The History of British Trotskyism to 1949

by Martin Upham


(THE RCP 1947 – 1949)

The RCP continued in being after the October 1947 split though the apparatus of the party was gradually reduced. 1948 was a year of stagnation: party leaders concentrated on theoretical explanation of dynamic world and national political changes, but there was declining activity by the membership. The difficulty of maintaining progress and disillusionment with ideologically bankrupt international leaders led to most RCP leaders advocating entry into the Labour Party early in 1949. After a short fierce battle, a majority of the party supported them and the RCP was dissolved.

The majority retained the name and most of the apparatus of the RCP But from this point the party press began to run down [1] and it seems that there was a decline in membership and in the activity of those who remained during the fifteen months to the opening of the final debate in January 1949. [2] Internal life, so frenetic in 1947, also subsided. [3] 1948 was the first year the WIL/RCP had failed to convene its annual conference since 1941. Polemics began to be directed, not against internal critics but against the IS and the Cominform.

The strongest plank in the platform of explanation offered by the RCP for the post-war political lull was the non-appearance of slump. It was this which would expose Labour’s reformism. [4] RCP leaders had rejected any suggestion that a slump was already taking place. They did not doubt, however, that it would soon be upon them. Signs abounded in the re-emergence of Mosley, an electoral swing to the right [5] and the words of Labour leaders. [6] But continued British insistence that the lull would be ended for fundamentally economic reasons still left it divided from the IS, which continued to believe European politics was occurring within “unstable equilibrium”, that 1938 output levels in the nations of the Continent were exceeded “only in exceptional cases”. [7] The absurd “ceilings” argument was applied in detail to Britain by the IS economist Mandel, who warned the RCP:

“.... it is necessary to abandon right now any juggling with a boom that has not existed and that British capitalism will never experience again.” [8]

By 1947 key sectors of industry had been taken into public ownership in all the buffer states of Eastern Europe. In 1948, a domestic crisis over acceptance of Marshall Aid precipitated a full communist takeover in Czechoslovakia. That year also witnessed the Tito-Stalin split, the first serious and open rift between communist governments. The next year a generation of communist struggle in China was crowned with success when the Red Army, long in control of the countryside, finally entered the country’s cities. These events created an unprecedented, albeit largely unrecognised, ideological crisis within the Fourth International, whose leaders had already proved unable to comprehend the survival of Soviet Russia after the war.

To the RCP there was a need for enquiry into the worldwide enhanced role of the state in the economy. Some RCP leaders [9] had begun to consider that Trotsky’s analysis of Russia might be outmoded and that a form of “state capitalism” flourished there. Some of these speculations found expression within a document of autumn 1947 which implied that “state capitalism” was a form of society which might emerge from contemporary economy. [10] It was after this debate was opened that Tony Cliff, an Israeli exile [11], drew an emphatic conclusion from the hypothesis and applied it to Russia. [12] A year after raising the matter the RCP leaders had concluded that the theory was not coherent: if the state took over all the means of production, they reasoned, capitalism had ceased to exist. Their analysis rested mainly on the introduction of planning where industry was mainly in the hands of the state, a step which allowed crises to be transcended and the contradiction between production and the market gradually ironed out. In the capitalist countries, statification (nationalisation) could proceed only up to a certain point. The use of state ownership was a device of capitalism to mitigate the effects of its decline. It would not peacefully evolve into its opposite. [13] The more negative features of Soviet rule were given greater emphasis in a contemporary contribution from Hunter. [14] In 1949, with the RCP already doomed, the crystallized views of Cliff on Russian economy and society received weighty refutation from Grant. [15]

Before the political shocks that 1948 brought to Eastern Europe, the IS saw the buffer states “retaining their basic capitalist structure” and moving towards western influence. [16] The 1948 World Congress, meeting in the month of the Prague coup, endorsed this view, seeing in these states,

“.... an attempt to exploit the resources of the ‘buffer zone’ and to ensure its strategic control, while at the same time maintaining capitalist production relations and a bourgeois state structure in its traditional form.” [17]

