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

The WRP breaks with the International Committee

229. Healy responded to the International Committee’s intervention by engineering a split within the international movement. The October 25, 1985, meeting was boycotted by the Spanish and Greek sections, which declared that the International Committee had no authority outside that of Healy as its “historic founder leader”. Their declaration confirmed that for Healy, the International Committee existed only to provide a rubber-stamp for his national organisational interests. One day later, the representatives of the pro-Healy minority split away.

230. Banda and Slaughter initially supported the International Committee resolution on re-registration, as part of their own factional manoeuvres against Healy. But immediately following the Healy faction’s break, they began in earnest to stoke up a middle class frenzy against the International Committee, declaring that the sole issue in the WRP’s crisis was “revolutionary morality”. Hoping to take advantage of the absence of any real knowledge of the history of the Trotskyist movement within the cadre, Banda and Slaughter argued that all sections of the International Committee were “equally degenerate”. This position was employed to justify a rapprochement with the Pabloites and the Stalinists, beginning with the November 26, 1985, meeting at London’s Friends Meeting House, where Slaughter publicly called into question the Security and the Fourth International investigation and the legitimacy of the 1953 split with Pablo, and made a show of shaking hands with leading Stalinist Monty Johnstone.

231. On December 16, 1985, the International Control Commission presented its interim report. It found that the WRP had “carried out an historic betrayal of the ICFI and the international working class. This betrayal consisted of the complete abandonment of the theory of permanent revolution, resulting in the pursuit of unprincipled relations with sections of the colonial bourgeoisie in return for money”. The resolution noted that whereas “the principal architect of these betrayals was G. Healy, aided by A. Mitchell and V. Redgrave…the political responsibility for the nationalist degeneration which allowed these practices to be carried out rests with the entire leadership of the WRP”. The resolution concluded:

“In order to defend its principles and integrity, the ICFI therefore suspends the WRP as the British section until the calling of an emergency Congress of the ICFI no later than March 1, following the 8th Congress of the WRP”.[1]

232. The passing of the resolution was decisive. It asserted the authority of the International Committee over the national sections. Suspension underscored that there was no place within the International Committee for the betrayal of political principles carried out by the WRP leadership, which would be held to account for its actions. Of the WRP delegates at the meeting, only Hyland voted in favour of the WRP’s suspension. The WRP Central Committee responded with a vitriolic denouncement of the International Committee’s “simon purity” as “frankly nauseating”. From that point on, Slaughter and Banda moved deliberately to organise a split.

233. On January 26, 1986, the WRP Central Committee passed two resolutions. The first declared that “the IC is neither the World Party nor even the nucleus of the World Party”, and “cannot claim political authority as an international leadership. Neither can sections be subordinated to an international discipline determined by the IC”. A second resolution repudiated the registration of WRP members on the basis of recognising the political authority of the International Committee, as had been previously agreed at the special conference on October 27. The political and practical content of these resolutions was to declare a split. Their purpose was to rig the delegate selection process for the Eighth Congress, scheduled for February 8. A substantial section of the Central Committee majority’s supporters had refused to sign the re-registration forms. The Slaughter faction realised it would lose its majority on the CC if the election of delegates was based on party membership as defined by the Special Congress decisions. It ordered the re-registration forms to be withdrawn and delegates to be elected on the basis of unconfirmed membership lists supplied by the branches. These included dozens of people who had not been WRP members for many years, if at all.

234. The political basis for the split was a document prepared secretly by Banda, entitled, “27 reasons why the International Committee should be buried forthwith and the Fourth International built”. The document was published as a special supplement in the February 7, 1986, issue of the Workers Press, on the eve of the Eighth Congress, by its unelected “editor”, Dave Good—a Stalinist, who immediately after the split rejoined the Communist Party.

235. The following day, the WRP leadership barred members of the WRP (I) from attending the congress and called the police to enforce its decision. A force of 25 officers responded, and Slaughter was escorted into the bogus congress, where his faction completed its break with the International Committee. The WRP (I) assembled at another location to convene the legitimate Eighth Congress of the British section. The National Committee of the Young Socialists (YS) registered a majority vote supporting the WRP (I) and applauded the International Committee “for their decisive role in their historic fight to defend and develop the principles of Trotskyism”, which had been “supported by the majority of WRP and YS members”. The following month, the WRP (I) and YS formed the International Communist Party (ICP), forerunner of the Socialist Equality Party.


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