Part 2: A Glimmer of Hope


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9.1956 - Hungary and Suez 

  It was at the 20th Congress of the CPSU, held in February, 1956 that the first real signs of change in the Soviet Union began to show. There were references to Stalin that did not chime with adulatory atmosphere that had prevailed before his death. However, it was only when the secret speech of Khrushchev, made on the 25th February, was made public that the full scale of the changes afoot became apparent. The publication of this speech was to prove to be the catalyst for a crisis of Stalinism world wide. The speech was eventually published by the Manchester Guardian, in June 1956. In that speech Khrushchev had attacked Stalin root and branch, laying before his audience the regime of terror by which Stalin had maintained his grip on the whole of Soviet life. There can be no doubt that this speech was an historical one, an epoch making event, since after that date Stalinism never fully recovered its hold upon the world communist movement that it had maintained for thirty years before. I had already noticed the changes that had occurred in the public sessions of the 20th Congress, before the publication of the secret speech. And my interest had been aroused sufficiently so as to keep a close watch on the press for any other signs of change. I should mention that I had already, in late 1955, been obtaining copies of the journal Fourth International, from a PO Box in London. None of the writers - apart from Germain (Mandel) were known to me. How I came to send for this journal was as follows. I had noticed the adverts for the journal in the pages of Tribune. I happened to meet Harry Finch at some point, I cannot recall how or why, but I asked him if this journal was published by his group, i.e. the Healy Group. He somewhat indignantly told me no, it was published by the ‘Pabloites'. This was the first time I had heard this term used, and on further questioning I then discovered about the split in the international Trotskyist movement that had taken place in 1953! Such was the isolation that we, the SR Group, were in at the time that we had been unaware of the split. It also indicates just how unimportant was the Trotskyist movement to the wider Labour movement that the split was not noticed. We had noticed the change in editorship of the Socialist Outlook before it closed down but had not connected it with a split in the ranks of the Healy group or the International. So it came as a complete surprise to me to learn from Finch of this split in the ranks of the Trotskyists. Even more puzzling was the terrible venom with which the Healyites spat at their erstwhile comrades. Those of us who had criticised both the IEC and the Healy leadership for adapting to Stalinist pressures in 1950 had been castigated as ‘bowing down to pretty-bourgeois pressures'! Now, Healy and his clique were using much more extravagant language with which to condemn documents and policies that they had previously endorsed. The net result of this encounter with Harry Finch was that I immediately sent off for a copy of the journal I had seen advertised in Tribune, on the principle that if was not Healy's journal there might be something in it worth reading!! I was still very puzzled about the split that had occurred in 1953, and even after reading one or two documents I still remained unclear about this split. It took me some years to come a proper conclusion about that event, but that is running ahead of myself. Of course this may appear to contradict what I said about deciding to leave politics. But the truth is if one has been immersed in political activity for over ten years, even if one makes a decision to quit politics, politics still goes on and takes much longer to quit you. Obviously I had still been reading political journals, hence my spotting the advert in Tribune, and I must have been at some political or trade union event to have met Harry Finch, since as far as I know Harry never did have a social life. And the hint of some changes, or of movement, no matter how small or remote must have been like the sound of the trumpet to an old war horse, and I was off again. This time much more cautiously, and uncommitted, but nevertheless I was once more taking an active interest in politics. It was the secret speech of Khrushchev that finally triggered me into once more seeking to actively engage in politics. The speech had produced a crisis within the whole Stalinist movement, and in the CPGB in particular. The pages of the Daily Worker and the CP discussion journal World News and Views became full of letters from bewildered members asking what had gone wrong. And this discussion spilled over into other newspapers and journals. It was clear that there was a steady stream of people leaving the CP, or if not leaving were poised on the brink of leaving. So in 1956 I began throwing out lines, seeking to find some means of once more engaging myself in politics. During late 1955 or early 1956 I had come into contact with Eric Heffer. At that