Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 22 February 2007

CWI world congress report (3)

How will new workers' parties be built?

AT THE recent world congress of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI - the socialist international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated) a key discussion took place on the demise of the traditional working-class parties around the world but also the emergence of new left-wing political formations that have the potential to articulate the interests of the working class.
ROGER BANNISTER Socialist Party visitor and national secretary of the Campaign for a New Workers' Party reports.

WHILST THE development of new workers' parties may be complex, few can now deny their growing impact in an increasing number of countries.

This session at the recent CWI world congress was introduced by Kevin Simpson, who pointed out that in May last year over five million Germans watched SAV (German section of the CWI) member Lucy Redler on a political discussion programme on national television as part of the pre-general election coverage, based on the intervention of the new WASG* party in the election.

(*WASG - Election Alternative for Work and Social Justice - a broad anti-neo-liberal electoral alternative launched in 2005, which contains a variety of political currents including the CWI.)

Elsewhere in Europe there is evidence of growing support for left parties as workers search for an electoral alternative to the traditional social democratic organisations they have abandoned in increasing numbers since the 1990s.

The recent general election in the Netherlands witnessed a dramatic increase in votes for the Socialist Party (SP), within which Dutch CWI supporters are active.

With 1,624,349 votes, the SP won 16.6% - a big jump from the 2003 elections when the SP got 608,490 votes. The traditional workers' party, the Labour Party (PvdA), lost many votes, including a chunk that went to the SP. Its parliamentary seats fell from 42 to 33.

This result strikes a blow against what Kevin described as "lesser evilism", the argument often advanced for continued support for social democratic parties as the "lesser evil" choice in an election.

Faced with attacks on welfare provision and living standards, the 'neo-liberal' agenda, often carried out by former working-class based political parties, workers all over the world are seeking political alternatives to the sterile, pro-capitalist policies of the traditional parties.


The Campaign for a New Workers' Party in England and Wales has been in existence for almost a year, co-launched by the Socialist Party, but on as broad a base as possible, and supported by a large number of prominent trade union activists.

Dave Griffiths, a Socialist Party delegate, explained that there is a relatively low level of industrial struggle in Britain at present, and union leaders who seldom inspire their members. However, workers often agree one hundred per cent with the arguments for a new party, whether or not they are ready to get involved in building it themselves at this stage.

Hannah Sell, Socialist Party and CWI executive member, outlined the history of the CNWP, and said that as fresh layers of workers move into struggle to defend their living standards, they would be increasingly receptive to political action and socialist ideas.

Hannah explained that a new party with a basic programme against privatisation, cuts, the anti-trade union laws etc could be a significant step forward, but the Socialist Party will also argue for a clause stating the need for socialism.

There is not yet a well-known national figurehead who has become involved in building a new party in England and Wales. By contrast Angelika Teweleit, a visitor from SAV in Germany, outlined how the involvement of former leading Social Democratic Party member Oskar Lafontaine had given the WASG a profile that made it a credible force.

Unfortunately Lafontaine's insistence that the WASG should merge with the former ruling communist party of East Germany, the LPDS (which has a record of cuts and attacks on local government services), will undoubtedly damage the new party.

In Belgium, although at an earlier stage, some ex-trade union leaders and a former social democrat MP are assisting the development of the newly formed CAP ('committee for another kind of politics').

The support of fighting, left-leaning trade unions can also give a boost to the creation of new parties. A Polish speaker outlined how the most left trade union federation in the country had set up a new party and how, following active support for striking tram workers and victimised miners, CWI supporters in Poland had been approached to join the new party, and had made a formal agreement with it on joint working arrangements.

No panacea

A left party is of itself no automatic panacea as far as the working class is concerned. Christine from Italy pointed out that the decision of the PRC (the Communist Refoundation Party) to join Prodi's government had resulted in splits and a loss of members.

Clearly any would-be workers' party has to maintain its pro-working class policies, and not put itself into a position where this is compromised. Failure to do this will merely add to the cynicism many workers have to politics in general, as a result of their experience of the mainstream parties.

This point was underlined by Jim McFarlane from Scotland, who described the degeneration of the leadership of the Scottish Socialist Party, culminating in their disgraceful attacks on Tommy Sheridan, to the extent of their siding with the arch-capitalist Rupert Murdoch's scandal rag News of the World against Tommy in his recent court case.

Against this background the decision to found the new party Solidarity is entirely justified and the forthcoming elections for the Scottish Parliament in May will give Scottish workers the opportunity to re-elect Tommy Sheridan, who is standing for this new formation.

