Monday, 30 May 2011

Book Launch: In the Crossfire

This is to invite you to a BOOK LAUNCH/TALK
In The Crossfire: Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary, by Ngo Van
Wednesday 8 June, 7pm Housmans Bookshop, 5 Caledonian Road, London, N1 9DX(2 mins walk from Kings Cross station)£3, redeemable against any purchase

Ngo Van joined the struggle against the French colonial regime in Vietnam as a teenager in the 1920s, suffering imprisonment and hardship. But when revolution swept Vietnam at the end of the second world war, the Stalinists of the Vietnamese Communist Party took control and tried physically to eliminate other socialists and anti- colonialists. Van escaped this massacre, in which many of his comrades were murdered. From 1948 he lived in exile in Paris, where he took a factory job and participated in workers’ movements before, during and after the 1968 general strike. Van, who died in 2005, wrote extensively about Vietnamese worker and peasant resistance, both to French colonialism and to Ho Chi Minh’s brand of Stalinism, helping to hand that history on to later generations. In The Crossfire, published by AK Press, is the English edition of Ngo Van’s autobiography.

Hilary Horrocks, one of the book’s translators, will talk about this unique eye-witness account of a little-known aspect of the anti- colonial struggle, and read from Van’s vivid story of secret meetings, arrests, torture, battles and insurrection. Simon Pirani, who researched the history of Vietnamese Trotskyism and edited some of Van’s earlier English-language publications, will also speak. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion from all. Enquiries 07947 031268. Housmans 020 7837 4473,

Arundhati Roy in London

Please join us for a public meeting and an audience with celebrated authors who will discuss their recent experiences in India with a special focus on the raging war against the poorest of the poor, the tribal people living in the heartland of India.
Arundhati Roy
From India and the author of recently published books“Walking with the Comrades” and “Broken Republic”
Jan Myrdal
From Sweden and the author of“Red Star Over India”
Basanta Indra Mohan
From Nepal and the author of“Imperialism and Proletarian Revolution 21st Century”
-Program includes:Presentations by the speakers,film and Q&A session-
Sunday, June 12, 2011
1:30 pm till 5:00 pm
Place:Friends House, Main Hall,173 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ
Hosted by:International Campaign Against War on People of India (ICAWPI) info@icawpi.orgc/o Gorki House, 70 Stoke Newington High Street, London N16 7PA Tel: +44(0)20 7193 1605Co-organised by: IWA (GB), UNF Europe, ACDA, AFPRISA, TKM, GIKDER, 100FCC, WPRM-Britain, UFSO, CCRC,… (To be updated)Supported by: (TBA) For further information and contact with the organizers, please mail:

Sunday, 22 May 2011

John Riddell website

Dear Friends,

I'm very pleased to announce the launch of this website.

This new website will feature both my current articles and as many as
possible of the pieces I've written over the past 50 years on history,
socialist theory, movement building, and many other subjects.

I will also use it to keep readers up to date on my ongoing research and
publications related to the history of the Communist International. There
are six volumes now in print, and a seventh, containing the documents of the Fourth (1922) Congress, will be published this fall.

Today the site features two new articles: A reply to Jeff Webber on the
situation in Bolivia today, and my history of the origins of the united
front policy in Lenin's time.

Altogether, there are forty articles on the site now, and more will be
posted soon...

I welcome your feedback. There is a "Comments" box at the end of every
article, and I hope to hear from you.

In solidarity,


Gordon McLennan

Gordon McLennan (1924-2011)

Gordon McLennan, a past General Secretary of the Communist Party, died on 21 May at the St Christopher's Hospice, after a long battle with cancer.

Gordon was born in Glasgow on 12th May 1924. Having joined the Young Communist League at the age of 15, McLennan served on the YCL Executive Committee from 1942-1947.

He worked as an engineering draughtsman but became a full time worker for the Party in Scotland, first as Glasgow City Organiser, then Glasgow City Secretary, then Scottish District Organiser and, in 1956, the Scottish Secretary. Having joined the National Executive of the Party in 1957, he became National Organiser in 1966 and General Secretary in 1975, succeeding John Gollan. He remained in post until 1989.
He contested numerous constituency seats: the Glasgow Govan constituency in the general election 1959, West Lothian in a 1962 by-election, Govan in the 1964 and 1966 general elections, St Pancras North in the 1970 and February 1974 general elections.
In his role as National Organiser, he became responsible for the Young Communist League, which he steered to make major changes in the 1960s and early 1970s in a revisionist direction. In the 1980s, he played a decisive role in creating circumstances where a major division of the Communist Party ensued. Enormous numbers of committed activists left or were excluded or expelled and some re-established the Communist Party in 1988, leaving the increasingly fragmented shell to continue for some four years.

Latterly, Gordon was a prominent activist in the Lambeth pensioners’ movement and was active in the Stop the War Coalition. In 1992, he joined the Communist Party of Scotland. He was a supporter of Respect led by George Galloway in the 2005 general election.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Africans in Tudor Britain

The final Black and Asian Britain seminar for 2010-2011 has been moved to
13 July, Room 102 on Senate House, University of London, Russell Square, London WC1

Onyeka, 'Africans in Tudor Britain'.

We often see Tudor England through our own eyes and with our own prejudices. We project our mythology on to this time and in so doing we lose sight of what Tudor England was actually like. In particular this is evident when it comes to the question of an African presence in Tudor England. Most people ask 'oh were their Africans here? They must have been slaves!' or 'it must have been hard for them then?' This seminar will help to disprove some of these misconceptions.

Meeting on Rural Workers in East Anglia


“The Fight for the Rights of
Rural Workers in East Anglia
– Yesterday and Today”

Chairman :Rev. Graham Hedger, former chair of Rural Action East.

Speakers :
Mr. Stan Newens, Labour historian, former MP & MEP
Mr Ivan Monckton, RAAW member of the General Executive Council of Unite

Saturday 4th June - 2.00 to 4.00 p.m.
Farm and Workhouse Museum of Rural Life
Gressenhall, East Dereham, Norfolk.
Entrance fee (for the Meeting only) : £2.40.

There will be a Traidcraft stall selling fair trade products,
and an exhibit by the Wesley Historical Association.

This event is organised by
The East Anglia District of the Methodist Church and the
Rural, Agricultural and Allied Workers section of ‘UNITE’
in association with the Gressenhall Museum.