Removal of capitalism from Eastern Europe was envisaged by the IS only within the context of structural assimilation into the USSR Underlying its reasoning was the assumption that national social change could occur only through a mass uprising, following the Russian model of 1917. The corollary was that only two social alternatives lay before Eastern European states: capitalism or a healthy socialist system. The IS was forced to believe this, for the alternative was that some agency other than the Fourth International could achieve social change. [18] By 1949 its views were at such variance with reality that some stalwart supporters began to crack. [19]

Impatience grew in Britain. The RCP argued that the existence of the bourgeoisie in the buffer states was more apparent than real, but kept in insubstantial being for reasons of realpolitik. [20] The new society, Hunter reasoned in an important article, emerged that much more easily because of the existence of a model degenerated workers’ state in Russia. [21]

But the IS now accomplished an astonishing volte-face. When the split between Russian and Yugoslav communists broke into the open in June 1948, the IS responded with a naive open letter to the Central Committee of the Yugoslav party which betrayed great illusions about what was taking place, and principally the belief that Tito and his colleagues were repudiating the past. [22] The IS made no criticisms of Tito and urged him further along “the road of the socialist revolution and its programme”. The RCP was unimpressed however. [23] It also supported Tito against Stalin but interpreted the split as a struggle for independence by one section of Soviet bureaucracy. The Titoites were Stalinist still, claimed the RCP, and they shared with the Russians some responsibility for the crimes of the past. But the IS had landed itself in a hopeless ideological muddle [24], and the British paid no attention to its views in the literature they put out for public consumption. [25]

1949 brought final success for the Chinese communists which compounded the bewilderment of the IS It reacted in the same myopic way as it had to the new Eastern European states, which is to say that it pretended, in effect, that a revolution had not taken place. [26] To the RCP, this brought final disillusionment. David James took the views of the IS itself to their logical conclusion that the Fourth International was irrelevant. [27] Nor was he satisfied with the RCP attempt to handle the apparent contradictions in Trotskyist theory, thrown up by Yugoslavia and China by backing a deformed workers’ state. Stalinism, he concluded, was the only real alternative to capitalism. Grant’s refutation of this rested on the variety of political forms available either to proletarian or to bourgeois rule, and the argument that like economic forms did not preclude conflicts between states. RCP support for Tito was dictated not by the form of Yugoslav society but by the right of nations to self-determination, which had been threatened by Stalin. As for China, Mao might prove “a new and more formidable Tito” but this did not mean that his revolution would not also be deformed from the start. [28] Support for this argument came also from Hunter, who noted in his analysis the close economic similarity of Russia to all the buffer states, yet echoed Grant’s warning of future Maoist opposition. [29]

The ideological incapacity of the IS as well as the general lack of progress by the Fourth International was the background to the disintegration of the RCP which took place in 1949. Grant and others had cobbled together a strong alternative analysis to that of the IS, but they-had not provided a definite programme to guide the activity of Fourth Internationalists in the present. Internationally and nationally the thrust of their argument was that no initiatives were available, that matters were in the hands of objective economic and political forces. The malaise might have been offset by RCP progress but this did not take place. In Britain Labour was, apparently, carrying out its programme. The extension of Soviet rule in Eastern Europe made it improbable that any great numbers would defect from the CPGB After a period of confusion induced by the Tito-Stalin split, the CPGB, rallied to Russia. Party membership fell, but Trotskyism did not benefit thereby.

