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”

Industrial Worker- 6 of 9- and a whole load more Socialist Reviews

What a fantastic couple of months!

Having added 25 issues of Socialist Review from Ian Birchall’s collection in September we have now scanned a further 47 issues kindly loaned to us by Colin Fancy. These had been in the collection of his father Will Fancy.

What is more, Colin also has six issues of the elusive Industrial Worker a paper which ran for just 9 issues from 1962 (dates unclear) before being continued as Labour Worker.

Industrial Worker no1

Industrial Worker no3

Industrial Worker no4

Industrial Worker no6

Industrial Worker no7

Industrial Worker no9



(Early) Socialist Review- an update to an update

srmeltBefore I forget… Just added three more early issues of the Cliff group’s Socialist Review to our files:

Socialist Review Volume 1 no2 January 1951

This issue includes Don Hallas on Rearmament, Tony Cliff on Stalinist Russia, Rhoda Tarbuck on the Welfare State and V. Karalasingham on the Korean War.

Socialist Review Volume 1 no5 August September 1951

This issue has more on Stalinism in Russia, Stalinism in China and Natalia Trotsky’s break with the Fourth International.

Whither Britain? asks Socialist Review Volume 1 no6 November December 1951 with articles on Britain after the elections, Egypt, Tsarist Russia, Stalinist Russia and the Ukraine.

Socialist Review and Labour Worker- an update

Socialist Review.pngWe previously posted about Socialist Worker and its predecessor Labour Worker here.

Since then we have added around twenty five copies of Socialist Review, paper / magazine of the Socialist Review Group from the period 1959 to 1962.

Additionally we have scanned a further 56 issues of Labour Worker.

We have filed our Labour Workers in three folders. Vol 1 and Vol 2 are self explanatory. The third folder requires a little explanation. We start with v3 no1 January 1964 and run to v3 no9 December 1964 (this issue happens also to be incorrectly numbered v3 no4!!)

Then in January 1965 a decision seems to have been made to dispense with volumes and go to whole numbers. So January is no10, right? Wrong January 1965 is no28. Ah so cumulative numbers from volume 1? That would make sense if there were 9 issues per volume… but… Volume 1 at least had 12 issues. And lets not mention issue 32 which resurrected “volume 3” for one issue only!

Anyway Labour Worker continues for 85 or so issues until May 1968 at which point it becomes Socialist Worker and continues the same numbering.

We have nearly 300 issues of Socialist Worker scanned so far and another 70 or so to do which will eventually give us a complete run up to issue 400 (check back in a couple of weeks). We may do later issues at a future date.

Many thanks to Ian Birchall for loaning copies of SR, LW, SW and other assorted goodies from his extensive collections.

And thanks to John Rudge for advice on numbering.

Before we sign off, a plea: has anyone ever seen a copy of Industrial Worker the precursor of Labour Worker. We are told it was short-lived and had a limited print run but surely someone must have a copy?




The Revolutionary Socialist Party- an update

WWTrot.png18 months ago we posted on the Edinburgh based Revolutionary Socialist Party of the 1930s / 40s which was at that time one of the components of the Revolutionary Socialist League, British Section of the Fourth International.

Since that time we discovered an article by Mark Shipway which traces the history of the group, from its origins in De Leonism.

We contacted Mark and were delighted to find he had a substantial collection of photocopied issues of the RSP paper Workers Weekly which he has been kind enough to lend us. These photocopies, which were originally made by Willie Tait of the RSP, cover the 1939 – 41 period and are mostly four or six page duplicated bulletins, the masthead painstakingly hand drawn and lettered each week.

This collection of around 50 issues (some possibly incomplete) gives a fascinating insight into the activities of a small group of socialists trying to orient themselves and relate to the titanic events of a world war unfolding around them. They manage to maintain a regular weekly output for much of the period but with a long hiatus from 6th September 1940 to 10th January 1941, whilst later that year the frequency closer approximates fortnightly than weekly. Still a remarkable achievement to bring out such a paper amidst the privations, dislocations and shortages of war.

The first sixteen issues style themselves “Workers Weekly Organising Sheet” but thereafter become “Workers Weekly (new series)” whilst maintaining the previous numbering.

