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Readers respond to Trotskyist red scare smears by capitalist media
The renewed interest in socialist ideas has shaken cosy Westminster politicians, leading to fresh attacks on Militant, now the Socialist Party, and Trotskyism. Below, members of the Socialist Party defend our achievements against the lies and distortions of the capitalist media.
Right-wing Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has led the charge against Militant's principled socialist ideas and methods. Bob Labi exposed Watson's role in closing down the Militant-led Labour Party Young Socialists (LPYS) in the Guardian on 15 August.
While it is true that in the mid-1960s Labour's youth movement massively declined (Guardian Letters, 12 August), the Labour Party Young Socialists grew dramatically in the 1970s and 1980s when it was led by supporters of Militant, who had become its leadership in 1970.
This revival came from a combination of increasing class struggle, radicalisation in society and serious campaigning. Soon nearly 2,000 young people were attending the LPYS's annual conferences. This growth continued and the LPYS reached a high point of 581 branches in 1985, the time of the miners' strike, youth protests against Thatcher etc.
However, the growing offensive against the left by the pro-capitalist wing of the Labour party inevitably had a damaging impact on the LPYS.
As it became clear that expulsions of individuals would not tame the LPYS, the Labour party right wing resorted to rule changes. In 1987 the LPYS's age limit was cut from 26 to 23 and most of its democratic structures were removed, with the result that by 1990 it only had 52 branches left, a reduction of 90% in five years.
Tom Watson, then the Labour Party's youth officer, presided over the LPYS's final liquidation and its replacement by 'Young Labour', an organisation without fully democratic structures and controlled by the party leadership. Watson's support now for limiting the franchise for Labour's leadership election shows his preference for top-down methods when he and his supporters cannot build grassroots support.
Bob Labi, Editor of 'Left', the LPYS newspaper, 1971-77
Another favourite myth of the Labour right is that the Militant-led Liverpool Council was a disaster for the impoverished city. Tony Mulhearn, one of the councillors who took part in that struggle, replied in the Guardian on 16 August.
John Hoggart (Guardian Letters, 15 August) believes Liverpool's Militant-led socialist council left a disastrous legacy and Thatcher had us on a string.
Is that why the Iron Lady conceded £60 million to the city - the only one to gain anything from that government? Is that why Liverpool became the object of a hysterical hate campaign against a single city by the forces of the establishment, similar to the current anti-Corbyn campaign, with Murdoch's Sun, Maxwell's Mirror and right-wing Labour leader Neil Kinnock spearheading the poisonous attack?
We built 5,000 new houses, six sports centres, cancelled thousands of redundancies, opened six new nursery schools, and created thousands of real jobs from which the youth benefited.
That's why demonstrations of up to 50,000 marched through the city in our support, and we received the largest council votes ever recorded. Some disaster! Some legacy!
As to Liverpool Labour's loss of control: that can be directly linked to Labour's policy of embracing Blairism with its appalling consequences for jobs and services. Take off your jaundiced spectacles, Mr Hoggart, and admit what a fighting Labour Party can achieve.
Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool councillor and president of Liverpool Labour Party, 1980-85
Under the headline 'If Trotskyists are on the march there's chaos ahead', John Harris wrote in the Guardian on 12 August attacking Militant and the Socialist Party. Below, in a letter that editors declined to print, Linda Taaffe responds.
In the run up to the London Assembly elections I took a call from a journalist about a piece on a local housing campaign.
Yes of course, do come along. Can we interview tenants? Sure, we can set up a street meeting and you can film. Your campaign is typical of what's going on around London. Yes it is, except these tenants are refusing to budge. That's not typical.
John Harris and crew duly came and did the business. At the time I spoke to him and there was a friendly exchange. At no time did he express any hostility. He even bought a copy of the Socialist.
Yet today, a few months later, we are treated to vitriolic denunciations of Socialist Party members! When he came face to face with activists doing the business of defending workers from being evicted he had nothing useful to add.
We Socialists will continue fighting alongside workers to defend homes, jobs and pay, and fight for a future for our young people. We are certainly on the march, as Harris's article is headlined.
But the chaos is here and now, and we are key fighters in getting through the chaos of capitalism to a more sensible place where we can plan for everyone's needs.
John Harris will forever be a mere commentator. Even his housing film turned out to be a rather bland piece and utterly forgettable.
Linda Taaffe, Waltham Forest Socialist Party
- The 'Butterfields Won't Budge' campaign has been running now since January. 50 families are still in their homes
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