Our Pakistan section, which is now undertaking some of the most serious work of any section of the CWI amongst the workers and peasants, was established through Pakistani exiles who we came into contact with in London.
In the USA the visits of Sean O’Torain and the work of Alan Jones, who comes originally from Greece, resulted in the setting up of the US organization.
Exhausting the Possibilities
Work in the mass organizations, it was clear, was virtually exhausted by the end of the 1980s. More and more, the work of our different national sections was taking place outside of these organizations. But, as happens very often in history, we did not draw all the necessary conclusions as early as we should have done. I have taken this point up in my book, The Rise of Militant, where I advance the idea that successful, independent work under our own banner could have been possible in Britain as early as 1985-86. The persecution of the Marxists and the further shift towards the right within the Labour Party had completely changed the situation. The process had begun whereby the British Labour Party more and more separated itself from its working class base. We organized mass meetings attended by 50,000 workers protesting against the expulsions of our comrades. But unfortunately, we did not offer a clear organizational as well as political alternative, at this stage. We asked people to join Militant, which we still described merely as a newspaper. We were not a party. The main thrust of our propaganda was against expulsions. The call to join a newspaper, rather than a party, was intangible in the consciousness of those who attended our meetings. Contrast our experience since we changed our name to Socialist Party in Britain to the situation which obtained then. Two hundred and twenty workers agreed to join the Socialist Party in Britain in the course of the 1997 general election. The fact that we are now called a party has had a decisive effect on our own ranks in making them conscious of the tasks which are posed but also in reaching out and winning workers who are looking for a party such as ours.