Splits and Fusions- an archive of Trotskyist publications in Britain

This is the post excerpt.


Welcome to Splits&Fusions.

Here we will showcase documents from the various tendencies of what can broadly be described as the Trotskyist movement in Britain (with a nod to Irish, US and other publications in the English language).

In most cases items will be presented without much in the way of editorial, beyond a brief (and hopefully factual) description of the group. Continue reading “Splits and Fusions- an archive of Trotskyist publications in Britain”

The Left Fraction- British Section of the Fourth International (In Opposition)

VoiceThe Left Fraction had two phases of existence. Firstly as a faction within the disintegrating RSL in the early 1940s it was based primarily in Scotland and controlled the paper Militant Scottish Miner.

They later opposed the founding of the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1944 and were expelled from it in September 1945. Thereafter they operated as an entrist group within the Labour Party publishing the duplicated journal Voice of Labour.

Between 1956 and 1960 the LF was part of the ‘new’ RSL, the British Section of the Fourth International and later they opened discussions with the Nottingham based International Group and also the Posadist RWP. Some of these discussions are to be found in the LF’s regular Bulletin and we have some correspondence between the LF (Hardie) and the RSL (Alan).

From 1964 the Fraction published a duplicated, later printed, paper called Politics until around 1967.

A history of the Left Fraction was written in 1964 as an internal document by Harry Selby.

According to Al Richardson, in his Notes for a Bibliography of British Trotskyism (1979), no issues of Voice of Labour were known to survive. However, we have found three!

Voice Of Labour no 9

Voice of Labour no10

Voice of Labour new series no3

We also have a good sixteen issues of Politics from V1 no1 to the two printed issues No1 No2 and a smattering of leaflets…

Also very useful for a study of the LFs politics are various discussion documents and motions. These fall into the two periods outlined above.




Anarchist Communist Association / Bread & Roses

PamphletJust found this post in the saved drafts from March! Better late than never…

In 1976 the Anarchist Workers Association went through a split every bit as vicious as anything the Trotskyists could achieve! Following the 1976 conference a “Towards a Programme” tendency was founded in opposition to the line on Ireland with TAP taking a more pro-Republican “Troops Out” position.

At the May 1977 conference TAP appears to have launched a coup expelling its opponents, some of whom regrouped first as the ‘Provisional AWA’ which then became  the Anarchist Communist Association. The ACA lasted only until 1980 during which time it produced an introductory pamphlet and a newspaper Bread and Roses starting in July 1978.

We have seven copies of Bread and Roses- pieced together from a number of sources. Six are in tabloid format and the seventh (which may be the last issue) appears to be a photocopied A4 magazine.

The production values of B&R were poor in comparison with its predecessors but it had a number of nice cartoons and a wide range of articles…


Meanwhile, the continuity AWA, under the influence of the TAP, changed its name to the Libertarian Communist Group on a trajectory towards closer working with the far left…

The October League

Manifesto.jpgAs we document the Trotskyist diaspora in all its diversity we like nothing more than to uncover some of the more epehemeral, transient and obscure groups. A good contender in this category has to be the October League.

We have only the Manifesto of The October League, from the late 1940s, which appears to have been operated within the Oxford University Socialist Club.

The October League was a grouping of anti-Stalinist, revolutionary socialists active within the Labour Party.

According to the National Archives file HO45/25486: a report on the RCP and the Trotskyist movement: “In 1946 attempts to build at Oxford University and the name of Christopher Pallis, a medical student at Balliol appears who, it is said, spoke at the Neath by-election under the name of N. Kastings.”

and New Scotland Yard (Special Branch) fortnightly summary No. 122 for the period ended 30-11-45 – “The Revolutionary Communist Party is endeavouring to secure a footing amongst students at Oxford University, and it has printed a four-page pamphlet entitled “The Manifesto of the October League” for distribution among the students.  One of the leaders is Christopher PALLIS, a medical student at Oxford.”

C. Pallis (later a member of the Socialist Labour League and then founder of the Solidarity organisation) is indeed one of the six signatories to the Manifesto (our edition is an 8 rather than 4 page pamphlet.)

So, what was the October League? Did it exist outside of Oxford? Was it an attempt by the Revolutionary Communist Party to do student work? And can anyone shed light on the other signatories of the manifesto?

The Socialist Federation

SFedHitherto, the Socialist Federation of the mid-1980s was known to us only from a single reference in the preface to John Callaghan’s “Far Left In British Politics” and an entry in the Encyclopedia Of British and Irish Political Organizations. However, this entry has only Callaghan as a source and makes the unsubstantiated claim that the SF involved Red Action, ex-SWPers and possibly the RCG!

The catalogue at Sparrows Nest suggests holdings of a Socialist Federation publication but we have been unable to locate them so far.

So, we were pleased to find two SF articles- probably two pages of a discussion bulletin.