Karl Kautsky and the Republic

From Ben Lewis:

Comrades and friends,

You might be interested in this series of translations of Karl Kautsky's 'Republic and Social Democracy in France', which I decided to carry out in the face of the mind-numbing wave of reaction initiated by the royal wedding.

I will be publishing one more part in the Weekly Worker (Kautsky on the Paris commune) and then the series will be published in its entirety later on this year.

Introduction (Lars T Lih -
'The book that didn't bark'
Part I:

Introduction (Ben Lewis - 'Same hymn sheet')
Part II: 'Second Republic and the socialists'

Please forward!

With communist greetings
Ben Lewis

Thursday, 19 May 2011

SHS seminar and AGM

Saturday 21 May 2011

Socialist History Society AGM, followed by public seminar on 'Aspects of East End History'.
Invited speakers include Sam Bird, Sarah Wise and Janine Booth.
AGM starts 1 p.m.; public seminar follows directly at 2.00 pm,
Venue: Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2 (opposite Liverpool Street Station). Admission to seminar £1.50; all welcome.

William Cuffay in Tasmania

The historian Mark Gregory has got in touch to inform us of important new information which has come to light about the black Chartist leader William Cuffay after his deportation to Tasmania.  See here, where the bulk of what he has discovered via Australian newspapers reside.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Seminar on Art Theory, Art History and Marxism


18th May, 5pm
King's College London, Strand Campus, K.3.11 Raked Lecture Theatre

Gail Day (University of Leeds)
Dialectical Passions: Art Theory, Art History and Marxism

Sunday, 15 May 2011

LSHG Newsletter # 42

The new summer issue of the LSHG Newsletter is now online here. Contents include Keith Flett on 'Monarchy and Old Corruption', Ian Birchall on 'Ray Challinor and the 1965 Courtauld Strike' and Tim Evans on 'Llanelli 1911'. Letters, articles, criticisms and contributions to the LSHG Newsletter are most welcome - please contact Keith Flett at the address above - the deadline for the next Newsletter is 1 September 2011.

Llanelli 1911 by Tim Evans

From LSHG Newsletter #42 (Summer 2011)
[The following is a compiled and edited version of several short pieces written by Tim Evans for the Llanelli Star about the aftermath of the 1911 Rail strike and uprisingm there, where troops used lethal fire. The story of the strike itself was told in earlier issues of this Newsletter - see here and here. Tim Evans will be speaking on 'Llanelli and the great railworkers strike of 1911' at Marxism 2011].

The Tunisian revolution has set off a chain reaction across the Middle East which hangs in the balance as I
write. Will the popular movement win a famous victory? Will the largely conscripted army swing behind the
people, or will it opt to protect the status quo, ushering in an era of repression, as happened in Chile in 1973? The common factor that links all this today to the clashes that took place in Llanelli one hundred years ago is this: class struggle.

By 1911 British capitalism was restructuring itself. A prolonged world economic upswing was drawing to a close. The loss of Britain’s privileged imperial position and falling industrial productivity forced its ruling class, in order to protect profits, to rationalise the industrial base and cut back on the concessions that had been won by British workers. The ‘new unionism’ of the late 1880s and early 1890s was a direct response to this, and the class movement of 1910-1914 was a qualitative deepening of the process.

By 1911 the police had taken over most of the overseeing of popular protest. But in times of crisis the government still retained the military option.

Using the army against strikers during the industrial rebellions of 1910-14 was always going to be a risky business for our rulers. Earlier clashes had revealed the problems in militarily suppressing protest. In the 1819 Peterloo massacre in Manchester, cavalry charged into a crowd calling for parliamentary reform and an extension of the vote, killing 15 and injuring 700. Peterloo was an embarrassment for the government and the military, “the defining moment of its age”, according to historian Robert Poole.

In the long term Peterloo boosted the reform movement, although, interestingly, the government’s first instinct was to crack down on similar protests. In the aftermath of the killings they rushed through the so-called ‘Six Acts’, labelling any meeting for radical reform an “overt act of treasonable conspiracy”.

With the growth of industry and the factory system, using the military to suppress protest became more problematic. Modes of protest were likewise transformed. The food riot and the direct action of small, often clandestine groups like the Rebecca rioters gave way to mass action, mass strikes, the mass picket and demonstrations.

Clearly the old tactics of killing, transporting and executing would no longer work against an urban working class. There was the danger that killing protestors might transform a movement calling for reforms into one calling for revolution. The class divide also existed in the army, with officers drawn from the landed aristocracy. Ordinary soldiers, from the working class, often endured harsh regimes of punishment and flogging. There was always the fear they would identify with the people they had been sent to suppress.

Harold Spiers, a private in the Worcestershire Regiment, came from a family proud of the fact that all its men had been soldiers. He enlisted in July 1909 at the age of 20. In two years’ time he would be arrested and placed under military guard at Llanelli for refusing to shoot a man sitting on a garden wall.

In his statement to police, he said he had been in the firing party ordered to “defend the railway line against rioters”. He was ordered by his commanding officer: “You see that man on the wall. Shoot him.” He refused to obey the order, saying he would not shoot somebody “in cold blood”. Had the man thrown a brick or a bottle at him, it would have been different, he said. He had been arrested, and after the soldiers had retreated to the railway station he was held there in custody, but during the chaos of an explosion and fire had managed to escape.

He then walked nearly 90 miles, eating apples, nuts and blackberries on the way, to New Radnor on the English border, where he was discovered by Sergeant Evans on Monday, August 21. He admitted that he was a deserter from the army, and recounted the remarkable events that had taken place the previous Saturday in Llanelli. He was handed over to the military authorities and taken to Cardiff Barracks, where he was accused of “desertion whilst in aid of the civil powers” and remanded for a district court martial.

Meanwhile, excited news of the soldier who had refused to fire on workers was spreading. The case became a cause célèbre in the British trade union and labour movement in the month after the shootings. The railway workers of Llanelli and Swansea expressed their admiration for his heroism and called on the nascent Labour Party to campaign for his release.

The Cambrian colliers (who in 1910 had battled the police at Tonypandy) passed a resolution congratulating Spiers for his courageous stand. Penygraig Independent Labour Party recorded “our admiration for Private Spiers for refusing to shoot...we demand his immediate release”.

Ramsey MacDonald, Labour MP for Aberavon, said he would pursue the case. Justice, the paper of the Social Democratic Federation, opened a defence fund. The left wing paper Clarion published a poem called The Great Refusal of Harold Spiers—Hero which contained the lines:

’Shoot straight, boys!’ the officer shouted
The ringleader, there is your man,
These strikers deserve to be routed,
’Twas well till their trouble began...
So shoot for old England, your mother,
Deserters the world will deride’
He answered ‘I shoot not my brother’
And stood with his gun at his side.

