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General discussion and debates

May 202020: Organised by Brighton & Hove Labour Left Alliance. Speakers included Prof Dave Hill (LLA) who spoke on Coronavirus, Capitalism and Socialism. Dr Bob Gill discussed the state of the NHS prior to Covid19; how the government has handled the crisis; the future impact of the pandemic on patients and the NHS. His film ‘The Big NHS Heist’ is available here:… More info on the film is here:
Janet Sang from Sussex Defend the NHS spoke about on Fighting for the NHS – the local issues. We also heard the viewpoint of frontline workers. Chaired by Tina Werkmann from Labour Against the Witchhunt and LLA secretary.

May 2 2020: Labour Left Alliance Northern Ireland celebrated May Day 2020 with a public discussion: Whats Left for the left? The future of Labour in Britain & Ireland.
Speakers: Donal O’Cofaigh, councillor in Enniskillen
Tina Werkmann, secretary Labour Left Alliance and co-chair of Labour Against the Witchhunt

April 21 2020: Chris Williamson and Jackie Walker have been the most prominent victims of the witch-hunt in the Labour Party.

But while Jackie thinks it is important to stay and fight in the Labour Party, even after the election of Keir Starmer as leader, Chris believes this is now “pointless”.

April 5 2020: Just after the election of Keir Starmer as leader of the Labour Party, we discussed ‘Labour After Corbyn’ – with NEC candidate Jo Bird, Moshe Machover (expert on Middle Eastern politics), Ian Hodson (president of the Bakers Union & Lee Rock (Labour Left Alliance)

Our history

Recorded on May 5 2020: With introductions by Pat Byrne and Ben Lewis. While Pat discusses the background to the German Revolution 1895-1921 (click here for his speakers notes), Ben concentrates on some general observations and problems with the left’s narrative on what happened in 1918-1919.
Recommended background reading:
* W. Pelz, A People’s History of the German Revolution
* P. Broue, The German Revolution 1917-23
* J. Riddell, The German Revolution and the Debate on Soviet Power
* P. Nettl, Rosa Luxemburg
* B. Lewis and L.T. Lih, Head to Head in Hall

Recorded on May 1 2020: 150 years ago this month, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov was born. But are ‘dead Russians’ like Lenin still relevant to today’s Labour movement? What, if anything, can we learn from the man who led the Russian Revolution? And didn’t Lenin inevitably lead to Stalin and the dictatorship in the Soviet Union? Speakers: Bob Arnott and Lars T. Lih. Click here for the recent essay by Lars ‘Lenin the Revolutionary Social Democrat’ and here for his written speech that he delivered in the session.

How did one of the greatest events in our history turn into its opposite and the horrors of the Soviet Union? What were the objective factors that contributed to the revolution’s degeneration? Which avoidable mistakes made were? Introduction by Pat Byrne, political education officer, Labour International CLP.

Three excellent accounts of the Russian Revolution:
‘The Russian Revolution 1917’ N. N. Sukhanov (a left Menshevik)
‘Ten Days That Shook The World’ by John Reed
‘A History of the Bolshevik Party’ by Alan Woods

  • Some Useful References for the aftermath of the Revolution:
  • Lenin’s Collected Works
  • ‘The Russian Tragedy’ by Rosa Luxemburg (1918 article)
  • ‘The Bolsheviks in Power’ by Alexander Rabinowitch
  • ‘Speech on the Immediate Tasks of Party Development’ by V. I. Lenin
  • ‘Bolshevik Opposition to Lenin: G. T. Miasnikov and the Workers’ Group’ by Paul Avrich
  • ‘The Paths of the Russian Revolution’ 1922 pamphlet by Karl Radek
  • ‘Memoirs of a Revolutionary 1901-1941’ by Victor Serge
  • ‘Once More: Kronstadt’ (1938) by Victor Serge
  • ‘New Light on the Origins of the Stalinist Bureaucracy’ by Alexander Podsheldolkin
  • ‘The Origin of the ‘Slate System’ used in elections for the leadership of Leninist & Trotskyist Groups’ by Pat Byrne

Learning from Labour’s History: A series of webinars looking at the history of the Labour party and considering a number of key historical issues which remain relevant today: the relationship between Labour and the organised working-class movement, how serious a challenge did the party present to capitalism and imperialism, and the nature of the Labour left and its understanding of socialism. More details and reading materials available here.