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International Socialism, Spring 1963


John Phillips

[Reply to Gavin Kennedy]


From International Socialism, No.12, Spring 1963, p.24.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Comrade Kennedy is right – it is difficult to remain un-partisan when discussing events in the YS movement, events that involved both Comrade Kennedy and myself.

To reply in detail to all of his points – although it can be done – would take up much more space than I have been allotted.

There are some things however that have to be answered. First, on a question of fact, it is not true to say that any Young Guard AGM failed to produce nominations for editor and business manager. Both positions have been filled with the full approval of delegated representatives at Young Guard quarterly meetings, as have all other ‘positions’ in Young Guard.

Comrade Kennedy regards our opinions of Keep Left’s attitude to the ‘workers bomb’, ‘socials’ and ‘democracy’ as myths. Well – has Keep Left ever condemned the Russian bomb and its possible use against the working class of the West? We will let Keep Left itself have the last say on the sudden change to socials

We have always said that the only way to build a strong socialist youth movement is through hard-hitting political discussion backed by action on socialist policies. (Keep Left in a front page editorial – written by Comrade Kennedy himself? – November 1960)

The usual pessimists were there, saying either that you could not build a large movement or that it would be disastrous to do so on a social basis... the great majority of the delegates were obviously impressed by the sound, well-tried advice from Keep Lefters from some of the largest branches in the country, (from an article by a Keep Left reporter – official status please note – on the Skegness Rally in the July 1961 issue)

Is it not a fact that Keep Left democracy was as selective as Transport House’s – in fact Keep Left barred ‘right-wingers’ from their conferences and would also have done the same to supporters of Rebel, Rally or Young Guard if they had bothered to show up? Supporters of Keep Left have always been able to attend Young Guard meetings, and in fact still do, even though we are ‘enemies of the working class’. Why is it that no articles opposing Keep Left’s official line are allowed in the paper – except where it is sufficiently swamped by editorial comment? Democracy does not only mean having monthly editorial board meetings.

I think that the question of ‘mass movement’ was never the main issue dividing Keep Left and Young Guard but rather the nature of Russian society and the question of ‘leadership’, but that is another subject.

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