being honest, “decent” is the stock word revolutionaries use when don’t know enough or have time enough to work out anything more specific. A shame, as there is plenty of very concrete analysis in the articles.
But worse than this is the formulaic politics of the Socialist Party. Almost the grand finale (before “a socialist alternative to class and sex inequality”… to be achieved by joining the Socialist Party) is a call for “a 24 hour general strike against the cuts”.
A concerted fight against all the cuts would help fight the 30% cuts (last year) in DV services. But a 24 hour general strike is not the equivalent of a concerted fight back.
Nor is it a perspective to build a concerted fight back. What comes after the 24 hour strike? In reality the SP don’t think the demand is possible to win in the unions, nor do they do much to actively fight for it. The demand is just a Socialist Party “badge”, a way to look and sound militant.
Perhaps the Socialist Party are feeling under pressure? They certainly should be feeling shame at helping (along with the SWP) to lose a vote at Unison conference which would have strengthened that union’s policy on tackling violence against women.
Cathy Nugent is editor of the Workers’ Liberty paper Solidarity