Part One

Fighting Against the Stream - The Origins and Early Years

[Section 1]

"Learning not to forget the past in order to foresee the future is our first, our most important task."
Leon Trotsky, 27 July 1929.

Our movement - the Trotskyist movement - has a very rich history stretching back many decades. An understanding of our history is important from the point of view of appreciating the way in which a revolutionary movement develops. An understanding of the past sheds light on how a Marxist tendency grows and prepares itself for the titanic events of the future. The history of our tendency can be traced back directly to the great work of Leon Trotsky's Left Opposition in the 1920s and in fact stretches back even further to the heroic days of the Third International under Lenin and Trotsky.

The genesis of our movement in Britain was already rooted in the formation of the British Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in 1920. At that time, the British Communist Party was very inexperienced and, in contrast to its European counterparts, very weak numerically and largely isolated from the broader labour movement. Although made up of courageous people who were inspired by the Russian Revolution, the young party was saturated with ultra-left and sectarian tendencies that had been the hallmark of the propaganda groups that came together to form the CPGB. Under the guidance of the Communist International, the party began gradually to overcome these shortcomings and turn its attention towards mass work and the serious task of building a mass revolutionary party.

This was not achieved without internal difficulty. Lenin had to use his personal authority to persuade the British leadership to abandon their sectarianism and, in order to influence reformist workers, apply for affiliation to the Labour Party. By 1923, significant changes in its approach and orientation had been carried through. The CPGB had gone through a re-organisation and was undertaking serious work in the trade unions through the creation of the Minority Movement, as well as creating points of support within the Labour Party. Everything seemed set for a big advance for the Communist movement in Britain.

However, just at this time, during 1923-4, the bureaucratic reaction within the Soviet Union was rapidly gaining ground within the state and the party. The isolation of the Russian Revolution in conditions of appalling backwardness gave rise to a huge bureaucracy keen to enjoy the fruits of victory. The opposition of the bureaucracy to world revolution had a material basis. The rising stratum of conservative officials wanted a quiet life, without the storm and stress of revolution and freed from the control of the masses. At each setback for the working class, this privileged caste composed of millions of officials - many of them former tsarist bureaucrats - gathered greater power into its hands, elbowing aside the exhausted working class.

This process found its reflection inside the Russian Communist Party where this upstart caste of officials gravitated around the figurehead of Stalin, who, with his narrow administrative and purely national outlook was best suited to reflect their conservative views and material interests. The theory of "socialism in one country", put forward in the autumn of 1924, was a reflection of the bureaucracy's disdain for the world revolution. They wished to be left alone to "get on" with the task of running the Soviet state - without the irksome interference of workers' democracy. Lenin was increasingly alarmed at the rise of the bureaucracy in state and Party institutions and formed a bloc with Trotsky to combat it. But from 1922 Lenin was incapacitated through a series of strokes, and behind the scenes the triumvirate of Stalin, Kamenev and Zinoviev was manoeuvring to isolate Trotsky. Lenin's Testament - in which he demanded Stalin's removal as general secretary and described Trotsky as the most able member of the Central Committee, was hidden from the Party membership, and a campaign of lies and slander was orchestrated against Trotsky and the Opposition.

After Lenin's last illness, Trotsky took upon his shoulders the struggle against Stalin and the growing bureaucratic menace, fighting for the Leninist programme of proletarian internationalism and workers' democracy. He launched the Left Opposition in late 1923 after the failure of the German Revolution in an attempt to defend the fundamental ideas of Lenin which were being systematically revised and discarded. The outbreak of this struggle within Russia between the Opposition and the Triumvirate of Stalin, Zinoviev and Kamenev was first of all contained within the leadership of the CPSU. However, the struggle had a momentum of its own, and with Lenin's death, the campaign to discredit Trotsky as Lenin's successor was soon taken into the ranks of the Communist International. As within the apparatus of the Russian Party, where Stalin had used his position to select personnel who were loyal to his faction, so Zinoviev selected leaders in the separate sections who proved more amenable to Moscow. Nevertheless, in these early days of the Communist movement the leadership was forced to allow a pseudo-democratic discussion on the issues raised by the Opposition that had broken out in the Russian Party.

