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Significant conjectural factors played a key role in its growth. The economic situation in Britain underwent a change at this time. During the course of and there was a marked upturn. Throughout the coal fields in particular, unemployment declined from 4. The resulting unofficial nature of the strike wave served to embolden the rank and file against their leadership, particularly in the Miners Federation of Great Britain MFGB and the engineers union AEU.

These unions had suffered most from the betrayals of the earlier period. The early work of the RILU also found itself intersecting with a rich tradition of rank and file organisation amongst the miners and the metal workers. Despite the ups and downs of the previous ten years there was a definite continuity, of ideas and personnel, amongst the unofficial opposition such as Murphy, Gallagher and Pollitt.

Within the AEU there was the rich, if politically limited, experience of the shop stewards struggles to draw upon e. Sheffield and Clydeside Workers Committees. Also important were the internal structures of the official unions themselves.

These unions enshrined sectionalism and localised separatism. The MFGB in particular, had a weak central executive, meeting monthly and possessing only two full timers. A high degree of decentralisation made it difficult to enforce bureaucratic control and victimise communist militants. The metal workers could point to similar favourable circumstances. Through it spread to Scotland, Durham and Lancashire. In its heyday the NMMM had groups.

By August 16 lodges were affiliated with a membership of 14, Such was its political influence that it rallied some two fifths of the MFGB to reject the agreement with the coal owners even through that agreement represented a partial success. During the course of similar movements were formed amongst Engineers and Transport and Building Trades workers. Its four officers were all members as were the leaders of all the sections. This was not the result of a bureaucratic manoeuvre, however. Within the NMM supreme authority rested with Conference which consisted of delegates from affiliated trades councils which were allowed two delegates.

Conference elected a National Executive which in turn appointed a Working Bureau. In the period of its revolutionary ascendancy, the NMM prioritised the winning of affiliated bodies. But it was not only the organisation strength and extensive trade union influence of the MM that was impressive. Particularly instructive for revolutionaries seeking to build a new Minority Movement today was the programme and policies that the organisation was built on.

The programme presented to the first MM conference was sharp and principled. Whilst not the programme of a revolutionary party e. Its nine-point charter began with demands for improvement in wages, hours and conditions of work. These power points were seen as organs of struggle to enforce political demands on the Labour Government as well.

Secondly, to repeal all anti-working class legislation, such as the Emergency Power Act. Such demands of the working class had to be fought for right up to the level of Government. This tactic was aimed at putting the Labour Government to the test of action in front of its supporters inside the working class. The communists did not hide their belief that the Labour Government would betray the working class but they recognised the need to place demands on it as a tactic for drawing reformist workers into joint struggle.

This political action programme for the trade unions based itself on the recognition that in the course of resisting the immediate waves of the bosses offensive the working class comes to recognise that it is capitalist private property and the capitalist state that are the major obstacles to the realisation of their demands.

Rare Pamphlet Collection

Lefts like Scargill, and Cook before him, are capable of much resounding rhetoric. Yet their leftism is not unconnected to the fact that they do not hold the real power and responsibility within their unions. Trotsky on Britain, Pathfinder, pp. This is largely accounted for by the centrist degeneration of the CI, increasingly coming under the hold of Stalin, in league with Zinoviev.

  • The lesson of black Friday: a note on trade union structure.
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Guiding the line of the 5th Congress of the CI, Zinoviev refused to recognise the partial stability that imperialism had attained, preferring, in Britain, to see revolution around the corner. But by the latter part of and throughout the crisis of British imperialism intensified once more. This time the bosses were confronted by a more confident working class which had been significantly radicalised. At a special NMM conference in January the number of delegates and workers represented had tripled in four months! Yet as progressed the policy of the CI under Stalin was changing.

And the main agent of this pacification in Britain? Their centrist decline entailed vacillations and waverings within which some principled work could occur. They particularly put an effort into building joint committees of miners, dockers, railway workers and engineers. Dozens of those emerged between April and June Alongside this the CPGB was busy, if belatedly, building party cells in the plants and mines. The situation threatened to escalate into a General Strike. The Tories were ill prepared for this in They bought time with a tactical retreat and during the next nine months they refined all the coercive machinery they needed to smash a General Strike.

Cook and Purcell had now been made honorary members of the Moscow Soviet. Indeed, the General Council blocked any attempts to make it responsible for organising the General Strike, and a larger right wing majority was enthroned on the General Council. The March action conference of the NMM gave voice to the aspirations of more workers than ever before.

More tan it ever was to again. Nearly one million workers through delegates were represented.

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A two-fold process was occurring. Trotsky on the Trade Unions, p.

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  8. That is, Cook was not to be trusted. We warned, however, that the Councils of Action were under no circumstances to take over the work of the trade unions… The Councils of Action were to see that all the decisions of the General Council and the union executives were carried out. Pollit, by J. Mahon, p. Through this policy the General Strike was doomed to defeat in advance. They left the working class rudderless when the likes of Purcell and Cook were politically incapable of giving an independent lead when Citrine and Pugh on the General Council aborted the struggle.

    The CPGB should politically and organisationally have prepared the rank and file, through the NMM, for the task of throwing aside Purcell and Cook when they became a brake on pushing the struggle to the end. To their domination by many right-wing ideas; 2.

    To their lack of trust in the masses.

    Restoring Stalinism to Communist History: Critique: Vol 41, No 4

    Lucia : Queensland University Press. Aldershot : Ashgate. See Brake and Demoor Brake, L. For Nast, see Keller Keller, M. Thomas Nast , New York : Dover. June Record of Political Events. Melbourne : Monash University ePress.

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