First a perspectives article written in the wake of the miners’ strike by a Manchester member and second an amended draft of the SF constitution submitted by the Bradford branch.

We hope our readers can respond to this post with more information about the Socialist Federation, its origins and fate…


Irish Workers Group- Irish Militant

The Irish Workers’ Group  originated as the Irish Workers Union, which later called itself the Irish Communist Group.

irish-militant-page-1.jpgThe group was to split between its Trotskyist and Maoist wings. The latter broke away to form the Irish Communist Organisation, later British and Irish Communist Organisation. The former became the Irish Workers’ Group, led by Gery Lawless. The IWG produced a paper Irish Militant and a theoretical journal An Solas/Workers’ Republic.

By 1967 a section of the IWG based in London, around Sean Matgamna and Rachel Lever launched Workers Fight. A section with support in Ireland then formed the League for a Workers Republic which entered discussions with the Socialist Labour League.

Other members of the IWG later influential in the Irish far-left were Eamonn McCann, a leader of the Socialist Workers Party, and Michael Farrell, a leader of the now defunct People’s Democracy.

We have 16 copies of Irish Militant, a four page tabloid paper, from issue 1, April 1966 through to vol3 no4 in 1968


IS youth papers

Our friend John Rudge has compiled the definitive guide to IS and SWP youth publications, which you will find on Ian Birchall’s site.

We will draw heavily on John’s work as we present scans from our collection…

rebel1In 1960 the Socialist Review Group launched the paper Rebel “For Socialist Youth Against The Bomb”. This ran for nine issues, of which we have three, before effecting a merger with Rally, the RSL (Grantite) youth paper, and some other local papers to produce a new paper Young Guard.

REBEL 1st series

We have discussed Young Guard elsewhere but can now add a few more issues to our collection, including issue 1 from September 1961.

Young Guard was in direct competition with the Healyite paper Keep Left and ran for five years, despite the withdrawal of the former Rally faction in 1963. We have 21 of the 40 or so issues of Young Guard.


Although the demise of Young Guard is attributed to the decline of the Young Socialists as an active force, it seems that within a few months of YG shutting up shop there was a renewed need for a youth paper and Rebel series two was launched in September 1966.

rebel2This incarnation lasted for seven issues, of which we have nos 1 and 2.

REBEL 2nd series

Whilst we have to wait another four years until Rebel makes another appearence, the Manchester branches of IS (under the influence of the Trotskyist Tendency / Workers Fight) produced a successful, duplicated paper under that name.

We have four issues of the Manchester Rebel.Reb dup

REBEL duplicated series

The first issue of the new national Rebel was published in November 1971 as a four page tabloid. This then became an 8 pager and ran for 8 issues until April 1973.

If the later 1970s Socialist Worker was referred to as the Punk Paper then this version of Rebel, with its psychedelic design and articles on the politics of dope, is surely the Hippie Paper.Rebel3.png

We have five of these although the numbering is somewhat confusing. The second, third and fourth issues are Feb March, April May and June July 1972 respectively.

This is then followed by “issue 4”! We also have issue 6 which must therefore be called issue 7!!

REBEL 3rd series

Finally we come to the later 1970s paper Fight which ran from 1976 – 1978 as the paper of the Socialist Worker Youth Movement.

It is unclear how many issues of Fight were produced. So far we have only one, from May 1977.




Labour Worker and Socialist Worker

IS branches.jpgI have finally finished scanning my copies of Socialist Worker, paper of the International Socialists, later Socialist Workers Party.

It is relatively small collection- a little over 200 issues. I will continue to add to this, as and when I acquire further issues, with priority given to pre-1990 issues. I also have a modest collection of IS / SWP pamphlets which just need to be put into some semblance of order before I present them to the world and collection of International Socialism 1st series which I may tackle in due course.

Thanks to Bruce in particular for the early SWs


Starting as the clumsily titled Labour Worker, of which we have 9 issues from 1965-7, Socialist Worker was a monthly paper by the time of the May events of 1968. We have the June and July issues of SW from that year which make interesting reading.

SW became a four page weekly paper soon after and then rapidly scaled up to a 6, 12 and then 16 page paper with a variety designs. By the later 1970s the design appears to have stabilised with a masthead which remained very similar for the next 25 years!

We have a good run of papers from later 1968 to 1974 and a few issues from 1978

These latter ones are from the period of the Anti-Nazi League / Rock Against Racism and include issue 587 headlined Defend Brick Lane and issue 598 with a Carnival 2 centre-spread.

Last but not least, we should mention a few of the Socialist Worker special editions:

Czech Crisis– 1968

LSE Special– 1969

Special issue on Ireland August 1971

Defend the Right To Work March– 1976

Building Workers special– 1973

Socialist Worker issue 1000– no date.

And from 1990 special editions on Maxwell and on the Scargill Witch-hunt