The Stalin-Trotsky clash was first reported to the British Party in early 1924, soon after the death of Lenin. Reports were carried in the party press of the resolution passed at the Thirteenth Conference of the Soviet Communist Party condemning Trotsky's factionalism and classifying "Trotskyism" as a petty bourgeois deviation. By the end of the year, attacks on "Trotskyism" became more frequent. Tom Bell, the general secretary, introduced a resolution condemning Trotsky at the Party Council on 30 November 1924. Completely ignoring the political issues at stake, he stressed Trotsky's failure to adhere to party rules as his main argument in condemning the Opposition. "The question of Trotsky, it seems to us, is a question of discipline. We are not arguing or discussing the ideological approach of Trotsky to the question as a whole. Our party is concerned fundamentally with the question of discipline," stated Bell. While there was disquiet at the Party Council with a number of voices challenging the position of the Party leadership, when it came to the vote, the condemnation of Trotsky was carried unanimously.[1]

A report of the Party Council was then given to a 300-strong London Aggregate in January 1925. J T Murphy, despite only having a summary of Trotsky's views, outlined the case against Trotsky and his violation of the decisions of the Russian Party and the International in reopening the debate on the Opposition views deemed "closed" by the party. In the meeting, Trotsky was defended by Arthur Reade, a member of the London District Committee, who moved a resolution regretting the "hasty vote of the Party Council" in condemning Trotsky and called on the CPGB to support the left wing of the Russian Party. After the discussion, Reade's motion received, according to the report of the Weekly Worker, 10 votes. (Workers Weekly, 23 January 1925). On 30 January, Reade wrote to the paper complaining that there were only 200 present, and that his motion for adjournment was only defeated by 81 to 65, and in the final vote, his motion received 15 votes.[2] In any case, the leadership won hands down.

The British CP, which had shown little interest in political theory or disputes over "socialism in one country", had fully swung behind the party leaders in Moscow. Around about this time, the Party issued a book, probably in May 1925 although it contained no date, entitled The Errors of Trotskyism, which printed Trotsky's Lessons of October and a series of replies from Zinoviev, Kamenev, Stalin, Krupskaya (who had initially been close to the Opposition) and others. The book was not intended as an analysis of Trotsky's ideas, but as the title clearly indicates, was an attack on "Trotskyism". JT Murphy, who was to replace Bell as the British representative on the International Executive Committee, wrote the introduction. At this time, given the prestige of Trotsky in Communist ranks, those who attacked Trotsky had to be somewhat cautious. "It is undoubtedly true", states Murphy, "that it came as a great surprise to the British working class when they saw the Communist International in the throes of a great controversy with Comrade Trotsky."[3]

Murphy was forced to recognise, even at this time, Trotsky's colossal reputation and authority within the ranks of the Comintern. In his preamble he states: "Comrade Trotsky's name has always been associated in our minds with Comrade Lenin. 'Lenin and Trotsky!' These were the names with which we conjured up in all our thoughts and feelings about the Russian Revolution and the Communist International. As the news of the Russian Revolution spread westward, these two figures loomed gigantically above our horizon and we never thought of differences... We saw only leaders, Soviets and masses, and over all the great historical giants, Lenin and Trotsky."[4] Nevertheless, a string of articles, which filled the majority of this book from Comintern leaders, were used to reinforce the myth of "Trotskyism".

It is interesting to note that every one of the people who wrote these anti-Trotsky articles was either expelled or in disfavour with Moscow in the following years. J T Murphy, who had moved Trotsky's expulsion from the Comintern, was himself ironically expelled on charges of "Trotskyism". But the purge in the Communist International was only an anticipation of the far more monstrous purge whereby Stalin physically annihilated Lenin's Party. Even Lenin's wife Krupskaya found herself in danger. When she tried to protest against the expulsion and arrest of Zinoviev and Kamenev, Stalin rudely informed her that he could always find another widow for Lenin. One by one, Stalin murdered the entire Leninist Old Guard. At the end of the Great Purges, only Stalin remained.

The Stalinisation of the Communist International had serious effects in Britain. The British Communist Party, which had every possibility of turning itself into a significant force within the labour movement, was suddenly caught up in this faction fight with the Opposition. Although the British leaders lined up behind Stalin, they were forced to recognise Trotsky's past achievements. Even as late as the beginning of 1926, they published Trotsky's book Where is Britain Going? and were forced to defend it. So, in Labour Monthly, Palme Dutt, still not sure which way to jump, took up a robust defence of Trotsky in his review of the book. "Trotsky's book will be eagerly read, and will give stimulus and help; will help to break the chains of enslavement to old ideas and leadership, to give confidence and clearness and strength, and to show the plain path forward of the struggle", states Palme Dutt. "The English working class has cause to be grateful to Trotsky for his book; and to hope that he will not stay his hand at this short sketch, but will carry forward his work of interpretation, polemic and elucidation, and elaborate his analysis further, which is so much needed in England." (Labour Monthly, April 1926). Any hint of support had, however, completely evaporated by the time of Trotsky's criticism of the Anglo-Russian Trade Union Committee and his expulsion from the Russian CP in late 1927.

