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james connolly portrait

POLICY ROOTS

The Socialist Labour Party was founded originally on 7th June 1903 by a group of Scottish socialists including George Yates, Tom Bell, Neil McLean and Irish Republican James Connolly. Splitting from the 'reformist' Social Democratic Federation, which branded them 'impossibilists', the rebels announced the formation of the new party in Connolly's paper 'the Socialist'. They believed only a dedicated socialist political party, drawing on the tradition of industrial struggle, could represent the interests of workers.

Following the foundation of the Labour Representation Committee in 1900 and its successor, the Labour Party, in 1910, the status of the SLP was undermined and by 1923 it was no longer operating.

The original SLP warned against the federal Labour Party which it regarded as a party of liberal social democracy which would move to the right and embrace capitalism.

Connolly's Paper

REVIVAL

Following the ditching of the Labour Party's constitution and in particular its 'commitment' to common ownership followed by its open embrace in 1995 of the free market, the Socialist Labour Party was re-established on 4th May 1996 with Arthur Scargill, the Miner's President, as its leader.

People from the Communist Party, the Labour Party and many in the trades union movement, disillusioned by developments inside 'New' Labour, welcomed the revival of the SLP. Individuals and groups who believe in federalism, wanting to combine membership of the SLP with other parties or in 'alliance' with other groups, rejected Socialist Labour.

The comrades who joined in the consultation prior to the founding congress supported the ideal of one unified, constitutionally based party. Quite correctly, they saw Socialist Labour as the only idea capable of winning support for socialism amongst the Labour and Trades Union Movement and eventually amongst the people as a whole. 

click HERE for Arthur Scargill's 1995 article calling for the establishment of a Socialist Labour Party