Talk:Socialist Party of Great Britain

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Former featured article candidate Socialist Party of Great Britain is a former featured article candidate. Please view the links under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. For older candidates, please check the archive.
August 15, 2006 Featured article candidate Not promoted

Party size[edit]

I do not agree that SPEW is larger than the SPGB. I think the SPGB is larger. In the interests of neutrality I feel this page should not express either view and am changing it accordingly--XmarkX 14:32, 6 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Just for the record - I only gave imprecise figures anyway - since they are changeable - I would contend that first hand testimony and authoritative testimony is admissible for Wikipedia - the criteria being whether this can be cross referenced. Unless you consider any source from within the SPGB to be unreliable on this score these figures are accurate and it would be misleading to say 'claims'. If you still don't agree change it back, but you'd be minimising inofrmation from the most reliable source - I'll not RV it again, I'll leave the decision to others.--Red Deathy 14:46, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

You might want to read Wikipedia:Verifiability - one of the core wikipedia policies - which specifically rules out us relying on the say-so of random users. Does this party file reports with the electoral commission? We could source figures from there, perhaps. Morwen - Talk 23:02, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
If you read Red Deathy's user page, you'll see that he's not just a "random user". His affiliation qualifies him to report on Party information. Since the SPGB is leaderless, his word is as good as any other member's. Any report on the number of Party members to the electoral commission would likewise come from such an "ordinary" member. So we have the choice here of relying on a primary source (Red Deathy) or a secondary source (a putative electoral commission report). —Psychonaut 01:15, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
If you disagree with Wikipedia's policy on verifiability, you need to debate it there. Red Deathy's figures are interesting and appear quite likely to be accurate, but they need to be used as a starting point to find a published secondary source which gives this evidence - even the Socialist Standard would be a possibility, provided it is noted as giving their numbers. Unverified figures from any party are suspect, as certain parties are thought to regularly overestimate their membership, and (while I am sure Red Deathy is acting in entirely good faith), we cannot rely on every Wikipedian claiming to have inside information supporting their points actually having such details or remembering them all correctly. Warofdreams talk 01:51, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
The verifiability of my claim stands in the same stead as if I had consulted an archive collection - the primary source is the SPGB database, which can be consulted by members of the public (the same as if a reader wished to consult the archive source an historian, say, had consulted). So far as I know membership figures aren't published in the Socialist Standard, they are in internal reports, but, again, they could only be accessed via the SPGB and so are equally suspect. I would contend, therefore, that these figures are verifiable and come within the verifiability policy - i.e. it is not original research and not the same as a private conversation with a scientist, it is an inependently consultable resource.--Red Deathy 08:11, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Eeeh, I've just remember, the party archivist in fact did produce a historic survey of membership numbers, I think that's where I got my high figure from - not published as such, but available on request from the party (If we could find it). If that'll do you as a cited source?--Red Deathy 09:27, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, that's simply not good enough, and I echo User:Warofdreams's note that the place to argue with the verifiability policy is at Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability, not here. I've removed the paragraph entirely, in the hope that will seem better to you than the "claims" wording - it's not like we have a source for that even. Morwen - Talk 10:30, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm not contesting the policy, I'm suggesting that within the policy the points noted are valid. The place to debate it's implementation is here. The point is, I have cited my source, the SPGB Database and archive, and independent researchers can access that - it's like citing a rare or small circulation book. I am not putting up eye witness testimony, nor personal research, but the products of indpendently obtainable research by others. Anyway, I won't alter it - but I'd rather the paragraph with caveats were restored than that it were removed entirely.--Red Deathy 10:51, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Further, I'd add that Wikipedia:Verifiability#Self-published_sources notes that where the self-published source is not self serving, it is permissible, an internal document read by a couple of hundred members is a self published non-self serving source on a relatively uncontentious point (I've never met anyone who contests our membership figure, some are surprised, but no-one really disputes it). - Anyway, to cut a long story short how about "According to long serving member Bill Martin the party has around 400 members currently, of whom some 120 regularly take part in elections and ballots"?--Red Deathy 11:02, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Warofdreams, my stance is the same as Red Deathy's: nobody here is contesting Wikipedia's verifiability policy; we are simply disputing how to apply it. Now, you write that "unverified figures from any party are suspect". By that logic, the sizes for practically any private organization on Wikipedia are suspect, since most organizations keep their member lists private. (I'm a member of several major scholarly and professional associations, and nearly all of their membership application/renewal forms or charters state this explicitly.) Many such organizations don't even publish aggregate statistics on membership size; this information would be confined to internal reports only. But even if they did publish such statistics, that would be a primary source with no independent verification. Any secondary source reporting on membership size would simply be restating the numbers of the official report, since there is no other source for the data apart from breaking into the organization's HQ, stealing or copying the membership database, and individually contacting every person mentioned therein to confirm his or her membership. In summary, your claims for verifiability for cases such as this are completely ludicrous. That said, I'm just as happy with membership information being left out of this article entirely, since it's not relevant to the object of the Party but merely a piece of historical trivia. —Psychonaut 14:08, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
You are right that unverified published figures from any organisation may be acceptable, but are suspect and I would always want to see the source cited - although clearly some organisations have more incentive and more opportunity to exaggerate figures than others (this is not to suggest that Red Deathy's figures are anything other than accurate). The problem in this instance is that the figures have not been published and cannot be verified in any way, beyond asking Red Deathy. They have not been published by the SPGB (mention by a member of an organisation is not the same as publication by the organisation), so they are not self-published sources and as such are not acceptable for verification. Warofdreams talk 20:56, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
Your response contains a number of factually incorrect statements which leads me to believe you have not been carefully reading the postings here by Red Deathy and myself. First, you say that the figures given by Red Deathy "cannot be verified in any way". However, Red Deathy proposed plenty of ways to verify his statement, including referencing the Party archivist's report, or by consulting the Party membership database directly. Second, if your only standard of verifiability is a published source rather than an internal document, then please prove this to me by removing from Wikipedia articles membership figures for practically every trade union and professional association. The vast majority of these organizations produce no published material at all, so any membership figures for them are bound to come from internally circulated reports and newsletters. —Psychonaut 22:17, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I would hope that we do not have figures in any articles which come solely from unpublished reports and newsletters; if we do, and they do not appear in published material (either by the group or in secondary sources), then of course they are unverifiable and should be removed. If the party archivist's report or the database has been published, then that's fine, but I strongly got the impression that this was not the case. The key point - verification requires published material. Warofdreams talk 13:09, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Not contiunuing an argument, have found way out - but for point of reference - since the documents concerned were distributed among several hundred members of the party, and all documentation (save the names and addresses of members) are available to the public and copies will be sent to enquirers, doesn't that count as published, especially as they are in a publically accessible archive as well? I'll reiterate, their standing is the same as a small publication or rare book - grey literature is an essential info source in some subject areas. The key point, Shirley, is that the info be verifiable, and should be in a published source, sometimes it may be verifiable by another route. Anyway, Like I said, I've found an innacurate but verifiable source, which I'll cite when I restore the paragraph...and add a few more based on it...--Red Deathy 10:14, 28 May 2006 (UTC)
Great, that sounds like a good solution. The issue of what constitutes publication might be best taken to WP:V; it sounds like we might need a definition of it. Warofdreams talk 22:02, 28 May 2006 (UTC)