time Eric was engaged in an organisation called the Socialist Workers Federation. Eric had been a member of the CP, but had been expelled in 1947, as a part of the Wellyn Garden City opposition. When I came into contact with him he was living in Liverpool, working as a chippie on building sites. Also connected with the SWF was Harry McShane. McShane had been a founder-member of the CP, but had been active before that with John McClean's activities in Scotland. Harry had been prominent in the unemployed workers movement during the 20s and 30s, but had left the CP in 1950 or 1951 because of - as he saw it - the move to reformism, on much the same basis as Eric Heffer. However, it must be said that McShane had not played a very savoury role in Spain during the civil war. He was particularly noted for his hunting of Trotskyists, or those labelled as such, but I was not aware of this at the time or else I might have had some doubts about having him stay at my house. The SWF was a motley collection of people, in the London there were members of the Oehlerite Workers League, in Liverpool there was a mixture of ex-CP and ex-ILP and in Glasgow ex-CP and syndicalists. So as an organisation it had no overall or coherent set of political ideas, and in fact it did not last much beyond 1957. However, at the time I came into contact with the SWF it was publishing - irregularly - a small four page newspaper called Revolt, which was later changed to Socialist Revolt. A part of my own disillusion with the SR Group had been work in the LP, and one of the attractions of the SWF was its resolute opposition to revolutionaries working in the LP. One could say that my own demoralisation at that time took the form of an ultra-leftism. In fact in the light of Eric Heffer's later career, first as a Labour MP and then as a minister in the 1974 Wilson government, it is amusing to recall that in 1956 Eric thought that the Labour Party was counter-revolutionary and membership of that party amounted to treachery to the working class! I didn't agree with him at the time, nor since. Whatever Eric's subsequent evolution he always remained firmly on the left, and actively supported workers struggles. However, it did come as surprise to me in later years to hear of Heffer's active Christianity, since in the time I knew him in 1955-57 there was no hint of it. But, I remember that one the last public gestures that Eric made was to walk off the platform when Kinnock was attacking the Liverpool city council Labour Group. This indicated the moral courage of Eric, and it should be an example for many more to follow. What did strike me at the time was that Heffer and McShane, although they had broken from the CP, and had attempted to move to the left, both still carried considerable baggage with them from their Stalinist past. But after Khrushchev's speech, they had to admit that they could have been wrong about some aspects of Trotskyism, but I think they both found it difficult to shake off the mental image of Trotskyists being equated with fascists or agents of imperialism. As time went on I believe they did mellow on this question, but at that particular time they were having great difficulty in coming to terms with the revelations about the Soviet Union. The final straw for many members of the CP proved to be the Hungarian revolution and its suppression by the Russian Army. E.P. Thompson and some of his friends had already begun to produce a duplicated opposition bulletin called The Reasoner for circulation within the CP, the first two issues appeared before the Hungarian events, the third and final one appeared just as the Russian Army rolled into Budapest for its final assault. I had managed to obtain copies of the first two issues, and found it quite exciting, since it indicated the depths of the crisis within the ranks of the CP and the absolute turmoil which was raging therein. I wrote to Thompson, congratulating him on his stand and offering to help distribute the journal in Birmingham. I did however, tell him of my previous activities as a Trotskyist. In the event I received no reply. Given Thompson's subsequent political evolution and writings in the later 1950s I think that my past Trotskyist activities created a block to any further contact. Thompson, like thousands of other members left the CP in 1956/57, about ten thousand, if not more, left at that time. For a short time it seemed as though the CP would crumble completely, but it did not, it came out of the crisis much reduced in size - about 16,000 members - and influence with the Labour movement. Out of all these thousands of people fleeing the CP there arose for a short time a whole plethora of small groups up and down the country, seeking to adjust themselves to the new reality of broken dreams. In fact for a short time there was a national Forum Movement made up of local forums, and it even produced a journal of the same name for a very short time. However, it soon became evident that many of those leaving the CP because of the Hungarian crisis were exiting to the right, not to the