This book is a sequel to The Rise of Militant, covering the history of Militant, now the Socialist Party, from where that book left off at the end of 1995 to 2007.

Our original intention was to produce one volume covering the period from 1995 until today, 2017. However, once we began to assemble, sift and write about this period it became obvious that it would not be possible to compress the colossal events, and our role in them, into one book.

After all, this period encompassed the after-effects nationally and internationally of the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Russia, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. This put its stamp on the whole political character of the era which followed. The disintegration of hated Stalinism was also unfortunately accompanied by the dismantling of the planned economies, which had previously been a progressive factor for the world working class in its struggle against rotted capitalism, despite the bureaucratic mismanagement by the privileged elite.

This was shown in the growth rates – which exceeded that of capitalism at a certain stage – and to some extent the raising of the living standards of the mass of the population, from underdeveloped economies to relatively modern societies. This contrasted with the recent miserable growth rates of capitalism and the social ills which flowed from this: unemployment and the widening gap between rich and poor that capitalism shows even in the most ‘advanced’ economies.

In this sense the planned economies, despite the monstrous incubus of Stalinism, indicated the potential, once freed from the grip of the bureaucratic elite and replaced by workers’ democracy, for a democratic socialist planned economy. They were, to some extent, a reference point for the world working class in the struggle against capitalism and provided a powerful example of what was possible through real democratic socialism.

The capitalist ideological offensive which followed – with the help of right-wing trade union and labour leaders – maintained that ‘socialism’ had been once and for all buried under the rubble of the Berlin Wall. The capitalist media claimed with one voice that the future now belonged to capitalism with the prospect of new economic fireworks cementing its grip. A world boom would create a ‘blooming landscape’ first of all in Eastern Europe and Russia and then the rest of world, including the neo-colonial countries.

Indeed, in the infamous phrase of Francis Fukuyama, we had arrived at ‘the end of history’, by which he meant it was impossible to qualitatively and substantially improve on liberal bourgeois democracy that was now almost the eternal fate of humankind. This, in turn, was linked to the perspective of everlasting peace and prosperity. However, that perspective has been shattered.

We describe in this book the retrogressive effects that this had on working-class consciousness and the political outlook of the labour movement. We recognised that we – the Marxists as well as the working class in general – faced an historic defeat but not of the kind experienced in the 1930s. Then, the triumph of fascism through Hitler, Mussolini and Franco led to the destruction of democratic rights, elections, the right to strike, as well as the dis mantling of the workers’ organisations: parties and unions. The effects of the collapse of Stalinism and with it the planned economies were largely of an ideological character, but at the same time did have a material effect in weakening the organisations of the working class, particularly the unions, whose right-wing leadership accommodated itself to the bosses in a new era of ‘partnership’ and social peace.

Therefore this posed new tasks for Marxism involving the defence of the past gains of the working class, including the historic aim of the Labour Party for socialism enshrined in Clause iv of the Labour Party constitution and in many of the rulebooks of British trade unions.

This book traces out how this battle unfolded in its different phases leading to the triumph of the Blairite right, changing the Labour Party from a specifically reformist pro-workers party at its base into a ‘new’ prop of capitalism.

This in turn led to us raising the question of the need for a new mass workers’ party, rooted in the unions and the working class. We were the first to raise this but others, like Arthur Scargill and the late Bob Crow, later followed. We detail the kind of battles which were required and are still going on over this key question for the working class.

Other issues that we were forced to deal with, as the reader will see, were over a number of theoretical questions, particularly involving perspectives for the capitalist economy and whether or not a new economic crisis was likely or even possible in the light of the bourgeois claim that a new ‘economic paradigm’ loomed for their system.

Then there were the related changes in the position of the trade unions and their leaderships compared to the previous period. How could the unions be transformed once more into fighting organisations for the working class and what was our role in this process? What was now the position of ‘Militant’ itself? Was this still an appropriate banner, would it put off workers from agreeing with our ideas, and was it now necessary to adopt a new name fitted for the period we faced? These issues and many more are dealt with in this book.

The period we cover here resulted in an ideological churning, with splits and divisions manifesting themselves in all parties, both those which based themselves upon the interests of the bourgeoisie, as well as those who claimed to represent the working class.

How we faced up to this new situation – one of the most difficult and therefore challenging for Marxism – we leave the reader to judge.


In the same spirit as I wrote at the time of the publication of The Rise of Militant, I acknowledge tremendous help from many comrades and friends, too numerous to mention here. However, the following deserve special acknowledgements for their encouragement, work, criticism and advice. Firstly, Kevin Parslow, who has collaborated with me for many years, for his exacting research and gathering of materials, and famous ability to remember and verify facts. The following comrades have read different drafts of the book: Linda Taaffe, Clare Doyle, Hannah Sell, Tony Saunois, Bob Labi, Alec Thraves, Barbara Clare, Judy Beishon, Manny Thain, Niall Mulholland and others are thanked for the reading and checking of different chapters.

I would also like to thank Ben Robinson for his layout of the book and assistance in the latter stages of gathering and selecting photographs and Sarah Sachs-Eldridge for designing the cover and for progressing the speedy publishing of the book.

I repeat what I said in the previous book in thanking all those comrades who sustained first of all Militant and then the Socialist Party over years. I deeply regret not being able to mention all of them by name. Indeed, I have not been able to mention even all of the main participants in the many struggles to build our party. And the last thanks are to those full-time workers, past and present, who remained firm – in the very difficult period covered here from 1995 to 2007 – in keeping the flame of socialism and Marxism alive, and handing it down to the next generation, and those after them, to continue the struggle until victory and a new socialist society.