Trotsky's English Friends: Leon Trotsky’s asylum application and the British Left in the early 1930s

Twentieth Century Communism - ISSN 1758-6437
Volume 2016 Number 10

Trotsky's English Friends: Leon Trotsky’s asylum application and the British Left in the early 1930s
Liam McNulty, pages -

Abstract

This paper uses of Leon Trotsky’s declassified British Home Office file to construct a detailed case-study of Trotsky’s attempts to mobilise support for his asylum application to the UK. After Trotsky’s initial application to the Labour Home Secretary, J.R. Clynes, was rejected in 1929, it examines how Trotsky and his British supporters attempted to build a wide coalition of political and literary figures to apply public pressure on successive governments. From the perspective of this micro-study, interesting dividing lines on the British left are revealed, which highlight the continuing grip of radical liberal attitudes within the milieu around the Independent Labour Party (ILP), which made non-Stalinist leftists in the early 1930s simultaneously sympathetic to Trotsky’s case and unsympathetic to his politics. On the other hand, by tracing the Trotsky asylum case from before until after the onset of the Great Depression, we discover a growing technocratic fascination with the Soviet Union and economic planning in Fabian circles, which mitigated against support for Trotsky. Finally, through personal correspondence the article traces the network of Trotsky’s unlikely British supporters, and his struggles against this unpromising political backdrop to build a British section of the Fourth International.

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To cite this article
Liam McNulty (2016) Trotsky's English Friends: Leon Trotsky’s asylum application and the British Left in the early 1930s, Twentieth Century Communism, 2016(10), -

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