Scargill, SLP

Steve Wallis S.Wallis at mmu.ac.uk
Thu Feb 29 04:33:18 MST 1996


Jeff Booth has answered some of Will's points about Militant's past
role in the Labour Party much better than I could (since I only joined
Militant in 1990), but I'll make some comments on the current
situation.

A member of Militant Labour, Derek McMillan, sent a message in which
he indicated that he had joined the SLP.  Will Brown replied:

> 1. I hope this does not indicate a decision by Militant Labour
> to 'enter' the SLP.

It does not.  Obviously we will defend the right of any socialist to
be a member of the SLP, and we will continue to argue that the SLP
should adopt a constitution that does not exclude members of other
organisations (on the lines of the Scottish Socialist Alliance), but
our main tactic at the moment is to build socialist alliances and
encourage the SLP to participate in them.

However, there is bound to be a certain amount of overlap between the
memberships of Militant Labour and the SLP.  In some cases (and this
applies to Derek), a member of Militant Labour will make a personal
decision to join the SLP.  There will undoubtedly also be existing
members of the SLP who later decide to join Militant Labour.

Militant Labour is certainly not going to expel members for joining
the SLP, or demand that they tear up their SLP party cards.  We would
obviously hope that the SLP will not go down the road of expulsions
either.

> One reason i'm joining the SLP
> is because the constitution specifically excludes members of
> other parties joining.

Maybe, but most people at forums that have discussed the issue have
favoured an open inclusive democratic party/alliance that all
socialists can join.  Even amongst those SLP members who want to
retain an exclusive constitution, most seem to want to participate in
broader alliances.  Good!  Such a body is needed both to unite the
left, and to win the support of millions of workers who will become
more and more disillusioned with Labour under a Blair government.

As Carlos has pointed out, factions are already forming in the SLP.
They cannot be stopped by bureaucratic means.  Far better that
socialists are open about the groups/tendencies/factions/whatever you
want to call them, that they are members of, and that they argue their
case openly so that decisions can be made democratically, than that
they have to operate in a semi-clandestine manner.

The right-wing Labour leaders attacked Militant because we were
effective and they perceived us as a threat.  They realised that if
they could get away with expelling Militant, they would find it much
easier to dispose of the rest of the left.  Many on the left realised
this too (including Scargill), and therefore opposed Militant's
expulsion.  Now that they have not just got rid of Militant, but other
anti-poll tax activists, councillors who voted against cuts, etc.,
there is hardly anything left of the left within the Labour Party.

I personally expect Labour's transformation into a fully bourgeois
party to be completed during the next Labour government.  It is clear
that they would face very little opposition from their own ranks if
the Labour leadership decided to do this - completely severing the
links with the trade unions and introducing state funding of political
parties.

[I am making it clear that the above paragraph is my personal opinion;
members of Militant Labour are not automatons, but socialists who
think for ourselves.  Other members of Militant Labour may have
slightly different opinions about the speed of this process, and
indeed whether there is a significant possibility that Labour will be
transformed to the left again (during a period of intense workers'
struggles) at some point in the distant future.  Such differences of
opinion are freely discussed; this is a sign of a healthy
organisation.]

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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