09 March 2006
A modest proposal for an Independent Labour Party
A new socialist blog has just started up, and it looks good so far. One posting had me nodding my head wearily as the writer listed the various grouplets that have tried, and failed, to become the voice of the British working class. I have to be honest and say that the last thing we need right now is yet another set of initials.
So what can be done? Well, one of the reasons why these new parties fail to get off the ground is that they don't have roots in any local community. If we look back to 1893 and the birth of the Independent Labour Party, we can see that what actually happened in Bradford was the coming together of many local groups and parties, quite a few of which that had been in existence for around a decade by that time. In other words people were not being asked to support a new party; they carried on supporting the local group that already existed.
A second reason why these new parties fail is that they tend to be run by infantile Trots who think that the revolution is just around the corner. The latest seems to be the Socialist Party, formerly known as Militant. Anything that Trots touch they fuck up - in that they are fully in tune with their mentor who ended up head-butting an ice pick.
It is far better to take a leaf out of the old ILP's book and form an alliance between socialists and labourists. The reason why the proposal, debated at Bradford, to call the new party the Socialist Labour Party was defeated was due to the fact that the bulk of the delegates knew that the majority of working class people were not socialists. However, labourism, coming as it does from the unions, was something that the ordinary person could relate to.
That common sense approach is something that is sadly lacking today. People from the labourite wing of the movement are just as cheesed off and isolated as we are. It makes no sense at all to leave them on the sidelines by setting up yet another socialist sect. We need to unite socialists and labourists under one banner.
Hence the modest proposal. Let socialists and labourists build their local parties and groups and when there are enough of them - and when they are winning council seats and when union branches and trades' councils are supporting them - then let us have a conference to set up a new party that will act as a voice for the urban working class.
As part of this modest proposal, I would suggest that if we ever get to the stage where enough groups exist to form a new party, then we take our cue from Bradford in 1893. The party should be called the Independent Labour Party and the conference should simply re-adopt the original consitution.