Merseyside and militant

Jeffrey Booth booth2 at
Wed Jul 19 08:44:48 MDT 1995

On Fri, 14 Jul 1995, Jon Beasley-Murray wrote:

> Well, Jeff's experience of militant has clearly been quite different from
> mine.
> Not, of course, that we would fully disagree: militant was very much
> working class, in contrast to (say) the SWP (at the time at least, in my
> experience: do I have to go on like this to avoid accusations of
> "slander"?), and its program was uncompromising and Left.  I was never a
> fan of Kinnock, and I'm no fan of Blair now.

	Forgive me if my replies are not theoretical enough but I have to
be brief since I never know when my supervisor might be lurking and
spying.  In the above paragraph I hope you are saying that a program that was
"uncompromising and Left" against Thatcher and in general, was and is a good
thing for a socialist organization.

> Apart from blaming the tabloid press, however, and the right wing of the
> Labour party (not all of whom can be "blamed" in any straightforward
> manner anyhow, as some of them got out, forming and joining the SDP), I
> wonder what else Jeff thinks we can learn from the general failures of the
> 80s Left in Britain, and from comparing different tactics and movements
> (such as the GLC, our original point of departure, or, of course, the
> miner's strike or CND)?
	In any struggle there are certain key moments that make or break
a movement.  The Miners strike and the Labour led city councils defying
Thatcher's budgets were a key moment.  One reason Militant was able to
actually win one of the budget battles against Thatcher was because
Thatcher's government was afraid to fight on two fronts:  The Miners and
the Militant led Council.
	Very few of right wing Labour left for the SPD.  The Labour party
and most of the trade Union leadership failed to really back the Miners'
and all the Labour councils with the exception of Lambeth, failed to back
the Militant led Liverpool council.  So, once the Miners were defeated,
Liverpool was then isolated.  Then, Kinnock and company actually gave the
green light to the Thatcher gov't. to do as it wished with Liverpool.
After all the Labour councillers in Liverpool were "disbarred" it was then
relatively easy for Thatcher to go after all the other Labour councils.
On top of all this, Kinnock and other former Lefts did a Mcarthyite
witch hunt, primarily against Militant.  The result is the
neo- U.S. Democratic party of Blair.
	So, I belive the lessons are very basic:  solidarity and
revolutionary Marxism... meaning:  be prepared to take the struggle all
the way, to risk everything.  Without that mind-set, we'll never win.
Why this was lacking in the Labour party leadership is a longer
discussion... .

> [I'm sorry that one of my sentences was confusing.  I was referring to the
> fact that--as far as I can remember--Liverpool was the only area in the
> country in which the Labour vote increased in the 79, 83 and 87
> elections--elections that were otherwise nothing but disappointment for
> the Labour party.  (However, I could be wrong, and the Labour vote may
> also have increased in Glasgow.)  What this statistic means, however, still
> seems to be up for grabs. But it seems to be some kind of index of local
> success, if perhaps the result as much of the general social situation of
> Liverpool as of any particular ideological line taken by either local or
> national Labour party.]
	I think working people are prepared to fight if they are offered a
serious, alternative program and a leadership that is willing to fight.
Strength and a chance at winning a better life are attractive to workers
feeling the effects of capitalist instability and repression.  The
increase in Labour's vote at that time and place was mainly due to
Militant and Labour in Liverpool being "uncompromising and Left".

			--  Jeff Booth

> Take care
> Jon
> Jon Beasley-Murray
> Literature Program
> Duke University
> jpb8 at
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