Papers of Ken Tarbuck, Trotskyist

Scope and Content

Revolutionary Socialist League: Duplicated leaflets, discussion bulletins, etc, including some items from Militant Labour League, 1937-42.

Workers' International League: Duplicated leaflets, discussion bulletins, etc, especially on industrial, military and organisational matters, 1941-44; documents relating to Reconstitution Conference of RSL and Fusion Conference of RSL and WIL, 1943-44; 'Youth for Socialism', 1938-41; 'Socialist Appeal', 1941-49 (publication continued by RCP); 'Workers' International News', 1943-49 (publication continued by RCP).

Revolutionary Communist Party: Duplicated leaflets, discussion bulletins, etc, 1944-49; photographs and press cuttings, including information on RCP candidate in Neath by-election, 1945 (MSS.75/7/1); publicity leaflets of WIL and RCP; 'Party Organiser', 1946-48; papers of Left Fraction within RSL and RCP.

Socialist Review Group: National Committee minutes, 1950-53; Birmingham Branch minutes, 1950-53; correspondence between Ken Tarbuck and SRG members; 'Socialist Review', 1950-61 (incomplete series).

Press cuttings relating to apprentices' strike, 1944; youth papers, including 'Young Guard', 1940s-1960s; publications of other left-wing organisations, especially from North America, 1960s.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ken Tarbuck joined the Revolutionary Communist Party in Birmingham in 1947. He was expelled from 'The Club' in 1950 and was a founding member of the Socialist Review Group, serving on the SRG National Committee. Tarbuck was briefly involved with the Socialist Workers Federation in the mid-1950s, but joined the Revolutionary Socialist League in 1957, after he attended the founding conference as a SWF observer. He joined the International Group in 1961 (later known as the International Marxist Group).

The British Section of the International Left Opposition emerged during the period from 1929 to 1932. The movement was always hampered by disunity and between 1934 and 1938 a series of splits occurred, mainly relating to relations with the Labour Party, resulting in the existence of three distinct groups in the London area by September 1938, although a variety of other groups had appeared and disappeared and there were also various groups in other regions of the country. The Marxist League, led by Harry Wicks and Hugo Dewar, had recently joined with the Revolutionary Socialist League (RSL) and were operating independently of the Labour Party. The Militant group, led by D. D. Harber and Jackson, advocated continuing to work as an entryist group inside the Labour Party, and they too eventually joined the RSL, as did the Revolutionary Socialist Party of Edinburgh. The Workers' International League (WIL), led by Lee, Grant, Haston and Healy, also advocated an entryist policy, but remained autonomous of the RSL.

On the initiative of the International Secretariat of the Fourth International, discussions on unification took place between the RSL and the WIL in the early 1940s and at a Fusion Conference in March 1944 the two groups merged to form the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). The RCP only remained in existence until 1949 and the 'unity' was always highly precarious, the party being split by continued disagreements on the question of the relationship of its members to the Labour Party.

When the RCP disintegrated in 1949 its members formed a variety of smaller groups, including the Socialist Review Group, which was distinguished by its analysis of the Soviet Union as "State Capitalist", embodied in its slogan "Neither Washington nor Moscow, but International Socialism!".

Access Information

This collection is available to researchers by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See

Acquisition Information

This collection was purchased by the Centre from Ken Tarbuck in 1974.

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this archive, apart from the requirements of copyright law.

Appraisal Information

This collection has been weeded for duplicates.


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

The Centre also holds the papers of Henry Sara/Frank Maitland (MSS.15), Harry Wicks (MSS.102), Bob Purdie (MSS.149), D D Harber (MSS.151) and Jimmy Deane (MSS.325), all active in the Trotskyist movement at various times. The papers of Colin Barker (MSS.152) also contain relevant material.

The Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull holds the papers of Jock Haston relating to the Revolutionary Communist Party.