Despite the outward appearance of increasing influence and success, the real political strength of the Workers Revolutionary Party within the working class and among the youth steadily deteriorated. The resources obtained through opportunist relations with bourgeois nationalists served only to temporarily paper over a rapidly-developing organizational crisis within the WRP. Nothing revealed more concretely the devastating impact of opportunism than the sales figures for the News Line. In 1980-81, the average weekly paid circulation of the News Line was 90,162. In 1981-82, beneath the impact of the WRP’s repeated betrayals of the working class in the pursuit of its alliance with the GLC and the Labour lefts, the News Line circulation fell to 63,350—a drop of more than 33 percent. By 1983-84, that figure was to fall still further to 51,223.
While the WRP’s strength within the workers’ movement at the grass-roots level was deteriorating, Healy was going all out to build up an immense apparatus to service his centrist accommodation with sections of the Labour and trade union bureaucracy, thus increasing the Party’s dependency upon the resources acquired from non-proletarian forces.
Then disaster struck. In June 1982 the Zionists invaded Lebanon and the facilities of the PLO inside that country were largely destroyed. This was followed by the eruption of internecine warfare inside the PLO which further weakened its influence. The Arab bourgeoisie swung sharply to the right, and the ensuing political shake-up dealt a blow to the foreign policy of the WRP. The implications of the decline of the political weight of the party within the working class, which had been covered over for so long, now threatened to explode in the form of a catastrophic financial crisis.
Through the machinations of Healy and the WRP finance office, this was averted through a policy of massive borrowing and the mortgage of party property. On this basis, the WRP leadership avoided a political reckoning with the real source of the crisis—the betrayal of Trotskyist principles—and continued to hide the true state of affairs from the party membership.