Various party committees publish briefing papers on national and international issues. A selection of these can be found to download and read below.
Here are some extracts from our March 2017 District Newsletter distributed to members.
Report from the Party’s 54th Congress. It is important for all comrades to get the pamphlet “Block the Ruling Class Offensive and Win a Left-led Government”. This is the text of the main resolution passed at our 54th Congress and it is available at £2.00 from the Party’s website on http://www.communist-party.org.uk/shop/pamphlets/2319-block.html. Unlike in previous years, this resolution covers both national and international affairs and provides a handy and authoritative guide to Party policy. Another very useful Party pamphlet, recently out, is “All Power to the Working Class – the role of the Communist Party” by Rob Griffiths, also available from the Party website.
Representatives of the CP of Ukraine attended and addressed the Congress and a programme of meetings and visits was arranged for them while they were in Britain. The general secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland also spoke to Congress and there was a video message from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and another from the Communist Party of Venezuela.
At the Congress, two of our District comrades, Owain Holland and Liz Payne, were elected to the Party’s Executive Committee. At the first meeting of the EC in January 2017, Liz was re-elected Chair of the Party and member of the Political Committee. She continues to serve on the Party’s International Commission. She was also elected onto the Organisation Committee, which she chairs, and (for the time being) will continue as Women’s Organiser.
Morning Star readers and supporters. About 90 people came to the Hen and Chicken, Bristol, on 24 February to see Dare Devil Rides to Jarama, an excellent play about the anti-fascist war in Spain. This was organised by the Bristol, Bath & Gloucester Morning Star Readers’ and Supporters’ Group.
At the SW Region TUC Annual Conference, on 18 March at Croyde Bay, all delegates (about 80) received a free copy of the Morning Star, as usual. Unite SW paid for the Friday edition and Unison SW paid for the Saturday edition. Comrade Gerry Sables ran a stall and raised £75.30 for the Morning Star’s Fighting Fund.
Cornwall. The District Committee has asked our Cornwall Branch to consider holding (with District support) a day school on Cornwall, its labour movement and how the struggle for a just and equal future for its people might be built.
Another London Recruit. Comrade Bevis Miller of our Bristol, Bath and Gloucester branch has “come out” as one of the ANC’s London Recruits and has written a report on it, which has been published on the website www.londonrecruits.org.uk . This reveals that Bevis was in Johannesburg on 13 August 1970 at the same time as our District Secretary Ken Keable was in Durban, doing exactly the same things (planting non-lethal leaflet bombs and setting up a street broadcast from the ANC). The film is making good progress and 13 trade unions have contributed funds to the project and their general secretaries, along with Frances O’Grady, have recorded video clips endorsing the film and the funding appeal. The film should be released at the turn of the year.
Comrade Liz Payne spoke on behalf of the Party on 19 March at the annual commemoration of the death of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery. Liz also gave the British Peace Assembly’s J D Bernal Memorial Lecture at the Marx Memorial Library, London, on 24 March. The speech made at Highgate has been posted on our District website, linked here.
Launch of the Communist Manifesto in Cornish. Here is the text of a report submitted by Comrade Liz Payne to the District Committee.
Deryvadow Party an Gemynwer– A Report for the Cornwall and South West District Committee (19 February 2017)
On Saturday 29 October 2016, the Communist Party launched in Truro the first ever Cornish translation of the Communist Manifesto. This had recently been completed by Heather Penruth who had worked on the text for three years. The well-attended meeting was organised by the Cornwall Branch of the CPB and chaired by comrade Owain Holland, the general secretary of the Young Communist League and Cornwall branch member, who addressed those present in both Cornish and English. The meeting congratulated comrade Heather for her vision and commitment in tackling this enormous task. The national Chair of the Communist Party, Liz Payne, who spoke at the meeting, said that adding one of the world's most influential political manuscripts to the body of literature available in Cornish was a very significant step and was symbolic of the struggle of the people of Cornwall for their rights and culture and against capitalist exploitation and poverty.
At the launch event, Heather Penruth thanked Ray Chubb, secretary of Agan Tavas (the Campaign for the Cornish Language), also present with other members of the Campaign, for his assistance with checking and proofing the translation. After a discussion on the causes of the key issues facing the people of Cornwall and how the Left might together address them, Mr Chubb read a section from the Manifesto in Cornish.
The Communist Party has subsequently donated a copy of Deryvadow Party an Gemynwer to every public library in Cornwall. These were sent out by Party Centre in early November with a covering letter from the chair of the Party as follows:
The Communist Party would like to donate to your library the enclosed copy of the first ever Cornish translation of the Communist Manifesto (Deryvadow Party an Gemynwer), the 1848 work by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The translation was recently completed by Heather Penruth and checked by Ray Chubb, secretary of Agan Tavas (the Campaign for the Cornish Language). It was launched at a well-attended event in Truro on Saturday 29 October 2016. The addition of one of the world's most influential political manuscripts to the body of literature available in Cornish is a very significant step indeed and the Cornwall and South-West England District of the Communist Party has therefore decided to send a copy of Deryvadow Party an Gemynwer to every public library in Cornwall, as well as to Cornwall College and the University of Falmouth.
Much interest is already being shown in the publication, not only from Cornwall and across Britain but from Brittany and Galicia and we hope that Deryvadow Party an Gemynwer will also be of interest to your readers.
The Cornish Studies Library (Cornwall Centre, Redruth) wrote a letter of thanks for the donation in which it stated:
“We are always grateful for submissions such as this as in many cases the volume is one that we may have missed otherwise. We will add it to stock here (we are a reference library) and I will notify my colleague who purchases lending copies for the county’s branch libraries that your booklet is available – he may decide to contact you to purchase further copies.”
Much interest has already been shown in the publication, with enquiries coming in from Cornwall, Brittany and Galicia. There is much potential for further work based on this initiative, especially through upcoming events in Cornwall.
Public meeting. Somerset Branch is holding a public meeting on Monday 10 April on “The EU: winning a progressive settlement, strengthening workers’ rights”. The speaker is Rob Griffiths. Venue: Friends’ Meeting House, 13 Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4EP. Time: 7pm-8.45pm. Please come if you can.
