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The Socialist Party website is updated weekly with the latest news, policies and Marxist analysis selected from features carried in the weekly The Socialist newspaper, and other Socialist Party publications.


The Rise of Militant

- Preface to the book by Peter Taaffe

- Editorial from the first Issue of the Militant

- Militant and MI5: Monitoring the left 

The Poll Tax

- Militant's Proud Role in defeating the poll tax

-The Battle that brought down Thatcher

Liverpool City Council

- Councils - take the Liverpool road.

- Livingstone and Liverpool: When Cuddly Ken was Red Ken

- Liverpool 47 website

Militant 1964 - 1997

- Youth - - the secret of our success

- Putting the Workers' case

- Toppling Thatcher - The Poll Tax

- The March of Militant

- Women in the front-line

Marxism: "Here comes the slump... Karl Marx ...would no doubt have felt vindicated"  Time Magazine, 8 January 2001

Militant: the first issue

The Rise of Militant

1964 -- 1997



Editorial from the first issue of the Militant, October 1964



Editor: PETER TAAFFE (Walton Young Socialists)


The MILITANT is being published at the present time because of the need to provide a conscious socialist lead for the labour movement, particularly the Young Socialists, in face of the problems that loom before us. 

The chronic crisis of British imperialism and capitalism are spotlighted by the recurring balance of payments crises which affect the economy every few years. British capitalism endeavours to solve its problems at the expense of the working class through such measures as wage freezes. At the same time the profits of the capitalists rise to record levels. The uneasy pretence of "You never had it so good " is only a trap for the unwary and more politically backward sections of the middle class and the workers.

For conscious socialists the problem is to make the mighty labour movement aware of the impossibility of solving the national and international problems of our time such as peace and security, prosperity and abundance, without taking decisive measures against capitalism.

Only through the most meticulous, scrupulous and patient arguing to convince the mass of the labour movement of the need for international socialism can a way be found to the broader masses of "ordinary" "non-political" people who are not consciously devoted to politics. On all the important issues we will endeavour to mobilise the left-wing workers in the Young Socialists, the trade unions, the wards and GMCs of the Labour Party, and the Cooperative bodies.

Transport House has especially shown its bureaucratic ineptitude in its treatment of the Young Socialists and its fear of healthy discussion among young people. At the same time certain tendencies have played into the hands of Transport House by their sectarian and hooligan attitudes. Instead of trying to win the sympathy and support of the labour and trade union rank and file which has always had a sympathetic attitude to the enthusiasm, energy, drive and even impetuousness of youth, they have alienated this sympathy by going outside the movement with futile adventures, which in any case only involved a handful of people.

The Young Socialists can only be a spearhead if it remains an organic part of the movement itself. The resolutions of the YS must be carried into the broad labour movement. Above all, the YS must understand that at the present time, although an invaluable component, it is still only a small part of the movement.

Last edition of the Militant announces "Coming Next Week: The Socialist"

The job is to carry the message of Marxism to the ranks of the labour movement and to its young people. There is room for all tendencies in the labour movement, including the revolutionary Left.

Above all the task is to gather together the most conscious elements in the labour movement to patiently explain the need for these policies on the basis of experience and events. MILITANT will endeavour to seriously gather the facts and arguments to provide the ammunition for this struggle to rearm the labour movement. Soberly we hope to present a Marxist analysis, whether of industrial disputes, the housing crisis, or the crisis in the Congo, to take a few examples at random, with suggested solutions in the interests of the working class. The most important thing is that we wish to tell the truth to the working class, against the lies and exaggerations of the capitalist class and the half truths of Labour's officialdom.

It is only the rank and file of the labour movement who can defeat or change the leadership if it does riot carry out the measures which are necessary for the movement to survive. We need to educate and be educated. In the beginning ours can only be a monthly voice, but within that confine we will endeavour to deal with the main problems that face the movement.

Our aim is to be the Marxist voice of the Young Socialists and the militants in the labour movement. The sacrifice and collection of money among militant workers and Young Socialists has made possible the production of the paper. It is your paper. Write for it, sell it, criticise it to make it a better paper, send reports to it, collect money for it. Make it the mass journal of militant labour and socialist youth.

Monitoring the Left

From an interview with David Shayler, former MI5 agent turned whistle blower, by Ken Smith and Molly Cooper in The Socialist, issue 212, 29 June 2001

ONE OF of the main things we wanted to ask was what exactly did MI5 get up to when monitoring the Left: "The surveillance of the Left was absolutely enormous",  says David Shayler.

"If you think that 'subversives' are trying to undermine the security of the country then it all makes sense. But I never accepted that initial proviso.

"In the 1980s, MI5 was obsessed with surveillance. Militant were a big part of that. Degsy [Derek] Hatton has got one of the biggest files in MI5."

With the exception of the Angry Brigade, so-called subversives in Britain were never people who took up arms. The Left were using democracy as it was intended, they had meetings, went on demonstrations, stood in elections, tried to recruit people using argument. Now these are all things that should be protected.

"When I arrived in MI5 and was sent to the counter-subversion section in 1992 they were still bugging Militant and Socialist Workers' Party HQs.

"Eventually the reason that they didn't continue large-scale telephone tapping [which he claims eventually stopped in 1996] is because it's too resource intensive. There's no lack of room to do it. MI5's automatic reaction is often to tap somebody's phone. We saw this in the case of Victoria Brittain, the Guardian journalist. They tapped her phone for a year in an operation that cost three-quarters of a million pounds to do absolutely nothing, where they didn't even follow procedure.

"As MI5 took over more Irish work [after the end of the Cold War] they had fewer and fewer English language transcribers to do the 'subversive' stuff. So they had this backlog of tapes and they destroyed them.

"So on the one hand they'd applied for a warrant saying these people are a threat to national security, then they have all this stuff about them and just destroy it. The arguments don't work one way or the other.

"The desk officer for Militant said once they had ceased being to be 'entryist' [ie, working in the Labour Party] there's no reason for surveying these people any more. Although their declared aims are to try and create a different form of democracy, they're not doing that by any form of underhand means. Therefore we should stop intercepting these phones.

"This went all the way up through management as everything does in MI5 and everybody agreed up until the Branch Director. Now, Branch Directors in MI5 are like feudal lords protecting their own little fiefdoms and he just said no. He said what I want you to do is take information bump it up and put up a case to government.

"Which she was forced to, because in MI5 you don't have a trade union to stand with you, management will always stand together.

"Telephone tapping is not as expensive as physical surveillance but it's very expensive nevertheless. So you have all this expense because the Branch Director wants to keep his own little fiefdom.

"In the 1980s, MI5 was obsessed with surveillance. Militant were a big part of that. Degsy [Derek] Hatton has got one of the biggest files in MI5.

"And during the miners' strike, agents were reporting on Scargill throughout the entire strike. This was to ensure the government always knew what the miners were doing. And if you knew what they were doing then that puts you in a position of power."


The Rise of Militant, by Peter Taaffe, published in 1995, is the first real account of Militant, its ideas, organisation and the role of prominent public figures associated with it.

Five previous books have been written about Militant.  But this is the only one which gives an authentic account of how Militant played such a prominent role in Liverpool in the 1980's and the successful battle to defeat the Poll Tax.

Available from Socialist Books


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