[Book] Ted Grant Writings: Volume One


Open letter to Yorkshire miners


[Socialist Appeal Cortonwood supplement,

c. January 1943]


On Wednesday, December 23, the Council of the YMA carried a resolution which stated:

“That this council meeting authorises the officials to take legal advice as to what action, if any, can be taken in regard to the articles which are continually appearing in Socialist Appeal.”

This resolution is aimed to silence our criticism of Hall and the present leadership at Barnsley and its policy. It carries the campaign to suppress the Socialist Appeal initiated by Hall last July a step further. It is a police substitute for an open discussion before the miners of Wombwell and Yorkshire.

The Socialist Appeal has had some hard things to say about Joe Hall. So also do we say hard things about any working class “leader” whose policy is against the interests of the workers. These are mild, let it be said, in comparison with statements made to the Socialist Appeal by hundreds of miners about their “leaders”.

Although Hall has had every opportunity to reply to a public challenge which was issued on July 18 1942, he has not availed himself of the opportunity and attempted to refute our charges.

His latest move is an act of desperation.

Meanwhile the so-called Communist Party members and sympathisers in the Yorkshire area are peddling the story that the Trotskyists and their paper, the Socialist Appeal, are responsible for the present strike at Cortonwood. Every miner who is familiar with the events leading up to the strike will immediately recognise this as a lie, and will brand it as such.

In peddling these lies the “communists” echo the slanders of Joe Hall whose allegations were completely exposed as the lies that they are in Parliament, when the coal owners and Tory representatives attempted to use his allegations to get the Socialist Appeal suppressed.

“Why does a political organisation interfere in an industrial dispute?” is the trick question which the fakers ask. Any miner who deludes himself that it is possible to separate industrial from political questions is making a grievous blunder.

When the coal owners say that the present strike “holds up production and helps the Nazis,” that is a political action; the coal owners who were responsible for firing the first shot in the industrial field attempt to throw the political responsibility for the outcome of the dispute on to the shoulders of the workers. The action of the government in allowing the courts to be used to intimidate the colliers, is a political action. The action of Hall and his colleagues, of tying the hands of the miners behind their backs, giving up the right to strike, and collaborating with the coal owners and their capitalist government, is a political action. So also is the action of the renegade “communists” who have deserted the workers and appealed to the miners to accept the cut in the interests of the “war effort.”

It is no accident that the coal owners who are Tories in politics embrace Joe Hall who claims to be Labour. Nor is it an accident that Joe Hall who was the most bitter opponent of the Stalinists 18 months ago, now embraces them and endorses the political activities of the Communist Party and Young Communist League, while the Stalinists quote Joe Hall with great favour. For all these people have the same political aim: support for the present capitalist coalition and its repressive legislation against the working class. No matter what they may say in private or in the bedroom about “socialism after the war,” their public activities and present day actions is detrimental to the interests of the working class.

The Socialist Appeal is the organ of Workers’ International League, a Trotskyist political organisation which continues the policy of revolutionary socialism. The policy which made the Russian revolution. We oppose the present capitalist coalition, its repressive legislation against the workers, and all its other actions detrimental to the working class. We do not believe that this capitalist coalition is interested in conducting a war for democracy nor that it is capable of doing so, since it uses repression against the people in the colonies as well as at home. We believe that the only people who are really interested in or capable of conducting a war against fascism and reaction are the working class, and for that reason we say that political power must be in the hands of the workers.

In our view, the only way in which coal production can be thoroughly organised is by the nationalisation of the pits without compensating the present owners, who have sucked the blood of the miners for long enough, and by the operation of the pits under the democratic control of miners and technicians, who are the only people really capable of solving the question of production.

In the present dispute we believe that any honest working class organisation must come out openly in defence of the Cortonwood miners and assist them to the maximum in their present struggle.

These actions are political acts for which we take full responsibility before the workers.

Workers’ International League (Fourth International)