Invaluable record of socialist struggle

A Revolutionary’s Memoir: From Socialist Fight to Militant and the Socialist Party

By Keith Dickinson

Published by Mentmore Press, 2023, £13.99

This book of Keith’s – his ‘memoirs’ – is the result not just of painstaking work in assembling the material, but of decades of dogged and patient dedication to the vital task of developing the forces of a revolutionary party in Liverpool, London and beyond.

He traces the origins of his militancy from his working-class origins in Merseyside in some quite fascinating detail, and the development of British Trotskyism, especially as he knew it in the second half of the last century.

Keith’s own experiences of important strikes – of apprentices, print workers and others – will act as an eye-opener for members of the newer generation. He gives detailed accounts of various meetings – Liverpool’s Labour Party and Trades Council, London’s Young Socialists or incongruous gatherings of British Trotskyists.

Involved as he was in the regular production of the paper Socialist Fight, more than anyone still around today, Keith relates in some detail the wide range of issues – national and international – covered in its pages. He does so with pride not only in the quality of the analysis and the principled stand taken on the issues of the day. He has done it in detail as, in reality, he is the only ‘survivor’ from that period. Keith was producing, distributing and selling Socialist Fight some time before the full involvement of the key figure in Militant’s establishment and growth – Peter Taaffe.

Keith’s book – A Revolutionary’s Memoir – deals with exactly that. It zig-zags sometimes as far as his own personal and political history is concerned as incidents come to mind. It also sometimes amusingly goes into some detail in relation to people he has known and worked with politically. Keith has been as polite as he can about everyone who has crossed his path, even those he has quite forcefully disagreed with.

Ever the gentleman socialist, always in jacket and tie, with at least one pen in his top pocket and his renowned white locks neatly combed back, Keith has also held back on the full story of Militant and its evolution into the Socialist Party and the Committee for a Workers’ International. This, he emphasises, has been covered in brilliant detail by his friend, comrade and fellow Liverpudlian, Peter Taaffe in his three volumes of our history as well as many other writings.

Keith has given more than six decades to the building of our forces, often hidden from view. He has made an invaluable contribution to ensuring our ideas and material – books, papers, leaflets and pamphlets – reach as wide a readership as possible. He must be thanked by young and old alike for all he has put into our movement… and for persevering with getting out this invaluable book!

Clare Doyle