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A Letter from England

(June 1932)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 24, 11 June 1932, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

LONDON, ENGLAND – No doubt you have already heard of the expulsion of J.T. Murphy from the Communist Party of Great Britain. Since the struggle between Murphy and the political bureau of the party began over the question of credits to the Soviet Union, details of the discussion which led to J.T. Murphy’s resignation and subsequent expulsion may be of interest to American comrades.

It must be remembered that Murphy is an old member of the party and has been for years on the central committee. He was for two years the British party’s Comintern representative, one of the ablest men – maintaining all due proportions – produced by the British party, an effective speaker and writer and a capable politician. Murphy was, moreover, foremost in the fight against “Trotskyism”. He wrote the preface to the English edition of the Errors of Trotskyism and at the party’s convention of 1927 moved the resolution endorsing Trotsky’s expulsion from the party. It will be seen that J.T. Murphy has an excellent record in the service of Stalin.

In the April number of the Communist Review, Murphy advanced the slogan of “Credits to the Soviet Union”. He prefaced this with a vicious attack on the Left Opposition and, having cleared himself of any suspicion in this direction proceeded to argue that the slogan of “Credits” would be an effective weapon to aid the Soviet Union. The article appeared. Nothing was said. The May issue of the Communist Review contained no suggestion that there was any disagreement save that Murphy was no longer editor.

Then, on May 11, there appeared a statement in the Daily Worker that Murphy was expelled for the propagation of “anti-working class views and the desertion of the working class fight against war, starvation and repression at a decisively critical stage in the class struggle”. Murphy’s arguments were that the more credits we could obtain, the more trade there would be between Britain and Russia, the less inclined the capitalists would be to declare war on the Soviet Union. The political bureau correctly drew attention to certain statements in the article which would weaken the agitation against the war menace. But on the central point of the quarrel the political bureau was silent. They avoided any definite statements on whether or no the slogan of “Credits” was correct. All they did was to point to Manchuria and scream about war, to say that such a slogan was not needed at this stage and to condemn Murphy for “moving nearer to the position of the counter-revolutionary Trotskyists”.

Murphy has since published articles in the socialist press, admitting that he did advance arguments which tended to cover up the danger of war. His articles fail to explain why the discussion conducted between himself and the polburo was kept secret and why, when attacked, he resigned from the party. The discussion commenced, according to Murphy, in March if not earlier. The article in which he openly advocated credits appeared in April. All those C.C. members who are now rushing into print to denounce Murphy saw it and, read it and by their silence accepted it until told by the secretariat – Rust and Pollit – to do otherwise. For over two months the polburo and Murphy concealed their differences from the membership and only Murphy’s resignation forced the matter into the open. Not open struggle, not education of the membership by open political discussion, but diplomatic correspondence and the covering up of differences within the leadership – this is the line of the political bureau and Murphy. Murphy started by accepting the theory of “socialism in one country” and built up his arguments for the “Credits” slogan on it. As a result, his tree bore reformist fruits. The polburo, in replying, avoided the question. The U.S.S.R. needs credits, is at this moment negotiating for them, but the polburo believes with Stalin that diplomatic negotiation can secure more than mass pressure. This, they say, is a matter for the Soviet diplomats – keep the workers out of this.

It is here that our group of the Left Opposition takes up the matter. Making use of comrade Trotsky’s pamphlet – Unemployment and the Five Year Plan – we are urging in the party that such a slogan can be an effective part of our immediate struggle. Those who argue that the U.S.S.R. is independent of world economy are going to find it very difficult to explain why the Soviet Union is negotiating credits and why we cannot advance it as a main slogan in the present stage of the struggle. But then, clear explanations and the honest facing of political issues is not the strong point of the party leadership. Molotov, Stalin have spoken – means must be found to agree.


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