Ted Grant

Statement of the PB on the expulsion from WIL of Gerry Healy

At the Central Committee meeting of February 7, 1943

Written: February 7, 1943
Source: internal pamphlet, 1975 reprint
Transcription/Markup: Emil 2002
Proofread: Emil 2002, Francesco 2013

The expulsion of comrade G. Healy from our organisation will no doubt come as a shock to many of our members. The apparent suddenness of the action has made it necessary for the PB to explain the background of his expulsion from WIL.

At the conclusion of his industrial report on the second day of the National Central Committee meeting of February 6th and 7th, which was attended by provincial delegates, as well as the officials of the London District Committee, Comrade Healy stated that he was resigning from the organisation and joining the ILP on the following day; his action was not motivated by political differences but his personal inability to continue further work in our organisation with J. Haston, M. Lee and E. Grant.

He then left the meeting and was thereupon unanimously expelled from WIL by the Central Committee.

The same afternoon he discussed the question of entering the ILP with two leading London [ILP] members, who imparted the information to Fenner Brockway.

His action came as a complete surprise to the Central Committee since he had not intimated his intentions in the course of the previous sitting of the CC or in his industrial report. While many of the comrades present witnessed this scene for the first time, the majority of London CC members had witnessed a similar occurrence on numerous occasions since the beginning of 1939. In the first stages of theses ultimatums in the form of “resignations” from our organisation, there was no political issue whatsoever bound up with his actions. But in the latter stages it was usually linked up to political issues which were the subject of controversy between the EC, the PB and G. Healy.

The first “resignation” was made to the organisation when Youth for Socialism was, for purely technical reasons, changed from a duplicated journal to a printed one at the beginning of 1939. Comrade Healy, who was then the formal publisher of Youth for Socialism, took strong objection because the decision had been taken in his absence! Later, in 1939, he again “resigned” on a similar insignificant issue on the same basis of personal pique.

At the end of 1939 when he was in Eire as a member of a delegation of comrades sent there by our centre, as the result of a controversy over secondary tactical issues relating to local activity, he “resigned” from the local and stated that he intended to join the Irish Labour Party to fight our organisation. For this action he was expelled by the Irish group. After some discussion between the national organiser and G. Healy, and between the NC and the Irish group, it was conceded that he be sent back to England without the publicity of denouncing him before the organisation as a whole, and thus make it possible to utilise his energy in the interest of our party in Britain.

In 1940, the first really serious breach came when his “resignation” was linked to a political issue. At that time, comrade Healy, who was then the representative of the EC in the capacity of national organiser, was in Scotland. The constitution of the organisation had been redrafted by the EC with the object of bringing the statutes of the organisation into line with its development from a London local into a national organisation. As a representative of the EC he was responsible for EC policy. Having any differences with the body that elected him, it was his elementary duty to raise such differences with that body, and failing satisfaction, then taking the question up with the membership. Instead of conducting himself as a responsible official and discussing his differences with the EC, he pressed forward a series of amendments to the constitution through a number of locals with which he had close contact in his capacity as national organiser. These amendments were of an opportunist character, reducing the constitution to a federal, instead of a centralised basis. When called upon by the EC to defend his policy, he failed to put up any defence whatsoever, but instead launched a slanderous and personal attack upon two of the leading comrades in the centre and “resigned” from the organisation, because of his inability to work with these comrades.

In the last instance, comrade Healy’s industrial report was to have been the subject of criticism and there is no doubt that his action was bound up with that question. Although he was invited to remain in the meeting for the political discussion on the industrial work, he refused to do this, but stated he could not work with the comrades mentioned.

On three other occasions a similar situation arose when the CC was presented with “resignations” arising out of insignificant issues.

During this period the EC made every concession to him, despite these continued disruptive acts. On each occasion, discussions were held with him in which the error of this type of ultimatum was demonstrated. During the whole of this period, the EC refrained from publicly branding these actions for what they were – crass irresponsibility – thereby allowing him to maintain a measure of authority in the organisation and afford him the possibility of continued activity in our ranks. This was done because it was believed that his undoubted organisational energy and ability could be harnessed in the interests of our party and that these concessions were to the benefit of both comrade Healy personally as well as of our organisation as a whole.

The final resignation however, was the “last straw”. This was particularly true, since it took place at a national Central Committee meeting. The immediate effect of his actions was one of revulsion and indignation among the provincial members and DC delegates and the outcome was to partially disrupt the work of the CC, forcing it to readjust former decisions of an organisational character. It was in these circumstances that the CC took the decision that it was now no longer possible to make concessions: the time had come to take decisive action.

Our organisation is no longer a small body with no real public activity, but a nationally growing Bolshevik organisation whose members as a whole, and in particular its leading members must conduct themselves as revolutionaries.

At the worst, this latest action was a fundamental break with Bolshevism along the road of personal opportunism and consequent political degeneration; at the best it was light-minded irresponsibility which could not be tolerated in our party, in particular on its leading body in the present circumstances.

The decision of the Central Committee was unanimous.

Political Bureau, February 15, 1943