The Workers Socialist League

Battle4TrotskyismIt is with great pleasure that we are able to bring you our archive of papers, pamphlets and journals of the Workers Socialist League, or the “Thornett Clique” as its detractors would have it!

This has been a collective effort and, whilst far from complete or comprehensive, it does represent a substantial collection.

The origins of the WSL lie in the expulsion by the WRP of some 200 members in 1974, comprising the bulk of its industrial base in Cowley. This group, led by Alan Thornett, John Lister and Tony Richardson went on to form the WSL on the basis of a return to the method of Trotsky’s Transitional Programme, as they saw it.

The WSL quickly established a fortnightly, later weekly, newspaper, Socialist Press and maintained itself for six years until fusing with Matgamna’s International Communist League. Both groups by then operating within the Labour Party. The new organisation maintained the name WSL but Socialist Press fused with the broader paper Socialist Organiser.

1 year

Our collection contains a substantial run of Socialist Press– 143 copies including number 1 and the final issue 254.

We also have all 13 of the Trotskyism Today pull-out theoretical supplement to the paper as well as the four issues of Trotskyism Today magazine.

You will also find a substantial number of pamphlets both from Socialist Press / WSL and also from the Socialist Youth League. Additionally we have copies of Red Youth, the later period youth publication and Workers Socialist Review, the ‘post-fusion’ theoretical magazine.

Othe items of note are bulletins of the Trotskyist international Liaison Committee (TILC) and a couple of issues Woman Worker, the pull-out supplement paper. We would very much like to find further issues of WW, TILC publications and Red Youth.

You will note we have an empty place-holder folder for a jornal called Marxist Student which is advertised in Socialist Press but which has not yet come to light…




The Banda Group- Communist Forum / Marxist Philosophy Forum

MikeBanda2Following the schism of the Workers Revolutionary Party into two identically named organisations, distinguished only by their publications, both sides of the split continued to unravel and throw off new groups…

One such was the Communist Forum associated with Mike Banda, a long-time leader of the WRP and later WRP (Workers Press)

Sometimes John Sullivan is just too good not to quote…

“Banda himself was moving fast, ignoring Slaughter’s attempts to slow him down. He realised that, in spite of his Khrushchevian role in denouncing Healy, he had been playing the Beria part for so long that he was an obvious target for anyone seeking a scapegoat. The more critical comrades were bound to ask if things had begun to go wrong only in the past 10 years or at some other point in the 35-year Healy-Banda collaboration. After several months meditating in a Sri Lanka ashram, Banda came up with an answer whose audacity left his rivals gasping. The movement had been wrong since 1923: in other words Stalin, not Trotsky, had been right all along! So he, Banda, was not to blame for the present shambles. Nice one Mike! With a dozen supporters, he now publishes a journal called Communist Forum, but rumour has it that he is falling out with them too.”

We have three issues of Communist Forum– a small photocopied magazine and a pamphlet on Morality of the WRP- an Open Letter to Cliff Slaughter by Dave Good. Also included is a letter from Dave Good to a member of Workers Power.

It should be noted that the first issues of Communist Forum do not list Mike Banda as a steering committee member.

By November 1987 the Communist Forum appears to have adopted the name Communist Study Group and began to issue a new publication The Communist, or The Communist Bulletin.

We have four copies of this substantial yearly journal which shows the group surviving until at least 1989, despite the assertion in the Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organisations that it lasted only 1986-7. That same publication also tells us that the group became the Marxist Philosophy Forum in 1987 but this name does not appear in any of the publications we hold…




WIL / RCP- Workers International News

TrotskyWorkers International News was the theoretical journal of the Workers International League from 1938 until 1944 after which it continued as the journal of the fused Revolutionary Communist Party.

We present here some 67 issues of WIN including special supplements in the form of pamphlets.

These should be read in conjunction with the Marxist Internet Archive / ETOL listing which deals with the issue of the erratic numbering of this magazine. In particular, after Vol 5 no 13 for September 1943 the next issue becomes Vol 5 no14 (so duplicating the ‘real’ Vol 5 no 4) and then the run continues from this revised numbering and is never rectified. This is so odd that we cannot help but feel there may be a reason for this which goes beyond simple error- perhaps something relating to wartime paper rationing. Readers views and comments would be welcomed.

Also in our files are several Workers International League pamphlets, bulletins and leaflets.