The authorities realised they had to put a stop to this: they were already on the defensive after Llanelli—six people dead, many injured, Great Western Railway property set ablaze. As John Edwards shows in Remembrance of a Riot, some sort of deal was clearly struck, for when Spiers was at last court-martialled—his defence paid for by Llanelli Trades Council—the charge of ‘desertion’ had been replaced by ‘absenting himself without leave’—a much less serious charge. Spiers served only fourteen days.

Although the government and army took very seriously the danger of mutiny by soldiers sent to suppress industrial disputes, they clearly decided that this case needed to be brushed under the carpet as quickly as possible. The last thingthey needed while strikes and rebellion were spreading was another campaigning focus for people’s anger.

Determined efforts were made by the government to bury the case. In reply to a question about the fate of the soldier who refused to fire at Llanelli, Colonel JEB Seely, undersecretary of state at the War Office, twice denied that he existed. But early in 1912 further events thrust the case back under the spotlight.

At Aldershot barracks in 1912 a railway worker named Fred Crowsley distributed a leaflet with the headline:

HALT! ATTENTION! Open Letter to British Soldiers.’
YOU ARE WORKING MEN’s SONS. When WE go on Strike to better our lot, which is the lot also of YOUR FATHERS, MOTHERS, BROTHERS, and SISTERS, YOU are called upon by your officers to MURDER US. DON’T DO IT!...The Idle Rich Class, who own and order you about, own and order us about also. They and their friends own the land and means of life of Britain…When WE kick, they order YOU to MURDER us. When YOU kick, YOU get courtmartialed and cells. YOUR fight is OUR fight...

Crowsley was arrested and the leaflet confiscated, but then TheIndustrial Syndicalist reprinted it in full. The chair of the paper’s publishing board, Tom Mann, the paper’s manager and two printers were arrested under the Incitement to Mutiny Act, prompting Labour MP Keir Hardie to refer in the Commons to “the Llanelly case…when two men who were not participating in what happened and when there was no riot in any legal sense of the word, were shot giving advice to the soldiers not to shoot their brethren”.

Mann got six months’ imprisonment. The case attracted much publicity, and after seven weeks of militant campaigning by the labour movement he was released. In September 1912 the TUC demanded a public enquiry into police and army excesses at Llanelli and at Liverpool, where another two men had been shot dead during the transport strikes.

The 1911 strike wave was a class response to economic, industrial and political pressures and disappointed hopes. The Liberal Government had heavily defeated the Tories, having been elected in 1906 on the promise of widespread reforms, including a campaign against “landlords, brewers, peers and monopolists”, launching schemes for national insurance and old age pensions. 29 MPs from the nascent Labour Party had also been sent to Parliament, carrying the hopes of many workers. But Labour in Parliament was a huge disappointment, tail-ending the Liberals on most issues. Wages did not increase, nor did the position of the mass of workers improve. In fact, by 1911 things were getting worse.

The 1911 strikes were for better pay but also a protest against Capital’s new strategy of incorporating labour movement and union leaders. The direct, uncompromising nature of the struggles was partly because they were not contained within existing union organisation. They were a revolt on two fronts, against employers and state on the one hand but against the established union and Labour Party leaderships and collective bargaining machinery on the other.

The new strategies, especially the fundamental innovation of the period, the solidarity strike, were developing as ways of exerting maximum pressure by rank and file workers. Direct action seemed to many workers the way forward. The ideas of revolutionaries, syndicalists like Tom Mann and Ben Tillett— the latter was the star speaker at the Llanelli demonstration against the shootings—suddenly resonated for many.

Mann and Tillet were part of an international revolutionary movement. Revolutionary syndicalism swept many parts of Europe, the USA, Latin America and Australia between the 1890s and the 1920s. Its aim was to overthrow capitalism through industrial class struggle and build a new socialistic order in which workers would be in control. Change would come neither through parliamentary pressure nor a political insurrection leading to state socialism, but would be achieved through direct action and the general strike, winning workers’ control over the economy and society.

A hundred years later the blatant attempts to stuff the pockets of the bankers while driving the poor into deeper poverty is causing a worldwide class reaction that may yet see a revival of the spirit of Britain 1911.

[Tim Evans continues with a discussion of syndicalism and of why Llanelli 1911 has been largely “airbrushed from history” below]

Working for the Revolution [from Llanelli Star #17]
The question of syndicalism is central to understanding what went on in Llanelli in August 1911. Not because there were specific syndicalists who were active in Llanelli during the strike, but because for a few brief
years, syndicalism cut with the grain of the experience of many workers, not just in Wales but across Great Britain and, indeed, the world. The great British class confrontations of this time, whether in Llanelli, Liverpool or Hull, are classic revolutionary syndicalist scenarios.

The French word syndicalisme simply means trade unionism. But the syndicalists had a quite specific take on trade unions: they wanted to turn them into organising centres for class struggle and revolution. Syndicalists quite correctly saw the power which could be wielded by organised workers, fighting independently and for themselves. They also saw the tendency of the so-called ‘leaders’ of the labour movement, whether in parliament or the unions, to muzzle and deaden that movement’s fighting edge.

At its peak, British syndicalism influenced many. Sales of the Industrial Syndicalist Education League’s paper, The Syndicalist reached 20,000 in 1912 and two conferences organised by the paper represented 100,000 workers.

But there were weaknesses too. The syndicalists failed to create a political dimension, seeing their industrial strategy as all-encompassing, and distrusting ‘politics’. This meant that they could not engage with other radical movements such as the fight for women’s emancipation or the Irish struggles. Crucially, it meant they had not built up a network of activists who could co-ordinate resistance as world war approached.

But, for those all too brief years before the war, syndicalist scenarios were fought out across Britain. It is this which accounted for the influence of revolutionary syndicalism – not that workers read about and absorbed Marxist and anarchist theories, but that they found themselves engaged directly in class battles which proved the truth of those ideas and strategies.

Bob Holton, the historian of British syndicalism, and Deian Hopkin, who wrote the first serious assessment of Llanelli 1911 (and who will be speaking in Llanelli in August at the Railway Strike Forum) mention the phenomenon of “proto-syndicalism”. Workers on the mass picket or in the streets shared “the aspirations of syndicalism without articulating, or even being aware of, its theoretical framework” [Deian Hopkin, Welsh History Review 1983 p 511]. Workers learned from their own experience that the state was on the side of capital, that their leaders could not be relied upon and that solidarity and direct action worked. Could trade union consciousness become revolutionary?

