I am writing as a sympathiser and one with boundless admiration for Socialist Party. because of its constant refusal to compromise with all that is harmful to socialism. Therefore I was disappointed, when listening to a recent tape of members in discussion, that should a minority of socialist MPs get elected it would be party policy that reforms should be evaluated on their merits and voted for or against accordingly.
Certain reforms can indeed be said to have merit if they have some benefit to the working class, such as medicare, extension of the franchise and safety legislation in the workplace. However, for socialists to vote in favour of such reforms might well attract support from non-socialists who also welcome such measures. Too much of such support would mean you would no longer have a socialist party. I feel a minority of socialist MPs should (as they probably would) point out the class nature of all reforms, and if they did not feel comfortable voting against some of them (such as the above) abstain.
My view is to let the upholders of capitalism work for reforms and for socialists to work for socialism with the same attitude towards reforms as your party was to taking sides in wars, leadership, defence of state capitalism, nationalisation, industrial unionism, elitism (to name a few) which is “no compromise”.
STEVE SHANNON, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
Our view is also “to let the upholders of capitalism work for reforms” while we put the revolutionary alternative. Socialist MPs and councillors would be mandated to put the case for socialism and to criticise reform activity from the socialist perspective. However, the long-established socialist position is that socialist delegates in such an environment would be duty-bound to consider voting for measures that could benefit the working class as a whole and/or the socialist movement in particular. These issues would be judged on their merits at the time, and could, for instance, involve socialist delegates voting to stop a war, such as the recent war in Iraq. In such a case abstention would not be justifiable. In taking this position, they would still make clear their opposition to capitalism as a whole and to all parties of capitalism and would at no time seek support from the working class on the basis of a reform programme –Editors.