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Revolutionary Communist Party (UK)

The Revolutionary Communist Party was a British Trotskyist political party, formed in 1944 and active until 1949, and publishing the Socialist Appeal fortnightly newspaper, a theoretical journal Workers International News and an entrist paper for its Labour Party fraction The Militant.

The party was founded as the offical section of the Fourth International in Britain after the Revolutionary Socialist League collapsed. Moreover the RSL had not adopted the positions of the FI with regard to the Second World War and was pursuing a course which was characterised as pacifist or semi-pacifist. In turn it polemicized against the Workers International League WIL declaring it to be following politics which it characterised as social patriotic. The positions of the WIL corresponded to those of the FI and the American SWP however therfore the latter decided that the WIL should become the FI's British section.

But in order to draw the WIL into the FI the problem of the RSL had to be solved as it presented a barrier. The Americans exerted pressure on the three factions of the RSL to re-unite after which the re-united RSL could fuse with the much larger WIL. The fused group, which adopted the politicies of the majority WIL group, was to be known as the Revolutionary Communist Party. The leadership bodies of the small party incorporated such leaders of the RSL as DD Harber and John Lawrence and operated reasonably harmoniously, with the exeption of the old RSL Left Fraction which soon left.

The new party maintained an entrist fraction in the Labour Party, led by Charlie van Gelderen, which maintained publication of The Militant as its organ. However this work was unrewarding for the party and any new recruits were directed to other more profitable areas of intervention. The main area on which the party concentrated was the industrial front where after 1941 they had a clear field as the Communist Party turned to a super-patriotic position. This led to recruitment from the Communist Party but more recruits came from direct intervention in the industrial struggles of the war years such as that of the Kent miners and the Tyneside engineering apprentices. This latter dispute led to the RCP receiving the attention of the police as their headquarters in London were raided and a number of leading members were jailed. in furtherence of this industrial work a Militant Workers Federation was organised by the RCP in conjunction with the Industrial Committee of the fading Independent Labour Party and some Anarchists.

During the war the RCP opposed the electoral truce which guaranteed that where parliamentary seats fell vacant they would automatically be filled by another member of the incumbent party. However they had not been able to take advantage of the leftward movement among electors since the last General Election and it had been left to the Independent Labour Party and the emphemeral Commonwealth Party to so with considerable success. Therefore when the opportunity to do so presented itself to the bouyant RCP near the end of the war it seized upon the chance and stood Jock Haston in the Neath by-election of 1945, primarily as a protest against the Conservative. Given that this election was held on the very outdated electoral register the vote polled was considered a success and a number of new members were recruited, in part from the ILP.

As noted above the Left Fraction of the former RSL remained organised within the RCP, but refused to recognise the authority of the leadership, and were expelled in 1945 to pursue entrist work in the Labour Party, and publish the occasional Voice of Labour newspaper. It broke up in 1950, when most of its members joined the Socialist Fellowship group which was associated with the paper Socialist Outlook. Other former Left Fraction members revived the group in the early 1960s.

In 1947, Gerry Healy and John Lawrence formed a minority faction to argue for the entire RCP to enter the Labour Party. Although the Fourth International also urged this, the majority of the party disagreed, and the party devoted a great deal of time to internal arguments. In 1948, the minority, which had been sanctioned by the International Executive Committee of the Fourth International to enter the Labour Party independently started publishing Socialist Outlook, a journal which supported Tito and Mao.

Amid further manipulations of the international, a failure to relate to the Labour Party, and confusion over the status of the U.S.S.R, China and Eastern Europe, the RCP disintegrated. Many members had left before the majority of the party voted for dissolution of the party and entry into the Labour Party.

Most remaining members joined Healy's group, now known as The Club, and the official British section of the International. But he had organised the group's bureaucracy to give himself complete control, and expelled the majority of the new entrants for expressing any disagreement with the line of Socialist Outlook.

Ted Grant and Tony Cliff, both expelled by 1951, resolved to form their own group, but failed to agree on many issues, in particular analyses of the Soviet Union. Eventually, Grant's group became the Militant Tendency, Cliff's the International Socialists and then the Socialist Workers Party, and Healy's the Socialist Labour League and then the Workers Revolutionary Party.

A second Revolutionary Communist Party was founded in the 1980s by an unconnected group which had evolved from the "right opposition" of the International Socialists led by David Yaffe. The right opposition founded the Revolutionary Communist Group after being expelled from the IS. The RCG rapidly developed a positive view of some of the traditional Stalinist parties such as the South African Communist Party and from that position developed into a fully fledged Stalinist grouping with a particular fondness for Cuba. They continue to publish their paper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! more or less monthly.

In its turn the RCG gave rise to the Revolutionary Communist Tendency led by Frank Richards a cadre name for University of Kent sociologist, Frank Furedi. It developed into the Revolutionary Communist Party which published the review The Next Step. Later they dropped The Next Step in favour of a glossy magazine Living Marxism which was briefly notorious, until they dropped all pretensions to being Marxists and dissolved their organisation. An event almost unheard of among far left groups in britain. They remain linked as a network around Furedi however known as the Institute of Ideas.