Ted Grant

I.L.P. and the Stalinist Slander

Written: January 1942
Source: Socialist Appeal, vol. 4 no. 4 (January 1942)
Transcription: Harry 2007
Markup/Proofread: Emil 2007

Below we publish the letters exchanged between the I.L.P. and ourselves on the question of a united front against Stalinist provocation and slander. These letters were exchanged following on a discussion between Comrades Atkinson and Brockway.

The leaders of the I.L.P. do not believe it necessary to hold “special” meetings to combat the Stalinist campaign; that such meetings would assist rather than deter the Stalinists in their provocations. At the same time they refer to the fate which befell their brother party — the P.O.U.M. — in Spain! But it is precisely because the P.O.U.M. carried out the same ostrich policy as is now being carried out by the I.L.P. that attacks were facilitated against it, culminating in the murder of its leaders by the Stalinists.

Already the campaign has reached the stage of physical assault, not only of the Trotskyists, but of workers selling the New Leader at Communist Party meetings. And the campaign is still in its early stages. As the war proceeds and the workers turn towards the left, the Stalinists will, in desperation turn to more violent methods. Under these circumstances it is an elementary precaution of self-preservation that a vigorous campaign of exposure be waged against these degrading methods of organised hooliganism.

The Central Committee of the Communist Party have issued instructions that the names and addresses of all Trotskyists should be secured. This undoubtedly applies to members of the I.L.P. as well. In Spain and in France this action was a prelude to Stalinist assistance to police reaction. In the Nazi occupied countries the names and addresses of revolutionaries opposed to CP policy were handed over to the Gestapo.

This is not a question of a merely incidental character. It concerns the very existence of workers’ organisations which operate a policy opposed to Churchill and the Communist Party. If the I.L.P. refuses to carry the struggle against the Stalinist pogroms, how will they face up to the far stronger blows of the capitalists when they really start to suppress the left wing, particularly since they will have the active assistance of the Stalinists?

Comrades of the I.L.P! Remember the fate of the workers in Spain! We appeal to the leadership of the I.L.P. to reverse its present disastrously negative policy and enter a united front.

We appeal to the members of the I.L.P. to force their leadership to change its present policy and conduct a vigorous united front campaign which will expose the Stalinists before the whole Labour movement, as well as protect our organisations from their gangster assaults.

Workers International League

61, Northdown Street,

London, N.1.

3rd December, 1941



Dear Comrade,

Following the recent attacks on the Socialist Appeal by the Sunday Dispatch and the Communist Party, we have issued a challenge to the latter to an open debate in order, to substantiate their accusations. In confirmation of our verbal request, through Comrade Harold Atkinson, we again ask that you delegate a speaker to this meeting in order to put the case of the I.L.P. which is also being attacked by the Communist Party.

We believe that this method of thrashing out differences between sections of the organised working class complies with the best traditions of the British Labour movement. We would be grateful if you will publish our letter to the Communist Party in the New Leader.

Yours fraternally,

E. Grant. For the E.B. of the Socialist Appeal.

Independent Labour Party

National Administrative Council

318 Regents Park Road,

Finchley, London, N.3.

8th December 1941

Mr. Atkinson,

61, Northdown Street,

London, N.1.

Dear Comrade Atkinson,

I promised to let you have a note about the decision against my coming to your meeting on December 21st.

We are well aware that the Communist Party will adopt any tactics against ourselves, as well as against you, including demands as the situation develops for the suppression of our paper and of all our activities. Already they are beginning tactics here which are similar to those they adopted against the P.O.U.M. in Spain.

We take the view, however, that if we hold or participate in special meetings dealing with this matter, it will assist rather than deter their purpose. We shall meet vigorously their tactics, as we are now doing in the bye-election at Central Edinburgh, but to over-emphasise the importance of their attack will only play into their own hands.

It was for this reason that we felt it inadvisable that we should accept your invitation to send a speaker to your meeting.

Fraternally yours,

Fenner Brockway.