It is not new; for fifty years the new leaders of the Trotskyist movement have been slandered. "Pensioners of Capitalism", "In the service of Franco", "Agents of Hitler" and "Agents of counter-revolution" were some of the lies orchestrated by the Stalin machine in the past. Let us not forget the concrete situation and circumstance that the most mendacious story of all was circulated, that of the "Wrangel officer". The objective of that lie was to connect the Trotskyist opposition with a counter-revolutionary coup. Prompt, firm and public exposure at the time compelled the G.P.U. to admit that the alleged "Wrangel officer" was in fact a member of their own force. What prompted the Stalin machine to circulate such a brutal lie? The year was 1927 and the inner party discussion was under way.The nearer the date of the fifteenth Party Congress approached, so the balance sheet of Stalin's political line plunged deeper and deeper in the red. It was the year that the Anglo-Russian Trade Agreement ignominiously came to its end. In April, Chiang Kai-Shek massacred his Communist allies in Shanghai, Stalin's Chinese policy had aborted a promising revolutionary situation. It was also the year of the visible growth of the Nepmen in the Soviet economy. Faced with such defeats, the Stalin leadership were fearful that the left opposition programme would find a road to the party masses. To avoid that, slander supplanted critical debate in the months preceding the Party Congress. The writer of these lines, remembers to this day, the impact of the slander on party members in Moscow in 1927. It served an immediate purpose to confuse and disorientate those party workers who were awakening to the power of the Trotskyist programme. All this of course is ABC to Healy, he has spent a lifetime fighting the politics of Stalinism, but whether or not he has rejected the Stalinist method of political debate is open to question.
To attack George Novack for dereliction of duty in defending Trotsky is a complete travesty of the truth. At the time of the Moscow trials it was my privilege to be the first secretary of the Provisional Committee for the Defence of Leon Trotsky here in Britain. We knew of the magnificent efforts being made in the United States to get an enquiry into the Moscow accusations. Novack was most outspoken in letters and even cablegrams for us to work along similar lines and get a broad defence committee established. Unfortunately here the left intellectuals, the so-called liberal stream, were neck-deep in the Popular Front. They were prepared to remain silent, or as many did, openly supported the Moscow accusations. We did however make an effort to get signatories to a simple appeal for an enquiry. In spite of the fact that our appeal was published with a bare handful of signatories in the Daily Herald (Labour's daily paper) and the Manchester Guardian, the response was disgraceful. Defeated in the effort to get a broad committee established such as in France and the States, we had to counter the campaign of the Communist Party by a series of meetings. Throughout that period, bitter as it was, I have no memory of Healy either signing that appeal for the defence of Trotsky or participating in those meetings. Possibly that is unjust, he might not have been around when Trotsky's defence was a vital question, particularly to those he slanders.