The crisis of Trotskyist leadership may have been long gathering. [30] It broke into the open in January 1949 when Haston, Tearse, Atkinson and Vic Charles, a majority of the Political Bureau, called for entry into the Labour Party. [31] They had not revised their views on how things stood within the Labour Party, but recognised that the industrial field had been, contrary to expectations, “exceptionally quiescent”, and that communists were now more confident than before and thus more difficult to move. Haston et al. made no claim that the conditions for entry existed in the Britain of 1949. They suggested instead that the problem be approached from a new angle: that it would be impossible to build a third party except from a recognition that workers had first to complete their experiences of social democracy and communism. Without enthusiasm [32], they proposed a long period of Labour Party work. [33] Since it was an expression of a mood the proposal, if it was to be defeated, had to be instantly suppressed. But other party leaders were not sufficiently resolute or willing to take such rapid steps. Grant and two other Political Bureau members consciously avoided the issue by declining to engage in a struggle over entrism. In their view the die was already cast [34] and unity took precedence over a sterile discussion within the party. [35] They put great value on the agreement by all that there was a need to maintain a theoretical journal and a tight organisation. This was to turn out to be self-deception. The debate ceased to be confined to RCP leaders as the party received a missive from the IS and polemics from members who sought to retain an independent party. The IS letter was animated by an unforgiving spirit. [36] Haston et al. had not adopted the entrist proposals of the IS two years late; they had devised their own. Nor had they revised their economic perspectives. They were proposing to enter the Labour Party without any definite end in view. [37] The IS called for delay and regretted that no votes had been taken in the discussions held so far by the RCP. This document had the predictable effect of solidifying the British leaders. None of them shared the views of the IS, on the economy or in the controversies over Russia and Eastern Europe. The IS had so little standing with the RCP that its demand to be involved in the debate had negligible impact. A rapid reply from the Political Bureau rejected the liquidationist charge and all IS proposals for conduct of the debate. [38] It also pointed out the RCP leaders were now repudiating the very concept of entrism the International itself had criticised two years before. [39] The IS could derive no comfort at all from other contributions to the debate. [40] Most significantly there was a rank and file revolt which centred on restating original RCP views against a leadership which it believed to be demoralised. These members, centred on the London district committee, had first looked to Grant to resist the drift into the Labour Party. When disappointed, they took up cudgels themselves. They agreed with the IS only in their belief that Haston et al. were aiming at destruction of the party. In every other respect they opposed it. Entry could be efficacious only under conditions of economic recession which were absent. RCP leaders were privately in despair at the ability of the party to maintain itself and this was driving them on. [41] The Open Party Faction had only a limited impact though it made considerable effort. [42] Late in the debate its leaders did attempt to broaden the issues. They rejected the classical conditions of entry, formerly much beloved. [43] They came close to suggesting that successful Trotskyist activity within the Labour Party was impossible. [44] Lack of activity there would, they predicted, lead to an over emphasis on theory and to factionalism. [45]

When the Political Bureau next addressed the party it was in more radical mood. It repudiated its own policy of independence since 1945 [46], conceded the charge of fatalism levelled in the past by the IS [47] and predicted that the beneficiaries of a mass movement would be no independent force but Bevan and other left wing Labour leaders. The RCP, it now believed, would never be able to step in and take control of an established current: it would have to earn support. [48] Appearing monolithic before the members, and having allowed a lengthy discussion, the Political Bureau’s victory was assured. The Open Party Faction had failed to gain ground and other alternatives did not attract support. [49] There was no split before the special RCP Congress of 4-6 June, which gave most of its agenda over to the problem of entry. [50] At the Congress the biggest faction, with around 50% of the thirty delegates was that behind Grant which meant a vote to enter the Labour Party was certain. The supporters of Haston and of the Open Party Faction registered about equal strength. [51] Speeches by Levy and Snobel gained them no ground and the decision to dissolve was taken. [52] Haston was appointed to head a Committee of Dissolution.

The last issue of Socialist Appeal was published in July 1949. It ran a declaration of dissolution:

“The perspective for Socialists must therefore be to join the ranks of the politically conscious workers inside the Labour Party and try to orientate its policy along truly socialist lines.” [53]

It was openly stated that dissolution was forced on the RCP by a 1946 decision of Labour Party conference on affiliations. It claimed to take this step in order to help Labour fashion an anti-capitalist programme in the face of the coming world slump. In the end the RCP, had succumbed to the same hostile environment which had induced the collapse of the ILP and Common Wealth. Ideologically and organisationally it was tougher (though much smaller) than either, and so its fate was delayed. To its credit it tried honestly to explain post-war developments in the economy and politics at home and abroad. Its efforts shone when compared with those of its international leadership. [54] But events were so different to expectations that the party itself was shattered by the reorientation expected of it. The argument between the IS, the Majority and the Minority had been over when, not whether the slump would appear. By 1949 only the Majority had faced up to the probability of some years of expansion which its determinist Marxism suggested meant also a political lull. This greater clarity brought nearer its demise and an end to the struggle against history. [55]