"The book," wrote Trotsky later, "was aimed essentially at the official conception of the Politburo, with its hope of an evolution to the left by the British General Council, and of a gradual and painless penetration of communism into the ranks of the British Labour Party and trade unions."[5]

This was no mere speculation. At the Fifth Congress of the Communist International in 1924 Zinoviev, who was still in alliance with Stalin, after referring to the British CP as the most important section of the International, stated: "We do not know exactly when the Communist Mass Party of England will come, whether only through the Stewart-MacManus door or through some other door."[6] The "other door" was through a "deal" with the left wing of the Labour Party and trade unions, which was to have disastrous consequences in the Anglo-Russian Trade Union Committee and the disorientation of the British CP during the General Strike of 1926.

As a result of the acceptance of Stalin's policies, which now veered sharply towards opportunism, the British Communist Party increasingly lost sight of its independent role in the scheme of things. After a TUC delegation had visited the Soviet Union in 1925, Moscow looked increasingly towards these left bureaucrats for assistance. They had illusions that the "lefts" could help break Russia's isolation, and even introduce communism in Britain "by the back door." As a consequence, the Anglo-Russian Trade Union Committee was formed by representatives of British and Russian unions to promote trade union unity and serve as a means of protection against a possible military attack against the USSR. The chairman of the TUC, Purcell, together with Hicks, Bromley and Swales, became highly valued friends of the Soviet Union, and as a result, should be regarded as such by the British Communist Party. Such an approach was to have serious consequences in the 1926 General Strike. When the Strike broke out in May of that year, these "lefts" capitulated before the right wing, who in turn, capitulated before the Baldwin government. The right wing sold out the working class, which came as no surprise to the advanced workers. However, the betrayal of the "lefts" on the TUC, who had the support of the Communists, led to widespread confusion and disillusionment.

In the course of the General Strike, the Communist Party grew to around 10,000 members, but within a short time space of time, the bulk of the new recruits dropped away and left the Party. During the strike, the CPGB had failed to act as an independent revolutionary party, warning of the dangers from the left as well as the right. Despite the demands of the Left Opposition for the Soviet trade unions to break with the British TUC over their betrayal of the strike and resign from the Anglo-Russian committee, the Stalinists instead held on to their coat-tails, until they were unceremoniously dropped by their fair-weather friends. For the advanced workers, it was not only the treacherous actions of the left reformists that were discredited, but also the role of the Communist Party, which acted as a "revolutionary" cover for the fake lefts. This was the result of the opportunist line that was imposed on the British Communists by the Russian leadership.

A few months after Palme Dutt had written his article praising Trotsky, Thaelmann, the German Communist leader, remarked that the British CP was the only major party that had no differences with the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI). It was regarded as the most "loyal" and its leaders, after a period of selection, considered the most pliable by the Kremlin. Pollitt and Co. simply followed every change in the party Line. On all occasions, they were with the "majority". The British Party accepted the official Line from Moscow as a necessary measure to consolidate socialism in Russia. They accepted the idea of the theory of "socialism in one country" without question. In February 1926, the resolution of the enlarged plenum of the Comintern executive praised the "absence of factional struggles in the British Party." It is no accident that Stalin regarded the British party as one of the best sections of the International.

The expulsion of the Opposition

The right-opportunist policy of the Stalinists in appeasing the "lefts" in the British TUC had seriously undermined the British Communists. But this betrayal paled in insignificance beside the terrible catastrophe of the defeat of the Chinese Revolution, which was caused by the policies of Stalin and Bukharin.

Between 1925 and 1927, the unfolding drama of the Chinese Revolution gripped the imagination of the Communist movement internationally. At this time, the Chinese CP was the only mass working class party in existence. It was poised to play a leading role within the revolution and had every chance of carrying through a Chinese "October". However, the opportunist policy pursued by Stalin was also affecting developments in China. His theory of revolution by stages, similar to that put forward by the Mensheviks in Russia, led to the subordination of the Chinese CP to the nationalist Kuomintang. This policy, sharply criticised by the Left Opposition, led to a terrible defeat in 1927 with the bloody suppression of the workers' movement by Stalin's one time friend, Chiang Kai-Shek. The defeat led to increased demoralisation within the Soviet working class, and was one of the major factors in the suppression of the Left Opposition at the end of the year.

