J.T. Murphy

In the R.I.L.U.

The Great Red Drive into the
Miners Federation of Great Britain

(25 August 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 72, 25 August 1922, p. 543.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2020). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The Blackpool Conference of the Miners Federation of Great Britain is over. The Amsterdam International retained its hold on the M.F.G.B. 118,000 votes was the reception given to the resolution calling for the miners of Great Britain to line up and affiliate to the Red International of Labor Unions. This is the first time that such a resolution has appeared in their national conference.

This must not be taken as indicating the full strength of the R.I.L.U. in the Miners Federation. These votes came only from the South Wales contingent. The supporters of the Red International had not made the same amount of headway in the other districts and consequently, the strength of their influence is not shown in the vote, because the delegates attending only vote the majority view of the district from which they come. None the less, South Wales does not stand alone.

Nor does the voting at the Blackpool Conference represent the present situation in the Miners Federation. We warn the miners of other countries that Mr. F. Hodges may appear to speak in the name of 900,000 miners, but there are at least 200,000 of these who have no time either for Mr. Hodges or the Amsterdam International.

Nor do we hesitate to affirm that the effect of the discussion at the Blackpool Conference has been to shake the influence of Amsterdam in the Miners Federation as never before. From every coal field in the kingdom, delegates who had been machined into voting for Amsterdam are sending inquiries to us about the Red International and its program. For the first time they have been roused to take the measure of this question, Moscow versus Amsterdam. They have discovered that they belonged to the Amsterdam International, but when, where, how and why they had ever joined, they do not know. It was the status quo and remained so by virtue of the general indifference to internationalism. That indifference has now been swept away by the challenging call of the Red International of Labor Unions. Therefore we say, that rather than be impressed by the magnitude of the vote against us, the voting should be regarded as a portent, a shadow of coming events.

Blackpool saw more than the casting of 118,000 votes in our favor. It saw the beginning of the first real attempt to organize the strength of the R.I.L.U. influence in the Miners Federation, in the form of a powerful minority movement within the Federation. The need for such a movement has been felt for some time. Our influence has been rapidly growing, but was lacking in organized expression and leadership. The R.I.L.U. Bureau and the Communist Party recognized this weakness and only two months ago set the pace for a campaign right through the organization, setting up special committees to conduct the work of agitation.

Many of the districts had already elected their delegates to the conference by the time these districts were reached. Notwithstanding this fact the results have been excellent. The Blackpool Conference registered the beginning of a great R.I.L.U. victory. Arising directly from the conference and the agitation we have conducted, a new militant leadership has sprung up, which challenges the old bureaucratic gang, an organized leadership from amongst the miners, which will mobilize the present minority forces with a view of winning the Miners Federation completely to the Red International of Labor Unions. An organized minority movement has thus been set into motion.

The lead comes at the moment from South Wales. Comrades Davis and Cook, who led the Conference on the Red International resolution along with Comrades Abblett, J. Thomas and Dagger, all of whom are prominent official leaders of the South Wales Miners Federation, have led the way with a clarion call to the whole Miners Federation of Great Britain.

Great discontent exists throughout the Federation. The great downward push in wages since the lock-out of 1921, the bitter suffering of the miners and their families throughout the length and breadth of Britain, the refusal of the leaders to face the demands arising from these terrible conditions, all these are contributing daily to inspire the miners to look for a new lead.

The new lead has come and it cannot help but gather strength in face of the utter incapacity of the present leaders to measure up to the great task of saving the miners from complete starvation conditions.

The minority movement of the miners requires the complete reorganization of the Miners Federation, the fusion of the county organizations into a single industrial union, the elimination of non-unionism from the coal fields, the repudiation of the Amsterdam International and the tackling of the miners’ problems on an international scale by the building of the Red International of Labor Unions, the admission of the Russian miners into the International Miners Federation and its affiliation to the Red International.

Never in the history of the working class movement has the international character of the workers’ struggle been so clearly demonstrated to the masses. And never in the history of the Miners Federation have their leaders demonstrated such incapacity to deal with the everyday struggles of the miners, or shown such treachery in the face of urgent demands.

Mr. Smith told the American miners, while in America, that the British miners were 100% strong in support of the American miners’ strike. On his return to England he has shown himself to be the echo of Mr. Hodges, the pioneer of the “industrial truce”, the aspiring politician, and has done nothing to substantiate his American pronouncement. Mr. Hodges and Mr. Smith went to Frankfort, to “support” the American miners to the extent of 3 shillings per miner on strike, whilst refusing to do anything to stop the export of millions of tons of coal from Britain which it is known are going to defeat their American comrades. International union blacklegging is a problem they are afraid to tackle.

The 1922 Blackpool conference marks the beginning of the fight of the revolutionary miners’ minority against such cowardly and treacherous leadership. 1923 will see that minority near to becoming a majority. Look out! The great red drive has begun in the Miners Federation of Great Britain and nothing can stop it!

Last updated on 8 July 2021