MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Organisations



Britain, The Socialist Labour Party

A revolutionary Marxist party founded in 1903 in Scotland by a group of Left, largely Scottish, Social-Democrats, who had broken with the Social-Democratic Federation. Its chief organ was the monthly The Socialist. At first the party engaged mainly in propaganda, and later, as the strike movement developed, it took an active part in it. During the First World War many party members conducted vigorous antiwar propaganda. The party did much to organize the movement of Shop Stewards Committees. It was in solidarity with the October Revolution and supported Soviet Russia. The party refused to become a collective member of the Labour Party, which had united trade unions, socialist organizations and groups. Lenin criticized the mistakes of this party and of other “Lefts ” in his work “Left-Wing ” Communism, an Infantile Disorder. Leading members of the party, including Arthur McManus and Tom Bell, actively helped to found the Communist Party of Great Britain.


British Labour Party

Founded in 1900 as an amalgamation of trade unions, socialist organizations and groups to seat workers' representatives in Parliament (Committee for Labour Representation). In 1906, it took the name of Labour Party. Trade unionists are automatically members of the Party provided they pay membership dues. It is headed by an Executive Committee which together with the Trade Union General Council and the Executive Committee of the Go-operative Party constitute the so-called National Labour Council. The Go-operative Party and the I.L.P. are corporate members of the Labour Party.

Initially a working men's party (it was subsequently joined by considerable numbers of non-working class elements), the Labour Party isreformist in ideology and tactics. Since its emergence its leaders have been conducting a policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie. "The Labour Party is an out-and-out bourgeois party, for although it does consist of workers it is led by reactionaries the worst reactionaries who operate in the spirit of the bourgeoisie. ..." [See Speech on the Membership, in the British Labour Party, Delivered on August 6, 1920, at the Second Congress of the Communist International," Vol. 31]. During the First World War, its leaders took a social-chauvinist stand. Labour Governments have always conducted the policy of British imperialism. Dissatisfaction with the leadership's policy among the British working people has led to a Left-wing trend in the Party opposing the leadership's official policy.


British Socialist Party

Founded in 1911 in Manchester, as a result of the combination of the Social-Democratic Party with other socialist groups. Owing to its small membership and poor contact with the masses, however, it was a sectarian party.

During the First World War a sharp struggle developed in the party between the internationalist/centrist trend (William Gallacher, Albert Inkpin, John MacLean, Theodore Rothstein and others) and the social-chauvinist trend headed by Hyndman.

In February 1916 a group of the party's active members founded the newspaper The Call, which played an important part in uniting the internationalists. The annual conference of the B.S.P. held at Salford in April 1916 condemned the social-chauvinist stand taken by Hyndman and his adherents, and they subsequently left the party.

The British Socialist Party supported the October Revolution, and its members played a great part in the British workers' movement in defence of the R.S.F.S.R. against foreign intervention.

In 1919 the majority of the party organisations (98 against 4) voted to join the Communist International. The B.S.P., together with the Communist Unity Group, played a leading role in the formation of the Communist Party of Great Britain. At the First (Unity) Congress held in 1920 the overwhelming majority of the B.S.P. locals joined the Communist Party.