The History of British Trotskyism to 1949

by Martin Upham



The failure of Trotskyism to establish a presence in the 1920s is to be explained partly by reference to the character of the Communist Party of Great Britain and partly by the quality of British Marxism itself. Lack of interest in theory and the absence of intellectuals who would make major contributions to Marxist thought had already separated Britain from the Continent before 1914. [1] Detachment from ideological controversy was carried over into the infant CPGB, whose formation had been the subject of historical debate. [2] Respect for Trotsky as a revolutionary leader spanned the labour movement spectrum at the start of the decade. By the end it had narrowed to liberal and independent socialist intellectuals. The Communist Party, which had promoted him enthusiastically up to the middle 1920s turned, with the Comintern, away from him. For the Labour Party, twice in government, he was too revolutionary. Trotsky had support against both parties, but no organised following. The low level of Party life, incomprehension at the debate within the Russian Party and the Comintern, a lack of intellectuals among the membership [3], all might be urged as reasons why the Communist Party produced no Trotskyist opposition for nearly ten years. The Party observed the line from Moscow until the late 1920s when a combination of Comintern pressure and a rank and file revolt precipitated a leadership purge. Support for Trotsky came from outside the Party, from people who had stayed aloof from the attempt to build a Bolshevik Party in Britain or who had taken part and then left as individuals. [4] In neither case were they the people to organise a movement. Until 1930 Trotsky was left in Britain only with admirers.

No one in Britain in 1923 grasped the significance of the clash between the Left Opposition and the Russian Communist Party which burst into the open that year. In other countries there were fierce disputes within the Communist Parties over the critique advanced by the Opposition in its platform. [5] In Britain this did not occur. Lenin’s death in January 1924 physically removed from Russia an influence neutralised for some time. Since the battle between the Party leadership and the Left Opposition continued, pressure began to build up for national parties to declare themselves. The British Communist press, like the bourgeois press, was at first content to report. [6] This was, after all, not the first instance of debate within the Russian Party. Inprecorr, originating from Moscow, mirrored developments there more closely and, moreover, without a timelag. Trotsky’s views on the New Course were printed as well as those of Stalin and Zinoviev, [7] but Trotsky’s progressive isolation would soon be apparent. “Trotskyism” as an identifiable phenomenon was categorised as such by April 1924. [8] But the Comintern journal Communist International ran no campaign against Trotsky until the broad offensive after the General Strike, and he himself was still a contributor. [9] However, British representatives at the Fifth Comintern Congress in July 1924 endorsed the condemnation of Trotsky’s attitude by the CPSU. although no discussion in the CPGB had yet taken place. [10]

In November 1924 a definite lead was given in Inprecorr as Russian and foreign communists began to react to Trotsky’s The Lessons of October. [11] A sequence of rubbishing articles was begun which lasted until 6 February 1925. [12] Trotsky’s introduction to The Lessons of October only appeared after three months. No reader of Inprecorr could possibly doubt, after such a sustained onslaught, that this was more than an ordinary policy difference. The British Party reacted swiftly to the debates at the Fifth Congress of the Comintern. On 30 November, a party council approved the stand on Trotsky adopted there and in the CPSU. [13] Within a week Tom Bell had published the first authentic British article against Trotskyism. [14] Yet at this point the party leaders had not read The Lessons of October [15] and that certainly meant that the membership, in general, had not read it either. One exception was Arthur Reade, member of the London District Committee and business manager of Labour Monthly, who read German and had access to Comintern documents. He knew Trotsky’s views and expounded them at classes he gave to the Battersea Young Communist League. [16] He and several of these young communists attended the Party’s London aggregate meeting of 17 January 1925 to hear Andrew Rothstein and other speakers. When J.T. Murphy put down a resolution endorsing the Party’s condemnation of The Lessons of October, Reade moved an amendment from the London District Committee supporting the Opposition and regretting the haste with which the Party Council had taken a stand. [17] He was defeated with ten or fifteen votes in support. [18] But an attempt was made to delay the vote until the case for both sides had been put and this fell by only 81 votes to 65. [19] The meaning of these votes seems to be not an endorsement of Trotsky’s views by a minority of London communists, but a fairly widespread feeling that party leaders had been too eager to put themselves on record. England could join the triumphant list of countries where Trotskyism was completely isolated [20], but it was the manner rather than the ideas of the leaders which had occasioned protest. Yet Rothstein’s article of a week later suggests by its title more alarm among the party leaders after the aggregate than before. [21]

The introduction to The Lessons of October was published on 26 February 1925. [22] By then, however, the attack on Trotskyism had broadened out and stretched back in time. [23] Bell published Trotsky’s 15 January letter to the central committee of the Russian Party with a preamble arguing that its rejection proved the Party to be still a Bolshevik one. [24] He and Gallacher attended the extended plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International, which met from 21 March to 6 April. [25] They took no part in the debate on theoretical matters, but in the eleventh session, devoted to Trotskyism, Bell followed Treint and Neumann in a speech composed entirely of slogans. [26] The British delegates supported a motion calling for a drive against deviations to be conducted by all parties. Back in Britain Reade had been suspended from the London District Committee of the Party following the January aggregate. He appealed, but was turned down by the Party Executive on 26 April. [27] Some time after this he left the Party and the country. Perhaps the first British Trotskyist had departed, apparently making little impression. The Seventh Party Congress of the CPGB met at the end of May, and Bell implemented the ECCI decision by moving a motion agreeing with the Russian Party Central Committee in its estimate of Trotskyism and the measures taken against it. [28] There was now published The Errors of Trotskyism by Bukharin and Kamenev, a reply to The Lessons of October, with an English edition introduction by J.T. Murphy. [29] It has been suggested that, even at this late date, the British Party leaders had seen only a summary of Trotsky’s book [30] and indeed this was what was published with The Errors of Trotskyism.

