[Adopted at Socialist Party National Conference 18-20 March 2022]
- The Socialist Party and our international organisation, the International Socialist Alternative (ISA), are committed to the struggle of the working class and all the oppressed for socialist change by overthrowing capitalism as a system, and all the injustices and inequalities that this system perpetuates. In joining the Socialist Party and the ISA, members commit themselves to this struggle to change society. Building a revolutionary force for socialist change is harmed when the divisions and prejudices created by class society find expression within our own organisation. The prejudices institutionalised by capitalism are an obstacle to building a united revolutionary party with roots in the diverse working class. This is especially true if individuals identified with oppressed sections of society face harassment from other members of the Socialist Party.
- The Party and all its members have a responsibility to provide an environment, replete with solidarity, camaraderie and respect, that allows for and encourages full participation of all members. We commit to waging an ongoing struggle, including within our own ranks, against sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, sectarianism and other forms of prejudice. Waging this struggle is inextricable from our socialist feminism and our anti-oppression programme that features in all aspects of our theoretical work, perspective discussions and action. Preventing harassment and fostering a safe internal environment requires discussions in every level of the Party, including on our policy and procedures. We take a discussion orientated approach that strives to develop members’ understanding and approach on issues of oppression. We expect all our members to be open to this.
- The code of conduct holds Socialist Party members to a high standard of conduct and behaviour. Certain behaviour that may be tolerated in other social contexts may not be considered acceptable or be tolerated within the Socialist Party. Breach of this code will be taken very seriously and could be investigated under safeguarding and/or harassment policies. In serious cases disciplinary action may be taken by the National Committee and/or National Executive Committee.
- The purpose of this code is primarily to ensure the safety and wellbeing of comrades, prospective members, and those in contact with our members through the work of the party. This code seeks to guide behaviour, and ensure accountability. This code aims to allow comrades to feel at ease and to create an environment where comrades can develop their talents and build the party and further the struggle for socialist change. Behaviour that stems from oppressive, prejudiced ideas, ideas that are rooted in capitalism, are a barrier to this. If you have suggestions as to how the Code might be improved, please contact the Designated Safeguarding Officers, a branch committee member or a member of the National Committee or National Executive Committee.
(iii) General principles and approach :
- 5. Sexual harassment is utterly unacceptable and will not be tolerated by the Socialist Party. [Definition of the same contained here]. The Party does not tolerate harassment or any mistreatment of or by comrades on the basis of sex, gender, race, colour, nationality, ethnic/ national origin, ancestry, community background, citizenship, beliefs, political experience, age, disability or medical condition, sexual orientation, body-type or marital status. Members are encouraged and requested to come forward with complaints on discriminatory behaviour in the party if such behaviour occurs.
- 6. Members commit to ongoing political education and development, including in regards to the roots of oppression, and how that relates to building our forces in the diverse working class. Part of the latter involves being aware of the fact that we have been all been conditioned by capitalist society that is inherently sexist, racist and oppressive and that there can as a result be a gap between our socialist values, and our behaviours — being conscious of this and challenging our attitudes as individual comrades can aid us all to collectively foster an environment inside the Party and working class movement that is conducive to really struggling against any vestiges of the damaging and divisive impact of sexism, racism and other prejudices.
- 7. Members commit to treating all members, contacts and supporters with respect and dignity. No member will take part in any physical, sexual, psychological, verbal or online harassment. No member will take part, neither online or in person, in any discriminatory or bullying behaviour, including but not limited to gaslighting, victim-blaming and body-shaming*. Sexist, racist, ageist, ableist, sectarian, xenophobic or language considered offensive to the LGBT+ Community will not be tolerated. As a working class political force, we strive to pay extra attention to aiding the political development of comrades from diverse backgrounds. Part of this can include ensuring our political development process caters for a wide range of comrades including those with less formal educational attainment, and those who are different types of learners.
- 8. Members commit to promoting an atmosphere of political professionalism and comradely behaviour within the Party in every arena of our work, and to speak up if that commitment is violated by others. A central part of this professionalism is treating others with respect — this includes refraining from gossip and recognising and respecting other people’s boundaries — in person and online. Professionalism requires members to seek to always prioritise the central purpose of all our work, namely the political tasks of forwarding the struggles, organisation and consciousness of the working class and the oppressed, building the revolutionary party and advancing the struggle for socialism. Acting with professionalism also requires that comrades are cognisant of the fact that their words and actions, both online and offline reflect on the Party.
- 9. Members commit to representing the Party seriously: this means refraining from abuse of intoxicating substances at Party events and refraining from other types of behaviour that could reasonably be considered inappropriate. Being under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs is never an excuse for inappropriate or abusive behaviour.
- 10. Members commit to participate in investigations into conduct as requested, understanding that any proposed measures or decisions in relation to their own behaviour are of the utmost importance for their political development. Members also commit to the party’s overall approach towards safeguarding as outlined in our policy and procedure documents — this includes raising any concerns through the identified channels and refraining from speculation or gossip about safeguarding issues .
(iv) Expectation of branches and members:
- 11. Branch Committees must consciously work to create an atmosphere that is welcoming. This means supporting and encouraging everyone’s political development and fostering an environment in which discriminatory behaviour is clearly rejected.
- 12. Members of Branch Committees must be attuned to the interactions within the branch and consciously intervene to promote an atmosphere of comradely behaviour. This must not be dismissed as a menial task of simply ensuring amicable relations amongst members, but needs to be seen as crucial to our maturation into an effective revolutionary force. In doing so, our leading members also help maintain an inclusive and respectful environment that is welcoming and accessible to a diverse range of people.
