Communist Party of Great Britain

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Party logo (1930s)

The Communist Party of Great Britain (Engl. Communist Party of Great Britain , CPGB) was from 1920 to 1991 in the United Kingdom active party. Their area of ​​activity was limited to England , Scotland and Wales , since the Northern Irish Communists were organized in the Communist Party of Ireland and the Communist Party of Northern Ireland . The CPGB was for decades the largest political organization to the left of the Labor Party ; it was never able to seriously jeopardize their structural hegemony within the labor movement despite great organizational efforts and occasionally regional or content-wise considerable influence. The CPGB achieved a high degree of acceptance among allies and access to non-communist workers between around 1935 and 1950; nevertheless it did not even begin to break through to become a mass party - which other communist parties in Europe and around the world achieved during this period. When the party as a whole had already gradually decayed after 1970, which threatened its very existence, individual party members found themselves in union leadership positions previously almost unattainable for communists - most prominently Michael McGahey in the National Union of Mineworkers - and played in the clashes between the British state and of the trade union movement in the 1970s and 1980s.


Foundation and first years

Arthur MacManus, the first chairman of the CPGB

The CPGB was on a July 31/1. Meeting of delegates, announced as the Communist Unity Convention , was founded in London in August 1920 . It did not emerge - like most of the other communist parties in Europe - as a left-wing split from an already existing social democratic party that had got into reformist waters , but arose from a merger of socialist organizations that had never belonged to the Labor Party or were at best affiliated to it as independent branches were. Of the approximately 160 delegates of the 96 were British Socialist Party and 22 of the Communist Unity Group to the rest presented smaller socialist groups, circles and clubs, about the exclusively in London's East End active Workers' Socialist Federation . In the run-up, months of negotiations about the participation of the Socialist Labor Party and the Shop Steward Committees had failed because these de Leonist or syndicalist- oriented groups opposed what was wanted primarily by the BSP - and Lenin, who intervened in the debate several times Discussed affiliation of the new party with the Labor Party and participation in elections or parliamentary work; Ultimately, only one representative each of the shop stewards and the SLP took part in the founding of the CPGB. The delegates elected Arthur MacManus as chairman of the party ; Albert Inkpin became the first (general) secretary . With Cecil L'Estrange Malone , the only member of the House of Commons of the BSP joined the CPGB, which gave it its first and, until 1922, only mandate. The Communist first appeared as the central party publication , then Workers' Weekly from 1923 to 1930 and then the Daily Worker .

William Gallacher, MP for the West Fife constituency from 1935 to 1950

End of January 1921 closed at a conference in Leeds more organizations CPGB on, especially in the Communist Labor Party merged Scottish shop stewards from the room Glasgow to William Gallacher and a semi-syndicalist group that previously served as Communist Party (British Section of the Third International ) occurred. Subsequently - and repeatedly applied for until 1923 - membership of the Labor Party was rejected by its leadership (in violation of the Labor Statute of 1918, which allowed affiliation through a simple resolution of the acceding organization) with the argument that the CPGB was not originally British , but rather a political force controlled remotely by "Moscow". The ineffective agitation within the Labor Party was partly to blame for the CPGB, at least in the first ten to fifteen years of its existence, through a remarkably rigid interpretation of the Leninist party doctrine. Often "normal" workers and trade unionists interested in joining or loose cooperation were turned away , because the party saw itself as a largely exclusive association of professional revolutionaries. This specifically British, pre-war and Leninist modified legacy of the “worst sectarian traditions of the socialist sects” was only abandoned by the party after 1935 when, as part of the Popular Front policy, it adapted the recruitment practice that had long been common in other Western European communist parties. For the time being, the party's growth was "artificially" slowed down in this way.

When they first took part in the election - on the occasion of the general election in 1922 - the party's few candidates fought quite well. Of the two candidates running directly as CPGB representatives, JT Walton Newbold was able to win the Motherwell constituency ; William Gallacher was clearly defeated in Dundee , but drove a respectable result against the political heavyweights competing here (including Winston Churchill ). In Greenock and Bethnal Green North East, the two CP candidates - supported by the local Labor Party - were only barely defeated. In Battersea North, Communist Party member Shapurji Saklatvala was elected as an official Labor candidate.

