WRP SPLITS

Chris Bailey chrisbailey at gn.apc.org
Sun Sep 10 18:03:14 MDT 1995


I was on holiday last week and have only just read the mailings on the
WRP splits after Healy. I was acting national secretary of the
majority WRP (Worker's Press) for about a year and a half after we
expelled Healy in 1985 and would like to add some comments to what has
been said.

Scott's description is pretty accurate. The party before the splits
publically claimed to have 10,000 members. After we overthrew Healy
and seized the offices we found the true membership had been about
850. About half of these rapidly dropped out of activity after the
split. The majority that expelled Healy split three ways initially.
The majority was about 150 peopIe, as Scott says, but I think it would
be wrong to describe this majority as the Slaughter group. Slaughter
was himself in a very small minority (mostly of one) on a series of
questions within the majority group. He was very demoralised and we
spent a lot of time persuading him not to quit.

The Hyland group definitely took more than 18 members, I would guess
about 40 or so. What Scott misses out though is that about 20-30
people went with Mike Banda. Within months of the Healy expulsion
Banda put forward an extremely pro-Stalin position. Some of his
supporters rejected this and drifted away. Others went part of the way
with him and joined the British Communist Party. Banda himself
couldn't find a British organisation that was pro-Stalin enough and
now works with the Kurdish PKK.

The Richard Price group supported Healy in the first split, but left
him later. They now admit they were on the wrong side in the first
split.

In 1987-88, Slaughter made something of a comeback in the majority WRP
after aligning himself with the Morenist LIT following a trip to
Argentina. At first, Bill Hunter was the most anti-LIT person on the
Central Committee. In this capacity he was sent to negotiate with the
LIT in Argentina. He came back a stronger LIT supporter than Slaughter
(those guys must put on a hell of a show!).

Those of us who opposed the LIT takeover formed the Internationalist
Faction (about 7-8 people). We were expelled in February 1988. Our
group had been a coalition and disintegrated shortly afterwards.

We did however manage to sabotage the full merger between the WRP and
the LIT and only a minority around Hunter (about 15-20) signed up with
the LIT and split from the WRP.

One thing concerning these events I feel should be widely publicised
is the cynicism of Dave North concerning Tom Henehan. In the immediate
period after Healy's expulsion he told those of us leading the WRP
that he knew Henehan's death was not an SWP/FBI plot. He said that it
had been crazy for the Worker's League to have organised the youth
event Henehan was killed at in the area it did. He said he blamed
himself for Henehan's death.

Later I attended the meeting where the German ICFI section voted to
support North. I was trying to persuade them not to. I was astounded
when I was accused of betraying the memory of Tom Henehan by denying
he was killed by an SWP/FBI plot. When I pointed out that it was North
who had convinced the WRP leadership of this I was denounced as
producing "a foul slander" against North.

North now completely denied his earlier discussions with us and went
out of his way to pronounce Henehan as a martyr of the ICFI "betrayed
by the WRP".

Incidently, North, from the relative safety of Detroit, later acquired
a further martyr when another youth member of his organisation in Sri
Lanka faithfully carried out the crazy party line and engaged in a
courageous but suicidal confrontation with the JVP.

Supporting Dave North can be very dangerous!

Chris Bailey


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