There would be no support for Trotsky from Party leaders when he was out of step with Moscow, though for more than a year he was to remain a legitimate figure with the British Party. With a minor manifestation of Trotskyism in the CPGB dispelled, support for the Opposition leader now appeared outside the Party. [31] The response to Lenin (1925) illustrated the point well. Reviewers in the Party press tended to regret Trotsky’s loss of form. [32] Communists writing in non-party publications were hostile. [33] The ex-communist M. Phillips Price was friendly, [34] and Frank Horrabin was able to enjoy himself over communist inconsistency. [35] This divergence was important now and later. Many of the independent Marxists around The Plebs met Max Eastman [36] during his 1924 stay in Britain following a twenty one months spell in Russia. Eastman had met Trotsky in Russia and witnessed the debate around Opposition criticism of the Party programme, details of which he must have passed on. In the spring of 1925 he published Since Lenin Died. [37]

Though formally disowned by Trotsky, Eastman offered a detailed account of the clash within the Russian Party during the last two years – the only one available. He analysed Lenin’s suppressed Will, with its celebrated member by member assessment of the CPSU Central Committee. He reproduced a passage on Trotsky from Lunacharsky’s Revolutionary Silhouettes. It was a definite and radical challenge to the prevailing version of recent events in Russia. [38]

The Communist Party was accustomed to speaking with authority about the Soviet Union. Eastman could be the butt of unqualified attacks. For tactical reasons Trotsky had disowned the book [39] and Party reviewers in Britain therefore took the line of separating author from subject. Arthur MacManus bracketed Eastman with Party renegades Price and Levy. “Under the guise of defenders of Trotsky” they were all attacking the Russian Party. [40] Jackson predicted that Trotsky would be furious at the way his name had been used. [41] Palme Dutt ridiculed the book. [42] The Party went to some lengths to separate Eastman from Trotsky which suggests considerable embarrassment. [43] The belief that Eastman’s account might be true and Trotsky deserving of sympathy surfaces only in the non-party press. [44] Support from outside the Party was a mixed blessing when it was offered by lapsed members. Nor did it provide any profound analysis of what had taken place in Russia: Postgate, for example, expressed the wish that the two factions might speedily be united and win success for the revolution. [45] A journal like The Plebs might be an alternate outlet for news, but was not likely to provide fundamental criticism of the kind Trotsky himself had offered in The New Course. He was defended as a revolutionary hero, not as a theoretician, [46] a point sometimes overlooked. [47] The communist press continued its attempts to clarify the status of Eastman’s book well into the summer. [48] After the controversy died, [49] the British Party seems to have been uncertain about Trotsky’s status. He could still be reviewed [50] but articles published were not on immediate issues. [51] It was only his decision to devote his next important book to Britain which brought him again to the attention of the communist press.

Though certain subjects were taboo, Britain was not one of them. [52] Where is Britain Going?, a sparkling polemic against British labour and trade union leaders and their gradualist philosophy was published in February 1926. It was published not by the Party but by George Allen and Unwin who attached a preface by Brailsford. [53] Where is Britain Going? was very much part of Trotsky’s case against Comintern policy. It appeared during a phase of the struggle in Russia between the Joint Opposition and Stalin and Bukharin. It did not handle roughly the British Party’s support for left wing figures on the TUC General Council, but Trotsky later wrote:

“The book was aimed essentially at the official conception of the Politbureau, with its hope of an evolution to the left by the British General Council, and of a gradual and painless penetration of communism into the ranks of the British Labour Party and Trade Unions.” [54]

It has been suggested that the British Party did not understand the book. [55] No other communist had written anything as relevant for the year of the General Strike, however, and it was well enough suited to the party mood after May for a second edition to be published. Trotsky confronted the entire working class leadership, left and right. His critics were the party’s critics, and he wrote as a party member. The CPGB could only rally to him.

Where is Britain Going? scattered its shot so widely as to stimulate many of its victims into print. Norman Angell was provoked into writing a full length book to show “the futility of revolution”. [56] For MacDonald, Trotsky was a pamphleteer not an historian, a devotee of theories not a slave to facts; he had concocted “an oriental riot of fancy regarding facts and events”. [57] Brailsford in his introduction to the first edition, had observed that the imprisoned CPGB leaders had been sentenced for the opinions expressed in the book. While allowing Trotsky force of argument, Brailsford did not believe his Russian approach would convince. Russell [58] allowed that Trotsky was “remarkably well-informed” on the politics of the British Labour movement, but considered that he was advocating an English revolution for Russian advantage. Lansbury [59] gave much support to Trotsky while defending himself. Transport Workers” leader Robert Williams, a former Labour Party Chairman, and yet another former communist, had been pilloried by Trotsky in the book for having “ratted”. Like Lansbury he had both to defend himself against Trotsky and to defend Trotsky against his critics. [60] Cleverly he pointed out that the charge of renegacy presented by Trotsky against him was advanced against Trotsky himself by the Russian leadership two years before. He recalled the persecution of Trotsky and the suppression of Lenin’s will:

“ ....those in charge of the machine were so afraid of the criticism of one who had rendered more service to the revolution than all of them combined that they deliberately suppressed it.”

The non-communist reviewers generally took the line that Trotsky did not understand the peculiarities of the English. Communist reviewers believed they detected another common factor in these reactions: hostility to the proletarian revolution. [61]

Through the reviews of MacDonald and, especially, of Williams, the fact of Trotsky’s downfall was kept to the fore in the labour movement press. The Communists, with their front rank leaders in jail and their attention on the imminent expiry of the coal subsidy showed no public awareness of Trotsky’s deeper purpose. [62] His book was a welcome friend at a critical time as Palme Dutt strongly underlined: “A challenge may safely be issued to the critics to name a single book by a single English author or politician, bourgeois or labour leader, which is as close to the essentials of the English situation as Trotsky’s book”. [63]

Dutt was not prepared to allow the critics a single point, not even disavowing Trotsky’s claim that the Liberal election victory of 1905 was partially a result of shock waves from the Russian Revolution of that year. Indeed, he continued,

The English working class has cause to be grateful to Trotsky for his book; and to hope that he will not stay his hand at this short sketch, but will carry forward his work of interpretation, polemic and elucidation, and elaborate his analysis further which is so much needed in England. [64]

It may be that the British party leaders were mostly dense in matters of theory. They had, moreover, no public guidance from Moscow, where it had first been published, as to the attitude they should adopt to Trotsky’s book. Trotsky’s polemic could only assist those more astute party leaders who were later to gain control of the party. The authority of Dutt and Labour Monthly was growing and both must have influenced the reading of Party members. [65] It soon became impossible to quote Trotsky as an authority, but that did not prevent borrowing from the theoretical arsenal of one who had been cruelly vindicated by events.

International developments soon impelled Stalin to decisive moves against the Joint Opposition in Russia. Repercussions in the CPGB could not fail to follow. The British crisis of 1926 was merely the current event on which Trotsky was honing his polemical scalpel to a fine sharpness. He returned to the subject several times in an independent way during the General Strike. He pressed especially for severance of the trade union connections established through the Anglo-Soviet Trade Union Committee established in 1923. Under the title Problems of the British Labour Movement some of Trotsky’s later thinking appeared in the communist press. [66] It was a sterilised Trotsky that was allowed into English, free of uncompromising references to the left members of the TUC General Council, with whom the Soviets retained a connection until 1927.