Despite its negligible membership ( compared to the Labor Party ) (fewer than 3,000 members in 1922), the CPGB was immediately perceived by the political establishment as a force to be taken seriously, even as a threat. On the one hand this was due to the irrational anti-communist hysteria of the post-war years triggered by the October Revolution and the political crises in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, but on the other hand it was based on the entirely realistic assessment that a real organizational breakthrough for the party in the face of the strong Labor left , which was initially very widespread sympathy for revolutionary Russia (cf. Hands-Off Russia Movement ) and especially with a view to the pronounced class consciousness of most British workers could not be completely ruled out. Immediately after its formation, the party became the focus of attention of the domestic intelligence service and the relevant police authorities; According to a recent study, “between the wars, more intelligence was used to monitor and screen the CPGB than for any other purpose.” The main leadership cadres were constantly monitored, and the party leadership building in London's King Street was fitted with eavesdropping devices, almost every local one Party group was interspersed with informers. In addition, MI5 recorded almost all members and active sympathizers in a “Preventive Index”, which by 1925 had grown to 25,250 names. The disparity between the actual organizational weakness and the considerable development potential assumed by supporters and opponents alike defined the position of the CPGB in the political system of Great Britain until the 1950s .

In 1924, the party was at the center of an orchestrated campaign by the Conservative Party , the press and the judiciary, which at least initially was directed against the MacDonald government. In August 1924, John Ross Campbell , the party newspaper's chief editor, was arrested under a law dating from 1797; it was said that in an article he had urged members of the military to "mutiny" (see Campbell case ). The Labor -Minderheitsregierung was forced after a few weeks in the face of the protests of many left deputy and trade unionists to intervene in the case and put down the process. Thereupon it was overthrown by a vote of no confidence by the conservative-liberal parliamentary majority. A few days before the subsequent elections, the conservative Times and Daily Mail reported in sensational presentation on a letter (allegedly) signed by Gregori Zinoviev and Arthur MacManus, addressed to the CPGB Central Committee, in which a rapprochement between the CPGB and the Labor Party and the Exchange of delegations between British and Soviet workers' organizations was recommended; in this way, so it was said in this document, which became dubiously famous as the Zinoviev Letter , the revolutionary work could be decisively advanced. The letter sparked one of the most momentous political scandals in British history: It compromised the previously influential left wing of Labor , triggered a diplomatic crisis and led to a landslide victory for the Conservatives in the parliamentary elections on October 29, 1924 After an investigation initiated by Robin Cook , the British government officially admitted that the letter had been fabricated by the international intelligence service MI6 or at least leaked to the press at the appropriate moment.

General strike, global economic crisis and fascist danger

As early as 1924, with the National Minority Movement , the party had created a solid organizational context of communist and sympathetic union officials within the Trades Union Congress (TUC). The NMM turned out to be one of the party's most successful initiatives at all; On March 21, 1926, nearly 900 delegates attended a congress of this organization, representing nearly a million union members.

After the Baldwin government took office in November 1924, it quickly became apparent that its open support for employers' policies to cut wages and to extend working hours would lead to greater confrontation with the unions. Especially the miners, among whom the NMM had a relatively large influence, showed themselves - supported by the railway workers - ready to resist. On July 31, 1925, Baldwin was able to avert a general strike at the last minute by apparently responding to the miners' demands and ordering the formation of a government commission to examine the situation in the mining industry (Red Friday) . In the months that followed, the government prepared intensively for the coming trial of strength. It divided the country into ten districts, in which civil commissioners authorized to issue instructions initiated the development of alternative transport capacities, the creation of a “special police” and the recruitment of strikebreakers. In October 1925, almost the entire CPGB leadership was involved in a process for "inciting mutiny" and "defamation which is dangerous to the state" and sentenced to several months' imprisonment. At the same time, the Labor leadership, in which after the Zinoviev Letter affair, functionaries such as Walter Citrine exercised decisive influence, decided to no longer accept or tolerate communists as individual members; In addition, the trade unions were asked not to send any Communist delegates to Labor conferences in the future .

CPGB block at the May Day demonstration in London, May 1, 1926

In the spring of 1926 the government forced the General Council of the TUC, which was basically ready to give in, to confront it. The union leaders had to reluctantly initiate a general strike, as the National Union of Mineworkers, under the influence of the NMM, rejected the government commission's demands on April 9th, the employers thereupon closed all pits by lockout on May 1st and almost all industry unions expressed their will in support of the Miners had announced. The first general strike in British history began on May 4, 1926. It was broken off on May 12 by the TUC leadership with the (false) claim that the government and the mine owners were ready to accommodate. When this turned out to be a lie, the miners went on strike for seven months on their own, but had to break off the fight on November 30 and resume work on the terms dictated by the employers. Although the strikers of 1926 suffered a heavy defeat, it was during these months that the CPGB was able to establish a significant base among the production workers in a key British industry. The party was under the slogan “Not a penny less! Not a second more working time! ”Highly committed and gained a lot in reputation. Of the approximately 5,000 participants and supporters of the general strike who were sentenced in an express trial on the basis of the state of emergency, 1,200 were members of the Communist Party. The number of members of the party rose to over 10,000 for the first time in 1926. In many mining communities, CPGB officials remained a local political factor for decades.

