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Jim Higgins

More Years for the Locust

Appendix 6

I shall prick this bloated bladder of lies with the poniard of truth.
Aneurin Bevin



This document is the platform of the IS Opposition. It is not the preparation for a split and it sees the fight around its main planks as the reconstruction of IS as a democratic centralist organisation. We stand upon the IS tradition of maximum possible internal democracy and maximum unity in action. We see as central to the task of party building, serious work in the rank and file movement, the extension of factory branches, and the mutual development of the branches, districts and fractions of IS.

We stand unashamedly on the IS tradition of worker leadership at all levels in IS and for practical steps to make this possible. We believe that IS, by tradition, politics and experience is uniquely placed to build the party in Britain today. We strongly believe that current organisational moves from the centre, the downgrading of central political leadership are counterproductive to the essential tasks.

This document does not exhaust all the criticisms, its development will take place, and we hope constructively, in the process of genuine discussion. At the end of each section we outline resolutions containing specific proposals for the conference. At the end of the document we list the eight general points of our platform. We urge all those who support our main criticisms, proposals and determination to fight for IS politics, within IS, to contact us to join the faction, and to fight wherever possible within IS for its programme.

Democratic Centralism

Democratic centralism is not a luxury but an indispensable principle of internal organisation in the struggle to build a revolutionary socialist organisation. By democratic centralism we mean that every IS member should be involved as deeply as possible in the discussions and the decision making of the organisation. This is no easy matter. It requires a serious and consistent education programme, a frequent discussion of the relationship between the party and the class and the development of a mutual trust between the leadership and the membership. Only with trust will self-discipline through commitment of the members develop. This is the only kind of discipline that helps in the building of the organisation. Any system of orders from above by a Central Committee will reduce the members to sterility, irrelevance or apathy.

The development of genuine, thorough-going democratic centralism requires a healthy internal life. Duncan Hallas summed it up perfectly in his introduction to Party and Class: “Such a party cannot possibly be created except on a thoroughly democratic basis; unless in its internal life, vigorous controversy is the rule and various tendencies and shades of opinion are represented, a socialist party cannot rise above the level of a sect. Internal democracy is not an optional extra, it is fundamental to the relationship between party members and those among whom they work (p.21)”

The truth is that in the past two years IS has at best been operating only partly on these principles and at worst has degenerated into a bureaucratic centralism worthy only of a sect. This came to a head last year with the sackings from Socialist Worker. The response from the members showed their concern: more than eighty resolutions from branches expressed concern to the May NC. That NC censured the EC for its neglect of the internal life of the organisation. This was reinforced at the last conference when a similar resolution from Harlow was carried. But since that conference the spirit and the letter of the resolution have been largely ignored. And more recently the members’ rights have been seriously threatened. The current rationalisation for the clamp-down is basically efficiency and security. Take the question of security. Nothing that we can reasonably do will avoid the attentions of the Special Branch. As long as we maintain an organisation of any recognisable kind we will be the subject of successful attempts to learn our internal affairs. Modern technology makes it unnecessary for the state security agencies to infiltrate IS, although we have no doubt that they do. Every meeting held in public halls, and some held in private, can be overheard by electronic surveillance. Of course, we must be acutely conscious of the need for security and take every precaution. But security should mean extreme care over names, financial and administrative detail. It should not be used as a basis for restricting political information from the members, including political divisions among the leadership. In the end, the best kind of security we can have is the protection of the organised working-class movement against state attacks. That will best be won by an informed membership building our base in the working class movement.

The threat of a state clamp-down and repression of the revolutionary left is not one that we take lightly. But we do say that one of the preconditions for survival and effective work in semi-legal conditions is an informed, educated membership able through political understanding to operate with the necessary degree of independence. The plans set out by the EC in no way measure up to the needs of IS if the leadership’s dire predictions come true. There is no alternative system of communication; national, district and local leaderships are not shadowed by substitute leaderships. There is no suggestion of safe houses, no letter drops and, most important, there is no plan for alternative printing facilities. One thing is clear: the latest organisational proposals are at best irrelevant to security and will deny both the members and the leadership the concerted discussion that will adequately prepare us for attack.

If the argument on security is overdone then we are left with the question of efficiency. This raises a point of some significance: is efficiency the rapid conclusion of debate by a restricted number of people who will agree with one another? Surely it is the case that revolutionary efficiency is accomplished by the development of the greatest number of members who have a firm grasp of overall politics and who will work for those politics? Current proposals for the banning of visitors to conference and for one delegate per thirty members elected on a district basis will have the opposite effect. It is argued in the document of the Organisational Commission that IS conferences are more akin to rallies, with demagogy and crowd-pleasing from floor and platform. A small conference dealing in depth with key questions in splendid isolation from the distraction of IS members would, the Commission says, be a great advance.

The truth is that the form of the discussion and whether it deals with key questions is a function of the agenda and the quality of the pre-conference discussions. It is within the power of the central leadership to deal with both of these items but they have shown no discernible inclination to do so. The IB has contained no documents that would enable anyone to orient around a clear political discussion. The degree of demagogy at any meeting is not related to its size but to the quality of the speeches and the speakers. The conference is a part of the life of IS. If properly organised it can be a positive inspiration to the comrades. Under the current ground rules it will become the object of suspicion. With the new proposals on district discussion and election we enter the area where the word ‘gerrymander’ seems not inappropriate.

We are not opposed to district organisation, quite the opposite, we believe it will be very important in the development of IS, bringing together the best experiences of an area for other comrades to build from. But the few districts that already exist and function well have been built step by step from discussion, experience and learning how to adapt the organisational form to the local situation. There can be no national formula, it will fly in the face of our few successful attempts if we try to railroad the idea through artificially. What is more, if it is forced on us before conference the district aggregate will be the victim of all the ills that are alleged to afflict our national conference to date. Demagogy and verbal intimidation are implicit within the scheme. During the discussion two years ago on the introduction of factory branches, one of the great merits claimed for the proposal was the fact that factory branches, as opposed to factory cells, would enable the worker members to be better represented at conference. The latest idea will jettison this desirable objective into the same old geographical electoral base. Further, the highly restrictive adoption of the one in thirty rule will mean that most districts will have only two or at the most three delegates. District organisation must be developed as we grown in numbers and when the political pre-conditions for such a method of organisation in any given area exist. It cannot be imposed from above in the hope that by declaring districts we will in reality create them.

