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Notes for a History of the IMG 18: Martin Flannery on the International Group

January 20, 2016

_42207924_flannery203Red Mole Rising is pleased to publish this internal document of the International Group (IG). The contribution was written in August 1964.

We are unaware of it being unavailable since then.

Document from Martin Flannery August 1964
The document is of interest for three main reasons:
1) The author Martin Flannery (1918-2006) went on to become a well-known Labour M.P1
2) There are very few accounts available of the work of the International Group in the period prior to the mid sixties
3) The main thrust of the document is a critique of the political practice of the International Group and alternative proposals for taking the IG forward.

The document discusses the recurring debate between a narrower “Party paper” and a broader one such as “The Week”.
Martin Flannery attended the first very small meeting that established the Internationalist Tendency within the RSL in 1961 and was elected to the National Committee of the International Group at its founding conference in 1962. He was therefore involved in national developments from the start of what was to eventually become the IMG.

He had been a member of the Communist Party until 1956.
Flannery became Labour MP for Sheffield Hillsborough in 1974 and was a well-known activist on the left of the party. His membership of the International Group has not been highlighted e.g. in the various online obituaries or articles referring to his political work such as his Wiki entry or in his entry on the Communist Biographies website2.

The document is critical of the progress being made by the International Group and contrasts the position of the International Group with the Socialist Labour League. It is interesting to note that a number of Flannery’s criticisms relate to the involvement of new young people. Former IG member Ken Tarbuck has written that3:

“Firstly, the IG was not composed of ex-members of the CPGB who had left that organisation after 1956. There were, so far as I am aware, only two ex-CPers in the organisation. There were people like myself who had a previous background in the Trotskyist movement, specifically in the RCP. There were several others of the same background, some of whom came from the old RSL and others from the WIL tradition. However, the great majority – if one can use such a term when speaking of an organisation that had 40 to 50 members – were young people who had been recruited from the Young Socialists, student movement (NALSO) and the Labour Party. The nucleus of the IG had been formed in a faction fight in the RSL (1957 vintage).”
Flannery appears to have to have dropped out of IG membership soon after the document was written.

1.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Flannery

2. http://www.grahamstevenson.me.uk/

3. https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/revhist/backiss/vol1/no2/letselby.html
Please note all footnotes to the document have been added by Red Mole Rising.

Here is a scan of the document in its original form: Martin Flannery Document

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