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Militant Tendency

The Militant Tendency was a Trotskyist faction within the Labour Party, practicing entryist[?] tactics. They were most powerful during the 1970s and 1980s.

Growing from the Trotskyists who remained loyal to the Fourth International after the expulsion of the previous British member, the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1951, they formed themselves into the Revolutionary Socialist League[?]. From the start they devoted themselves to entrism cooperating with the Labour MP John Baird[?] and the future Labour MP (and future ex-Marxist) Eric Heffer[?].

The newspaper The Militant was founded in 1964, when the majority of the group broke from the Fourth International.

Militant had a period of steady growth and splits throughout the late 1960s and the 1970s. In the 1980s they started taking control of various Labour Party organisations (they had sporadic control over the Labour Party's youth movement, the Young Socialsts[?]) and Constituency Labour Parties[?]. In the mid 1980s a Militant faction took over the ruling Labour group on Liverpool city council, they were also influential in the London Borough of Lambeth[?]. The strong links between the Militant base of Liverpool and Northern Ireland also ensured that the Labour Party of Northern Ireland[?] (which was not linked to the mainland Labour Party) was strongly influenced by Militant.

Although they did not really share the multicultural analysis of much of the rest of the Labour Party left, they were a visible component of that coalition. Many Labour figures saw the Militant tendency as a primary reason for their "loony left[?]" image, as portrayed by the right-wing press. Ineffective attempts to control Militant were made by party leader Michael Foot in the early 1980s, and were carried on with more vigour by Neil Kinnock. In what many people saw as a crucial stage in the turnaround of Labour, Kinnock made a speech to the Labour Party Conference[?] in 1985 that attacked Militant entryism and their record in Liverpool Council.

The Militant tendency were very active, like many other left wing groups, in the campaign against the Community Charge or "Poll Tax[?]".

Over the next couple of years the Labour Party machinery succesfully purged Militant so that the majority of the Militant group abandoned entryist tactics and formed themselves into a separate party, first calling themselves Militant Labour and latterly in England the Socialist Party, a constituent element of the Socialist Alliance which they later left in 2002. The minority in Militant, led by its founder Ted Grant and by Alan Woods went on to set up the Socialist Appeal group and the In Defence of Marxism website. The Scottish Socialist Party is led by former Militant activist Tommy Sheridan[?] and has six MSPs.

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