Socialists' new party strikes a left hook at Scargill

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If Tony Blair looks down his political nose at Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party, he will need a lengthy proboscis to con- template another newly-formed force on the left. The Socialist Equality Party, which intends to field up to 20 candidates in the general election, is a touch to the left of the organisation formed by the miners' leader.

An SEP communique sneers at the namby-pamby politics of the Scargill party and the Trotskyist Militant Labour. Such groups, the statement says, are an attempt to build on the discredited and reformist convictions of Old Labour and are subordinated to the bankrupt trade union bureaucracy. The SEP is to show its disdain for those who would merely tinker with the capitalist system rather than smash it, by putting up a candidate against Scargill's man in the Barnsley East by-election next month.

Dave Hyland, 49, the full-time national secretary of the SEP, said: "We don't consider the SLP is a socialist party." Mr Scargill lost in the coal strike because of his failure to mobilise the miners against the Labour Party and the trade union movement, Mr Hyland added.

The new ultra-left force, funded by "the workers and the youth" and based in Sheffield, is unencumbered with sensitivities about the implications of its manifesto for taxation, for the proclivities of the businesses classes or for suburban floating voters. The party wants a 30-hour week with no loss of pay, a pounds 6-an-hour minimum wage, free university education, a multi-billion-pound programme of public works to provide jobs for the unemployed, mass release of all political prisoners in Britain, abortion on demand, "dismantling" of the army, MI5 and MI6, and "a democratic government of the workers, for the workers and ... by the workers". An administration to deliver the demands would rely on the "active and militant support of a politically aroused and vigilant working class".

The party, the membership of which is a secret, has a long and fraught history and is the "culmination of a 10-year struggle" by the International Communist Party. In fact it seems the ICP has simply changed its name.

Mr Hyland believes the tag of Communism led people to confuse them with the Marxist-Leninist regimes of the old eastern bloc. He argues that the implosion of the Stalinist states was a vindication of the analysis of Leon Trotsky who in 1940 got a Stalinist ice pick in his head for his trouble.

The International Communist Party was born out of a dialectic dispute that tore the Workers' Revolutionary Party asunder some 12 years ago. The split was also to do with a row over whether a serious political organisation should receive money from Libya's Colonel Gaddafi, and the matter of the financial activities of its leader, Gerry Healy. One of the other groups which grew out of the split eventually became the Marxist Party.

Mr Hyland believes his group will not only strike a chord with the proletariat, it will also engage the electoral interest of the "pauperised" middle class.

Trotsky lives: guide to the far-left parties

WORKERS' REVOLUTIONARY PARTY (Mark I): Trotskyist splinter group from old WRP, publishers of Newsline.

WORKERS' REVOLUTIONARY PARTY (Mark II): another Trotskyist splinter group from the old WRP. Publishers of the Workers' Press. Also uses name of Marxists for a New Party.

MARXIST PARTY: Yet another splinter group from the old WRP. Most prominent members are the Redgraves.

SOCIAL EQUALITY PARTY: Once more a faction of the old WRP. Formerly known as the International Community Party. Claims like other groupings to be the true standard bearers of Leon Trotsky's Fourth International.

SOCIALIST LABOUR PARTY: Hard-left mixture of Old Labour and quasi-revolutionaries. Founded by Arthur Scargill, President of the National Union of Mineworkers.

SOCIALIST WORKERS' PARTY: Trotskyists who famously refused to take sides in the Korean War. Most other Trotskyists reluctantly backed the Communist North Koreans. Leading member: Paul Foot.

REVOLUTIONIST COMMUNIST PARTY: Hardline splinter group from the SWP.