What kind of party?

The following article was sent as a contribution to the Morning Star's debate on the way forward for the left

THE MORNING STAR’s current ‘Strategy for the left’ debate reflects a crisis of faith among those who believed Labour could end capitalism and win socialism.

Arthur Scargill, at the Labour Party conference, again floated his idea of a breakaway ‘Socialist Labour Party’. While the Communist Party of Britain has remained silent, its Morning Star has said such a project might make sense in the context of proportional representation - reflecting its parliamentarism.

Militant Labour and the Workers Revolutionary Party (Workers Press) do not consider themselves to be the answer, and both want something new to be part of. They are both proposing separate, but similar, ‘new’ socialist parties.

The Provisional Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain, in contrast, proclaims the struggle to reforge the CPGB as the prime task of all partisans of the working class and is campaigning for communist rapprochement in a non-ideological party in which factions are permissible.

With the Tory Party hopelessly divided and unpopular, a declining British imperialism is looking to its second eleven to deliver working class consent to its belt-tightening. By purging its socialist pretensions, Tony Blair is merely returning Labour to its liberal-bourgeois origins. The Labour Party has no ‘socialist birthright’, as Scargill, Benn and Militant Labour claim. Only in 1918 was clause four socialism inserted - as a sop to militant workers and socialists inspired by the Bolshevik revolution, to retain their allegiance and divert them from the communist unity struggle which produced the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1920.

Today, after the collapse of Soviet bureaucratic pseudo-socialism and the liquidation of the CPGB, the only illusion the working class has in Labour is that it ‘cannot be as bad’ as the Tories. The socialist sop is redundant. The working class vote can be taken for granted by Labour just so long as there is no alternative.

Now Blair’s rightism is testing the loyalty even of those socialists who have turned support for Labour into a principle. A leftward break from the Labour Party would be, in itself, a healthy development. An open, democratic organisation which unites different trends, where communists and others can participate while retaining their own publications and organisation, could be a stepping stone towards the reforging of the genuine Communist Party our working class needs.

To recreate an imaginary ‘socialist’ golden age of Labourism, however, would constitute a new barrier to this process. It would be reliving history as farce.

Stan Kelsey