- Published: 06 April 2017
BLOCK THE RULING CLASS OFFENSIVE AND WIN A LEFT-LED GOVERNMENT
Communist parties across the world play a unique role in demonstrating that capitalism, because of its commitment to marketisation and profit, cannot provide lasting reforms and that a socialist alternative is the only solution to capitalist crisis. The Communist Party can play this unique role in Britain and its programme Britain's Road to Socialism is a key tool in support of this. It is the role of the Communist Party to give the working class and its allies a vision of an alternative society, a socialist society, by taking into account our own country's history and conditions. The Communist Party and its programme provide a Marxist analysis of the crisis of capitalism and the role of imperialism in the world. We point out the urgent need to lift people out of poverty, to protect hard won gains made over the last 70 years and to protect our planet's ecosystem. As a condition of its own existence, the Party will continue striving to provide ideological clarity in analysing the economic situation and giving clear leadership to the movement on the nature of the capitalist crisis. This is our unique role and distinguishes us from reformist and ultraleftist parties. The advances in the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn are undoubtedly encouraging. Nevertheless, history has shown that attempts by social democratic parties to reform capitalism in the interests of the working class can lead to capitulation; setbacks will occur unless a mass movement supports real alternatives through extraparliamentary and parliamentary action – and understands the necessity for the utmost determination when fighting a ruling class that is hell-bent on preventing any progressive advance. Britain's Road to Socialism insists that socialism can only be achieved through the maximum commitment and mobilisation of people at every level in society, which includes the perspective of building a broad and united social movement in support of a progressive Labour Party. The Communist Party also needs to achieve greater influence but, currently, due to its size it must prioritise its work. Our 'Communist Renewal' process has, as a top priority, the strengthening of the Party’s organisation at all levels, for example through the development of new young cadres and the Young Communist League, the strengthening of the Party's district and national structures so they can provide political and organisational leadership, and through the growth of branches in order that the Communist Party can have a political presence in key broad-based and independent campaigns. Capitalist crisis and imperialist aggression Britain is seeing dramatic political change as the ruling class offensive against the working class is increasingly and more confidently challenged, bringing hundreds of thousands of working class people – many of them young and new to class politics – into activity. Among workers taking industrial action recently have been cleaners, civil servants, doctors, food, oil rig and rail industry workers, student nurses, teachers, fire fighters and prison officers. This struggle has now reached the stage in which each side, out of necessity, must either inflict a major defeat on the other or itself be defeated. The outcome will determine the nature of society in Britain for decades to come – as did the defeats suffered by the left and the labour movement in the 1980s. Every economic and political event must now be considered in the following ways. How can it help to build a mass movement to defeat the ruling class? How can it reach deep into the trade union movement, into the workplaces, into diverse communities of working class people and all individuals whatever their strata, and expose the truth about capitalism? Does it unify, energise and organise the working class? How can it be used to ensure that it will be the labour movement which inflicts a decisive defeat on the capitalist class, and in the process wins a left-led government, rather than vice versa? This monumental struggle is not restricted to Britain or Europe. Capitalism’s international crisis continues to deepen. Furthermore, it is taking place while capitalism is degrading the global environment and tolerating levels of CO2 emissions that threaten the very future of humanity. Its only response is to defend with ever greater ferocity the interests of the ruling class and to attack working class and progressive forces everywhere. These attacks are, however, meeting mounting resistance and a growing fightback. Exactly a century ago, in the midst of inter-imperialist war, Lenin wrote: ‘Monopolies, oligarchies, the striving for domination rather than the striving for liberty, the exploitation of an increasing number of small and weak nations by a handful of the richest and most powerful nations – all these have given birth to those distinctive characteristics of imperialism which compel us to define it as parasitic or decaying capitalism’. Today the main imperialist powers – the US, Japan, Germany, Britain and France – are caught in a whirlpool of corporate and banking debt, very low levels of productive investment and declining productivity. At the same time, uneven development between capitalist economies has increased, as has the growing concentration of monopoly control and an all-round rise in the rate of exploitation, further depressing demand. The resulting collapse in commodity prices has intensified unequal trading relationships with Africa, Asia and South America and deepened the continuing cycle of slower growth and under-consumption. As in Lenin’s day, this period of acute crisis is marked by a striving for domination. A new political and economic offensive has been launched against those countries which are seen to challenge the future dominance of the biggest imperialist power, the US. This offensive has seen systematic attempts to destabilise progressive governments in South America and southern Africa. It has also seen NATO’s further advance into Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and growing economic and military pressures on China. This will be a particularly difficult period for those countries reliant on oil exports. Over-production in counties such as Saudi Arabia has already been exploited in order to destabilise the democratic socialist government of Venezuela and increase Western economic pressure on Russia. Each front in this battle for imperialist control has its own special characteristics and makes distinctive political demands on the solidarity of the working class movement in Britain. In the Middle East, US forces are openly or covertly in action from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to Yemen and Libya in a region that remains pivotal for world energy supplies. The US seeks a fragmented Middle East, with no dominant regional power, where it can retain overall control and where continuing conflict allows Israel to defy UN resolutions and itself act as the local enforcer of US interests. Within this regional strategy, Britain acts as a key partner of the US and is closely linked by finance and trade to the most despotic regimes. Imperialist sponsorship of dictatorships across the Middle East, direct military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, together with the continuing denial of democratic and national rights to the Palestinian people, have created the conditions in which reactionary fundamentalism has spread across the region. Western state terrorism has fuelled the terrorism of Al Qaeda, DAESH-ISIS and similar organisations. A key objective for the left in Britain must be to prevent further military intervention, end all support for despotic regimes and win a comprehensive boycott against Israel which, together with disinvestment and sanctions, can compel its government to undertake genuine negotiations. This should be combined with far more active solidarity with progressive and trade union organisations, including the peace forces in Israel, and campaigning for full implementation of UN resolutions on the rights of the Palestinian people and the creation of a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel. The overall geopolitical priority of US policy remains that of ensuring the containment of China. This requires military alliances and trade treaties that can prevent China from challenging US economic dominance and assisting governments