Scargill lures brothers to join his new party

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The Independent Online
JAMES CUSICK

Two leading left-wing QCs have drawn up a constitution for Arthur Scargill's new political party with the aim of drawing members from the Labour Party, but which will also exclude many of the miners' leader's supporters on the hard left.

The nine-page constitution document obtained by the Independent, the new Socialist Labour Party (SLP) will demand that if its members "join or support" any other political organisation then "they shall be ineligible for affiliation to the Party". The clause in the constitution, prepared by Michael Mansfield and John Hendy, will anger left-wing activists in the Labour Party and other organisations, who hoped Mr Scargill would plan a broad church for his new party.

Launch of the SLP in May, will automatically lead to the expulsion of Mr Scargill and others involved in the project, from the Labour Party. However, one Labour member involved in the project said: "We don't believe Labour will wait till May, we'll be kicked out before then."

The new party aims to attract hard-left socialists angered by Labour's shift to the centre under Tony Blair's leadership.

Although Mr Scargill initially claimed he was "not planning a breakaway party, but presenting a debate", the leaked constitution boldly proclaims its aim and objective "to organise and maintain a political party". The constitution details membership rules, affiliation fees, bi-annual "government by Party Congress" and the intention to contest local government, European and parliamentary elections. Labour's abandoned commitment to nationalisation re-appears in the SLP constitution under "clause IV".

To put up an SLP candidate at a general election in every constituency would cost upwards of pounds 1m, and Labour sources are dismissive that such a sum could be raised.

The constitution describes a system of local and regional parties. However, all party affairs "shall be subject to the control of the Executive Committee at national level". It also requires that new members must be British or Irish citizens.

Scottish Militant Labour, the breakaway party which has beaten Labour into second place in some local elections, had hoped they "could work" with the new party. But Alan McCoombes, editor of Scottish Militant, said the constitution would be "a sticking point".

Unions shift to left, page 5

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