Socialist Equality Party (UK)
The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (Britain)

The formation of the Workers Revolutionary Party (Internationalists)

224. In a second resolution, the International Committee identified, as the fundamental characteristic of the WRP’s degeneration, the refusal to subordinate itself to the discipline of the international movement. To provide the best possible conditions for political clarification, the resolution called for:

“The re-registration of the membership of the WRP on the basis of an explicit recognition of the political authority of the ICFI and the subordination of the British section to its decisions.

“Full collaboration by every member of the WRP with an International Control Commission to investigate, but not limited to, the corruption of G. Healy, the cover-up by the Political Committee, and the financial crisis of the WRP.

“All charges against members of either the minority or majority factions, which have arisen as a result of the eruption of the crisis in the Party, shall be referred to the International Control Commission”.[1]

225. For three years, the WRP leaders had combined together to suppress the criticisms raised by the Workers League. Their fear throughout was that these criticisms would find support within the British section, and it proved to be well grounded. There had been a number of occasions in the past where oppositional voices had been raised against various aspects of the WRP’s line, but none of these critics had demonstrated any interest in pursuing a struggle within the world movement. Indeed, for the most part, they did not conceive of themselves as members of a world party, but of a national left formation.

226. In the course of the struggle in 1985, a political turn occurred that was to make possible the reorientation of a significant section of the British membership as conscious internationalists. Credit for this goes to Dave Hyland, the Central Committee member for Yorkshire. Having been made aware of Healy’s abuses, Hyland had led the demand for an investigation by the party’s Control Commission. Despite threats from Slaughter and Banda, he had refused to retreat.

227. In early October, Hyland obtained a copy of North’s critique. His response was to reappraise the issues involved in the conflict within the WRP. Hyland now understood that more was at stake than a bureaucratic degeneration in the party’s apparatus, and that a principled opposition had developed within the International Committee to the WRP leadership. His decision to contact the Workers League to request political discussion provided the first opportunity for the International Committee to make direct contact with the WRP’s membership. In the discussions that followed between Hyland and North, agreement was quickly established that the fight to save the WRP as a Trotskyist party could only be taken forward through a resumption of the Fourth International’s struggle against Pabloite revisionism.

228. Hyland and two other Central Committee members sought minority status as the WRP (Internationalists), based upon recognition of the political authority of the International Committee. Their petition was accepted on November 9, 1985. The WRP (I) had significant support within the working class cadre of the WRP and from the majority of the Young Socialists and its leadership. It included individuals representing decades of struggle for Trotskyism in Britain, such as Barbara Slaughter, Chris Talbot and Vicky Short. The support for the WRP (I) confirmed the correctness of North’s refusal to be pushed by the Healy/Banda/Slaughter clique, in 1982 and 1984, into a premature split. Notwithstanding the years of centrist backsliding, it proved that there remained a sizeable constituency for Trotskyism within the WRP.


Fourth International, Autumn 1986, Labor Publications, Volume 13, No.2, p.52.