In the course of the reorientation of the strategy of communist parties initiated by resolutions of the Comintern from 1928 onwards, Albert Inkpin was replaced in 1929 by Harry Pollitt as general secretary. In 1928 the Labor Party had replaced its 1918 program, which contained a socialist objective, with a new document (Labor and the Nation) , in which only increased state intervention in economic and social development was called for, the question of property was no longer thrown up on the means of production. The socio-political integration of the TUC, which was pushed forward at the same time on the basis of the Mond - Turner negotiations, and the rigorous action of the Labor authorities against communists - in 1926 alone the party dissolved 13 local associations that had refused to expel Communist Party members - prompted the CPGB until about 1933/34 to a policy that was directed directly against the Labor Party (now referred to by the CP as the “third force” of the bourgeoisie). In a contemporary CPGB brochure it said:

"In these conditions and in this situation the Communist Party cannot and must not limit itself to a struggle only against the Baldwin Government. By the very course of things, the British Communist Party is called on to intensify the struggle against the liberal-bourgeois policies of the Labor Party. It is not merely a question of severe criticism of the Labor Party, but also of carrying on a struggle against the Labor Party as against a party which is becoming more and more transformed into a third party of the bourgeoisie. "

This "offensive" line cost the party almost all positions of influence in the trade unions and the Labor Party . The number of members of the CPGB fell to an all-time low within a short period of time and in 1931 was just 2,500. By deliberately cutting off all links with the left Labor wing, the party could hardly use the favorable situation, which resulted from the separation of the Independent Labor Party from the Labor Party in July 1932, politically or organizationally.

The party initiated a recovery through its leading role in the unemployment movement from 1931 to 1935, but above all through the gradual concentration on defending against the national and international fascist threat after 1933 . The party organized an auxiliary committee for German emigrants in 1933 and played a key role in bringing about the sensational London "counter-trial" to the Reichstag fire trial. In the same year an alliance agreement directed against the British Union of Fascists was reached with the Independent Labor Party . On September 9, 1934, over 150,000 people took part in an anti-fascist rally in London initiated by the CPGB and ILP - against the resistance of the Labor Party and TUC. The climax of the direct conflict between anti-fascists and fascists in Great Britain was the so-called Battle of Cable Street on October 4, 1936. On this day, rallies attended by around 300,000 people, attended by the CPGB and ILP on the occasion of a BUF deployment in East London, developed End called, a street battle lasting several hours, as thousands of police officers - including all of the capital's mounted police - tried to pave the way for Mosley's black shirts. In the general election of November 14, 1935, the party supported the Labor candidates, with two exceptions, in the spirit of the reorientation initiated by the Comintern's VII World Congress ; William Gallacher won the constituency of West Fife , Harry Pollitt was defeated in Rhondda East by the Labor representative. In the same year the CPGB gave itself a new program (For Soviet Britain) . By 1939 the party was able to increase its membership to around 18,000.

The Left Book Club , which was founded in March 1936 and linked to the CPGB, ILP and the Labor Left, developed into a great - albeit short-lived - cultural and political success . He published a monthly book on a contemporary political issue, which was often read and discussed together in local reading circles - there were 1,200 in 1939. In the second half of the 1930s , academics joined the CPGB for the first time in significant numbers; Among other things, it was possible to build a party group with around 100 members at Cambridge University .

After the start of the civil war in Spain , the CPGB first formed a support committee that collected aid for the medical care of the Republican troops; then she participated in the non-partisan auxiliary committee formed in October 1936 for republican Spain. During the war, about 2,200 British volunteers went to Spain to fight the fascist coup plotters; about 700 of them were members of the CPGB.

Zenit - World War II and the first post-war decade

In the first weeks of the Second World War , the CPGB first called for support for measures to ward off German aggression. According to a statement published on September 2, 1939, a struggle had to be waged “on two fronts”: on the one hand, a military victory over the fascists had to be achieved, on the other hand, the replacement of the anti-Soviet understanding with Germany had to be achieved Chamberlain's government to be enforced. In mid-September Harry Pollitt called on all leftists to refrain from "revolutionary-sounding phrases" and to put themselves in the service of the war effort. This evaluation of the war sparked violent disputes in the party leadership. Finally, at the beginning of October - with the support of the Comintern - the group prevailed which classified the war as a struggle between two imperialist groups of power to redivide the world. Pollitt was temporarily replaced as Secretary General and replaced by Rajani Palme Dutt . Although the new line pushed back many people who had approached the party in the pre-war years solely because of its consistently anti-fascist stance, it was - at least in the early stages of the war - by no means as unpopular as is often claimed. The CPGB was the only political force that continued to advocate raising the standard of living of workers and, if necessary, also called for strikes. Quite a few workers were cautious about the nationalist mobilization slogans of conservative politicians and were thoroughly interested in the CPGB's demand for people's peace ; a People's Convention convened by the CPGB in January 1941, for example, attracted 2,234 delegates, representing around 1.2 million people - mostly union members. The assembly passed a resolution calling for a “people's government”, the nationalization of the banks, the land and the arms industry, and the independence of India. Nine days later, on January 21, 1941, the Daily Worker was banned for its "defeatist" stance. According to the CPGB, the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941 completely changed the character of British participation in the war. The demand to replace the Churchill government with a "people's government" was dropped in July 1941. The party now backed the coalition government, turned against strikes and began a campaign for the establishment of a second front in Western Europe.