In July 1926 Stalin spoke of the British party as being one of the best sections of the Communist International. [67] He made it quite clear, however, that his commendation did not derive its inspiration from the party’s influence. It continued to gain members through 1926, even approaching 11,000, but then shrank. [68] Yet Britain had held the attention of the entire Communist International during 1926 and the setback of the General Strike had to have repercussions. In Russia Bukharin and Stalin increased their power, while measures were taken rapidly against the Joint Opposition. Criticism of Trotsky grew more strident. Those who had access to Inprecorr could follow the new Comintern leaders“ orchestrated attack. Articles in it were intended “for the widest possible publicity”. Dead disputes with Lenin were resurrected. Opposition prophecies of doom were refuted by reference to the greater size and more proletarian composition of the party. The Joint Opposition was deemed to be a Social-Democratic deviation, a theoretic consensus with Otto Bauer. Communist International, no longer Zinoviev’s organ, analysed the clash in the USSR, and attacked Trotsky by implication through Zinoviev and Kamenev. [69] Readers of Communist Review were treated to Bukharin’s lengthy treatment of the Opposition platform between September and December. The actual words of the Opposition leaders were available to British communists only through Inprecorr. [70] Dire warnings were attached that “Field Marshal” Trotsky wanted “to lead the opposition of all countries” and that the dissidents must choose between Lenin and Otto Bauer.

Problems of the British Labour Movement had been allowed to surface in the English pond, but the CPGB was anxious there should be no misunderstanding about where it stood. [71] On 9 August the political bureau adopted a resolution on the Discussion in the CPSU. [72] which rejected Trotsky’s call to sever the Anglo-Russian Committee and condemned Problems of the British Labour Movement. [73] It was still possible to discuss Opposition ideas [74] (those that were known), but the leading figures in Russia had little time left as party members. And in Britain even Opposition views on economics could be disregarded no longer. [75]

After 1926 it took a determined party member to discover details of the much abused platform of the Joint Opposition. Communist International carried no articles by opposition leaders during 1927, but kept its readers informed about their successive downgrading. Tom Bell reported to Communist Review on the fifteenth conference of the CPSU. but, while he witnessed the debate on Trotskyism and Trotsky’s own speech in it, he passed little on. [76] Those who read Inprecorr would know that the opposition platform was a major preoccupation of the conference. [77] Bell had spoken in the debate on the Opposition, but he was unwilling or unable to subject its ideas to any theoretical analysis. He condemned its factiousness and disloyalty however, and went on to reassure the Russian comrades:

Though our experience with oppositions is very limited (probably our time will come when we too shall have to deal with serious political oppositions) nevertheless, our experience, limited as it is, justifies our complete identity with the measures taken by the Party of the USSR to deal with its opposition.

Since there is little evidence to indicate any profound grasp among British communists of the Opposition platform, Bell’s support for Stalin rested on a narrow base. Smith, a colleague, attempted to shore him up with some purely British complaints of substance. He objected to Trotsky referring to the British Party as a brake on the revolution and complained that Lansbury, Plebs, and other Lefts were using Trotsky’s call for the exposure of left reformism:

... this group of liquidators, of renegade Communists, of Left elements in the labour movement, seize with joy on every attack which Trotsky makes upon the leaders of the Party and of the Communist International.

Comrade Trotsky’s policy is objectively helping these liquidators, while the article to which I referred was of direct assistance to them. [78]

The climax of the clash in the CPSU was ill-reported in the British communist press: only publicity from outside forced the party to deal with it in any detail. Trotsky’s own speech to the conference, and indeed Smith’s, was reported verbatim only in Inprecorr. What was more, the performance of the more left wing members of the TUC General Council during the General Strike could only nurture doubts which Trotsky was free to nourish. The pride of the British party was punctured. CPGB membership continued to grow after the General Strike but apparently went into a consistent decline from Autumn 1926 [79] which was not reversed until 1930. Factors in this decline were the effectiveness of Labour Party action against the National Left-Wing Movement a natural depression following the failure of the General Strike and growing sectarianism on the part of the Party itself. There were some in the Party who leaned towards intransigence, but their influence was increased by pressure from Moscow which was displeased with lack of progress in Britain and at loggerheads with CPGB leaders over the colonial question. [80] Malcontents lacked the strength to displace the Party leadership at the January 1929 Party congress, but this was accomplished with Russian support at a special congress in December. [81]

The staggered passage into what became known as the “Third Period” (following the years of revolution and then stabilisation), was accompanied in Britain by increased vigilance against Trotskyism. The honour of proposing Trotsky’s expulsion from the ECCI. In September 1927 fell to a British communist, J.T. Murphy. [82]

Murphy’s own Sheffield District telegraphed Moscow endorsing disciplinary measures against the Opposition leaders and called for action to further the struggle against war. [83] The Russian leaders were pleased and noted that the British party was innocent of Oppositionism. [84] When British delegates attended the Moscow conference of the Friends of the Soviet Union a fortnight after Trotsky’s expulsion from the CPSU, they took the initiative in moving a resolution (passed with one opposed), approving the measures taken against him for trying to set up a second party. Indeed they went further, and demanded “more severe measures”. [85] Inprecorr was deluged with anti-Opposition articles: “Trotskyism” was assuredly the issue of the hour. The British Party ventured into the field of theory. Jackson, who had written of Trotsky with such awe two years earlier, now discovered that the Opposition leader’s views on the danger of reaction were diametrically misplaced. It was, concluded Jackson, Trotsky himself, with Zinoviev, who represented the danger of Menshevism and Thermidor. [86] His colleague Gallacher developed the theme for an international audience. “In Britain every rotten reactionary, every reformist trickster, looks with hope to the Opposition’s; which statement he wisely left without explanatory footnotes, since Smith had been complaining the previous month that Trotsky handled the Left too harshly. [87] Gallacher’s claim that “every attack on the party by the Trotskyists was hailed with delight in the war mongering press of Britain” would have proved equally hard to sustain.

There were still traces of interest in Trotsky – pictures on walls, enthusiastic delegates to the Y.C.L. congress of 1928. [88]They added up to little. The parties had been warned that the exclusion of Trotskyism from the CPSU must of course, also result in “the end of Trotskyism in the Comintern”. [89] Rust reassured the international that Trotskyism had no following among “the active conscious sections of the workers”, [90] which verdict was confirmed. [91] Yet the new broad definition of Trotskyism, obscurely commingling with reaction, is to be gathered from his affirmation that the British Party had “tremendous duties” in the fight against it, especially since the Baldwin government led the Anti-Soviet bloc. [92] Stalin’s praise for the party gains in significance when the glassy smoothness of the British Party is compared to turmoil elsewhere.

