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Dudley Edwards – a front line class fighter

(August 1986)

From Militant, No. 810, 8 August 1986, p. 6.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DUDLEY EDWARDS has been a front-line class fighter for most of his years – and has no intention of stopping. His 80th birthday party in Brighton last month was attended by comrades from as far afield as Wales.

Dudley, born in Reading, remembers lucidly past battles, victories and defeats. These arm him with a perspective for the future – and a goal, the socialist transformation of society.

He spent most of his early life in London – Southall and Ealing – joining the Independent Labour Party Guild of Youth is his early teens.

“But I was not conscious then of the class nature of society,” Dudley admits.

Rich scabs

The General Strike of 1926 made the true nature of society clear in Southampton where he went in search of work.

“I saw Oxford and Cambridge students driving down to scab on dockers. I saw armoured cars and soldiers protecting them.”

That early baptism in the practices of the ruling class steeled Dudley for the struggle ahead: the great depression, battles against the fascists in Brighton, disillusion with the Communist Party meekly following Stalin’s treachery and finally, conviction of the correctness of Lenin and Trotsky’s writings.

He remembers the time William Joyce (the traitor Lord Haw Haw) was due to speak at a Blackshirt rally in the Dome, Brighton, in 1934. An enterprising electrician wired up the interior of the hall about a week before the fascist meeting.

As Joyce entered the Dome, scurrying past protesting workers outside, and as the Union Jacks fluttered in the aisles, the Internationale burst forth from the roof! The meeting ended in chaos.

Dudley remembers the comrade picked in his place for the International Brigade to fight in the Spanish Civil War. Dudley was turned down on medical grounds – he has a crippled leg. The comrade fell in one of the early battles of the war.

He also recalls the long daily struggles as a victimised shop steward in the Nuffield motor works at Cowley and later in Park Royal, London where he saw the lack of support from the Communist Party for workers’ struggles.

“I didn’t finally leave the Communist Party until 1958. It was a long process – Hungary, the 20th Congress and Kruschev’s secret speech showed the true nature of Stalin’s regime.

“After I left, I shopped around the sects (ultra-left groups) but soon came to the conclusion they hadn’t a clue what they were talking about! So I joined the Labour Party to avoid being cut off from developments.”

Dudley moved back to Brighton in 1963–4 and soon was arguing with a group based around a new Militant paper, meeting at the Eagle public house.

“I was hostile at first and argued – so I was invited to speak at the next discussion group where my arguments were completely knocked down”.

Dudley has read Militant since the second issue and has seen the ideas take a strong hold in the labour movement.

Labour leaders

And he is clear about the position of the Labour leadership with their bankrupt witch-hunting tactics.

“I think Kinnock and Co are scared of Marxism and know in their hearts that they can’t deliver the goods under capitalism. They could get away with cancelling out reforms it it wasn’t for Militant.”

Dudley has just returned from a fact-finding tour of Northern Ireland where he was very impressed by the work of socialists and convinced of the need for radical change, there and on a world scale.

“I look forward to the future when Marxism will strike a chord with more and more workers. There will be a socialist transformation of society.”

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Last updated: 27 August 2016