WeeklyWorker

21.08.1997
Blair being worked on by the image consultants. Pat Sikorski has been employing Mandelson’s method in Lewisham, but is this the sort of party we want the SLP to be?

Once again on SLP federalism

Simon Harvey of the Socialist Labour Party

Hypocrisy is the only word that can describe Scargill’s continued denial that the SLP is already a ‘federal’ party which bans and proscribes organisations he does not like. I feel I must return to this point once again. Anyone who reads his constitution can only come to the commonsense understanding that the SLP has been constituted, not as a centralised party, but as a federal, affiliate party. If Scargill feels he must quote the constitution in his Socialist News article, then so shall I.

Clause II Membership

(1) Membership shall consist of: (a) affiliated members; (b) individual members.

(3) Affiliated membership shall consist of: (a) trade unions recognised by the Party’s Executive Committee as bona fide trade unions; (b) Constituency Socialist Labour Parties.

Even in terms of the political responsibilities of the Party’s regional bodies, the constitution adopts a clear federal approach. Clause XI (2) states: “Regional Parties shall abide by the constitution but shall have authority over those aspects of policy affecting their country or region”.

What this means in practice is that the party as a whole will not develop a coherent, united position on devolution. It means that members living in Scotland will decide on the position in Scotland. The same for members in Wales (if they were allowed to have a conference). This ghettoises politics. Blacks shall decide on ‘black issues’, women on ‘women’s issues’. This leaves the English, white male free to concentrate on the ‘serious politics’ of the strike, the pay rise, the union and elections.

Further evidence of federalism is in clause VI on party congress. Sub-clause 17 states: “Representation at Party Congress shall be as follows: (a) Affiliated trade unions; (b) Constituency Parties; (c) Women’s section; (d) Black section; (e) Socialist Labour Party Youth.

So, come on Arthur, who are you kidding? No one - I doubt even yourself. The SLP is clearly constituted along federal lines with your infamous MacDonaldite Clause II (4) and (5) which you yourself quote in your recent article. As I stated last week, along with many other party members, such as Cardiff’s Terry Burns, I believe that the sort of party the working class requires to carry out the task of winning state power is a united, democratic and centralised party.

All that the comrades involved with the campaign for a democratic SLP are arguing is that given the SLP is already an affiliate party, the best way to move toward a unitary party of all our class’s best militants is to allow for the affiliation of “socialist, working class and progressive organisations” - a new Clause II (1) (c) combined with the removal of Clause II (4) and (5).

This would lead to a far healthier internal situation in the SLP. The entire membership could then decide which organisations could affiliate and which could not. At present, while denying the existence of federal/affiliate structure (which is obvious just from a cursory glance at the constitution), Scargill is in practice allowing organisations to affiliate to the SLP which he supports, or rather, which will unquestioningly support him. The Stalin Society, the Economic and Philosphical Science Review, the Fourth International Supporters Caucus, the Indian Workers Association. This is sheer hypocrisy. And comrade Scargill is well aware of it.

 

National executive

Reports from the north of the country have been giving clues as to the nature of the next NEC meeting. Many of us were surprised that after the ‘yellow sheet’ of June 14 banning any meetings considering changes to the constitution that a plethora of expulsions did not follow. I have heard that past NEC meetings have not discussed disciplinary action at all, but have set aside the entirety of the September NEC for such matters.

To my mind, this clearly shows division at the top. Whether Scargill’s article is an attempt to stamp his authority in the lead up to the September NEC or rather an attempt to cow the membership remains to be seen.

In the absence of open discussion and differences remaining the property of the NEC and not the party as a whole, we, mere members, are left to rely on rumour, chatter or a whisper in the ear if we are this month’s favoured. Such debate on important issues as party democracy and party discipline should be held in our paper. But this is clearly not part of the culture of the leading cliques. It is interesting that while Scargill insists that “our fight is against capitalism, not each other” he is quite content to carry his battle against democracy into Socialist News. Where then is the right to reply?

A reminder. The pages of the Weekly Worker are open to all SLP members, even those on the NEC.

 

New Labour Comes to the SLP?

You may have seen at the end of the Weekly Worker report on the Uxbridge by-election that SLP canvassers were turned away from the Churchdown by-election if they were not sufficiently well groomed (Weekly Worker August 7).

