The Workers Socialist League was formed after a wave of expulsions in late 1974 from the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) of Gerry Healy. These expulsions targeted the opposition led by Alan Thornett, Tony Richardson and John Lister which first arose in Oxford, the main industrial base of the WRP.
The WSL published Socialist Press from 1975 to 1981 as well as a number of issues of the theoretical supplement Trotskyism Today. Along with international co-thinkers in Italy, Denmark, the USA and Turkey, the WSL founded the Trotskyist International Liaison Committee (TILC) in 1979.
The WSL has been described as having had a “serious orientation to workers in struggle, including its principled intervention in and leadership of a number of important struggles, and to the application of the Transitional Programme in these struggles, while at the same time taking a principled stand on the Trotskyist programme internationally in opposition to Healy’s abandonment of permanent revolution and the USFI’s tail-ending of guerrillaist and Castroite politics”. [Trotskyist History, No. 1, September 1993].
The WSL fused with the International-Communist League of Sean Matgamna in July 1981, with the fused organisation maintaining the name Workers Socialist League. The ‘new’ WSL mainly worked in the Labour Party through the Socialist Organiser Alliance and its newspaper Socialist Organiser. The WSL also produced four issues of a theoretical journal, Workers Socialist Review.
In 1982 a fierce tendency struggle broke out over the question of the Malvinas / Falklands War, which continued until Matgamna’s supporters formally expelled Thornett and his supporters in 1984.