Trotsky alone had warned against the policy of collaborating with Chiang Kai-Shek. But the defeat in China sealed the fate of the Left Opposition in Russia. The Russian working class, already exhausted by years of war and revolution, was disappointed and tended to fall into inactivity. The workers sympathised with the Opposition's policies but it was only a passive sympathy, and did not lead to active support. The workers were tired and apathetic, while the bureaucracy was increasingly emboldened by every step back taken by the world revolution. The Opposition was expelled in 1927, the same year that the Chinese working class was crushed. One year later, Trotsky was expelled from the USSR and deprived of Soviet citizenship. As it was still too early for Stalin to have him murdered, he was exiled to Turkey, from where he began to organise the International Left Opposition, dedicated to the fight to reform the Communist International and return it to the authentic ideas of Lenin and the October revolution.

The expulsion of the Left Opposition in November 1927 constituted a defeat for the genuine forces of Leninism within the Communist Parties. This opened the way for the shift to the left by Stalin and his elimination later of the Right Opposition of Bukharin. It marked a further step in the consolidation of the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, and the elimination of all opposition elements within the Communist International. After the expulsion of the Russian Left Opposition, similar purges were carried out in every section of the Comintern. No criticism of Stalin was permitted. All the foreign Communist Parties were expected to jump when Moscow changed the Line. They learned to dance to Stalin's tune - or face the consequences.

From 1924 onwards, Stalin repeatedly carried out purges in one Communist Party after another. In France, the leadership of Souvarine and Rosmer, which sympathised with the Opposition, was replaced by the "left" leadership of Treint and Girault, who, in turn were expelled and replaced by Thorez and Doriot. In Germany, Brandler and Thalheimer were replaced by Fischer and Maslow, who, in turn were replaced by Thälmann and Neumann. In Poland, the Varsky leadership was replaced by Domsky, who was later removed. In China, the leader and founder of the party, Chen Tu-hsiu, was expelled for "Trotskyism". In Spain, leaders like Nin and Andrade were also expelled for "Trotskyism". And in the USA and Canada, Cannon, Abern, Shachtman and Spector suffered the same fate.

This development was in complete contrast to the situation in Britain. The impact of the Russian Opposition proved to have a far smaller effect. Here, the forces of a Trotskyist Opposition were slow to emerge. While there were certain murmurings and unease in the ranks of the Party concerning the internal disputes in Russia and the treatment of Trotsky and the Opposition, there was hardly a ripple compared to other European Parties. This was partly to do with the low political level of the party, and the inability of the Party cadres to understand what was really going on within the Russian Party.

From this time onwards, there was complete and uncritical support by the British leadership for the Stalinist Line. Among the most servile followers of Moscow were Palme Dutt, Harry Pollitt, William Gallagher (the same one who had criticised Lenin from the "left") and the other leaders of the CPGB. Among other things, this reflected the low political level of the British Party, including its leaders. Tom Bell was forced to recognise the ignorance of the British Party "as to what is actually transpiring in the Russian Party." J T Murphy also referred to the "general ignorance of international affairs prevailing amongst the membership in Britain."

This lack of understanding of theoretical issues had long been a hallmark of the British labour movement. As Marx and Engels noted, theory was never a strong point in the British working class, which tended towards empiricism and pragmatism. But without theory there can be no genuine Marxist-Leninist Party. The slavish support for the Moscow bureaucracy ultimately led to the destruction of the CPGB and all the other sections of the Comintern, but not before causing one catastrophe after another for the workers' movement internationally.

The "Third Period"

By 1927, the balance of forces inside Russia was changing. All along, Trotsky and the Opposition had been warning of the dangers of capitalist restoration posed by the opportunist policy of Stalin and Bukharin of appeasing the rich peasants (the Kulaks). The Left Opposition demanded a reversal of this policy and instead proposed a programme of industrialisation based on five-year plans, the progressive taxation of the rich peasants and gradual collectivisation by example. Stalin and his faction ridiculed this, comparing Trotsky's proposal for electrification to "offering the peasant a gramophone instead of a cow."

