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Alliance for Workers Liberty

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Alliance for Workers Liberty

Alliance for Workers' Liberty
Leader Executive Committee
Founded 1966
Headquarters London
Newspaper Solidarity
Ideology Third Camp Trotskyism
Political position Far left
International affiliation See text
European affiliation None
European Parliament group None
Colours Red
Politics of the United Kingdom
Political parties

The Alliance for Workers' Liberty (AWL), also known as Workers' Liberty, is a Trotskyist, hard left[1] group in Britain. The group has been identified with the theorist Sean Matgamna throughout its history. It emphasises working-class political independence, radical democracy and anti-Stalinism. The AWL publishes the newspaper Solidarity.


Workers' Fight

The AWL traces its origins to the document What we are and what we must become,[2] written by the tendency's founder Sean Matgamna in 1966 in which he argued that the Revolutionary Socialist League, by then effectively the Militant tendency, was too inward looking and needed to become more activist in its orientation. The RSL refused to circulate the document and, with a handful of supporters, he left to form the Workers' Fight group. Espousing left unity, they accepted an offer in 1968 to form a faction within the International Socialists as the Trotskyist Tendency.

Trotskyist Tendency

The Trotskyist Tendency clashed with the leadership of the International Socialists over many issues, for instance Britain's membership of the Common Market, on which the IS leadership itself was divided, and the use of the "Troops Out" slogan regarding Northern Ireland.

In December 1971, the leadership of the International Socialists called a special conference to "defuse" the TT. The TT described the "defusion" as an "expulsion" given that they did not wish to leave.

International-Communist League

Outside the IS, increased in size, the group resumed publication of Workers' Fight, now as a printed paper, not as was previously the case as a duplicated journal, began publication of a theoretical journal entitled Permanent Revolution and made efforts to publish a small number of workplace-oriented publications in specific industries.

At the end of 1975, it fused with the smaller entrism into the Labour Party.

Workers Socialist League

In 1981 the I-CL fused with Falklands War: most of the former I-CL argued for the defeat of both sides; most of the former WSL supported a victory for Argentina. The tensions had also been strained over questions of internal democracy and differences over the national question.

Socialist Organiser Alliance

The Socialist Organiser Alliance grew from the broad left Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory. By 1983 the paper had become identified with Matgamna's supporters, leading to a split with Labour left politicians such as Ken Livingstone over the GLC's policy of increasing rates to offset cuts in central government grants to local councils.

The group organised its student work through the National Union of Students.

Throughout the 1980s, the group had reassessed its politics and reappraised the bureaucratic collectivist analysis, with a minority holding a state capitalist position.

Alliance for Workers' Liberty

Socialist Organiser was banned by the Labour Party in 1990. In response to the ban, the Socialist Organiser Alliance dissolved. In 1992, the editorial board of Socialist Organiser launched an organisation known as the Alliance for Workers' Liberty. Since 1999 the AWL has stood candidates in local and general elections, either through left unity initiatives such as the Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alliance Democracy Platform and Socialist Green Unity Coalition or independently. It has also maintained a focus on pushing affiliated trade unions to assert themselves against the Labour leadership and was involved in the establishment of the Labour Representation Committee in 2004 to which it is affiliated.

In the late 1980s, it established and led a number of left opposition campaigns in the NUS, including Left Unity and the Campaign for Free Education. Numerous supporters have won seats in the structures of the NUS. Kat Fletcher, President of the NUS from 2004 to 2006 was formerly a member of the AWL and the Campaign for Free Education. It has played leading roles in the NUS Women's and LGBT Campaigns, championing its policies on liberation and international solidarity within them, securing their representation within the NUS and working with groups such as OutRage! and Al-Fatiha. AWL was central to the Education Not for Sale network, and in 2010 helped found the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, within which its student members remain active.

AWL has been more critical of [6] These and other positions, including its support for a two-state settlement in Israel/Palestine, have led to other far-left groups characterising the AWL as "imperialist" and "Zionist".[7]

In 2009, AWL members were central to sparking and supporting the sit-down strike of Vestas wind turbine factory workers on the Isle of Wight.[8]


The AWL has supported the newspaper Antonio Gramsci).[13]

The AWL is active in campaigns such as No Sweat, Feminist Fightback, Workers' Climate Action, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, and local working-class community campaigns such as the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign.

In trade union work, AWL members focus on developing workplace and industrial bulletins, and rank-and-file networks such as the Local Associations National Action Campaign in the National Union of Teachers.[14] AWL currently produces five workplace and industrial bulletins: Tubeworker (London Underground workers), Lewisham Hospital Worker (Lewisham Hospital workers), Off The Rails (mainline railway workers), Tower Hamlets Class Struggle (education workers in East London), and The Open Book (University of London workers).

The group has international links with Workers' Liberty Australia and supporters within the Revolutionary Left Current in Poland and Solidarity in the United States. It has worked with groups on the left of the former Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire (now part of the New Anticapitalist Party), and has collaborated with Iraqi and Iranian groups from the Worker-Communist tradition. It also has links with L'Etincelle, a former fraction of Lutte ouvrière, the Iranian Revolutionary Marxist Tendency,[15] and Turkish group Marksist Tutum.[16] These groups contribute to the Marxist Revival website.[17]

The group advocated a "no" vote in the Scottish independence referendum, 2014.[18] AWL members are also prominent in the Free Shahrokh Zamani and Reza Shahabi campaign, a solidarity campaign demanding the release of jailed Iranian trade unionists.[19]

In September 2015, the AWL applied to the Electoral Commission to be de-registered as political party, enabling its supporters to join the Labour Party.[20]

Notable former members


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  20. ^ Tip Shipman et al., " 'Punishment beatings' to split Labour",Sunday Times, 27 September 2015, p. 1.
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External links

  • Alliance for Workers' Liberty site
  • Catalogue of the Alliance for Workers' Liberty papers held at LSE Archives

See also

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