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Ted Grant, J. Deane & G. Hanson

Letter to the Members


This letter, which is undated, was probably written in May 1949, shortly before the RCP was dissolved.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


Ted Grant
J. Deane
G. Hanson

Dear comrades,

Discussion in the Party on the question of entry has naturally provoked a crisis in the organisation. The comrades will know that on the P.B., the C.C. and in the Party generally we have maintained that under the given conditions, the best tactic for the party is the maintenance of our independence.

The discussion has not convinced us that in the present situation entry would constitute a superior tactic. However, faced with the overwhelming majority of the leadership and the trained cadres, and a substantial section of the rank and file are in favour of entering the Labour Party, and given that the objective situation will be a difficult one for the Party, we believe that a struggle would be sterile. We say this for the following reasons.

With the development of the Labour movement and the tendency within it at the present time, it is possible that entry would have to be undertaken in any event a few years hence. The historical tendency in the labour movement has been for the Labour Party to reflect the developments taking place within the working class. At periods of quiescence the right wing has always maintained its hold over the Labour movement as a whole. Just as in the trade unions and the shop-stewards committees in periods of lull, the reactionary and backward elements, play an important role. With the upsurge of the workers they are swept away and younger and more militant elements are pushed forward by the workers. Similarly in relation to the L.P. As the political expression of the trade union movement, in the event of a crisis affecting the regime, the L.P. will be shaken to its depths and an entire reshuffle of the leading strata would take place. Under these circumstances the question of entry would be posed.

Taking all the above factors into consideration, and the undoubted fact that even under the best conditions with a unified leadership imbued with confidence in the tactic, only small gains could be made in the immediate period ahead; with the prospect of building an entirely new leadership, all the advantages of conducting a struggle and attempting to continue with the open organisation, would be cancelled out. This is particularly applicable, as the possibility exists of entry in the future.

Therefore, given the above mentioned conditions, the objective and subjective conditions would be unfavourable for the maintenance of the independent Party.

Particularly is this so as certain necessary safeguards are agreed on by all – entrists and non-entrists alike. 1) A theoretical journal, and 2) A tight organisation.

Entry is a tactical issue and does not involve questions of principle. Above all, it is necessary to maintain a due sense of proportion and to see the problem as purely a practical one as to the best method of the deployment of forces we possess.

Under different conditions, if really favourable prospects for growth presented themselves, for the independent party, then it might be necessary to maintain a small grouping even against the overwhelming majority of the party. But the present situation is entirely different. Nationally and internationally, the main task consists in maintaining the organisation and preparing for the great historical tasks which history will pose before us in the future.

We do not believe there are great opportunities for the growth of our movement at present wherever we operate. In this period the most important task consists in the maintenance of the unity of the organisation, the intensification of the education of our cadres and raising the theoretical level of the entire organisation. These tasks will pose themselves as vital for the future, whether we are inside or outside.

Under these conditions, we do not believe it is in the best interests of the movement to wage a struggle on this issue.

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Last updated: 7 February 2017