left. There is no doubt that the cold war and the McCarthy witch-hunting had taken its toll upon members of the CP, they too had been under great pressures. The revelations that surfaced at the 20th Congress and then the brutal suppression of the Hungarian revolution drove many of them to seek their peace with bourgeois society. Some merely moved into the LP, many just dropped out of politics altogether, and a small number found their way to the Trotskyist movement, but these latter were only a small percentage of the de-camping CPers. It has to be said that many of those who left the CP at the time were intellectuals. The question arises, why did so many just drop out of politics? What was rather repellent about some of the more articulate of these people was their constant cry that they had been deceived about the regime in Russia, and they bewailed their betrayal by both the Soviet leaders and those of the British CP. For my part I found their protestations of ignorance rather hard to swallow. Many of them had been university lecturers, i.e. they had the training, the opportunity and the time to find and examine the evidence that had been piling up for many years as to the true nature of the Soviet Union. How was it then that the small persecuted Trotskyist movement, and in this country at least, mainly composed of ordinary workers, had been able to see the truth of the matter whilst these people had for years buried their heads in the sand? Of course one could say that they were afraid of being taken in by capitalist propaganda, and there was an ocean of that swilling around, and had been since 1917. But had they not the wit to distinguish between propaganda and the truth? It seems that they preferred to put their conscience in pawn to Moscow, and - having found their trust spat upon - could not face the reality of their own support for such a murderous regime. In many respects these people presented a pitiable picture as they trailed their tortured consciences around in public before disappearing into their private bolt holes. As I say, some of those exiting to the left from the CP did becomes Trotskyists, and in the main it was the Healy group which attracted them. But few remained there either, as we shall see. However, it has be said that during 1956 Healy displayed an ability and energy in recruiting the ex-CPers which far outstripped any other group, and was duly rewarded. In particular Healy managed to recruit a whole layer of workers around Brian Behan, who had some standing in the building industry as a leading militant, and for a few years the Healy group seemed to be flourishing. During the summer of 1956 I decided to apply for membership of the CP. I decided that if I was to resume activity again the best place to be would inside that organisation. I obtained the name and address of the local secretary of the CP and sent in an application, but I found that it had been referred to the Birmingham District Committee. I was invited to meet the District Secretary, Bert Pearce, and was grilled by him for a time and then he asked me to write down a resume of my past activities, especially about the Trotskyist movement. I refused to do this, I suggested that I was quite willing to answer questions but not write it all down. Eventually I had three more sessions with Pearce and another member of the Committee. They attempted to prise out of me as much as they could about the Trotskyist movement. Where I assumed the information could do no harm, i.e. it was already public I gave them as honest answer as I could. Where I judged it would do harm, I just lied. They knew I was lying, and I knew they knew, but we fenced with each other for several hours altogether. In the end the matter was referred to King St. (the CP Head Quarters in those day), and there the matter rested. I knew that once I had been called into these sessions that the likelihood of my being admitted to the party was remote, but to be quite honest when I applied I had not realised that my name would be known. However, if they were fishing for information so was I. I think we can say the score was nil-nil. I did obtain once small insight into how the British bureaucrats were kept in their place. The District HQ of the CP in Birmingham was above their bookshop - Keybooks - in Dale End, and one day I went in to wait for Pearce to come down to collect me for my grilling session. At the back of the shop was a small area curtained off for staff use. Whilst I waited I heard two people talking, one was Pearce. The conversation was about Pearce's recent holiday in the Soviet Union. He was enthusing about the beautiful rest home he had been sent to, the marvellous food, high standards of service etc. etc. It was clear that I was hearing about one of the methods used to corrupt people in the West, so that they stayed subservient to their Moscow masters. In itself such ‘bribes' as foreign holidays may seem trivial, but it should be recalled that this was some years before mass foreign travel and package holidays became so widely available, so the mere fact