The history of British Trotskyism to 1949

Upham, Martin Richard

Political science; Public administration
September 1980

Thesis or dissertation

© 1980 Martin Richard Upham. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Trotskyism has been neglected by historians excavating those ever more popular quarries the 1930s and 1940s. Their disinterest is my main case for devoting a full-length thesis to Trotskyist activity before 1949. It may be objected that Trotskyism was unimportant throughout my chosen period. But while it was certainly no major influence before 1949, even in the restricted area of the labour movement during that time, Trotskyism maintained activity and conditioned in part the behaviour of other movements and individuals who are thought fit subjects for historical enquiry. There is therefore a job of recovery to be done in order to establish whom Trotskyism affected and why. Yet there is, simultaneously, a larger question to pose: if Trotskyism was unimportant throughout, why was this so? There is no iron law of labour movements which inevitablypermits communist parties to eclipse Trotskyism. In a number of metropolitan countries Trotsky received early and significant support from noted communist leaders. Since this did not happen in Britain where the communists themselves never gathered mass support, the historian must ask why. It is also necessary to allow for those occasions when Trotskyism passed out of the shadows into the floodlights: these moments have also been skipped, for the most part, by historians, and need to be put in their proper setting within the labour history of the time.

Department of Economic and Social History, The University of Hull
Saville, John, 1916-2009
Sponsor (Organisation)
Social Science Research Council (Great Britain); A.J. Horsley Fund, University of Hull
Qualification level
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