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Far left party numbers in the UK… July 23, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This, from here, is intriguing.

And what of the CPB?

Interesting point here in a review of the original book by John Kelly… on a fascinating site.

Some problems do arise when Kelly tries to get to grips with incomplete or contradictory information to discuss aspects of Trotskyist activity. On page 125 an attempt is made to use the number and frequency of European Trotskyist publications to deduce the membership figures of the respective groups. Kelly refers to the ability of the SWP and the SP as well as the AWL (at least an order of magnitude smaller than the largest British groups) to produce weekly newspapers. However, he also notes the WRP (Newsline) group has a daily newspaper despite being much smaller. Clearly this proxy model does not work well and I would suggest that for many Trotskyist groups the paper IS the party and as a group declines in number every effort of will is bent to the maintenance of it and to the keeping up of appearances. At best newspaper frequency is a (very) lagging indicator of a group in decline and, in the case of the Newsline at least, ability to produce the paper far outstrips the ability to sell or distribute it!

Comments»

1. Phil - July 23, 2018

I can believe everything from 300 down to 50, but the lows look too low (I’ve met two Lambertists – surely they weren’t the two?) and the highs look way too high. I’d be amazed if the SWP were still in four figures, never mind 5,000+.

It partly depends what you mean by ‘member’, I suppose. When the Socialist Society wound up some time in the 90s it had an active membership of 10 to 20 (most of whom I could still name), but a dues-paying membership of 2-300; I think something similar was true of the Democratic Left splinter of the CP, before they gave up on the whole thing and became a think tank (although neither of those groups would qualify for this table, as they weren’t Trotskyist).

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WorldbyStorm - July 24, 2018

I’ve been talking to people acquainted with both the larger parties and their read is similar to yours, that the numbers would be considerably lower now. I also wonder, and this is apropos of the comment below from socialist fight re the figures for 2018 after a number of years of Corbyn etc and what effect that has had.

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2. Gearoid Stakelum - July 24, 2018

There’s over 200 (well over it) Christian groups across the world, will the present lefties surpass that soon.

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WorldbyStorm - July 24, 2018

Or already have.

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3. Joe - July 24, 2018

“I’d be amazed if the SWP were still in four figures, never mind 5,000+.”

Back to the thing about politics on the streets. At least back in the day you could rely on the SWP to outnumber the far right and fascists on street demos. Not any more.

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4. Gerryboy - July 24, 2018

When I see attached to a left group dodgy words like ‘league’, ‘federation’, ‘network’ or ‘international alliance’ I stop and ask myself about simple arithmetic. Even the grand word Party covers a diversity of statistics. ‘Tendencies’ is a word that alerts me to the mischief-making of splittist ideologues. Sometimes I think that MI5 and the CIA couldn’t make it up – but they could finance it with seed money.

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WorldbyStorm - July 24, 2018

Yeah, the more grandiose the language the lesser the substance.

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Barnes - July 25, 2018

International alliance of socialist networks (members:2).

It’s a parody but as you suggest who could really tell.

A few posts back a discussion about the alt right was had and I mentioned the one man machine that was Steve Bannon who is busy heading up a revolution except there may be no one following him in real life.

How different in approach are some of these people. They are building the architecture of revolution and either believe or hope one day a la Kevin Costner if you build it they will come.

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Aonrud ⚘ - July 25, 2018

Is a one-man International a record?

From the Wikipedia page on the spartacists’ international:

The Australian section of the Spartacist League, which had previously been involved in IBT events, split again in 2005, with one member leaving to found the Trotskyist Platform.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Communist_League_(Fourth_Internationalist)#Later_splits

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Barnes - July 25, 2018

And he still managed to be present when it collapsed due to in-fighting.

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Alibaba - July 25, 2018

I always try not to sneer about the shambles of the left. But that gave me a belly laugh, for sure.

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Gerryboy - July 25, 2018

He didn’t split hisself laughing!

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5. socialistfight - July 24, 2018

Reblogged this on Socialist Fight and commented:
Interesting stuff. How about 2018?

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6. Aonrud ⚘ - July 25, 2018

This thread on Twitter might also be of interest, showing an MI5 report of the size of the British Left in the 80s.

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7. Gerryboy - July 25, 2018

MT 8300 & SWP 4300 members in Aug 1980. If I’d been a cabinet minister then, I’d have looked at the bright side. So many plainclothes ‘watchers’ employed to monitor the activities of demonstration and campaigning groups, several of them infiltrated by watchers trying to encourage splittist tendencies. Job creation – FAS in 1970s and 80s into the 90s Ireland was never as effective with numbers as MI5 & the British police. PS: Quis custodiet ipsos… et cetera.

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