London manifesto conference cancelled

Simon Harvey of the SLP

The special London regional conference to decide upon the SLP’s London manifesto for the upcoming May 7 local elections has been called off. The meeting was to have been held this Saturday, March 14. A recent meeting of the London committee considered submissions and amendments to the manifesto.

No substantive reason for cancelling the conference has been given. In its place, the London regional committee, with delegates from London constituency SLPs, will finalise the SLP’s local election manifesto. Bearing in mind the deliberations at the last regional committee meeting, it is likely that the manifesto will be little amended.

The SLP will be left with an election document in London which is bordering on the apolitical. Instead of a militant action plan for the people of London to take collective control of their own lives, we have a ‘blue print’ for a ‘better managed’ city. As I mentioned in a recent Weekly Worker, the SLP will not even be campaigning for socialism, but will go to the electorate on the slogan, ‘For a fair, safe and beautiful city’. Given such an anodyne message, I would not be surprised if local CSLPs add a little spice to the campaign by developing their own, socialist, platforms.

Marxist Bulletin abandons fight

The SLP’s self-styled, home-grown revolutionaries, the Marxist Bulletin, have resigned from the party. They look set to publically form yet another Trotskyite grouplet with its really-really correct programme. What a pity. Despite coming from the ultra-sectarian world of the Spartacist League/International Bolshevik Tendency, through engaging with a real political process in the SLP, many of the Marxist Bulletin comrades seem to have been developing in a partyist direction. It will be interesting to see how they develop - if at all - from now.

Even so, not all supporters of the Marxist Bulletin have resigned from the SLP. The supposed reason for this is that those remaining members are involved in branches with a degree of life and activity. But I do wonder if the recent split in the IBT over whether to be neutral to, or oppose, the Maastricht treaty may have more to do with it.

Much of the critique of the SLP in their resignation letter is correct, of course. But it did not take the Marxist Bulletin’s airing of these grievances to make us see the light. Just as I asked comrades from Socialist Perspectives, I now ask the Marxist Bulletin comrades: where are you going to? In their letter they state:

“Marxists, and all those committed to a socialist future, must look elsewhere for joint activity, discussion and debate”. Firstly, where? This is not made clear. And secondly, why resign from the SLP in order to develop “joint activity, discussion and debate” with other socialist forces? Surely they are not mutually exclusive.

These comrades are stuck in a sectarian world outlook which prevents even the slightest critique of their ‘parent body’ in the public domain - ie, in front of the working class. All differences are to be hidden, but when they inevitably force themselves into the open, a split is the outcome.

Comrades, we will never build a mass party of the most militant, revolutionary and committed workers with such a method - whether it be around your or some other particular credo.

Open letter of resignation

March 4 1998

Dear Arthur Scargill,

This letter is the joint resignation of the undersigned comrades from the Socialist Labour Party.

As supporters of the Marxist Bulletin, we have always declared our support for the aims on which the SLP was founded - to build a party capable of destroying capitalism and instituting socialism. We have participated fully in party discussions on how to achieve this aim, and in building the party as a step towards that, for over two years.

Your break from the Labour Party and call to form a new party was a courageous step forwards. It opened up a political space in the British workers’ movement and contained the potential for a real break from the Labourism that has long handicapped our movement.

Since then, however, you and other members of the SLP leadership have systematically set out to destroy the potential which the creation of the SLP represented. You have imposed your own programme on the party. You have set up a maze of petty, contradictory and impractical organisational obstacles to a dynamic internal life - based on a constitution which the membership has never had a chance to vote on, or even properly discuss.

At the party congress last December this process came to a head. The congress voting structure, based on tenuously established Constituency Socialist Labour Parties, was overwhelmed by a sudden and undemocratic block vote which rendered the political views of every constituency activist in the party virtually meaningless. We were expected to endorse the constitution and the leadership’s arbitrary rulings without discussion. It was a tragic moment for the working class when the majority of the delegates at the congress did exactly that. We can no longer be part of this process.

We no longer believe that building the SLP is a step towards a socialist society. The SLP in its present form is a barrier to the British working class building a party that can really struggle for its interests. We cannot take responsibility for this. We cannot continue to recruit good comrades to this fiasco. We cannot continue to sell a newspaper which endorses this.

We find ourselves in a position where we are no longer proud to describe ourselves as members of the SLP.

Since the congress we have published an issue of Marxist Bulletin analysing events at the congress. We have spoken to a wide range of SLP activists from across the country and across a spectrum of political views. We find that many of the principled militants who joined the SLP are leaving in disgust. Others retain their membership but are sorely disappointed in their party and have little hope for its future.

We say to those militants that remain in the SLP: comrades, you are wasting your time. The party was worth something once, but that potential has been destroyed. We have a better chance of building a mass working class party that can fight for our interests if we are outside the straightjacket of the SLP.

Many past and present members of the SLP will play an important part in the future of the British workers’ movement. But the SLP is no longer the arena in which they can do so. Marxists, and all those committed to a socialist future, must look elsewhere for joint activity, discussion and debate.

The need for a working class alternative to Blair’s Labour Party is stronger than ever. The need for a party with a Marxist programme that can lead the working class to victory is an absolute necessity. The Socialist Labour Party is neither.

Supporters of the Marxist Bulletin will be establishing a group outside the SLP. We will be working for the same objectives and arguing for the same programme as we did inside the SLP. We look forward to continued work with any comrades who wish to build a real, revolutionary, alternative to Labourism and with broad layers of individuals and groups on specific issues where we have agreement. We will engage in and encourage the process of political debate the SLP has stifled - the programmatic struggle necessary for the future of the working class.

Socialist greetings

Ian Dudley, Barbara Duke, Alan Gibson, Gary Henson, Christoph Lenk, Gill Plimmer

‘Black nationalist Trots’

I had to laugh. The latest issue of the Economic and Philosophic Science Review is yet another piece of frothy, sociopathic venom. Reading a standfirst attacking “petty-bourgeois individualist Trot wreckers” in the SLP, I was sure I knew who or what the target was - the CPGB, yet again.

I was wrong. Yet, I still could not quite work out what this mysterious “Trot” force is, travelling the country, wrecking SLP meetings, putting glass in the butter, arsenic in the tea, arguing for the return of the SLP black section etc. Royston Bull, unashamed author of the article, is usually not one for withholding the identity of the target of his spleen. But this time he is staying uncharacteristically mum.

So, who are they Roy? Surely, you aren’t attacking our recently elected Fiscite vice president Pat Sikorski, or his comrades-in-deceit, Brian Heron, Carolyn Sikorski, Roshan Dadoo and Trevor Wongsam?

Of course not, that would be taking internal differences into the open - something king Arthur does not approve of. And the SLP leader must always be right, just as the EPSR can never be wrong. Welcome to the world of the (ex, of course) ‘International Leninist Workers Party’.