A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Official: Luke's blog has more readers than Workers' Liberty newspaper

I enjoyed having a go back at Kit of the AWL in the comments to the last post, so here is the exchange again:

Kit said:

""Solidarity" a fringe journal? Hardly. I know that it has a circulation in the thousands every fortnight from subscribers alone, which include several Labour MPs, trade union leaders, as well as hundreds of Labour members and trade unionists. Trust me. I've stuffed those envelopes. Plus, the AWL website gets tens of thousands of hits every three days or so. More than your blog, Luke. Get a grip, Luke. Quite frankly, you're not important. I just can't let lies and bullshit stand."

I said:
"OK Kit, some facts from the AWL's registration and reports on the Electoral Commission website:

1) Workers' Liberty is a registered political party and has been since 1999. It has no more remit to interfere in Labour's leadership election than the Tories or Lib Dems do.

2) In 2005 sales of Solidarity raised £17,803 at a subscription price of £15 per year (according to the AWL website) meaning it has just under 1200 subscribers which is about 150 less than the number of individual readers I get per month.The AWL website points out that every member has to sell at least 12 copies of Solidarity a month - presumably you buy them yourself if you can't sell them, thus inflating the circulation - effectively Solidarity is just a way of adding £13.20 to each member's monthly fees.

3) AWL membership subs raised £40,647 that year. Members without dependents on any income above £940 a month pay £120 per month to the party - i.e. you could have as few as 28 members - but assuming most of your members are students and don't pay the full whack I'll be generous and assume your entire national "party" has over 100 members i.e. about the size of a single large Labour ward party or just over twice the size of the Hackney Council Labour Group. AWL's own conference report 2006 says: " The general picture is that our own weaknesses, and theweaknesses of the movement around us, have prevented uspushing through the desirable goals we set ourselves in our 2005conference resolution."

The voting figures in the minutes of AWL's 2006 conference report 52 or 53 members present - most of whom I recognised by their "Mark S" or "Janine B" nommes de guerre - as attendance is open to all members and you lot do enjoy meetings, I guess that is the sum total of your active membership.At least you are not the SWP, but please don't kid yourselves you are going to change the direction of the Labour Party.

P.S. many of the hits on your site are me reading the internal strategy documents you helpfully post there. "

21 Comments:

Anonymous Kit said...

Close, but no cigar.

Subscriptions alone do not account for the total readership of Solidarity. There are over 1000 subscribers but many have subscriptions for more than one paper. So, for example, I am a subscriber to Solidarity, but I get sent 4 copies of the paper - one for me, and one for three people to whom I sell the paper to on a fortnightly basis in my part of SW London.

AWL members are asked as a general guide to sell 12 copies of the paper. This I do with very little trouble, if you factor in meetings, demonstrations and open paper sales. The fact that Solidarity has a concession price of 30p helps in this (offset by the higher 80p price - still a bargain compared to Socialist Worker, I think). Also AWL members buy copies of the paper and then sell them on, but they don't buy more than they can sell.

Like I say, subscriptions only account for a portion of Solidarity sales - many regular readers of Solidarity buy their fortnightly copy from an AWL member. We also do open paper sales and sell our publications in meetings, demos etc.

The subs issues - they are guidelines. I don't have any dependents but I don't pay £120 per month subs. The Labour Party has a recommended subs scale, but it isn't compulsory. Same with the AWL's.

However the AWL is growing and we have recruited lots of people for a group our size and that I reckon that the AWL is growing a lot bigger than other groups on our scale, e.g. Workers Power, CPGB etc.

Not all members can attend conference, and it might be for a variety of reasons.

The mighty sword of truth, eh?

7:57 pm, December 11, 2006

 
Anonymous Kit said...

PS. The really internal stuff isn't public. What you know from the AWL website is what we want people to know.

It isn't the proper hardcore stuff, no way.

7:59 pm, December 11, 2006

 
Anonymous Kit said...

Also, all members and sympathisers have the right - and duty - to attend conference. And conference decisions are binding on the organisation and are carried out.

Shame Labour conferences aren't the same, eh?

8:06 pm, December 11, 2006

 
Anonymous Kit said...

Once more...

If we are comparing websites, the AWL's website gets far more hits than your blog. That still stands.

Even my own blog had 975 hits in all of November, and I'm not a Labour councillor or anyone that important, and that when I search on Google for your blog's URL it returns 316 hits, whereas kitnotes.co.uk returns 138. Assuming that these are links directly to their respective sites, you have a massive advantage over me in terms of links and thus traffic here, and yet I'm still disproportionatly only just behind you in terms of traffic to links.

