Against the grain

The British far left from 1956

Editors: Evan Smith and Matthew Worley

This book explores the role of the far left in British history from the mid-1950s until the present. It highlights the impact made by the far left on British politics and society. The book first looks at particular strands of the far left in Britain since the 1950s. It then looks at various issues and social movements such as Trotskyism, anti-revisionism and anarchism, that the left engaged (or did not engage) with, such as women's liberation, gay liberation, anti-colonialism, anti-racism and anti-fascism. The book focuses on how the wider British left, in the Labour Party and amongst the intelligentsia, encountered Trotskyism between the 1930s and 1960s. The Socialist Party (SP) and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) traditions have proven to be the most durable and high profile of all of Britain's competing Trotskyist tendencies. Their opponents in the International Marxist Group and the Socialist Labour League/Workers' Revolutionary Party (SLL/WRP) each met limited success and influence in the labour movement and wider social movements. The SWP and Militant/SP outlived the 'official' Communist Party of Great Britain and from the collapse of the Soviet Union to the present day have continued to influence labour movement and wider politics, albeit episodically. The book is concerned with providing an overview of their development, dating from the end of the Second World War to the onset of the 2009 economic crisis.

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