The LPF’s statement responding to the charges
To DSP NE investigation commission
Statement by the LPF National Steering Committee on disciplinary charges against five LPD members and ‘the LPF as a whole’ (adopted April 20)
On April 7, DSP National Executive member Alex Bainbridge brought charges against the “LPF as a whole” (i.e., all of its members) of having violated the following constitutionally specified obligations of DSP membership (Article 4, Paragraph 2):
“a. To be loyal to the DSP and its aims.
“b. To place all of their political activity under the direction of the DSP and to engage in the work of the DSP to the best of their ability.
“c. To carry out their political activity to the best of their ability in accordance with the Constitution and decisions of the national and local governing bodies of the DSP, even if they have argued and/or voted against those decisions.
“e. To conduct themselves in a manner which does not bring the DSP into public disrepute.”
An identical set of charges has also been brought by Comrade Bainbridge against LPF members Zoe Kenny, Marcus Pabian, John Percy, Owen Richards and Kerry Vernon. Notification of these charges was emailed to each LPF member on April 9-10 by DSP National Executive member Lisa Macdonald on behalf of the commission established by the NE to investigate the charges under Article 4, Paragraph 11. Other than this notification, no other communication has so far been sent by this commission to any of the accused members.
The “charge sheet” does not indicate what the specific act/s the five accused LPF members or all of the members of the LPF are alleged to have committed those are in violation of the above clauses of the DSP constitution. However, specific accusations of “violating DSP discipline” and the DSP constitution are made against the five LPF members and the LPF “as a whole” by Comrade Bainbridge in his “Report to DSP branches about the conduct of LPF members at the Sydney AVSN annual general meeting on 5-4-08” (sent out to all DSP branch secretaries/organisers by DSP national secretary Peter Boyle on April 7 “to be relayed to your branch members for their information about the charges laid today”).
In Comrade Bainbridge’s report, the LPF “as a whole” is accused of “organising its members to violate the Constitution of the DSP” because two of the charged five LPF members (Zoe Kenny and John Percy) are members of the LPF national steering committee. To bring charges of violating the constitution of the DSP against the entire membership of the LPF because of the alleged actions of two members of the LPF NSC is a grotesque example of guilt by association.
In his report, Comrade Bainbridge accuses Comrade Pabian of having violated “DSP discipline” because, in attending the April 5 Sydney AVSN AGM, Comrade Pabian allegedly ignored the decision of the Sydney Central branch executive to “suspend Marcus’s assignment to the Lain American Solidarity Fraction” (i.e., participation in this DSP committee, not to “suspend his assignment to AVSN work” as Comrade Bainbridge alleges in his report).
Comrade Bainbridge’s accusation against Comrade Pabian ignores the fact that the report on AVSN projections adopted by the April 1 Sydney Central branch meeting (which is a higher decision-making body than the branch executive) explicitly encouraged “everyone to come on Saturday” to the AVSN AGM, not “everyone except Comrade Pabian”. So the allegation that Comrade Pabian violated “DSP discipline” by attending the Sydney AVSN AGM is false.
In his report, Comrade Bainbridge accuses Comrade Percy of violating “DSP discipline” for attending the Sydney AVSN AGM without having contacted Comrade Bainbridge to be “briefed on our AVSN projections”, as recommended to all branch members unable to attend the April 1 branch meeting in an email sent to all branch members by branch executive member Trish Corcoran prior to the branch meeting.
It is true that Comrade Percy did not attend the April 1 branch meeting. Nor did he contact Comrade Bainbridge to get “briefed” on the branch meeting’s decisions on projections for AVSN work before doing so. However, a written copy of the report adopted by the branch meeting was forwarded on April 3 by branch executive member Adam Leeman to Comrade Pabian, which he posted on the LPF e-list for the information of all LPF members in Sydney. Comrade Percy (as the moderator of this e-list) was therefore fully informed of the Sydney Central branch’s adopted “projections” for AVSN work. What more about the branch meeting’s adopted projections for AVSN work could a “briefing” from Comrade Bainbridge provide Comrade Percy?
Comrade Bainbridge’s report accuses comrades Kenny, Pabian, Percy, Richards and Vernon of having violated “DSP discipline” because they “voted for” a motion presented to the AVSN AGM that read in part “That this AGM endorse the building of campus AVSN clubs”. Comrade Kenny however did not vote for this motion as she was not present at the Sydney AVSN AGM when the vote on it was taken (having had to leave the meeting before the vote was taken).
Comrade Bainbridge’s report alleges that, in presenting this motion to the AVSN AGM, Comrade Pabian violated “DSP discipline”, and that in voting for the motion comrades Pabian, Percy, Richards and Vernon violated “DSP discipline’ – because the Sydney Central BM adopted a report that opposed presenting such a motion to AVSN AGM.
It is certainly true that in presenting such a motion to the Sydney AVSN AGM, Comrade Pabian violated the constitutional obligation of DSP members to “carry out their political activity … in accordance with the … decisions of the … local governing bodies of the DSP, even if they have argued and/or voted against those decisions”, i.e., he acted in explicit contravention to the Sydney Central branch meeting decision to reject presenting such a motion to the AVSN AGM. It is also true that, in voting for the motion presented by Comrade Pabian to the AVSN AGM, comrades Percy, Richards and Vernon similarly violated their constitutional obligation to “carry out their political activity … in accordance with the … decisions of the … local governing bodies of the DSP, even if they have argued and/or voted against those decisions”.
But none of these comrades violated the constitutional obligation of DSP members to “carry out their political activity to the best of their ability in accordance with the Constitution and decisions of the national … governing bodies of the DSP, even if they have argued and/or voted against those decisions”.
In November 2004, the DSP National Committee made a decision that DSP members “try and set up Venezuela solidarity clubs/committees on every campus where they are active” and that, “We should be single-minded about this”. This decision has not been rescinded or overridden by any subsequent meeting of the DSP National Committee or by either of the two DSP congresses held since November 2004, and therefore remains DSP national policy.
The constitution of the DSP (Article 4, Paragraph 6) states that “Decisions by higher bodies shall be binding on lower bodies, and on every member of those bodies.” The accusation that, in presenting a motion to the Sydney AVSN AGM seeking to have it endorse the building of campus AVSN clubs, Comrade Pabian violated “DSP discipline” and the constitutional obligations of DSP membership is therefore false. So too is the accusation that, in voting for this motion, the other charged LPF members violated “DSP discipline” and the constitutional obligations of DSP membership.
The LPF national steering committee discussed and endorsed, in advance of the Sydney AVSN AGM, Comrade Pabian’s action in presenting a motion to that meeting that it endorse the building of campus AVSN clubs. As Comrade Pabian’s action was not a violation of “DSP discipline” and his constitutional obligations as a DSP member, this decision was entirely within the constitutional framework of the DSP. The accusation made by Comrade Bainbridge upon which he has based his charges against the “LPF as a whole”, is therefore false.
LPF national convenor
On behalf of LPF national steering committee