Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History


From a ‘Shop Steward’

Dear Comrades,

Al Richardson’s reply to the letter which I wrote in response to his review of The Unbroken Thread requires some brief remarks to set the record straight. I am not a ‘Friend of George Edwards’, whoever he is. I belong to no other organisation than my union, tenants’ association, local anti-poll tax union, and the Labour Party. I am not a spokesperson or representative of Fortress Books, Militant, or the Bulletin of Marxist Studies. I have regularly read left Socialist newspapers and journals since the miners’ strike, among them Militant, and respect the ideas, organisational ability, initiative and working class composition among Militant supporters.

I bought and read Liverpool: A City that Dared to Fight as its account of the struggle against rate-capping was directly relevant to me as a local authority shop steward facing the consequences of the collapse of that struggle.

I bought and read The Unbroken Thread largely because my appetite had been whetted by War and the International, which is a book I have recommended to fellow activists. Some people like myself, whilst appreciating War and the International, also recognise its faults. Every chapter has over 100 notes relating to actual documents of the time. How many activists have read those notes and wished they had access to the documents?

Ever since reading War and the International, I have awaited a book containing more substantial selections from the documents of the discussions. When it appeared in the form of The Unbroken Thread, I then find the co-author of War and the International flatly contradicting his own book by way of a review of Ted Grant’s book. This provoked my letter, which states that whilst Grant emerges from War and the International as the leading figure replying to mistaken positions, in Al’s review this role is demolished as distortions and deceit.

My integrity is not up for question. The contradictions in Al’s writings are. I look forward to either Fortress Books or Socialist Platform reproducing unedited documents, so we can bypass the soup, cheese and biscuits, and go straight to the main course. I for one have no wish to be a gourmet, but rather a well-nourished comrade for the struggle for a Socialist world.

Richard Whyte

Updated by ETOL: 15.7.2003