Of particular interest are the May Day 1939 special issue which appears to have been the only one ever to appear as a printed tabloid newspaper, and the special issue for 18th August 1940 RSP Challenges The War Makers which has Frank Maitland’s statement to the tribunal for conscientious objectors.

Workers Weekly no42 dated August 23rd 1940 carries a moving tribute to Leon Trotsky, murdered by a stalinist agent just two days before.





The International Bookshop- appeal for help

Five Leaves Books in Nottingham is looking for any photos of Pat Jordan’s bookshop at 4 Dane Street in Nottingham.

They have failed to find any, even of the building at another time, through local contacts and the local history scene. The photos are for the forthcoming book, Winter in the Bookshop, which is a memoir of the place.

Can you help? Do you know anyone who might be able to?

“Towards A New Workers Party” The Workers League & Workers News Bulletin

In our survey of what can loosely be described as the Oehlerite tradition in Britain mention was made of Joe Thomas and Dennis Levin leaving the ILP to form a group called the Workers League in the early 1950s.

wnb.pngWe are pleased now to be able to bring you a very substantial collection of Workers League materials- principally some 160 issues of the Workers News Bulletin (probably about half of the number published in total between 1954 and 1960), along with three different versions of the Workers League’s flagship publication the Draft Manifesto for a New Workers Party, and a few interesting leaflets… The leaflets include an interesting flyer calling a protest meeting over Hungary and then a similar flyer subsequently calling it off…

The Workers League emerged in 1954 at a time when the Trotskyist groupings- Healy’s Club and a smaller group around Grant- were deeply buried in the Labour Party. It was a period in which small groups were leaving the Communist Party (soon to be come a flood in 1956) and groups such as the ILP were slowly decomposing…

The Workers League attempted to relate to these developments and thus the weekly Workers News Bulletin is a goldmine of info on the left milieu of the time.

One of the earliest issues we have recounts the formation of the Federation of Marxist Groups which brought together Harry McShane and Eric Heffer’s Socialist Educational Groups of Glasgow and Merseyside respectively, with elements from the ILP (FA Ridley) and others.

It seems the Workers League did not long stay in the orbit of the FMG and played no part in it becoming the Socialist Workers Federation shortly after.

Issue 39 of the Bulletin is devoted to the internal squabbles in the SPGB (the Turner controversy) whereas Volume2 no26 sees the launch of the WLs regular public forums with an un-named speaker from the Socialist Review Group on the Labour Party. Sadly this discussion does not appear to have been written up in a subsequent issue.

Another Forum was led by John Roddam of the Movement for World Socialism. It is not clear whether or not this is to be identified with the SPGB / World Socialist Movement.

Volume 2 no50 comments in detail on the British CP congress after Khruschev’s secret speech and later that year devotes much space to the Hungarian Revolution.

Commenting positively on the Nottingham Marxist Group’s pamphlet “Why we left the Communist Party” leads to a correspondence across several 1957 issues with P(at)J(ordan)…

Later still, the Workers League, having commented extensively on the industrial perspectives of the Healyite Newsletter turns its attention to Brian Behan’s split from that group.

As far as we can tell, we do not have the final issues of WNB, our run ending in December 1960 at which time Joe Thomas was still a member…

If anyone has any of the missing issues- the very early or later ones- or the projected Workers League theoretical journal (which may or may not have been published) we would love to see them.


The League For The Revolutionary Party

SV.pngWhilst the focus of this blog is on British Trotskyism, we occasionally make forays further afield…

The League for the Revolutionary Party is a small US Trotskyist organization notable for holding a left variant of a State-Capitalist theory. Its origins lie in a group expelled from the Revolutionary Socialist League in the mid 1970s and the LRP version of events is given in the first issue of its journal Socialist Voice.

We have some 67 issues of the journal Socialist Voice and its successor Proletarian Revolution.

These are of interest for their polemics with the wider US left- not just the Trotskyist groups such as the Spartacist League and its offshoots but also the Maoist, left Stalinist and even Left Communist groupings- as well as regular commentary on international events and critical engagement with groups on the British left, such as Workers Power.

The LRP is linked to a small international current COFI. We have a few items from their erstwhile co-thinkers in Sweden and Australia.