However, by 1927-28 it was clear that there was a real danger of counter-revolution in Russia. The Kulaks, emboldened by the policy of the leadership, launched a grain strike that threatened the very basis of Soviet power. Alarmed, the Stalin faction broke with Bukharin and adopted a programme that was a caricature of that of the Left Opposition. In the process, the Stalinists swung over from opportunism to wild ultra-leftism. This entailed forced collectivisation of agriculture and adventurist targets in the five-year plans, under slogans like "carry out the five year plan in four years." This led to widespread disruption, a catastrophic fall in agricultural production and a terrible famine in which possibly ten million people perished. Nevertheless, the mass of Soviet workers welcomed the turn to industrialisation and five year plans. This provoked a crisis in the Opposition, in which many of its former adherents capitulated to Stalin - a mistake which they later paid for with their lives.

After burning their fingers with the previous right wing policy, the Stalin wing now swung one hundred and eighty degrees to the left and adopted an adventurist policy also on an international scale. Taking their lead blindly from Moscow, the Communist Parties internationally adopted the crazy ultra-left position of the "third period". The Stalinists proclaimed a new (third) period in which the collapse of capitalism was said to be imminent. The world slump of capitalism that began with the Wall Street Crash of 1929 was depicted as the final crisis of capitalism, completely ignoring what Lenin and Trotsky had explained many times - that there was no such thing as a "final crisis" of capitalism, and that capitalism will always manage to extricate itself from even the deepest crisis, until it is overthrown by the working class.

As a corollary to this lunacy, the Stalinists proclaimed that all other parties except themselves were "fascist". In particular, the social-democratic organisations were said to have become fascist - or "social fascist" - in character. "Social democracy and fascism", said Stalin, "are twins and not opposites." Social democracy was therefore considered the main enemy of the working class. As a result, everywhere, the Stalinists split and paralysed the working class movement. The worst results were experienced in Germany, where the ultra-left policies of the Stalinists rendered the working class powerless in the face of the Nazi menace. Instead of adopting Lenin's policy of the united front to achieve the united action of Communist and Socialist workers against the Nazis, they deliberately set out to split the workers' movement and thus allowed Hitler to come to power - as he later boasted "without breaking a window pane." The Stalinists collaborated with the Nazis in the Berlin tram strike and even made a bloc with the fascists during the so-called Red Referendum to bring down the Social Democratic government in Prussia. If they had succeeded, it would have meant that Hitler would have come to power two years earlier!

In Britain also we had the ludicrous position of the tiny Communist Party issuing ultimatums to the Labour Party, denouncing the Labour leaders as "social fascists", and even organising the breaking up of Labour Party meetings. They had to be broken up because the Labour leaders were the main enemy of working class, and were even more dangerous than the fascists! In the Daily Worker, Harry Pollitt, the leader of the Party, advocated that no Labour Party meeting should be allowed to take place in the open air. This ultra-left and sectarian line represented a complete abandonment of Lenin's policies. It served to completely isolate the CP. As a result of this madness the influence of the British Communist Party was completely undermined, and they were reduced to a small sect on the fringes of the labour movement.

The National Government

The second Labour Government, elected in 1929, was a government of crisis. The crisis hit Britain hard. Unemployment was soaring. The Labour leaders, who had fought the election on the issue of unemployment, were powerless to do anything about it. In order to solve the problem they would have had to take over the banks and big companies and instituted a socialist planned economy. Obviously, this was the last thing Ramsay MacDonald had in mind!

In 1931 the crisis manifested itself in the collapse of big banks and industrial concerns in Europe, beginning with the collapse of the Anstalt-Kredit bank in Austria. The American capitalists withdrew their funds from Europe, completing the financial debacle. Unemployment in Germany reached four million. The collapse of Britain's markets in the Dominions and other primary producing countries resulted in a deepening of the crisis on this side of the Channel. Unemployment, which had already been rising fast before 1930, now soared to intolerable levels. The pettifogging reforms of the Labour Government had no effect.

On the other hand, the ruling class now wanted to get rid of the Labour Government and replace it with a more reliable instrument for carrying out an all-out offensive against the working class. They set out to split the Labour Party, making use of the services of the right wing led by MacDonald. In 1931 they carried out a parliamentary coup that established a National Government, when MacDonald and the right wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party joined forces with the Tories and a section of the Liberals. They then organised a panic election on the "National Unity" ticket, which won an overwhelming majority later in the year.

