Left Inquiry Urged Into Allegations Made About Sexual Misconduct of Late, Former Leader of Parties that Devolved Into Today's Socialist Alliance in Australia


The following items were posted over the course of the past year or so onto the Facebook page of The Australian Radical Leftist Network.   I have decided that the importance of the issues raised within the material posted to that Facebook page demands wider exposure in the left media in this country, and possibly abroad.   Therefore I am initially forwarding slightly-edited copies of these posts to the (Perth) Indymedia site in Australia.

- Graham Milner



Graham Milner:  February 16, 2015

Over the past months I have drawn attention on this page to allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against James Percy, the late, former national secretary/president of the forerunner organisations of today's Socialist Alliance in Australia.   In the messages I have posted on this page I have cited the sources I have for this alleged misconduct, including two women members of Percy's party; a former staff journalist on the party (Socialist Workers' League/Socialist Workers' Party) paper 'Direct Action', and a former senior leader of the party's youth organisation, as well as my own eye-witness testimony and the corroborative statements of a former national co-convenor of the Socialist Alliance, who worked for many years in the national office of Percy's party while the latter was national leader.   I have urged the Socialist Alliance to investigate the allegations against James Percy, or as an alternative I have suggested that a left tribunal be established to mount an inquiry.


Thus far there has been no response at all from the Socialist Alliance to my suggestions for an inquiry.   It is conceivable that the Socialist Alliance considers it to be inappropriate to put someone 'on trial' who has been dead for over twenty years.   But in Percy's case we are not discussing some minor figure in the party's history.   James Percy, while alive,  was the central leader of the political organisation under review: he was instrumental in foundng the socialist youth group Resistance in Sydney in the 1960s; he played a central role in promoting the formation of the adult party - the Socialist Workers League - in 1972, and he remained the national leader of the overall tendency until he died in the early 1990s.


It seems, from the testimony of those who worked with James Percy in the national office of his movement, and from my own observations too from that vantage point, that Percy (to some extent alongside his older brother John) operated something akin to a 'court' in the Percyite national office.   The sexual transgressions alleged fairly clearly flowed on from that situation.   The fact that there has been no attempt by anyone in the Socialist Alliance to refute any of the allegations raised against James Percy on this page indicates to me that they are true.   I must observe that I myself had little doubt about this state of affairs, but I would have been more content to witness a formal, properly-constituted inquiry set in motion, either by SA or by the left as a whole.


It is clear to me that James Percy was possibly at least as much of a sleazebag on the sexual front as was Gerry Healy - the notorious general secretary of the British 'Workers' Revolutionary Party' (formerly Socialist Labour League), who was expelled from his party in the mid-1980s for predatory sexual behaviour towards young female members of the WRP and its youth organisation - behaviour that was almost exactly similar to the alleged predations by James Percy against young Resistance and Percy-party women in Australia.   The difference of course is that Healy's offences were discovered and he was expelled, whereas the allegations of similar offences against Percy have never been investigated.


I understand that James Percy's gravestone, situated in a cemetery outside Sydney, has engraved on it a quotation from Leon Trotsky's 'Testament', drafted in 1940, not long before the great Russian revolutionary was murdered in exile by a Stalinist assassin: 'Life is Beautiful.   Let the Future Generations Cleanse It of All Evil, Oppression and Violence, and Enjoy It to the Full'.   That quotation conveys a wonderful and uplifting sentiment, but what is it doing on James Percy's tombstone?    Apart from the fact that Percy and his political tendency in Australia abandoned all but the most informal connections with the revolutionary Marxist movement and with Trotsky's ideas many decades ago, the allegations of serious sexual abuse of young, female members of his political group throughout his period of tenure as leader of his outfit, if proven, would disqualify him from meriting any legitimate connection with the revolutionary socialist movement at all.


Comment:  Peter Galvin   No one is exempt, even Marx himself would be ostracised if proven to be a sexual predator.

                   Graham Milner   I don't believe there is any evidence that Karl Marx was a sexual predator.   It is generally acknowledged, as a result of comments by his friend and comrade Frederick Engels on the latter's deathbed, that Marx was at times unfaithful to his partner Jenny and that Marx fathered a son by the Marx family's house-servant Helena Demuth.   Engels had taken responsibility for the paternity of Freddie Demuth at the time of the latter's birth.   Surely though these facts constitute a minor blemish on Marx's part compared with the allegations of wholesale debauchery engaged in by the grotesquely-overweight satyr James Percy.   It does not require a great deal of imagination to get the drift of the primary orientation of the student organisation founded by Percy and his older brother John at Sydney University in the mid-late 1960s, from its acronym 'S.C.R.E.W'.   But don't get me wrong: I am no wowser.   What I do object to very strongly however, is the abuse of political power to gain sexual advantage over young female members of a movement like Percy's party and its youth organisation in particular.   Just like the personal excesses of Gerry Healy, with that cult figure's predatory sexual activities so evident in the SLL/WRP while Healy led that outfit, James Percy's sleazy sexual liaisons behind closed doors in his movement's national office (if these allegations prove true) indicate a similar degree of political degeneration. 