The proposal for a new Central Committee of nine full-time organisers and a two-monthly advisory NC is making a bad situation worse. Over the years there has been a problem of how the NC of forty meeting once a month can effectively control an EC of ten full-time IS organisers. NC members have tended to see themselves as rubber stamps, only occasionally asserting themselves, particularly if the EC was divided. However, in the last analysis, a committee with the majority of its members with their roots in the working class was able to prevent some of the worst errors of the full-time leadership. The new proposals will remove what control there is, and make the full-time EC even less accountable to the members.

The real problem is the construction of a worker leadership. Far from assisting this, the EC proposals fly directly counter to worker involvement at national level. Past and current practice has been for the NC to act as the passive recipient of the ‘line’ produced by the EC. NC members are not involved in actually making policy but in rubber-stamping or occasionally rejecting what is put before them. The obvious need is for the worker members (indeed all the NC members) to be involved at a much earlier stage in the process of policy making. This is not at all impossible. NC members should be distributed among various commissions that deal with all the organisational and political areas of group activity. Quite obviously it is not possible to bring worker NC members down to the Centre twice a month. A solution would be that the NC should meet every two months and that in the ‘non NC’ months the commissions should meet mandatorily, for at least a day to prepare their report for the next NC.

The commissions will require support from the centre for efficient circulation of documents concerning meeting and submitting reports to the NC. Unless the NC through its commissions can develop the worker specialists in every facet of group politics and activity, the most immaculate Central Committee will be rudderless. The EC proposals for a purely consultative NC is no substitute for a properly involved and experienced worker leadership with real power to effect the direction of policy.

If this procedure seems cumbersome, we can only say that the alternative is not just contrary to the IS tradition and the often stated need for worker leadership, but is in fact the reverse of efficient and a device that denies the leadership almost as much as it denies the members.

Throughout this document we make specific proposals in resolution form for the running of IS. We are aware that the resolution in itself will not solve the problem, but we do believe it shows the right emphasis and given the correct spirit, can begin to restore the practice of democratic centralism to IS. One thing is clear: continuation of the present trends to more secrecy, more centralism and less democracy, will lead to a growing cynicism among a dwindling number of members.

This conference believes that it is vital for IS to base its internal life on genuine democratic centralist principles. It further believes that while security is important it should not be used for restricting political information to members. Conference affirms that while changes to the existing structure will in future be both necessary and desirable they should not be imposed from above, hurriedly and without discussion. It therefore believes that until the next conference the following points must be adhered to in the running of the organisation: -

  1. The National Conference is the supreme policy making body of the group. Its decisions are binding on all sections of the organisation. Only in an emergency will the NC be empowered to change a conference decision.
  2. Delegates to conference will be elected by branches on the basis of one to fifteen, or majority of fifteen members. In workplace branches with a majority of manual workers the basis will be one to five.
  3. Visitors to conference will be encouraged. Problems of security will be dealt with by credential issue and strict gate security.
  4. Conference will elect an NC for forty members which will be the leading body of the organisation between conferences. The NC will elect an EC as at present.
  5. The NC will consult the members where possible in making its decisions. To this end, NC members will be allocated to branches/districts/fractions and must engage in regular two way discussion.
  6. Full NC minutes with voting records will be circulated to branches, with a full summary appearing in the Internal Bulletin (security sensitive items omitted).
  7. The Internal Bulletin should be published monthly and supplied to all members. All major documents shall appear in the Bulletin, articles from members will be encouraged.

The conference recognises that these points on their own will not guarantee the practice of democratic centralism in IS. It believes that this can only be developed by a mutual trust between the membership and the leadership. It therefore calls upon the incoming NC, EC and all full-time workers to develop this over the coming year.

On Perspectives

The aim of perspective writing is not merely to produce an accurate description, but to draw a clear picture of the world in which we operate and to orient the cadre towards revolutionary activity and the construction of the party. This is central and indispensable and it is in this sense that we would criticise the perspectives set out by the EC.

We agree that there is a crisis of capitalism internationally. We agree that Britain has been able to avoid the worst rigours of unemployment and slump due to the large influx of petro-dollars. We accept fully the rightward drift of the trade union bureaucracy. We agree that the phenomenon of ‘Bennery’ is not an expression of a left wing; we would go further and say that it is an expression of state capitalism as a model for reviving British capitalism.

We do have a less catastrophic view of the likelihood of the oil deposits disappearing from the city of London (for the good and sufficient reason that the Arabs have only New York as the alternative site for their deposits – a place that has distinct political disadvantages for them), but we certainly agree that there is a degree of crisis and instability in British capitalism that must give some sleepless nights in the upper echelons of the system.

Having agreed with all this, we are still dissatisfied. Our complaint is that the broad sweep of the perspectives is not accompanied by a serious attempt to fit the activity of the group into the perspective. The class analysis is missing. For example the IS Journal and Internal Bulletin contain a passing reference to the possibility of a centrist split in the Labour Party. Such a possibility should not be idly floated. It requires some discussion of the experience in the localities to test out the idea, and if it were seen as a possibility, definite proposals for IS activity should have been forthcoming orienting our work on the Labour Party. We do not think there is a possibility of a centrist split, but give the example as one of many where the perspectives are left as vague generalities. A further example occurred at the March NC. The suggestion was made by a leading EC member that the prospect was for the Arab oil deposits to be withdrawn within the next six months. Such a possibility carries with it certain political conclusions flowing from the collapse of the pound sterling, if not the entire system itself.

Government of national unity and all manner of splits and differentiations in conventional parties would be on the cards. That is something that has certain conclusions for our activity. The only one drawn at the NC was that there was no time for lengthy discussion before the crash. Perspectives are not general statements, but should link in very definitely with how to develop our activity.

Our differences are not in the general analysis but in the disconnection between the generalities and the specific course of action proposed. This can be summarised at the leadership’s adoption of perspectives and methods that assume or, more accurately, require a continually-rising level of struggle in the class. With this goes the assumption that the tasks of members are essentially apolitical – to sell more papers to people who are waiting eagerly for our line and to recruit people who only need to be asked. This results in disillusionment, with members left unprepared for the hard political slog.

The IS case is not argued in detail in the paper, merely stated with the appropriate amount of force and conviction. The SW Perspective article appears to say that there is really not much we can do until the prediction eventually comes true, so it follows that clarity about the present period is not all that important.

The general struggle would create a worker leadership for IS and our intervention would provide the answers to disputes without the need for the ‘luxury’ of internal debate, and the rising tide would sweep non-IS people into the rank and file movement and remove the need for special efforts to avoid IS dominance.

