This weekend the AMICUS conferences (of the MSF and AEEU, the two unions that have merged to form Amicus) start in Blackpool. This document analyses the present situation in the union and also looks at its history and how the left managed to win the position of General Secretary of the AEEU - a good insight into the state of the British trade unions as they steadily shift to the left. It also looks at the tasks ahead for the left in the union.

The victory of Tony Woodley as general secretary of the powerful Transport and General Workers' Union, Britain's third biggest union, is a further confirmation of the continuing swing to the left in the British trade unions. It is also a clear indication of the discontent within the union rank and file with right wing trade union leaders and the policies of the Blair government.

Marx explained long ago that capitalism operates through a series of booms and slumps. In the boom of the Nineties, his ideas were laughed at. Now, the situation is turning out differently as the world capitalist economy splutters. No wonder a recent article in the Financial Times stated, "Marx seems to be getting the last laugh yet."

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