Labour Party history

Editorials - February 1995

Editorial comments on Blair's "modernisation" project in the Labour Party and the peace process in Northern Ireland. Click here to download article as pdf. Article continues on page 5.

Shapurji Saklatvala: a revolutionary trailblazer

Saklatvala speaking in Hyde Park, demanding the release of the Reichstag fire suspects in Germany (1933) This is the sixth and final part of a series. For the other articles, see here. The British trade union leaders’ surrender of the 1926 General Strike after nine days, as the strike was spreading and growing stronger, came as a shock to the mass of organised workers. Communists had played a central role on the ground and taken the brunt of repression; yet they too were ill-prepared for what took place. For two years the Communist Party had campaigned around the slogan “All Power to the [TUC]...

Review: Wadsworth on Saklatvala

Sacha Ismail reviews Marc Wadsworth’s biography of Shapurji Saklatvala, Comrade Sak: A Political Biography (Peepal Tree Press, 2020). There are four biographies of 1920s revolutionary socialist MP Shapurji Saklatvala. Marc Wadsworth’s is the most recent, originally published in 1998 and republished in an updated version in September this year. It’s very good – mostly. (When I started writing the recent series of articles on Saklatvala in Solidarity, I tried but failed to get hold of the original edition of Wadsworth’s book; the new version didn’t arrive until five out of six articles were...

Video: Fighting council cuts

Video and audio introductions from a meeting on the history and lessons of fighting council cuts, with Josh Lovell, Labour Party councilor. Sweeping cuts are now taking place and are expected in local authorities across the UK, but neither Labour nor the left are prepared for this. If Labour does not take up the fight it will have much less chance of winning back working-class voters, and importantly, saving the jobs and services we all rely on. Josh Lovell, a Labour Party councillor (in opposition) discusses the history of past battles in local government going back to the 1970s, and how we can apply lessons learned from those struggles today. From a meeting of the same name, on 4 October.

Saklatvala and the Indian workers

25 of the accused in the Meerut conspiracy case This is part five of a series. For the other articles, see here. “Mr Saklatvala… has great influence in India. Irrespective of his Communist views, the Indian people are proud of him… They, a subject race… are naturally proud of the courage with which Saklatvala, one of themselves, denounces the British domination of India in unmeasured terms in the very House of Commons itself. He is a rebel by proxy for them all… When he speaks to them, therefore, they listen, and he speaks to them frequently.” - “India’s lost faith in Labour”, Socialist Review...

The "MP for India"

This is part four of a series. For the other articles, see here. "I pay homage to the British spirit of hypocritical statesmanship... We are debating here as if the [viciously repressive] Bengal ordinances were never promulgated, as if the shooting of Bombay operatives during the cotton strike had never taken place, as if a great strike of thousands of railway workers is not even now going on in the Punjab, with men starving … as if a great controversy is not raging, not only with the people of India but with people all over the world, whether British Imperialism, whatever its past history, is...

A tribune of the working class

This is part three of a series. For the other articles, see here. In rapidly shifting post-war conditions, as Labour displaced the Liberals as Britain’s second party, there were three general elections in 1922-24. Chosen as the standard-bearer of a strong and radical local labour movement, Indian revolutionary socialist Shapurji Saklatvala was elected Labour MP for Battersea North in 1922; narrowly lost it to his right-wing Liberal opponent in 1923; and won it back in 1924, as a Communist candidate with local Labour backing. Saklatvala was Labour’s first “BAME” MP, but not the first MP with...

"Battersea versus the British Empire"

This is part two of a series. For the other articles, see here. In 1921, aged 47, after 16 years in the UK, Shapurji Saklatvala was selected as Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Battersea North. This came shortly after his very public decision to leave the Independent Labour Party and join the Communist Party of Great Britain. He would become both Labour's first "BAME" MP and one of Britain's first avowedly revolutionary socialist MPs. How did these things fit together? Communists and Labour Saklatvala had become active in the London Labour Party in 1918, through the ILP (which was...

Shapurji Saklatvala: Labour's first "BAME" MP

This is part one of a series. For the other articles, see here. In 1922, sixty-five years before before Diane Abbott and three other Labour MPs of colour entered Parliament, Indian-born Shapurji Saklatvala was elected MP for Battersea North in South West London. Like some other Labour candidates more recently, Saklatvala was a bourgeois figure standing in a working-class constituency which was not his home. There the similarity ends. The first “BAME” Labour MP was a revolutionary socialist who attacked Ramsay MacDonald for failing to oppose British colonialism and Gandhi for failing to...

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.