Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Socialist Party on Labour Proscriptions: It’s all about Militant.

with 6 comments

History and lessons of the Militant Tendency - part one | Socialist Appeal

Lenny Shail, Socialist Party national committee. 28th of July.

The news that Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) has proscribed, aka expelled, a number of left-leaning groups that have clung desperately onto the Labour Party comes as little surprise.

The SP cannot bring itself to mention the words Socialist Appeal (whose split from the Socialist Party’s forerunner, the Militant took place in 1992, nor the names LAW, nor LIEN, nor even there recent new best friend Chris Williamson’s Resist.

Here is SA’s view on their former comrades, the SP, led by Peter Taaffe, expressed only a couple of years back.

The split was caused by the Militant tendency’s majority adoption of the Open Turn, Grant’s continued support for the tactic of entryism within the Labour Party and what Grant and Woods claimed was the bureaucratic centralist degeneration of Militant’s internal regime

Socialist Appeal have commented on why the division took place,

The CWI split of 1991-1992: setting the record straight August 2019.

The recent convulsive faction fight and split in the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), driven by Peter Taaffe, the General Secretary of SPEW, the Socialist Party of England and Wales, is now plastered all over social media for the world to see. Despite the stream of allegations coming from the Taaffe faction, and the rebuttals from the other side, the dispute in reality centres around prestige politics, a highly pernicious tendency that is invariably fatal in a revolutionary organisation.


Unlike Ted Grant, who was a Marxist theoretician of considerable stature, Peter was a very superficial thinker with no ideas of his own. Insofar as he expressed any, they were all filched from Ted. But Taaffe felt no gratitude to Ted, of whom he was intensely envious. On the contrary, he spent most of his time systematically undermining Ted behind his back, whispering in corners to his group of adepts that Ted was “impossible” to work with.

What Taaffe wanted was an organisation of yes-men and women – unconditional supporters who would never contradict him. Lenin once warned Bukharin: “If you want obedience, you will get obedient fools.” That reads like the epitaph on the grave of the CWI. Over a period, the yes-men and women in the Militant – raw, young careerists, politically ignorant, but greedy for personal advancement, crystallised into a clique, which, behind the backs of the elected bodies, was deciding everything.

That was the real basis of the 1991-1992 split. The rest is pure fable. After nearly 30 years, it is about time we put the record straight.

The SP do not comment on the other groups either, Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW), Labour in Exile Network (LIEN), or Resist, yet the latter is the fond offspring of Chris Williamson.

Not long ago the Socialist published this:

Ex-MP Chris Williamson joins TUSC to challenge ‘resurgent Blairism’ November 2020.

(Williamson seems to have cold on them since he fell in with George Galloway…

Here is their present ‘analysis’: Starmer want things under control and with his own mark. It’s all a return to Blair..

Since the resignation of Corbyn, and under Starmer’s leadership, every action by the Labour bureaucracy has been in the direction of destroying any remnants of Corbyn’s leadership and strengthening the right wing’s control. These expulsions follow the suspension from the party of Corbyn himself, one of the Unite representatives on the NEC, Howard Beckett, and hundreds of ordinary members on trumped-up charges….

Working-class people have seen the cuts carried out by Labour locally over the course of the last ten years, including during the period of Corbyn’s leadership. For many of those who remember the Blair years, Labour is still the party of illegal wars, privatisation and selling out.

It is not long before an old tune recurs, and recurs, and, more.

Supporters of Militant, the Socialist Party’s predecessor, were expelled from the Labour Party by the right wing in the 1980s and early 1990s. We explained back then that this would be the thin end of the wedge, and that a purging of socialist ideas would follow close behind. (continues in this vein at length)

It’s all about them!

The piece ends with this resounding call:

The RMT (who themselves were expelled from Labour in 2004) should approach all unions – affiliated and non-affiliated to Labour – to call a conference that would be open to the Labour left and socialist organisations like the Socialist Party and those who work with us in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, to discuss how to organise a political force that can best represent workers and stand up to the stark Covid economic and health consequences for workers.

Come and join us!

Things that are not going to happen….Socialist Appeal getting together the SP, or as they call them, SPEW.

As anybody wishing left unity with the hard-line Brexiteers of TUSC, they are having a laugh.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 29, 2021 at 1:06 pm

6 Responses

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  1. But surely it would be better for comrades on the left to unite in support of Keir Starmer ? Rather than give the Tories the advantage of a feuding, disorganised Labour Party ? Accepting the reality that there is no chance of a Marxist or Communist government being elected in the UK. And who can seriously believe that there is ? Why not put differences aside, and go for the sensible option by supporting Keir Starmer and the Labour Party ?

    Jeff Smith

    July 29, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    • @Jeff Smith: I agree Jeff. Whatever our ideal beliefs, we have to live in the real world. I would much rather have a Labour government than the Conservatives.

      George M

      July 29, 2021 at 4:50 pm

  2. So in 2019 Socialist Appeal said “The recent convulsive faction fight and split in the Committee for a Workers’ International, driven by Peter Taaffe, General Secretary of the Socialist Party of England and Wales, is now plastered all over social media for the world to see”. But was that really what the world saw on their tablets and mobiles ? I think memes of cats, half eaten dinners, earlier version of GTA chases and various bits of Kim Kardashian registered more hits than sectarian stushies between Ted Grant and Peter Taafe………It all shows how utterly solipsistic sections of the UK left can get.

    David Walsh

    July 29, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    • As you say you have to be pretty odd to consider this important, although this Blog which got hold of the original dispute from an Irish friend who well, does not love greatly the CWI and was one of the first to publish the factional documents, got a quite few thousand hits for posts on this at the time.

      Andrew Coates

      July 29, 2021 at 5:54 pm

      • There is this: (Socialist Appeal).

        Marxism on the march worldwide: IMT Congress 2021

        “watch parties of comrades gathered on every continent and in every corner of the globe.” “a high political level that cannot be found in any other organisation.” I shall have to order a copy of this, “At the congress it was announced that the IMT will be publishing a book this autumn by Alan Woods, The History of Philosophy, , tracing the development of philosophy up to the arrival of Marx and Engels at a clear, scientific outlook.
        This book in turn will set the scene for another book currently being written by Alan on the philosophy of Marxism itself. Once published, these books will be powerful weapons in the arsenal of a new generation of revolutionaries.”


        Andrew Coates

        July 29, 2021 at 6:02 pm

  3. A few years ago Chris Williamson appeared at the SWP’s Marxism event with Charles Kimber where Kimber fawned all over him. It’s probably on YouTube somewhere. Williamson proceeded to give a badly digested take on how Modern Monetary Theory is some kind of a Socialist pancea to the bemused Revolutionaries. The SWP probably thought Williamson was edging towards them (high profile speakers are rare at Marxisms nowadays). Alias it wasn’t to be.


    July 29, 2021 at 4:26 pm

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