You can actually verify the number of hits I get because you can check my eXTReMe Tracker (click on the globe thing at the bottom of my website) whereas you don't openly publish yours in a similar manner.

So, not only does your blog have a smaller readership than Solidarity newspaper and the AWL's website, it is also only just beating a puny little website run by a spotty 21 year old Trot with too much time on his hands.

Oh, the indignity!

8:19 pm, December 11, 2006

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I'd hate to see the hardcore stuff if stuff like this (all quotes from the recruitment pack) is the soft stuff:

"Branch or fraction organisers can give binding instructions to activists in their areas on all day today matters. In any AWL
activity, the right to take decisions and give instructions on the spot belongs normally to the branch or fraction organiser
responsible, or other comrade delegated to be responsible."

"Where activists have become inactive or failed to meet their commitments to the AWL without adequate cause such as illness,
and there is no dispute about this fact, branches, fractions, or appropriate committees may lapse them from membership with no
more formality than a week’s written notice."

"Branches, fractions, and appropriate elected committees may impose fines or reprimands for lesser breaches of discipline. Any
activist has the right to defend himself or herself before a decision on disciplinary action is taken on him or her, except in the case
of fines for absence or suspensions where the AWL’s security or integrity are at risk."

"A member suffering from illness or other distress may be granted a total or partial leave of absence from activity for up to two
months; but the leave of absence must be ratified in writing by the Executive Committee, and the activist must continue to pay
financial contributions to the AWL."