The Communist press ground on about Trotskyism throughout 1928 and into 1929. Publicly it now presented Trotskyism as a non-communist current, supported by reaction and used (consciously or unconsciously) against the USSR. Original Opposition documents were rare. They were not being printed in Britain, and were only just becoming available in English through the efforts of American communists sympathetic to Trotsky. [93] The only exception (and this partial because of Inprecorr“s small print run), was the last letter of Adolf Joffe with its celebrated final words to Trotsky proclaiming that he had always had the better of the argument politically. But this was forced on the communists by publication in the Western press, and issued with a gloss. [94] Periodically, the Communist press would carry further material against the Opposition. [95] The stimulus would invariably be external, as when Rothstein took the opportunity provided by Eastman’s The Real Situation in Russia to reduce to rubble the Opposition documents of recent years. [96] The CPGB had survived the twenties relatively intact by making the right noises, but its hour was approaching. Manuilsky wondered: How does it happen that all the fundamental problems of the Communist International fail to stir our fraternal British Party? It is not that the British Communist Party does not pass resolutions or take a stand upon all important questions. No, this cannot be said. Nevertheless, one does not feel any profound organic connection with all the problems of the world Labour Movement. All these problems have the appearance of being forcibly injected into the activities of the British Communist Party. [97]

Trotsky intruded once more into British politics in the 1920s, this time over an issue which would not alienate the liberal intelligentsia but draw them towards him. He had arrived in enforced exile in Turkey in February 1929 and shortly began to cast around for a visa. The possibility of British asylum for him was first raised in the Commons under the Tories that same month. [98] He told the press that his favoured place of exile would be Germany but Britain did appeal since it offered a chance to revisit the British Museum. [99] He professed puzzlement that the subject of a visa for him should bring the House (of Commons) down in laughter. [100]

Before the second Labour Government was formed, Trotsky received several celebrities of the left in Prinkipo. Cynthia Mosley was one of them. She admired him greatly, though her esteem was not reciprocated. [101] Sidney and Beatrice Webb called on him in May 1929. They were not impressed by his arguments and disputed that the Labour Government was obliged to offer him asylum. [102]

The return of Labour to office in May 1929 provided an opportunity for Trotsky to cash his cheque of goodwill – or at least to discover the extent of his credit. Two fairly sustained efforts were made to secure asylum for him in Britain, one in the early, the other in the dying days of the Labour Government. Those who favoured his entry included Emrys Hughes who compared his case with that of Marx, and many ILP branches, who wrote to their Head Office urging his admission. [103] Perhaps in response the Party invited him to deliver a lecture at its party school. [104] Trotsky requested a visa of the British Consul in Constantinople and then, in early June, cabled MacDonald. He later wrote to Beatrice Webb and Snowden, and telegraphed Lansbury. [105] To the public he declared that he hoped, given asylum, to supervise the publication of his books in England and to pursue (social) scientific work. [106] What was more he had a special interest in seeing if “the difficulties created by private ownership can be surmounted through the medium of democracy”. Democracy which planned to overlap the greatest obstacles, he observed, could hardly begin by denying the democratic right of asylum. [107] An impressive list of celebrities of radical England spoke up for Trotsky’s right of asylum, but the Webbs (Sidney was now a minister), were crucial exceptions. Beatrice Webb wrote that those who preached the extension of revolution would always be excluded from the countries in view. As Caute remarks [108] she thus indicated her ability to miss the whole purpose of asylum. She also showed ingratitude for her reception by Trotsky when he was in and she was out. Of the major British papers, only the Manchester Guardian (which was to befriend him over the years) and the Observer supported his claim. [109] The Times believed his presence in Constantinople a ruse by arrangement with Stalin to screen revolutionary activity in Germany. [110] Other rumours abounded. There was a general disinclination to take at face value Trotsky’s protestations that his interest in British asylum was exclusively personal.

Magdeleine Paz had been among the 280 signatories of a January 1926 complaint to the Comintern about dictatorship in the PCF. [111] Later, her group Contre le Courant, was an early vehicle for the ideas of the Left Opposition in France. She now became the central organiser of a campaign to win Trotsky a British visa, and she it was who put to the government the strict conditions which Trotsky was prepared to observe, if admitted. [112] Clynes hesitated under the pressure and then in July 1929 came out against a visa for Trotsky. The government seems to have feared that his entry would provide difficulties for them, found his ideology distasteful, and worried as to whether, once in Britain, he might be difficult to expel [113], Clynes suffered “a chorus of frantic personal abuse” but he had no wish to jeopardise his relations with Russia and stood firm. Later he was to find solace for his rectitude in the verdict of the Trials. [114]

There was another attempt to raise the matter in the House in November 1929, but the second sustained effort to secure entry for Trotsky occurred in the spring of 1931. Ivor Montagu [115], who had met Trotsky in Prinkipo, employed George Lansbury as an intermediary to Clynes. One request was that Trotsky be allowed to change boats at an English port en route for Norway. [116] It is now clear that it was certain Labour ministers, rather than – as might have been expected the Liberal Party, which barred Trotsky. Samuel (who was related to Montagu), intervened repeatedly, as did Lloyd George himself. Keynes, Scott, Bennett and Garvin all urged the government to reconsider its decision. It is noteworthy that there was stronger support from Labour intellectuals at this time than there was to be later over the Moscow Trials. Laski protested to the government. Shaw wrote Clynes a lengthy letter, [117] and joined with Wells in composing two statements against barring Trotsky’s entry. Ellen Wilkinson added her name. But there was no success in this classic liberal issue. MacDonald, Clynes and Henderson overrode Lansbury’s protests in Cabinet. [118] Possibly they were still smarting from the treatment they had received in Where Is Britain Going? With only minority support, they may have felt their parliamentary position at risk. There might also have been a sense of insecurity in the labour movement. An astute cartoon by David Low in the Manchester Guardian depicted a supplicant Trotsky having the door shut in his face by the determined Clynes. “But I am an old friend of the House”, protests the exile. “Yes, that’s why”, comes the reply.

No Trotskyist movement emerged in Britain before 1930 due to meagre awareness of, and involvement in, the Russian and Comintern debates by communists and, perhaps, the small size of the CPGB Party leaders dealt uncertainly with Trotsky as an individual and as a theoretician unless they first received guidance from Moscow. The Where Is Britain Going? episode occurred because of lack of this guidance and also because nobody in Britain, and perhaps elsewhere, was equipped to give the CPGB such a boost. Trotsky’s standing in Britain, which was high at mid-1926, collapsed abruptly as a direct result of the new drive against Trotskyism in the Comintern.