Graham Milner:  November 9, 2014

I have posted several items onto this page concerning allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against James Percy, the late , former national secretary/president of the group that now goes under the name 'Socialist Alliance' in Australia.   Two of these items are still on the page, dated September 13 and June 30.   No-one in the Socialist Alliance has made any attempt to answer the serious allegations about Percy raised by former 'Direct Action' staff journalist Maria Rabbone and published on this page.


A month or two ago I corresponded by Facebook with someone living in NSW whom I remembered from my time in the Sydney branch of the Percy outfit (then called the Socialist Workers Party) in 1980-81.   This person, who was a senior leader of the party's youth organisation Resistance at that time, confirmed the substance of Rabbone's allegations about James Percy when I described them to her.   In fact she went further, and made it clear that to her knowledge Percy was not the only offender in the upper echelons of the party who abused their prestige and positions to sexually take advantage of young women members of the party and Resistance, but James Percy was by far the worst.


The time has clearly come for this matter to be properly investigated, and a tribunal should be established by the left in Australia to carry out a systematic inquiry and establish the facts.   A revolutionary socialist movement in this country cannot be constructed on lies, or on the systematic concealment of the truth.   The historical record must be set straight.


Graham Milner:  September 13, 2014

I am still waiting for a response from the supremos of the Socialist Alliance in Australia to two or three posts I have made over the last few months to this Facebook page urging action over allegations of sexual misconduct against James Percy, the former national secretary/president of the Socialist Workers League/Party; Democratic Socialist Party (which has since Percy's death in the early 1990s devolved into the Socialist Alliance).


These allegations are a serious matter, involving predatory sexual activities directed by Percy against young, female members of the SWL/SWP/DSP and of their youth organisations Socialist Youth Alliance/Resistance.   As I have written before on this page, other cult figures on the international left apart from James Percy, such as Gerry Healy, were exposed while still alive for their sexual exploitation of young members, and were subsequently discredited and expelled from their movements.   It is long overdue, in my opinion, that allegations against James Percy of similar activities involving the abuse and exploitation of young party and Resistance members should be properly investigated and that the historical record with respect to this matter should be put straight.


Graham Milner:  June 30, 2014

Some months ago I posted a short note drawing the attention of members of this Facebook page to allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against James Percy, the late, former national secretary/president of the Socialist Workers League/Party; Democratic Socialist Party in Australia (which dissolved itself into the Socialist Alliance last decade).   The allegations were made by a former staff journalist on the newspaper 'Direct Action', published by the SWL/SWP/DSP in Sydney.


The journalist and party member, Maria Rabbone, after returning to Perth, WA in 1980, following a stint in the national office on the paper lasting several years, informed members in the Perth branch of the party that James Percy, the SWP/DSP national secretary at that time, had had sexual relations with young, female members of the party's youth organisation in the party national headquarters, some of whom Rabbone considered might have been underage.


Rabbone's claims were disbelieved largely among Perth branch members.   I myself heard the then Perth branch organiser, Steve Painter, while in conversation with a party political committee member, Ron Poulsen, who was visiting Perth, mention that he (Painter) had considered charging Rabbone under the party control commission over her allegations concerning Percy.   But Rabbone had resigned from the party before such a procedure could be initiated.


Peter Boyle, a former co-convenor of the Socialist Alliance, who earlier worked for many years in the SWP/DSP national office while James Percy was national secretary, confirmed when in Perth some years ago the truth of Rabbone's allegations when he and I were discussing them.


I myself witnessed outrageous sexual harassment by James Percy of one particular female member of the party who was a journalist on 'Direct Action' while I worked on the paper briefly as a journalist in 1980.


Other figures on the international left who have been the subjects of cults, and who have sexually abused the members of their groups, such as Gerry Healy, the late leader of the 'Workers Revolutionary Party' in Britain, were investigated and exposed.   A formal, left inquiry into the very serious allegations against the late James Percy should be mounted without delay.