After the end of the war, the party initially advocated the continuation of the “government of national unity” and then supported the Labor government until the end of 1947. In the general election in July 1945, which ended with a completely surprising landslide victory for the Labor Party , William Gallacher and Phil Piratin win their constituencies, the remaining 19 candidates were defeated, some of them only very narrowly; In the 21 constituencies in which CPGB candidates ran, the party achieved a very impressive average share of the vote of 12.5%.

Bert Papworth was the first CPGB member to join the General Council of the TUC in 1944. As early as 1946, however, the Labor Party leadership began to actively combat communist influence in trade unions and other organizations of the labor movement. This initially took the CPGB by surprise. Until 1947 it was hardly able to react aggressively, since it had committed itself - analogous to the "peaceful coexistence" announced by the Soviet Union - to cooperation with Labor . Both parliamentary seats won in 1945 were lost again in February 1950. In retrospect, the results of the elections in 1950, which was disappointing for the CPGB and undoubtedly also influenced by the escalating bloc confrontation - the party was really present on the ground for the first time and had put up 100 constituency candidates, of which not a single one was elected - stands for the beginning of the political and organizational decline of the party. In 1951, the CPGB adopted a new program ( The British Road to Socialism ), which in particular declared a parliamentary and thus legal transition to socialism possible. As early as October 1944, the 17th party congress of the CPGB had passed a resolution with a similar tendency.

During the war, the CPGB had its greatest recruiting successes. Occasionally there were downright mass admissions, for example at the end of December 1941, when, after a speech by Harry Pollitt in front of 12,000 listeners, almost 700 people filled out the admission applications. As a result, the party was able to increase its membership to a maximum that was never reached again in a very short time. There were 56,000 organized communists in 1942 and 63,000 in 1943; at the end of the war the number could hardly have been lower. This value initially remained stable and then began to decline continuously - as part of the radical anti-communist and anti-Soviet realignment of British domestic and foreign policy that began in 1946/1947. Despite the mass resignations in 1956, the CPGB still had over 30,000 members in its ranks at the beginning of the 1970s - ten times more than in the founding phase. The party was able to stabilize the reputation “borrowed” from the Soviet Union during the war - at least for many of the members who joined in the 1930s and 1940s - and transform it into real political loyalty. A serious problem for organizational continuity turned out to be that after 1970, when the founding and building-up generation had died out and the members gained during the war gradually became inactive, the party could hardly record new entrants in sufficient numbers. The party's youth association, the Young Communist League , was hardly suitable as a recruiting reserve; the YCL had led a shadowy existence even at the heyday of the party in the immediate post-war years and could hardly attract more than 3,000 members. In 1980 the CPGB only had about 19,000 contributors. At this point, however, it had also become apparent that the party was threatened far more seriously by its political than by its organizational crisis.

The crisis year 1956

When at the beginning of June 1956 the text of Nikita Khrushchev on the XX. The secret speech held at the CPSU party congress was published in coordinated steps by the US State Department , the CPGB, led since May 1956 by the new Secretary General John Gollan , began an intensive debate on the relationship to the Soviet Union, its political system and its own party history. The party leadership responded at the end of June with a statement in which it was “deeply shocked by the injustice and the crimes” and called for a “thorough Marxist analysis of the causes of the degeneration”, but was unable to counter the crisis. Since July 1956, a group of communist academics led by Edward P. Thompson and John Saville published an opposition periodical ( The Reasoner ), which initially dealt primarily with questions of intra-party democracy and, in the autumn, went over to open attacks on "Stalinism". The developments in Poland, and even more so the events in Hungary , ultimately led to an “unprecedented outbreak of open opposition” within the party. When the CPGB leadership publicly expressed its solidarity with the Soviet actions in Hungary on November 3, 1956, it triggered a wave of resignations among the insecure party members who - as a contemporary witness put it - have been "on the verge of political equivalents" for months collective nervous breakdown ”. For months the party was almost incapable of acting, and the attempted mobilization against the Anglo-French attack on Egypt got stuck in the beginning. The internal party crisis was only over when the “Report of the Minority” presented by Christopher Hill at the 25th party congress in the spring of 1957 was rejected by the delegates with a large majority.

