Originally published in Weekly Worker No.250 July 23 1998. Available on the WW archive here
The first issue of the Weekly Worker came out on May 22 1993, under the slogan, ‘Unite the struggles – towards a Daily Worker’. In fact for a short period in 1992 and periodically into the next spring we published the Daily Worker alongside The Leninist, our journal founded in November 1981.
As the slogan ‘Unite the struggles’ suggests, the early Weekly Worker, like its daily predecessor, was a campaigning paper, whose task was to give a voice to the actions and huge mood of anger sparked by the miners’ campaign to save their jobs in the face of the vicious closure programme launched by Michael Heseltine and the Tory government in October 1992. More than that though, we sought to cohere the struggles, and the surge of solidarity, not only into one coordinated fight, but one that had an independent political stance, distinct form the Labour and Tory camps of our class enemy. We have never had any truck with those who opt for the bourgeois Labour Party as the lesser evil.
Again and again we strove to hammer home the message – our main enemy is not ‘the bosses’ (individually or collectively), but the state itself. At that time the Weekly Worker was a mere single sheet, but even so, it was already starting to fulfil its prime role – however ineffectively and inconsistently – as organiser for reforging the working class Party.
However, we knew that that task required a bigger and better publication and, a year later, on April 7 1994, we were able to expand to a four-page format, thanks to our printshop at last acquiring its larger press. Not only could we continue our organisational and agitational work, but we were now able to carry limited theoretical and polemical articles – for which The Leninist had built up a solid reputation.
During this period we stepped up consistent campaigning for the coming together of communists into a single revolutionary party, and the Weekly Worker became synonymous with the call for rapprochement. Soon its pages saw discussion and debate around this theme with contributions from a variety of left groups. The campaign bore fruit with the short-lived ‘representational entry’ into the CPGB of members of the Open Polemic group, whose factional column was carried in every issue, despite its hypercritical and often unconstructive nature.
In November 1995 Arthur Scargill made his call for a Socialist Labour Party. We recognised the opportunity this gave us to argue for the type of party the class needs, and at the same time test the ‘revolutionary’ pretensions of Scargillism. Of course work around the proto-SLP in no way contradicted rapprochement – the two were mutually complementary. But these twin tasks exposed the inadequacy of our four-pager all the more.
We set ourselves the goal of ensuring the Weekly Worker could bring out into the open all the arguments, bureaucratic tricks, anti-democratic manoeuvrings and political factions and shades associated with the SLP project. Everything had to be made available to the working class movement. Without knowledge the workers can never transform themselves from “mere machines” employed by capitalists into “free, thinking leaders” (Rosa Luxemburg).
But to attain that goal the further expansion of our paper became essential – achieved with the launch of the eight-page Weekly Worker on February 8 1996.
Not only did it become essential reading for a whole swathe of SLP activists; it continued to build up its reputation as virtually the only source of information about developments across the whole left. To understand the tensions within the Socialist Workers Party, the auto-Labourism of Workers Power, the crisis trajectory of the Socialist Party in England and Wales, the nationalist liquidationism of Scottish Militant Labour – there was and is only one place to look. If you want to know about the forces at play within the Socialist Alliances, you only have to open your Weekly Worker.
We have been condemned as the “Millwall Tendency”, the “CPGB Provos”, the “Genghis Khan communists” … but strangely they all want to read what we have to say. Our polemical style is aggressive and probing, but it is open and honest. Most of all though it serves the single central purpose for which this paper was established – organising the advanced part of the working class into a reforged Communist Party of Great Britain.
Week after week our pages are opened up to friends, rivals and opponents. We neither ask for nor give quarter when it comes to expounding our differences. The search for truth comes first.
But our task is only in its very initial stages. We need a bigger, much more influential paper. Above all we need an expanded CPGB membership, fighting for the single revolutionary party that alone can lead the working class in its drive for self-liberation.
Issue 250 of the Weekly Worker carries the same message in our ‘What we fight for’ column (see p7) as issue No1: “We urge all who accept these principles to join us!”