Socialist Labour Party

Steve Wallis S.Wallis at mmu.ac.uk
Thu Nov 23 04:40:32 MST 1995


Tim Wohlforth <TimW333521 at aol.com> asks an important question:  Has the
Labour Party in Britain QUALITATIVELY changed?

I suggest that the answer is YES.

Consider a situation where Labour is in power.  Because the Labour government
refuses to break with capitalism, it ends up attacking the working class.
There are big workers' struggles against that government.

Militant argued that in such situations, thousands of workers would move into
the Labour Party to try to transform it (perhaps during that government or
afterwards, as in the early 80s).  This proved correct, and Militant was able
to successfully use the strategy of entrism to win many of those workers to
revolutionary conclusions.

However, the Labour Party has now shifted to the right to such an extent, and
internal democracy has been reduced to such an extent, that it is very
unlikely that significant numbers of workers will move into Labour to try to
transform it.  Instead, they are more likely to turn to a party to the left
of Labour (such as the Socialist Labour Party, if it is formed) to represent
their interests, transforming that party into a mass workers' party.

This is not just the case in Britain; it is an international phenomenon.
Despite big workers' struggles in many advanced capitalist countries in
recent years, workers have not moved into the traditional workers' parties to
transform them - and in some of these countries, new left parties and alliances
have attracted considerable numbers of workers and significant electoral
support.

Marxists should consider:
	a)	Do they agree with this analysis?
	b)	If so, should they get involved in such parties or alliances,
as part of the struggle to build a mass revolutionary party capable of
transforming society?

As far as Militant Labour is concerned, the answer to both questions is YES.
This is why we support Arthur Scargill's call for a Socialist Labour Party.

---

If the SLP is formed before the next election, then that would primarily be
to prepare for the struggles that will unfold afterwards.

Tim correctly doubts:
> if more than a handful of workers
> would vote for such a party when it could mean a loss of the elections to the
> Tories.

However, there are many constituencies where the Tories (and Lib Dems) don't
stand a chance of getting in.  The SLP could get sizable support in such
constituencies, as Militant Labour has demonstrated by standing independently.

---

Adam Rose <adam at pmel.com> suggests that the SLP should "orientate itself on
working class struggle rather than parliament" and I agree (to some extent
at least).  It would be a mistake for it to put all or most of its emphasis
on elections.

---

Adam suggests that Militant should have merged with the SWP in the mid-80s.
In my opinion, there were and still are too many differences between us in
terms of strategy and tactics (let alone theoretical differences) for a
merged organisation to function effectively - it would probably have turned
into a huge faction fight and a split at a later date.  Mergers should be on
a principled basis of agreement on the important issues.

He seems to merely look at things numerically.  The SWP may have gained more
recruits in the short term (with their sectarian tactics alienating most
of the left) but they will never build a mass revolutionary party capable of
transforming society using such tactics.  On the other hand, such a party
could well be built out of the Socialist Labour Party, and Militant Labour
will try to ensure that this happens.

Steve.

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   /----------+ Centre for Policy Modelling,         Email: S.Wallis at mmu.ac.uk
   \/\  Steve | Manchester Metropolitan University,    Tel: (+44) 161 247 3884
\    / Wallis | Aytoun Building, Aytoun St.,           Fax: (+44) 161 247 6802
 \/\/---------+ Manchester M1 3GH, UK.        http://www.fmb.mmu.ac.uk/~stevew


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