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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(25 May 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 21, 25 May 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Anti-War Militants Answer British Labor Party Bureaucrats

Some time ago we méntioned that the left-wing organization in the British Labor Party adhering to the principles of revolutionary socialism which are also those of the Fourth International, had been banned by the Labor Party bureaucracy. Below we reprint an explanation of this step given by the official organ of the League, The Militant, in its April issue.

“The National Executive of the Labor Party has issued its ukase declaring that membership in the Militant Labor League is incompatible with membership of the party. In taking this decision, the party chiefs did not attempt to discuss the question with the people involved, in spite of the fact that all members of the Militant Labor League are active members of their local Labor parties, many of them holding important positions. The decision of the Executive was taken in a thoroughly bureaucratic manner and recorded in the ‘Labor Press Service’ without a word of explanation.

“In the light of this decision, it is worth while to examine briefly the history and aims of the M.L.L. ... In No. 1 of the Militant we stated:

“‘We therefore call for the immediate creation of a left-wing organization which will include all Labor Party workers who are willing to struggle for a revolutionary program and leadership, an organization which can offer to the workers a clear socialist alternative to the policies of treachery and despair of the existing leadership.’

“‘The M.L.L. stands for working class struggle against all imperialist wars and against all preparations for such wars. ... It calls for the waging of the class struggle both before and during the war for the overthrow of the imperialist government and the seizure of power by the working class.’ (Militant, Nov. 1937).

“This policy declaration has been the keynote of the struggle of the League since its formation ... When war finally broke out last September, the M.L.L. alone in the Labor Party issued a manifesto, which declared the conflict to be one between rival imperialisms, and called upon the workers to concentrate their fire on the enemy at home—the British boss class.

“Small wonder that the National Executive of the Labor Party has issued its ban! As the war progresses and wider sections of the working class see more clearly its reactionary nature, so the base of the Labor bureaucracy narrows. In order to protect their positions so that they may continue to carry out the behests of the capitalist class, they must attempt to smash all genuine socialist opposition in the party. It is not accidental that the M.L.L. is banned at the period when British imperialism plans to extend the war, and talk of further sacrifices in blood and money is in the air ...

“The Labor Party is not the property of the leadership. It was built up by the British working class. We have the same right as Attlee or Greenwood to publicize our point of view, to attempt to influence the party membership by propaganda and struggle. If the membership of the Labor Party supports the leadership in denying us this most elementary democratic right, then it is committing political suicide, and handing over the party, lock, stock and barrel to the bosses ...”

The M.L.L. also sent the following document to national newspapers and left-wing periodicals as a part of the campaign of protest against the Labor Party ban:

“Members of the M.L.L. have recently learned that the Executive Committee of the Labor Party has decided that our organization is not suitable for affiliation to the Party, and that therefore membership of the M.L.L. is incompatible with membership of the Labor Party.

“This news which amounts to a virtual banning of our organization was only obtained from the general press; we were never officially notified, no charges have been made against our conduct, and in fact no specific reasons were given for the ban.

“We emphatically protest against this ban as a denial of democracy and political freedom within the workers’ organization. While working entirely within the Labor Party for a number of years, the M.L.L. has always upheld the right of leftwing opinion to be heard, and we shall not accept lightly this Gestapo-like attempt by the official leadership to brush aside all forms of democratic freedom within the Labor Party in an effort to crush honest political criticism of their policy.”

Working Women Against the War

From another British labor paper, dated May 1940, we take the following item:

“The 201 delegates to the Conference on Women in Wartime held in London on April 20th, have given a fine militant lead to all the millions of toil-worn women of this country. The everyday struggle ‘to make ends meet’ expressed itself in the recognition of the fact that this war is in no way in the interest of the working class.

“In passing resolutions condemning the war, and at the same time urging that the struggle for the elementary interests of the working class should in no way be relinquished, the women delegate are clearly moving along the road to the only conclusive opposition to the war.”

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