Ray Apps Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Ray Apps

So Much for Lord Underhill!

(April 1980)

From Militant, No. 497, 4 April 1980, p. 4.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The mood of the Southern Region Annual Conference of the Labour Party was one of bitterness and anger at the Tory government, and a determination to get rid of them as soon as possible.

However a number of delegates made clear that it was not enough to rely on the unpopularity of the Tories, it was essential to build a mass democratic Labour Party committed to socialist policies.

With this in mind, delegates rounded on the regional executive for the evidence they wanted to submit to the commission of enquiry. This included the abolition of the women’s section on the NEC, the LYPS representative to be elected by the constituencies at the annual conference, etc. As one delegate put it, these proposals are to the right of the CLV.

A number of older delegates came to the rostrum to oppose what they saw as a direct attack on the LYPS, the life-blood of the movement.

Ron Hayward representing the NEC presented Militant supporter Cathy Wilson, Isle of Wight’s Labour candidate at the general election, with the shield for the best performance on party building, nearly 10% of the Labour vote at the election having joined the Party.

There couldn’t be a better answer to the claim that Lord Underhill (referred to as Lord Underhand by a delegate) has made that Militant drives people out of the party.

In presenting the award, Ron said, “I wish your brand of socialism and organisation would invade the mainland.”

A composite demanding all-out opposition to the cuts was passed by an overwhelming majority. This composite called on the Regional Council to inform all Labour groups and all Labour members on regional and area health authorities that it is their role to oppose cuts in their services, and to support trade union action against the cuts.

One indignant Labour councillor got to the rostrum protesting that councillors didn’t need to be reminded of their duty. Another councillor replied that this didn’t accord with his experience – some needed to be reminded regularly (to loud cheers). “If we don’t carry out party policy we should be kicked out.”

The composite’s concluding paragraph stimulated the largest part of the discussion dealing as it did with the experience of the last Labour government.

The dying remnants of the right wing, notwithstanding the fact that a number of unions had come to the rostrum in support of the composite, desperately tried to get 15 delegates with credentials to stand for a card vote to be taken.

The chairwoman waited for what seemed like an age for the right to muster their forces. One by one they got up until they reached the grand total of eleven. To applause and cheers the conference declared:

“That the Labour Party must now reject the strategy pursued by the last Labour government, of attempting to work within and reform the present economic system, and instead campaigning for the election of a Labour government committed to carrying out a fundamental socialist change in society based on the public ownership of all major industries, the banks and financial institutions, under worker’s control and management.

“Only then can a Labour government ensure investment in industry and low interest rates, which can bring an improving standard of living for ordinary people, together with full employment and improved public services.”

The Militant meeting held immediately after a long day at conference attracted 46 delegates. £60 was raised for the fighting fund. As for the CLV, their meeting was cancelled – a sign of the future.

Ray Apps Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 21 August 2016