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Healey laments lost ‘friends’

(April 1981)

From Militant, No. 549, 24 April 1981, p. 4.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Denis Healey used a fringe meeting at Labour’s Southern Regional Annual Conference recently to fire another salvo at the left, and at Militant in particular.

Healey referred to the Social Democrats as “my friends”, whose policies he agreed with, his only criticism being that they had left the party.

Despite a free buffet lunch however, only 47 turned up to hear Healey’s views.

There was a “widespread” view in the party, Healey asserted, that we should not spend six months on the election of deputy leader. In other words, Tony Benn should not be standing.

Yet even while Healey was speaking, this idea was crushingly refuted. Three hundred people, including most of the conference delegates, were giving a standing ovation to Tony Benn at a meeting organised by Kemptown Labour Party.

From the platform, Rod Fitch, prospective parliamentary candidate for Kemptown, and Alan Huyton of the LPYS national committee, both gave their support to his candidature.

Tony Benn made it clear that the deputy-leadership contest was not about personalities, but the need for socialist policies and a collective leadership to carry them through.

Rod Fitch was loudly applauded when he said that the Party needed a leadership democratically answerable to the rank and file.

“Whatever the leadership may be,” said Rod, “if they try to work within the framework of capitalism, then they will fail – and we will face defeat and a government even more reactionary than Thatcher’s.”

On the previous evening, Militant held a successful public meeting. There was certainly more support than for Denis Healey’s nosh-up, and a collection raised £89 in support of Marxist ideas.

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Last updated: 19 August 2016