Some proposed changes[edit]

This is potentially a controversial topic, so I have decided not to make changes without first announcing my intent. I would be in favour of changing:

  • It consistently argues against both vanguardism and any sort of reform, and refuses to engage in direct action or to co-operate with other political parties. The SPGB and its companion parties in other states constitute the World Socialist Movement.


  • It consistently argues against vanguardism, and denies the possibility of reforming capitalism in the interests of the working class. It refuses to engage in direct action or to co-operate with political parties that do not share its object and declaration of principles. The SPGB and its companion parties in other states constitute the World Socialist Movement. Mattley 22:06, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I don't see what's so controversial about your proposed changes. I don't object to them. Psychonaut 22:41, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think these are good changes and am making them immediately.--XmarkX 04:54, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Excellent. Cheers Mattley 11:43, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)


The SPGB is certainly one of the few political parties without a leader in Britain - that is of special note. The EC, I would say, acts as collectiv leadership and while it is the conference, not the EC, that decides policy the EC makes a lot of the decisons in between times. It is truely democratic, which should go without saying but many Marxist parties aren't remotely so it isn't superfluous to say that. About 30 years ago I used to be on the SPGB EC so to that exent I don't claim to have the most up to date knowledge. I was expelled along with a few others essentially for publishing a discussion journal that questioned some of the parties fundamental principles. We did get a fair hearing but the SPGB isn't remotely anarchist as the origional wording implies.Dejvid 11:48, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Yes, it's certainly a fair point that 'no leader' is not by itself a very informative piece of information. The SPGB is certainly not an 'affinity group'... And yes, the EC does do a lot more than just implement conference decisions. But on the other hand, there's not much real similarity between the SPGB EC and the EC of the average Leninist outfit. It's a difficult thing to characterise really. Mattley 16:27, 4 Apr 2005 (UTC)