In 1956 the CPGB lost about 7,000 members. That was a dramatic bloodletting, but by no means drained the party - as is often claimed - substantially. Only the loss of influence among academics and artists proved irreparable in the short and medium term. Most of the intellectuals who had previously sympathized with the CPGB - for very different reasons - broke with it or withdrew because they feared they would be professionally and socially compromised by being close to a party that was now completely ostracized. In the course of this withdrawal movement, the beginnings of the British New Left emerged . In addition, a notable number of former party members - especially the correspondent of the Daily Worker in Hungary, Peter Fryer , who had been expelled from the CPGB - joined Trotskyist small groups, which made this trend (the three rival groups of British Trotskyists) had absolutely insignificant in Great Britain at the beginning of 1956 together fewer than 100 members) became a certain factor in the left spectrum for the first time.

Stabilization and the beginning of decay - the 1960s and 1970s

The crisis of 1956 had almost no negative consequences for the level of influence of the CPGB in the trade union movement. It was able to be expanded further during the 1960s and reached its peak in the second half of the 1970s . Here the party, which was now concentrating entirely on work in this area, benefited from the “self-criticism” initiated by Khrushchev. Many trade union branches and management showed themselves to be open to communists again, and the traditional defensive rhetoric of the TUC leadership barely took hold. In the trade union federations of the mechanical engineering, construction, electrical and transport trades, communist functionaries gained great, in some cases even decisive, influence. The party has pursued an alliance strategy since the early 1960s, which in individual cases led to its support of Labor candidates, on which an electoral alliance of left groups had agreed, against candidates with the CPGB party book, if they were outside the alliance, in internal union elections competed. The fairly successful mobilization of the unions against action by the Wilson and Heath administrations was in large part due to CPGB influence; In 1969, for example, the majority of the unions were successfully mobilized against the new trade union law by Labor Prime Minister Wilson.

In the conflict between the Chinese CP and the CPSU , which had been open since the end of 1962 , the CPGB sided with the Soviets. Until the end of the 1960s, individual small pro-Chinese groups split off from the party (see Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) ). The Czechoslovak crisis in the summer of 1968, however, turned out to be far more momentous for the party. The CPGB first distanced itself from the Soviet leadership when Gollan described this procedure as a "mistake" after the invasion of the Soviet troops in August. He criticized that the standards of mutual interaction between socialist states had been violated and that the Czechoslovak Communist Party was deprived of the right to solve its problems itself. He took this point of view in Moscow at a meeting of 75 communist parties in June 1969. For the first time since 1956, this position of the General Secretary led to factional criticism of the party leadership, which this time attacked the lack of solidarity with the Soviet Union rather than the ongoing solidarity . For example, in one of his last political interventions, Rajani Palme Dutt accused the governing bodies of "classless liberalism" at the 31st party congress and also urged the journal Labor Monthly, which he published, for a revision of what he wrote was marked by "virgin innocence" Appearance of the party leadership. Over the course of a few months in 1968/1969, when it came to the question of positioning towards Soviet foreign policy, two currents emerged which - under changing labels - struggled for control of the party in the two following decades.

General Secretary Gordon McLennan , who has been in office since 1975, was under the influence of a group of Eurocommunist intellectuals around Martin Jacques , John Bloomfield and Pat Devine , who classified themselves as standing in the tradition of Antonio Gramsci . In addition, around 1975 in the course of the internal generation change, several party members close to this group had taken on middle and higher management positions. In 1977/1978 this trend pushed through a fundamental revision of the British Road to Socialism , decided in 1951 , in which, among other things, formally and in terms of content, the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat , which had only turned the 1951 version into parliamentary terms , was dispensed with and instead a " Labor - New type of government ”. Thereupon a group of opposed party members split off in the summer of 1977 and formed the New Communist Party of Britain . It was joined in particular by the Surrey Party District with its secretary Sid French .

