[Fwd: Tommy Sheridan breaks from CWI -the socialist international]

Alan Bradley alanb at SPAMelf.brisnet.org.au
Thu Jan 18 03:07:06 MST 2001

> Below is a press release from the CWI-members in Scotland.

>  Committee for a Workers 'International
> Phone 0208 988 8760
> Scotland 01382 833759

> Tommy Sheridan breaks from CWI -the socialist international
> The CWI is the international organisation whose affiliates include the
> Socialist Party, successor to Militant in Britain. We have MPs and
> councillors in England, Ireland North and South, Sweden and Kazakhstan
> among others. The Committee for a Workers ' International organises in
> over 30 countries across the world. We are a Marxist international
> that is fighting to build the ideas of socialism in every corner of the
> globe. We stand for the establishment of a mass workers international
> party that can play a leading role in the struggle against capitalism and
> imperialism.
> After a long period of debate exposed growing differences, Tommy
> Sheridan and other leading members of the Scottish Socialist Party have
> left their international organisation, the Committee for a Workers
> 'International (CWI).
> These differences included:
> - The nature of the Scottish Socialist Party and the need for a
> Marxist organisation within it.
> - The character of Cuba, where Tommy Sheridan has defended a
> neo-Stalinist position.
> - The need to retain an internationalist view of the struggle for
> socialism.
> -  Democratic rights in the Scottish Socialist Party.
> Scottish Militant Labour  (SML) was the Scottish section of the CWI.
> We were the main component of the Scottish Socialist Party when it was
> established in 1998.
> Tommy Sheridan, alongside many other members of SML, and Militant in
> England and Wales, played a key role in the defeat of the Poll Tax and
> the subsequent removal of Margaret Thatcher from power.
> During the 1990s we have consistently stood for the building of new
> mass parties to represent working class people after the betrayals of the
> former "Labour" and "Communist" parties. The SSP can represent an
> important step in that process.
> One of the key principles that SML and the CWI were based on was the
> need to maintain and strengthen the forces of Marxism, in its modern
> expression, Trotskyism.
> It is this task that Tommy Sheridan and the others who have left the
> CWI have rejected. They have produced a statement which commented about
> the CWI: "The model (of building a Trotskyist international) they tried
> to apply is obsolete, if indeed it was ever a credible project".
> The rejection of this concept has led to leading members of the SSP,
> who were longstanding members of the CWI, to break from long held
> positions that we have defended.
> Cuba
> On Cuba, the CWI has been critical that the SSP and Tommy Sheridan
> have described Cuba as a socialist country, which we do not accept. We
> believe this is putting forward a neo-Stalinist position. We defend the
> tremendous gains of the Cuban revolution in health care, literacy and
> education but given the lack of democracy within Cuba, this does not
> equate with socialism, where democracy and working class involvement in
> the running of society and the economy is essential.
> Internationalism
> The CWI is opposed to what we see is a tendency by our former members
> to seek a national view of how socialism could be achieved rather than an
> international view. This has led, we believe, to our former members
> not arguing for a socialist confederation or alliance
> between an independent socialist Scotland and a socialist England,
> Wales and Ireland.
> The CWI believes it is vital that socialists in Scotland make it clear
> that we would seek to link up on a voluntary basis with a socialist
> England, which can help to cut across anti-English moods as they develop
> in Scotland.
> We were extremely worried to read Tommy Sheridan's comments in The
> Observer (13th August 2000) when he hinted that SSP MSPs would be
> prepared to back an SNP administration in the Scottish Parliament. We
> believe it would be impermissible for socialists to either formally enter
> an SNP-led coalition, or back it from the outside, given the
> pro-capitalist and nationalist policies of the SNP.
> Democracy in the SSP
> We were shocked and dismayed that our, now former, members in the
> leadership of the SSP have proposed "guidelines" for that party which
> would preclude the right of organised trends within the SSP to produce
> public material, sell public journals, etc. These guidelines argue
> that organised platforms should "not act as a party within a party".
> This is exactly the language that our opponents used to justify our
> expulsion from the Labour Party in the past. Ironically, it is our now
> ex-members who are proposing these guidelines, when they themselves
> were expelled and disciplined as members of the Militant, for defending
> our right to promote our ideas both inside and outside the Labour Party.
> Founding members of Scottish Militant Labour such as Ronnie Stevenson
> (Glasgow) and Philip Stott (Dundee), as well as a number of members
> who are key activists in the EIS, UNISON and the RMT in Scotland will
> remain as members and supporters of the CWI. The general election
> parliamentary candidates for the SSP in Dundee East (Harvey Duke), Dundee
> West (Jim McFarlane), Kirkcaldy (Kenny McLeod), as well as others to be
> announced, will remain members of the CWI. Joe Higgins, Socialist Party
> of Ireland TD in the Irish Parliament, and Dave Nellist, former Labour MP
> and now socialist councillor in Coventry, both CWI members, are
> implacably opposed to the course of action that Tommy and the other SSP
> leaders have taken.
> Peter Taaffe, founding member of the CWI, said:
> "We regret Tommy Sheridan 's and other long standing members
> 'departure from the CWI. Nevertheless, we still have many members in
> Scotland who have a long track record of building socialist ideas who
> have remained loyal to the CWI and their own traditions."
> Philip Stott, spokesperson for the CWI in Scotland, said:
>  "The CWI in Scotland will be active participants in the work to build
> the Scottish Socialist Party into what we hope will be a mass force in
> Scotland. At the same time we will fight to ensure that the party is
> led with a clearly socialist and internationalist programme and
> leadership. We believe that the CWI, its ideas, analysis and campaigning
> record internationally will play a decisive role in that task."

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