Flame: Black Workers paper of the SWP (Sep 1977)

Flame front page

Like many others with an interest in the history of the left, I have acquired many documents that have become rarities, yet are valuable to researchers. Taking a cue from great archival blogs such as Red Mole Rising, Big Flame and the Irish Left Archive, I have decided to start scanning some of these documents. My first try is a copy of the SWP’s newspaper aimed at black workers, Flame. Beginning in 1976, Flame, alongside the Woman’s Voice journal, was an attempt by the SWP to reach out to other social movements in the mid-to-late 1970s. In his autobiography, Tony Cliff described the paper as ‘completely ineffective in building IS/SWP membership among black workers’ and claimed that the ‘experience was completely negative’ (p. 152). By 1979, Cliff had managed to convince the party that both publications needed to be wound down.

The issue I have scanned was published the month following the ‘Battle of Lewisham’ in August 1977, when anti-fascists and the police fought each other at a counter-demonstration against a planned ‘anti-mugging’ march by the National Front. There is a centre-spread of photos from the demonstration, most of which can be found in David Widgery’s Beating Time book. The issue also features articles on South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Notting Hill Carnival.

The scan of the issue (8 pages) can be found here: Flame Sep 1977


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