The English port of Liverpool is famous for three things: soccer, music and violence. Historically it falls within the boundaries of Lancashire, but culturally it has never fitted there. It’s always been too self-assertive and idiosyncratic, so much its own place that its inhabitants go by two names. Formally, they’re Liverpudlians; informally, they’re Scousers.
As the media clichés have it, Scousers are fiercely proud of their city and fiercely tribal in their politics. And their politics have always been left-wing — sometimes very left-wing. When George Orwell talked about “Irish dock-labourer[s] in the slums of Liverpool” in The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), he said that you can “see the crucifix on the wall and the Daily Worker on the table.” The Daily Worker was the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain (now the paper is called The Morning Star). In the 1980s, Liverpool was the home of a Trotskyist group called the Militant Tendency, or Militant for short, which tried to infiltrate the Labour party and use Labour’s far greater power and prestige for revolutionary ends.
In biological terms, as I suggested in “Verbal Venom,” Militant were a tiny parasite trying to subvert the nervous system of Labour and divert Labour’s resources to their own use. If Militant activists had stood openly as Trotskyists, they had no chance of winning elections and entering local councils or parliament. Wearing a Labour mask, they could win elections and enter power. And that’s exactly what they did in Liverpool, where they won control of the city council. But their parasitic infiltration of the wider party failed: Labour woke to the threat and fought off Militant’s entryism, as this Trotskyist tactic is called. Read more