Polish Solidarity Campaign

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This article is about the sympathetic political movement in the UK. For the actual Polish trade union, see Solidarity (Polish trade union).

Britain's Polish Solidarity Campaign (PSC) was a campaign in solidarity with Solidarity (the Solidarność trade union) and other democratic forces in Poland. It was founded in August 1980[1] by Robin Blick, Karen Blick, and Adam Westoby, and continued its activities into the first half of the 1990s. The campaign was not named after Polish Solidarity (of whose name the founders became aware only later on); rather, it was inspired by the Chile Solidarity Campaign and the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign. A splinter-group, Solidarity With Solidarity (SWS), was formed in December 1981.

Most of the PSC's early members were ex-Communists and other socialists, and the original aim was to support the strikes called by Solidarity in Poland. Some Labour Party members and leftwing Polish exiles, including members of the Polish Socialist Party In Exile, joined the group. Within the first year, centrist and right-leaning exiles and other right-leaning individuals also become members of the PSC. Some trade unions became affiliated as well. In 1982, the group managed to resist a takeover attempt by the Trotskyist International Marxist Group (IMG).

The campaign met with opposition from the Communist Party and some within the Labour Party. The PSC called for British trade unions to cut their links with state-run trade unions in Eastern bloc countries, a demand which was oddly resisted by the IMG. It also called on the Labour Party to discontinue its policy of inviting Eastern bloc Communist Party members as delegates to the annual Labour Party Conference. (At a 1981 meeting of the Labour National Executive Committee, only three people supported changing this policy. In 1982, following the imposition of Martial Law, a narrow majority on the Executive voted to discontinue the invitations. The policy was later changed back again to some extent.)

After the PSC picketed a TUC meeting in February 1981, the TUC International Committee agreed to send assistance to Solidarność. Afterwards, the PSC and the Committee enjoyed good relations, and Solidarność delegates began to get invited to TUC conferences.

In April 1981, a march in support of Solidarność was organized by the Hands Off Polish Workers campaign, a group linked to the Labour leadership of the Greater London Council. The PSC participated, but was uneasy about the ban on "Cold War slogans". Giles Hart, official historian of the PSC, argued: "If this meant anything, it seemed to mean that one could say 'hands off Polish workers' but one could not say anything about whose hands were threatening Polish workers." Nevertheless, a Communist counterdemonstration also took place.

References[edit]

  1. ^ PSC homepage retrieved 11 June 2010