elsewhere that seek to free themselves from imperialist control. The now ratified Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the still to be finalised US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are designed to provide leverage for intervention in the Chinese economy and to limit China’s ability to develop alternative trading arrangements which challenge neoliberal dollar dominance. Directly related to this policy of encirclement and economic isolation is NATO’s advance into Eastern Europe and its support for the coup in Ukraine. Under its previous government, Ukraine was developing closer economic relations with China and Russia and considering membership of the Eurasian Economic Union alongside other former Soviet republics. The grab for power by pro-NATO politicians, supported by fascist violence, thwarted these developments. The coup was followed by an Association Agreement with the EU, the use of Ukrainian territory by NATO troops, the abrogation of the civil rights of all-non Ukrainian speaking minorities, an intensifying attack on freedoms of speech and association and the banning of the Ukrainian Communist Party, previously the country's third largest in terms of electoral support. Communists in particular have a responsibility to win an understanding of the wider threat to world peace posed by these developments and to organise support for democratic and progressive forces in Ukraine. The recent visit of US President Obama to Cuba and the limited reestablishment of diplomatic relations, together with the release of the remaining members of the Miami Five, represent a victory for the Cuban people. At the same time, we must recognise that the US commercial blockade of Cuba remains in place and that the intention of the US government to impose an economic, political and social system on Cuba designed by Washington is unchanged. We must continue our solidarity with Cuba, while vigorously combating the spread of disinformation about human rights and the nature of the recent economic changes there. These victories for the Cuban people run alongside more negative developments for the left in the rest of Latin America. We have seen the defeat of the Fernández government in Argentina, the continuing destabilisation and economic war waged by right-wing forces in Venezuela, the removal of the Rousseff government in Brazil and the installation there of a right-wing regime hostile to all left-wing and progressive forces. These developments benefit US imperialism and extreme reactionary elements committed to neoliberal economic policies; they threaten all left and progressive forces in Latin America, including Cuba. Imperialism is also intent on turning back challenges to its hegemony such as the development of the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) alliance. In this context, we must be aware of attempts to sow confusion about the nature of developments in South Africa. While recognising the uneven and contradictory nature of the process taking place there, we must combat those who blame every negative development on the African National Congress government and tripartite alliance. We will support the South African Communist Party and its allies in their struggle for progressive policies within the tripartite alliance, including its justified criticism of the President Zuma's leadership. Attempts to build support for 'alternative' left parties or trade union federations will undermine the unity of progressive forces dealing with the legacy of apartheid and ultimately benefit those who wish to roll back the advances that have been made. The approaching 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 will provide an occasion for celebrating its contribution to national liberation across the world. It will also provide an opportunity to reassert its revolutionary principles and the understanding that, for socialist development to succeed, a new type of state has to be created based on a mobilised and politically class-conscious working class. In the EU today we see the exact opposite: a bureaucratic structure, responsible to monopoly capital, which is designed to crush movements for popular sovereignty. Britain’s decision to leave the EU places a responsibility on the left to win a mass base for policies that will advance the economic and social interests of working people and demonstrate that coming out of the EU makes it possible to reverse neoliberal policies and defeat right-wing populism. Doing so will be critical not just for political progress in Britain but also for those forces elsewhere in Europe battling racism, seeking to eradicate its economic roots and to assert socialist objectives and popular sovereignty. This makes it all the more important to win mass support for Labour in order to secure a government genuinely committed to carrying out the popular mandate for EU withdrawal and negotiating a new set of international arrangements that serve the interests of the working class. In these circumstances, the Communist Party will seek to build a broad coalition of forces based on the labour movement to combat all attempts by the ruling class in Britain and by the US to obstruct and sabotage transition from EU membership. Peace still the priority The response of imperialist powers to the ongoing economic crisis of capitalism has been the intensification of aggression in their struggle to maintain hegemony, control resources and markets, stifle emerging competition and eradicate the influence of left-wing and progressive movements across the world. The conflicts instigated by imperialism in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa are in danger of escalating into devastating regional wars, bringing ever closer the potential of a generalised global conflagration. The Communist Party stands for peace and socialism. It is fundamental that we make clear that violence and war are inevitable unless the peace loving peoples of the world are able to challenge and overcome this threat. In Britain, it is the role and duty of all left and progressive people to continue to build a broad, strong and united peace movement to challenge imperialist warmongering and aggression. Recognising the imperative of being linked to the international peace movement, Communists will continue to build and strengthen the recently reestablished British Peace Assembly, the British affiliate of the World Peace Council. We need to develop awareness in the peace and labour movements of the true nature of NATO and help construct a consensus for Britain to withdraw from it and from all other aggressive pacts and alliances with the US, EU and their allies, thereby contributing to the dismantling and dissolution of NATO itself. The Communist Party will also continue to bring its perspectives to the broad peace movement, notably CND, the Stop the War Coalition and specific campaigns against the arms trade and chemical and biological weapons. We will step up our work in the campaign against renewal of Trident, the estimated cost of which now exceeds £200bn which could be invested in vital infrastructure projects and other socially useful production, utilising the skills and retaining the jobs of all workers currently engaged in the armaments industry Peace is the prerequisite for equality and justice. Understanding this, the National Assembly of Women (Britain's affiliate to the anti-imperialist Women’s International Democratic Federation) campaigns for peace, in the full knowledge that women and children continue to be disproportionately killed, injured and violated by war and comprise the majority of displaced people and refugees. The Communist Party will redouble its efforts to win wider support for the National Assembly of Women, especially from the labour movement. The structural crisis of the British economy The British economy's recovery from the 2008 financial crash and economic recession has been late and fragile. This reflects structural weaknesses which persist and are worsening. Firstly, it is an economy that is dominated by the parasitic finance sector of monopoly capital, supported by the state, and thus it remains dangerously dependent on financial services instead of the production of goods and services for home consumption and export. A large share of British imperialism's profits come from banking and investment activities through the City of London and from economic and financial assets around the world. This imbalance has meant