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Ted Grant

Ted Grant
Grant in 1985
Isaac Blank[1][2]

(1913-07-09)9 July 1913
Died20 July 2006(2006-07-20) (aged 93)
London, England, United Kingdom
NationalitySouth African
Occupation(s)Political theorist, writer, activist
MovementMilitant (United Kingdom),
International Marxist Tendency

Edward Grant (born Isaac Blank;[1] 9 July 1913 – 20 July 2006)[2] was a South African Trotskyist who spent most of his adult life in Britain. He was a founding member of the group Militant and later Socialist Appeal.

Early life

Grant was born Isaac Blank in Germiston, South Africa. His father, Max Blank, was a Lithuanian Jewish emigré from Tavrig, who was involved in the mineral business, and his mother, Adelle, was originally from the Parisian district of Le Marais. They had two sons, Isaac and Isador, and three daughters, Rose, Rachael and Zena.[3][4]

His parents divorced and he was brought up by his mother who took in lodgers to supplement her income. He was introduced to Trotskyism by one of these lodgers, Ralph Lee, a leader in the Bolshevik-Leninist League to which Lee would later recruit him.[5] In 1934, Grant left South Africa for Britain, changing his name to Edward Grant in the process. Before reaching the UK he stopped over in France to meet Trotsky's son, Lev Sedov. Once in Britain, he joined the Marxist Group, an entryist group in the Independent Labour Party.[2]

In 1935, the Johannesburg-based Bolshevik-Leninist League joined with a similar group in Cape Town to form the Workers Party of South Africa. In 1937, after a series of factional difficulties and accusations of financial misconduct, Lee and several of his supporters left South Africa and joined Grant in England in the Militant Group (an entrist group in the Labour Party which Grant and others joined after leaving the Marxist Group).[6] Factional accusations against Lee would follow him from South Africa, resulting in Lee and his supporters, including Grant, being expelled from the group in 1938.[5][7][8]

Political activities

The former Militant Group members formed the Workers' International League. The group grew, and in 1941, he became editor of its paper. He continued his role in the fused Revolutionary Communist Party. In 1945, Ted Grant, together with Jock Haston and others, argued that there would be a new but limited period of economic expansion of the 1950s and 1960s in the west. This contrasted with the perspectives of the American Socialist Workers Party led by James Cannon in 1945.[9]

Following the breakup of the RCP, Grant joined Gerry Healy's faction, but was soon expelled for failing to support other expulsions.[7] He formed a new, small tendency in the Labour Party. Later named the Revolutionary Socialist League, it was recognised as the official British section of the Fourth International between 1957 and 1965. In 1964 it founded the newspaper Militant.[10]

By the 1980s, the group was known as the Militant tendency and had become a significant force in the Labour Party, having successfully taken control of the Labour Party Young Socialists since 1972,[11][12] and infiltrated constituency parties electing two of its members Labour MPs.[13] As well, Militant in Liverpool had taken control of the Labour Party in that city as well as of Liverpool City Council resulting in high-profile confrontations with the Thatcher government as well as the national Labour Party leadership.[14]

Grant, and others from the group, was expelled from the Labour Party in 1983 while many members of Militant were later expelled under Neil Kinnock after the Left lost control of the party machinery.[10]

Expulsion from Militant

At the end of the 1980s, Militant was active in the anti-Poll Tax movement against the Thatcher government's Community Charge (popularly known as the poll tax). Meanwhile, there was a growing faction which believed that continuing support for the Labour Party was impeding the growth of the tendency. Grant worried that his organisation was shifting away from interpreting Trotsky's theories and indulging in "activism"; he had argued that Militant's MPs should pay the poll tax to protect the group.[15] A debate arose within Militant: Peter Taaffe and his supporters argued in favour of abandoning the entryist tactic, and instead began standing candidates against the Labour Party, first in the 1991 Liverpool Walton by-election and then in the 1992 general election in Liverpool and Scotland. Ted Grant opposed these developments and, after a special national conference confirmed the decision to leave the Labour Party, Grant was expelled from Militant along with Alan Woods in 1992.[16]

Following their expulsion Grant and Woods started a new group inside the Labour Party known by the name of its publication Socialist Appeal. The split also left Grant and his supporters outside the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI), but he and Woods were able to found the Committee for a Marxist International (now called the International Marxist Tendency) with international supporters.


  1. ^ a b Beckett, Andy (28 April 2016). "Militant by Michael Crick review – Britain's successful leftwing sect". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  2. ^ a b c "Ted Grant". The Daily Telegraph. 27 July 2006.
  3. ^ Sewell, Rob (21 July 2006). "Ted Grant: A Brief Biography". In Defence of Marxism. International Marxist Tendency. Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  4. ^ Shindler, Colin (24 November 2016). "Trotskyites and the talmudic tendency". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  5. ^ a b Hunter, Ian (Spring 1993). "Raff Lee and the Pioneer Trotskyists of Johannesburg A Footnote to the History of British Trotskyism". Revolutionary History. 4 (4): 60–65. Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  6. ^ Ratner, Harry (2002). "Ted Grant and Trotskyism: The Unbroken Thread? (Book review)". What Next? (23). Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  7. ^ a b Wade, Bob (27 July 2006). "Obituary". The Guardian. London.
  8. ^ "Martin Upham: History of British Trotskyism (Chap.7)". Retrieved 9 March 2024. He and the others were expelled formally on 17 February 1938
  9. ^ Bornstein, Sam; Richardson, Al (1986). Against the Stream: A History of the Trotskyist Movement in Britain 1924-1938. Socialist Platform. pp. 110, 176. ISBN 0850366003.
  10. ^ a b "Ted Grant". The Telegraph. 27 July 2006. Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  11. ^ Taaffe, Peter, The Rise of Militant, Chapter 5
  12. ^ Webb, Michelle (2007). "The rise and fall of the Labour league of youth" (PDF). University of Huddersfield Repository – via University of Huddersfield.
  13. ^ Beckett, Francis (1 July 2008). "Terry Fields (obituary)". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 March 2024.
  14. ^ James Naughtie "Labour in Bournemouth: Kinnock rounds on left's militants", The Guardian, 2 October 1985
  15. ^ McSmith, Andy (1996). Face of Labour: The Inside Story. Verso. p. 114. ISBN 1-85984-968-7.
  16. ^ "Ted Grant Obituary". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 30 August 2008. Finally, Peter Taaffe and other Militants, alongside whom Grant had stood shoulder to shoulder for so long, insisted that the principle should be dropped. When Grant, and another like-minded spirit, Alan Woods, refused to concede the point, both men were expelled from Militant in 1992.

See also

  • Tony Cliff and Gerry Healy - two other former RCP members who went on to found prominent rival Trotskyist parties.

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Ted Grant
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