1. The October 1947 issue was the only Workers International News between May 1947 and June 1948, though it appeared two monthly thereafter. 800 copies of the last (Jan.-Feb. 1949) were published. Socialist Appeal already a monthly was hit by the decision to break the long standing arrangement with the printers C.A. Brock, who, it had been discovered, were undertaking work for Mosley. No issues of Party Organiser post-dating the split have been located.

2. The Haston papers provide little evidence of activity in 1948 though most members now expected a political recession and were prepared for it. Some of the moneyed backers of the party were however starting to lose interest (Interview with E. Grant, Jan. 1973). In 1948 some professionals began to be removed from the employment roll.

3. The internal dispute over entry and economic perspectives ceased with the split. 1948 was a vital year in the development of Trotskyist ideas in Britain and important documents were written, but the Internal Bulletin in its usual form virtually ceased to appear. These documents were the work of a handful of leading party members. In February 1949 it was alleged that the Political Bureau had failed to issue a single directive for the previous twelve months (Bill Cleminson, Criticism of the entry statement of J.H., H.A., R.T., V.C., [Feb? 1949], H.P., D.J.H. 15B/101). D.D. Harber, a supporter of the leadership, ceased activity circa 1948. He continued to combine WEA work with his CIS job in Eastbourne. In later years his main creative work was in ornithology, though he kept his Marxist views and gift for languages.

4. E. Grant, Two Years of Labour in Power, loc. cit., 11.

5. E. Grant, in The Menace of Fascism (1948), repeated the wartime argument about the irrelevance of Fascism to British capitalists as long as they could achieve their ends by other means. The reappearance of Mosley and rising Tory votes at by-elections were linked by him to Labour “tinkering” with capitalism. Disaffection in a boom threatened dire things for the slump.

6. Grant argued that “the exhaustion of the sellers” market looms in sight and that in the speeches of Cripps were to be perceived, “the symptoms of decline, of impending economic slump, of overproduction” (ibid., 51).

7. The IS also discerned evidence of a rightward swing of the petty bourgeoisie in election results, but perceived an imminent clash between the two wings of the Labour Party (World Situation and the Tasks of the Fourth International, Fourth International [NY], Nov.-Dec. 1947), 275).

8. E. Mandel, From the A.B.C. to Current Reading: Boom, Revival or Crisis?, Internal Bulletin, Sept. 1947, H.P., D.J.H. 11/40, 9. Mandel focussed especially on the shortages of manpower and of coal, both of which rendered the transformation of the economic revival into a boom “impossible”, and on the refusal of “an enormous mass of capital ... to converge towards industry”. Mandel’s paper was circulated to party members with a reply by Cliff.

9. Notably Haston and Grant (Interviews, 1973).

10. Capitalist Statification. This internal document has not been located.

11. Cliff (Yigal Gluckstein) had come to England in 1946 and contributed occasional articles to Workers International News and Internal Bulletin.

12. The Nature of Stalinism in Russia, trans. C. Dallas, June 1948, H.P., D.J.H. 15A/43. A harbinger of this critique was Cliff’s article What is Happening in Stalinist Russia?, Socialist Appeal, Feb. 1947.

13. The analysis can be followed in The Tendency Towards Statification – A Necessary Correction, WIN, Nov.-Dec. 1948, 8-18. The decision to make the correction arose from a Central Committee meeting of September 4/5 1948.

14. Hunter contrasted the reality of state power in Russia, with Engels’ prediction that it would wither away, and argued that bourgeois rights there were strengthening, not weakening, as expected by Marx (Is Russia Moving to Communism?, WIN, Jan.-Feb. 1949 , 8-23) .