of a trip abroad was itself a luxury for any working class person. Not very earth shattering, but a small bit to add to the picture one built up over the years. I recall that when Pearce came out from the back of the shop and saw me he was slightly embarrassed, since he obviously realised that I must have overheard him. All of this took place before the Russian suppression of the Hungarian revolution in November 1956. And in the event, of course, I no longer wished to be a member of such a party as the CPGB, whose EC had endorsed this counter-revolutionary action. By that time the flood of people leaving the party had turned into a stampede, and it was obviously not worth while to attempt to try to work within it. I wrote a letter to the Birmingham Trades Council Journal, denouncing the Russian counter-revolutionary role in Hungary, and to the best of my recollection it was published in December 1956. During this same period, i.e. 1956, I had also been in contact with the journal Fourth International. This was being produced by a Committee for the Reconstruction of the British Section of the Fourth International. This quickly turned itself into the Revolutionary Socialist League, the RSL. It appeared that a number of people had come together to attempt to restart something here in Britain. This had become necessary since after the split in the international in 1953 there had been no official section here in Britain. It appeared that John Lawrence who had led the faction fight against Healy had almost immediately suggested joining the CP once his faction had been expelled by Healy. This meant that from l953/54 onwards there had been only a few isolated individuals who were supporters of the official international here in Britain. The initial movers had been a small group of Cypriot Trotskyists who had begun publishing the duplicated journal Fourth International to which I had subscribed. Later they were then joined by the Grant group, and a number of comrades from the RCP who had not joined Grant but still remained active within the LP and/or trade unions. Had the organisation been solely made up of Grant's group I do not think I would have been so interested in having very close contact with it. However, the person who visited me, along with Ted Grant in early 1956 was Sam Bornstein. Sam had not supported Grant in 1950, and seemed to be playing a very active role in getting the new group off the ground. And it was with Sam that I maintained fairly close contact throughout 1956 and 1957 until the founding conference of that organisation in July 1957. Now, of course, the crisis of Stalinism and the Hungarian revolution were not the only major political events of 1956. That year also saw the Suez crisis/war, this too had been steadily boiling up since the start of the year. And this crisis came to a head almost at the same time as the Hungarian revolution was being crushed. The Suez crisis had much wider ramifications than the Hungarian one, since it encompassed not merely the Labour movement and also the Tory party nationally, but internationally produced a spilt within the western imperialist camp. The conspiracy between Britain, France and Israel to topple Nasser in Egypt, and the war that it produced, for the first time since 1945 divided the major political parties in this country. Although the Labour leadership did not support Nasser, neither did they support the naked aggression against Egypt. The truth of the matter was Gaitskell, in particular, wanted a solution to the ‘problem' of the Suez canal solved by the UN, but did not support the use of force, much less force by Britain and France operating on their own, to stop the nationalisation of the canal by Nasser. However, this opposition was sufficient to unite the Labour Movement around opposition to the Eden government, and thus helped Bevan to sidle his way back into main leadership of the LP. Since the USA was opposed to the British and French invasion of Egypt - ostensibly to separate the conflicting forces of Israel and Egypt - and the fact that a cease-fire was called almost as soon as the invading forces landed, it meant that the whole operation was a fiasco. However, this was not before considerable damage had been done and many lives had been lost in Egypt by the use of British and French bombers. Because of the relatively short-lived nature of the military actions, the campaign against the war was rapidly brought to an end. What would have been the consequences of a prolonged war, and anti-war campaign is hard to determine, but the anti-war campaign certainly revitalised the whole Labour Movement, producing mass meetings and street demonstrations on a scale not seen for many years. This campaign also helped Gaitskell to strengthen his grip on the leadership of the LP. At this particular juncture none of the British Trotskyist groups, apart the SR Group, had a publication remotely capable of intervening. On the contrary, the movement as a whole had reached its lowest point since 1945. One could say that these twin events, Hungary and Suez - but