Outside the Party, reactions to Trotsky separate into three groups. The Labour and Trade Union leaders had a conventional fear of him and their experience in 1926 and even in 1929 gave them no encouragement that he had changed from his days of power in 1917-23. The ex-communists admired him as a revolutionary hero and writer, but had no firmer grasp of the issues at stake in his decline than had the CPGB They had themselves left the Party for various reasons and had no following they could convert to “Trotskyism” had they even wished to do so. Liberal and Socialist intellectuals also admired Trotsky, but they had always rejected Bolshevism. Some of them, like the Labour and Trade Union leaders, had crossed swords with Trotsky in the past. Had the Communist Party of Great Britain recruited them in significant numbers [119] it is conceivable they might have backed Trotsky. Certainly they might have forced the theoretical issues. As it was they rallied strongly to him as an exile seeking a visa, far more strongly than they would in the middle of the 1930s when he was a more remote figure, communist influence more pervasive, and the world a more threatening place.

There were a number of British journals which, like The Plebs, stood for independent Marxism, but they had no distinct world view. Throughout the 1920s Trotsky and the Oppositionists were at work developing their world view without any British contribution. A semi-finished product was available by the time some British communists finally came over to Trotsky in the next decade. At the same time, because there was no British Trotskyism there was no alternative view available when the crisis finally arrived for the CPGB Party members had a choice of the leaders who had not done well to date or new leaders with Russian backing. Falling membership rolls indicate their choice. A Trotskyist current might have been able to win support for ending the blurred boundary between communism and the Labour left, without retreating into a sectarian steadfast. But no via media was advanced with authority in Britain, and it is difficult to conceive of avowed Trotskyists surviving as party members any more easily after 1926 than they did in 1932. Even the old leadership had made short work of Arthur Reade. In the end the weaknesses of the CPGB, must provide the main explanation as to why a following for Trotsky emerged later in Britain than almost anywhere else.



1. The link between Continental Marxism and actual revolutionary movements is discussed by P. Anderson, Considerations on Western Marxism, 1979, 1-21.

2. W. Kendall, The Revolutionary Movement in Britain (1969), presents the launching of the CPGB as an unnatural distortion. R. Challinor interprets the decline of the CPGB from 1920 through the decay or removal of its S.L.P. cadre: The Origins of British Bolshevism, 1977, 215-77.

3. N. Wood, Communism and British Intellectuals, 1959, 22.

4. None of the most eminent of those who left during the early 1920s attempted to justify themselves at any length. Their views on the CPGB have to be gleaned en passant from articles in The Plebs and elsewhere. There was thus no domestic critique of the CPGB from within the Marxist tradition which might, as news of Trotsky’s fight in Russia became known, have become connected with the International Left Opposition. Marxism outside the CPGB receives masterly treatment from S. Macintyre, Marxism in Britain, 1917-1933 (Cambridge D.Phil., 1976).

5. The German, Polish and French Parties – all mass organisations – all came out for Trotsky before the Fifth (1924) Congress of the Comintern (J. Braunthal, History of the International, 2, 1914-1943, trans. 1967, 295, 296n). Leading figures who rallied to him now or later in the 1920s included Warski (twice General Secretary of the Polish Party), Cannon, an American leader, Nin, a founder and leading figure of the Spanish Party, and Bordiga, the Italian maximalist. In France, where the Party was initially stronger than the Socialists, Loriot and Souvarine, and Monatte and Rosmer from the Unions, all supported the Opposition (F. Borkenau, World Communism, Michigan 1962, 261-2). In Italy, Gramsci from jail criticised the Russians” preoccupation with domestic questions (F. Claudin, The Communist Movement, 1975, 116-7). Togliatti and Thorez, each destined for the General Secretaryship of a major party, privately approved the Critique of the Draft Programme of the Comintern, 1928 (I. Deutscher, The Prophet Unarmed. Trotsky: 1921-1929, 1959, 444). There is a useful summary of expulsions from the world’s Communist Parties for Trotskyism in The Third International after Lenin, 1973, 282.

6. Labour Monthly, Feb. 1924; Communist Review Feb. 1924. This last is seen by a critic as a “fair presentation”, B. Pearce, Early Years of the Communist Party of Great Britain, in M. Woodhouse and B. Pearce (eds.), Essays an the History of Communism in Britain, 1975, 173-4. Publication of these articles has been attributed to partial apprehension by the CPGB of what was happening in Russia (L.J. Macfarlane, The British Communist Party. Its origin and development until 1929, 1966, 92-3).

7. Inprecorr, Vol.4, No.12, Jan. 1924, 83-94. Macfarlane comments that Labour Monthly for March 1924 gave a Trotsky reply to Stalin’s accusations of factionalism “with obvious approval” (op. cit., 92).

8 Communist Review in that month ran the resolution of the thirteenth annual conference of the CPSU. condemning factional activity by the Opposition and classifying “Trotskyism” as a petty-bourgeois deviation. But the same journal could carry articles by Trotsky (Gorki on Lenin – Trotsky on Gorki, Dec. 1924, 381-6) and others which praised him:

He himself is a magnificent exponent of the conclusion to which he comes, namely that we must not wait for a bureaucratic “introduction” of the new order from on high, but must try and find in our every day conditions, the embryo forms and movements of the new order amidst the lumber of the old. (Trotsky on Culture, Communist Review, Nov. 1924, 355).

In each case, however, the theme of the article tended not to be of immediate political import.

9. The Philistine discourseth on the Revolutionary, Communist International, July 1924.

10. L.J. Macfarlane, op. cit., 93.

11. Ostensibly an autopsy on the bungled German insurrection of 1923, The Lessons of October developed the argument to embrace the role of Zinoviev and Kamenev in 1917.

12. The sequence began with How one should not write the History of October, a reprint from Pravda, and continued with contributions by Kuusinen, Bukharin, Stalin, Rykov, Kamenev, Krupskaya and Sokolnikov. From abroad, V. Kolarov (Bulgaria), the German Communist Youth CC, and Bela Kun joined in. Even Brandler and Thalheimer, now in disgrace, attacked Trotsky but a corrective article by Ottomar Geschke was attached to their views.

13. J. Klugmann, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Vol.2. The General Strike 1925-1926, 1969, 327.

14. The Truth About Trotsky, Workers Weekly, 5 December 1924. Bell recalled the Trotsky had criticised Party elder statesmen as early as December 1923 and claimed:

“needless to say the ideas of Comrade Trotsky found ready support from the bureaucrats and Nep-men ...”

He produced no evidence to support this assertion, however, nor did he show why this should be so from an exposition of Trotsky’s views. But he emphasised that the British Party was in line with the CPSU. endorsement of Comintern policy on Germany and Bulgaria and warned against splits.

15. L.J. Macfarlane, The British Communist Party, 92-3. Macfarlane argues that the swift British endorsement of the Soviet line pre-empted a purge. A purge was taking place in the Parti Communiste Français at this time (A. Treint, The Bolshevising Party Conference of the CP of France, Inprecorr, Vol.5, No.17, 240). Treint, who was to align himself with Trotsky in 1927, crowed that Trotsky had been ousted from his early popularity in France.