15. T. Cliff, Marxism and the theory of bureaucratic collectivism, [1949?], H.P., D.J.H. 15B/109; E. Grant, The Marxist Theory of the state as applied to the Stalinist states: reply to Cliff, Aug. 1949, D.J.H./1SB/109. This debate on the state extends beyond the RCP to take in a faction fight within “the Club” (the former Entrist Minority led by Healy), and the formation of a discrete state capitalist group. It is not therefore dealt with here. See D. Hallas (ed.) The Fourth International: Stalinism and the Origins of the International Socialists (1971).

16. In a resolution which speaks of their “need to trade with the West and imports of American capital and industrial products” and suggests that their population is moving in favour of socialist parties. (World Situation and the Tasks of the Fourth International, Fourth International (Nov.-Dec. 1947), 275). Six months later the IS called on Trotskyists in Eastern Europe to enter Social Democratic parties (The USSR and Stalinism, Fourth International, June 1948, 110-28).

17. ibid., 118.

18. Unaccountably, T. Ali in The Coming British Revolution (1971), attributes this folly not to the IS, but to its British critics. But the RCP stood opposed to the fantastic call in the 1948 World Congress theses for the expropriation of the big bourgeoisie of Eastern Europe who had been expropriated long before (The USSR and Stalinism, loc. cit., 121).

19. The argument that structural assimilation into the USSR was not in prospect and that the East European states were sociologically similar to Russia, was rehearsed by E.R. Frank (Memorandum on Resolution on The Evolution of the Buffer Countries, 31 March 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 15B/103). The Evolution of the Buffer Countries was an IEC resolution of March 1949, which still did not clarify the social character of these countries.

20. Hunter argued that the Czech communists kept a National Block in being when it was not needed:

“the coalition with the shadow of the bourgeoisie was intended to placate western imperialism in line with the alliances then existing, and to facilitate western economic aid.” (B. Hunter, Stalinism in Czechoslovakia, WIN, June 1948.)

21. ibid.

22. “Now you are in a position to understand, in the light of the infamous campaign of which you are the victims, the real meaning of the Moscow Trials and of the whole Stalinist struggle against Trotskyism” (Open Letter to Yugoslav CP, WIN, Aug. 1948, 16). A further letter developed this friendly theme and offered Tito the assistance of the Fourth International.

23. “We cannot lend credence, by silence on aspects of YCP policy and regime, to any impression that Tito or the leaders of the CPY (sic) are Trotskyist “ (Letter on Yugoslavia sent to the IEC by the RCP (Britain), Oct. 1948, H.P., D.J.H. 15B/100). The Letter, toned down from earlier drafts, called on the IEC to repudiate the open letters. I.H. Birchall, Workers Against the Monolith (1974) reports the later rejection by the Cliff Group of the official FI line but omits any reference to the RCP leaders’ contemporary rebuttal.

24. In June 1948, the month of the split, the World Congress had declared all the East European states to be capitalist. Now it was supporting a “capitalist” country (Yugoslavia) against a ”workers’ state” (Russia). There was, as Haston the RCP signatory pointed out, no call for the overthrow of Yugoslav capitalism in the open letters.

25. See the pamphlet, E. Grant and J. Haston, The Tito-Stalin Split (1948). The official Trotskyist reaction was no passing fancy. Two years later, in its official American journal, Gerard Bloch wrote that “the Yugoslav revolution can very well become the springboard from which the Fourth International will launch out to win over the masses” (The Test of Yugoslavia, Fourth International, July-Aug. 1950, 121). For an interesting first-hand account of the course of events before and during the Tito-Stalin quarrel see F. Claudin, The Communist Movement, 1975, 486-548. The enthusiasm of the Fourth International leaders for Tito found a mirror image in James Klugmann’s From Trotsky to Tito (1951) which constructed a farrago of links between the two movements.

26. In April 1948, before the Nationalists were routed, a Chinese Trotskyist dismissed Mao’s programme as “an embellishment of bourgeois power” and predicted he would use the national bourgeoisie as an ally against imperialism (H. Yueh, Mao Tse-tung’s “Revolution”, Fourth International (NY), Dec. 1949, 328-32) Later it was suggested that “the Stalinist programme itself is dedicated to the protection and preservation of capitalist property relations” (C.L. Liu, China: An Aborted Revolution, Fourth International (NY), Jan.-Feb. 1950, 3-7).

