The Trade Union Movement, New Labour, and Working-Class Politics

Marxism and Syndicalism


John Bloxam and Sean Matgamna


Syndicalists varied greatly from place to place and had varying relationships with left-wing politicians.

The pre-World War One syndicalists in Britain — Tom Mann etc — recoiled against the weak-kneed parliamentarians of the Mac Donald-led Labour Party and disappointment with the effects of early labour movement Parliamentary action.

What do Marxists do in the labour movement?


Sean Matgamna and John Bloxam

“It is necessary to find the particular link in the chain which must be grasped with all one’s strength in order to keep the whole chain in place and prepare to move on resolutely to the next link.”

V I Lenin

Leon Trotsky: Class, Union, and Party


Sean Matgamna and John Bloxam

The trade unions are not only the bedrock of the labour movement.
With the Blairite hijacking of the Labour Party, which had been founded at the beginning of the 20th century by the trade unions and socialist organisations to fight for working class interests, the trade unions are pretty much all that’s left of the labour movement.

The Trade Union Movement, New Labour, and Working-Class Politics: Introduction

The biggest event in working-class politics for many decades is the Blairite hijacking of the Labour Party, in the mid 1990s. The Blairites have transformed the Labour Party, which the trade unions founded over a hundred years ago, from the treacherous “bourgeois workers’ party” it had been into something qualitatively different..

In the public pronouncements of its leaders, New Labour is an explicitly anti-working-class party. It treats the labour movement and the working class with open contempt and undisguised bourgeois hostility.

The Trade Union Movement, New Labour, and Working-Class Politics: Part III. Trotsky and anti-Labour candidates in the 30s

“Q: Was the ILP correct in running as many candidates as possible in the recent General Election, even at the risk of splitting the vote?

LDT: Yes. It would have been foolish for the ILP to have sacrificed its political programme in the interests of so-called unity, to allow the LP to monopolise the platform as the Communist Party did. We do not know our strength until we test it. There is always a risk of splitting, and of losing deposits, but such risks must be taken: otherwise we boycott ourselves” (emphasis LDT).

The Trade Union Movement, New Labour, and Working-Class Politics: Part VI. Marxists, militants, and working-class socialism


J & S argue:

“These facts indicate that a general policy of attempting to win official union backing for socialist electoral challenges to Labour has no grip.
Such a policy could only be implemented if one of two conditions held true: either that we had no intention of allowing the union members a real say in the decision, or, we were deluded enough to think that if we acted as if the majority of the class supported us, they would.”

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