16. Arthur E.E. Reade was an Oxford student rusticated at the end of the war for his political activities (Interview with Harry Wicks, 30 November 1979).

17. This aggregate meeting of the London District membership of the CPGB joins with the District Party Committee in regretting the hasty vote of the Party Council in condemning Comrade Trotsky without full information: and this meeting at the same takes the opportunity to express the-London membership’s emphatic support both of the left wing’s minority fight in the Russian Party against bureaucracy, and equally of the Comintern’s struggle against right wing divergencies from Leninism in the French, Bulgarian and German sections (quoted in H. Wicks, British Trotskyism in the Thirties, International, Vol.1, No.4, 1971, 27).

18. Workers Weekly for 17 January 1925 gives Reade 10 votes out of 300. Reade claimed 15 out of 200 (J. Klugmann, History of the Communist Party, 2, 327).

19. J.D. Young and W. Kendall, The Rise of British Trotskyism, The New Leader, 7 May 1960.

20. Trotskyism completely isolated in the CP of Russia and in the Comintern, Inprecorr, Vol.5, No.7, 22 January 1925, 75.

21. C.M. Roebuck (Andrew Rothstein), Trotskyism – A Peril to the Party, Workers Weekly, 23 January 1925.

22. It appeared, without comment, in Inprecorr, Vol.5, No.16, 209-26.

23. Bukharin savaged Trotsky’s most distinctive theoretical contribution and asked, “Is it not clear that this ”permanent” question of a “permanent” theory is the ”permanent” contradiction between Trotskyism and Leninism?” (The Theory of Permanent Revolution, Communist Review, Feb. 1925, 381-94.)

24. Trotsky and the Party, Communist Review, March 1925, 446-56. Trotsky’s letter appears with the CPSU Central Committee reply.

25. Discussion on the Question of Trotsky, Inprecorr, Vol.5, No.37, 23 April 1925, 485-6.

26. J. Klugmann, History of the Communist Party 2 327n.

27. In 1929 Reade was back in politics, now as Labour prospective Parliamentary Candidate for North Berks. That year he clashed with Arthur Henderson at Party Conference over NEC vetting of election addresses (LPCR, 1929, 242). Reade later left the Labour Party to become a Parliamentary Candidate in Bristol for Oswald Mosley’s New Party. (Interview with Harry Wicks, 30 November 1979.)

28. J. Klugmann, History of the Communist Party, Vol.2, 327. The motion was identical with that passed at the London aggregate and received unanimous support (L.J. Macfarlane, op. cit., 140).

29 See C.M. Roebuck, Leninism and Trotskyism, Sunday Worker, 31 May 1925, a review of The Errors of Trotskyism, for an early attempt to depict Trotsky’s principles as a discrete philosophy distinguished by its views on the peasantry and the Party.

30. L.J. Macfarlane, op. cit., 140.

31. The suppression of Lenin’s Will was known to M. Phillips Price, a former M.P. and Party member, who dealt even-handedly with the struggle in Moscow (A Lion at Bay, The Plebs, June 1925, 238-41). Price may have heard about the Will from Max Eastman (see below), but he may not have known that it condemned Stalin (D. Caute, The Fellow Travellers, 1973, 86).

32. T.A. Jackson believed that Trotsky overdramatised and was lost without Lenin (Sunday Worker, 5 April 1925); A. MacManus thought Lenin lacked Trotsky’s “usual brilliance” and was “quite his weakest piece of work”. Trotsky ought, he suggested, to publish a real book on Lenin, not just fragments (Communist Review, May 1925, 35-41) .

33. M. Dobb, Lenin and Trotsky, The Plebs, May 1925, 184-91; W.N. Ewer, who worked closely with the communists and wrote frequently for Labour Monthly was spiteful in the Daily Herald and wrote in Labour Monthly of The Twilight of Trotsky.

34. Lansbury’s Labour Weekly, 4 April 1925.

35. He pointed out that part of the poorly received Lenin had been published by Labour Monthly the previous year: (B. Pearce, Early Years of the Communist Party of Great Britain, in M. Woodhouse and B. Pearce (eds.), Essays on the History of Communism in Britain, 1975 , 175) .

36. An American journalist, formerly an editor of The Liberator, and an early member of the CPUSA. For Eastman’s relationship with Trotsky, whom he persuaded to allow him to write his autobiography, see D. Caute, The Fellow Travellers (1973), 22. S. Macintyre discusses Eastman’s links with The Plebs in Marxism in Britain, 1917-33.

37. Published by the Labour Publishing Company.

38. It was not Trotsky’s account however. Eastman believed that he had failed to take the opportunity to lead Russia after Lenin’s illness. He anticipated later writers with his view that Trotsky “had no idea of political manoeuvring. He has nothing but a complete incapacity for it”.

39. Of necessity during the factional struggle, I. Deutscher, The Prophet Unarmed, 1959, 201-2 and n.

40. Since Lenin Died. More facts and fiction. (A Review of the latest Menshevik Diatribe), Communist Review, May 1925, 35-41.

41. Poor Trotsky, The Sunday Worker, 10 May 1925.

42. Labour Monthly (June 1925). See also Since Eastman Lies, Workers” Weekly, 8 May 1925.

43. The Sunday Worker considered Trotsky’s first disavowal to justify front page treatment on 10 May 1925. On 31 May it ran Eastman’s complaint at the treatment he had received in the communist press with Jackson’s defensive note. Trotsky’s second, less ambiguous denial appeared in full on 19 July.

44. R. Postgate, another ex-communist, defended Trotsky on the personal level but failed to see any deeper significance in Russian events (Why Trotsky Fell, Lansbury’s Labour Weekly, 2 May 1925). M. Phillips Price drew on Eastman and reports now becoming available from Russia (A Lion at Bay, The Plebs, June 1925).

45. Eastman’s emphasis in his book on Trotsky’s personality had allowed MacManus to advise him to pay less attention to the psyche and more to the revolution.

46. R. Postgate and J. Horrabin, Trotsky’s “Comrades“, The Plebs, July 1925, 286-8. See also Gallacher’s reply in August.

47. See for example R. Challinor, The Origins of British Bolshevism, 1977, 273

48. In the International: Comrade Trotsky’s Declaration with regard to Eastman’s Book: Since Lenin’s Death (sic), Inprecorr, Vol.5, No.60, 30 July 1925, 833-4; Final Text of Trotsky’s letter on Eastman’s book: Since Lenin Died, Inprecorr, Vol.5, No.68, 3 September 1925, 1004-6. Eastman replied to his critics in Lansbury’s Labour Weekly for 29 August 1925 and rounded off the discussion with a well-written article in Plebs (A Response to Trotsky, Oct. 1925, 393-8) in which he attempted to explain Trotsky’s disclaimers.