What about the workers? [From Llanelli Star, # 18]
In the 1980s , when I first began to research the Llanelli strike and uprising, what struck me immediately was how few people had ever heard of it, considering the significance and high drama of the events. Why was this? Why was the story so invisible, so “hidden from history”?

In general terms, there has always been a tendency in the mass media to play down aspects of people’s experience which relates to collective work. Rarely will you see workers portrayed as powerful, as possessing a collective sense of class identity, or even as existing at all. Just think of the last time you saw somebody in Eastenders at work. They are all shopkeepers, bar staff, stallholders, car mechanics – your classic small businessmen and women – the petit bourgeoisie. In the soap world, nobody ever goes to work in a factory, an office, a school, a call centre, or in construction or transport (except for a few cabbies).

When TV news items seek for comment or opinion how often do they actually speak to workers themselves, or to their trade union representatives, except impossibly briefly? Over the past few months I have seen plenty of politicians, bosses and bankers talking about the necessity for cuts. But the number of workers and union leaders asked for their opinions I can count on the fingers of one hand.

Yet, even after the mass redundancies of the last three decades our trade unions still represent millions of people – they are the biggest voluntary organisations in Britain, into which thousands of people pour hours and hours of unpaid effort. The recent Trades Union Congress march in London brought half a million onto the streets, and was quite rightly widely reported and celebrated by many. But for most of the media most of the time the world of trade unionism is ignored, unless it is to do a hatchet-job on a ‘selfish’ strike!

As Marx pointed out, those who control the means of production also control the means of production of ideas. The media barons, from Northcliffe and Beaverbrook to Murdoch, have always been fabulously wealthy, and it is the ‘world-view’ of this ruling class which is projected onto our screens and newspapers. If working-class people appear on our screens at all it is as the crazed, dysfunctional families of the Jeremy Kyle Show. One could be forgiven for believing, on this showing, that the entire British working class was either morbidly obese, incestuous or chronically alcoholic!

Sir Alan Sugar, meanwhile, and the ghastly venture capitalists of Dragon’s Den are held up to us as awesome examples of dynamism and competitiveness that we should all strive to ape. In this topsy-turvey world, workers’ collective power doesn’t get a look-in.

Welsh Workers Writing Their Own History [From Llanelli Star # 19]
One of the reasons that events at Llanelli in 1911 have not been awarded their real historical significance is because there were not really the resources available at the time to analyse the events from a working-class perspective.

In his book on Llanelli 1911, Killing No Murder, Rob Griffiths argues that the labour movement in Wales in 1911 had neither the ‘class consciousness’ nor the resources ‘to produce and utilise its own history.’ Indeed, “the study and manufacture of Welsh history was only just beginning to be rescued from Celtic antiquarianism; and the first modern Welsh historians – products of Oxford University and the fledgling University of Wales – were Liberal, petty bourgeois and ‘Welsh Nationalist’ in their outlook and preoccupations.”

The term ‘Welsh Nationalist’ is meant here, I assume, not in the electoral sense but in the ideological, and it is true that even today the interpretation of the Llanelli events can take a nationalist turn, focussing on the English regiments and on Churchill’s role, while playing down the villainy of the local crachach such as Thomas Jones and the other two J.P.s who read the Riot Act – F.R.Nevill and Henry Wilkins.

Interestingly, too, the first march and rally to remember the two shot men (if you discount the one in September 1911) was initiated in 1981 not by the Labour party or a trade union, nor by Plaid, but by the short-lived Welsh Socialist Republican Movement – a group that attempted to marry socialist and Welsh nationalist ideas. Those wanting the events to be commemorated today often come from a perspective which is influenced by ‘left’ nationalism, however you might want to define that term.

I think Rob is rather sweeping in his rather down-beat assessment of the ‘class consciousness’ of the Welsh labour movement in 1911. Certain South Wales radicals, influenced by syndicalism, were attempting as early as 1908 to set up study groups. At Ruskin College, Oxford, the programme of working class education was supported by the South Wales Miners Federation. The college aimed at educating individuals to promote social reform ‘without class bias’ rather than the training of working class leaders for revolutionary class conflict, and the curriculum was therefore sharply orientated against marxist ideas. In 1908 radical students and staff went on strike in protest, later breaking away to form the Central Labour College and the ‘Plebs League’.

In January 1909 the South Wales Plebs League was set up, with the syndicalist miner Noah Ablett playing an important role. However, the Plebs were an activist rather than an academic network and Rob is probably correct that they were not in a position to produce “substantial accounts of...(the Welsh working class’s) own past written from a ‘class struggle’ perspective.”

A Deafening Silence [from Llanelli Star #20]

Last week I began to look at just why so few people know about the events which occurred in Llanelli in August 1911. These days the mass media pay very little attention to the history of workers’ self-organisation, or to anything which might reflect any sense of there being a “working class”. Especially since the collapse of the eastern bloc states from 1989 and the global turn to ‘free market’ economics, there has been, media-wise, a systematic ignoring of the ideas of “class” and “socialism”. It is only now, as the economic system lurches once more into crisis, that the contribution of Marx in explaining capitalism is beginning to be recognised once more.

But the deafening silence surrounding the Llanelli events cannot be explained away simply in these terms. After all, the strike and riots at Tonypandy a year earlier were also class struggles. The name of Tonypandy has been quite rightly seared into the consciousness of the Welsh working class. So why the lack of traction for the Llanelli story?

First of all we need to acknowledge a debt to those who kept the story alive – who ‘kept the flame burning’, who realised the importance of the events in Llanelli in 1911 and put pen to paper to keep this on record. The foremost of these are: Deian Hopkin, John Edwards and Robert Griffiths, all of whom will be speaking at the Rail Strike Round Table Forum in Glenalla Hall on Thursday 18 August this year, during the centenary commemorations.

Deian Hopkin’s essay, published in the Welsh History Review of 1983, was the first attempt by an historian to focus exclusively on “The Llanelli Riots, 1911”. In it Deian stresses the strange silence around the Llanelli events: “...the memory faded and all but disappeared. Occasionally, historians have resurrected the events to illustrate...the period of profound industrial unrest before 1914, but Llanelli itself became remarkably reticent about this dazzling moment in its otherwise uneventful history.”