that Britain's global balance of payments deficit has now reached its highest level since records began, at 5.5% of GDP in 2016. Imports of goods remain far higher than exports and the balance of investment income is now negative for the first time. The provision of services – notably financial, property and legal – to the rest of the world alone produces a positive balance. Only the net inflow of investment capital and speculative 'hot money' from overseas currently stands between the British economy and international bankruptcy. The domination of domestic industry and services by finance capital means that instability, shocks and crises in the financial sector rapidly have an adverse impact on credit, investment, production and employment throughout the economy as a whole. Secondly, this structural imbalance exists because the British monopoly capitalist class has long sought to maximise profits through investment in commodity production in many other parts of the world as well as in financial services, privatisation and speculation. Historically, this has meant substantial underinvestment in productive industry, socially useful services, science, new technology, education, training and research and development at home. Such investment that does take place in Britain is heavily weighted towards the state-subsidised armaments industry. Thirdly, as a result, many important decisions about the British economy are taken in corporate boardrooms overseas, reflecting the interests of company directors and shareholders who have no long-term stake in Britain's economy and society or the needs of workforces and local communities here. Fourthly, in the absence of a technologically advanced, productive and stable economy, many millions of jobs in Britain are low paid and precarious. A low paid workforce means that any economic recovery that has taken place has been fuelled at least in part by resurgence in consumer credit and spending from the proceeds of an inflated housing market. In short, in Britain, all the factors which exacerbated the last economic and financial crisis remain in place, with some more pronounced than ever. Challenging the ruling class offensive This is the economic context in which the ruling class has escalated its offensive, intensifying austerity and privatisation policies through the Tory government in Britain and through the EU Commission, European Central Bank and IMF in other European countries. The driving imperative is to re-establish a higher rate of profit at the expense of the working class. Thus the monopoly capitalists are using state power to roll back seventy years of social gains, accelerate privatisation, reduce so-called 'burdens on business', drive down wages and pensions, and further undermine collective bargaining, employment and trade union rights. This offensive has had a disproportionate and devastating impact on the lives of women, highlighting why the struggle against it – and for the socialist alternative – can only be viable if underpinned by a real commitment to economic equality. Jobs, pay, pensions, benefits, state education, the NHS, housing, peace and the environment have all become significant political battlegrounds. The new fracking operations of multinational capital are starting to threaten local communities in numerous parts of Britain. Apart from preparing ecological disaster, fracking plays a significant role in global changes to the energy market and reflects capital's increasing desperation to control that market. In response, the Communist Party encourages its members to take part in local anti-fracking campaigns and groups and play a leading role in explaining the class politics of fracking. The Party's executive committee will update and reissue our pamphlet on vital ecological, environmental and energy questions, A World to Save. But the ruling class drive to conceal its real agenda behind antiausterity pledges to 'eliminate the deficit' and 'reduce the debt' has now been widely exposed as the political fraud that it is. The anti-cuts and anti-privatisation movement has grown throughout Britain, largely coordinated through the People’s Assembly. This resistance and the growing public awareness of increasing wealth disparity, generalised capitalist corruption, ever more exploitative forms of employment and the lying to justify war have led millions of working class people to see through the propaganda that 'We are all in it together' and 'There is no alternative'. The result is a strong and increasingly entrenched anti-establishment mood. However, this period of austerity has also fuelled an increase in open racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia which cannot be dismissed. Working class people denied a political voice by existing structures and subjected to increasingly brutal competition for insecure work and minimal public services are easier prey for reactionary forces that exploit people's concerns and fears. There is no doubt that the ruling class would rather we fight each other than unite together and, in encouraging divisions, has opened the door to the far right. Communists will continue to oppose the far right in whatever form it takes, whether the right-wing populism of political parties such as UKIP, the violent street thuggery of groups like the EDL or Pegida, or the perverted fundamentalism which inspires those who commit murder in the name of the ‘Islamic State’. Importantly, as communists, we must recognise the role that austerity and its tale of ‘them versus us’ has played in the rising tide of racism and hate. At the same time, the anti-austerity struggle has sharpened class contradictions and working class political awareness, and the vital role that the arts and culture play in this connection should be acknowledged. Economic, social and political alternatives have been set out, including in The People's Charter and in People's Assembly publications such as The People’s Manifesto and In Place of Austerity – A Programme for the People. In particular, one positive result of the fight against austerity and imperialist war has been dramatic change in the Labour Party leadership. Mostly young working class people seized the right to vote (ironically, provided by those in the Labour Party who had intended it as a route towards severing links with the organised working class) in the Labour leadership election of September 2015, in order to create a vehicle for their struggles on a mass political level. They helped secure the victory of the only candidate with a longrunning and consistent record of support for public services, the welfare state, progressive taxation, public ownership and democratic rights and opposition to privatisation, racism, imperialist war and nuclear weapons. The left turn in the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn’s victory with the backing of most Labour Party members and a wide range of trade unions, repeated in 2016, rejected the promarket and pro-imperialist politics of New Labour. Despite his massive mandate, however, Corbyn received the support of fewer than one in ten Labour MPs. He therefore faces not only the relentless hostility of the ruling class, but also a constant drive to undermine him by its representatives within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). Substantial forces in the PLP and in the party at every level do not agree with a decisive turn from neoliberal policies to a consistent socialist or even social democratic position. They reject left and progressive policies in principle and their commitment to imperialist interests, NATO, nuclear weapons and the EU is paramount. Other MPs, more to the left, believe that left policies cannot lead Labour to victory at the next General Election. Despite this, Labour's new left leadership has defied neoliberalism, taking a coherent anti-austerity line on economic questions and raising such issues as public ownership, the redistribution of wealth, the low level of corporation tax and the need to close tax loopholes. It is, however, proving much more difficult for the leadership to successfully challenge Labour’s pro-imperialist orientation. The PLP was significantly divided over war with Syria and is so on Trident renewal. In order to move forward, it is essential to rebuild a strong, mutually reinforcing trade union-Labour link. To this end, the Blair-Brown regime's reforms to curb inner-party democracy and weaken the organic link with the trade unions