Where the real world has forced itself on the leadership it has not led to any questioning of the method. The response to disillusionment is the demand to ‘think big’, to do more, ignoring the fact that mindless activism is almost as destructive as inactivity. The response on the paper is the ad hoc insertion of political articles that have no consistent theme. The response on perspectives is to admit the error and propose a strategy that is essentially to do whatever will keep us going until the original view comes true.

The response on internal organisation is two-fold; on the one hand to propose the new delegate basis that was originally conceived for a situation with strong districts based on leaderships tested in the expected struggles, and the Central Committee which was designed in the same way; on the other hand to indulge in the security frenzy as a new gimmick to get the members committed to an organisational structure they do not understand and will probably dislike.

The response on the R&F is similar to the response to disillusionment: multiply the circulars, the resolutions and the demos in a desperate attempt to gain the initiative and capture the people we have failed to bring in.

In reality we have moved into a far more complicated area of diffuse and localised struggles from the mass actions of last year. Unemployment, short time and the prospect of large-scale redundancies are the external signs of the crisis and they are the reason for the less ready acceptance by workers of militant activity and slogans. It is no longer possible to recruit on the basis of a generalised strike offensive.

Politics become the key question in terms of recruitment and the maintenance of the members and the building of a cadre. As another manifestation of the crisis we get new possibilities – as at Imperial Typewriters – to make consistent politics a reality to numbers of workers. At Leyland and Chrysler we have opportunities for bringing the question of combine organisation and action to the tore and to politicise a whole new audience. We have a number of possibilities in the unions and in the factories if we take the trouble to actually elucidate serious political policies. The vital need is to reaffirm the development of factory branches, and the strengthening of the trade union fractions. This has to be seen as an integral part of our work to develop the rank and file movement. However, these steps cannot happen accidentally. The work of the IS centre in clearly outlining priorities after much discussion with IS members and giving consistent support and attention to the fractions and factory branches, has been lacking. Around the issues of redundancies, short time working, attacks on the trade union organisations, health and safety at work, our factory branches and trade union fractions could be active, so allowing the development of our work in the rank and file movement on a far more serious basis.

The perspectives, if they are to be more than annual ritual, have to actually guide the members in their activity in the real world. That means a serious attitude to the developments in the Labour Party and the government. As the capitalist crisis deepens the pressure will inevitably build within the Labour Party and more importantly among working class Labour voters. The danger will be that, as with Bevanism in the 1950s, Bennery will represent for a new generation of industrial militants a new, and more attractively populist, left wing. The workers cooperative idea has obvious attractions for workers living with redundancy as a real prospect. We have to oppose this with a clear statement of nationalisation under workers control without compensation. This will not be easy. There is a real and entirely justified reaction against bureaucratic nationalisation. But we do have the capacity to organise a campaign that will have nationalisation as a central part together with opposition to health, welfare and education cuts. In such a campaign we could mobilise a much wider, more political periphery than we have at present. Socialist Worker can once more become an important focus of consistent activity, with features, background and reports. Such a campaign will pay off in terms of membership and influence far more than the ill-conceived and adventurist Walsall by-election comedy.

The politics of working class life now contain arguments on political issues such as nationalisation and the nature of welfare. This means that the trade unions are once again an arena for political discussion that transcends simple trade union militancy. The relationship between capitalist failure, Labour political failure, the social contract, inflation, welfare cuts and how society is organised are now open questions that can be the subject of a far more specifically political treatment by revolutionaries. The perspectives fail to even show any appreciation of this fact.

Of even more concern is the fact that the perspectives document has practically nothing to say on the Rank and File Movement. What was for the last three conferences a central part of the task of party building has been down-graded to a single paragraph that tells far less than the low level of existing activity.

The real indictment that we level at the present leadership is that it is unable to connect either the perspective with the members or develop the leadership that could do so. The changes in the line that we have seen over the last period seem more concerned with the internal situation in IS than in the real world outside. Perspectives are written to the IS conference calendar, not to the objective needs of the political operation of the members outside. Socialist Worker episodically, and fitfully, attempts to fill the gap made by the disconnection of the leadership from the members. Leadership never was the issuing of instructions – it should be a mutual process of development. Unless those links are restored and strengthened the prospect is for more disputes, more mistakes and a steady loss of comrades.

This conference believes that the perspectives document produced in Socialist Worker and the March Internal Bulletin is a barely adequate description of the development within capitalism and the Labour Party, and is grossly inadequate in failing to guide the members to serious work in the next period. Apart from the Rank and File Movement, there is no serious prescription for activity. The very effect of the crisis is to give a spurious left credibility to Benn and to foster the illusions in Labourism in that very section of advanced workers among whom IS should presently be gaining influence and members. It is therefore necessary for the group to develop a total critique of Labour and to campaign nationally on our own distinctive policies.

The main elements of such a campaign, in addition to the work already being done on the social contract should be: –

  1. Nationalisation without compensation under workers control.
  2. Government cuts in education, health, welfare etc.
  3. A centralised and properly monitored struggle in the unions and industry for a militant stance on pay, redundancy and unemployment, to both expose the union bureaucracy and to indicate the need for a rank and file movement.

The details of this wide campaign to be worked out and submitted to the members at district and regional aggregates within one month of the May conference. Special reference should be made to utilising Socialist Worker as a central feature of the campaign with supporting articles, reports etc.

Rank and File Movement

To make clear our criticism of the IS record on the Rank and File Movement, and to point to the necessary first steps to begin to set things straight, it may be helpful to say a few words about the theory behind rank and file work. In so doing we may also throw a little light on the nature of transitional politics.

The rank and file cannot be conjured up at the whim of the revolutionary movement. It is not a timeless formation merely requiring the initiative of revolutionaries to exist. The partial success and tremendous potential of the Minority Movement in the 1920s was based on a number of necessary factors:

  1. The post-1918 decline of British capitalism.
  2. The attack on workers’ living standards and conditions.
  3. The inability and unwillingness of the official trade union machine to provide a solution to workers’ economic problems.
  4. The existence within industry of a large number of militants developed in the rank and file struggles that occurred between 1910 and 1922.
  5. The existence of a small but overwhelmingly working class revolutionary party in the CP (the CP membership of the time numbered 3,000-4,000 members).

The crisis in capitalism and the inadequacy of the trade union bureaucracy are necessary pre-conditions. The weakness of the revolutionary vanguard and the political grip of trade union and social democratic reformism make the rank and file movement the ideal vehicle for the transition from economic to political struggle and from mass reformist politics to revolutionary politics. It is in this sense that the rank and file movement is ‘the bridge to the revolutionary party’.

