Workers' Revolutionary Party (UK)


Workers' Revolutionary Party (UK)

Infobox_British_Political_Party
party_name = Workers' Revolutionary Party
party_articletitle = Workers Revolutionary Party (UK)| party_
leader = Sheila Torrance
foundation = 1947
ideology = Trotskyism
position = Far left
international = unknown
european = "none"
europarl = "none"
website = [http://wrp.org.uk www.wrp.org.uk]

The Workers' Revolutionary Party is a small Trotskyist political party in the United Kingdom. From its foundation until the late 1970s or early 1980s, it may have been the largest Trotskyist group in the country (although the Militant may have been larger at times, there is dispute over what constitutes a member of both so membership figures would not show the real number of cadre members if they were readily available). Fact|date=February 2007 In the mid-1980s, it split several ways.

The Club

The WRP grew out of the faction Gerry Healy and John Lawrence led in the Revolutionary Communist Party which urged that the RCP enter the Labour Party. This policy was also urged on the RCP by the leadership of the Fourth International. When the majority in the RCP rejected the policy in 1947, Healy's faction was granted the right to split from the RCP and work within the Labour Party as a separate body known internally as The Club. A year later the majority faction of the RCP decided to join The Club in the Labour Party.

Healy called for a massive educational effort within the organisation, which angered the old leadership. Though he met with opposition, Healy valued having a well-educated cadre over a large number of mindless followers. Healy set to work purging the group of real and imagined opponents with the result that within months the organisation was a fraction of its former size, but Healy's leadership was unchallenged.

In 1948 The Club joined with a number of Labour left and trade union leaders to organise The Socialist Fellowship as a vehicle for left wing Labour Party members. The Socialist Fellowship launched a paper called "Socialist Outlook" which John Lawrence became the editor of. When the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) was established as a public faction of the Fourth International in 1953 it recognised The Club as its official British section. However, Lawrence objected to this and as a result was replaced as editor of the paper. Healy took over editorial duties, but Outlook was banned by the Labour Party in 1954. After this, The Club distributed "Tribune".

The Club was one of the ICFI's larger segments. After the American, Austrian, Chinese, Latin American and Swiss parties of the ICFI agreed to reunification with the FI in 1963 (forming the reunified Fourth International), The Club controlled the ICFI until its fragmentation in 1985.

ocialist Labour League

The group grew, in part as people grew disillusioned with the Communist Party of Great Britain's position on the Hungarian revolution and in part from recruits from trade union activities. One of their best-known recruits from the CPGB was Peter Fryer, who had been the Daily Worker's correspondent in Budapest during the suppression of the uprising by Soviet troops, and who edited The Newsletter, a weekly which began publication in May 1958, over a year before the launching of the SLL. This paper and their publication of a number of Trotsky's then hard-to-find books further helped them recruit from among those disillusioned by the CPGB. Among these recruits were many of the group's best-known intellectuals and leaders such as Slaughter.

This, coupled with pressure from a group around leading industrial activist Brian Behan, led them to form the Socialist Labour League in 1959, independent and for the first time openly Trotskyist, although still with most of its members in the Labour Party. They were also very active in Labour Party youth organisation, the Young Socialists, and gained control until it was shut down in 1964.

However, during this period they did experience considerable internal tensions. Fryer quit in 1959 and in 1960 a group of members left to form Solidarity (UK), which became a theoretically influential, industrially oriented organisation strongly influenced by the ideas of Paul Cardan.

In 1963, the SLL leadership claimed that they had identified a revolutionary situation in Britain. In their view this meant the most important activity was building the party. They started a daily paper, Workers Press, in the early 1970s and increased the turnover of membership, and began to fear police infiltration. Crisis mongering would become an increasingly prominent part of their public profile and internal and external dissidents were dealt with harshly. One incident saw Ernie Tate, a Canadian Trotskyist, attacked in public while distributing anti-Healy leaflets.

Workers Revolutionary Party

Leaving the Labour Party, the WRP claimed that it was necessary to unconditionally support nationalist groups in various Arabic countries, including Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi. The party slowly lost members from the mid-1970s as demands on members to serve the organisation took their toll, although Vanessa Redgrave and some minor celebrities joined. It formed the "All Trade Unions Alliance", which was wholly controlled by the WRP.

A major split occurred when Alan Thornett was expelled, and went on to found the Workers Socialist League. The WRP also notoriously purchased Trotsky's death mask to use as an iconic focus for events. In 1979, a smaller group split from the WRP to found the Workers Party.