"Reading: Document adopted by an AWL conference in 1983
Section I
The working class is unique among all revolutionary classes in that it remains a class of wage slaves until, by seizing political power and the
means of production, it makes the decisive step towards emancipating itself. Contrast the classic bourgeois experience. The bourgeoisie
develops historically within feudalism and neo-feudalism as part of a division of labour within society which allows the bourgeoisie to own a
segment of the means of production, and itself to be an exploiter, long before it takes political power in society. It thus builds up wealth, culture,
systems of ideas to express its interests and view of the world. It, so to speak, ripens organically, and the taking of power, the sloughing off of
the old system - even if accompanied by violence - represents the natural maturing and growth of a class already in possession of important
means of production and a share of the surplus.
The working class remains an exploited class - in more developed capitalist countries, the basic exploited class - up to the death knell of
bourgeois social and political rule. It does not accumulate leisure, wealth or its own distinct culture. Its natural condition as a raw social
category is to be dominated by the ideas of the ruling class. Its own natural and spontaneous self-defence and bargaining within the capitalist
system - trade unionism - binds it ideologically to the ruling class, to bargaining within the system and in times of crisis taking responsibility for
it. Its natural tribunes and intellectuals are the trade union bureaucracy. On the face of it the proletariat might be doomed to go through history
as a subordinate class. Marx and Engels themselves wrote: “The ruling ideology in every society is the ideology of the ruling class.”
In fact the working class becomes a revolutionary class, conscious of its own historic class interests and possibilities in the following way,
according to the views of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. A set of social theories is created and developed on the basis of bourgeois social
science (economics, philosophy, history) which uncovers the necessary logic of the historic evolution of capitalism towards the completion of
its organic tendency to become more and more social and monopolistic - by way of common ownership and the abolition of capitalism. The
proletariat is located as the protagonist in this stage of history. Marx analysed and uncovered the modes of economic exploitation of the
proletariat within the formal (and seemingly fundamental and real) equality of capitalist exchange relationships. In short, a segment of the
intellectuals of the bourgeoisie comes over to the proletarian wage slaves.
The proletariat itself evolves as a class through the stage of primitive elemental revolt at being driven into the capitalist industrial hell-holes to
the stage of organising itself in combinations to get fair wages, and then to the stage of banding itself together for political objectives. It
develops various political traditions. In Britain the world’s first mass working class movement grouped around the demand for the franchise,
which meant, in the conditions then, the right to take power. In France a tradition of communist insurrection, involving sections of the
proletariat, developed. It was rooted in the left wing of the great bourgeois revolution. A tradition, experience and theory of working class
politics developed. Marx and Engels put a floor of a theory of the evolution of society (evolution including revolutions at turning points) under
the once utopian aspirations of the early working class movements.
These developments in the course of the experience of the 1st, 2nd, and early 3rd International, produced the following solution to the problem
posed by the peculiarities of the proletariat as a class. Instead of control of a portion of the means of production, the working class develops its
own organisations. Within these organisations a struggle takes place between the ideas that represent the historic interests of the proletariat -
Marxism - and the ideas of the bourgeoisie. This struggle occurs even where Marxists are the founders of the labour movement.
The working class is everywhere forced by its conditions under capitalism to struggle for the basics of life. This struggle tends to break down
the power of the ideology of the ruling class. At its highest point, in times of tumult, it can escalate to mobilisations involving the class as a
class, and to a spontaneous socialist consciousness capable of being linked through the work of a pre-organised and educated vanguard with a
scientific strategy.
The revolutionary party is the protagonist in the work of struggling to emancipate the proletariat ideologically and to organise it for its own
interests as a class for itself .
The revolutionary party has as its central task to achieve the political and organisational independence of the working class. It needs the
organisational sinews of a body of socialists organised for combat - all the way from the struggle on a trade union level at the point of
production through to organising an armed insurrection. But it is centrally, irreplaceably, and uniquely, the carrier of a system of ideas, a world
outlook, a socialist programme, a method of analysing the world and society which serves the interests of the working class.
Only the conscious struggles of the living Marxists, reacting specifically and concretely, focusing and redefining Marxism, can make of
Marxism a consistently revolutionary instrument for the working class, for separating out and maintaining scientific consciousness in the
revolutionary working class. If there is no irreplaceable function of this type for the Leninist party, then there is no need for our party. Were it
not for the ideological task of the revolutionary party of the working class, were it not for the peculiar problems of the proletariat in that respect,
then the working class could be expected to improvise the necessary organisation for the seizure of power, as the bourgeoisie and petty
20
bourgeoisie have done. If all the proletariat needs is an organisation, then the tightly knit revolutionary organisations are just sects, premature
and almost certainly irrelevant.
If what the proletariat needs is a machine, then it does not need to have its militants labouring for decades in advance of the maturation of the
situation where it requires an uprising.
The consequences of this are that our party is in the first place and irreplaceably a selection of politically conscious militants committed to
activity in the struggles for the party s goals. It must thus be selected on the basis of a minimum of political education and knowledge, and
commitment.
If it is to be a party which is a living organisation in the class struggle, then it must try to integrate itself in all the areas of the class struggle. If it
is to be a party whose deliberations correspond to experience in the struggles of the working class, then it has to be a party of activists - of
people with a minimum of commitment to the struggle. That commitment, under the direct control of the party, must be a condition of
participation in the party s deliberations - that is, of full membership.
It has to be a party of the proletariat but it is not identical to the proletariat: it must be capable of standing apart, against the proletariat and of
struggling within it when the mass of the working class is under the influence or domination of the ruling class. Its proletarian political character
depends in the first place on its programme and its historical relation to the proletariat; a proletarian character in the crude sociological sense is
not sufficient and in some epochs may not be possible.
The proletarian party without a mass working class membership organised at the point of production and deploying the power which the
working class potentially has at the point of production, is impotent; proletarian militancy at the point of production devoid of the historical
programme of working class socialism and perspectives for achieving it, is sterile and ultimately impotent.
The party is the vanguard of the class - a selection of the most militant, educated, devoted persons in the working class and among its
sympathisers and protagonists from other social strata. Within the party a similar unevenness in education, experience, commitment to that
which characterises the relationship between the party as a whole and the class emerges between leading layers and the rest of the organisation.
Certain organisational structures flow from this: the party, when it chooses to, cuts itself off from the class, though ultimately it is subject to the
class and can have no interests separate from it and can achieve none of its objectives without its activity. The National Committee and its
subsidiaries within the party cut themselves off from the party where necessary to deliberate and discuss - though ultimately they must submit to
the control of the party and can do nothing without it. There is a whole literature on these questions.
Section II
To favour a looser structure for the sake of being able to recruit workers is short sighted. Loose standards of discipline in a revolutionary
organisation make it uninhabitable for workers.
A regime of hyper-activism and “permanent emergency”, in the Healyite style, is equally destructive. But the answer is a regime where
discipline and reliability are demanded and ensured on the basis of education and rational political perspectives.
Where there is no adequate education, and no system of generally enforced and understood norms, discipline becomes an arbitrary and
subjective matter. Effort is wasted: arrangements miscarry, meetings are chaotic, some comrades are overworked trying to cope with the mess,
others are under-utilised. Inefficiency leads to more waste of effort through recriminations. Such a regime is uninhabitable for most workers.
Section III
Youth work is a crucial area for recruitment. We cannot confine ourselves to the established activists. We must be constantly looking to new
struggles and new activists coming from them.
This demands a disciplined organisation. Working class youth new to revolutionary politics, eager to learn, eager to get things done quickly, are
the first to be repelled by a regime of bickering, routinism and muddling along. It requires a proper system of education of contacts and
members: otherwise the energy of revolutionary youth can quickly spend itself in demoralisation.
Section IV
To recruit we need contact work - that is, intensive discussion and education work with contacts to convince them. Starting from a perhaps
limited area of agreement on practical work or agreement with a AWL position, we have to work to convince contacts of what we are trying to
do, and, on the basis of this, of the irreplaceability of the AWL and the need for them to join it and take up the responsibility of one of its
militants to build it.
The devotion of the militant to the party is the product of such a conviction. Sects achieve it by way of a paranoid counterposition of themselves
to the rest of the world and, in particular, to the rest of the labour movement and the left. It is achieved in a serious organisation by way of the
education of the militants in a revolutionary outlook and psychology, and a devotion to the organisation as the embodiment of this; instead of
the sticky substances of sectarianism you get rational devotion. This presupposes an educated cadre which collectively applies the standards of
minimum activity, comradely relations in discussion etc.
Section V
Antonio Gramsci pointed out that the Catholic Church does not maintain its ideological unity by bringing the simple people up to the level of
the intellectuals (the Church does not even set itself this task!), but by an iron discipline over the intellectuals so that they do not pass beyond
certain limits of differentiation... “Marxism is antithetical to this Catholic position: Marxism does not seek to sustain the simple people in their
primitive philosophy of common sense but, instead, lead them to a higher view of life. If it asserts the need for contact between the intellectuals
and the simple people it does so, not in order to limit scientific activity and maintain unity at the low level of the masses but precisely in order to
build an intellectual-moral bloc which makes politically possible the intellectual progress of the masses and not only of a few groups of
intellectuals...(This) means working to produce cadres of intellectuals of a new type who arise directly from the masses though remaining in
contact with them and becoming the stay of the corset.”
Thus Marxists aim to build a party in which the division between workers and “intellectuals” is broken down by workers becoming
“intellectuals and by “intellectuals from non-worker backgrounds being tied by party discipline to activity in the working class."

