29 April 2004


Stranger things have happened than this, but not many. Unless I've become the victim of an internet hox, it appears that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is on the verge of converting to what British leftitists once knew and loved as the Militant Tendency.

Several recent contributions to the Leftist Trainspotters discussion forum (click here) report that Chavez has not only taken a shine to the analysis peddled by Militant's ancient former guru Ted Grant and his faithful sidekick Alan Woods - now trading as Socialist Appeal - but is now recommending their works to members of his beleagured government.

Socialist Appeal was set up by Grant and a tiny bunch of cronies after he fell out with the party he set up, the Revolutionary Socialist League, better known as the Militant Tendency, in the wake of the British Labour Party's unceremonious expulsion of Militant in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Grant wanted to keep going with entrism; his erstwhile underlings said no; and the party-not-quite-within-a-party split. In Scotland the Millies set up the Scottish Socialist Party, which has won seats in the Scottish Parliament. Down south, most of them - while excoriating their Jock comrades for class treason - also left Labour and now call themselves the Socialist Party, which keeps on keeping on but doesn't really seem to have a purpose since it fell out with the Socialist Workers' Party over the Socialist Alliance some time ago.

Through all of this, Grant's tiny sect of true believers seemed irrelevant - but now, thanks to something or other, they're at the nexus of world revolution again. Or not. What's the Venezuelan equivalent of standing up in a Labour Party meeting and shouting in a fake Scouse accent: "We've got to nationalise the top 200 monopolies under workers' control!"?

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