File spoon-archives/marxism-general.archive/marxism-general_1996/96-12-01.070, message 19

Date: Tue, 26 Nov 96 11:59:25    
Subject: M-G: Socialists in the LP and the SLP

Socialists in the LP and SLP  by John Stone

Labour remains as a bourgeois workers party and inside it there is a 
significant struggle between the right wing modernisers and the diminished 
left which is trying to resist them. The great majority of the workers who 
vote Labour express a distorted class opposition to rich conservatives. 
Blair would like to transform Labour in a new USA-type Democratic Party. 
Nevertheless, there are many differences between them. Clinton's party was 
created by the US capitalists and the workers organisations were co-opted, 
mainly around Roosvelt era, in a very subordinate role. In Britain Labour 
who was created by the unions who are responsible of the majority of the 
finances of what they consider their own party.

 Marxists need to relate to thousands of class fighters that want to stop 
the transformation of Labour into a new open capitalist party.  A 
revolutionary group is obliged to participate actively inside the Labour 
left movement and campaigns. Nevertheless, it must understand that  Blair's 
right wing policy are alienating many layers of  activists. Blair is 
promising that he will continue and strength Tory policies. The SNP and the 
Liberal Democrats are putting more left demands than Labour. Blair's attacks 
against union links, welfare state, Scottish parliament, etc. are pushing 
many activists towards trying to build new alternatives.
Around one year ago Scargill called for a new Socialist Labour Party. The 
SLP is beginning to grow. It now has a big influence in four national unions 
(Journalists, Bakers, Miners and Rail workers) and more than 2,000 members. 
In all the SLP participated in 15 local elections and got between 5% and 39% 
of the votes. Scargill said that the SLP is an anti-capitalist 
extra-parliamentary party which advocates a four day working week, a minimum 
wage (stlg8 an hour), the expropriation without pay to all the privatise 
companies, the cancellation of the foreign debt in the 'third world', the 
immediate withdraw of Britain from northern Ireland and freedom for all 
Irish political prisoners, etc. 
Nevertheless, the SLP doesn’t call for revolution. It wants some kind of 
immigration controls and it hopes to recruit some left refomist Labour MPs 
and trade union bureaucrats. It doesn’t organises demonstrations or strikes. 

Despite the Stalinist past of Scargill and some of its leaders, the SLP 
remains a fluid party which had many leaders which come from fourth 
internationalist traditions and left social democrats. Inside the SLP there 
is a core of far left activists which are trying to push the SLP into a 
combative attitude. 
While working in Labour a revolutionary current also has to be part of the 
Socialist Alliances and the SLP. These are the new organisations which are 
attracting thousands of activists who want to fight against cuts and Blair. 
We should be for a democratic and fighting SLP. It should organise 
demonstration and strikes and have to be open to all the left. 
Unfortunately, the SLP leadership doesn't want to put the SLP on the 
streets. In every demonstration it is possible to find SWP or Militant 
placards but not SLP. Scargill, instead of attacking the trade union 
bureaucracy, is trying to recruit it. 
Scargill promised to stand 100 candidates but it is very unlikely to match 
that target. If the SLP would call for a sort of socialist electoral block 
with ML, the SWP and other trade union and anti-racist organisations, and 
promote regional conferences to adopt programmes and candidates for each 
constituency in which they think it is possible to stand, it could be 
possible to constitute a real left electoral all-Britain alternative against 
Labour. In the places in which the socialist doesn’t stand the SLP should 
call for critical vote for Labour.

Some few SLPers are against voting Labour. Most of them come from far left 
groups that were opposed to voting for Scargill when he was a member of 
Labour. Weekly Worker is asking for vote for some Labour candidates which 
would accept some demands which they would propose to them. They want to 
vote only for candidates in which the masses have 'socialist illusions'. The 
problem is that today, after the collapse of the 'communist' states in the 
east and several defeats, the class consciousness is in retreat and most 
workers doesn't have illusions in socialism but in beating the rich Tory 
candidates. We don't have to confuse critical vote with political support. 
We would never ask vote for Labour because of any of its policies (all of 
their candidates have capitalist programmes, including Benn) but because of 
its links with the workers organisations. If we differentiate 
'revolutionary' Labour candidates which we need to back  from 'reactionary' 
ones, we will cover the fact that both are inside a right-wing imperialist 
bourgeois workers party. We want to smash workers illusions in Labour. The 
best way to do that is to push them to power. 
The best scenario would be a Labour government which would enter in 
contradiction with its left and the workers. A defeat for Labour could 
demoralise the workers even more and strengthen the shift to the right. A 
victory for Labour could help us to say to the workers: with our vote we 
beat the Tories and now we have to be confident to take the streets to 
impose to labour the defence of the welfare state, better wages, etc.

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