I have learnt that the groommeister was none other than Pat Sikorski, turning away a comrade from Hampstead SLP for not having shaved. Well, if this is not exactly the sort of ‘respectable’ image management which the SLP was meant to be shunning. Clearly, having left his previous world of a Trot sect, Pat Sikorski imagines he will be able to smarm his way to power by convincing the ‘public’ (ie bourgeois opinion) that the SLP is really ‘respectable’. Next, we will all have to be cleared by Pat ‘Mandelson’ Sikorski before any contact with the general public.

The working class will not achieve state power by convincing the powers-that-be that we really are respectable. This can only be the thin edge of the wedge for Sikorski. I eagerly await my SLP grooming and tailoring directive for the next local elections.

 

Stalin society and Harpal Brar

Ivor Kenna’s letter in this Weekly Worker is interesting insomuch as it further highlights the ongoing hypocrisy within the Socialist Labour Party. Kenna is a fully paid-up member of the Stalin Society. He points out that his group is a loose lot including “Labour Party members, Socialist Labour Party members, and members of various communist parties and groups. Many members are not politically affiliated at all.” For this reason, Kenna claims it is not capable of acting as a faction. He claims the same concerning the Indian Workers Association. He states that the EPSR gave up its grandiose claims of being the International Leninist Workers Party.

The Stalin Society is not so loose that its ‘leadership’ in the form of Harpal Brar and followers could not turn over a recent meeting wholely to the SLP. Stalin Society members who are not members of the SLP were rather bemused, but seemingly at the mercy of the tight knit group that runs that organisation.

The point, however, is made clear in Scargill’s recent article in Socialist News. It is not merely ‘factions’ which are banned (I do believe that the EPSR, Fisc and Harpal Brar’s cronies in the Stalin Society all operate as sanctioned factions). Scargill says there is no room “for separate organisations or parties, each with its own agenda, each wanting to build its own grouping based upon its policies within the SLP”. He further quotes his draconian constitution which bans “individuals and organisations ... which have their own programme, principles and policies, distinctive and separate propaganda, or which are engaged in the promotion of policies in opposition to those of the party”.

Who could fail to see that the EPSR and its promotion of homophobia falls foul of this rule. Who can fail to see than Harpal Brar’s Lalkar and its promotion of all things Stalin, including the Third Period turn which lines social democrats alongside fascists also falls foul. And indeed, Fisc actually gave a report on its activities to the European committee of the Fourth International.

Kenna states that “the SLP is, if you like, Arthur Scargill’s party, because he had stature enough to call for its formation”. Well, I always saluted Scargill’s move to form the SLP, but our class does not need an Arthur Scargill party, we need a party of our own.

 

Association of Communists

I have been shown a letter dated June 16, entitled ‘A call to action’ with the letterhead of the Association of Communists - GB. So what, you may say. Another small sectoid being set up. However, it is those behind this call to action and their relationship to the SLP in which I am interested.

The letter states that the AC-GB is the result of a merger between the Association of Communist Workers and the Association of Indian Communists. The appeal is primarily directed towards members of the Stalinite and Kim Il-Jongist New Communist Party and the Morning Star’s CPB. The call seems to be serious enough, urging people who “are prepared to commit yourself body and soul” to the task of creating a Marxist-Leninist party in Britain.

What is revealing is the e-mail address on the letterhead: bhagat@lal-kar.demon.co.uk  Lalkar is the publication of the Indian Workers Association (GB) and is edited by none other than the SLP’s Harpal Brar. It is also common knowledge that Harpal Brar is the man behind at least one of the organisations that is said to be merging in the AC-GB.

Given that Lalkar is behind the AC-GB, it is interesting to see its ‘call to action’ asks “who is going to provide leadership to the working class to ensure the working class ... is able to dislodge the imperialist stranglehold over our economy; is able to establish its own class rule?

It answers: “Is it going to be any of the various apologists of social-democracy, be it the CPB or NCP or any of the various despicable counter-revolutionary Trotskyite outfits? Hardly!” No mention of the SLP. The letter, which is signed by Ella Rule, makes it clear that this is to be a separate political project to establish a Marxist-Leninist Party.

It is clear that Lalkar and presumably its editor Harpal Brar support this project. Besides the fact that Harpal Brar’s membership of the SLP is already in contravention of Scargill’s Clause II(4), this latest move to establish a political party must surely be beyond the pale for Scargill. I expect that Harpal Brar’s actions will be ‘dealt with accordingly’. Hardly!