John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

How did Communist parties handle issues of internal discipline and democracy in Lenin’s time? The recent intense discussion within the British Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) and beyond has heard claims that the SWP rests on the traditions of democratic centralism inherited from the Bolsheviks.

John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

Some extended thoughts about Stephanie Bottrill, the woman who committed suicide because of the bedroom tax.

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the killing of Blair Peach by the police. David Renton looks back at Blair Peach’s life as a poet, trade unionist and committed antifascist

Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

Bunny La Roche: Nasty Little Nigel gets a rude welcome to Kent

Bunny La Roche of RS21 on Nigel Farage's visit to Kent

Bunny La Roche: Nasty Little Nigel gets a rude welcome to Kent

Financial Appeal

We're up and running! An appeal for funds to kickstart the IS Network

Financial Appeal

A letter from Socialist Resistance

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11 December 2013

Dear comrades

We said that we would give you a more considered response to the decision of your politics conference to call for a wider regroupment involving Workers Power, Plan C and the IWW which would conclude with a regroupment conference in the spring. This effectively replaced the existing three way process between ourselves, yourselves and the ACI comrades.

A similar approach has now been adopted by the ACI conference in Manchester last Saturday – with the additional proviso that the spring conference would only be an interim step towards a regroupment conference which would take place at a later date.

After your conference we gave you an initial response to the effect that whilst we are strongly committed to the regroupment process your new proposal was more contentious since it proposes to include in the process organisations (Worker Power in particular) which have a very different view as to the kind of new organisation which we should aspire to build. We said that as a result of this we would need to discuss your new proposal in more detail at our National Committee, which was due to be held on 7 December.

We have now had our NC meeting and discussion and we can confirm that we do indeed want to be fully involved in the new process and will do everything we can to bring it to a successful conclusion. We remain of the view that this is an historic opportunity to build something new on the revolutionary left, that we should not miss.

We made a positive balance sheet of the convergence process which has taken place to date. The three organisations have a shared vision of what a new revolutionary party would look like – particularly in terms of pluralism, openness and internal democracy. This was reflected in the joint statement we produced on the regroupment process in the summer.

We have a shared approach to the crisis of the SWP, its failure to defend women comrades, and the need to re-establish and reassert the principles of feminism and self-organisation in any new organisation we build.

We have also been able to carry out some good joint work during the process of regroupment. We have held a joint public meeting and have produced a joint statement on the Syrian conflict, an issue about which there are many divisions on the left. The development of Exchange has been a particularly important testing ground for the collaboration and has gone very well. The current edition on regroupment is very good and the production team worked well.

We have also worked well together in Left Unity and have been able to play at least some part in the success of its founding conference. This is because we share a strategic view as to the important of building such parties, in the present period, both in terms of the space which had opened as Labour has moved to the right and the need for a political dimension to the anti-austerity struggle.

Such an approach to Left Unity, and alongside that to the People's Assembly, is particularly important when it comes to what the practice and priorities of a new party would be – since it is not just a matter of getting a new party off the ground but of making it useful to the wider workers' movement once it is off the ground.

We think that this is all good preparation for moving towards a single organisation, which if we do it right could be an attractive proposition for many who are currently not members of any of the organisations involved.

By far the best road to success, in our view, would be a regroupment between our three organisations, which have been involved from the start, along with any new groupings which might come out of the SWP after conference if they share this kind of perspective. In fact if such groupings did emerge, involving them in this process would be an important priority.

So what about Workers Power? To put it bluntly we think that Workers Power would be a pressure towards exactly the kind of narrow dogmatic organisation that we are trying to avoid, and would therefore hamper the whole process. We are not, however, making agreement with our views on this any kind of precondition. We are ready to commit ourselves fully to the process and we will argue our corner on this as the discussion develops.

Finally we think that time is of the essence. Such opportunities do not happen very often and they do not last for very long. If the process goes on too long or lacks momentum there is a danger of fragmentation. In our view, therefore, we should continue to aim for a regroupment in the spring of 2014 rather than the longer timescale as proposed by the ACI comrades.