will need to be reversed. Fully restoring the link will be a key step in reclaiming the Labour Party as the mass party of the working class. Overall, the significance of the advances made by Corbyn’s politics should not be underestimated. He and his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, have sought to bridge the gulf between parliamentary and extra-parliamentary politics, attending labour and progressive movement rallies, demonstrations and picket lines. Their position will be strengthened by the influx of members into the party. Nonetheless, the situation remains extremely fragile, not only because of the pro-capitalist line of the majority of the PLP, but also because many of the new recruits do not have a clear understanding of the forces at work in their party and in society and how to combat them. They need to be won to play an active role in trade unions, particularly those affiliated to the Labour Party; and both the trade unions and Labour Party branches need to be won to engage in political education of their members. As a contribution to this work and as a basis for local educational groups, the Communist Party's executive committee will – with the input of Party districts and nations – develop a suitably diverse programme of Marxist political education aimed at the broad left and labour movement. Thus the political class struggle in Britain has entered a new phase, manifested in the dramatic change of Labour leadership and the fierce opposition to it. The battle of ideas in the Labour Party and the wider labour movement is on, reflecting the real class struggle in society at large. All left and progressive forces should be engaged in the fight to overcome anti-left resistance inside the Labour Party and ensuring that the mass movement provides the wider context for winning this struggle. Nonetheless, ideas and beliefs by themselves are not enough to bring about political change; they have to reflect and take forward practical campaigning. Moreover, not only will it be essential to bring many more people into action on the issues which concern them. They must also be won to engage in the political and electoral arena – exercising their right to vote. The trend towards non-registration and abstention must be reversed through public information and canvassing in working class communities, particularly among the most disenfranchised sections of the population. Developing and deepening mass class struggle in society generally will develop and deepen the contest of ideas in the labour movement, strengthening the left. Otherwise, the right in the Labour Party and trade unions will reassert itself and an historic opportunity will be missed. It is more important than ever that active trade unionists engage with the Labour Party. Communists will push for unions to affiliate to the Labour Party at both local and national level, and defend the principles of socialism and class unity against their opponents, whether neoliberal or nationalist. As the Marxist party of the labour movement in Britain, the Communist Party bears a major responsibility for assisting the movement to advance politically, not least in the struggle to reclaim Labour for the working class. The Morning Star makes a substantial contribution on both the ideological and campaigning fronts, while also linking them together. We welcome the paper's enhanced role in the labour and mass movements. It played a significant part in the Labour leadership election campaigns and as a result has achieved greater prominence in the mass media, even wider support in the trade union movement and an increase in daily readership. With its editorial line guided by the Communist Party's programme, Britain's Road to Socialism, the paper will continue to inject political clarity into the class struggle as well as providing invaluable information and a discussion forum for the left and labour movement. In particular, it can serve as a bridge between the new and young left in the Labour Party and anti-austerity, peace and environmental campaigns on the one hand and the organised labour movement on the other. The economic, social and political conditions are now ripe for the Communist Party's policy of building a popular, democratic antimonopoly alliance to be taken up by the broad progressive and labour movement, the self-employed and small businesses, with the organised working class at its head. Federalism and devolution The escalated ruling class offensive and the significant changes in the Labour Party produced by heightened resistance are two defining features of the new phase of political class struggle. The third is the national question. Mass campaigning in favour of Scottish independence fell short of achieving a majority in the September 2014 referendum, but it laid the basis for sweeping gains by the SNP in the subsequent General Election and in the May 2016 Scottish Parliament elections, mostly at the expense of Labour. It is now essential that all sections of the labour movement in Scotland move away from neoliberal and pro-Trident positions and reject collaboration with those who seek to impose austerity cuts. It should be noted that at the moment a majority of the Scottish people still support Trident’s replacement and so the opportunist SNP’s long-standing opposition should not be taken for granted. Labour’s left turn away from neoliberal, British centralist and pro-Trident positions must be used to win back hundreds of thousands of former supporters lost as a result of previous right-wing policies. In Wales, too, there has been a shift away from support for Labour, although this has been minimised by Welsh Labour's more social democratic approach in government. The Communist Party is resolutely opposed to any attempts to hold a second Scottish independence referendum and reaffirms the perspective set out in Britain's Road to Socialism that progressive federalism is the best basis on which to resolve the national question. Federalism combines the need for the Scottish and Welsh people to elect legislatures which have the powers and resources to intervene decisively in their countries' economies in the interests of the working class and the people, with the retention of sufficient powers at British level to effect a radical redistribution of wealth within and across Britain, thereby enhancing the working class unity built up across the three nations during more than a century of struggle against British statemonopoly capitalism. An urgent priority now, therefore, is to win the labour movement in Scotland, Wales and England to champion the demand for progressive federalism, based on equal status and massive wealth redistribution to workers and their families in every nation and region of Britain. The EU referendum result raises serious issues for relationships with and between Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic and the EU. Britain's Communists express their continuing solidarity with the Irish working class and the socialist movement, especially the Communist Party of Ireland, in their efforts to win Irish independence from Brussels. In this new situation, public services and benefits on both sides of the Irish border should be brought into line and enhanced; no cuts must be made to public spending programmes and community development projects in the North, with extra funding for schemes to re-integrate ex-prisoners and retention of all the human rights provisions in the Belfast Agreement. The Communist Party of Britain reaffirms its view that the only lasting solution to the national question is a united independent Ireland free of imperialist control and interference. Restoring substantial powers and resources to local government in England, Scotland and Wales is also an important part of the agenda needed for democratic transformation in Britain. This should not be mistaken for past proposals to establish regional assemblies that would draw powers away from local councils. Nor should it be confused with the powers provided under the 2016 Devolution Act, which hand directly elected regional mayors and combined local authorities powers and budgetary control over such areas as transport, housing, strategic planning, policing, further education and training, business support and health and social care. This is a recipe for the big business control of local government and the death of local democracy. Renewing local government requires the recovery of lost responsibilities