I thought that, at least, the Socialism template was relevent and attractive, and I think should be restored - specifically as it would give readers opportunities to compare the SPGB case as expounded in the article with wider debates and readings. Unless I hear good reason not to (other than that it's generally not done) I'll restore it...--Red Deathy 07:31, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Like I say, it's not usual to have it in an article on a party, and I prefer not to have lots of templates on a page unless they have a clear purpose, but if you really think it's useful, then feel free to put it back in. Warofdreams talk 01:13, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
OK - I'll just add that as so much of the page deals with the party's theory (which is relatively different) I do think it's worthwhile (I don't thihnk a separate 'Ideas of the SPGB' page is justified).--Red Deathy 07:11, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Election box metadata[edit]

This article contains some sub-pages that hold metadata about this subject. This metadata is used by the Election box templates to display the color of the party and its name in Election candidate and results tables.

These links provide easy access to this meta data:

Featured Article[edit]

Not sure I can see this happening - on this attempt at least - but nominating it was probably a good idea as it brings some useful scrutiny to the article. The lead section has been rewritten and now contains most of the article coverage on the party's early history. This is a bit too in-depth for the lead I think. Perhaps rewriting it to include SPGB origins as offshoot of the SDF but also other principal "claims to fame" that differentiate the SPGB from other groups on the left. Mattley (Chattley) 15:21, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Here's a quick go at an alternative intro. Would need tweaking but might have some useful ideas. Mattley (Chattley) 15:36, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

The Socialist Party of Great Britain, also known as the SPGB, is a British political party. It was founded in 1904 by dissatisfied members of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) and is thus Britain's oldest Marxist party. The Party retains the Object and eight-point Declaration of Principles adopted at its formation and has printed its journal, the monthly Socialist Standard, continuously throughout its existence. The SPGB describes itself as a revolutionary party and puts forward no programme of reforms or transitional measures. It defines socialism as a worldwide society of common ownership - opposing nationalisation or state control - and maintains that the transition to a socialist society requires that the majority in society understand and support such a system. Traditionally, members have defended the possibility of a peaceful transition to socialism in which parliament may play a role.
That seems fine to me - go ahead. I was addressing the points about history, but at least we'll have a para to work from and build a proper history section over.--Red Deathy 15:49, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Left communist?[edit]

Left communism is generally seen as a tendency comprised of the left-wings of the Communist parties that arose after the Russian Revolution. The left communists more or less defended the Russian Revolution, the Bolsheviks, and the first congresses of the International, but then broke on issues like national liberation, elections, trade unions, and the united front. None of this applies to the SPGB. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:47, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

International organisation?[edit]

Is the party a member of some international organization and what sister parties does it have in other countries? --Oddeivind (talk) 11:52, 27 February 2014 (UTC)


This sentence was in the lead I moved to a criticism section. @Zozs: then removed it all together. What are people's opinion on keeping it, Is it notable criticism? Jonpatterns (talk) 06:54, 18 May 2014 (UTC)

That's not even criticism, that's just silly name-calling and does not seem truly notable. Zozs (talk) 16:49, 18 May 2014 (UTC)
I wonder if anybody has the book referenced "The Monument: The Story of the Socialist Party of Great Britain" to confirm the criticism and put it in context. Jonpatterns (talk) 17:49, 18 May 2014 (UTC)


The party's income in 2013 was disclosed by the Electoral Commission to be £340,863.[2] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:41, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

Category:Anti-austerity political parties in the United Kingdom[edit]

@Psychonaut: With regards to this edit, the Socialist Party of Great Britain is listed on the List of political parties in the United Kingdom opposed to austerity, the reference given is this:

As it's their own policy, would you say that this counts as a reliable source for inclusion in Category:Anti-austerity political parties in the United Kingdom?

  1. ^ Barltrop, Robert (1975). The Monument: The Story of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. London: Pluto Books. ISBN 0-904383-00-8. 
  2. ^