27 ”Objectively, it is Tito (and Gomulka and tomorrow perhaps Mao Tse-tung) who express the programme of Trotskyism, unconsciously, in a distorted form. The Fourth International has been by-passed.” (Some Remarks on the Question of Stalinism, Feb. 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 15B/102, 10).

28. Grant predicted bonapartist rule in China. The working class had not played a leading role there and the bourgeoisie would only be allowed a fragile existence while Mao played for time (In Reply to David James, 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 15B/102, 15).

29 W. Hunter, The IS and Eastern Europe, May 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 12/106, 3. Grant had welcomed the passage of power to the Chinese communists with the remarkable prediction that “it is quite likely that Stalin will have a new Tito on his hands. Mao will have a powerful base in China with its 450-500 million population, and its potential resources, and the undoubted mass support that his regime will possess in the early stages” (Socialist Appeal, Jan. 1949).

30. Haston had been surprised at the leniency of his treatment in Durham Jail in 1944. Three years later he had argued against extending support to a miners’ strike (Interview with J. Haston, July 1973). It is believed that he had attempted to resign several times before 1949, but been dissuaded by other party leaders who also suppressed the news (Interview with S. Bornstein and S. Levy, 30 Nov. 1973).

31. J. Haston et. al., Statement on the perspective of the RCP, Jan. 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 15B/101. The discussion was officially opened on 9 January and it was then agreed that it would last fourteen weeks. In fact written contributions continued to arrive until the special RCP conference in mid-June 1949.

32. [The Labour Party] “despite the limitations which it will impose on revolutionary agitation is the only field from which a mass Trotskyist tendency can arise in the period ahead” (ibid.).

33. “Several years” were specified, another departure from previous beliefs. The authors rejected another earlier view by talking of going in to organise the left wing. Their detailed proposal was for a period of preparation for entry, an open approach to the Labour Party for terms, and coordination with the former Minority once they were inside.

34. “The overwhelming majority of the leadership and trained cadres, and a substantial section of the rank and file” were in favour of dissolving the RCP, they claimed (T. Grant, J. Deane, G. Hanson, Letter to the Members, [Jan.? 1949] , H.P., D.J.H. 15B/101).

35. Grant et al. argued that if a principle had been at stake then there would have to be a struggle regardless of the consequences. But since Trotskyism was barred from growth for the present whatever it did, a debate would be futile.

36. “This document is the expression of liquidationist tendencies” (Open letter from the IS to all members of the RCP, 8 Feb. 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 15B/101, I).

37. “There is great danger because the policy of the comrades depends on nothing. Nothing is to be done because reformism is transforming the working class, nothing is to be done because Stalinism is achieving victories for the working class. They have not much hope to build the Trotskyist organisation, they have no hope in the development of the Fourth International. The proposal of entry looks like the act of a desperate man drowning himself in deep water” (ibid.).

38. To the IS from the Political Bureau of the RCP, 21 Feb. 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 15B/101. The authors declared their hope, on entering the Labour Party, to fuse with the old Minority.

39. Although the Political Bureau now believed there would be no great gains inside or outside the Labour Party, they did also concede that they had to attempt to influence processes at work within it. It may have been this concession to the IS which caused Grant to abstain over its statements (ibid.).

40. B. Cleminson, Criticisms of the entry statement of J.H., H.A., R.T., V.C., [Jan./Feb. 1949?], H.P., D.J.H. 15B/101. Cleminson believed that criticism of the Labour Government was growing but was not expressed through the Labour Party. He asserted that the RCP had never been more than a propaganda group and that if the ability to agitate successfully was the criterion of open work, Trotskyists should never have left the Labour Party. He branded the Haston document as a screen for inactivity and remoteness on the part of the leadership, and proposed a purge of those who suggested, “let’s drown ourselves in the most stagnant pool in British politics – The Labour Party”.

41. Open Party Faction, Some Comments on the IS Letter and the PB Reply, March 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 15B/101.