But the rank and file is neither the substitute for nor a section of the revolutionary organisation. Its main thrust is militant trade union struggle. In so far as the crisis in capitalism makes struggle inevitable it will require and acquire political objectives that a consistent revolutionary organisation will be able to supply.

It follows from this that the R&F Movement that is not independent, that is both in appearance and in fact a front will never become anything of significance in the workers’ movement. It is also true, and history confirms this, that the initial impetus for the movement must come from revolutionaries. Having established the framework, the task is to work tirelessly to make it independent. The R&F Movement, unlike the revolutionary party, has to represent the highest common factor of trade union struggle. It cannot be this nor can it be any sort of bridge if it does not with reasonable speed go beyond the capacity of a small revolutionary party to control it. No matter how hard it is to swallow, you just cannot have a worthwhile movement that performs any useful let alone revolutionary function that is the passive creature of IS or any other group.

The situation in Britain is different from that in the 1920s, but there are important similarities. If the nature of the crisis is different, there is nevertheless a crisis that afflicts the economic, political and industrial life of the country. There is the long standing and apparently endless pressure on wages. In the 1920s the ruling class had sufficient strength and confidence to defeat the trade unions. Today they have to buy, cajole and convince the TUC and the bureaucracy. The trade union bosses, despite the power of the movement, despite the absence of defeat, nevertheless are convinced of the need for passivity because they can see no other solution within the context of capitalism. By politics, their own function and tradition they cannot go beyond the boundaries of capitalists. It is part of that dilemma they cannot even adequately perform their modest trade union role. It is then abundantly clear that at least the first three conditions for the R&F Movement are fulfilled.

But what of the other two vital conditions? There is not a layer of militants with a common reference to a heritage, such as the syndicalist-influenced rank and filers of the 1920s. There is however within the factories and workshops a highly developed, if insular, system of worker representatives and shop stewards. The more politically inclined are often to a greater or lesser degree influenced by the CP. In consequence their notion of generalising beyond the individual factory is too often seen through the trade union machinery, with the preoccupation on elections and vote gathering. But it is from this layer, the one whose numbers actually lead in the factories, that the rank and file movement must be built. It is for this reason that we see the argument about the audience to which SW addresses itself as vitally important. It is because of the CP influence in the broad movement that we see the question of the independence of the R&F Movement as of more than secondary importance.

As the crisis deepens, as unemployment, redundancies and prices creep upwards, capitalism itself will provide the generalising experience that cannot be answered either within the individual factory or the trade union machine. The Labour left and the CP will not have an answer. If we make our politics clear and indicate their relevance and coherence we will have a great deal to gain. If we orient our cadre correctly in industry and the trade unions the R&F Movement has a great future.

But of course IS does not have the far more favourable social composition of the early CP. It has even less the wide periphery of workers schooled in ten years of shared struggle, and it does have the opposition of a CP entrenched in a number of important areas where we need to succeed. The situation then is much more difficult for us, but is it impossible? If it is impossible then we should, with the least fuss and as discretely as possible, wrap up the whole enterprise. A body that holds periodic conferences with declining credibility is a dubious asset that will rapidly become a millstone.

We do not believe that it is impossible to carry out the necessary tasks. We believe that by theory and politics IS is ideally and uniquely situated to perform them. But to do so it will have to learn from its own past errors and omissions. First it has got to organise real roots in the localities. Because of the diffuse nature of the movement, the work will often be at a low level of target and performance, but a start has to be made. If all that can be achieved is for single IS militants to meet one other non-IS steward to agree on some preparatory steps to build something perhaps not even a local R&F committee but the production of a rank and file bulletin that goes beyond one factory, then we have started something that can grow. Far more ambitiously, we do have a cadre, in one or two big combines to initiate moves for combine stewards’ committees and for the production of combine newspapers. That work is tremendously important and requires more than the rather feeble efforts put in it by the centre to date. Between both of these upper and lower limits there are a number of levels of activity that members can usefully work in. But unless we attempt a general, carefully planned and monitored programme of activity, whatever successes we have in combine newspapers and committees will not build the R&F Movement if there has not been consistent work all over the country at every level possible. There has to be organic growth or there will be nothing but an IS financed and sustained shell that will stand in the way of future attempts to build in the rank and file.

The record of IS during the past twelve months of the R&F Movement has not been one to justify the high hopes of the founding conference in March 1974. The need to take the initiative granted by that first conference was not grasped. The requirement for independence was not understood or was ignored. The Organising Committee was staffed by IS members whose qualifications were more their IS cards than their ability to lead in their workplace. The clear need to bring non-IS militants in was seen as subversive of IS control. At the March NC we had the ludicrous suggestion put forward by EC members (written down in the Organisation Commission report) that the worker members of the NC should be put on the R&F Organising Committee. The members must be made to learn, or to remember, that the R&F Movement is not nor should be the property of IS into which it can decant leadership from above. Either the leadership arises from the worker militants in or out of IS who agree with the programme and are capable of fighting for it in their unions and factories or the R&F Movement does not exist except as an extension of IS’s propaganda effort. The accusations levelled frequently by the CP and other hostile groups that the R&F Movement is an IS front become more and more difficult to contradict.

The essence of the theory and practice of a genuine rank and file movement is not that it is an auxiliary arm of IS or any revolutionary organisation, but that by its independent, autonomous existence it provides the arena in which workers can fight more effectively. This is the fact that, in the midst of capitalist crisis, will bring new and tested worker members to the party. Even now it is not too late to make amends for the lost time and opportunities over the past year, but the work has to be put in hand as a matter of urgent priority.

The role and importance of the Rank and File movement is not developed in the political perspectives document. There needs to be a careful examination of the experience with the National Rank and File Movement and what it can do in the future.

  1. Factory branches, and a serious concern to develop them, have to be re-emphasised. They are an integral part of our work to build the Rank and File Movement.
  2. The present crisis creates possibilities for IS members to initiate rank and file activity at many levels, from the development of combine newspapers to the drawing together of factories in a locality to fight common problems of wages, conditions and redundancies. These possibilities have to be encouraged.
  3. The way the centre supports and gives attention to rank and file activity so that initiatives can be taken up needs more coordination.
  4. This, of course, does not mean that the Rank and File Movement has to be preserved. But on issues to which IS can give a good deal of support, if there is adequate preparation and attention, for example the Health and Safety School, then IS should clearly put a major effort into such activity.
  5. The ability of the Rank and File Movement to implement policies is related to its strength at local level. Attempts to call for actions which the National Rank and File Movement cannot play some part in implementing can only serve to discredit it. Therefore we should be looking far more to initiatives which can develop the movement’s credibility rather than to grandiose calls to action.