8:19 pm, December 11, 2006

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Kit, I don't think I'd dispute that the website of your entire political party gets more hits than my personal one, but your site definitely doesn't. I get 5,000 plus hits a month from about 1,350 different readers. The stats are posted by me at the end of each month. Thankyou for upping the hit rate.

8:22 pm, December 11, 2006

 
Anonymous Kit said...

God, do you spend all your time on your blog responding to comments? Have you no time for the electors OR WHAT?

Anyway.

The fact that we openly state how we organise internally is no big deal. The stuff you've reproduced there makes us no different to any other 'Trotskyist' group out there.

We demand a high level of activity from our members. Of course, where personal situations are difficult, then of course you have to accomodate, but the AWL isn't an armchair socialist office party; it is an activist based organisation seeking to win people to it's political ideas. If people don't live up to their responsibilities, then they have to face the consequences.

The Labour Party has the right to decide who or who can't be a member, again, the AWL isn't any different. We just have different requirements for membership. If you're not ready for full membership, there is sympathiser status, which still grants you some rights of membership, like conference rights etc. Some sympathisers do as much as activists.

Though, of course, the AWL looks after it's members and supports them if they are experiencing difficulty, which is more than other organisation, like the SWP (of which I was a member of for four years and a branch secretary twice), but it's all down to communication, really.

Of course, you still duck the point that Labour conference decisions aren't binding and that there is little democracy in the Labour Party. I dare you to answer that.

In terms of hits; well, the number I quoted is total number of unique hits, i.e. individual readers. For you, it is 1,350, for me, it's 975 (Monthly Unique for November 2006), so it's not that far behind.

8:37 pm, December 11, 2006

 
Anonymous Kit said...

"I enjoyed having a go back at Kit of the AWL"

Says it all, really.

You really are a whinging, childish hatemongering bully.

I pity poor Dave Osler if he's in the same CLP as you.

9:17 pm, December 11, 2006

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Why am I a bully for pointing out that you are a member of a tiny political sect with huge membership fees, internal discipline that the Spanish Inquisition would be proud of, and a nasty line in supporting the violent revolutionary overthrow of parliamentary democracy - all based on the political teachings of a mass-murdering Russian terrorist general, Mr L D Trotsky?

