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1914-1918 Russian Revolution
Women resurfacing a road 1914-1918
Russian Revolution

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Revolutionary industrial militants had reached a turning point in 1919. Syndicalism had shown itself capable of confronting individual employers, but not able to sustain lasting advances in the face of the full repressive power of the State. Many of the militant shop stewards were influenced by the theories of Marx and Lenin (popularised by John McLean and others). Events in Russia were followed with close interest, and when it became clear that British troops were being used with those of other capitalist countries against the revolution, a powerful solidarity movement emerged in the form of the Hands Off Russia Committee. Practical solidarity, following intensive agitation, was shown by east London dockworkers when they refused in 1918 to load a munitions ship destined for Russia, the 'Jolly George'. Sidney & Beatrice Webb were very impressed by their visit to Soviet Russia. This may be have been the reason for the inclusion of the socialist clause 4 in the Labour Party's first constitution written by Sidney Webb in 1918. The threat that Britain might actually declare war against the Soviet Republic resulted, in August 1920, in the formation of Councils of Action (over 350 were established in all parts of the country, largely based on trades councils), which pledged, with the support of the TUC and the Labour Party, to mobilise mass strikes should the threat prove real. In this atmosphere, the talk of Communist unity became more urgent and more realistic. Attempts had been made to unite the disparate socialist parties and factions during the war on the initiative of the BSP. The talks in 1919 and 1920 revealed deep disagreements but by August 1920, the Communist Party of Great Britain existed. It was, and for many years remained, tiny. Its influence however was immeasurably greater than the sum total of its membership. From the very beginning it had within its ranks the leading industrial militants who had led the massive pre-war strikes and who had formed the core of the Shop Stewards' movement during the war. Support for the fledgling Soviet Union was not confined to communists. A TUC delegation visited the USSR in 1924 and an Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Council was established. Professor Mary Davis, Centre for Trade Union Studies, London Metropolitan University.
British Labour Delegation to Russia, 1917 Women resurfacing a road 1914-1918
  War work, 1914-1918   Cleator Mill Strike Committee, 29 April, 1915  
  Extract from the diary of an imprisoned conscientious objector, 1916   Letter from The Rossendale Union of Boot, Shoe and Slipper Operatives, 1917  
 
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