From “Workers Fight” to “Workers Liberty”- the Matgamna group

AfghanWikipedia is a good source for an outline of the various splits and fusions undergone by the tendency associated with Sean Matgamna since it first emerged from the RSL / Militant as Workers Fight in 1966- on the basis of the What we are and what we must become document.

[UPDATE You can read the original document here: What We Are And What We Must Become]

Within two years the group was inside the International Socialists as the Trotskyist Tendency before emerging once more as Workers Fight, fusing and de-fusing with Workers Power and then, in the late 1970s, entering the Labour Party as the International-Communist League.

In 1981 the group fused with, and adopted the name of, the Workers Socialist League and when that fusion eventually fell apart, continued life in the Labour Party as the Socialist Organiser Alliance and Alliance for Workers Liberty…

Our collections include the following:

Workers Fight magazine and pamphlets and Permanent Revolution theoretical journal

International Communist magazine and pamphlets

Workers Action– one magazine and lots of pamphlets*

Socialist Organiser– pamphlets and special editions of the paper (mostly in pamphlet/magazine form) Only one issue of the tabloid*

Alliance For Workers Liberty– various pamphlets and bulletins, Workers Liberty pamphlets and magazines and Marxist Revival magazine.

We will havae more Workers Liberty magazines scanned in due course.

*Readers will note that we are very light on the various tabloids produced by this tendency- the Workers Fight, Workers Action and Socialist Organiser newspapers. If anyyone can provide access to any of these we would like to hear from you.



League for Socialist Action an update

TPMany thanks to Pauline Roberts for supplying us with a number of pamphlets and educational bulletins from the League for Socialist Action of which she, and her late husband Tony Roberts, were leading members.

The pamphlets include  LSA – What We Stand For and EEC Does It Matter? by former IMG veteran Pat Brain who died last year.

Additionally there are six Socialist Action Educational Pamphlets covering 1980 perspectives, single issue campaigns and the Transitional Programme, amongst other topics.

Any further documents gratefully received!

The Socialist Current Group

SCrThe Socialist Current journal began publication in 1956 and was subtitled “Incorporating the International Socialist” which was the journal of the Revolutionary Socialist League of Ted Grant at the time. The link with the Grantites did not last long and by the following year a Socialist Current Group was established, it leading members being Frank Rowe, Morry Solloff and Sam Levy.

Continue reading “The Socialist Current Group”

Revolutionary Marxist Tendency (1982?)

WRFWSo, here is a little mystery. We have four documents from a group calling itself the Revolutionary Marxist Tendency and dating from around 1982.

Initially we thought they may be an incarnation of the British franchise of Pablo’s (International) Revolutionary Marxist Tendency. However, certain internal political clues lead me, at least, to have some doubts about this provenance.

Firstly, in the first of the documents (Pamphlet 5 on the Economy of the Soviet Union) it is clear that the RMT identifies with Trotskyism but there is no mention of the Fourth International or even any international affiliations. Furthermore, the advert for earlier RMT pamphlets lists Pamphlet 1 “The Poverty of the Left- the need for a Marxist propaganda group” as being the founding document of the Tendency. Other pamphlets set out the groups priorities as being opposition to the Labour Party and full support for the Irish liberation struggle.

Pamphlet 6, on the Malvinas, makes a fundamentalist Marxist analysis of imperialism and critiques Militant’s position on the Malvinas / Falklands War.

Then there are the leaflets. Capitalist Crisis Explained, A3 double sided, is concerned with Marxist economics and an explanation of the crisis.

Workers Rights For Women is more interesting and sets out the RMTs central political idea of overcoming ‘divisions’ in the working class by counterposing an abstract ‘socialism’ or ‘workers control’ to sectional or reformist demands (such as equal pay for women).

So, all in all, whilst the name fits with the Pabloites, I really don’t think the politics do and there is no reference whatsoever to an international affiliation or to the Pabloite press- International Marxist Review etc.

So, my best guess / stab in the dark would be that this is a short-lived micro-split from the Revolutionary Communist Tendency, RCG or RCP. This is based on the following reasoning- the style of some of the documents is very Yaffeite / RCGish, the key political positions and concerns- Ireland, Labour, Malvinas are very RCP and the Workers Rights leaflet explicitly polemicises against the RCP, rather than any other tendency, which tends to lead me to the conclusion that it is a continuation of a formerly internal debate…

Hopefully someone can prove me right, or wrong- perhaps by producing copies of other pamphlets by the Revolutionary Marxist Tendency. Over to you…