Militant Tendency

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Trotskyist political party that from the 1950s, when it was known as the Revolutionary Socialist League, pursued entryism into the British Labour Party. By the 1970s it had succeeded in penetrating and controlling several local Labour parties, particularly on Merseyside, and the Labour Party's national youth organization. Militant denied that it constituted an organization, claiming to be merely an informal grouping of like‐minded Marxists struggling for socialism within the Labour Party.

At its peak in the mid‐1980s Militant probably numbered only about 5,000 members. It concentrated on a narrow range of economic and ‘working class’ issues (for instance, the nationalization of the ‘largest 200 monopolies’); the essence of its tactics was to commit the party to direct action in support of a set of unattainable transitional demands, the inevitable failure to achieve which would lead to further overtly anti‐democratic activity. For instance, its programme in Liverpool, where it controlled the city council, was based on a freeze on rents and rates, and no cuts in council services—inevitably leading the city into chaos and de facto bankruptcy.

The Labour Party took no action against the Militant Tendency until 1981. In 1983 the editorial board of Militant was expelled but Militant continued to dominate the party in Liverpool and to have three MPs. In 1986 expulsions on a larger scale were carried through and the party leader Neil Kinnock publicly denounced the Liverpool City Council at the Party Conference. By 1992 Militant Tendency had been removed from Parliament and its influence in the party extinguished.


Subjects: Politics.

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