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.

The US left and Trump: replying to debate

We oppose US socialists having a thoroughgoing activist orientation, of the type we currently have to the Labour Party, to the Democrats, but this is tilting at the wrong windmill.

Women of the Poplar rebellion

Our story is set just after the first world war in Poplar, an east London borough with a population of 160,000 people crammed into the docklands in the bend of the River Thames (Poplar) and the area just north of it (Bow). It was an impoverished and exclusively working-class area, which had suffered greatly during the ‘Great War’. Working-class women juggled low-waged work with domestic chores, contending with overcrowded housing, unsanitary conditions, fatherless children and war-wounded husbands and sons. They had fought against profiteering companies, government stinginess and for the vote...

Activist agenda: Safe and Equal, Free Our Unions, Neurodivergent Labour, Poplar 100

Safe and Equal is pursuing its drive for full isolation pay for all with systematic phoning-round of its hundreds of contacts, demands for information from councils and from the NHS Test and Trace operators, and an appeal to other groups for a united front on the issue. Momentum Internationalists has given support; a good informal response from Don’t Leave Organise, but no formal answer yet. Free Our Unions has a Zoom meeting on anti-union laws, Tuesday 2 March, 6:30 pm. Speakers include Gerry Carroll MLA on the Trade Union Freedom Bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mark Porter, Unite...

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]...

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...

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