John Edwards agrees that “the story of the riots is largely untold, often misrepresented by historians, and almost completely unknown to the people of Llanelli...the town...has suffered a kind of corporate amnesia.” Robert Griffiths too states that: "the traumatic killings in Llanelli were rarely if ever recalled by any section of the Welsh labour movement ...The graves of John John and Leonard Worsell were allowed to fall into disrepair, the inscriptions on their headstones to fade and crumble.” Why did the name of Tonypandy become synonymous with Welsh class struggle while the arguably more serious events at Llanelli a year later became airbrushed from history?

Ray Challinor and the 1965 Courtauld Strike

From LSHG Newsletter, # 42 (Summer 2011)
By Ian Birchall
Ray Challinor, who died in January, will be remembered as a socialist historian who wrote on topics from Chartism to the Second World War. But Ray was also a lifelong activist, and he was able to write so well about the labour movement because he knew it not just from the archives, but from the inside.

As a tribute to Ray (whose articles I first read and learned from in 1959) this is a short account of an episode in the history of the British working class in which Ray’s role had a certain significance. I have told it mainly through contemporary documents, especially various articles and letters by Ray himself. [Readers will note the language of the time, in particular the use of the word “coloured”, much more common then than now. Also, as far as I know, all the strikers were male.]

Racism had come to the centre of the political stage in the 1964 election, when Tory Peter Griffiths in Smethwick won a seat against the national swing with an openly racist campaign.

In the following May the Courtauld strike began. The causes of the strike, and the problems it raised, were set out in an article written by Ray in the mid-June issue of Labour Worker (forerunner of Socialist Worker and reprinted as an appendix to this article.

Ray also reported on the strike in The Week, a weekly socialist news analysis sponsored by various Left Labour MPs and socialist intellectuals. [See issue of 10 June 1965] He travelled to Preston as am member of the Labour Party in Westhoughton, near Wigan, where he was then working.

The fullest account of the strike is a document called “The Strike at Courtaulds, Preston”, written by Paul Foot and published as a supplement to the July 1965 issue of the Newsletter of the Institute of Race Relations. Foot was then a young journalist on the Sunday Telegraph and about to publish his first book, Immigration and Race in British Politics. [Harmondsworth, 1965].

Foot’s account is about 3500 words long, and is followed by an anonymous appendix of some 5500 words, presumably added by the IRR, providing a lot of additional information. [Though cited as a source by several historians, this is a very rare document, and the only copy I know of is in the LSE Archives [reference HT E131].

There is also a very good article, “What Happened at Preston”, by Hamza Alavi of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination in Tribune [18 June 1965], and a much less good one in New Society, by John Torode, previously a leading light of the right wing in the Oxford University Labour Club. Alavi had grown up in Pakistan, and seems to have had a rather better understanding of the largely Asian strikers than most other commentators.

Most accounts note the active involvement of four “outsiders” in the dispute. These were Malik Khaliq, an experienced Asian trade unionist from Bradford, who came to help the strikers; Ray Challinor; and Roy Sawh and Michael de Freitas (sometimes known as Michael X) of the Racial Adjustment Action Society [RAAS]. According to Torode, who believed that the problems that produced the strike could be resolved by “shop floor education”, “Once the strike started the ease and speed with which outsiders seized control of it was alarming.” [New Society, 17 June 1965]

The rather better informed Alavi rubbished this notion: A.A. Chaudhry, the Chairman of the strike committee and his colleagues were, however, very much in the saddle. Union officials have tried to use the presence of the outsiders to suggest that the workers had been misled by a few outside “troublemakers”. They are kidding themselves.[Tribune, 18 June 1965]

As Ray pointed out, the strike leaders were no innocents. AA Chaudhry, chairman of the strike committee, was a man of considerable experience:

 A former officer in the Indian police force; a captain in the army during the war, decorated for gallantry in the defence of Singapore; an executive in a large firm in the United States; and a highly qualified textile technician, having completed a three-year full-time course at Blackburn Technical College, where he was secretary of the Students’ Union. Would you expect a man, with such qualifications, to be doing an unskilled, dead end job at Courtaulds? The fact is that Chaudhry, and others like him, stands no chance of promotion. [Letter in Peace News, 25 June 1965]

In fact the role of the four “outsiders” seems to have been markedly different. Accounts vary, but Sawh appears to have briefly advocated separate black unions, though he was not supported by de Freitas. [IRR Newsletter Supplement, p. 5] After the the strike de Freitas claimed, in response to Torode’s article:

Far from attempting to “undermine” the more “moderate leaders”, my recommendation after thoroughly investigating the situation was that the strikers return to work... Within three days of my arrival in Preston, they did so. [Letter in New Society, 24 June 1965]

Malik Khaliq proposed to fast, to the death if necessary, outside 10 Downing Street if the talks with the T.& G.W.U. came to nothing; over a hundred strikers volunteered to join him. While this might have been a useful publicity gesture it was no substitute for industrial action. Ray appears to have been ambivalent about this; “Mr. Challinor was reported as intending to sit down but not to fast.” [IRR Newsletter supplement, p. 11]

For his part Ray devoted himself to raising money for the strikers from the labour movement, to show that the attitude of the local bureaucrats was not typical of the British working class. As the Lancashire Evening Post [8 June 1965] reported:

Mr Challinor, of Hindley, near Wigan, has been lobbying trade unionists in Oxford, Cambridge, London and the Midlands. He has also contacted universities and written to a number of MPs but refuses to disclose which. Said Mr Challinor: “The response has been good with promises of donations towards the strike fund.”

How much money was raised is not known – perhaps not very much, given the small size of the far left and the fact that the strike finished fairly quickly. Certainly Ray was highly regarded by the strikers, Foot reports that:

Indeed, perhaps the most popular of all the “outsiders” was an extra-mural teacher from Wigan, Mr. Ray Challinor, a leftwing socialist and former Labour parliamentary candidate, who underlined the need for the support of the trade unions if the difficulties were to be sorted out properly.

And Alavi explains:

The strike committee’s attitude was certainly not racist; they welcomed support from British workers and organisations who went to them to offer their support. Ray Challinor of the Westhoughton Labour Party, for instance, enjoyed the confidence of the strike leaders when he went among them. At a mass meeting of the strikers, which I attended, he was given a standing ovation by the 900 immigrant strikers. This was a moving and dramatic expression of their desire for solidarity.

