In order for the main leader, Peter Taaffe, to keep control of the CWI International he decided to carry through a split of the CWI on 21 July 2019, at the Socialist party congress and then created a new International the following day!

By International Socialist League


The differences emerged in 2018, the International Secretariat (IS) where Taaffe is in a majority against positions held by the Irish Socialist Party (ISP) and widely supported by other sections of the CWI. The ISP is, amongst differences accused of having “a sectarian policy of ‘denunciation’ against Sinn Féin in the 2016 and 2018 election campaigns. By the end of 2018 the debate became extremely polarised, and the International Executive Committee (IEC) decided to open an international pre-congress.”

Taaffe however did not have a majority in the IEC, which is the main leadership body of the CWI over his criticism of the ISP.

Completely bureaucratic method

In response Taaffe built an international faction during the last IEC meeting before the pre-Congress discussion had reached the CWI membership. This is a completely bureaucratic measure and the first step to the split. The split was planned at that time and the IEC decision to hold an international Congress in January 2020 was not to be followed.

Taaffe had tried to call a CWI Congress for July 2019 at the IEC but he had no support from anyone. But that was not an obstacle. “His” Congress was convened for July 2019 without two thirds of the CWI sections.

The majority of the IEC had thought “that there were no divergences of principle between the two positions.” Taaffe criticised the Irish party’s policy regarding Sinn Fein using the position that he has in relation to Jeremy Corbyn. Supporting for ‘left’ reformism in Britain is a guide to understand why Taaffe could not allow a full CWI congress in 2020.

The CWI has always been based on control from Britain through the Socialist party as a ‘mother party’ and has never been a democratic centralist international.

In July 2019 Taaffe declared a new CWI at the Socialist Party congress, which was then ratified at an international meeting in the following days.

Taaffe has a majority in only seven of the 45 national organisations of the CWI, and he defends the history of the SP in justifying the creation the new CWI. The report of the SP congress said, “We defend the programme and approach of the Socialist Party which has historically, in an era of heightened working-class struggle, enabled us to lead the struggles of Liverpool City Council and the battle against the poll tax…”

So, Taafe has to go back to 1984/85 and 1990/91 with the usual coverup and exaggerations of their role, to find the basis for his new International.

The real meaning of that is contained in the next paragraph: “At the present time our methods have allowed us to orientate effectively to those mobilised in support of Jeremy Corbyn, campaigning for the removal of the Blairites and the transformation of Labour into a workers’ party with a socialist programme.”

A deep belief in reformism

The creation of a new CWI marks a further turn to the right that can make the SP a Labour party satellite and they will enter the LP if they can.

The majority that Taaffe broke with say that there is an unprecedented crisis of British capitalism “the established institutions of capitalist rule have lost authority amongst big sections of the masses in Britain and …has revealed deep fissures in the main political parties.”

However, they should note that Labour is also an established institution of capitalist rule with declining support from the working class and youth. The deep fissures are also clearly not limited to the main political parties, they enter into many political and union organisations.

Taaffe and the SP were unable to accept the idea of a collective international discussion on their national policy (toward Corbyn) which is indirectly contested in the case of Ireland. The pressures of opportunism explain the closeness of Taaffe and the SP to the left trade union bureaucracy and political reformism such as the leaders in the PCS, Unite and other unions.

Such a split was inevitable because an international organisation based essentially on the outlook and control of a national party, which is an example of opportunism, is a huge contradiction that prevents the building of a revolutionary Marxist international based on the working class and its most exploited and oppressed sections.

Sowing illusions in Corbyn

All the main left parties are inside the LP and/or support the idea that Corbyn can lead a ‘revolution’ and he is a path to socialism, by which they mean parliamentary socialism, they do not talk about workers control for a socialist programme today. While SP and SWP are from different origins, over Corbyn their positions are virtually identical in their evaluation of Corbyn.

The SP call for a socialist alternative, but what is it? “The general election, when it comes, needs to be a battle between the backward, right-wing ideas of the divided Tories and Farage, and a bold working class-based socialist movement around Corbyn.” (Socialist, 22 May 2019).

“When it comes” they say as if it is a matter of waiting on events. What a shame! What a betrayal! Not a word about real class struggle, no mention of a general strike – only follow Corbyn. The working class need something different. They need a revolutionary party that, instead of sowing illusions in reformist leaders as the SP, would lead the mass movement against austerity, oppression and capitalism.

They should call and help build for a general strike to bring Johnson down, but they do not.