Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Rebuild the Revolutionary Spirit

Published: New Age, No. 15, August/September 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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In 1834, George Loveless, a farm worker in the Dorset village of Tolpuddle, was arrested along with five of his fellows for forming a trade union branch. The six were given a trial at which the law was twisted to the utmost to secure a conviction, and they were hastily transported to Australia.

The case of the ’Tolpuddle Martyrs’ aroused a storm of protest throughout the country. Petitions poured in, public meetings were held, and in one demonstration 100,000 people marched right across. London.

The ’reforming’ government of the day – which was no less of an enemy of the workers than its Tory predecessor – was eventually forced to climb down and bring the Tolpuddle martyrs home.

Ever since, this epic story of the fight to secure the right to unionise has been commemorated by an annual rally at Tolpuddle. The occasion is the biggest annual event in the Labour government’s calendar in the West Country, and was this year attended by over 4000 workers.

Len Murray Denounced

This year TUC mis-leader-in­chief Len Murray jumped on the bandwagon to address the rally with an opportunist call for a return to the policies of the late and unlamented labour government. In the face of spirited heckling from militant workers, he blamed the wicked Tories for the present attack on the working class, and tried to cover up for his record in enabling the Labour government to prepare this attack.

The annual Tolpuddle rally has tended in recent years to be fairly loyal to labour Party leaders and other ’labour aristocracy’ hacks. However, Murray’s unfavourable reception from several sections of this year’s rally shows that resistance to labour’s rotten policies is spreading far and wide.

Revolutionaries uphold Tolpuddle spirit

The most militant section of the rally was provided by the Marxist-Leninists. The Revolutionary Communist League of Britain (RCLB) called upon revolutionaries from the West Country and elsewhere to attend the rally to uphold the real fighting spirit of the Tolpuddle martyrs. Our organisation, the CWM, responded to this call. The New Era Singers, a joint RCLB-CWM, venture gave a short concert at the rally.

One of the songs they sang was written by the Irish revolutionary James Connolly. It denounces those labour ’leaders’ who call for ’moderation’, and its refrain is “We only want THE EARTH!”

This is as close to the bone as it ever was for opportunist labour leaders. One verse begins,

’But labour’s leader, full of guile
Such doctrine ever preaches,
And whilst he bleeds the rank-and­file,
Tame moderation teaches....’

This was too much for an opportunist who had parked himself nearby. He announced that he had ”heard enough of this”, furled up his banner, and stomped off. Some favourable comments were received from rank-and-file workers at the rally though.

The RCLB’s banner [a bird of prey with capitalism written on its tail, and Tory on one wing and Labour on the other] attracted favourable comments. Also well-received was a leaflet handed out by the RCLB.

During the march to the martyrs ’ graves and back, the revolutionaries, through this banner, slogans and singing of the ”Internationale” put the fear of God into Len Murray and the labour Party leaders. They will not be able to stem the tide of workers wrath much longer.

The poor will arise again!