Socialist Party documents

Perspectives for Britain and the world 2009


A new workers' party

The Socialist Party, together with others on the left, must be prepared to stand in this vital election to counterpose to the capitalist parties the socialist alternative.

A new Labour government, which is now less likely, would represent more of the same. However, if New Labour is re-elected, once it demonstrates, as it will, its refusal to bend to the pressure of the trade unions, which could increase considerably, then the ground would be laid for possible splits from Labour and the beginnings of a new mass workers' party.

Marxists refuse to say 'never' where political developments or the timing of processes are concerned.

But the likelihood of transforming Labour by evicting the right from its ranks - much like what happened to the neo-socialists in France in 1934 - is highly improbable given the control exercised from top to bottom by the New Labour machine.

Given this situation, even those vainly clinging to the wreckage of what was formerly a workers' party could decide that the game was up.

Even then, as the subsequent manoeuvring of some on the left and the experience of Germany shows, the development of a new workers' party project may see attempts to exclude socialists and Marxists from its ranks.

In vain! The Socialist Party has been to the fore, before all other political trends, in arguing for a new mass workers' party.

Moreover, we have concretely fought for it in the unions and union conferences over years. The advanced workers in the unions such as in Unison and the PCS are well aware of the leading role played by the Socialist Party on this issue.

Despite all efforts to prevent its development, the creation of a new formation of this character is most likely, as it was in Germany and, more spectacularly, in Italy at the beginning of the 1990s, in Brazil and in Greece.

There will be no British 'exceptionalism' in this regard. However, a new formation in the next period could be highly unstable, could tend to go into crisis very quickly, unless a clear socialist platform and orientation is worked out.

For this to happen, Marxists must play a key role in these formations.

The only conclusion from the foregoing is that we are entering one of the most disturbed and volatile periods in British history, which will test out and examine all policies and programmes, both within the ranks of the ruling class and their parties and in the workers' movement in general.

The heroic battle we have fought in defence of the socialist project and the subsequent development of the membership and cadres of the Socialist Party have prepared us well for this period.

The participation, in many instances playing the leading role, alongside many other good left and worker-militants in the trade unions, in the workers' movement generally, in the anti-war movement, in the battle against racism and fascism, in the struggle for a new mass workers' party, has enhanced the standing of the Socialist Party.

While commendable, this is no guarantee of future success. However, on the basis of our programme and method, we can now build a substantial force, attracting to our ranks the best workers, young people, women, black and Asian workers to build a powerful party capable of reaching and educating the hundreds and then the thousands to our banner in the period we are entering.