Socialist Worker

The decline in the political influence of Socialist Worker and the sharp fall in its sales are a major concern. The paper no longer provides a clear and consistent political lead for members and readers. Politics is no longer an integral feature of the paper but is reduced to the occasional exposure of a leading Labour politician. Worse, the paper’s coverage of industry is restricted to strike reports and ritual attacks on the union bureaucracy without a clear set of policies and programme to direct the work of our industrial members and our close supporters. The paper’s attitude to the Labour government has opened a dangerous credibility gap between IS and those militants who still have illusions in reformism. Twice yearly attacks on the phenomenon of Wedgwood Benn that merely accuse him of political dishonesty and crudely make no distinction between Benn and the Prentice/Jenkins wing strengthen militants’ support for Labour rather than weaken it. As we have noted, Benn represents a state capitalist solution to the problems of the British economy, but his solutions are cloaked in left phrases and he is under constant attack from the Tory press. Workers will be won from ‘Bennery’ towards revolutionary politics only by a sensitive critique of Benn’s politics and the workers’ cooperative experience and a clear exposition of our alternative of nationalisation under workers’ control.

The paper must be a two-way transmission belt between the leadership and the members. Strike reports by themselves are an inadequate alternative to real analysis and guides to action. Security considerations aside, the paper must direct to a large extent IS’s industrial work. This means not only directives and programmes for our trade union members but reports of our successes and failures and some honest accounting of our difficulties.

The paper’s current style flows from the debate a year ago when a majority of the EC promised a rapidly rising circulation if the paper abandoned its concern with `hard’ politics and its orientation on experienced militants. The new audience was to be traditionless but rebellious younger workers who, it was patronisingly assumed, would not read ‘boring’ political articles. Two journalists were removed from the paper for daring to disagree with this departure from traditional IS politics. The result has been no major shift in the paper’s orientation – there is nothing in it specifically to attract younger workers – just a rapid retreat from politics, an over-compensation with ‘exposure’ and corruption articles and proliferating strike reports that lack analysis and fail to offer cohesive advice to our members and industrial supporters.

Education – a vital part of the revolutionary paper – has been reduced to the occasional snippet buried at the back of the paper. But historical articles on the failures and successes of previous workers’ movements can inform current practice and prevent the repetition of mistakes. Similarly, the need for a revolutionary party needs argument, analysis and historical back-up, not just slogans tacked on to news items.

A change is urgently needed if the paper’s decline is to be halted and reversed. Socialist Worker must be the political expression of IS, analysing and directing our members’ work. Regular non-IS readers should be able to grasp IS’s distinctive political style and content.

The paper should continue the education of members and their overall development of the work. The paper should be the mainstay of the group and its advance guard in the factories. The old dispute about a ‘paper for workers’ or a ‘workers’ paper’ is not the question at issue. A workers’ paper is not necessarily written by workers; it is one that generalises revolutionary ideas so that it has a relevance to a wider audience than would otherwise be possible. Socialist Worker is not such a paper. It must be transformed into an IS instrument for intervention in the class struggle.

Conference, concerned at the declining sales and influence of SW and the paper’s drift from a coherent political analysis, affirms that:

  1. SW must be the political expression of IS providing a consistent political analysis that determines the activity of our members and supporters. In industry especially, the paper must present programmes and policies that direct the work of our members in the trade unions. Work that in turn should be reported and critically analysed in the paper. Strike reports and attacks on the ‘bureaucracy’ do not by themselves arm the membership.
  2. The paper must intervene in the politics of the Labour movement with a sensitive and regular coverage of the Labour Government. Twice yearly exposes of ‘Bennery’, a crude lumping of rights and lefts in the Labour Party, or blurring of the class differences between Labour and Tory politicians divorces the paper from militant class conscious workers whose lingering illusions in reformism are strengthened, not weakened by the paper’s attitudes.
  3. There must be a return to regular educational articles on the history and development of working class and revolutionary movements, both national and international. Such articles are a badly needed antidote to the increasing voluntarism of the paper at present. The need for a revolutionary party requires argument and analysis, not the ritualistic slogan tacked on to the end of every news item.
  4. While every effort must be made to expand sales and support, SW’s main thrust must be towards the advanced militant in industry and the trade unions, the essential cadre of the revolutionary party.


IS can and must recruit working class women. We must see our main aim as developing women cadres to lead struggles in their workplaces. Last year’s conference voted for a monthly Women’s Voice and a full-time worker to edit it and organise around it. We have the monthly paper and editor but there are no perspectives that seriously link women with our general economic and industrial perspectives and as a result there are no guidelines for women’s work in industry. The predicted upsurge in women’s struggles around equal pay is not happening. The idea was based on the belief that equal pay year would act as the same trigger to widespread action as thresholds did in 1974. This perspective ignored the effect of the social contract and the threat of unemployment. It also ignored the complexity of equal pay compared to the straightforward demand for a threshold payment. In this situation, a Rank and File Conference that was a result of the mistaken perspective needed to be adapted to the reality of the situation. In fact any value that such a conference could have offered has been forfeited in the way it has been sprung on members with only five weeks to organise women worker delegates, who face more problems than other workers in attending national conferences. Then with three weeks to go branches received a desperate plea for observers for the conference.

In this situation, members can have no confidence in the outcome and will not be willing to do the necessary hard work to get delegates and observers. And the details of the conference have not been accompanied by any industrial perspective for branch work.

We believe there can be no national blueprint for work around equal pay at the present tune. The emphasis must be on local intervention, especially by factory branches and Socialist Worker groups. The women’s sub-committee should produce a national worksheet outlining the stated positions and activity to date of the major unions, the employers’ loopholes developed over the past five years, and instructions to branches on what to find out to ensure they understand their local situations so they can intervene and argue a principled line. The woman full-timer should coordinate this work.

The single issue worrying most women workers at present is the threat of redundancies and our militants must be armed with principled arguments about women’s right to work. This cannot be approached as a separate issue. It must be at the forefront of all our propaganda about unemployment. In situations such as Imperial Typewriters, where women are among those affected by the closure, our intervention must consider the needs of women. But though similar situations will undoubtedly occur, we cannot base our perspectives solely on them. More common will be the pamphlet on unemployment with a major section on women’s right to work, showing how women’s position in society and women’s wage rates are connected to the idea of ‘women out first’. Socialist Worker must arm our militants with relevant and down to earth arguments and each factory branch or groups must thrash out their attitudes and how they are going to argue. All IS meetings on redundancies should have a local woman trade unionist on the platform and speakers’ notes should be produced by the women’s sub-committee.