particularly Hungary - helped pull the movement back from extinction, such was the parlous state it was in. Since I was now working night shift at Cadbury's, this meant that any political activity was restricted to week-ends, and even then there was not a great deal I could do. Apart from the fact that I often had to use the week-ends to catch up on lost sleep, events moved so quickly that they had sped by during the week. I had been able to purchase a TV, on hire-purchase, and was often reduced to watching events on the small screen. I think both Suez and Hungary were the first major world events that made use of the TV to report on them almost as they happened. I say almost, since in those days it was film that was used on TV that had to be shot, flown back to London, processed and then transmitted, so there was always a slight time lag between the event and transmission. Today, 1994, we can witness events as they take place via satellite transmissions. Nevertheless, much of what happened in Hungary during the revolution was shown on TV, and therefore had a much greater impact upon the public than mere press reports, and thus helped to give a fillip to right-wing anti-communism for a time. The one outstanding journalistic effort at this time was the special issue of Picture Post devoted to Hungary, many of the pictures had been taken under fire and they brought out the desperately unequal struggle that the Hungarian workers had engaged in. What the Hungarian revolution demonstrated without a shadow of doubt was the ability of the workers, and in this instance the Hungarian working class, to create their own forms of state power, even in the midst of brutal fighting. The creation of local and central councils, (Soviets) were a graphic illustration of combativity and creativity of the working class. It also demonstrated that the Hungarian working class had not yet been so atomised that it was incapable of joint and united action against the Stalinist bureaucracy when the opportunity arose. It required another thirty years of Stalinist rule to disassemble the working class in Hungary to the point where open and unabashed restoration of capitalism could be contemplated. But I think it can also be said that the Suez fiasco helped to deflect attention away from the tragic events in Hungary. Whilst the Soviet Government made threatening noises about the Anglo-French war against Egypt, they drowned the Hungarian revolution in blood. Who was helping who here? What is certain is that the year 1956 marked a decisive turning point in my own political life; and, I think, in that of the Trotskyist movement as a whole. Up to 1956 it had seemed as though the Trotskyist movement was heading for extinction, its numbers had been dwindling over the years and by then seemed to have no presence upon the political scene. It was at the margin of the margin, clinging on by its finger nails. But the Hungarian revolution had etched in blood the validity of many of Trotsky's ideas on the nature of the Stalinist bureaucracy and the ability of workers to fight it. As I pointed out above, the person who I was most in contact with in the RSL was Sam Bornstein, and it was probably due to his patient correspondence that I eventually joined the organisation. However, this was not before some hard discussions, written and verbal through ‘56 into early 1957. One of the points I had raised with Sam was the relationship with the Healy group. Here is what I said on the topic to Sam, in a letter dated 8-12-56: ‘I noted what you say about Healy, and agree with what you say, but I would go further, and say he is a political gangster and is a danger to any revolutionary organisation. I would not preclude any co-operation with his group but any group he controls is a danger to working class democracy. I feel that at this time there is a crying need for unity between the various revolutionary groups and that every effort must be made to iron out genuine and imagined differences, both personal and political, but I do not include Healy's group in this.' This was the opinion I had formed about Healy as the result of his antics during 1950/51, before anything was known about his use of violence, sexual harassment of female members of his organisation or involvement with Iraqi security services in the 1980s. Rhoda's early perception of menace associated with Healy had been confirmed for me by 1950/51. All of the subsequent revelations about the man merely served to confirm my own initial diagnosis of his character and activities. I also had disputed with Sam about an article which had appeared in the Workers International Review, the new monthly journal of the RSL which had begun appearing around this time. The dispute centred about the term ‘primitive socialist accumulation', I said in a letter written either in late December 1956 or early 1957, that: ‘My other criticism is about the article on the October Revolution. It seems to me that it is confused in fact and theory, it is the first time that I have seen this phrase ‘primitive socialist accumulation' p.20. It