Keith Narey Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Keith Narey

Marxists in Bradford Labour Party

An Answer to the Charges

(December 1976)

From Militant, No. 335, 17 December 1976, p. 2.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The deepening economic crisis, and growing opposition of trade unionists to cuts, unemployment and falling living standards as shown by the NUPE demo, provides the background for renewed attempts by the right wing and the Tory press to launch a witch-hunt in the Labour Party.

In a series of articles in the Times by reporter Neville Hodgkinson, it is Militant supporters and other left wingers in Bradford who were put under attack.

Apart from resurrecting allegations already made by The Observer, The Times so-called revelations concern unsubstantiated allegations by Mr Robert Hallam, until recently the secretary of the Allerton West members branch of the Bradford West Labour Party.

According to The Times Mr Hallam stated that Peter Whitaker, Chairman of Allerton West branch attempted to recruit him to a “secret Militant organisation”, aiming to subvert the Labour Party.

What The Times does not tell Labour Party members is that Mr Hallam, when a Bradford City Councillor voted for the Tory Housing Finance Act. He justified his action in the local press by stating that this hated piece of anti-working class legislation was “socialist” – truly an extraordinary imagination!

Mr Hallam states “Peter was paying £1.50 a week, (to this organisation), a fairly hefty subscription for someone on a low wage.” The Militant fighting fund is published every week in the paper. How terrible that a corporation gardener should donate part of his own money to support the paper of his choice?


Another Hallam statement: “Members of foreign groups had stayed in Bradford and Mr Whitaker had gone to Poland for a month earlier this year as a guest of ‘one of the comrades’.” Even Peter’s ordinary holidays are turned into an international conspiracy!

Peter Whitaker did have three foreign guests in his modest semi who stayed for several weeks. They were Chilean refugees.

The “Trotskyist dominated Bradford Trades Council” has brought over sixth Chilean refugees to Bradford, men, women and children, with very little help from Mr Edward Lyons or the right wing of Bradford West Labour Party.

Peter Whitaker is Chairman of NUPE No. 1 branch and a shop steward of several years standing. He has occupied several positions in the Labour Party.

He has worked hard and consistently for the Labour Party despite the need for continual medical treatment, a fact of which Mr Hallam is well aware, which makes one wonder if that is the reason Peter was selected for the most vicious attacks.

The main purpose of the Tory press campaign has been to prove the existence of a plot to oust Mr Edward Lyons MP. Mr Lyons has had his problems with the constituency party. In 1971 following his action as one of the Labour MPs who voted with the Tories on the Common Market and kept the Heath government in office, opposition arose to Mr Lyons in the Party. By a narrow margin he obtained a vote of confidence.

It is interesting to note that only two members of the GMC supported the political viewpoint of the Militant at that time.

Edward Lyons is well known as an extreme “Moderate”. He refused to support the TUC and Labour Party in seeking the release of the Shrewsbury pickets, and more recently he abstained from voting in the House of Commons in the motion to lift the bans on the Clay Cross Councillors taking local government office in future.

However no resolution to unseat Mr Lyons has been discussed by any branch or affiliated organisation in the recent period. The ‘plot’ is entirely a figment of the imagination of the right wing and the press.

The evidence consists, believe it or not, in the enthusiastic way supporters of the Militant express their views and recruit members to the Labour Party.

Four of the people named in The Times article live in the Manningham ward of the constituency. They rented a house there in 1975 when three of them were at university together. All were already members of the Labour Party.

They found the Manningham branch in the doldrums, financially weak and demoralised by election defeats. Meetings had ceased, only a handful of individuals carrying the branch.

Two of the student newcomers were elected Chairman and Secretary with Edward Lyons counting the votes, and recruitment was started. Political discussions were revived and a Council candidate elected to fight one of the three sitting Tories.

An enthusiastic campaign committee went out to the voters, won the Asian support and took the ward from the Tories with a swing of over a thousand votes, against the national trend.

Today the ward has money in the bank, regular meetings in premises supplied free by the Asian members, lively debate to which members of other branches come, and an ever increasing membership.

Through the efforts of the County Councillor for Manningham, Councillor Manawar Hussein, a large Bengali membership has been built.

This is in sharp contrast to the situation that Manawar Hussein described existed before, as quoted in the Times article itself: “When he tried to join the party in 1962 and 1963 his applications were twice mislaid, he said, and he was given an indication that it was not an accident.”

We are told in the Times’that on one day in October eleven new applications for membership from students were received. This is supposed to imply a “bed-sitter” takeover of the Party.

The day was the day of freshers conference when the Labour Club at the University organised a big display at the conference and signed up over a hundred students, eleven of which joined the Party itself.

Eight students also transferred their membership from their home constituencies or to different members branches if they had moved house in the summer. So much for the insinuation that students had been “forced to live in University ward”, when most of the students concerned live in halls of residence which happens to be in University ward.

When these students leave halls, as most do during the first year, will we then hear that they are being forced out to other wards to unseat the MP there?

Why indeed were these issues raised in the Tory press instead of inside the Party. The Times has never been a champion of the working class and must be delighted to be the instrument of it’s discomfort. The fact that names and addresses were printed in full seems to be an open invitation to groups like the National Front to harass or intimidate those named.

Two weeks ago the Social Democratic Alliance held a meeting in Bradford Labour Party rooms, yet no murmurs to the press about organised factions were heard.

The tissue of lies, smears, innuendo and sheer nonsense must be exposed for what it is: The cringing and whining of people beaten by the political ideas and approach of the Militant supporters, which is why their support has grown.

We are not ashamed to be seen as the hardest workers in the Party or as those with the most viable political programme or the most realistic in our analysis and ideas.

If these people are afraid of our ideas but lack ideas of their own, let them listen to the workers and their problems. That should make them realise that only the Marxist solutions of the Militant can point the way forward, the alternative to capitalism and crisis lies in moving towards a socialist transformation of society and not in hypocritical, bitter witch-hunts against other members of the Labour Party.

Keith Narey Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 29 August 2016