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Henry Judd

The British ILP Holds Convention

(May 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 20, 18 May 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A copy of the British New Leader containing a report on the annual Easter conference of the British independent Labor Party has just reached Labor Action. Approximately 100 delegates, reported to be one of the largest delegations in recent ILP history, attended the conference at Morecambe, England.

There appears to have been no serious or important change in the ILP leadership or position as described in the May Day issue of Labor Action. John McGovern, parliamentary spokesman for the ILP, remains chairman of the party, with John McNair as general secretary. The national committee is practically the same as before.

The most important debate occurred on the so-called “basic resolution” put forward by the party leadership. The resolution, stating the ILP’s opposition to the imperialist war and embodying the program of the Socialist Britain Now campaign was adopted after long discussion.

Amendments for a negotiated peace were defeated, as well as various amendments of a “Trotskyist-Cannonite” character. The latter amendments urged “the sending of arms to Soviet Russia under workers’ control” and “workers’ control of the armed forces.” Both got approximately 15 out of the 100 votes, showing a substantial minority. The amendment relating to shipment of arms to Russia was vehemently opposed as leading to the establishment of a second imperialist war front. The Trotskyist group limited itself apparently to advocacy of these two two special “Cannon” additions to revolutionary socialist principles!

The most important addition to the resolution was that which declared, in essence, that:

  1. Socialism can come only through the action of the workers themselves.
  2. We must fight to force the trade union leaders, the Labor Party bureaucrats and the Stalinists to break their reactionary alliance with the national government of Churchill.
  3. We advocate nationalization of industry and workers’ control of production.
  4. We must strengthen and build the independent shop stewards movement.

In the discussion of the resolution about the Soviet Union, all offered amendments were defeated and the resolution itself was adopted 72 to 26. The main point of the resolution was that the ILP’s position of defense of the Soviet Union can best be advanced by fighting for a socialist Britain. There is no real analysis or attack on the Stalin regime, nor the Soviet state in the resolution.

The orthodox Trotskyist amendment – similar to the ideas of The Militant – was defeated by 72 to 29 votes.

This resolution is undoubtedly the most superficial and evasive of all those adopted at the conference.

Other resolutions adopted included one of solidarity with the socialists of India and a demand for immediate independence fpr that country; along with a statement of greetings to English pacifists.

In summary: The most important step forward was the elaboration of the Socialist Britain Now campaign with some concrete details. Politically, the ILP made no advance toward clarification and its leadership remains in the hands of the same group of Parliamentarians and centrist Brockways.

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