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Party name changes? July 28, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Here’s a question, does anyone know what the effect of name changes of political parties is on membership? My sense is that it is generally negative. But what of the shift from Sinn Féin The Workers’ Party to The Workers’ Party, did that lose them members – or gain them? And what of the shift from Militant to the Socialist Party?

And how about broader alliances? A good or bad thing in peoples opinions?

Given that name changes are usually made in order to indicate some new shift in direction, and to encourage others to join, what are the usual outcomes – positive or negative? Anyone know?

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1. hatfulofhistory - July 28, 2016

Well, when Militant eventually became the Socialist Party, this also came with a split in the group, so on that grounds, the name change coincided with a negative impact on the party. When the International Socialists changed to the Socialist Workers Party in 1977, this was at a time when the group was on an upwards trajectory (due to the ANL and Right to Work campaigns) so the shift to becoming the SWP was quite positive in a coincidental kind of way.

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WorldbyStorm - July 28, 2016

Interesting thoughts you raise there. Did Anyone leave SFWP or OSF at those name changes? I never heard of organised groups going then.

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Tawdy - July 29, 2016

Seamus Costelloe and IRSP ?

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charlie cairns - July 29, 2016

I must have missed it, I’ve no memory of a split. Possibly one or two individuals left, but no group left the SP.

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Joe - July 29, 2016

But the split in Militant/SP wasn’t about the name change. It was iirc about the tactic of entryism. The majority wanted to abandon that tactic and establish an ‘open’ party but a minority around Ted Grant split in opposition to that change of tactic. Charlie may be right that the split didn’t happen in Ireland but it did in the UK.
Also, why do I know this stuff and not important things?

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Joe - July 29, 2016

But the split in Militant/SP wasn’t about the name change. It was iirc about the tactic of entryism. The majority wanted to abandon that long-used tactic (entryism into large social democractic parties like the Labour Party) and establish an ‘open’ separate Party. A small minority around Ted Grant opposed this change and split away from the main group. Charlie may be right that there wasn’t any organised split in Ireland but there was in the UK.
Also how come I know this stuff and know so little about important things?

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Jolly Red Giant - July 29, 2016

There has been two significant splits in the CWI over the past 40 years and neither has been related to a name change although name changes did occur around the same time.

As Joe pointed out the a split occurred in 1992 as a result of a year long discussion throughout the CWI on the ‘open turn’. This debate emerged as a result of the collapse of Stalinism, the new ideological offensive of capitalism and the collapse of social democracy into neo-liberalism. The debate crystalised around the emergence of Scottish Militant Labour as an open party. A group around Ted Grant and Alan Woods split from the CWI leading to roughly a 90% – 10% split in Britain, there was no split in Ireland (I cannot any individual leaving at the time). The split was more profound in other areas – sections in Spain, Denmark, Mexico, Pakistan and Latin America left with Grant. Splits of various degrees occurred in Greece, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, France, Italy and possibly another couple of groups I can’t recall. Around this time many CWI groups renamed their organisations to reflect the ‘open’ work they were engaged in. Since the 1992 split the IMT (Grant’s grouping) have undergone a whole series of other splits. In 2009 the IMT lost most of its Spanish speaking sections (including the largest section in the IMT in Spain). This was followed in 2011 with splits in Sweden, Poland, Iran and Britain and last year by the loss of most of the Pakistan section (which again was the largest section in the IMT at the time).

The second major split in the CWI occurred in 1999 when a majority of the Scottish section split, liquidating its organisational and political structures into the SSP. A minority remained with the CWI. At the same time the CWI section in Pakistan (which had been rebuilt from scratch after 1992) was expelled for engaging in nepotism and funneling money from the Swedish SAP through a whole raft of NGOs that it established. It was noted at the time that the Scots who split and the Pakistan group that was expelled supported one another at the CWI Congress – a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend. Since 1999 the CWI has again rebuilt its section in Pakistan.

In comparison to most other left groups the CWI has actually had remarkably few splits of any significance – particularly given its size and influence. The CWI is certainly the international with the largest geographical spread.

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2. Jack Jameson - July 28, 2016

I’d say People Before Profit Alliance is far less scary to people whose media periodically deride as ‘loony left’ the Socialist Workers’ Party.

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sonofstan - July 28, 2016

A friend of mine has a funny story about someone she met who went along to a PbP meeting only to be horrified to discover they were all socialists.

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WorldbyStorm - July 28, 2016

They still wanted the profits, but they wanted the people first?🙂

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3. streamy - July 28, 2016

Nobody know until the change is concrete.

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4. Pasionario - July 28, 2016

There’s an odd tendency on the Gaullist French right to change the party name every ten years or so. Now they’re “Les Republicains” having been the “Union pour une Majorite Populaire” (or something like that) until last year. Doesn’t seem to do them any harm. Originally the point was to show that de Gaulle was “above” party politics.

Both the Italian left and right have also constantly changed names since the collapse of the old party system in the early Nineties. Berlusconi picked “Forza Italia” because it was a football chant. Again, it didn’t seem to do him any harm at the polls.

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