49. In 1926 Eastman published two further books, Leon Trotsky: The Portrait of a Youth (reviewed in The Plebs, September 1926, 343-4), and Marx, Lenin and the Science of Revolution, a refutation of dialectical materialism which should have ended once and for all the belief that he was a Trotskyist (S. Macintyre, Marxism in Britain, 1917-33, 105-6). In 1928 however he had gathered round him a tiny group of Trotsky sympathisers simultaneously with the emergence of a Left Opposition within the CPUSA See C.A. Myers, The Prophet’s Army: Trotskyists in America, 1928-1941, Westport, Conn., 1977.

50. Charles Ashleigh discussed Literature and Revolution (Purges for the Highbrow, Sunday Worker, Nov. 1925).

51. The Spirit of Moscow (Sunday Worker, 21 June 1925) which appeared at the beginning of China’s revolutionary phase; The struggle for the Quality of Production, Inprecorr, Vol.5, No.81, 19 November 1925, 1235-6; Towards Socialism or Capitalism? The Language of Figure, I, Labour Monthly, Nov. 1925, 659-66, and II, Labour Monthly, Dec. 1925, 736-48. This last was the first introductory section of a work already published in Russia. Later sections, criticising Bukharin, were omitted without acknowledgement by Labour Monthly (B. Pearce, Early Years of the Communist Party of Great Britain, in M. Woodhouse and B. Pearce, op. cit., 176). Trotsky’s writings never appeared in the journal after this, though he was to be anathematized many times.

52. The history of the revolution was one. John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World, with its accurate portrait of 1917 and a commendatory preface by Lenin, was suppressed shortly after it appeared in February 1926. Those with copies were confronted by footnotes correcting Reed’s account and referring them to The Errors of Trotskyism (J. Braunthal, History of the International: 1914-1943, Trans. 1967, 244n).

53. See below. The first (Moscow) edition is dated May 1925. In September 1925 the book had appeared in the United States as Whither England? In October 1926 the CPGB brought out its own edition in which it dropped Brailsford’s introduction and replaced it by Trotsky’s own for the second German edition (dated 6 May 1926). For the diluting effect this had see B. Pearce, The Early Years of the Communist Party of Great Britain, in M. Woodhouse and B. Pearce, op. cit., 176-7.

54. My Life, New York, 1970, 527.

55. H. Dewar, Communist Politics in Britain, 1976, 65.

56. Must Britain Travel the Moscow Road? (1926). Angell claimed his book had been “a thumping success” in publishing terms (After All, 1951, 268).

57. Trotsky on Great Britain, The Nation, 10 March 1926.

58. Trotsky on our Sins, The New Leader, 26 February 1926.

59. Trotsky, Lansbury’s Labour Weekly, 27 February 1926.

60. The Gospel According to Trotsky, Labour Magazine, March 1926. The Daily Herald reviewed the book on 10 February. All these reviews appear in G. Novack (ed.) Leon Trotsky on Britain, NY 1973.

61. T.A. Jackson: The Retreat Before Moscow, The Workers” Weekly. William Paul defended Trotsky against Angell and other critics unable to handle his “unanswerable case”, insisting that the course of the General Strike had confirmed Trotsky’s estimate of ruling class intentions. Trotsky would not have approved of Paul’s argument that gradualness comes after revolution and not before, evidence for which was the gradual building of a communist basis in Russia (Where Angell Dares to Tread, Sunday Worker, 18 July 1926). When he reviewed Towards Socialism or Capitalism?, Paul directly imputed this idea to Trotsky himself (The Path to Socialism, Sunday Worker, 8 August 1926). The last reply to Angell came curiously late in the year when J.T. Murphy studiously avoided taking a position on Trotsky’s book. (An Angel’s Dilemma, Communist International, 30 November 1926, 22-3). Much water had flowed beneath the bridge by then.

62. “The Party Press gave the volume high grades for brilliance and apparently could not fault it ideologically”, A. Calhoun, The United Front: The T.U.C. and the Russians, 1923-1928, Cambridge 1975, 170. When T.A. Jackson reviewed Bukharin’s Historical Materialism, he felt unable to do so without defending Trotsky against all critics, and notably Brailsford (Historical Materialism, Communist Review, May 1926,), 39-47). It is worth noting that the official history steers the reader through the party’s experience of the General Strike without mentioning Trotsky’s book once (J. Klugmann, History of the Communist Party, Vol.1, 1969).

63. R.P. Dutt, Trotsky and his English Critics, Labour Monthly, April 1926, 223-4.

64. loc. cit., 241.

65. The previous year Dutt had written:

“Thus the Left Trade Union leaders occupy at present the position, not only of leaders of the workers in the immediate crisis but also of the spokesmen of the working class elements in the Labour Party – it might almost be said, an alternative political leadership.” (The Capitalist offensive in Britain, Inprecorr, Vol.5, No.62, 6 Aug. 1925, 856).

This was the very thesis against which Trotsky fought. After the General Strike, however, Dutt reverted to a position to the left of the leadership. He repeated Trotsky’s later criticisms without acknowledgment (L.J. MacFarlane, op. cit., 157). In this period he gained the loyalty of younger party members who, like Reg Groves, were to become Trotskyists. See for example Groves’s retrospective of Dutt’s role in 1924-8 (The Red Flag, Aug. 1934).

66. Four chapters under this heading appeared in Russia. One of them was published in Britain (Communist International, No.22, 1926, 19-41).

67. The General Strike in Britain, Inprecorr, Vol.6, No.50, 10 July 1926), 816.

68. H. Pelling, The British Communist Party, 1975, 192.

69. J. Sten, Leninism or Trotskyism, Communist International, 30 Oct. 1926, 5-9. Attacks on the Opposition became frequent in the journal at this time.

70. Extracts from the speeches of Zinoviev and Trotsky to the plenum of the enlarged ECCI. in December were printed. See A New attack of the Opposition and After Zinoviev, also Trotsky, Inprecorr, Vol. 6, No.87, 16 December 1926, 1501-2.

71. It had already complained to the ECCI about Trotsky’s hostility towards it (I. Deutscher, The Prophet Unarmed, 223n and 269n).

72. Workers Weekly, 13 August 1926.

73. Yet amid all this, the last ungrudging reference to Trotsky’s role in 1917 appeared. Barret Robertson, The Life of a Red, Sunday Worker, 15 August 1926.

74. In 1926 or 1927 members were invited locally to approve the condemnation of the Russian Opposition by the CPSU. and the ECCI. Stewart Purkiss and Billy Williams, future Balham group members, abstained or opposed the leadership on the Russian economic question in their St. Pancras branch. Reg Groves himself abstained on the Russian economy and voted against the official resolution on China at a West London area aggregate (Reg Groves, The Balham Group, 1974, 16). ’No-one”, Groves records, “showed any surprise or concern over our attitude.”.

