Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The "forgotten" Socialist Party (of Great Britain)

The Electoral Commission has published the latest quarterly data on donations to political parties which was picked up by Josiah Mortimer at Liberal Conspiracy who published a quite interesting article on the top ten political donations of 2013. One of those donations that caught my attention, that of £295,775 from one individual, a Mr Stanley Robert Parker (a sociologist) to the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

They should not be confused with the other more high profile Socialist Party (of England and Wales) which is the name the old Militant Tendency now operate under. Indeed the old militants are still moaning about the fact they cannot stand their candidates under the "Socialist Party" label as the older SPGB has already registered that name with the Electoral Commission. The trots are forced to use the moniker Socialist Alternative.

The SPGB is not an organisation that immediately comes to mind despite the fact it is the second-oldest extant political party in the UK, (the oldest being the Conservative Party according to Wikepedia anyway). This political Coelacanth is literally a living fossil having been founded in 1904 and has hardly changed it's world view since.

The organisation has around 200 members at the moment but with this donation (and a previous one of £150k in the last quarter) obviously has no financial problems when compared to the cant resources raised by their rivals on the left. The Alliance for Workers Liberty had a fund drive for a mere £25k from its 100 or members whilst the Weekly Worker crew (who operate under the name of the Communist Party of Great Britain) seek to raise 30k in what they call their "Summer offensive".

The Socialist Party of Great Britain were renowned for "condemning" the Russian revolution within hours of hearing of it (though its a bit more complex than that), but certainly advanced the theory of State Capitalism which was eventually picked up by Tony Cliff as he developed his ideas for what became the Socialist Workers Party.

The SPGB is not a "Leninist" organisation and they have an inherently hostile attitude to "leadership" which predates the rise of Bolshevism and relates to their originating in a split with the Social Democratic Federation led by a certain H. M. Hyndman who was quite an authoritarian character by all accounts.

Unlike the rest of the rabble that inhabit the political fringe of the far left their National Committee has limited powers and all their main decisions are made at their Annual Conference. You can't just join the party either and a membership exam has to be taken about the SPGB's policies and principles.

That probably explains why there aren't that many of them and it is rare to bump into them (unless you live near their HQ in Clapham). They have a magazine called the Socialist Standard which last time I saw a copy was printed on glossy paper and didn't have things like photos, though this has changed I'm told.

What do they stand for. Socialism of course, but they are even worse than the rest of the left as everything they say or do leads to a reductionist position of Socialism is the only answer and none of our problems will be solved until everybody thinks like them. They are in essence a purely propagandist group and don't really get active in anything.

Like the trots they do get involved in trade unions but unlike them do not seek to take them over. A policy of arguing for the abolition of the wages system would hardly endear them to most ordinary workers struggling to make ends meet.

The people who originally formed the SPGB were called the "impossibilists". Not much change there then. Still they seem to have a lucrative financial base which will make their long road to nowhere a wee bit more comfortable I suppose.

1 comment:

  1. Wikileaks Irelands CIA Operations https://socialistpartygreatbritain.wordpress.com