for education, health, housing, planning and other important matters, combined with new revenue raising opportunities through local income, wealth, land and property taxes, low interest loans from central government, greater freedom to issue state-backed bonds, and a reformed central government support scheme funded from progressive taxation allocated on the basis of social need rather than obedience to central government demands. In particular, reinvigorated local government has a central role to play in overcoming Britain’s enormous housing crisis by building millions of new council houses and controlling rents and accommodation standards in private lettings. We also recognise the importance of the re-distributive principle for the whole of Britain. While ensuring that more spending decisions are able to be taken locally, we must also recognise the importance of centrally distributing funds in order to ensure fairness and equality between nations, regions and localities. We must not end up in a situation where a comparatively wealthy area is able to lower the tax burden at the expense of much needed public services in other less affluent parts of the country. The re-distributive principle insists that levels of taxation should be determined centrally. Moreover, extra financial support should be made available for the promotion of mass democratic involvement of local people in local decision-making, including enhanced mechanisms for communication, genuine consultation and direct participation by people in council meetings on the basis of concerns and representations. Trade union rights for workers' advance The Communist tradition is rooted in working class struggle and a shop stewards' movement that could challenge capital in ways demonstrated so well in the late 1960s and early 1970s, culminating in two victorious miners' strikes, the release of the Pentonville Five and the defeat of the Industrial Relations Act. Full employment through much of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s had made the working class stronger. As a result, the Communist Party in Britain was able to develop militant mass organisations rooted in workplaces and the trade union movement, such as the shop stewards' committees and the Liaison Committee for the Defence of Trades Unions. But a sustained attack on trade union organisation, together with de-industrialisation and mass unemployment, have since left the trade union movement weakened. Not only has trade union membership halved in the last four decades but the number of workers covered by collective bargaining has been reduced to a quarter of what it was. The Thatcher regime's ruthless use of state power against the trade unions, together with falling union membership, led to a loss of confidence by some trade union leaders, activists and ordinary members in their ability to organise, fight and win. Thus the TUC looked instead to the European Union to provide 'protections', 'safety nets' and 'guaranteed rights' – despite its track record of attacking workers across Europe at the behest of monopoly capital. Today, in the aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum, class contradictions are intensifying and so confront workers and their unions with the challenge of how to move onto the offensive against the ruling class. The predominance of small disaggregated workplaces and precarious work through sub-contracted 'self employment' and short-term, part-time and zero-hour contracts is a threat to workers’ ability to organise and thus to their collective confidence. Nonetheless, as what amounts to an eight-year long wage freeze hits ordinary people’s pockets, signs of innovative methods of struggle are evident, including e-petitions and naming and shaming on social media. The TUC and affiliated unions now need to reinvigorate tried and tested methods and to learn from new forms of flexible organisation and tactics. Significant action took place around 'N30' (November 30) in 2011, when the biggest single number of lost days for decades was recorded in the fight to defend public sector pensions. However, much of the trade union movement failed to recognise that they were facing a strategic ruling class attack on the pension rights, wages and trade union strength of the working class as a whole, in line with the drive by the EU Commission and Council of Ministers to restrict and devalue pensions. More could have been done to develop directed, co-ordinated action on a range of issues. This is now a strategic necessity if trade unions are to lead wider struggles involving the whole working class at local, regional and national levels. How then can the trade union movement organise itself in an era of anti-union laws, mass non-unionism and a disaggregated working class, and how can the Communist Party help drive this forward? The only real freedom trade unions have in Britain is immunity from the legal action that they would otherwise face during a trade dispute. Now even that is challenged by new laws, with the systematic dismantling of protection against legal action for trade unions organising and conducting industrial action, in short the near demolition of the lawful right to strike. The scourge of anti-unionism has influenced and encouraged employers, their financiers and their powerful supporters in the media and in political parties including the Labour Party. In particular, the failure to assert publicly and with confidence the case for the basic right to strike, to picket and to collectively bargain has only diminished the influence of trade unions, and has stiffened the resolve of reactionary forces to bully and victimise workers for their efforts. In the light of the 2016 Trade Union Act, workers will need to consider how far they can go officially within their unions in a lawful dispute and what else they might need to do in order to defend themselves. The challenge is to make connections that are inter-union, relevant to workplaces and local to communities and which seek to involve people in precarious employment and make sense to younger workers. Renewed activity in local trades union councils is especially important in the work of forging stronger links between campaigning trade unionism and local working class communities across Britain. Communists resolve to campaign for 'Decent Work for All', focusing on demands for all workers to have a wage on which they can live, safe and secure work, guaranteed hours and access to training that enhances their skills, enabling them to contribute to the workplace, economy and society. If the trade union movement is to secure these objectives, the Labour Party must commit itself to the abolition of all Tory anti-union laws and full restoration of sectoral collective bargaining and reverse the roll-back of collective rights of workers and their trade unions. Workers and their families are being made to pay in every aspect of their lives for capitalist crisis – and the ruling class is determined to systematically undermine our ability to defend ourselves by removing rights within the law for unions to organise and act collectively in support of themselves and others. It is this unity between working class organisations and communities in action that the ruling class fears, and to which the Communist Party is committed as a strategic priority. The key task for Communists now, in concert with other progressive forces, is to speak up fearlessly for the right to strike, picket, bargain and act in solidarity with others. Unless the demand for these rights is made boldly and clearly, we cannot hope to win hearts and minds for the repeal of the existing pernicious, anti-trade union laws. Experience has shown that in a period prior to the repeal of anti-union laws by an incoming Labour government, the preparedness of workers to break the law in pursuance of an industrial struggle plays a major part in neutralising anti-union laws from Pentonville to the recent Besna dispute. Arguably, this kind of action by workers creates the basis on which a future Labour government will repeal the whole gamut of antiunion laws. Communists pledge themselves to unequivocally support workers in struggle to build mass opposition to the Trade Union Act and all anti-trade union legislation. It must be the duty of every Communist, every socialist and every person of a progressive mind to: • Become active in their trade union. • Work to build strong workplace organisation. • Make connections