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

Drunk on their victory at the national conference, the Unison bureaucracy has scandalously stripped Paul Holmes of every elected position he holds in the union. The left must urgently mobilise a rank-and-file fightback against this outrage.

At last month’s Unison conference, the right wing went on the offensive, attempting to regain control of the union. Instead of resisting this onslaught, however, the left went into retreat. We must learn the lessons of these important events.

The class struggle is heating up in Britain, as striking RMT members bring the railways to a standstill, and the Tories and bosses attempt to crush the unions. The gutter press is screaming about ‘class war’. And – for once – they’re correct. We republish this article from 22 June, originally published at socialist.net.

Thousands of railway workers in Britain are striking from today, as part of a wave of action across the country. To win, the unions must mobilise their full forces, and organise militant united action across the labour movement. We republish this article from 10 June, written by an RMT activist.

This year’s conference of Britain's biggest trade union, Unison, has ended with the right wing emboldened, and the left in retreat. Attempts to appease the right will only encourage them to intensify their attacks. To regroup and fight back, we need bold, unwavering leadership.

The left activists suffered a blow at the conference of Britain's largest union, Unison, this week, as the right wing launched a vicious offensive against the NEC. This highlights important lessons in the struggle to transform the union into a fighting weapon for workers.

102 years ago, British workers struck in solidarity with the Russian Revolution. Conditions were ripe for revolution, though the opportunity was missed. Rob Sewell explains the revolutionary potential displayed by the working class in Britain, the errors of their leadership, and the lessons of these experiences for the class struggle today, at a time when war, crisis and chaos are similarly rampant. This article first appeared in issue 30 of In Defence of Marxism, the theoretical magazine of the International Marxist Tendency. Click here to subscribe and get the latest issue.

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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