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International Socialism, Winter 1967/68



Letter to Readers


From International Socialism (1st series), No.31, Winter 1967/68, p.17.
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The tempo of events in Britain has risen sharply over the past year as the effects of simultaneous incomes freeze and general price increases threaten to reduce the real standard of living from both ends. The scattered opposition to this double threat has, for the first time for a long time, made it possible for socialists to be directly useful in the fragmentary resistance. Two areas in particular have been important. First, some of the industrial disputes of the past year – from the battle at ENV to the dockers and to Myton’s Barbican site. Second, the campaign against rent increases.

Thus, it is appropriate that most of this issue is devoted to examining what socialists have done and what can be done in two specific areas. The Notebook has been given over entirely to a series of reports from different areas on the battle over rents. This is not remotely comprehensive – significant omissions include the campaigns in Southwark and Walsall – nor can many useful generalisations be made. The situation in each case changes rapidly so that the reports are already out-of-date, and the reports themselves range from very small piecemeal operations to genuine campaigns of mass action. The most successful examples come towards the end, but even here, the results must not be over-emphasised, nor can simple ‘lessons’ be read off which will be appropriate everywhere else. However, given all the qualifications, something can be learned by serious socialists on the ways in which they can organise themselves as tenants or help tenants themselves to organise.

Second, we include an account of the events at ENV, the engineering factory in North London where a powerful and militant shop steward organisation was broken by the combined action of the employers, the unions and the State.

Thus, a defeat matches an account of new beginnings. From both, much must be learned if action is to be more effective in the future. We hope in subsequent issues to continue this kind of reportage since it can alone indicate what are the effective means to advance towards the recreation of an effective labour movement. In this connection, incidentally, Solidarity (c/o Heather Russell, 53A Westmoreland Rd, Bromley, Kent) has usefully reprinted some of its excellent 1965 articles on the defeat at Dagenham in What happened at Fords (price 1s).

Of our contributors this time, Colin Barker, Peter Sedgwick, Constance Lever and Jim Kincaid are all well known to regular readers and an account of their earlier contributions can be found on the back cover. Roberto Vitale is a socialist active in the Milan area. Joyce Rosser is similarly active in the London area and is an industrial sociologist.

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