that are inter-union, relevant to workplaces and local communities – notably locally through the trades union councils movement. • Be active in the redevelopment of class understanding and solidarity based on political education. At the core of the Communist Party's strategic vision for the next generation are the two following objectives: first, winning new members for the Party and Young Communist League in the trade union movement and enhancing their capacity to take the movement forward, organisationally and politically; and second, helping to build Morning Star campaign committees in Wales and the English regions, as already developed in Scotland. Winning more young people for the YCL should be based on the development of a progressive youth agenda tackling youth unemployment and exploitative workplace practices affecting young people through the 'Decent Work for All' campaign. The increase in mental illness, anxiety and fear of the future brought about by the economic crisis and a distorted education system needs to be addressed. Action for tackling these issues should form part of a wider debate among young people and organisations, one involving young people with the aim of producing a Progressive Agenda for Youth. Such an agenda should also challenge the housing crisis as it impacts on young people and the increase in youth homelessness. Women to the fore Ongoing attempts to destroy the Welfare State, public sector services and local councils have already resulted in millions of women workers losing their jobs or being forced to accept low paid, part-time or zerohours contracts. Young and black and ethnic minority women have been particularly badly affected. The closure of 'Sure Start' nurseries, rises in childcare costs and the persistence of gender discrimination by employers force more and more women out of the workplace. Changes to the benefit system have increased family poverty and driven rising numbers into rent arrears, fuel poverty and dependence upon food banks. Women have a vital role to play because their experiences, skills and abilities are crucial to building a society that delivers a progressive alternative. To this end, the work of the National Assembly of Women, the Women’s Budget Group and women organised in their trade unions is vital in order to re-frame the debate and transform the culture and content of alternative economic policies. This would mean investing in a publicly owned welfare state that delivers free universal early education and childcare, creating an economy that boosts employment and gender equality and provides dignity in old age. It means creating a social security and pensions system which ensures that women and men are supported throughout their whole lifetime. The imposition of poverty on women, their removal from the workplace and hence from participation in decision-making in public life and the wider social sphere, impoverishes the whole labour movement and must be challenged as a direct, deliberate and fundamentally divisive attack on the working class and its struggle for a just and socialist future. The Communist Party has a special role to play in exposing the class nature of the attack on women and continuing to raise awareness of the imperative of lifting barriers throughout the labour movement to their full participation in the struggle for equality and justice. To this end the Party will increase its efforts to recruit women members and secure equal representation within the party whenever and wherever achievable. A class agenda for equality Recognising the diversity of the working class, the Communist Party supports the struggle for equality of women, black and minority ethnic communities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and people with disabilities. We welcome the work done by disability campaigners in challenging the impact of the austerity agenda on a section of society that has long faced impoverishment and marginalisation. However, chauvinist attitudes continue to prevail in the labour movement, with attacks on the principles of self-organisation in some trade unions. While opposing these attitudes, we also recognise that politics based on identity alone cannot offer a way forward for any oppressed group. We must combat any tendency towards separatism and liberal approaches which seek to deny any link with class exploitation. The corporate takeover of London Pride and the relegation of trade unions on the march is an example of a struggle being utilised by the ruling class to negate the original revolutionary politics of the Gay Liberation movement. In particular, the Communist Party recognises the threat to working class unity posed by politicians and the state-monopoly media in their treatment of immigration, refugees, asylum and terrorism. The negative character of the official Remain and Leave campaigns sought to create divisions among working class people for political gain and played into the hands of reactionary nationalist and fascist groups. This places an urgent responsibility on the left to counter racism, not least by explaining the class nature of Britain's major social, economic and environmental problems and of the solutions they require. This is especially urgent in the case of those millions of voters who have been deceived by the UKIP leadership's bogus anti-establishment and left-sounding rhetoric. Those working class electors will not be won back to class politics by merely denouncing them – inaccurately in many cases – as racists. The Communist Party and the left must explain the class basis of immigration, unemployment, low pay, precarious employment, shortage of decent housing, pressure on public services and the like. As part of developing a Marxist approach to fighting for equality, the Communist Party will do more to promote the contribution of Communists who have played significant roles in linking the struggles against racism, sexism and homophobia with class politics. Immigration – a working class response The Communist Party believes that the focus of debate needs to shift from a negative one about immigration to one which embraces a world view about migration. We should not let the right-wing, racist lobby dominate the debate. A proper appreciation of the situation of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants should be promoted. Racism of any kind divides working people and weakens resistance to the current onslaught against rights at work, collective bargaining and trade union organisation. The Communist Party condemns any attempt to exploit the issue of immigration in ways that are racist. We will redouble our work with such campaigning bodies as the Indian Workers’ Association (GB) and the Bangladeshi Workers Council (UK) to demand the repeal of all Britain's immigration, asylum and nationality laws that discriminate directly or indirectly on grounds of race or ethnicity. This includes the 2016 Immigration Act, which intensified the scapegoating of migrants. During the pre-EU referendum negotiations, the Communist Party warned that the Tory government’s focus on immigration would serve to steer debate in a racist direction and away from the fundamental issues of democracy, EU-imposed austerity, privatisation and the dismantling of collective bargaining. In the event, Cameron's 'success' in securing agreement to restrict migrant workers' access to child benefit and tax credits not only fuelled the anti-immigration hysteria, it also paved the way for the application of these restrictions to all workers by a future government. In this context, collective bargaining retains its central importance as a means to ensuring the fair and equal treatment of all workers. Within this framework, joint councils like the former Wages Councils and in England the Agricultural Wages Board should be re-established – inspired by the establishment of the Agricultural Advisory Panel and Wages Orders in Wales – to implement industry-wide agreements on the terms for employing migrant as well as home-based labour. Across the EU the forced movement of workers is being used to push down wages, disestablish employment practices and contracts, create more precarious working and undermine trade union organisation. To achieve this, the ruling class are using the infrastructure of the EU to act as gang-masters and legalised people smugglers, while whipping up anger against migrants to deflect opposition to ruling class policies and the downward spiral of misery