Didn't you realise you had got involved with the political equivalent of the Moonies?

9:25 pm, December 11, 2006

 
Anonymous Kit said...

You're a bully for saying "I enjoyed having a go back at..." and then reproducing your reply vertbatim on a new post. On the same site.

Wow, Luke, I sure do hope this isn't how you deal with your cosntituents, because if you do, then you have no right to accuse the AWL of damaging the Labour Party.

Anyway, we don't have huge membership fees, we have very, very democratic internal organisation (one where our conference decisions are binding on the organisation and it's leadership), we've been against all dictatorships, the Tsarist regieme locked up, murdered and internally exiled more dissidents than Lenin ever did, and Trotsky paid for speaking out against the horrors of Stalinism with his life - which you seem to cheer on when you talk of your 'metaphorical Ramon Mercerder memorial icepick'.

Moonies? Nah mate. The spoof has it right on the money about you, though:

"The working class can kiss my arse, I've got the councillor's job at last"

Admit it; you were wrong, you got caught out. You're in a hole, the best thing to do is to STOP DIGGING.

9:41 pm, December 11, 2006

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, the last refuge of the trot. "You're a bully", when you lose the argument. Or as I seem to remember at NUS conference, the usual response from members of Socialist Organiser et al - when they lost the argument - was to surround you and start shouting that you were intimidating them.

10:32 pm, December 11, 2006

 
Blogger Kris Brown said...

Dude, I'd hate to compare my blog, or anything, to the Workers' Liberty newspaper.

I may seem extremely left wing to you Luke but heck, I still want the AWL banned.

12:29 am, December 12, 2006

 
Anonymous Kit said...

Erm... I've not lost any argument. Luke said that his blog has a higher readership than the AWL's newspaper. I've proved it not to be so, but I'm not the one who said "I enjoyed beating an AWL member down" am I?

I think the word for Luke's behaviour is "crowing". I think it's disgusting.

1:23 am, December 12, 2006

 
Anonymous HenryG said...

Why aren't AWL and Socialist Action banned? Didn't we draw up a list after the purge of Militant banning these entryists?

2:10 pm, December 12, 2006

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are in the main banned. But if they campaign for labour candidates and don't cause too much trouble, the party can turn a blind eye.

2:41 pm, December 12, 2006

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

AWL/Socialist Organiser is proscribed.

IMG/Socialist Action is not.

2:53 pm, December 12, 2006

 
Blogger Sham said...

Shame. Sooner we get rid of all those nuts the better!

3:28 pm, December 12, 2006

 
Anonymous David Floyd said...

"If people don't live up to their responsibilities, then they have to face the consequences."

Good to see Trotsky's Red Army motivational philosophy is being preserved by today's disciples.

4:46 pm, December 12, 2006

 
Anonymous Kit said...

Good to see Trotsky's Red Army motivational philosophy is being preserved by today's disciples.

Hardly.

The AWL has a clear criteria for membership. There are certain obligations for membership, which, as Luke pointed out, we don't hide. Like I say, the AWL is an activist organisation, not a sit-on-your-butt think tank like 'Compass' or 'Progress' (Blairism proving that it has a sense of humour at least, albeit an ironic one) and we ask our members to be active. If you can't be active, you can't be a member. Full stop.

Of course, if people have reasons as to why they can't be active for a certain period, then they aren't lapsed.

It's all there, in the AWL constitution.

5:10 pm, December 12, 2006

 
Anonymous Duncan said...

Oh my God. I'm back in student politics again!!!

This is just daft - on both Luke and Kit's part really, though it's fair enough for Kit to defend his magazine after it's been attacked.

But Luke, really - if AWL is so insignificant (and, with due respect to comrades, etc. and though I'd put it in a nicer way, I'm not sure it's exactly pushing at the barricades - partly because, despite the Marxian rhetoric and the Trotskyite organisation, you end up arriving at policies that wouldn't look out of place on Luke's blog... indeed remembering Luke's penchant for democratic centralism as NOLS secretary, perhaps he is the perfect entryist...) then why devote so much of your blog to them? What's to be gained by doing this?

10:29 pm, December 12, 2006

 
Anonymous leftrightleftright said...

Who is L D Trotsky?

Lev Davidovitch Bronstein

Leon Trotsky

Accuracy in all things please.

12:34 pm, December 13, 2006

 

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