Ray spoke out against those who wanted to wind up the strike; as the Lancashire Evening Post [9 June 1965] reported:

Two white speakers also addressed the meeting - Mr Ron Yates, a member of the TGWU, Preston Trades and Labour Council member and Preston Fabian Society chairman, and Mr Ray Challinor, CND member and executive member of Westhoughton Labour Party.

Repeating that it was an unofficial strike, Mr Yates appealed to the workers to return to work so the union could still negotiate on their behalf. Mr Challinor disagreed with Mr Yates' advice. He declared: “He is asking you to return to work when the personnel manager at Courtaulds has said he will pick and choose. This means quite a number of your more militant friends will be out on the tiles.”

Nonetheless after three weeks the strikers returned to work defeated. In an assessment of the strike in a long letter to Peace News, Ray was under no illusions about the seriousness of the defeat or the dangerous feelings that had been aroused:

During the strike itself undoubtedly relations were very strained; most of the leading figures received anonymous letters and threats of violence. A very definite danger existed that, after the pubs had shut at night, a brawl might break out which would develop into a race riot. Preston was an ugly place during the strike, fraught with many dangers. [Letter to Peace News, 2 July 1965]

However he stressed that the defeat was not total and that the struggle had not been futile. He argued that the strike “will probably be shown in the long run to have improved race relations” by showing that black workers were not a source of cheap labour who would undermine white workers’ conditions:

But Courtaulds got more than they expected. The strike disorganised production in an extremely costly way. In the end, when the men returned, the company was compelled to adopt a more conciliatory attitude. It has been unable to impose the intended speed-up and, a member of the strike committee informs me, conditions “are now 80% better”.

The company has also been forced to accept all the strikers back, without any victimisation. It will now have to reckon with men whose knowledge and ability has been developed by the strike. Whereas in the past coloured workers were largely inarticulate and prepared to accept anything, now they have changed and become less bashful. They have found their voice, which they intend to use.

All this is of the utmost importance. For, in my opinion, the bedrock reason for racial prejudice in this country is economic. It is the fear that coloured workers will accept lower standards, be used as cheap labour, and thereby constitute a threat to white workers. But Preston has proved the opposite. Coloured workers have not been prepared to accept lower standards. They did, in fact, conduct a struggle in the finest tradition of trade unionism and, by their actions, have made it more difficult for the Courtaulds management to impose a speed-up in other departments.

Was there a real threat of separate unions for black workers, as Ray argued in his Labour Worker article? In retrospect it is all too easy to suggest there was no such possibility. Certainly the strikers seem to have had little time for the idea. But as Hamza Alavi pointed out, it was not inevitable that unity would prevail. Responding to a report in Peace News[11 June 1965] he wrote:

Your reporter referred to the idea of coloured trade unions. Given the isolation and frustration of the immigrant workers, it is remarkable that this idea did not catch on. But this demand was never made by the strikers, who declared that anyone who talked of coloured unions was an enemy of the coloured worker. [Letter to Peace News, 25 June 1965]

The failings of the official trade union movement were all too real, and Ray’s perception of the danger was based on direct experience of the strikers. And if separate unionism had got a toehold, it might well have grown in plausibility when dockers and other white workers struck in support of Enoch Powell in 1968. Ray’s involvement must have provided an argument against separatism. Certainly Ray’s response – not to engage in abstract polemics about black separatism, but to show practical solidarity - was right. A decade later, when the whole labour movement gave support to the mass pickets at Grunwicks, they were moving in the direction that Ray had pointed to.

And certainly Ray was right to stress the unity of interests of black and white workers, even if had been too optimistic in his account of the results of the strike. Some time later at a T.& G.W.U. school, a white shop steward admitted that the white workers had been wrong:

In this instance, by accepting dual standards and giving up trade union principles, the white members of the union allowed the dispute to be turned into a colour strike. The shop steward told of how the white workers were subsequently compelled to accept the conditions originally given only to the coloured workers. [Stephen Castles and Godula Kosack, Immigrant Workers and Class Structure in Western Europe, Oxford, 1985, p. 155]

There have been several accounts of the Courtauld strike in books dealing with black workers in Britain. Unfortunately in all of them the stress on the – very real – racism in the British labour movement has given the impression that the Asian workers at Courtauld were completely isolated. Thus Castles and Kosack argue the strike showed “how the workers’ solidarity can be broken when racial differences are allowed to obscure the real industrial issues involved” (op. cit, p. 154)

Peter Fryer cites Courtauld as an example of a struggle which “struck no echoing sparks of solidarity in the white trade union movement”. (Staying Power, London, 1984, p. 386). A Sivanandan merely notes that the strike “exposed the active collaboration of the white workers and the union with management”. (A Different Hunger, London, 1982, p. 15). Ron Ramdin stresses that the workers were resolute but “disorganised and lacking in trade union experience”. (The Making of the Black Working Class in Britain, Aldershot, 1987, p. 270). All doubtless true, but somewhat one-sided. If these authors had checked out Ray’s role and some of the things he wrote about the strike, they might have given a more rounded picture.

Worst of all, the only account that mentions Ray does so in a very hostile manner. A book produced by the Race Today Collective argues:

For the first time the left wing of the Labour Party, in the person of a Mr Ray Challinor, offered assistance to the strikers in the form of attempting to get the left wing trade union movement to respond with support and solidarity motions. In every succeeding strike, with the exception of one or two, notably Imperial Typewriters in Leicester in 1974, the strike committees of Asian workers have been solicited by politicians of the left wing of the labour movement in search of a mass base. These politicians, the last of them to enter the public eye in the glare of Asian industrial struggle being Mr Jack Dromey of Grunwick, have one thing in common. They don’t believe in the independent movement of the black section of the working class. Their expertise with union conventions and constitutions, their undeniable ability to get resolutions passed in left wing dominated branches and connections with a labour movement network, inevitably give them, for a week or two, the appearance of men who know their way about the class struggle. [The Struggle of Asian Workers in Britain, London, 1983, p. 15]

This is lamentable ignorance. Challinor was a Labour Party member and doubtless used the fact when making contact with the strike committee. But he was hardly an agent of the Labour Party, which had just removed him from his position as a parliamentary candidate. It seems absurd to suggest that there was anything sinister about Ray’s attempts to get labour movement support; certainly the Race Today team seem to imagine they knew better than the rank-and-file Courtauld workers who welcomed and applauded Ray.

