Interregnum & ‘Glasnost’ 1986
“Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, There never was a cat of such deceitfulness and suavity. Re always has an alibi, and one or two tospare: At whatever time the deed took place -MACAVITY WASN’T THERE!”
T S Eliot, Macavity: The Mystery Cat
Or how the old WRP leadership (and Cliff Slaughter in particular) survived theperiod of reassessment and re-examination.During 1986 the political discussions with other groups got under way inearnest. A new Central Committee was elected at the Eight Congress sessionof 15 March and Simon Pirani, Dave Bruce and Chris Bailey, a long-timemember from Cambridge emerged as the most progressive of the new Partyleaders. Also a second tier of leaders were emerging like John Simmance, aformer YS National Secretary and an AEU shop steward at Charing Crosshospital who returned to a leadership role in party work after the split. Hisstanding was won on the good articles he was writing analysing the TorranceWRP (News Line) during the Wapping print strike when they had defendedBrenda Dean and the trade union bureaucracy who sold out that dispute.Lynn Beaton, formerly of the Australian IC group the SLL, did good work forWorkers Press on Ireland. Phil Penn was active on the Guildford Four, RichardGoldstein, an AEU member from east London, was taking a leading role aswas Keith Scotcher, another AEU member from Fords Dagenham. These twowere leading trade unionists. I had begun to make a contribution too onIreland and other issues, very much under Pirani’s influence at the time.
The other layer of aspiring bureaucrats had little to say in this period.Slaughter and Dot Gibson retreated into the background and missed manyPC and CC meetings. There was a new spirit of reconstructing somethinguseful. The Workers Press had many new people writing for it and issues likeIreland, the Labour Party, youth perspectives and special oppression werebeing examined. However leadership in the class struggle there was not, norwas any consistent strategy developed. The Manifesto that we did adopt atthe 3
session of the 8
Congress in June was never applied to the classstruggle. Its perspectives were very vague in any case. None of the new orthe old leaders had been party builders with the result that intervention inthe class struggle was on an ad hoc individual basis with no caucusingbeforehand.In fact all the academics who had never carried out any practical work in theclass struggle in their own place of work, and whose basic function had beento supply Healy with a veneer of Marxist orthodoxy were now lost without aleaden The academics were akin to hired hands who supplied whatever ideas