50 Years Ago: The Failure of the Labour Colleges

In July 1925 we wrote on the significant action of the National Council of Labour Colleges in joining its old enemy, the Workers’ Educational Association, in an education scheme sponsored by the TUC. We pointed out that the acceptance of money from the trade unions to cooperate with such bodies as the WEA and Ruskin College meant the passing of the independence of the “Movement for Independent Working-Class Education”.

Time has justified our warning. The “Plebs League” has ceased to exist as an independent body and three years later others, including men in the NCLC itself, are recognising the truth of what we then anticipated.

In particular the NCLC, as we long ago pointed out, cannot hope to receive trade union money if at the same time it exposes the part played by Labour and trade union leaders in supporting the capitalist system and its ways. The NCLC had to choose and it chose the money in preference to the independence.

From an article “The Failure of the Labour Colleges”, Socialist Standard, April 1928.