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Opportunism Knocked: Bradford Debate With SWP

The lively and well-attended autumn debates between the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers’ Party in Bradford were also revealing. Each highlighted the SWP’s complete lack of a class viewpoint and their opportunist support for any section in society who claimed a “special” grievance.

In the second debate, the SWP speaker boasted of his support for the most “Right wing” national liberation groups against his own ruling class. No talk from the SWP of the Socialist idea of the self-organisation of the working class irrespective of nationality, with world socialism, rather than the redrawing of national boundaries, as their aim.

Behind a veil of hypocrisy about the need for workers to reject their leaders reared the ugly head of Trotskyist elitism, with its view of the workers as sheep to be led (no prizes for guessing the shepherds). Time and again the SWP endeavoured to draw the audience into its web of trendy reformism, manifesting itself in such pressure groups as the Anti-Nazi League, led by their Che Guevara, Peter Hain, and that guitar-strumming leftist Tom Robinson; various women’s groups, and the “Right to Work” campaign, telling us all that it is indeed our right to be exploited! Such prescriptions for our ills, misleadingly attractive in their initial emotional appeal, are futile and dangerous blind alleys for workers. Yet these reformist movements were proudly held up as examples of Marxist theory in practise.

Both socialist speakers pointed out that for all the lip-service paid to socialism by the SWP, all they had to offer the audience was the “fight” for immediate demands, from the provision of a coffee-machine locally to the national banning of the National Front. Such reformist struggles indicate the SWP attitude of “Blow the disease, let’s fight the symptoms”. The socialist speakers’ answer to this utopian line of thought was that the immediate abolition of capitalism and the implementation of socialism is the only realistic way forward, precisely because the social problems thrown up by the capitalist system are insoluble within capitalism, that the struggle to build up a mass working class movement, rather than the idealistic demands for full employment or a mere change of political leaders, that on both occasions the SWP speakers so vehemently rejected.

In reply, most of the SWP’s speakers’ time was focussed on the SPGB’s refusal to ally with the so-called “Left Wing” to fight off the extreme right—to vote Labour at elections to keep out the Tories and the National Front. In answer to this, our speaker expressed the Socialist Party’s non-compromising opposition to capitalism, “be it run by politicians wearing jack-boots, or by politicians wearing denim jeans”.

Finally, all the SWP could offer was the romantic policy of “getting the workers into the day-to-day struggles”. All very well, for those non-socialists who like that sort of thing—but let them do it under a banner other than socialism.

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