ISJ Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

International Socialism, Summer 1962


Notes of the Quarter

1. The Young Socialists


From International Socialism (1st series), No.9, Summer 1962, p.1.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


It is ironical that May Day – the day of solidarity demonstrations of the Labour movement – should this year appear to have heralded the organized smashing of the Left wing in the Labour Party. What happened at the demonstrations in London and Glasgow is now well known. The ease with which all sections of the press, Labour Party and CND condemned the ‘hooliganism’ of the demonstrators showed clearly that any action taken against the Young Socialists for their part in the rout of Brown and Gaitskell would meet with little opposition.

In reality of course the moves against the left did not start with May Day. This merely opened the door. Ever since Gaitskell’s ‘fight’ speech at Scarborough the battle has been on. No opportunity to damage and weaken the unilateralist cause – from the refusal to endorse parliamentary candidates such as Ernie Roberts to the muzzling of the Young Socialists – has been missed. It is in this light that the action of some Young Socialists on May Day must be seen. Of course this method of protest cannot be condoned; but in that it expresses the ultimate frustration of the YS against the arrogance and hypocrisy of the Labour leaders it can be excused.

Now the attack is on in earnest. The fact that the NEC can proscribe the Young Socialist newspaper Keep Left without holding an enquiry or giving any reasons for the proscription gives an indication of the ruthlessness that they will employ. When it comes to prising out all CND supporters in the Labour Party the NEC will obviously have a more difficult task. Although the attack on Keep Left and on Bertrand Russell is motivated by the same desire, the NEC’s backing down on the expulsions of Russell and his co-sponsors of the World Peace Congress shows an appreciation of the true relation of forces.

Gaitskell’s only aim is the winning of the next election, for him the only problem is whether he will gain more votes by kicking out the dissidents in the party or by letting them stay in. Taking into account the general political climate of the country it is certain that the disbanding of the YS, with its militant policies and refusal to accept Labour Party reforms as the be-all of its existence, will not turn voters to the Liberals. But the expulsion of Russell would not only raise a faint cry of disgust from the semi-political public but would certainly strain the loyalties of too many valuable party workers.

Here lies the crux and solution to Gaitskell’s problem and the problem of the Young Socialists.

It is fair to assume that if the YS were disbanded there would be little or no chance of keeping an independent youth organization for more than a few weeks and the only answer in the foreseeable future is for the YS to stay in the Labour Party. But how? A YS branch that does no work in or for the constituency or Ward party can have no hope of surviving any serious attack from the NEC, The constituency parties are the only section that will defend the existence of YS branches but they will only fight the NEC decision where the YS is integrated in the party. There may well be a tendency over the next months for many Young Socialists to leave the Party either in disgust or despair. If this happens it will weaken the YS to such an extent that Gaitskell will not have to worry about it at all, and allow him to concentrate solely on the CND.

Top of page

ISJ Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 11 March 2010