Triumph of the Eurocommunists and collapse of the party - 1980 to 1991

Around 1980 the faction struggle - for the time being still undercover - was in full swing in the CPGB. The offensive of Euro-Communist “modernizers”, which has been going on since the late 1970s, was not able to oppose a single bloc by their opponents. Ambitious party intellectuals gathered around the magazine Straight Left , who vehemently opposed the reorientation towards participation in the New Social Movements and instead called for increased activity within the Labor Party, which had moved to the left at the beginning of the 1980s . They pushed for the reactivation - or the exclusion - of the many passive party members and the establishment of thorough Marxist training. Conceptually, they envisaged a party that resembled the small but immensely active cadre organization that had existed until the mid-1930s. In addition, the Straight Left defended the Soviet approach in Afghanistan . One of the leaders of this current was the former head of the CPGB student organization, Fergus Nicholson . The group had close ties to the foreign organizations of the Greek , Iranian , Iraqi and South African CPs operating in Great Britain and was also supported by some "icons" of the CPGB, such as Charlie Woods, the over eighty-year-old North East District Secretary of the 1930s and 1940s. Years. Another "anti-revisionist" network (the Communist Campaign Group ) arose around the editorial board of the party newspaper Morning Star , namely around Tony Chater , Mick Costello and Dave Whitfield. Unlike the Straight Left , it relied mainly on workers and union officials who had joined the party as young people in the 1940s and 1950s and remained loyal to it through all the crises. Many of them held shares in the Morning Star and ensured its independence from the central party apparatus that had been dominated by the Eurocommunists since 1981. Although this group controlled the central organ of the CPGB, it initially remained defensive against the Eurocommunists, but always tried to intervene when the basic strategic dispositions of the CPGB were attacked by the "reformers". In contrast, the group around Martin Jacques had expanded the theory journal of the CPGB ( Marxism Today ) into a kind of alternative central organ of the eurocommunist current since 1977.

In the fall of 1982, the conflict broke out on the occasion of a series of articles in Marxism Today , in which the trade union movement was devalued in relation to the women's, peace and environmental protection movements. Without consulting the party leadership, the Morning Star then repeatedly attacked the "petty-bourgeois-anti-proletarian" line of Marxism Today . These clashes - the so-called star wars - lasted almost three years and ended in January 1985 with the expulsion of Chaters and Whitfields. Hundreds of their followers were also excluded or resigned in the following years; many of them reunited in the Communist Party of Britain , founded in 1988 . However, despite repeated attempts, the party leadership failed to remove Chater and Whitfield from the Morning Star's editorial team . The wave of exclusions also affected many members and supporters of the straight left current, including Charlie Woods.

CPGB block on a solidarity demonstration during the miners' strike in 1984/1985

The 1984/1985 miners' strike was strongly supported by the Morning Star group, but only symbolically supported by the official CPGB authorities under the influence of the "modernizer" current around Marxism Today . This attitude cost the CPGB the last remnants of a significant union base. A more recent study comes to the conclusion that “by dropping its class base the CPGB effectively lost much trade union support. (...) It became so right wing that even some of the Labor Party policies appeared to radical for it. "

In November 1989 the 41st party congress of the CPGB expressed its solidarity with the promoters of system change in Eastern Europe and praised Mikhail Gorbachev for his willingness to take “creative risks”. The delegates decided on a Manifesto for New Times , replacing the 1977 version of the British Road to Socialism . Gordon McLennan then resigned as General Secretary. With the 33-year-old Nina Temple - against McLennan's express request - the most radical Eurocommunists openly took over the leadership of the CPGB, which still had around 7,600 members. Their work towards a “pluralistic”, “democratic-socialist” party drove out most of the remaining “traditionalists” within a few months. However, at this point in time, in view of the global political upheaval, many leading “reformers” withdrew from the CPGB, because they had no perspective within the organization, not least for themselves - the party was facing financial collapse and no longer had any full-time functions to assign saw more. In November 1990, a large minority on the Executive Committee argued for self-dissolution. The Temple circle sold large portions of the party's existing assets (which are believed to have amounted to approximately £ 4 million in 1990 ) in the months that followed. After a further phase of political and organizational agony, during which the party leadership successfully isolated the remnants of the straight left current by means of sensationally presented "revelations" about the decades-long financing of the CPGB by the CPSU , the delegates of the 43rd party congress in November 1991 decided at 135 against 72 votes to convert the CPGB into the Democratic Left , conceived as a campaign organization and think tank . A Trotskyist group around the magazine The Leninist that seeped into the party during the 1980s claimed the party name for itself at a crisis conference and has since acted as the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee) . Part of the English and Welsh “traditionalists” joined the CPB, while Scottish communists formed the Communist Party of Scotland . Most members of the Straight Left group have not joined any of these successor organizations.

