In Leeds, our Keep Our NHS public group had a public meeting which included a Labour Party councillor as a speaker, on the basis we want to try and put Labour on the spot.
There was a good turn out of maybe 40 people which included a dozen or so med students. By all estimates the meeting was a success.
But what really concerned me is the left in this meeting. The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), which a year ago did not exist in Leeds and up until now had not to my knowledge intervened in meetings, managed to dominate the discussion along with a couple of other ultra-Stalinists.
There interventions were pure Third-Period Stalinism: “All politicians including Labour are the same and are just tools of the bankers, what we need to focus on is overthrowing capitalism,” etc. etc.
They were joined by a lone member of the Economic Philosophical Science Review who railed against a “decadent international ruling class”. Coming from the anti-semitic and homophobic EPSR, this has very dodgy connotations. Only AWL and a Socialist Party member represented the Trotskyist left. When I was chatting later to the SP member, a young CPGB (M-L) member hissed at us “Trotskyites”.
The CPGB (M-L) members were not old “tankies” that were recruited to Stalinism before the fall of the Berlin Wall, but rather struck me as people recruited without ever being in other groups. Their focus on populist anti-banker sentiment is obviously attractive to enough people to overcome any aversion to the group’s Stalin and Kim Jong Un worship.
Many people on the left treat this group as a joke. But the fact they are recruiting working class people to their noxious politics and educating them to hate Trotskyists is not a laughing matter.