By Stephen White
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Extra resources for Britain and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Study in the Politics of Diplomacy, 1920–1924
37 The resolution adopted at the TUC special conference fell conspicuously short of the policy pressed upon the movement by the National 'Hands off Russia' Committee. gII The Committee was certainly the most prominent body engaged in promoting opposition to the government's Russian policy at this time within the labour movement. It is difficult to accept its organisers' claim, however, that the Committee was a 'powerful force' in the agitation, much less that Labour opposition had a considerable influence upon the government policy or that its inspiration was, to a significant degree, an identification with the Bolshevik and proletarian cause.
Do not let it be said', it appealed, 'that it was the apathy if not the hostility of the workers of Britain that delayed the complete triumph of the workers of the world' . It was not until the war had finally ended, however, that (as the New Statesman put it) the time came to break the 'self-imposed silence which we have observed with regard to the British government's attitude towards Russia'. '2 Now, however, Labour began more openly to take issue with government policy in Russia. Opposition to the Bolsheviks, Basil Thomson, Director of Intelligence at the Home Office, reported to the Cabinet, which had been 'so marked in the early days of the revolution', was disappearing.
S Only among the dockers, the Norwich boot and shoe operatives and the Merthyr miners did industrial movements of any significance take place. ·9 A number of resolutions reached the Foreign Office; but as a minute drily observed, 'No action seems necessary. 's<> A. A. Watts, in an 'Appeal to the Working Class' in the Call on 19 June, admitted that 'to the average man, Russia is a long way off'. ' A 'Manifesto to British Labour' appeared in the paper the following week, calling upon British workers to 'retrieve the already tarnished reputation of our movement'.