that they cause for profit. As the Marxist party of the labour movement, the Communist Party has a responsibility to explain to the working class the strategy of multinational and local capital to use European free movement treaty provisions to further weaken the position of workers in Britain's labour market. This is to take advantage of millions of foreign workers in precarious situations who are willing to work in informal jobs and oppressive conditions for low pay. These migrant workers often waive their right to contracts, pensions, trade union organisation and collective bargaining and adopt the worst jobs in society due to economic necessity and the isolation that their status in British society creates. The CP will intensify its efforts to help ensure that the labour movement defends the interests of migrant workers, who are an integral part of the working class in Britain today. Slogans such as 'No borders' and 'Abolish all immigration controls' are idealistic and unhelpful in that they fail to address the problems posed by the movement and super-exploitation of workers in capitalist markets. We must focus attention on campaigning to protect and extend the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers at and within our borders in accordance with the international conventions to which British governments are and must remain committed. Communists will continue to take part in the battle against racist and fascists groups. While the demise of the BNP is welcome, other groups such as Britain First have emerged in its place. Many cities, towns and communities including religious and political gatherings have had racists from the English, Scottish and Welsh Defence Leagues descend on them. The leadership election in UKIP has seen further racist positions come to the fore. It is reported that since Britain voted to leave the EU, racist incidents have risen. Such activities result in a fragmentation of our necessary class actions against the ruling class assault and must be challenged at all levels. That is why the CP executive committee must redouble its efforts to reestablish a functioning Anti-Racism Anti-Racism Commission involving the Party's branches, districts and nations. All Party commissions and advisories should consider how we can take forward opposition to racism and fascism. Party members should make full use in meetings and other activities of the frequent articles published in the Morning Star. The Communist Party and Morning Star gave welcome support to the Cable Street 80th anniversary events in 2016. These and other experiences need to be used to build broad-based campaigns against racism and the fascists. Party branches, districts and nation should also mobilise more effectively in support of national marches such as 'Stand Up To Racism'. The next steps In resisting ruling class and Tory policies on every front, it will be essential to bring to the fore the connections and common interests which can unite the different streams of protest. The clear priority for the labour and progressive movements today is to oust the Tory government. This requires understanding of the class interests of both the ruling class and the working class and the conflict between them. The lack of class analysis led to the mistaken positions taken by some on the left during the EU referendum campaign. Without an understanding that the EU has been the major European project of state-monopoly capitalism in Germany, France, Britain and other member countries, it was not understood why withdrawal should be supported. The best basis on which to build left and labour movement unity around the agenda for a 'Left Exit' from the EU is to: • Implement the democratic mandate of June 2016 to leave the EU – no second referendum. • Develop a broad labour movement-based campaign to oppose any post-exit neoliberal package and to mobilise for the election of a left-led Labour government to lead the negotiations. • Maintain trading links with the rest of Europe but not as members of the 'European Single Market', the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) or the European Economic Area (EEA). Regulate the movement of capital, commodities and labour in the interests of the working class. • Renounce EU Court of Justice rulings – no more super-exploitation of migrant workers, no more under-cutting; equal terms and conditions in the job for all. • Transfer all progressive EU social and environmental provisions into British law. • Maintain public funding of all necessary programmes and projects previously supported via the EU. • Cease contributing to the EU budget and invest instead in public services and local authority housing. • Regain full freedom to cut or abolish VAT. • Retain the Human Rights Act in full, together with affiliation to the European Convention on Human Rights. • Guarantee permanent residence for all Europeans currently living or working in Britain and reverse the anti-immigration restrictions imposed on people outside the EU as part of the 'Fortress Europe' policy. • Withdraw from the EU Common Foreign and Defence Policy and its aggressive alliance with NATO. • Campaign for Britain to (i) continue membership of the Council of Europe; (ii) maintain commitment to the CoE European Convention on Human Rights; and (iii) ensure that the Human Rights Act 1998 remains in force. In the longer term, all the forces battling against cuts and privatisations have to be drawn together in a united movement with its roots deep in trade union memberships and local communities. This reflects the approach set out in Britain's Road to Socialism for the development of a popular, democratic anti-monopoly alliance led by the organised working class. Mass activity in workplaces, local communities and in the streets will be decisive in winning the battle in the Westminster Parliament to bring down the Tories and building the mass movement to put and keep a leftled Labour government in office. Achieving this is the top priority of the Communist Party over the coming period. Integral to this work must be a consistent effort to involve Labour Party members in extra-parliamentary campaigning and political discussion and to campaign for left and progressive Labour as well as Communist candidates in elections. The Communist Party will seek to build maximum unity in and around the labour movement for the election of a Labour government on a left-wing programme that will challenge capitalism and imperialism. The Morning Star also has an increasingly significant part to play as the only daily paper that promotes left and progressive unity in struggle, as well as providing a unique platform for information and debate. In light of the new political situation in Britain, the incoming CP executive committee is mandated to: • Draw up and implement an action plan to improve and increase the Party's political work among young people – workers, students and unemployed – in conjunction with the Young Communist League. • Carry forward the process of 'Communist Renewal' in order to equip the Party, its organisations and members more thoroughly for the challenges posed by the new phase of the political class struggle in Britain. • Update and improve the presentation of materials produced by the Communist Party, with a view to increasing the distinctive appeal of the Party and generating a platform for recruitment. • Update Britain's Road to Socialism in the light of recent and contemporary developments, including the decisions of its 54th congress. Bring down the Tory government! Defeat the ruling class offensive! Build the labour movement and its Communist Party!
- Published: 30 January 2017
Updated November 2014
The briefing document on Syria contains information on the pro and anti government forces, Ba-athism, Syrian communism and a timeline of major events dating back to 1916.
The split in the Syrian Communist Party in 1986 had the backdrop of perestroika, with the Faisal wing essentially sympathetic and the Bagdash wing opposed. Differences also centred on inner party democracy (the last three general secretaries of the SCP in order have been KhaledBagdash, his widow Wisal and now his son Ammar). Both parties have expressed criticisms of the ruling Ba’ath (within permitted limits) with the SCP focusing on economic changes and the SCP (U) on political and democratic reform.
Read the full briefing document:
- Published: 10 February 2013
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