Non-industrial work has been an equally startling omission. This stems from a narrow perspective that sees women only as workers and fails to realise that women workers often have to face their problems as women at the same time as they confront their problems as workers, such as the problem of looking after children while maintaining a 24 hour picket. It must also be recognised that although the best male class leaders are inevitably in industry, the same cannot necessarily be said about women. Due to family responsibility, many may temporarily be out of these positions but they can be drawn back into struggle over a whole number of issues where women fight to protect their standard of living – prices, housing, education and so on. The importance of these issues is to show that the crisis is affecting all aspects of working class life and campaigns around them will help expose the Labour Party and the social contract. We need to work out the issues that will give rise to struggles, give a lead in how to organise campaigns and link them with the relevant groups of workers, drawing on what our members are already involving themselves in, such as the campaign against education cuts in Richmond, Surrey.

Branches need detailed help on how to inject politics into community campaigns. We have some relevant experience already but it needs collating and generalising. Women’s Voice is unlikely to be used constructively as a monthly paper while the group lacks leadership in women’s work. The paper has changed its whole orientation without discussion with the areas that use it most. IS women have different experiences of whether Women’s Voice is more successful with its main emphasis on trade union matters (as at present) or more of a balance between work and the issues that affect women as wives and mothers (as was the case until the end of 1974). The paper needs more time to be tried as a monthly organiser and more discussion is needed with members, but whatever emphasis proves most successful, there should be a shift back to a paper written by working class women rather than being produced mainly by teachers, journalists and full-timers at Cottons Gardens. The appointment of Sheila MacGregor as the women’s full-timer is also unsatisfactory. The woman appointed to this job should be someone with experience of and sympathy for work with working class women. Cde MacGregor has argued on the NC for the past two years, and in her branch, against a separate women’s paper, and until recently she also argued against the need for any kind of women’s work in IS.

A monthly Women’s Voice with the right editor/organiser could advance our work with women rapidly but, as with all aspects of IS work, it needs to be linked with a comprehensive perspective that is capable of being operated by the membership. The crisis will mean additional hardship for working class women. It will affect all aspect of their lives. Just stabbing at unrelated aspects, as at present on abortion, in search of a campaign will not on its own inspire our members or impress the women we should be organising and recruiting.

Conference considers that IS’s work with working class women should take account of the fact that their problems as women are inextricably linked to their problems as workers.

  1. Our main perspective should be to develop working class women cadres to lead struggles in their workplaces, and IS militants must play a leading role in this by intervening wherever women go into struggle over the right to work, Equal Pay etc. In our work with women workers we must also attend to the concrete problems that affect their ability to struggle – child care problems, domestic responsibilities.
  2. If we are to recruit working class women we must intervene in struggles outside the factory which illustrate the wide-reaching nature of the crisis – education, welfare, rents, prices etc. Such issues are important in the consciousness of women workers as well as housewives, and can develop confidence to fight at work. They are also significant in the attempt to expose the Labour Government and the Social Contract. Our growing strength in the unions – teachers, health workers etc, should link up with such struggles.
  3. Conference welcomes the implementation of the decision to appoint a full-timer for women’s work and to produce a monthly Women’s Voice. It considers, however, that the comrade appointed should have experience of, and sympathy for, women’s work, rather than someone who has consistently opposed having a separate women’s paper.
  4. Whilst recognising the vital importance of local initiatives, conference believes that because of the lack of IS’s experience of women’s work the leadership must begin to include an analysis of women’s position in society with general perspectives, and must lay down clear guidelines for resulting work.

The Women’s Sub-Committee should produce worksheets for factory branches/groups on Equal Pay, and speakers notes on women’s right to work. An updated pamphlet on unemployment should be produced with a major section on women, showing how the idea of `women out first’ is directly connected to women’s wage rates and role in the family – and outlining principled but down to earth arguments against the idea.


We believe that the issues before us are the credibility and viability of IS as the future revolutionary party. This issue is raised sharply by the developments in the world and the course of the current IS leadership. These are issues of considerable importance and we are prepared to fight as hard as necessary to defend the past traditions of IS and its future revolutionary prospects. We invite your support for our factional programme and your participation in this much needed and long overdue work.

Our platform can be stated as: -

  1. For genuine democratic centralist organisation.
  2. For a worker leadership that actually leads and does not perform a purely symbolic function.
  3. For a consistent policy of marxist education in IS.
  4. For a central leadership that informs the membership and is informed by them, with an administration that assists and directs this mutual process.
  5. For a serious perspective that relates IS politics to the practical activity of the members, worked out in conjunction with the fractions and groups of members concerned.
  6. For a drastic reappraisal of the work in the Rank and File Movement, with the intention of ensuring the existence of a strong, independent movement.
  7. That Socialist Worker should be transformed into a paper that consistently puts over IS politics, with particular appeal to advanced industrial workers but including the popular exposition of historical, theoretical and contemporary political questions.
  8. For an end to arbitrary and ill-thought-out schemes for reorganisation that effectively reduce the rights of the members.


Duncan Hallas’ reply to the Platform of the IS Opposition makes a number of points and several assertions. In so far as it addresses itself to our substantive criticisms, it denies their substance. At the end we are left with the impression that the IS Opposition is a collection of dedicated malcontents, united only in opposition to the Centre. This reply to DH will take up, in turn, DH’s points and, we hope, effectively answer his criticisms.

DH 1. The IS Opposition have politics no different from IS and do not disagree with the general thrust of the perspectives document.

The first half of this assertion is true, the second part is half true. Of course we stand four square on IS politics, it is no accident that we call ourselves the IS Opposition. We stand for IS tradition and theory, for rigorous political analysis, for full membership participation and discussion, for worker leadership and serious perspectives. We do find it difficult to disagree with the extreme generality of the perspectives document. We claim that the perspectives are descriptive not prescriptive. They do not orientate the comrades to fruitful activity. A measure of the inadequacy of the perspectives is that they have to be supplemented (in the April IB) by documents called: EC Discussion Documents. These afterthought additions to the pre-conference discussion are certainly more detailed but almost as useless. To take the first of these: The Labour Party, Benn and Centrist Developments – it goes on, in some detail, to tell us what might happen on the one hand and then tells us what might happen on the other hand and in the end tells us nothing we have not heard at the last three conferences. It is vaguely interesting as an academic exercise, mildly informative but not at all satisfying if we are serious about building a ‘combat’ party.