In the early 1980s, "The Money Programme" claimed that the party's newspaper, "News Line", was financed by money from Muammar al-Gaddafi's government. The "Socialist Organiser" newspaper repeated these claims, and the WRP chose to sue them, but soon abandoned the case. [http://www.workersliberty.org/node/view/1115] When, a little later, the WRP disintegrated, an investigation was carried out by the leadership of the ICFI, with the support of Mike Banda and Cliff Slaughter, leading figures in the WRP. The report concluded that the WRP had collected information for Libyan Intelligence. As printed by "Solidarity", the report claimed over £1,000,000 had been received by the group from Libya and several Middle Eastern governments, between 1977 and 1983. While only a small proportion of this is alleged to have come from Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government, it draws particular attention to photographs which it claims WRP members were instructed to take of demonstrations of opponents of Saddam Hussein, and it states were later handed to the Iraqi embassy. [http://libsoc.blogspot.com/2004_07_25_libsoc_archive.html] Dave Bruce, who oversaw the printing press, claims that income from Libya mostly covered the cost of raw materials for printing work for them, including copies of the "Green Book", and that the party could otherwise cover its own costs. [http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Healy/Chap10.html]

Fragmentation

In the early eighties the party suffered a period of intense factional struggle and for a time two versions of the WRP were in existence, each publishing their own daily "News Line" paper. The split in the WRP also had repercussions in the ICFI and as a result there were two versions of this body, too.

The two versions of the WRP soon became known by their newspapers with the version led by Gerry Healy and Sheila Torrence being known as the WRP (Newsline) and that led by Cliff Slaughter known as the WRP (Workers Press). Both would fragment further over the coming years.

The first split in the pro-Healy WRP came when a section of the London membership around full timer Richard Price went into revolt and were expelled in due course. They formed the Workers International League which has since evolved into Workers Action and no longer has anything in common with the Healyism it defended when first founded.

Another split in the pro-Healy ICFI and WRP would develop when the American section of the ICFI led by David North revolted against Healy's leadership and split to form its own rival movement also called the ICFI. Some members of the WRP sympathetic to North left the WRP at this point to form the International Communist Party, based in Sheffield. This grouping has since been renamed the Socialist Equality Party and largely confines its activity to the publication of texts on the internet.

In 1986, the ICFI loyal to Healy expelled the WRP (Newsline) after Healy had been pushed out of the WRP and had formed his own Marxist Party in 1987 with his few remaining supporters including the well-known actors Corin and Vanessa Redgrave. The Marxist Party would in turn lose another small split after Healy's death which formed the Communist League while the Marxist Party would linger on until 2004 before dissolving itself.

The WRP (Workers Press) suffered a series of further splits and is now a tiny organisation known as the Movement for Socialism.

Torrance's WRP is now the only surviving Workers' Revolutionary Party in the UK and it still publishes "News Line" daily.

Young Socialists

The WRP has increasingly tried to play a greater role attracting young people to its programme under the banner of its youth wing - the "Young Socialists". The Young Socialists publish a weekly self-titled newspaper. As well as this more general youth work the party has tried to play a role within universities as well, under the title of the "Young Socialist Student Society", although it has remained a minor faction.

Articles

* Hallas, Duncan. [http://www.marxists.org/archive/hallas/works/1985/12/cult.htm "Cult comes a cropper"] ( [http://72.14.203.104/custom?q=cache:QmQ8DEJGPfQJ:www.marxists.org/archive/hallas/works/1985/12/cult.htm+allintext:++%22cult%22+site:www.marxists.org/archive/hallas/&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&ie=UTF-8 cached by Google] )
* Healy, Gerry. [http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Healy/Sll.html "Some Reflections on the Socialist Labor League"] . From the March 1960 issue of the Socialist Labour League’s internal bulletin Forum. Reprinted by [http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk What Next Journal] . Retrieved June 14, 2006.
* Higgins, Jim. [http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Newint/Ratner.html "Suppose He Had Been Enthusiastic: Review of Harry Ratner, Reluctant Revolutionary"] . An review of a memoir of the Socialist Labor League. What Next Journal. ISSN 1479-4330.
* Pitt, Bob. [http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Healy/Contents.html "The Rise and Fall of Gerry Healy"]
*North, David. [http://www.wsws.org/polemics/1996/feb1996/96wrp.shtml "Behind the split in the Workers Revolutionary Party"]

Books

* Lotz, Corinna. Feldman, Paul. Gerry Healy: A revolutionary life, (1994: London, Lupus Books), ISBN 0952345404

External links

* [http://wrp.org.uk/ Workers Revolutionary Party (Newsline) Website]


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