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Muriel Browning

Ideas dismissed as utopian

(October 1984)

From Militant, No. 721, 19 October 1984, p. 11.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

MURIEL BROWNING, a long standing Militant supporter from Llanelli, recalls the first issues of the paper and contrasts it with today:

The arrival of Militant made a great difference for Marxists in the Labour Party and unions. It gave us a regular paper, something to work from, to explain ideas in discussions, and to understand ourselves what was happening in Britain and internationally.

Some people may not appreciate how difficult it is to act as a Marxist without a regular paper. Before Militant there was Socialist Fight – which when I first came across it was duplicated and produced very intermittently.

Militant was well received by activists – I used to sell about six each month at my work, British Motor Company. But for big sales we had to rely on occasional mass public meetings.

In the Labour Party many people patronised us. I used to sell one or two, but the ideas were dismissed as “utopian”. I was told that “revolutionary ideas may be alright for Europeans, but it was not for Britain”. The Welsh Labour Party was then totally dominated by the right wing; councillors, MPs, party organisation. There was a left-wing rump – not Marxist though; often they were teachers, who left once they got their headships.

You can’t really compare the paper nowadays with then. At that time the paper had to give all its space over to analysis and explanation – almost every article seemed to end in the same way, with the demand for the nationalisation of (the then) 350 monopolies – it had to.

I think the paper has really come of age during the miners’ strike. It’s got lots of fresh news and articles by workers, it was always a paper for workers – but I think it’s become a real workers’ paper now.

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