General Secretaries of the CPGB


  • Andrews, Geoff, Endgames and New Times: The Final Years of British Communism 1964–1991 , London 2004.
  • Attfield, John, Williams, Stephen (Eds.): 1939: The Communist Party of Great Britain and the War , London 1984.
  • Branson, Noreen: History of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1927–1941 , London 1985.
  • Branson, Noreen: History of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1941–1951 , London 1997.
  • Callaghan, John: Cold War, Crisis and Conflict: The CPGB 1951-68 , London 2004.
  • Cope, Dave: Bibliography of the Communist Party of Great Britain , London 2016.
  • Falber, Reuben: The 1968 Czechoslovak Crisis: Inside the British Communist Party , London undated
  • Herrmann, Paul-Wolfgang: The Communist Party of Great Britain. Studies on the historical development, organization, ideology and politics of the CPGB from 1920–1970 , Meisenheim am Glan 1976.
  • Klugmann, James: History of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Vol. 1: Formation and early years, 1919–1924 , London 1968.
  • Klugmann, James: History of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Vol. 2: 1925-1927. The General Strike , London 1969.
  • Laybourn, Keith: Marxism in Britain. Dissent, decline and re-emergence 1945-c.2000 , London 2006.
  • MacFarlane, Leslie John: The British Communist Party. Its Origin and Development until 1929 , London 1966.
  • Worley, Matthew: Class Against Class. The Communist Party in Britain between the Wars , London 2002.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Schumacher, Horst (et al.), History of the international labor movement in data, Berlin 1986, p. 189.
  2. See Klugmann, James, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Vol. 1: Formation and early years, 1919-1924, London 1968, pp. 20, 38 f.
  3. See Lenin, WI, Werke, Volume 31, Berlin 1959, p. 190 and Klugmann, Formation, p. 72 f.
  4. See Siegfried Bünger, Hella Kaeselitz, History of Great Britain from 1918 to the Present , Berlin 1989, p. 29 f.
  5. See Klugmann, Formation, p. 39.
  6. Malone was a highly decorated officer who - shaped by the war experience and a trip to revolutionary Russia - had joined the radical labor movement on a more emotional than political basis. Shortly after joining the CPGB, he was charged with "incitement to riot" and served six months in prison. In 1922 he resigned from the CPGB. See Klugmann, Formation, p. 181 f.
  7. See Klugmann, Formation, p. 67 f.
  8. See Klugmann, Formation, pp. 166 ff., 230 ff. And Bünger, Geschichte, p. 31.
  9. Klugmann, Formation, p. 70 f.
  10. See Klugmann, Formation, pp. 190 ff., 234 f.
  11. See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 31 and Klugmann, Formation, p. 226.
  12. See Röder, Karl-Heinz (Ed.), The political system of Great Britain. From the English bourgeois revolution to the present, Cologne 1982, p. 407.
  13. Andrew, Christopher, MI 5. The True Story of British Secret Service, Berlin 2010, p. 164.
  14. See Andrew, MI 5, p. 165.
  15. See Klugmann, Formation, p. 342 ff.
  16. See Klugmann, Formation, p. 346 ff.
  17. Zinoviev letter was dirty trick by MI6 , The Guardian, February 4, 1999, accessed on September 26, 2011. See also Klugmann, Formation, p. 369 ff.
  18. See MacFarlane, Leslie John, The British Communist Party. Its Origin and Development until 1929, London 1966, p. 161 and Klugmann, James, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Vol. 2: 1925-1927. The General Strike, London 1969, pp. 101 ff.
  19. See Klugmann, General Strike, p. 31 and Truchanowski, WG, Recent History of England 1917–1951, Berlin 1962, p. 143.
  20. See Truchanowski, Geschichte, p. 144 f. and Klugmann, General Strike, p. 39 ff.
  21. See Klugmann, General Strike, p. 67 ff.
  22. See Truchanowski, Geschichte, p. 146 f.
  23. The General Council of the TUC became, according to a contemporary observer, "the fighting front in a war that had been forced upon it and which it feared to win". See Martin, Kingsley, The British Public and the General Strike, London 1926, p. 58.
  24. For details of the work of the CPGB during the general strike, see Klugmann, General Strike, pp. 91–229.
  25. See Truchanowski, Geschichte, p. 153.
  26. See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 63.
  27. See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 31.
  28. See Worley, Matthew, Class Against Class. The Communist Party in Britain between the Wars, London 2002, p. 116 ff.
  29. a b See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 71.
  30. See Truchanowski, Geschichte, p. 164 ff.
  31. See Truchanowski, Geschichte, p. 169.
  32. See Worley, Class, pp. 52 ff.
  33. Braun, P., At the Parting of the Ways, London 1928, pp. 40 f.
  34. See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 88 f.
