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British Perspectives 2008
British Perspectives 2008
We are on the cusp of an end to 15 years of uninterrupted growth, albeit lopsided, in the British economy.
This will unquestionably have political consequences. But we cannot yet judge how quickly, or the precise direction they will take. However, it is absolutely clear that one trend, the most important trend for us, will be a more widespread questioning of the capitalist system and a growing layer drawing socialist conclusions.
In fact this is already taking place with an important layer of young people and workers. However, even or perhaps especially, amongst the most radicalised young people hesitation and doubt over the question of the need for a party still exists.
This does not apply to all young people, as we have shown by the very important layer we have been able to win to our ranks.
Nonetheless, one of the manifestations of this strand of consciousness is the number of people who are currently watching our party, often eagerly attending our meetings, but who are not yet willing to make the commitment of joining.
We have to attempt to convince this layer to join us now or, if they are not yet prepared to join, to take a subscription to our publications and give us regular donations.
However, we also have to recognise that it will be partly on the basis of experience of struggle that they will draw the conclusion that our party is not just a party with 'interesting ideas' and 'good activists' but is essential to them in their struggles.
We should not imagine that we are going to continue to recruit at our current rate. The Militant Tendency had around 1500 supporters in 1978. In less than a decade we had reached 8,000 members and led major class battles. Thirty years on and we are a party with far more experience and relative weight in the movement than we had in 1978.
Consciousness today is more complicated, the specific weight of the labour movement is weaker but capitalism is less capable of meeting the needs of the British working class.
At the same time the very holding back of struggle over the last decade means it is going to erupt suddenly and explosively in the coming years as workers decide they cannot take anymore.
Consciousness will also make sudden leaps forward as it catches up with objective reality. We have to prepare our party for these events. Our most important preparatory task is to win and politically educate those of the new generation who are already open to socialist ideas, in order that we are strong enough to take full advantage of the stormy events ahead.