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The British left

It is standard practice for a far left group's website to give you a list of links that form what, in the stone-age of the world wide web, would have been called a 'web ring' - an endless series of sites that link to each other, consisting mainly of the group's front campaigns, the group's international affiliates (from substantial organisations down to one-comrade-and-a-dog operations) and so on. The overall idea is to portray the group itself as the centre of the universe, miraculously free from competitors in what is for everyone else a crowded political market.

We do not go in for that kind of dishonesty: we accept that we are part of a common movement, within which we fight for our ideas. We also fight for class-conscious militants and all those interested in radical ideas to take the far left as a whole, and all its components, seriously - more seriously, alas, than many of these groups take their own politics. There is no better way to do so than listen to what the comrades have to say for themselves.

Socialist Workers Party. The largest organisation to the left of the Labour Party today. Founded by Tony Cliff, and still guided by his central theories and general political practice (especially the theory of state capitalism in the former USSR). Heads the International Socialist Tendency.

Socialist Party in England and Wales. Formerly the Militant Tendency, at one time the largest Trotskyist group in Britain. While Militant was committed to Labour Party entry, this strategy was abandoned after Labour leadership witch-hunts. Has enjoyed mixed fortunes since. Heads the Committee for a Workers International.

Communist Party of Britain. The largest remaining fragment of the old 'official' Communist Party of Great Britain. The CPB broke away in order to maintain control over the Morning Star, and is substantially Stalinist in its politics. Retains fraternal links with the remaining official Communist parties.

Alliance for Workers Liberty. Latest in a long line of political groups founded by Sean Matgamna. Formerly orthodox Trotskyists, Matgamna and his allies have since shifted to the 'Third Camp' politics of Max Shachtman and Hal Draper.

Workers Power. Split from the SWP in 1973; subsequently developed into an orthodox Trotskyist group. Has been remarkably fissile in the last decade, producing a group called Permanent Revolution and also an as-yet nameless formation composed mainly of former WP youth. All three are presently pushing the Anti-Capitalist Initiative unity campaign. Heads the tiny League for a Fifth International.

Socialist Resistance. British section of the Fourth International. Broadly on the right-wing of the FI, Socialist Resistance is characterised by its support for 'broad party' unification projects.

Counterfire. A recent split from the SWP, led by John Rees and Lindsey German. Politically similar to the SWP, it has a rather slicker media profile, and has had some limited success with its anti-cuts campaign Coalition of Resistance, which it runs in alliance with the CPB and left union leaders.

Socialist Appeal. Founded after Ted Grant, the long-time leader of Militant, was expelled for opposing the group's abandonment of Labour Party entry. Remains formally entrist, although much of its political profile now results from its enthusiastic support for Hugo Chavez and other, similar Latin American left-nationalists. Heads the International Marxist Tendency, which has split repeatedly over the last few years.