Peter Sedgwick et al.

Discussion on factions

(May-June 1970)

From IS Internal Bulletin, May 1970.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

1. Correspondence with Peter Sedgwick

(to be opened only in the event of clauses f and h in their general sense being passed)


as from 28 New Walk Terrace, York
23rd May, 1970

Dear Comrades,

The NC has now endorsed a political and organisational structure for IS which is anti-democratic in content and totalitarian in tendency.

If implemented, it would render IS more intolerant towards the minorities, in certain key respects, than the most sectarian Trotskyist groups. To limit the propagation of ideas to ‘group members’ only is fitting only for a sect: to make such a limitation a disciplinary rule, to be infringed only at the risk of expulsion, violates every principle of revolutionary democracy, and to create a rule whereby comrades can be expelled or disciplined merely for meeting together is a hollow mockery of everything for which IS used to stand,

I therefore terminate my membership of the National Committee and of the IS Editorial board which I have been on for some while.

The implementation of the NC’s factional rules by annual conference would force the necessity for further decisions on the compatibility of the Group's membership with elementary principles of socialism.


Fraternally, Peter Sedgwick


(letter sent to cde. Sedgwick from NC)

Dear Peter,

After you left the NC meeting last Saturday a resolution was proposed expressing the opinion that your resignation from the National Committee could not be accepted on the following grounds.

  1. that the NC is the servant of the IS group and it will be IS members, after discussion in their branches, who will decide whether the Report’s recommendations are accepted or not.
  2. you were elected to go to the NC by the Conference and it is therefore your duty to fight for your position on this subject on the NC.

Consequently, you are still regarded as a member of the National Committee.


fraternally, Tessa Lindop


(letter received by cde. Sedgwick to June NC)

Dear Tessa,

Thanks for the letter you sent me on behalf of the NC dated May 28th but I have nothing to add to my letter addressed to the last NC, terminating my membership of it and the IS editorial board in consequence of the NC proposal to implant spies is all faction meetings and to censor public discussion on the Left concerned with basic political, differences within the Group.

I request that my letter to the last NC be published immediately in the Internal Bulletin of the Group: I should be glad to hear of the outcome of this request. A PS should be added to the letter as follows:
P.S. June 19th: the revised rule approved by the NC whereby factional material would not be banned outright from publication but be vetted by the EC before possible publication represents concession towards sanity: on the other hand, it vests the majority faction of the Group with the power to prevent a minority from making its disagreements public. And the EC’s treatment of a recent Workers Fight publication, insisting on a pseudonym to disguise the position of WF and deleting a critique of Duncan Hallas Fourth International article, make the dangers of this all too clear. Publication of excessively ‘internal’ material is of course foolish, but common sense rather than bureaucratic censorship should be permitted to operate.


fraternally, Peter Sedgwick



2. Resolution from Southampton IS

Southampton IS consider clause 11 (f) of the NC commission recommendations on factions to be:

  1. impracticable it is impossible to give a set of criteria as to what constitutes a factional meeting, e.g if a dozen known member of a faction were seen sitting together in a Wimpy Bar, how are we to refute their claim that it was an informal meeting between comrades?
  2. undemocratic although it is obviously desirable that a faction should hold open meetings, there will be occasions when private meetings (e.g. on tactical questions) will be unavoidable. It seems to us unlikely that cdes. in the leading organs of the group have no informal meetings (for conferences, etc,) and other non-factional groupings of cdes. will also be left with this advantage over factions.

Consequently, we consider that this clause can only lead to a great deal of bitterness between factions and the ‘mainstream’ of the group since it cannot possibly be adhered to by factions and leaves the way wide open for accusations going brought against them.

On these grounds we ask the NC to reconsider their decision on this proposal.


Last updated on 16.1.2005