3 March 1997
I am writing to report a serious incident which took place before the London election rally on Tuesday 25 February.
I saw an altercation taking place in the small foyer area at the Red Lion Square entrance to Conway Hall where the rally was to take place. Wanting to intervene to stop an incident outside our rally which could be detrimental to the reputation of the SLP I went into the foyer area.
On arriving in the foyer area I saw SLP member Tony Goss attacking a paper seller of another organisation. In an attempt to defuse the situation I placed myself between these two to prevent Goss from hitting the other person, as he appeared likely to do this and may in fact have already done so by the time I arrived. I was joined in this action by NEC comrade Terry Dunn.
Tony Goss then directed his anger at me calling me, among other things, scum and threatening to hit me. Other comrades put themselves between Goss and myself and Goss was unable to carry out his threat beyond some minor pushing and shoving between him and myself though he continued to threaten me. During the general scuffle which lasted for some minutes I saw Tony Goss hit other people and he had to be restrained by various people, including myself, on a number of occasions. In fact Goss appeared to be only source of the violence in the foyer.
I was shocked by this behaviour and I am very angry that Goss threatened to hit me.
I did not see or hear the exhange between Goss and the paper seller which led to Goss' outburst but even if Goss considered he had been insulted I do not believe that such violence has a place in the workers movement as a means of resolving differences of opinion. The attack on me by Tony Goss was completely unprovoked and must be dealt with if the SLP is serious about building a healthy political movement of the working class.
I would point out that this is the second time I have seen Tony Goss threaten other SLP members with violence though last Tuesday he went further and was actually hitting people. At one of the last meetings of the subsequently disbanded South London wide branch of the SLP Tony Goss had a ruling as chair overruled and stormed out of the meeting abusing all and sundry. As he left the room he threatened a comrade and asked them to step outside. This incident did not develop beyond a verbal threat but his method of resorting to physical imtimidation to resolve political differences was made clear to me at that time and the incident on Tuesday has only reinforced that. I do not believe that such behaviour is compatible with membership of the SLP.
Before joining the SLP I had never witnessed such a scene at any left wing meeting I had been at and it sounds more in keeping with stories I have heard about the infamous WRP under Healy's reign than anything associated with a healthy worker's organisation. I therefore call on the NEC to take appropriate disciplinary steps against Tony Goss to prevent any repeat of this type of incident.
Passed by Hampstead & Highgate CSLP, 12 March 1997
We note with concern reports of an altercation outside the Conway Hall meeting of London members on February 25 involving SLP London election co-ordinator Tony Goss. Whatever justification Mr Goss may have for his actions we deplore the use of physical intimidation to resolve political differences. We call on the NEC to take appropriate disciplinary steps against Mr Goss to prevent any repeat of this type of incident.
Letter to the Secretary of Hamstead & Highgate CSLP, 19 March 1997
I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 13th March 1997 regarding events which it is alleged took place on the evening of Tuesday, 25 February 1997 at the Conway Hall in London.
The NEC did discuss this matter and on the basis of the evidence before us took a completely different view from that expressed in your constituency resolution.
It is always a matter of concern that many people within the party are using more energy in what can only be described as internal warfare rather than co-ordinating every ounce of energy we have in campaigning during the forthcoming General Election where we are standing nearly 70 candidates and in the ongoing struggles such as the protest by the opencast campaign group where five of our members were arrested for taking extra-parliamentary action.
A. Scargill, General Secretary