In this election, the Labour vote fell sharply to 6,648,000, while the Tories got 11,800,000 - almost double the Labour figure - and the total "National" vote was 14,500,000. Labour seats that had been safe for 20 years were lost in the debacle. Every Labour minister lost his seat except for George Lansbury. Only 49 Labour MPs remained in Westminster, while the Tories had 417. Thus, after a severe defeat on the industrial front in 1926, the British workers now suffered a big defeat on the electoral plane. Nevertheless, despite the seriousness of the defeat, the Labour Party was not annihilated. It still had over six and a half million votes, and soon recovered. Moreover, the section which split away to join the National Government was a tiny minority of right wingers, mainly in the Parliamentary Party. At grass-roots level very few joined MacDonald. In opposition, Labour swung to the left and by 1935 it had recovered much of the lost ground.

However, in the short run, the labour movement was in a state of complete turmoil, which expressed itself in the rapid crystalisation of a mass left wing around the Independent Labour Party (ILP). The leaders of the ILP were insistently demanding the right to act as a separate party. In fact, they virtually had this right anyway, since Lansbury, the new leader of the Labour Party, was on the left and inclined to make compromises to keep them inside the Labour Party. However, as typical confused centrists, the ILP leaders made this organisational question into a question of "principle". They were convinced that the Labour Party was completely counter-revolutionary and that to accept its discipline in any way would be "treachery". The Stalinists who were attempting to win the ILP over encouraged this childishness. In actual fact, the programme and policy of the ILP was not qualitatively different from that of the Labour Party, which moved sharply to the left after 1931. By splitting away - which they did in Easter 1932 - the ILP leaders cut the advanced workers off from the mass, which was also moving to the left, but needed time to draw all the conclusions.

Up until this point those who had developed an interest and sympathy in Trotskyism in Britain were to be found in the Independent Labour Party (ILP) and in other radical circles, rather than within the Communist Party. The decline of the CPGB as a result of its ultra-leftism, cut itself off from developments inside the ILP, which was evolving as a mass left wing inside the Labour Party. The crisis that followed the economic collapse in 1929 and the formation of the National Government led to enormous ferment in the Labour Party. However, the Stalinists, blinded by their ultra-left madness, were initially incapable of taking advantage of this situation.

Towards the end of the 1920s, a couple of middle-class intellectuals, Frank Ridley and Chandu Ram, (the same Ridley who later on played a role as an adviser to the ILP leadership) got in touch with Trotsky with a view to founding a Left Opposition group in Britain. But Trotsky, although keen to establish a base in Britain, would not be rushed into an adventure. After examining the hopelessly confused material that they were putting forward Trotsky refused to have anything to do with them.

Ridley and Ram were wildly sectarian and ultra-left and had no idea of how to build a genuine movement. They saw the results of the 1931 general election as a transitional stage between bourgeois democracy and fascism. Trotsky answered their arguments point by point, rejecting their perspective of imminent fascism in Britain, as well as their characterisation of the trade unions as "imperialist organisations", and their premature call for a Fourth International. He simply advised them to "get into the trade unions and do something in relation to the mass movement." Trotsky immediately recognised that they were of little use in developing a real Left Opposition in Britain. At this early stage, therefore, one could only speak of individual sympathisers of Trotsky in Britain - not a Trotskyist tendency in any meaningful sense. The real development of British Trotskyism did not come about until after the experience of the world slump in 1929 and the rise of fascism in Germany.

The international situation had a profound impact on Britain. After the severe defeat of the General Strike, the workers were now struggling to come to grips with mass unemployment and the betrayal of the MacDonald Labour Government. There was a growing radicalisation within the mass organisations, especially around the Independent Labour Party. At this time, Trotsky, from his place of enforced exile in Turkey, was waging an international campaign for a united front in Germany, as a means of achieving the united action of the Communists and Social-Democratic workers to prevent the coming to power of Hitler. Meanwhile, a small group of comrades within the British Communist Party in Balham, South London, began to move into opposition to the party leadership on a number of questions, including the need for united front tactics in Germany. It was from this small group that the first young forces of British Trotskyism were to emerge.

[To be continued]

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Notes

[1] See "The Comintern and its Critics", Revolutionary History, vol.8, no.1, pp.34-39.

[2] See idid., pp.40-43.

[3] The Errors of Trotskyism, p.5.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Trotsky, My Life, p. 527.

[6] Abridged Report, 17 June - 8 July 1924, quoted in MacFarlane, History of the British Communist Party, p. 142.