SWP-CPB talks: Learning nothing

The Socialist Workers Party has been courting the Morning Star's Communist Party of Britain. Marcus Strom takes a look

The statement from the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain on its meeting with the Socialist Workers Party, while short and anodyne, is nonetheless revealing. First, it shows that the move to discuss “a broad electoral alliance” was initiated by the SWP. Second, it shows the meeting took place nine days after the Socialist Alliance annual conference. Third, it shows the SWP outlined proposals to the CPB for its consideration. Finally, it shows a reiteration of the CPB’s continued allegiance to the auto-Labourite strategy of its British road to socialism programme and an outright rejection of the Socialist Alliance.

While giving little away, credit has to be given to the CPB for at least releasing a statement. At the executive committee meeting of the Socialist Alliance on June 7, comrade John Rees of the SWP point blank refused to report back. He said that the talks with the CPB were “bilateral” and thus “confidential”. Their sensitivity meant they could not be reported publicly. It seems that our ‘official’ communist friends are prepared to be more open than our Cliffite SA allies.

John Rees and the SWP must come clean. What were these “proposals” set forth to the CPB? Was it just an alliance between the SWP and the CPB (and perhaps some imams)? Or was the SWP negotiating undemocratically on behalf of the SA? We have a right to know. Obviously the role of the Socialist Alliance was laid on the table, but the SWP is refusing to inform us what this was.

The Socialist Alliance has now established a ‘task force’ to pursue the SA majority’s “new left unity strategy”. It apparently met on June 20, though no minutes or report has been forthcoming. The membership and the wider workers’ movement have a right to know what is going on behind their backs.

The SWP and its satellites on the executive are increasingly treating the alliance as a mere negotiation chip. However, the CPB is very unlikely to ‘get into bed with the Trots’, no matter how bureaucratically the SWP treats its alliance ‘partners’. CPB members and supporters at the organisation’s recent Communist University showed no interest whatsoever in getting involved with electoral “diversions” away from the “main labour movement”. We shall await the decision of the CPB on July 13.

It seems the SWP leadership has learned nothing from history. The anti-democratic antics of the Stalinists in the workers’ movement during the 20th century were a tragedy. The SWP seems intent on repeating them as farce. Cutting out ‘awkward’ members from leading positions, treating the membership with contempt, making deals behind the backs of the working class: this is not the path to workers’ self-liberation.

Statement on talks

On May 19, representatives from the Communist Party met a deputation from the Socialist Workers Party at the latter’s request.

The SWP leaders outlined a number of proposals concerning the potential for a broad electoral alliance in the Greater London Assembly and European parliament elections in 2004. The Communist Party’s representatives set out our position on elections, including alliances, which reflect our strategic approach to the labour movement and the Labour Party. A full and comradely discussion ensued in which a range of views was expressed. The Communist Party’s executive committee will decide its response to the SWP’s proposals at its next meeting, on July 11-12.

Statements have been published in some quarters claiming that (1) the Communist Party seeks to construct an electoral alliance with the Liberal Democrats; and (2) the Communist Party may join the Socialist Alliance. Neither of these possibilities was discussed in the meeting on May 19, and the Communist Party has no intention of doing either.

CPB political committee
June 23