The document, in the same series, on the Rank and File Movement (RFM), presents us with the thought that our intention is to reach the stage where the RFM detaches ‘most of the organised workers’ from the control of the reformist TU leadership. Now this may just be an example of careless wording but if it is not it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the theory behind the chances of building an RFM. We are not building a dual union. We cannot expect to mobilise the majority of workers before the revolution. The RFM is directed specifically toward those who lead at rank and file level. The RFM can be the bridge to the party for numbers of rank and file workers because it carries out the trade union task that the TU bureaucracy will not and cannot perform. It must do that within the existing movement and it will almost by definition be a minority within that movement. The RFM document for the rest is general in its attempt to apply theory to the work of our own cadre. In its reportage of the last year’s work it does not evaluate the two National Conferences of the RFM.

When it discusses work in the localities the report indicates that what happened was either unconnected with the RFMOC or, if it was, it was as a result of a preexisting strike situation, from which nothing remains. Building a movement, as we said in our Platform document, is first of all the task of directing and monitoring the work of all the IS industrial cadres on whatever small or large task they can perform in the localities. If the RFM is not based upon real roots in the localities, all the worthy campaigns on Chile and Shrewsbury will not be a substitute. We need also many small time, duplicated bulletins in factories and workshops. We need on whatever small scale to push the local struggle a little further beyond the individual factory wall.

If, as the document says, ‘Within the British working class the possibility of building a revolutionary party is closely linked to building a genuine Rank and File movement’, then it really is time we stopped pretending that what we have today can by the same methods as we have used in the past be built into such a ‘genuine Rank and File Movement’. To utilise all the latent possibilities of the IS industrial cadre to this task would be to make a breakthrough into real industrial and trade union work. It is work in a situation where direct political demands can be raised with some practical application, political demands not just on the Labour leaders but on the TU bureaucracy as well. Which leads on to DH’s second point.

DH 2. The IS Opposition are divided among themselves on the question of the Common Market and on Labour Party perspectives. Therefore, on the first they remain silent and on the second produce a grab all statement, which signatories with differing views can sign.

We should look at these two items with a little more care. They really amount to an accusation of: ‘an unprincipled bloc’. It is true that members of the IS Opposition disagree on the Common Market. At aggregates up and down the country EC spokesmen have made much of this point. Why? Apart from the obvious one of, any stick to beat a dog, there can be no reason at all. As DH knows, far better than most, it is quite possible to be in general political solidarity without agreeing on everything. The IS Opposition is not a tendency with monolithic unity on all questions. If we were we would be a party within a party and that we refuse to be or to contemplate.

On the Common Market there is certainly a substantial agreement among comrades of the IS Opposition and it is this. The IS record on the Common Market has not been entirely consistent over the years. For years we were abstentionist on the question, before Heath took Britain into the Market we were anti. After Britain actually entered, an NC motion was carried unanimously, moved interestingly enough by DH and supported by all the EC, that once in there was no merit in calling for withdrawal! Since then the NC has changed its mind that it is quite within its rights to do so.

It would, however, and on this Opposition comrades abstentionist or anti all agree, have been far better, more instructive and useful for the newer comrades, who know nothing about the past, to have actually discussed this allegedly crucial question with the membership. We are for full membership discussion and participation on major policy changes, we are not at all ashamed of our own disagreements on the Common Market issue.

Now to the business of the Labour Party and, in DH’s document, it is a complicated one. DH confesses that he does not know whether there will be a centrist split in the LP, there are too many imponderables in the equation, he says. In terms of certainty neither do we. The point that we are raising, and DH raised in both the IB and ISJ, is that a LP split perspective is not one that should be raised as an interesting speculation. Either we have sufficient confidence that would enable us to work for that desirable objective or we have not.

In other words we need to discuss and work out with the members the concrete consequences of such a split. Equally we should have detailed perspectives for the LP if this does not occur. Our complaint is that the political perspectives or DH’s article do neither.

Let us try to make the position of the IS Opposition clear. We are neither committed to placing a comprehensive list of demands on the Labour Government based on the 1938 Transitional Programme as does the Militant for example, nor do we believe that IS can ignore the existence of the Labour Government or the collaboration between the TU leaders and Labour leaders; nor the existence of the Labour Left and their relationship with the rank and file in the labour movement. We are in business to expose the inability of any of these groups to solve the crisis or to offer a real alternative. The best way to do this is of course to campaign on a number of points which both relate to the needs of the working class and expose the inability of the Labour leaders or the Labour Left to meet these demands. In the Platform and in our resolution on perspectives we point to the need for an integrated campaign in the labour movement on (a) nationalisation without compensation under workers’ control; (b) opposition to health, welfare, education and housing cuts; (c) the struggle in industry against redundancy, short-time working and the social contract. Of course in this kind of campaign demands must be made on the Labour Government and the Labour and Trade Union Left. Every demand must have an agency to carry it out, if you are making a political demand for nationalisation under workers’ control that agency is the Labour Government. The essence of transitional politics is to develop a strategy which starts from where the struggle is now and advances that struggle by moving workers into action, and in that process raises their political consciousness by exposing the reformist path. The truth is that until recently the danger in IS has been that we have been ignoring transitional politics. Instead we have had a style of politics which suggests that struggle by itself or at best connected to an abstract set of politics will advance the movement.

This is certainly the impression that Socialist Worker gave until recently. The EC it seems has begun to notice this, partly we believe as a result of our criticism. We gather they are now proposing a national campaign against cuts in public spending. While welcoming the change in emphasis we believe that a single issue campaign like this is fraught with dangers. We believe that in the present crisis the battle on nationalisation cannot be separated from the fight against redundancy and the social contract of the fight against cuts in public expenditure. To campaign solely on the cuts has dangers of fostering reformist illusions that the cuts can be restored under capitalism. The campaign needs to be cast firmly in a political context. Not as DH suggests, by orientating on the LP alone but, more usefully, by raising in the trade union bodies the issues of nationalisation and workers control, health and welfare cuts. We can do this as IS, and if it were more than it presently is, through the RFM. The EC and DH should also realise that a campaign is not just a series of meetings with ‘star’ speakers (the failure of the Autumn/Winter Campaign and the Social Contract Campaign should have taught us that). A campaign is the mobilising of the members around the issues and directing them in the work of the branches, districts and fractions. Therefore our disagreement with the EC on perspectives towards the LP is that they are not specific enough to orientate our members for the battle in the Trade Union and Labour Movement.

