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New Left Review I/158, July-August 1986


Eric Heffer and Tony Benn

A Strategy for Labour: Four Documents

Introduction to Benn/Heffer Documents

The papers reproduced in this issue of nlr were all submitted to, and rejected by, the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. The arguments contained in them reflect some of the concerns and views of a very substantial body of opinion, not accepted by the leadership of the party. Indeed the composition of the present nec reminds one strongly of the late fifties, when Hugh Gaitskell enjoyed the protection and support of the praetorian guard of right-wing trade union leaders who used their block votes, at conference, to isolate and defeat the Left. The justification which is now given for the policy of the nec is that Labour lost the 1983 election because of the Left, and that if we are to win next time the Left has to be isolated and rejected, and be seen to have been isolated and rejected. This too is the justification for the present wave of expulsions, which have gone far beyond those who are supporters of the ideas to be found in Militant. In short, an attempt is being made to obliterate the mainstream democratic, socialist and internationalist traditions of the party by presenting the only alternatives as being Moderate and Militant, with no space in between.

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