During the Second World War, Cliff Slaughter worked in a coal mine as one of the Bevin Boys. While there, he was injured when kicked by a pit pony.
He later became a lecturer and writer on sociology and Marxism. His best-known works are Coal is our life (written with Norman Dennis and Fernando Henriques) and Marxism, Ideology and Literature; his most recent is Not without a storm: towards a communist manifesto for the age of globalisation.
As a lecturer at the Universities of Leeds and Bradford, Slaughter joined the Communist Party of Great Britain. He left in 1956 following the Soviet invasion of Hungary and joined Gerry Healy's group The Club. Slaughter remained with the tendency for almost three decades, during which it became known as the Socialist Labour League and then the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP). During this period, he was regarded as the group's top intellectual, and remained on the Central Committee.
Split in the WRP
In 1985, Healy faced allegations of sexual harassing WRP members, leading Slaughter and Mike Banda to oppose him. This broadened into a more general criticism of the party's direction. They were able to gain a majority of the group and forced Healy to retire. When Healy again tried to exert authority, Slaughter and Banda led a call for "revolutionary morality" and expelled Healy and his supporters. This effectively split the organisation between their supporters and those of Healy and Sheila Torrance.
Slaughter worked with David North's International Committee of the Fourth International to publish a study into the funding of the WRP, which concluded that it had received over £1,000,000 from Libya and various Middle Eastern governments.
Slaughter and Banda's group at first continued to call itself the Workers Revolutionary Party. However, Banda soon split with Slaughter, repudiating Trotskyism. The international supporters of this group decided to call themselves the Workers International to Rebuild the Fourth International, and they published both the Workers Press and the International journal. In the 1990s the members of the group which Slaughter led decided that the idea of an elite vanguard party was not the way to build towards socialism. Slaughter remains a member of a loose grouping with other former members of the WRP, the Movement for Socialism, and continues to write. In 2007, his work Not Without a Storm: towards a communist manifesto for the age of globalisation was published, intended as the opening of a discussion on contemporary issues and the responsibility of socialists.
- "Geoff Pilling", in Glossary of People, Encyclopedia of Marxism at Marxists.org. (accessed 2008-06-08)
- Bob Pitt, The Rise and Fall of Gerry Healy, Chapter 6. (accessed 2008-06-08)
- Ibid., Chapter 11. (accessed 2008-06-08)
- "The Corruption of the Workers Revolutionary Party", Solidarity, Issue 16 (new series), Spring 1988 (online on the GAUCHE Blog, July 27, 2004) (accessed 2008-06-08)