Former Marxist bizarro turned Tory weirdo Mick Hume reckons the British National Party is being subject to over-policing. And he’s got a point. But it irks me to read “As one who exchanged blows rather than opinions with the National Front in the 1980s, it gives me no pleasure to say this. But we ought to uphold the right of the British National Party to express its views, however vile, after Merseyside Police arrested 13 of its members for distributing leaflets. I’m afraid that free speech means freedom for fools and scumbags, too.” Fools and scumbags being an eerily appropriate term for the rich kids surrounding the remnants of the Revolutionary Communist Party and its lider maximo Frank Furedi.
In 1970, nevertheless, Furedi and his future comrades were in the International Socialists (IS), the precursor of the Socialist Workers’ Party. They were ambitious and impatient, so they did what a certain kind of activist does: they formed a faction. Unlike all the other left-wing groups, then and now, they did not have a set of ideas. Instead, as a contemporary pamphlet called The British Left Explained described, they watched and waited: “When asked to contribute to a discussion, faction members would either remain silent or mutter . . . Any attempt to agree on specific proposals would have split the group.”
By 1973, the other members of IS had tired of this posing. Furedi and his allies were condemned as “the Right opposition” and expelled. They decided to call themselves the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG). At first, the RCG sought success through theorising: in particular, about the precise rate by which profits would fall as capitalism inevitably – they assumed – exhausted itself. David Yaffe, an academic at Sussex University, unveiled a calculating machine, called the velocitometer, which he had invented to measure this decay. Claiming his device was accurate to five decimal points, he made a bid for the RCG leadership…