  35. See Bünger, Geschichte, pp. 87, 89.
  36. ^ See Worley, Class, p. 301.
  37. See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 108.
  38. See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 109.
  39. ↑ On this overall - albeit with the obvious tendency to downplay the role of the CPGB - Kushner, Tony, Valman, Nadia (eds.), Remembering Cable Street: Fascism and Anti-Fascism in British Society, London 1999.
  40. See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 116 f.
  41. a b See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 119.
  42. See Hobsbawm, Eric, Dangerous Times. A life in the 20th century, Munich 2003, p. 141.
  43. See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 117.
  44. See Attfield, John, Williams, Stephen (Eds.) 1939: The Communist Party of Great Britain and the War, London 1984, pp. 147 ff.
  45. See Callaghan, John, Rajani Palme Dutt. A Study in British Stalinism, London 1993, p. 180 ff.
  46. See Attfield, Williams, War, pp. 169 ff.
  47. See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 138.
  48. See Kernig, CD (ed.), The Communist Parties of the World, Freiburg-Basel-Wien 1969, column 224.
  49. See Branson, Noreen, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1941–1951, London 1997, pp. 2 ff.
  50. See Laybourn, Keith, Marxism in Britain. Dissent, decline and re-emergence 1945-c.2000, London 2006, p. 17.
  51. See Laybourn, Marxism, p. 18.
  52. See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 167.
  53. ^ In the summer of 1946 a functionary noted: "Several trade unions that formerly supported us have now, by considerable majorities, turned against us. Divisional Labor parties which welcomed our aid in elections and were full of goodwill are today bitter opponents. ”See Laybourn, Marxism, pp. 19, 25 f.
  54. A contemporary analysis from the pen of the leading party theorist can be found in Palme Dutt, Rajani, Great Britain's Empirekrise, Berlin 1951, pp. 5 ff.
  55. See Callaghan, John, Cold War, Crisis and Conflict: The CPGB 1951-68, London 2004, pp. 177 ff.
  56. ^ "By October 1944 the CPGB was using the terminology of Marxism-Leninism to support reformist policies which were in reality departing from genuine Marxist ideas." See Laybourn, Marxism, pp. 19-20.
  57. See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 143.
  58. See Kernig, Parties, column 224.
  59. See Röder, Politisches System, p. 412.
  60. a b See Röder, Politisches System, p. 433.
  61. See Laybourn, Marxism, p. 13.
  62. See Laybourn, Marxism, pp. 48 ff.
  63. Daily Worker, June 22, 1956. Quoted from Kernig, parties, column 225.
  64. See Laybourn, Marxism, pp. 50, 52 and Hobsbawm, Zeiten, pp. 240, 245.
  65. ^ Hobsbawm, Zeiten, p. 238.
  66. See Laybourn, Marxism, p. 53.
  67. ^ Hobsbawm, Zeiten, p. 239.
  68. ^ See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 218 and Hobsbawm, Zeiten, p. 240.
  69. ^ See Laybourn, Marxism, p. 54.
  70. See Rebellato, Dan, 1956 and All That: The Making of Modern British Drama, London 1999, p. 19 and Hobsbawm, Zeiten, p. 245 ff.
  71. ^ See Hobsbawm, Zeiten, p. 235.
  72. See Laybourn, pp. 12-70.
  73. See Callaghan, Cold War, pp. 226 ff. And Hobsbawm, Zeiten, p. 239.
  74. See Andrews, Geoff, Endgames and New Times: The Final Years of British Communism 1964–1991, London 2004, pp. 73 ff. And Laybourn, Marxism, p. 58.
  75. See Kernig, Parties, column 226.
  76. See Andrews, Endgames, pp. 105 ff.
  77. See Bünger, Geschichte, p. 265.
  78. See Weber, Hermann, Conflicts in World Communism. A documentation on the Moscow-Beijing crisis, Munich 1964, p. 224.
  79. Gollan's speech is printed in International Consultation of the Communist and Workers' Parties Moscow 1969, Prague 1969, pp. 599–609.
  80. See in all Falber, Reuben, The 1968 Czechoslovak Crisis: Inside the British Communist Party, London o. J.
  81. See Andrews, Endgames, pp. 140 ff. And Bull, Martin J., Heywood, Paul (eds.), West European Communist Parties after the Revolutions of 1989, London 1994, p. 150.
  82. See Laybourn, Marxism, p. 100.
  83. See Röder, Politisches System, p. 434.
  84. See Andrews, Endgames, pp. 201 ff.
  85. See Bull, Heywood, Communist Parties, p. 151.
  86. See Andrews, Endgames, pp. 224 ff.
  87. See Bull, Heywood, Communist Parties, pp. 151 f.
  88. See Bull, Heywood, Communist Parties, p. 175.
  89. ^ Laybourn, Marxism, pp. 146 f.
  90. See Bull, Heywood, Communist Parties, p. 163.
  91. See Bull, Heywood, Communist Parties, p. 166.
  92. See Bull, Heywood, Communist Parties, p. 146 and Laybourn, Marxism, p. 139.
  93. See Bull, Heywood, Communist Parties, pp. 168 ff. And Laybourn, Marxism, pp. 140 f.
  94. ^ See Laybourn, Marxism, 141.
  95. ^ See Laybourn, Marxism, p. 139.
  96. ^ See Laybourn, Marxism, 145.