British Labour movement

Clause4 700Ever since the formation of the Labour Party in 1900, there has been controversy on the left over whether or not to participate in the party. To develop a correct understanding of this question, it is important to look at the experience of the past. Our task is to learn from history in order to avoid unnecessary mistakes. History, after all, is littered with the wreckage of small sectarian groups who attempted to mould the workers’ movement into its preconceived plans and failed.

Different “Marxist” groups have made one mistake after another on this key question. Towards the end of the 1960s, a number of left groups abandoned work in the Labour Party in disgust at the counter-reforms of the then Labour government. They wrote off the party and set about building their own independent revolutionary parties, ignoring everything that had been written on the importance of the mass organisations. The more isolated they were, the more ultra-left they became. Rather than connect with the real movement, they continually sought to tear the advanced workers away from the mass. They saw their prime task as to “expose” the leadership through shrill denunciation. This has been the hallmark of all these different sectarian groups. With such antics they end up playing into the hands and reinforcing the position of the right-wing leaders.

— From Britain: Marxism and the Labour Party – Some important lessons for today

The following article was published in 1981, shortly after the opening of the so-called Cabinet Papers for 1950. These documents revealed the extent to which the post-war Labour government, so-often heralded by reformists as ‘real socialism in action’, was obsessed with routing communists and radicals out of the party, and ultimately toeing the line of the capitalist establishment. These revelations are proof that even a radical reformist government will ultimately defend the interests of the capitalist system if it is unwilling to break with it.

In their attempts to block the new left-wing leadership in Unison, the right-wing bureaucracy are looking to tie the left up in legal wrangles. The only way forward is to mobilise the rank and file. Defend the union! Let the members decide!

Battles are breaking out across the labour movement, with Starmer purging socialists from the party, and the Unison bureaucracy sabotaging the union’s left-wing NEC. The left must make a stand and clear out these agents of the establishment.

The President of Britain's biggest trade union, Paul Holmes, is fighting back against a vicious witch-hunt by the union's right wing. Unfortunately, the employers and union bureaucracy have been supported by the sectarian antics of the Socialist Party. We say: solidarity with Paul!

Saturday 31 March, 1990, one day before the introduction of the poll tax in England and Wales, and one year after its introduction in Scotland, 250,000 people took to the streets to demonstrate in London and Glasgow organised by the All Britain Anti Poll Tax Federation (in which the Militant Tendency was playing a leading role).This was just the culminating act of a mass campaign organising millions of people's non-payment and active resistance against the implementation of the tax. This massive movement of civil disobedience eventually succeeded in bringing down the hated Thatcher government, despite being lamentably opposed by the TUC and Labour Party leaders. We reproduce here the

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During Britain’s first national builders’ strike in the 1970s, trade union activists spread the strike by travelling from sites in North Wales and Chester to Shrewsbury, in so-called flying pickets. 24 workers were later arrested and convicted on spurious counts of intimidation, violence and conspiracy, following a crooked trial, at the urging of construction bosses and the Tory-led government of Edward Heath. Several of these workers served jail time. Following a decades-long campaign, the Shrewsbury 24 have had their convictions overturned. Though this provides some vindication, it is not true justice. We must honour the sacrifices of these class fighters by continuing their legacy of

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Results from the general secretary election for Unison (Britain's biggest trade union) show the enormous potential strength of the left, if united. The left wing must now look ahead and fight for a majority on the union NEC – a key step in transforming the labour movement.

The general secretary election for Britain’s largest trade union is down to the wire. Victory for the left would mark a watershed for the whole British labour movement. All out for Paul Holmes: the class-fighter candidate who will stand up for members and lead a militant union!

We are excited to announce the publication of a new book by Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, on Chartism: a titanic struggle by British workers in the 1800s that involved arming, general strikes and insurrection, a fact buried by official 'histories'. Until the end of October, Chartist Revolution is available for pre-order at Wellred books for a special discounted price!

We are excited to announce the publication of a new book on Chartism – a titanic struggle by British workers in the 1800s that involved arming, general strikes and insurrection, a fact buried by official “histories” – by Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, British publication of the International Marxist Tendency. In this review, Socialist Appeal writer and activist Josh Holroyd explains the importance of this new book, which reclaims the revolutionary history of the British labour movement. Until the end of October, Chartist Revolution is available for pre-order

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In June 1831, a community of Welsh miners rose up against the ironmasters and defied the might of the British state, seizing control of their town for a full week, and flying the red flag for the first time on British soil as a symbol of workers' insurrection.