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Expulsion of the Communist Faction

April 2, 2017

Ian Parker’s amusing take on the Spartacist League reminded us that this organisation’s British section was largely built, in the late 1970s through stimulating splits in other revolutionary organisations.


Thus Spartacist Britain no1 for April 1978 reports the formation of the Spartacist League (Britain) through the winning of a group, the Trotskyist Faction, from the Workers Socialist League. A second group from the same source, the Leninist Faction, was to follow.

A couple of years later the same scenario was to be played out again- this time in the International Marxist Group and centred on the West Midlands where a number of long-standing cadres were won to Spartacist positions and organised first the Communist Tendency and then the Communist Faction.

Matters came to a head with the expulsion of this group early in 1981.

We present here the IMG Political Committee Dossier from May 1981 which deals in detail with the events leading up to the expulsion.

The Spartacist league’s own take on events, under the headings of “Revolutionary regroupment” and “Purge in the IMG”  can be found in Spartacist Britain no 33

One Comment leave one →
  1. BigTam permalink
    April 3, 2017 2:29 pm

    Ah, the unspeakable Sparts! Although the split described took place after I had left the IMG, I recognise some of the figures involved. Lawrie White I remember as a lugubrious ex-seminarian with a penchant extraordinary even by IMG standards for the creation of two- or- three-strong tendencies and factions. The mis-named “Ken Macloud” is in fact Ken Macleod, the now eminent sci-fi writer and blogger, Old mid-70s Glasgow IMGers who read his first tetralogy, The Fall Revolution, will find many characters and scenarios drawn from that time.

    The Sparts built their organisation in Britain on splits engineered firstly in the WSL, and then the IMG. Prior to these, they relied upon good old “primitive accumulation of cadre”. For reasons which have always escaped me, I was the subject of two such approaches, both (as I recall) in 1976/77.

    The first occurred when I was introduced in London to an American woman doing post-grad research into rank-and-file movements in the building trade. This having been my field of activity for several years, I was invited to interview and assist with research. I was happy to do so and found we got on well at both the working and personal levels. Arrangements were made for me to come down to London for a weekend and stay with her to continue work.

    We had an enjoyable supper and then retired, whereupon my companion revealed herself to be a plenipotentiary of the International Spartacist Tendency, authorised to bring me into its ranks. An uncomfortable night concluded with the end of our research and relationship.

    Some time afterwards, I answered my door in Glasgow on May Day, to find two members of the swivel-eyed evangelical tendency, come to advise me that “Comrade James Robertson” was in Glasgow, and that I “must” meet him. Excuses related to pressure of activity on the day being rebuffed, I eventually offered an evening meeting in a well-known Glasgow curry house. I had no intention of attending, and did not do so.

    I will never know what a less churlish response to these overtures might have brought to my political development, but suspect that, as with the members of the Communist Tendency, the experience would have been “nasty, brutish and short”.

    By the way, a further literary depiction can be found in Philip Hensher’s novel, The Northern Clemency, in which the villain is a Sheffield-based Spart.

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