shows a sad lack of Marxist theoretical conceptions. Primitive accumulation is carried out by the capitalist class, or to be more precise, [it] is a function of capitalism. Society can only be described as socialist when it has reached a given stage of development. As Marxists we must know that when society has reached this stage, there is no need or valid reason for primitive accumulation. This particular formulation serves to paper over the gap between the theory of a degenerated workers' state and the reality of the Soviet Union....' What is interesting about this extract is that it indicates the paucity of information about the debates which took place in the Soviet Union during the 1920s between Preobrazhensky and Bukharin etc. about ‘primitive socialist accumulation'. Very few such works were generally available at that time, nor were many of Trotsky's writings from the 20s available either. In fact it is sometimes difficult to remember that right up to the end of the 1960s there was a real dearth of Marxist material generally. What was published about Russia was, in the main, highly suspect because of the Cold War and the fact that it was mainly academic, and was certainly unknown to me at the time. It was only later that I became familiar with academic writings. However, my own understanding was sufficient even then to reject ‘primitive socialist accumulation', and was thus able to see behind the fine phrases that hide an ugly reality. Another interesting item from my correspondence with Sam was regarding the SR Group. I had mentioned that I had heard a rumour to the effect that the RSL and the SRG were in discussions about uniting. Sam told me that it was unfounded: ‘We have never held unity talks, because, apart from the question of the Soviet Union on which there is no agreement, but is at this stage a secondary one. We disagree with the Socialist Review on their appreciation of the LP. They argue that the LP can be made into a revolutionary party. (At least the people in London that I know argue this). As such there is no need for a revolutionary party and international. They think, in other words, that the LP can achieve socialism...' (Letter from Sam Bornstein to the author dated 31-1-57, emphasis in the original.) This reply indicates that Sam, at least, did not think that the ‘Russian Question' was sufficient to divide Marxists into separate organisations. As to whether he had accurately understood the SR Group's position of the LP is possibly open to question, but the fact remains that Sam was a usually honest reporter. Certainly Sam's reply on the question of the Soviet Union coincided with my own views at this time. I had compared the general political ideas advanced by the state-capitalists and worker-statists during the Hungarian revolution and could find very little to distinguish them. I had therefore gone back and re-read Cliff's writings on the question, and came to the conclusion that I was no longer satisfied with them. However, neither was I wholly satisfied with the orthodox Trotskyist answers. I remained in a half-way house for some considerable time, but as time wore on I more and more rejected the state-capitalist view of the ‘Russian Question'. There is another aspect of my life that has some bearing upon my political activities over the years 1957-58. During those two years I suffered recurrent bouts of illness, twice having to have surgical operations. The first operation entailed four weeks off work and the second sixteen weeks. These two periods of illness were only two of the longer periods I had to have off work during those two years, I was afflicted by recurring bouts of flu' plus a scalded ankle which kept me off work for several weeks! The result of all this illness was to severely disrupt all aspects of my life. And it resulted in permanent impairment to one of my legs, which became more pronounced as the years went by. On a more positive note, because of the time I had in enforced idleness, I was able to do considerable reading during this period. One of the most important works I read was Simone De Beauvoir's The Second Sex. After reading this book I began to realise the enormous gap between my theoretical acceptance of equality between the sexes and my actual practice. I had to think, and rethink my own attitudes and practices many times over. I believe that De Beauvoir's book was one of the truly seminal works in my life. This book had made me think so hard about relationships that I began to examine many other facets of my theory and practice, which as time went on made me more and more a ‘maverick' amongst the prevailing orthodoxies of the left generally. One cannot examine the relationships between the sexes at the level of De Beauvoir, without at the same time putting all relationships and practices under the spotlight. It was not a sudden blinding flash of understanding, rather a slow process of critically examining problems, activities and ideas as they arose within the context of my life. Nor can I honestly say that there was never any backsliding on my