42. Sam Levy, author of Some Comments, and Alf Snobel, another faction leader, visited several party branches but failed to convince them of the need to hold the traditional line. They themselves lacked the aura of front rank leaders, and their perspective of more of the same did not inspire confidence (Interview with S. Bornstein and S. Levy, Nov. 1973).

43. Once again – the real situation in Britain; document of the Open Party Faction, May 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 15B/101, 12.

44. The Faction claimed that those RCP members still in the Labour Party wished to be withdrawn, and that the former Minority was placing increasing emphasis on the support of left parliamentarians through its paper the Socialist Outlook (ibid., 15).

45. They charged the RCP leadership with neglecting the ideological education of members. This seems harsh in view of the output of Grant and Hunter from 1947 onwards, and yet Grant is the subject of particularly scathing remarks in the text of the Faction’s May document.

46. Maintenance of an open party had been wrong, “ever since the Labour Party was elected and began to carry out its programme” (Political Bureau, Statement on Entry, March 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 15B/101).

47. The Political Bureau acknowledged that together with the Open Party Faction it had been guilty of waiting for events to come its way in an “ivory tower”.

48. Specific points of activity would be persuading disillusioned militants not to despair of the Labour Party, and the NCLC (considered a form of Labour Party work). The danger of degenerating into left opportunism was rejected: “the mere existence of an open party and seclusion from real trends in no answer to incipient ideological capitulation” (ibid.).

49. One of these was advanced by Frank Ward, a central committee member, who favoured entry for most of the RCP with a small group outside to publish a new theoretical journal and undertake industrial work (British Perspectives and the International, [May?] 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 15B/107). The F.I. leaders were predictably as (horrified by the views of Ward on the Fourth International as they were by those of James, and considered the party had failed to convincingly refute either (IS, To The Conference of the RCP, 2 June 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 12/108). Another RCP leader, Tommy Reilly, drew even further conclusions from the failure of the Fourth International and joined the CPGB (See Central Committee, RCP, To the IS, 25 June 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 12/108).

50. There was however a discussion on attitudes to the Fourth International which revealed that Ward alone advocated the slogan “For the Fourth” which Trotsky had rejected before the Founding Congress.

51. No minutes of this Congress have been located. These figures are based on an interview with S. Bornstein and S. Levy (Nov. 1973). The Congress met in the presence of an IS delegate and Goldberg from the old Minority.

52. In fact some Faction supporters were lost during the debate (Interview with S. Bornstein and S. Levy, Nov. 1973).

53. ”Declaration on the dissolution of the Revolutionary Communist Party and the entry of its members into the Labour Party” (Socialist Appeal [special number], July 1949).

54. The RCP. leaders rapped IS knuckles one final time on the eve of dissolution when they attributed some of the democratisation to IS failure to distinguish the Fourth International from Stalinism (Central Committee, RCP, To the IS, 25 June 1949, H.P., D.J.H. 12/108) .

55. The subsequent fate of the RCP is outside the scope of this thesis. The Open Party Faction had predicted that the IS would give control of the newly fused Trotskyist presence in the Labour Party to the Minority, now known as the Club. The idea of a fusion had been supported from the outset by Haston et al. Two different economic perspectives were at war within the Club and that of the IS and Healy prevailed following a number of expulsions. Within a short time the state capitalist group of Cliff departed. Others ceased activity. Haston formally left the Trotskyist movement on 10 June 1950, leaving behind him a remarkable memoir in which he repudiated the activity of a lifetime (H.P., D.J.H. 15B/111). At least one former RCP leader, Deane, was expelled from the Club for refusing to break relations with Haston (E.C. Statement on the conduct of J.D., 24 May 1950, H.P., D.J.H. 15B/110). Shortly, most RCP leaders had either ceased activity or, like Grant and Cliff, were seeking to build anew outside the Club. The real meaning of the original proposal of Haston et al. – physical exhaustion arising from a long struggle against adverse circumstances as well as arrival at an ideological impasse – was now apparent (Interview with S. Bornstein and S. Levy, Nov. 1979; J. Walters, Some Notes on British Trotskyist History, Marxist Studies, Vol.2, No.3, 1962-3, 45-8).

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