Socialist Appeal (UK, 1992)
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Socialist Appeal (United Kingdom)
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Socialist Appeal is the publication of a British Trotskyist tendency operating within the Labour Party which was founded by supporters of Ted Grant and Alan Woods after they were expelled from the Militant tendency in the early 1990s. The organisation is popularly known as the Socialist Appeal group, and publishes a monthly newspaper of the same name. It is the British section of the International Marxist Tendency. Socialist Appeal describes its politics as descending from Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the Trotskyist Militant tendency had been a significant force within the British Labour Party. At the height of its influence in the mid-to-late 1980s, Militant had three Labour MPs, control of Liverpool City Council, and initiated the campaign that brought down the Poll Tax. Ted Grant had been one of the founders and a major theoretical leader of the Militant tendency but was expelled with other supporters after the 1991 debate on the Open Turn.
A special conference decision to endorse the Open Turn by 93% to 7% entailed Militant supporters abandoning the entryist strategy of working within the Labour Party and leaving to form an independent organisation. The new party was initially known as Militant Labour, changing its name in 1997 to the Socialist Party in England and Wales, while in Scotland Scottish Militant Labour instigated the formation of the Scottish Socialist Party.
The split was caused by the Militant tendency's majority adoption of the 'Open Turn', Grant's continued support for the tactic of entryism within the Labour Party and what Grant and Woods claimed was the bureaucratic centralist degeneration of Militant's internal regime. After the debate and conference decision, the Militant tendency claimed that Grant and Woods had begun a separate organisation and had split from Militant, whilst Grant and Woods claimed to have been expelled. The Socialist Party drew the conclusions that owing to the adoption of right wing economic polices by the Labour Party leadership under Neil Kinnock, it was effectively a bourgeois political party. Conversely, supporters of Socialist Appeal argued that the Labour Party's funding was still based on trade unions, and the Labour Party retains support amongst the working class.
As Labour under Tony Blair embraced the Third Way and moved away from its traditional socialist roots, most Trotskyist tendencies in Britain that employed the tactic of entrism have left Labour and either run candidates under their own banner, such as the Socialist Party, or joined electoral coalitions such as the Scottish Socialist Party or the Socialist Alliance. The Socialist Party, along with other left-wing organisations, intiatiated the Campaign for a New Workers' Party in 2006, arguing that trade unions should break with Labour and construct their own political formation. However, supporters of Socialist Appeal have rejected this turn and they are the main Trotskyist group in Britain which maintains the entrist tactic in the twenty-first century. Socialist Appeal began publishing their own journal in 1992. In 2000, the group was estimated to have around 250 supporters.
Socialist Appeal puts forward a set of transitional demands for the transformation of the economy on socialist lines similar to the programme drawn up in 1938 by Leon Trotsky.
The Labour Movement
Socialist Appeal argues that the Labour Party must break decisively with capitalism and adopt a socialist programme, based on the nationalisation of the "commanding heights" of the economy. They argue that through the introduction of a planned economy, a socialist Labour government could introduce full employment, a 32-hour week, and "reasonable" wages and pensions.
Socialist Appeal calls on trade unions to "reclaim" the Labour Party for themselves, away from the domination of supporters of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and its supporters typically work within their respective Constituency Labour Parties or trade union branches to that end. The organisation also carries out open work outside of the Labour Party. Socialist Appeal demands full trade union rights, including the repeal of the anti-union laws introduced by Margaret Thatcher, as well as for officials in the Labour Party and Trade Unions to be subject to the right of recall, and to receive a "worker's wage".
Socialist Appeal is in broad agreement with the classical Marxist view that capitalism inherently results in "boom and bust" cycles as a result of overproduction, and thus attempts to prevent this through monetarism or Keynesianism are not possible. Therefore, the only solution to this is the introduction of democratic socialism, based on a planned and nationalised economy, based on the socialisation of its "commanding heights" (i.e. the top 150-200 financial institutions and companies). They argue that a planned economy is able to replace production on the basis of profit with production on the basis of need.
Socialist Appeal Publications
Socialist Appeal refers to the monthly journal of the same name. In September 2009, the publication Socialist Appeal changed from a magazine journal format to a full colour tabloid. Similar to the newspaper of the old Militant tendency, an issue of Socialist Appeal typically contains theoretical articles, industrial reports, and political analysis. Socialist Appeal also produce and publish a number of pamphlets and books through their Wellred publishing arm.
Socialist Appeal was also the name of two British Trotskyist newspapers associated with Ted Grant in the 1940s: one was the newspaper of the Workers International League and immediately following that of the Revolutionary Communist Party.
Socialist Appeal is the name of the English-language newspaper of the Workers' International League, the US section of the International Marxist Tendency, and a newspaper in New Zealand which is also affiliated.
International Marxist Tendency
Although they remain small in Britain, the international group to which they are affilitated, the International Marxist Tendency, has grown in number, especially in the Indian subcontinent and Latin America, where they are enthusiastic supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution (they instigated the formation of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign group). As well as publishing their magazine Socialist Appeal, the group has also published a number of books by Leon Trotsky, Ted Grant and Alan Woods. The group has devoted much of their time to developing the multilingual website In Defence of Marxism.
Supporters of Socialist Appeal value the importance of theory highly, and dedicate a large amount of space in their paper and website to theoretical articles. They have been criticised by some left groups[who?] for spending too much time on 'abstract' theoretical subjects; however, Socialist Appeal argues that a thorough understanding of Marxism, history, economics and politics is necessary to understand the world today. They argue that neglect of theory in the late 1980s led to the Militant tendency turning in an ultraleft direction.
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