Desire for left Unity

The rally which marked the culmination of Arthur Scargill?s campaign in the constituency of Hartlepool saw 150 individuals, including assorted Socialist Labour Party comrades from across the north of England and beyond, attend at the Central Hotel to hear Arthur and Ricky Tomlinson (Jim of The Royle family) make the case for the SLP.

Ricky Tomlinson spoke with a passion equal to his acting talents and gave a detailed account of his own background in the building trade as an active trades unionist - famously one of the Shrewsbury Two class war prisoners in the 1970s (the other being Des Warren). He said he was supporting Arthur Scargill, as Arthur Scargill had supported him then.

Arthur gave his usual high-calibre speech as a working class fighter - including of course ?Get out of Europe? as a catch-all solution to patch up capitalism. Obviously from the strain in his voice Arthur has spoken at many meetings over the last month or so. Perhaps it is uncharitable of me to say I was not as roused by his speech as previously, but this was the third time I had heard him speak in almost as many weeks. However, you have to marvel at Arthur?s self-confidence and sheer slog: the man obviously has the power to move and inspire people.

Again, demonstrating the SLP?s complete lack of infrastructure, the meeting had a real amateur feel: a few pamphlets, papers and manifestos, but no-one selling Socialist News. Once again only the Weekly Worker and The Socialist were available to comrades coming into the meeting.

A few local people have apparently joined the SLP and obviously some of the comrades have worked hard. Arthur was the only show in town, and the Socialist Alliance was correct to give him a clear run this time round. There is a clear desire for unity on the left and having to choose between the alliance and SLP would have left many feeling more than a little uncomfortable.

The friendliness and fraternal approach of such comrades is in stark contrast to the attitude of Scargill and his close Stalinist supporters. It is unfortunate, but we can only anticipate the disappointment these new comrades will feel once the reality of the SLP sinks in. The doors of the alliance must remain open to them - as they are to Arthur Scargill and his party.

Let all pro-working class tendencies strike together and argue out the differences in the open. We are confident in our politics. Can the same be said of those around Scargill himself?.

Bill Jeannes