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

Results from the general secretary election for Unison (Britain's biggest trade union) show the enormous potential strength of the left, if united. The left wing must now look ahead and fight for a majority on the union NEC – a key step in transforming the labour movement.

The general secretary election for Britain’s largest trade union is down to the wire. Victory for the left would mark a watershed for the whole British labour movement. All out for Paul Holmes: the class-fighter candidate who will stand up for members and lead a militant union!

We are excited to announce the publication of a new book by Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, on Chartism: a titanic struggle by British workers in the 1800s that involved arming, general strikes and insurrection, a fact buried by official 'histories'. Until the end of October, Chartist Revolution is available for pre-order at Wellred books for a special discounted price!

We are excited to announce the publication of a new book on Chartism – a titanic struggle by British workers in the 1800s that involved arming, general strikes and insurrection, a fact buried by official “histories” – by Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, British publication of the International Marxist Tendency. In this review, Socialist Appeal writer and activist Josh Holroyd explains the importance of this new book, which reclaims the revolutionary history of the British labour movement. Until the end of October, Chartist Revolution is available for pre-order

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In June 1831, a community of Welsh miners rose up against the ironmasters and defied the might of the British state, seizing control of their town for a full week, and flying the red flag for the first time on British soil as a symbol of workers' insurrection.

All the reactionaries are crowing. Donald Trump expressed particular delight at the result. “Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his great WIN!” the US President wrote on Twitter. “Johnson secures crushing UK election victory,” exuded the Financial Times, as the pound rose on foreign exchange markets.

Today is the day. British workers and youth have one last opportunity to mobilise for a Labour win. The Tories are in a panic. The wind is in our sails. We have every chance of success. Let's get out there and fight! All out for a Corbyn victory!

With Marxist Labour councillors in the leadership, a mass movement involving the entire labour movement and working class communities was built up in Liverpool in the 80s, in order to oppose cuts and fight for socialist policies.

50 years ago, women at the Dagenham Ford Factory began a strike that became a turning point in the fight for equality. It was not the first such strike, and it would certainly not be the last. However, by standing up against bosses, union officials, and even other workers, they would send a message that has stood the test of time and inspires still.

27 February marked the centenary of the adoption of the socialist aims of the British Labour Party. At a special Labour conference in February 1918 at Central Hall, Westminster, under the direct impact of the Russian Revolution, the party adopted a new constitution that contained the famous Clause 4.

Workers in Britain have been under attack from the bosses and the Tory government for years. And yet many trade union leaders do not seem capable of fighting back. This is one of the reasons that unions last year experienced the biggest single drop in their membership since records began. Total union membership is now just 6.2 million workers, compared to 13.2 million in 1979.

With Jeremy Corbyn on course to win another landslide victory in the contest for the Labour leadership, the Party Establishment are preparing the ground for a split. Rob Sewell, editor of Socialist Appeal, looks back at the Labour split of 1931 to analyse the important lessons of Labour's history for today's tumultuous events.

Ted Grant was a well-known figure in the international Marxist movement. He had a significant impact on British politics. When he died all the most important newspapers carried extensive obituaries that recognised this fact. This is a remarkable work that comprehensively covers the development of Ted's life and ideas, starting from his early family background in Johannesburg right up to his death in London in 2006 at the age of 93.

Beginning at one minute to midnight on the 3rd May, the 1926 General Strike shook the ruling class of Britain to its foundations. Lasting for nine days, the strike showed the enormous power and solidarity of the working class. 4 million trade unionists - out of a total of 5.5 million - responded to the TUC’s call to halt work. Despite no real preparation by the TUC leadership, workers organised - through their own initiative - strike committees up and down the country. Nothing moved without the workers’ permission.

The first few weeks of March 2014 will be a time of deep reflection for hundreds of thousands of people across the UK who will recall what they were doing when the 1984/85 coal miners’ strike began.

Friday 3rd January saw the release of previously secret Cabinet documents from the Tory government relating to the Great Miners’ Strike of 1984 – 85. The BBC news website stated “Newly released cabinet papers from 1984 reveal mineworkers' union leader Arthur Scargill may have been right to claim there was a "secret hit-list" of more than 70 pits marked for closure.”

The following article is written by comrade Bill Landles, a longstanding defender of the ideas of Marxism, whose activity goes right back to the days of the Revolutionary Communist Party during the Second World War, where he played a role in the apprentices’ strikes. We are publishing  a transcript of a speech by Bill on the apprentices' strikes of 1944.

In July 1888, 1,400 female workers walked out on strike at the Bryant and May factory in East London. 125 years later, that struggle still holds a place of honour in the history of the labour movement.