75. See Maurice Dobb’s hostile review of Towards Capitalism or Socialism? (Plebs, Oct. 1926).

76. 15th Party Conference of the CP of the Soviet Union, Communist Review, Jan. 1927, 428-34.

77. Inprecorr, Vol.7, No.2, 6 Jan. 1927, 16

78. Inprecorr: Vol.7, No.4, 12 Jan. 1927. Smith was presumably referring to Problems of the British Labour Movement. Some years later Bell himself repeated the allegation that Trotsky called the CPGB “a brake on the revolution” (The British Communist Party: A short history, 1937). In fact no such expression occurs in the original or published versions of the article, though Trotsky’s main argument was the need for the utmost implacability on the party’s part in its dealings with left reformism, and he did warn that development of the party might lag behind development of the revolution.

79. Official figures of party membership, derived from a variety of sources, are given in H. Pelling, The British Communist Party. A historical profile, 1975, 192-321 .

80. Ironically J.R. Campbell, at the Tenth Party Congress of January 1929, warned the party delegation to the Comintern that their stand on the colonial question was receiving support from Trotsky (L.J. Macfarlane, op. cit., 209).

81. The detailed course of events can be followed in L.J. Macfarlane op. cit., 177-274. See also H. Pelling, op. cit., 36-53. Work is proceeding on the third volume of the official history of the CPGB which will cover this period. See also F. Borkenau, World Communism, Michigan, 1962, 334.

82. See Expulsion of Comrades Trotsky and Vuyovitch from the EC of the CI, Inprecorr, Vol.7, No.56, 6 Oct. 1927, 1250-1 and I. Deutscher, The Prophet Unarmed, 359-61. J.T. Murphy’s own account is to be found in New Horizon, 1932, 9 274-7. Murphy was to part with the CPGB in 1932 and was even to be loosely bracketed with Trotsky by communist leaders. But though no longer a party member he did not revise his views on Trotsky and continued to admire Stalin. See his Stalin (1944).

83. Inprecorr, Vol.7, No.57, 13 Oct. 1927, 1272.

84. The “Victories” of the Opposition a “World Scale’, Inprecorr, Vol.7, No.58, 20 Oct. 1927, 1287-8.

85. Inprecorr, Vol.7, No.66, 24 Nov. 1927, 1485.

86. Must Thermidor came in Russia?, The Communist, Dec. 1927, 262-9.

87. The Opposition – the Hope of the British Imperialists, Inprecorr, Vol.7, No.68, 1 Dec. 1927, 1534.

88. M. McCarthy, Generation in Revolt, 1953, 101, 121-2.

89. Communist International, 1 Feb. 1928, 52.

90. A.B., The International Countenance of Trotskyism, Inprecorr, Vol.8, No.9, 23 Feb. 1928, 196.

91. Britain is not among the countries cured of the bacillus in Trotskyism. Latest attack on the Comintern, Communist International, 1 March 1928, 106-111.

92. Yet the Comintern, in its debate at the Sixth World Congress, did not see fit to mention Trotskyism in the debate on the English question (Inprecorr, Vol.8, No.10, 25 Feb. 1928, 222, 249-54.

93. J.P. Cannon, History of American Trotskyism, New York 1973.

94. J. Yaroslavsky, The Letter of A. Joffe and The Philosophy of Decadence (Inprecorr, Vol.8, No.3, 19 Jan. 1928, 81-6).

95. In 1928 the party published a pamphlet under the title Where is Trotsky Going?

96. The Real Situation in Russia, Communist Review, April 1929, 200-212.

97. Inprecorr, Vol.9, 1929, 1140, quoted by Pelling, op. cit., 45.

98. I. Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast. Trotsky: 1929-1940, 1963, 17-21, gives an account of Trotsky’s quest for a visa during 1929. See also My Life, New York 1970, 574-8 (14 March 1929).

99. Interview By The Daily Telegraph, 14 March 1929, Writings Supplement (1929-33), 13-15.

100. Interview By The Daily Express, 16 March 1929, Writings Supplement (1929-33), 66.

101. J. Bellamy and J. Saville, Dictionary of Labour Biography, Vo1.5, 158.

102. M. Cole, Beatrice Webb (1945). Deutscher dates the visit in April, but My Life gives early May.

103. C. Holmes, Trotsky and Britain. The “closed” file, BSSLH, Autumn 1979, 33. Hughes continued to be interested in securing a British visa for Trotsky years later, even suggesting that he should be given exile on a Scottish island (Forward, 25 April 1934).

104. My Life, 574. The invitation was sent on June 5.

105. I. Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast, 17.

106. On 15 July 1929 he repeated his claim to be motivated only by personal considerations in a letter to The Daily Herald (Writings: Supplement (1929-33), 195).

107. Why I Want To Come To London, 11 June 1929, Writings: Supplement (1929-33), 153)

108. The Fellow Travellers, 204. For contemporary comment, see Manchester Guardian, 19 July; Daily Herald, 22 July, 25 July, 1929.

109. I. Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast, 20.

110. My Life, New York 1970, 568.

111. D. Caute, Communism and the French Intellectuals, 1914-1960, 1964, 91. Caute traces the emergence of French Trotskyism on pp.89-92.

112. After 1929 Trotsky broke with Magdeleine Paz. He allowed her grudging credit for acting on his behalf over the English visa and for her part in securing the release of Victor Serge from the Soviet Union. He viewed Paz and her husband, however, as mere liberals (Trotsky to Serge, 29 April 1936 and 19 May 1936, Writings: Supplement (1934-40), 660, 665).

113. C. Holmes, loc. cit., 33.

114. J.R. Clynes, Memoirs, 1924-1937, 1937, 116.

115. Ivor Montagu (1904- ) had, as a young man, admired Trotsky. Later he was baffled by the dispute between him and the Soviet leaders (The Youngest Son, 1970, 192, 339); in this, his autobiography Montagu omits any reference to his part in the asylum episode or to the visit he paid to Trotsky at Prinkipo in 1931. In view of letters from Trotsky, now published, it seems likely that Montagu was the British Communist, later famous for his orthodoxy, whose correspondence with Trotsky Deutscher described as a “thick pile” of friendly letters, though he claims his correspondence was not extensive (C. Holmes, loc. cit., 37n).

116. C. Holmes, loc. cit., 36.

117. Quoted at length in I. Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast, op. cit., 17-18.

118. ibid., 20n.

119. M. Johnstone, The Communist Party in the 1920s, New Left Review, Vol.41, 1967, 47-63.

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