Ted Grant

The 1972 TUC conference revealed the increasing pressure from the working class for radical policies, and the victory of the “lefts” was a clear indication of this. However, many trade union leaders were not prepared to give a true expression to the militant mood that had developed within the rank and file. What was really required was that the trade union leaders should commit the Labour Party to socialist policies, if the movement was to be successful.

In the summer of 1972, two years into the Tory government, the workers’ anger erupted in the biggest wave of strikes since the 1920s. This radicalisation was reflected also in many left-wing motions being passed at trade union conferences. Ted Grant argued that it was time to reclaim the TUC for working class policies.

In 1971 the then Tory government brought in the Industrial Relations Act, which was aimed at curbing working class militancy. A year later, in July 1972 the British dockers went on strike, after five of their leaders were arrested under the new Act. Far from curbing the working class, there was a magnificent show of strength and solidarity, that could have sent the Tories packing if only the TUC leaders had been prepared to call a one day general strike and commit Labour to a socialist programme once in power.

In this article Ted Grant drew the lessons of the dockers’ strike in the summer of 1972. In spite of the audacious stand of the workers, who defied every attempt to intimidate them, the final agreement contained only marginal gains because of the role played by the trade union leaders.

In May 1972 the LPYS organised a march against the attempt by the Tory government to abolish subsidies on rents. Ted Grant pointed out the need for mass action organised by the trade unions to win this battle, as was the case in Glasgow during the First World War.

Ted Grant’s observed in 1972 that the introduction of laser technology had the potential to save millions of lives and also develop new fields in energy transfer, telecommunications, etc., but it also magnified the potential for weapons of mass destruction in the nuclear arms race. Capitalism and Stalinism revealed how they had become fetters on the rational development of human civilisation.

In the autumn of 1972 rising profits together with record unemployment figures, revealed the parasitic character of the British ruling class. With wages increasingly undermined by rising prices Ted Grant pointed out that the pressure from the workers to resist against this erosion was resulting in sharper class struggle. The bosses were not keen on concessions in spite of rising profits because “…profit is the unpaid labour of the working class. If the share of the workers is cut the share of the capitalists rises.”

In 1972 the Stalinist regime in Czechoslovakia arrested two dissidents. The British Communist Party was forced to “protest” against these actions but made no attempt to analyse why crackdowns on dissent continued to happen under “socialism”. Ted Grant explained that repression under the Stalinist regimes was to defend the privileges of the bureaucracy.

In 1971 in Britain, unemployment soared as a consequence of the world crisis. Ted Grant looked at the proposals that left and right-wing Labour leaders advanced and exposed the inability of both to come up with a viable and socialist alternative to the crisis.

In Britain, in 1972 a miner’s strike was provoked by the Tory government. Ted Grant called on the trade union movement and the entire working class to rally behind the miners to beat back the Conservative government. He gave examples of worker solidarity in contrast to the pusillanimous approach of the TUC leaders.

At the end of 1971, a war between Pakistan and India broke out. The Chinese-Russian conflict manifested itself in world politics through this proxy war, in which China supported the theocratic-military-police state of Pakistan and Russia supported the capitalist-landlord clique in India. Ted Grant exposed the manoeuvres of the Stalinists (of both the Chinese and Russian variations) as well as the role of what he called the dis-United Nations.

In 1971, the Tory government was on the offensive against the working class, which included the infamous Industrial Relations Act. At the same they announced a whole series of concessions to the capitalists, while at the same attacking social services and other reforms that had been by the working class through years of struggle. Ted Grant pointed out that all this should be fought with an alternative class policy by the Labour leaders.

In 1971, the crisis of world capitalism had manifested itself in a currency crisis of unprecedented proportions and the suspension of the convertibility of dollars into gold, the final blow to the world monetary system that had been established by the post-war Bretton-Woods agreement. Ted Grant explained the basis for this crisis was to be found in the deteriorating position of US capitalism and its attempt to export its balance of payments problems to its rivals.

In 1970, Ted Grant exposed the move to de-nationalise public assets by the Conservatives and proved that the nationalised industries, despite their bureaucratisation as a result of the lack of workers’ control, were more efficient than private industries.

Unemployment was rising in Britain. The Tories saw it as a useful tool to hold down wages, while the Labour leaders had no clear answers. Ted Grant explained what could be achieved by simply taking over the commanding heights of the economy.