- 13. The best way to conduct initial contact with people wishing to find out more about or join the party (known as ‘contacts’) should be carefully considered. Branch Committees and all members should make every effort to ensure contacts are made to feel comfortable, particularly when they first meet comrades for political discussion. It is best practice for two comrades to meet contacts. Consideration should be given to gender and age dynamics which can affect this e.g. if discussing with a young woman about perhaps joining the Socialist Party, at least one of the comrades involved should preferably be a young woman.
- 14. Comrades must recognise that a prospective member may have expectations of political professionalism when attending a contact discussion. Comrades should ensure that their conduct is such that they meet any reasonable expectations.
- 15. In the interests of fostering a professional approach and an atmosphere that is as conducive as possible for contacts to become party activists, and for new members to develop their role, contacts should not be approached by any party members to seek a romantic / sexual connection. This should also be the approach in relation to new members / members who have not yet been successfully integrated into the organisation.
- 16. Members are asked to raise any safeguarding concerns that they may have, and to bring forward reports of harassment that they may have observed or may have been informed of, whether they have learned about such reports in a formal or informal manner. This must be done in a way that does not contradict the rights of confidentiality as outlined in our safeguarding policies and procedures.
- 17. Comrades should not comment on others’ personal lives or intimate relationships either directly or indirectly. Comrades should not make sexualised or suggestive comments regarding a person’s physical appearance. Comrades should never touch another person on an intimate part of their body without their prior consent.
- 18. Comrades should also be aware of the age difference that exists between them and others and acknowledge that often, romantic advances from a significantly older person can make the other person feel uncomfortable. There is also a potential power imbalance implied where there is a significant age difference between people.
- 19. When a comrade is informed by another that they have caused hurt or offence they should acknowledge this with regret, and where appropriate, apologise.
- 20. The party takes a zero tolerance approach to certain behaviour, regardless of whether a comrade is in a party-organised or affiliated event, or whether the other person is a member or affiliate. These behaviours are not tolerated by the party under any circumstances. This includes, but is not limited to; serious assault (unless in self-defence); sexual offences; offences against children; human trafficking; domestic or intimate partner violence or abuse; stalking; offences aggravated by discriminatory elements. Any such gross misconduct will be considered to be a serious disciplinary matter.
(v) Expectations of Those in Leadership Positions
- 21. Members playing leading roles commit to an even higher level of professionalism including, but not limited to, awareness of potential power differential (including but not exclusively related to age, political experience within the organisation, gender and racial power dynamics etc), sensitivity to various interpersonal dynamics, and so there is a particular onus on leading members to be acutely aware of their political responsibilities and exercise heightened caution when it comes to engaging in romantic/sexual relationships with members of the Party.
- 22. All members of the party must be held to high standards of conduct, whether they are in leadership positions or not. However, members with positions of authority within the party or within the wider workers’ movement must demonstrate an even higher level of professionalism, comradely behaviour, and rejection of sexism and other forms of oppression than we would expect of anyone else. This is a key part of building an organisation where sexism is not accepted.
- 23. Our leadership is elected on their political merits, but this must also take into account their ability to exemplify revolutionary socialist politics both in public and inside the organisation with all of their comrades. This includes understanding and practicing respect and consent in their private / personal relationships. No comrade’s perceived authority or role can or will be prioritised over their behaviour in instances of harassment or abuse.
(vi) Definitions and scope of the Code of Conduct
24. The use of the term “comrade(s)” refers to member(s) of the Socialist Party. The use of the term “the party” refers to the Socialist Party, the section of the International Socialist Alternative on the island of Ireland. “Contact” denotes prospective Party members. The code particularly applies to interactions with all members and prospective members of the party, those connected with the Party through affiliated organisations and anyone who comrades interact with in relation to or as a result of the work of the Party. This code applies to all members and no member is exempt for any reason. Comrades are expected to adhere to the code of conduct when acting on behalf of or representing the Socialist Party both formally and informally, or in attendance at an event organised by or connected with the Socialist Party. This includes internal or public meetings, events which the party is intervening into, party social events or social events which have been informally arranged but which include a group of comrades and extends to online analogues such as messenger groups or public forums. This code applies at international events, where the Socialist Party may be represented as the Irish section of the International Socialist Alternative, and at any international events organised by other organisations that Socialist Party activists may participate in. Moreover, just as the struggle for socialist change at the heart of Party membership is a constant one, Socialist Party members are expected to behave in a manner that is consistent with the values of respect and consent embedded in our approach, in all arenas, and serious breaches of this approach including at spaces not delineated above, may also be considered a breach of the Code. If comrades feel that their circumstances are such that a certain aspect of the Code may not apply they should seek advice from Safeguarding Officers (SGOs), members of the National Executive Committee (NEC), National Committee (NC) or other leading comrades. Nonetheless, those codes which may not apply are limited and the Party reserves the right to hold any comrade to account in this respect.
We ask that all Socialist Party members regularly familiarise themselves with this Code of Conduct and other documents below that the Code of Conduct works in tandem with, and should be read alongside. All new members of the Socialist Party should be furnished with these documents and they should be regularly discussed inside the organisation, and they must be reviewed no less than every two years by the National Committee of the Socialist Party.
*If you don’t understand any of the terms used, please ask a member of your Branch Committee, a member of the National Committee, or a Safeguarding Officer
Safeguarding officers elected 2022 Socialist Party Conference — EV, ED, DW — contactable on firstname.lastname@example.org