Forwarded from Anthony (reply to Brian Cahill)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Nov 6 16:21:37 MST 2000

Hi Lou:

Regarding the ICFI

I apologize for saying anything about the Militant Tendency's role in the
witchhunting of the SLL out of the Labor Party Young Socialists.

Everything I wrote was from memory - memories of stories told to me, and
articles I read during the 1970's. I was not there during the 60's. And I
am not likely to have any written sources available to me soon, so I can
not verify precisely where the truth is in that old controversy. It was
wrong of me to bring it up.

In general I try not to write about the history of left tendencies, because
I do not have sources easily available, and partisan passions still smolder
- even my own.

My more important point was that the SLL was growing during the period in
question. That point was important because it contributed to Healy's
growing conviction that the SLL would really lead the British workers
revolution, and that he of course would be leading the SLL when it happened.

The SLL's more or less uninterrupted growth from 1956 to the early 1970's
gave Healy and others a sense of self confidence, and destiny - and
arrogance of power within their own organization.

When it turned ot that they were wrong, their arrrogance of power turned
vicious, including Healy's abusive sexual relations with his secretaries.

This is in reference to the post by MMCDON (I think, I forgot to write it
down, apologies again.) quoted below,

"This part strikes me as somewhat strange. After having a quick scout
around the house the only two accounts dealing with the Young Socialists in
the period which I could find were in Jim Higgins' "More Years For The
Locust" and Crick's "The March Of Militant". Neither of these books could
be described as in any way friendly to the Militant tendency. Neither of
the books seem to support your version above.

On a few points, according to Higgins:

Firstly,"Keep Left" was not the newspaper of the Young Socialists. "New
Advance" was. "Keep Left" was always a Healyite paper.

Secondly, the "minority" did not stay with Labour after the split. The
Healyite Young Socialists had about 1,000 members as compared with 5,000
for the Labour Party Young Socialists.

Thirdly, and most importantly, we have your allegation about the Militant
tendency. Could you please provide more detail on this issue as your
version finds echo only in the words of an SLL member quoted by Higgins.

"At the 1964 YS conference, held in Brighton, the extra-curricular "Keep
Left" meeting was addressed by Roger Protz who ina low key speech, called
for left unity. The other speaker was YSNC member for Scotland John
Robertson. He was having nothing to do with anything sissy like left unity.
"Young Guard," said Robertson, "is an amalgam of political tendencies...
formed to lead a witch hunt to smash "Keep Left"... if you are not 100
percent with us you are 100 percent against us. Get out of our way or we
will go over your bodies." This was an almost perfect piece of Healyism,
combining lies, slander, bombast, hypocrisy, sectarianism and the threat of
physical violence".


P.S. As for circus tents - the Daily Telegraph called it a "Trotskyite Big
Brother Camp" in banner headlines. Most of those in attendance, and there
were thousands, were working class youth. The pictures on the front page of
the Telegraph of rmed and uniformed guards - allegedly part of military
training going on at the camp, were actually actors appearing in a
dramatization of Nathaniel West's little novel about 'what if fascism came
to the USA wearing coon skin caps.'

It was a circus, but not maybe the kind you imagine.

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list:

More information about the Marxism mailing list