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The Fiftieth Trade Union Congress

There has been a Jubilee at Derby. Fifty years ago the Trade Union Congress was inaugurated at Manchester, and this year celebrated its golden anniversary. How far have the organised workers travelled in their struggles, their views and their understanding of the position they occupy in society in this stride of time? A brief glance at this year's gathering may help us to answer this question.

In point of numbers the Congress was the largest representation of organised workers in the world, as the affiliated membership totalled over four and half millions. Compared with the 118,367 at its first meeting this looks a splendid advance. But these numbers alone do not necessarily mean progress.

Book Reviews: 'What’s Left?', 'Prawn Cocktail Party', 'The May Day Manifesto', & 'How Solidarity Can Change the World'

The rise and fall of Labour reformism

What’s Left? Labour Britain and the Socialist Tradition. By David Powell. Peter Owen. £22.50.

Socialists should know their history of the Labour Party, if only to be able to refute the claim that it was ever a socialist party and to demonstrate its failure to gradually transform capitalism into something better.

Powell’s book can serve as well as any as a source of the basic facts, especially as it is largely descriptive and devoid of any ideological perspective beyond "they’ve always been divided and that’s a bad thing" and perhaps a hint that the answer to the question "what’s left (of the original Labour Party)?" is "not a lot".

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