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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

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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

Workers Power: Statement on unity: Towards revolutionary unity

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In preparation for the meeting held on Saturday 8 Feb as part of the unity process the IS Network is currently engaged in it was decided that each organisation should produce a statement, which they felt would present a basis for unity and realignment in preparation for the upcoming unity conference. The following statement is the product of that.

For more than a year the crisis of the revolutionary left has centred on the Socialist Workers Party. Sparked by the mishandling of accusations of rape and harassment by women comrades, the leadership’s attempts to suppress opposition resulted in expulsions, factional struggles and two serious splits.

This has led to widespread accusations that the revolutionary left at large is characterised by an abusive attitude to women and dictatorial and undemocratic regimes. It is true that such attitudes and practices are far from being restricted to the SWP: it is not true that all revolutionary organisations and traditions in the UK can be characterised in this way.


It would be a serious blow to the working class movement and the future building a serious revolutionary party in Britain if the revolutionary left should suffer further decline, fragmentation or remain stuck in its current state of disunity.

It is vital that revolutionaries do all in our power to overcome the differences that divide us. We should do so on a principled basis – first of all by agreeing a set of basic policies and organisational principles and practices which enable us to work together on the decisive fronts of the class struggle.

That is the goal we should set ourselves.

But we have to be realistic about where we stand now. The groups represented in discussions aimed at revolutionary unity – the International Socialist Network, the Anticapitalist Initiative, Socialist Resistance and Workers Power - all recognise we have both agreements and differences on many issues.

We recognise that there has to be an acceptance of this pluralism or heterogeneity of views. Such differences will continue to be expressed publicly by groups and individuals and it is not desirable that they should be covered up in any way. But at the same time there has to be an intention to seek convergence on a series of issues vital for any effective work in the class struggle.

To establish an exchange of ideas which is both plural yet centred on the realities of the class struggle we should aim to both establish the points of agreement as the basis for immediate work, as well as isolating the areas of difference which will be subject to further debate.

To facilitate this process we will jointly discuss, and amend where necessary, the text of the ISN’s ‘Where we stand’ or any other suitable general statement of principles


We propose to discuss the following points:

  • The state of the resistance to the Tory-Lib Dem government’s assault on the welfare state, on jobs, on trade union and democratic rights, etc. This should include an assessment of the People’s Assembly and what policy revolutionaries should argue that it should adopt
  • The trade unions and the level of grassroots organisation, the attitude to the bureaucracy, and possibilities of building a rank and file movement/class struggle left wing, etc.
  • International solidarity with the Arab revolutions - particularly Syria - and Palestine
  • The fight against racism and the fascist groups and the tactics that should be adopted by the left in order to combat them
  • The role of Left Unity in the fight for a new working class party, and the political basis on which it should be built. The attitude to Labour Party and the Labour Left. What should be our electoral tactics both as Left Unity and with regard to other non-Labour Left parties and electoral alliances etc.,
  • The position to be adopted towards the European Union and Britain’s membership of it. Likewise the position to be taken on the Scottish independence referendum.

We think that out of these discussions our aim should be to produce together an action programme focussed on the class struggle in Britain in the period immediately ahead.

There are in addition specific programmatic issues that will have to be discussed in conjuncture with these issues.

These include

  • The changing nature of the working class movement since the defeats of the 1980s, - the balance of blue and white collar, public and private sectors workers, declining union density and workplace organisation, and what these changes mean for revolutionary strategy and tactics.
  • The basis of the struggle for women’s liberation today, the different currents of feminism and which are compatible with Marxism and a class standpoint
  • The fight against environmental destruction - what is Eco socialism etc.
  • Social oppression of LGBT and disabled people and the debates around Queer and Gender theories
  • The revolutionary party and its programme, its relationship to the working class, its organisational principles, the continued relevance or not of Leninism, democratic centralism etc. Here we need to consider the differing interpretations of these that stem from our different traditions.


We propose that an agreed agenda of topics be discussed at the series of regional and national meetings as first proposed by the ISN’s Politics and Policy conference.

We extend an invitation to the RS 21 comrades to participate in the process of Revolutionary Unity, as full members or observers, as they wish.

We propose to work together in the public events and actions in solidarity with the Syrian revolution, starting on 15 February but continuing after that.

We propose to work together to produce the women’s publication, aimed at addressing the issues of importance to women’s struggles and in particular to working class and socialist women.

We propose that we all participate with equal rights in the publication of The Exchange as a magazine/website of the on-going discussion.

We will set up a regularly meeting liaison committee consisting of representatives of all the participating groups to organise all the meetings, conferences and joint actions conducted under the banner of the revolutionary regroupment initiative.