Strikes and trade union history

Big politics, real lives

Author: 

Ed Mustill

It’s tempting to think of the The Village as the BBC’s anti-Downton. Set during roughly in the same time period as everyone’s favourite High Tory soap opera, the two shows were bound to draw comparisons, but they are totally different beasts.

While Downton Abbey approaches the class system of early 20th century England with a sort of Things-Were-Better-Then gentility, at times The Village has been so bleak that it has drawn inevitable criticism for being a cover for lefty, kitchen-sink agitprop.

A review of The Village, the BBC series now available as a DVD box set.

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Save the People's History Museum

Author: 

Mark Catterall

When I was a young boy, my grandfather told me a story of a bus depot, a mass picket line, and a scab bus being turned on its side by an angry crowd. Later I realised he was telling me about his highlight of the 1926 General Strike.

The Manchester People’s History Museum is one of the few institutions in Britain dedicated to telling the history of ordinary people’s lives and struggles.

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An organiser for black workers

Author: 

Michael Johnson

Ernest Rice McKinney (1886-1984) was a black US trade union organiser, revolutionary socialist and former National Secretary of the Third Camp Workers Party USA.

Born in Malden, in West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley, McKinney’s father was a coal miner and later a teacher as was McKinney’s mother. McKinney Sr. eventually landed a job at the US Treasury through his involvement in the Republican Party, which had widespread black support in the decades after the American Civil War.

Ernest Rice McKinney (1886-1984) was a black US trade union organiser, revolutionary socialist and former National Secretary of the Third Camp Workers Party USA.

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Collapse and resistance: the workers' movement facing World War One

Translated extracts from Alfred Rosmer's The Workers’ Movement during the First World War which tell the story of how the French trade union federation the CGT collapsed.

In the twenty or thirty years before World War One, mass socialist and trade union movements were built across Europe, starting off very small in the 1880s and acquiring such strength by, say, 1905 that most of their activists believed that they would soon be able to overthrow capitalism.

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When we debated Vladimir Derer

The May 1979 general election, in which Labour Party leaders who had systematically turned against their working-class base since winning office in 1974 were defeated by Thatcher’s Tories, triggered rank-and-file revolt in the Labour Party.

Local Labour activists, and for a while even some trade union leaders, rallied around the slogan “Never again”. They vowed to win changes in Labour Party structure and policy which would tie future Labour governments to the mandates and interests of the labour movement.

Excerpts from an early 80's debate about the fight for Labour Party democracy.

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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The Red Flag

The people's flag is deepest red, 
It shrouded oft our martyred dead, 
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold, 
Their hearts blood dyed its every fold. 

The great anthem of the labour movement, written in 1889 by Jim Connell, a one-time Fenian, on a train journey from Charing Cross to New Cross Gate.

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Working-class history at Ideas for Freedom

The AWL believes that socialist organisations must be the “memory of the working class”. A big part of our job is to preserve, rediscover, discuss and spread the lessons and inspiration of past struggles, victorious and defeated.

Our annual event, Ideas for Freedom (3-6 July), will include many discussions on working-class history, with a focus on the First World War and the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike.

Our annual event, Ideas for Freedom (3-6 July), will include many discussions on working-class history, with a focus on the First World War and the 1984-5 Miners’ Strike.

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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The Irish Trotskyists of the 1940s condemn "Irish only" trade unionism

A leaflet produced by the small Irish Trotskyist group in the mid 1940s, after nationalists split the Irish trade union movement.

A leaflet produced by the small Irish Trotskyist group in the mid 1940s, after nationalists split the Irish trade union movement.

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