As for the comparison with Jack Dromey at Grunwick, it is grotesque. To those of us who knew both Ray Challinor and Mr Dromey [I almost wrote Lord Dromey, but that would be slightly premature] the differences are all too obvious. [Dromey once threatened to “ban” me from the Grunwick mass pickets because I was carrying a banner of the Right to Work Campaign which was not a “bona fide trade-union organisation”.]

Ray’s intervention at Courtaulds did not change the course of events, but it was a brave and principled stand, one that was typical of Ray, an intellectual and an activist for whom theory and practice were always inseparable.
Ian Birchall

Appendix from the June 1965 Labour Worker:
Coloured workers fight TGWU and ghetto conditions
By Ray Challinor

The strike at Courtaulds’ Preston plant – the first strike to degenerate from an industrial issue into a racial one – has a momentous significance for the whole Labour Movement. We must invoke traditional working class principles, that injury to one is injury to all, and give a practical proof that working-class solidarity is something more than a pleasant phrase; otherwise we will see a terrifying new development – trade unions formed on a purely racial basis.
The facts of the Preston dispute are as follows: a department is almost entirely worked by Pakistanis, Indians and West Indians. The work, amid hot acids, nauseating fumes and in searing heat, proves to be too exacting for British workers. They spend a few weeks there, usually working far less effectively than their coloured brethren, only to be promoted to some more congenial and better paid job. But the coloured workers remain – however hard they work. Some have been at Courtaulds for as long as 12 years, but none of them have been promoted to any responsible positions. Even highly skilled men labour on at unskilled work – because of the colour of their skins. Despite all their protestations to the contrary, there is no doubt that Courtaulds (with Lord Butler as a director) have been practising racial discrimination, and that, in fact, they have created a black industrial ghetto.

The explosion came when the firm tried to introduce a speed-up plan. Hitherto one worker tended one machine; now he would be responsible for one-and-a-half machines. As a reward for increasing the production norm by 50 per cent, the management would give them the princely sum of 3d. an hour more. But the workers protested. Most of them said that it was not a question of wages, but one of health. They just could not work any harder. As it was, many suffered from ill-health – eye, ear and nose complaints, and increased effort was an impossibility. They approached their union – the Transport and General Workers Union – only to be rebuffed. The organiser told them that the new agreement was “fair and equitable.” So, receiving no help from “their” union (which had tacitly agreed to the Company’s policy of discrimination over the years) they set up their own Action Committee. This has so far issued a number of statements:

Firstly an appeal to workers, irrespective of colour and creed, for financial assistance.
Secondly, an attempt [sic] to the T.& G.W.U. to meet them, so that some attempt at agreement could be made.
Thirdly, an appeal to Frank Cousins to intervene in what could easily develop into the ugliest racial issue in British history. [Cousins was General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, but was at the time a Labour MP and a minister in the Wilson government. IB]

It is highly important that a solution be quickly found. The basis of most racial prejudice in Britain is economic – the fear of the black men’s threat to white men’s jobs. If the strike continues, resulting in a shut down of other sections of the works, then this imaginary fear will become a reality: Smethwick will smell like a fragrant lily to the racial cesspool of Preston. And, what is worse, the future could contain many Prestons – for, without assistance from outside, the cold logic of events will push strikers towards the formation of separate black unions. If this calamity is to be avoided, it must be by British workers showing quite clearly that they do not believe in “white” trade unions, and that they will accept their coloured brothers as equals.

The following practical steps must be taken NOW:
First, the strike must revive maximum support – non-coloured workers should demonstrate solidarity by joining the picket lines.
Second, agitation must bring pressure to bear on the T. & G.W.U. to adopt a more tolerant attitude and represent all sections of their membership.
Third, money should be sent, as soon as possible, to:

Edited to add:
LSHG Meeting
Saturday 25th June, 1pm [Germany Room, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, London] Ray Challinor- Socialist Activist & Historian.
Speakers include Stan Newens

Finally, Ian Birchall will be launching his new much anticipated biography Tony Cliff: A Marxist for His Time, with videoclips of Cliff, at Marxism 2011

Jeffrey B Perry on Hubert Harrison

Karia Presents An “In Tribute” Event Featuring A Presentation By Dr. Jeffrey B. Perry
Based on his Biography Hubert Harrison:The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918

During Discussion he will be able to refer to: Theodore W. Allen’s works: The Invention of the White Race ... @ Centerprise 136-138 Kingsland Road Dalston, London, E8 2NS
Friday, 20th May, 2011 7:30 – 10:00PM
Donations: £3.00
Restaurant on site
Bookings, and other information from: Karia Press:
Tel. 0750 4661 785
Books will be available for sale at the event.
If you wish to order a copy(ies) of the book(s) in advance, please email or call for availability and prices.

To get to the venue: London Overground: Dalston Kingsland or Dalston Junction. Buses: 149, 76, 243, 67, 236.

Background information on Hubert Harrison
Hubert Harrison, (1883-1927) was an immensely skilled writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist who, more than any other political leader of his era, combined class consciousness and anti- white-supremacist race consciousness into a coherent political radicalism. Harrison profoundly influenced “New Negro” militants, including A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey, and his synthesis of class and race issues is a key unifying link between the two great trends of the Black Liberation Movement: the labour and civil-rights- based work of Martin Luther King Jr. and the race and nationalist work associated with Malcolm X. Harrison played unique, signal roles in the largest class radical movement (socialism) and the largest race radical movement (the New Negro/Garvey) movement of his era. He was the foremost Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician of the Socialist Party of New York, the founder of the “New Negro” movement, the editor of the “Negro World,” and the principal radical influence on the Garvey movement. He also helped transform the 135th Street Public Library into an international center for research in Black culture (known today as the world-famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). His biography offers profound insights on race, class, religion, immigration, war, democracy, and social change in America.

About the author
Jeffrey B. Perry is an independent, working class scholar who was formally educated at Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers, and Columbia Universities. He was a long-time (33 years) activist, elected union officer with Local 300, and editor for the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (Division of LIUNA, AFL-CIO, CTW). Dr. Perry preserved and inventoried the Hubert H. Harrison Papers (now at Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library) and is the editor of A Hubert Harrison Reader (Wesleyan University Press, 2001). He is also literary executor for Theodore W. Allen, author of The Invention of the White Race [2 vols., Verso, 1994 and 1997), and edited and introduced Allen's Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Keith Flett on Monarchy and Old Corruption

From London Socialist Historian Group Newsletter #42 (Summer 2011)
The historian Antony Taylor makes the point that while a tradition of republicanism in Britain, whether defined on the left or the right, is difficult to pin down and mostly a minority trend, sentiments of antimonarchism have often been popular and sometimes part of the political mainstream.