In Brazil, the process of the degeneration of a once-left party (the Workers' Party, PT), has gone much further as the Lula government implemented neo-liberal policies, leading directly to the formation of PSOL, the Party of Socialism and Liberty.

Role of CWI

Summing up the discussion Tony Saunois pointed out that it was the CWI that first posed the question of creating new mass workers' parties in 1991/92 when others on the left opposed us.

To illustrate the pitfalls of incorrect tactics Tony referred to France, and the failure of the far left organisations LO and LCR to build a movement towards a new party following the last presidential elections, as well as emphasising the damage done in Scotland by the SSP leadership.

Tony underlined the importance of flexibility, given that a comparison of the multitude of situations on a world scale clearly shows that there are different routes, and speeds, for the creation of new workers' parties.

  • For full world congress articles and resolutions see
  • Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

    In The Socialist 22 February 2007:

    Bush & Blair: Get out of Iraq

    Iraq 'surge' doomed to failure

    Italy: Thousands march against US military base

    Socialist Party Marxist analysis

    No to Trident!

    North Korea: Talks achieve new accord

    Anti-war, anti-nuclear, anti-capitalist? Read the socialist!

    Socialist Students

    Students can defeat fees

    Another profit-making racket

    Living in debt - with no advice

    Defend further education

    Socialist Party Congress

    The politics of socialism

    Socialist Party news and analysis

    Justice for the Shrewsbury pickets

    Children at the sharp end of British capitalism

    Banking billionaires

    Drug companies squeeze profits out of health

    Hospitals crisis worsens

    Fighting homophobia


    Climate change - we have to act now

    Socialist Party Marxist analysis

    CWI world congress: How will new workers' parties be built?

    Workplace news and analysis

    Valentine's day protest

    Unique Care workers plan more protests

    Israeli postal workers storm trade union HQ


    Home   |   The Socialist 22 February 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

    Subscribe   |   Donate  

    Related links:


    triangleCampaign against political repression in Hong Kong

    triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

    triangleChe Guevara 50 years on - revolutionary socialist and fighter

    triangleGermany: Election results in political earthquake

    triangleGerman elections: rise of the far right and right-wing government will provoke resistance


    triangleConference on state spies and sabotage: who's watching who?

    triangleSocialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

    triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

    triangle'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

    The Socialist:

    triangleOctober 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

    triangleStriking back against the sackers' charter at Leeds University

    triangleObesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

    Socialist Party:

    trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

    triangleNo cuts - hands off King George A&E!

    Working class:

    triangleRussia, October 1917: When workers took power


    triangleNasty party out the Tories


    triangleBerlin hospital strike

    Tommy Sheridan:

    triangleCoulson case collapses amid stench of hypocrisy


    triangleInternational news in brief


    triangleCNWP extended steering committee meeting


    triangleThe Socialist inbox


    triangleTurkey: Erdogan seeks sweeping dictatorial powers in referendum


    triangle1987 Zeebrugge disaster


    triangleTories torn - bin them now


    triangleGlobal finance: Are those storm clouds ahead?


    triangleFrench Labour reform protests


    triangleInternational news in brief

    News and socialist analysis

    News and socialist analysis


    What we saw

    What we saw



    Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy



    Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!



    Young people being strangled by debts



    Tories torn - bin them now



    The end of the Tories?



    Nasty party out the Tories


    Black history

    The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity



    Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right


    Universal Credit

    Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty


    Them & Us

    Them & Us



    NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts



    IMF helps cause inequality it slams



    Tories wreck our NHS



    Monarch abdicates responsibility to workers

    triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

    Join the Socialist Party
    Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
    Donate to the Socialist Party

    triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

    triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

    triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

    triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

    triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

    triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

    triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

    More ...

    triangle18 Oct Warrington & St Helens Socialist Party: 1917-2017; the October Russian Revolution

    triangle18 Oct Hackney Socialist Party: 100 years ago - the Bolshevik-led revolution

    triangle18 Oct Tower Hamlets Socialist Party: Capitalism in Crisis - is Corbyn the answer?

    triangle19 Oct Waltham Forest Young Socialists: Deaths in police custody

    More ...

    Socialist Party Facebook page
    Socialist Party on Twitter
    Visit us on Youtube



    October 2017

    September 2017

    August 2017

    July 2017

    June 2017

    May 2017

    April 2017

    March 2017

    February 2017

    January 2017




















    SP RSS feed RSS

    Platform setting: = No platform choice