Ten times the Labour party stood behind striking workers in Britain

Actually, there aren’t any. Sorry.

bowbrick
8 min readAug 22, 2022

The story is that Labour is the only major socialist party in the world that emerged directly from organised labour — every other important party — from the DSA to the SPD to the PS and the JSP — was the product of an actual revolution or of a popular socialist movement. Labour founders Keir Hardie and Arthur Henderson had both been union leaders and many early Labour parliamentarians were well-known workplace leaders or campaigners for workers’ rights.

(note labour and Labour are used throughout, for obvious reasons).

Trade union members on a RMT picket line in the UK in 2022 — photo courtesy the RMT

So there’s a logic to the statement that Labour is ‘the party of organised labour’ or ‘the Parliamentary wing of the trade union movement’. And to the reminders that it’s the unions who still largely fund the party. And to the shock and upset amongst supporters when Labour’s parliamentary leadership fails to support union action or even opposes it.

It turns out, though, that the will of those early Labour leaders — and of their comrades at the top of the union movement for that matter — was not to win a victory for workers, to challenge or overthrow the parties of power at the time, to replace or diminish the landowner and business elites, or even to offer a pro-worker counterweight…

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bowbrick

Grizzled web old-timer (some say just grizzled), a trustee at the brilliant Poppy Academy Trust in the UK, a crummy poet and a volunteer at Watford Refugees…