Sunday, January 29, 2012

Remembering the Workers Party of Scotland - Marxist Leninist


The WPS (ML) had its origins in the Committee to Defeat Revisionism For Communist Unity. Arguing that the level of class antagonisms (and hence class consciousness) continued to remain higher in Scotland than in England, the decision in principle to form the WPS (ML) on the behalf of the Scottish working class was taken in Edinburgh in May 1966 by seven anti-revisionist veterans. Thus, the Scottish elements of the CDRCU were placed on a separate organisational basis. The Scottish Vanguard, the organ of the WPS (ML), was launched in 1967.

The constitution of the WPS (ML) was adopted in Edinburgh on December 5th 1970, in the wake of the CDRCU collapse. The Party stated: “our programme is one of action. We must secure the results which our workers have been striving to attain for whole generations and which are still outside their grasp: full employment and prosperity for all, a crash programme to solve the housing problem, justice for the veterans of labour and attractive prospects in Scotland for our youth.” The WPS (ML)’s support for Scottish nationalism and independence drew sharp criticism from other anti-revisionist groups.

The WPS (ML) soon embarked upon a propaganda offensive producing leaflets and the Red Clysider, and Dundee and Tayside Vanguard in 1971. A Bookshop, Vanguard Books, in Glasgow acted as outlets for Marxist and Party literature. The WPS (ML) was also instrumental in popularising the work of Scottish communist, John MacLean, partly through the founding of the John MacLean Society.

Ken Houlison and Val Sutherland had been the initial leaders of the WPS (ML) but Tom Murray, for many years, the Party Chairman, sustained the organisation’s existence beyond its actual effective operation. Aberdonian by birth, Murray was veteran communist, having served as political commissioner of a machine gun battalion in the Spanish Civil War.

The WPS (ML) achieved notoriety in the spring of 1972 when two members – Colin Lawson and Matt Lygate – and non-party persons were sentenced for robbery with violence of Glasgow banks to obtain money for political action. While protesting at the severity of the sentences, and noting the political function of the judiciary, the main thrust of a statement issued by the WPS’s Central Committee “A Crisis Met and Overcome” was to disassociate the Party from the “romantic adventurism” of Lygate and Lawson.

Membership of the WPS (ML) declined in the late 1970s and early 1980s and with the death of Tom Murray in February 1983, the Party came to an end.


              Dedicated to the memory of Matt Lygate

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