1922 was a watershed in the struggle for a mass Marxist Party in Britain. Under the direction of the Leninist Comintern, the young militants of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) grappled with the task of transforming an essentially propagandist group into the foundations of a genuine mass Bolshevik organisation.

"Where there is discord may we bring harmony..." said Margaret Thatcher  30 years ago this May when she was elected as British Prime Minister in 1979. Some politicians are remembered for their achievements, in Aneurin Bevan's case the founding of the NHS; others like Tony Blair will be remembered as warmongers and traitors to the ideals of the Labour movement. Meanwhile John Major will be remembered, if at all, for his ineffectual personality and his blandness. But very few will have been hated by working people with such intensity as Margaret Thatcher.

Today, almost 25 years since the miners’ strike began, the industry has been decimated, with only a few thousand jobs left. The proud traditions remain and many miners have taken their fighting traditions into the wider labour movement but many of the pit villages are crumbling. The main lesson of the Ridley Plan for the labour movement and the politically active layers of the youth is that a Tory government would be forced to move against the working class, to deal with the crisis that the capitalist system clearly faces.

Lenin considered MacLean an outstanding revolutionary and when plans were made to form a Communist Party in Britain Lenin was anxious that MacLean should play a leading role in it. MacLean, while defending the Bolshevik Revolution, refused to join the newly formed Communist Party, a grave mistake which prevented him from playing the role he could have played in these crucial years. In spite of his mistakes MacLean remains an outstanding Scottish revolutionary.

There are many narrative histories of the struggles of British workers. However Rob Sewell’s book is different. The purpose of this history of British trade unionism is not only to recite the wrongs inflicted on working people, or simply to describe their heroic struggles. It is an attempt to draw out the lessons of the events that helped shape the Labour movement, and made it what it is. This is a book that sets out from the proposition that the interests between capital and labour are incompatible and takes sides in the war between the classes.

Originally published in 1975, this article was an answer to Chrysler’s plans to sack thousands of workers in Britain. We are publishing it together with our article on workers' participation or workers' control as it posed clearly the demand for nationalisation under workers’ control and management.

This is the first of a series of articles on the history of the British Labour Party. These articles will help workers and youth to get a greater understanding of what the Labour Party is and what the attitude of Marxists to it should be. In this article we look at how the Party emerged from the struggles of the working class towards the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.

Alan Woods writes an obituary of Olwyn Hughes, a Welsh miner whose political life went back to the period during and just after the War, when he first got active in politics, first in the Young Communist League, and then in the Trotskyist Revolutionary Communist Party.

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Revolution 2018 - a three-day festival of Marxist ideas
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