part. Indeed for a time I learned, once more, to keep some of my thoughts to myself because their reception amongst my comrades was less than enthusiastic. The RSL, like all political organisations then - and most of them today - was overwhelmingly male dominated. There were a few female comrades, but they always played a subordinate and peripheral role. It was no different from any of the other groups, or indeed the Labour Party and Trade Unions in this respect. I began to question why this was so, and attempted to interest the rest of the comrades about this question. Initially I was met with blank looks, and then if I persisted with typical male chauvinist responses, of the nudge wink variety, as though I had sexual motives for my concern. At best I was told that Engels and Bebel had dealt with these questions, and really there was no further need to examine them. Without doubt both writers had made pioneering efforts on such questions, but as far I was concerned they had hardly begun to scratch the surface, this in itself was ‘heresy' in the eyes of some if I suggested it openly. However, because of the responses that I received at that time, and because there was always so much else to do I allowed this question to fall into the back of my mind. I did not forget it, but felt I was hitting my head against a brick wall. It would need different times to raise this question once more to become one of central concern. 1956/57 was a period rich in beginnings. In those two years there was started, University and Left Review, The New Reasoner, Labour Review, International Workers Review, and Forum. Up and down the country there were Forums started, composed mainly of ex-CPers, but most proved to be ephemeral. International Workers Review was the RSL journal and replaced the duplicated Fourth International. Looking back at them now, what stands out quite sharply is high production values associated with all the other journals I have mentioned apart from WIR. They were all superior technically, but even more importantly their intellectual level was far above what the RSL could achieve. Even Healy's Labour Review stood out as a journal of some merit, mainly due to the fact that John Daniels was one of its editors and the range of ex-CPers who could be called upon in the first year or so. The poor quality of the WIR was, of course, a reflection of the primitivism of the Grant clique who dominated the RSL and its journals. What was seen in the period 1957/58 was the development of a left trend within the Trade Union Movement, signalled by the election of Frank Cousins to the Secretaryship of the TGWU in 1956. This was in marked contrast to the years before when the trade union bloc vote at the LP conferences had been wielded mercilessly against the left and in support of the right-wing. This left trend in the unions was to become more marked towards the end of the decade. Another important event of 1957 was Aneurin Bevan's defection from the left of the LP at its Brighton conference on the issue of nuclear disarmament. A unilateralist resolution had been moved by the delegate from Norwood CLP, Vivienne Mendelson, who was a member of the Healy group. Bevan spoke against this resolution on behalf of the Executive of the LP, thus splitting the ranks of the Bevanites. The resolution was lost, but provided a clear line of demarcation, which ran deeper than just the nuclear issue. Bevan was to spend the last few years of his life the virtual prisoner of the right-wing of the LP, and never again commanded the support he had previously had within the constituencies. My forecast of a few years earlier about Bevan's role with the LP had been shown to substantially correct. Finally I should mention one other meeting that I had in early 1957, this was with Pat Jordan who was to play a crucial role in some of the activities in the next few years. Jordan was a member of a small group of ex-CP members that had set itself up in Nottingham, and like all such groups at that time was contacting all and sundry to try to establish their ideas within some sort of framework. The SWF was one of these organisations, and Eric Heffer came down from Liverpool to my home and we had a meeting with Jordan. The meeting itself was unexceptional, insofar as we all seemed to agree on the main political issues facing us at that time. However, when the meeting was finished I showed Jordan to the front door, and turned to walk back into the next room. Eric was standing in the doorway with a wry look on his face, I said to him ‘What did you make of Jordan?' It appeared that Eric had had the same uneasy feeling about Jordan as I had. We could not put our finger on it, but there was something about him that troubled us, neither of us trusted him. Why I mention this is because it has a bearing upon subsequent events. As will be seen in the next chapter, Eric and I went our separate ways in 1957, so the question of Jordan's trustworthiness did not arise again between the two of us, but it certainly did for me.


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