Sunday, 3 February 2013

Debate: Tom Sibley responds on Bert Ramelson


It is good to see Comrade Birchall going back to primary sources to correct some of the errors made in his original review of the Ramelson biography.  But on some points he remains annoyingly obtuse. It is clear from my previous posting that the proof reading error refers solely to a failure to delete a small sub-clause containing a wrong date and clearly out of place in the text.  It has nothing to do with the context of the Ramelson article referred to which in our judgement is an all round critique of the Labour left in 1958, not simply or mainly a comment on the “obsession with unilateralism”.  Of course by 1960, in self-criticism, the CND leadership conceded that it had underemphasised the importance of multi lateral measures such as Britain’s membership of NATO, US bases and Test Ban Treaty.

On the CND marches it is clear that the Daily Worker (as Birchall now concedes), the British Peace Committee, the CP (particularly in the unions) and the YCL, with youth and students, played important parts in the mobilisation for Aldermaston.  But as Birchall says this should not underplay the role played by other organisations and social forces.

On the Pentonville 5 Birchall misunderstands the arguments made in the book and by Darlington and Lyddon.  In such situations, as the book makes clear, it is the immediate actions taken by stewards at workplace level which are crucial.  The CP and LCDTU were able to use their extensive networks in a broad range of industries to generate a speedy response.  The LCDTU letter calling for solidarity was, in this context, a formality.

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