Sunday, 30 June 2019

The Socialist Workers Party is Infiltrating Extinction Rebellion

To any political activists on the left who have been involved with the British SWP in various campaigns, this post will come as no great surprise. This is their modus operandi after all.

Written by Alan Story 

I was an active member of Extinction Rebellion (XR) in Sheffield in the UK. I joined in mid-January 2019 and we in XR Sheffield met EVERY Monday evening - quite impressive for a new group, for a vegan meal followed by a planning meeting. I found them a friendly bunch and think we accomplished quite a lot as we'd try to do “our bit” to challenge climate change.

However, a few of us began to wonder why an increasing number of members from the local branch of the Socialist Workers Party were attending our meetings? 

At a meeting on 29 April, for example, eight or nine SWPers walked into our meeting and took up strategic positions around the cramped room. Perhaps that kind of thing happens at sessions of 300 people in London. But in Sheffield? And on the global warming issue?

Later that same evening the apparent mystery was explained. I was forwarded an e-mail sent the week before from SWP HQ in London to all SWP members in the UK. The orders were clear: climate change is the SWP’s issue of the moment and Extinction Rebellion is the SWP’s flavour of the month.

The entire e-mail is copied in below. A few phrases give you a sense of what’s being planned. “GO TO YOUR XR MEETING” (boldface) – and get stuck in! … get yourself added to whatsapp groups and mailings lists ….we will have a model motion and self- sign out soon…make sure you have [SWP] materials for the [next] Youth Strike 4 Climate…INVITE XR TO SPEAK AT AN SWP MEETING ( boldface).” The 29 April issue of the SWP’s ‘Party Notes’ gives 500 further words of detailed and ‘crucial’ instructions to the troops.

The subtext and the objectives are clear. If we play our cards right, we just might have another SWP front group by autumn. Mind you, what to call it is still to be resolved. Should it be called ‘STAND UP TO CLIMATE CHANGE’ or ‘THE STOP CLIMATE CHANGE COALITION.’? The SWP’s national secretary Charlie Kimber will make that decision later.

But if the SWP’s top brass is certain that it needs the UK’s rapidly blossoming climate change movement for fresh recruitment fodder, does that movement, including XR, need the SWP? For three briefly-stated reasons (among others), I say a firm ‘NO’.

1) On the one hand, it is very clear that the anti-climate change movement needs radical ideas. And such ideas - ecosocialist, socialist, green, anarchist, Marxist and so forth - should be welcomed. Capitalism cannot solve the climate change crisis. To be frank: I am worried that a significant number of politically inexperienced anti-climate change activists will be overly cautious about debating and discussing radical and socialist ideas if the tired bromides from the SWP are taken to represent the best of the UK left and of contemporary radical thought and practice. They don’t. An anti-radical/ anti-communist/ no politics please backlash is a real worry.

2) But while new ideas are definitely required, what XR does NOT need is an outside organisation of experienced and disciplined political operators to enter it with the usual SWP objectives in mind: recruiting new members, manipulation, stirring up disputes and splits, capturing leadership roles and the like. (To even begin to list and explain the more than eight splits, ‘re-groupings’, break-aways, mass resignations, splinters and ideological ‘dust–ups’ within the SWP during the past 15 years would take a treatise…and a thick one at that.) XR does not need a split yeasted up by a group’s who feeds on division, as well as by infiltration.

3) And speaking of infiltration: environmental groups - and many other political groups on the left - have long been the target of infiltration by police agents and agent provocateurs. It became such a scandal that the UK government was forced to set up the ‘Undercover Policing Inquiry’ in 2015. Check out the long list of groups which evidence has shown were infiltrated:

Only the most na├»ve would believe such infiltration has ceased. What target would be more obvious today than XR? It has had more than 1,000 members and supporters arrested in the past 16 days. As a 71-year-old socialist who has been activist on the left since 1965, let me pass on a word of advice to my former XR colleagues: you need to “up your game” when it comes to shutting out infiltrators from the BOTH the police and the SWP.

Alan Story is a member of Sheffield Green Party and has now left Extinction Rebellion for unrelated reasons to this post. 


Text of the email sent out (on official SWP digital stationery) on Thursday, 25 April 2019 at 16:10 by the SWP head office in London to their members across the UK.



Dear comrades:

The Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests over the last week mark a big shift. Their scale and size is very impressive, and the protests have shown that mass action can shift the debate on climate change.

Socialist Worker has some very good coverage of the XR here, including an important article by Alex Callinicos. As the SWP we have been part of the protests from the beginning, and in many places we are part of local XR groups. It’s crucial that the party continues to do this.

Below are 5 ways you can relate to XR in your local area:

1. Go to your local XR meeting - and get stuck in! XR report that around 30,000 people have joined them in the last few weeks. This means local XR meetings are likely to be big and full of new people - comrades report 300 at the Bristol XR meeting last night! The meetings might sometimes be in different formats but it is worth being part of them. Find your local Extinction Rebellion page on facebook, get yourself added to whatsapp groups and mailing lists. We should be part of outreach groups - we will have a model motion and self-sign outsoon.

2. Can you set up a wider meeting on climate change in your area? The SWP has played an important role in the climate movement over the years, especially within the Campaign against Climate Change (CaCC). Comrades have helped initiate a meeting in central London tonight with CaCC, XR, school strikers and Green New Deal activists. Can you do something similar in your area?

3. Youth Strike 4 Climate, Friday 24 May: The next student strike has been announced as 24May. Make sure you have materials for the strike. But also see if you can get in touch with the students organising it to build up support among trade unions and the public.

4. Trump Protest. The protest against Donald Trump’s visit has been announced for Tuesday 4 June. It organised by Together Against Trump, a coalition including Stand Up to Racism and CaCC. Local initiatives will be taking place - can you invite XR to be part of them?

5. Invite XR to speak at an SWP meeting. Lots of branches have had XR speak at SWP meetings on System Change not Climate Change with an XR speaker alongside an SWP one.

If you want to discuss any of these initiatives, please speak to Lewis or Amy in the National Office on 0207 840 5600. And let us know how you get on!

In solidarity



  1. Your analysis is mostly right. Leadership roles is what they go for and they think they can turn on and off campaigns and events at the drop of a hat. Seen them do it, over the years, and I was once a member of them. The organisation is despicable and only interested in itself.

  2. are you just saying all this alan because you got thrown out of XR. We as a party do not force our politics onto other people, only tell them about who we are and its up to them if they want to know more or not.

  3. Sounds like sour grapes. Weren't you kicked out by XR independently of any SWP involvement?

  4. The leaked email speaks for itself - though will surprise hardly anyone. XR should be wary.

  5. Geordie Socialist3 July 2019 at 04:56

    The SWP have long history of infiltrating movements and usually fucking them up! In Newcastle-upon-Tyne they gave names and details of unaligned Left and Anarcho people to the police. Then again there is Comrade Delta! SWP are basically a cult!

  6. 1) How could it be “Sour grapes”?“

    I wrote this piece on My Facebook page back in April ( when I was a very active member of XR in Sheffield.)

    Mike has reprinted it here two months later … because I assume he, like me, has seen too much self-interested SWP infiltration and SWP attempted capture tactics over the years.

    2) More info on the role of the SWP in XE has just been leaked to me.
    I will pass it on here in the next 24-36 hours.