An interesting example of this vagueness was demonstrated in another area at the April NC on the question of Ireland. No doubt because Ireland receives barely a mention in the political perspectives, the EC proposed a resolution on Ireland. This suggested that for a whole number of reasons the question of Ireland was likely to become more important over the next year and that comrades in the districts should therefore raise the issue in a manner appropriate to their area. It required an IS Opposition NC member to move an amendment to make specific what demands we should be raising in the localities, namely troops out, an end to repression, repeal of the anti-terrorist laws, self-determination for the Irish people. It is this kind of programme that orientates members to tight in the working class movement. It is this kind of perspective that we should be developing towards the Labour Government, LP and left Labour and TU leaders. Instead, all we have from DH is a restatement of our two year old Trade Union Programme.

DH 3. The IS Opposition while complaining of the current IS regime suggest that the existing structures, through which the current leadership emerged, should be kept intact.

In its own small way this last accusation raises even more interesting questions. Does DH believe that the existing leadership will change under the new Central Committee structure? The very description of the requirements for the CC are in fact a description of the existing EC.

If as DH says the (two or three monthly) National Council will have complete control over policy, on what qualities will the CC be elected – administrative and organising ability? If so there will have to be a few changes made. But is it true that the National Council will hold political control? EC speakers, apart from DH, have at different aggregates made clear that the National Council will be advisory. In fact as it is suggested it could be nothing else. How can a large committee with shifting membership – delegacies from districts and fractions will not be fixed and can be substituted – or elected from each meeting, have any control over policy. It will exaggerate the weaknesses of the existing NC. At least the present arrangement does have the power, and occasionally uses it, to curb the worst excesses of a full-time executive.

DH does not address himself to the solution, the practical solution that we offered in the Platform. For NC commissions meeting and initiating and directing policy between NC meetings, which would probably then have to be two monthly. That we believed to be a practical solution to the problem of actually utilising the experience of the worker NC members. It may not be perfect but it is a great deal better than the EC’s proposals which will effectively exclude the workers altogether. We are not wedded to any particular organisational form but we are wedded to the notion of worker leadership in IS, at all levels.

It is bizarre but true that if the CC and National Council proposals are carried then we will get not, as DH suggests, an increase in democracy but a reversion to federalism. Indeed it is now clear from the contributions of EC members at district meetings that federalism is what they are saying they want. “We don’t need workers’ leaders at the Centre, let them lead in the districts”. Whether they actually desire this or whether they wish to run the group nationally with an EC of ‘professional’ full-timers without interference is not clear. Either way we believe there are great dangers for IS in having a small full-time CC unchecked by any other body and without its roots in the labour movement.

Our suggestion for a development of the existing structure is not bloody mindedness. We are not prepared to say that because the NC/EC relationship may prove difficult we should dispense with the workers at national level.

We are not against strong districts in IS, we are wholeheartedly for them. We do not believe that strong districts can be built by Diktat or the passing of a resolution. The credibility gap between the desire and the actuality is not automatically filled because we wish it so. A strong NC with clear powers, seriously involved in the evolution of policy can be the spearhead of a drive to build districts. A small overworked CC alone will not do the job, we will just get more well intentioned resolutions less and less related to the facts of life in the districts.

One final point on DH’s reply. He claims that the disputes of last year and the censures of the EC have been heeded. He also claims that since then there have been no restrictions on the rights of members. This is really rather surprising since it was DH who at the May ’74 NC (when the last EC was sacked and he rejoined it) moved a long and detailed resolution setting out some of these rights. That resolution was unanimously endorsed by the 1974 conference which also called on the incoming EC/NC to carry out the spirit and the letter of DH’s motion. DH’s resolution, since clearly he needs to be reminded of it, contained a number of important points. (1) That the NC shall be the supreme body between conferences. (2) That the NC will consult the membership where possible in making its decisions. (3) That the membership is kept informed and security is not used as an excuse for restricting information. (4) That full NC minutes and voting records are issued to the branches.

Every one of these points has been reversed by the current EC with DH’s support. In addition, of course, the members have recently been deprived of the right to attend NCs as visitors, to attend conferences as visitors, and indeed the numbers attending conference as delegates has been halved. How DH can claim that these are not restrictions on members’ rights is beyond us.

In this context it is interesting that a supporter of the EC organisational proposals, John Molyneux, should write quite sharply on this question in the same IB as DH’s reply. “For some time”, he says, “[emphasis in original] we have had a situation in which the membership learns of differences in strategy and approach among the NC only through vague rumour and in which open debate takes place only after crucial decisions have been taken. Branches are presented with a fait accompli and can only protest impotently.” Comrade JM cannot be described as a born factionalist or a tired ex-functionary but he makes an effective point on these organisational proposals. Two months before the conference the members are presented with a fait accompli. They are expected to accept it without debate. If they do dissent they are accused of ignoring the politics. There is no good reason in objective reality why the members should be railroaded in this way. If, as has been argued by EC spokesmen, the new organisational proposals are a product of the new situation we presently face, we cannot believe it. These actual proposals were raised over two years ago by Comrade Tony Cliff, and regularly raised ever since. Justified most often with references to Lenin and the Bolshevik conferences, they were small, lengthy and very businesslike. It is also true that the conferences were in Western Europe and the members in Russia. A situation that makes free access very difficult.

It is also the case that any party member, who could prove his membership, was not excluded from the Bolshevik conferences.

But bent precedent and persistence have found their reward. The argument used last year to alter the basis of delegacy to 1 in 15 of an ever growing membership cannot apply this year with static membership. Instead we get the nonsense about ‘rally atmosphere’ and ‘demagogy’. The truth is that the new proposals are very old mouldy proposals and thoroughly bad ones, they should be rejected out of hand.

While we have the opportunity we would like to answer one last point, not raised by DH but by some of his own faction. This concerns the allegation that the Platform of the IS Opposition is merely a vehicle in which certain ex-members of the EC will ride back to high office in IS. We will, of course, put up a slate for whatever elections are held but that is not the main point of the exercise – in fact we have not as yet chosen the slate. Our concern is with IS, not with jobs for the boys. Cottons Gardens is not IS for us. IS is the members in the fractions and branches who deserve a great deal more than they are getting for their work, devotion and dedication to IS. We are concerned that IS will not grow and we want it to grow. We are very worried about the loss and potentially greater loss of valued comrades. We are more than sorry at the impossibility of raising political differences without calling down a stream of abuse and vilification, and organisational manipulation. The members do have the chance to set them right, we can once and for all settle the question and then start to build IS on the solid ground of an informed and united membership. That is what we mean by the IS tradition. Ignoring that tradition will condemn IS to a slide into sectarian irrelevance, another quirk of revolutionary history that did not come off.

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Last updated on 31.1.2003