We need only think back to the death of Princess Diana in 1997 to see all of these trends very much in the modern political mix. Historically Britain—or more strictly given the date, England—can claim to have been first in the antimonarchy stakes. It was in Whitehall on 30 January 1649 that King Charles I had his head cut off and a Commonwealth under Cromwell was created. It lasted only to the Restoration in 1660, and the work of modernisation had several more turning points, from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to something which almost was a revolution, the 1832 Great Reform Act.

It is difficult to sustain an argument that a genuine anti-monarchist tradition can be directly traced back to 1649, although if one looks at the efforts to ignore or play down the history of Cromwell and the New Model Army in many places in England—particularly churches and castles—it is obvious that the ruling class have never quite forgotten the significance of that day. Its equivalent in France is a national holiday. Not here.

Anti-monarchism was certainly alive in the early nineteenth century with the Queen Caroline affair (when a parliamentary enquiry into the queen’s conduct, instigated by the king in hopes of getting rid of her, unleashed a popular scandal), and the wider tradition of republicanism was given a huge boost by the revolutions of 1848 across Europe. It was this that sparked the left Chartist leader George Julian Harney to start his Red Republican journal, its title, one suspects, deliberately aimed at provoking the authorities who had concerns about how many such red republican refugees had made their way to then-liberal England in the
aftermath of the defeat of the 1848 revolutions.

As Taylor argues, the antimonarchist tradition was something a little bit different, (in modern terms perhaps more reformist than revolutionary) and he makes the point that while it is often difficult historically to find a coherent and unified republican tradition—there was not agreement on what such a republic would look like—the antimonarchist movement is better defined and more popular.

In the anti-monarchist mind it was not the principle of a monarchy as such that was the problem but the behaviour of individual monarchs, how much they cost, and the whole aristocratic edifice of wealth and privilege that went with them. In other words, it was less an overt programme for political change and more a class movement, seeing the monarchy as a symbol of an unequal and divided society.

Popular critique of monarchy was an extension of the hatred of a society based on patronage and favour, the very real practice of Old Corruption. As a mobilising political programme, this had real strength long after the 1832 Reform Act and arguably up to the reform of the House of Lords in 1911.

A focus on opposition to the aristocracy, including in practice the monarchy, united Fabian socialists and popular Liberals. Reynolds’s Weekly Newspaper, the popular mass circulation radical working-class paper of the second half of the nineteenth century—it sold 350,000 copies a week in the 1870s—had anti-monarchism and stories relating to scandals about the royals as a cornerstone of both its editorial policy and its success in attracting a huge readership.Papers more directly associated with the Labour tradition as the century drew to a close were still more audacious and politically direct. The Clarion published, and gloried in, lists of aristocrats injured in hunting accidents.

The Land and Labour League of the early 1870s was one attempt to draw together the strands of popular radicalism—land nationalisation and republicanism—on the left, but we should also be aware of the countervailing tradition in the working class, the Tory one of ‘Beer and Britannia’, which also had a degree of popular support.

Keith Flett

LSHG Seminar Reminder
Monday 16th May 5.30pm [Pollard Room, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House London]
Republicanism & anti-monarchism.
David Renton 'Horatio Bottomley: from republican to conservative';
Keith Flett ‘The anti-monarchist tradition in England’

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Nina Fishman Archive

A tribute to the late socialist historian Nina Fishman

Black and Asian Britain seminar

Institute of Commonwealth Studies, in conjunction with the Black & Asian Studies Association

Black and Asian Britain seminar

Tuesday, 17 May
Senate House, University of London, Russell Square, London WC1
6 to 7.30 pm, room G34

Christian Høgsbjerg, 'Mariner, Renegade and castaway: Chris Braithwaite, the Colonial Seamen's Association and class struggle Pan-Africanism in late Imperial Britain'

This paper will explore the life and work of one neglected but critically important black radical activist in inter-war Britain, the Barbadian trade unionist and socialist Chris Braithwaite (c1885-1944), better known by his pseudonym 'Chris Jones'.

Everyone is welcome. You do not have to pre-book/register. (Contact:

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Defend London Met!

In April 2011 London Metropolitan University announced the closure of 70% of its courses, including Performing Arts, History, Caribbean Studies and Philosophy.

This proposal to massively reduce and restrict provision is a direct attack on the students, staff and the whole London Met community, and represents an attack on widening participation and the value of educational opportunities and the pursuit of critical thinking that universities should provide for all.

For more information about the campaign to save London Met, please visit: - also solidarity greetings to the London Met Occupation!

Brighton History Workshop on 'Struggle'

'The Matchwomen's Strike of 1888 and their place in history'
with Louise Raw, author of the groundbreaking book 'Striking
a Light'

Saturday July 2nd, 1-5pm, Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton
Admission free - contact Terry -
for more information.
sponsored by Labour History Movement publications

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Reminder: Summer LSHG seminars

London Socialist Historians Group Summer 2011

Monday 16th May 5.30pm [Pollard Room] Republicanism & anti-monarchism.
David Renton 'Horatio Bottomley: from republican to conservative';
Keith Flett ‘The anti-monarchist tradition in England’

Saturday 25th June 1pm [Germany Room] Ray Challinor- Socialist Activist & Historian.
Speakers include Stan Newens

Also reminder:

7.00 pm, Friday 13 May,
Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2
(opposite Liverpool Street Station)
Meeting to mark the publication of our book on John Saville, which discusses Saville’s major contribution to politics and history. Speakers include Richard Saville, David Howell, Kevin Morgan, Steve Jeffreys, Dianne Kirby and Madeleine Davis. Admittance free. All welcome.

For more book information, and special purchase price of £11.99 (normal rrp £14.99), go to

Event and book organised in association with the Socialist History Society
For more information:

Sunday, 1 May 2011

May Day Greetings

...Let the winds lift your banners from far lands
With a message of strife and of hope:
Raise the Maypole aloft with its garlands
That gathers your cause in its scope....

...Stand fast, then, Oh Workers, your ground,
Together pull, strong and united:
Link your hands like a chain the world round,
If you will that your hopes be requited.

When the World's Workers, sisters and brothers,
Shall build, in the new coming years,
A lair house of life—not for others,
For the earth and its fulness is theirs.

Walter Crane, The Workers' Maypole, 1894