You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks…

dukesofopportunism_cartoonThe Communist Party of Britain (Morning Star) this month reaffirmed its position of continued backing for the imperialist Labour Party at the 2015 general election. It does so in a draft domestic resolution circulated in advance of its upcoming Congress this autumn. This resolution was forwarded to and is reproduced in full below.

Aiming low, the CPB’s revolutionary vision is limited to bringing down the Tory-LibDem coalition. In their draft domestic resolution they further state that a Labour government is “the only practical and viable alternative”. The reality, however, is that the Labour Party offers no alternative, let alone a viable one for the working class. As its interests align with those of the ruling class, Labour is in fact no different from the other major parties.

The CPB were not so shortsighted however as to leave their tracks completely uncovered and attempted to salvage what little credibility may remain. In continuation with the ‘demand’ to ‘reclaim’ the Labour Party, they set out that “the period up to and immediately following the June 2015 general election will demonstrate conclusively whether or not Labour can be reclaimed as the mass electoral party of the labour movement. Labour’s election manifesto will reveal whether trade union influence has produced a left or progressive programme.”

Rather than continually threatening to reconsider their relationship with the Labour Party the CPB should learn the lessons of history. The betrayals of the Labour Party as far back as the first government it formed 1924 are well documented. Firstly, it u-turned its opposition to the reparations regime; a program designed to further fragment the defeated countries of the Great War through guilt payments to the imperialists. Secondly, it immediately set about the persecution of leading members of the emerging Communist Party of India who were valiantly fighting against the British colonial rule. Even in its final week of its founding term, the Labour Party authorised the promulgation of the Bengal Special Ordinances, giving powers of indefinite imprisonment by executive order without specific accusation, trial or judicial sentence.

Clearly, the intentions of the Labour Party were never rooted in the common interests of the working class to begin with, and from there on, Labour’s love-in with imperialism has flourished…

The Attlee government, which has been called by much of Britain’s ‘left’ an example of what the Labour Party can do for the masses, is no less an example of how imperialism had branched across all fronts of society. Whilst nationalization, full employment and the National Health Service met many of the necessities of the British working class, these were only temporary concessions. At the same time the horrifying standards for overseas workers who remained under British colonial rule intensified. Tens of thousands subsequently died across the globe in revolts against the administration of British imperialism, carried out loyally by the ‘socialist’ Attlee administration.

The position of the Labour Party during the coal strike should have yet again clearly exposed its loyalty to imperialism once and for all, as labour and the TUC buckled to the Thatcher administration, the media, the police and the intelligence services. In helping to undermine the resistance of the NUM, the vanguard of the British working class was lost. Having come to power with the biggest landslide majority in history, the Blair ministry ensured the continuation of monopoly capitalism’s policy of dismantling the public sector, plummeting thousands of workers into a state of despair.

Any future Labour government would be no differently than any other, and the CPB would do well to remember that. Having already vowed to axe JSA for under-21s and to continue the ‘freeze’ policy on energy bills rather than nationalising the energy sector, it is clear that this Labour government, alike all before, are servants of monopoly capitalism.

Lenin & Britain

In early 1920, Lenin advised British Communists to support and attempt to affiliate themselves with the Labour Party in order to truly expose its character and nature to the masses. Owing to the fact that the public at the time had no experience of a Labour government, Lenin insisted on a formation of a bloc with them on the condition that the communist’s retain their liberty to expose any treacheries committed by the Labour Party.

Having followed this guidance, the former Communist Party of Great Britain was refused in its applications for affiliation in consecutive years from 1920 until 1924. In doing so, the Labour Party proved that it would prefer close relations with the capitalists to the unity of all workers.

Nothing has changed since. The Labour Party always has, is, and forever will be a representative of imperialism and the impending doom of the international working class masses, the continued global exploitation of our international brothers and the impending doom of poverty, famine and war.

Only by breaking from the Labour Party once and for all can the working class hope to build a better future. Only under the guidance of Marxism-Leninisms can we hope to rebuild the fragmented society and form a single, mass movement that puts the masses first.

Marxism will break our chains!

Draft EC Domestic Resolution

For a United, Militant and Political Labour Movement to Defeat the Ruling Class Offensive

1. The priorities for Communist Party work over the coming period will be to:
  1. Build the People’s Assembly movement, the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom, the trades councils and community-based campaigns to draw many more people into the struggle against austerity and privatisation.
  2. Strengthen the National Assembly of Women, highlight the feminisation of poverty and project the alternative policies outlined in the Charter for Women.
  3. Expose and combat the agenda to privatise public sector schools and the NHS, including through support for trade union action to defend the quality of our state education and health services, highlighting the need to abolish public schools and private health care.
  4. Project a left-wing programme of alternative policies as in the People’s Charter, particularly the case for a Wealth Tax and public ownership of energy, public transport and the financial sector.
  5. Win the labour movement across Scotland, Wales and England for progressive federalism to resolve the national question in the interests of a united working class movement against British state-monopoly capitalism.
  6. Expose the right-wing character of UKIP and build a left and progressive mass movement against EU membership rooted in the trade unions.
  7. Work to ensure that the Morning Star position as the daily paper of the left, progressive and labour movements is reflected more substantially in sales and financial support.
  8. Explain the need for the trade unions to take the necessary steps to ensure that labour movement has its own mass party, capable of winning general elections and enacting policies in the interests of workers and their families.
  9. Strengthen the Communist Party through deeper involvement in local campaigning work including on the electoral front, a more systematic approach to political education and cadre development and a bolder policy of recruitment especially in the trade union movement.
2. The Communist Party warned before the end of 2008 that the financial crash and economic crisis would be utilised by the ruling class to launch an offensive against the working class and peoples of Britain. The chief forces of monopoly capital would strive to rescue their system, restore its profit base and ensure that the British state and government enforce the interests of big business at whatever cost to the mass of workers and their families.
3. Economically, the dominant section of the capitalist class, organised in the big financial institutions of the City of London, has been served by policies designed to protect its most basic interests. Thus the banks and financial markets have continued to be bailed out with public money and other supportive measures, as liabilities remain nationalised while profits are privatised. Reform and regulation of the financial services sector has been minimal where not postponed altogether.
4. The monopoly capitalists in every sector have benefited from further reductions in taxes on profits, capital gains and high incomes while nothing substantial is done to stamp out their prolific use of tax havens and other tax evasion devices. Unprecedented cuts in state expenditure have reduced tax pressures on the rich and big business, while also helping to depress wage levels generally as prices let rip across the economy. Whole sections of the public sector have either been privatised – most notably the Royal Mail – or prepared for privatisation in the case of education and the NHS.
5. The minimal economic upturn which began in 2014 was delayed by the government’s policies to redistribute even more wealth and purchasing power from the working class and the poorest in our society to big business and the rich. The recovery is flimsy and based on house price inflation, financial mis-selling compensation and consumption by the wealthy, rather than on investment in productive industry to meet growing mass demand at home and abroad. Moreover, it takes place in an unreformed British economy which retains all its most fundamental weaknesses and distortions: overdependence on financial services and armaments (where public money subsidises most of the R&D, production and export sales); underinvestment in civilian manufacturing, engineering, science and technology; absence of effective strategic planning in vital sectors such as energy and transport; and ceding of ownership of key areas of the economy to overseas monopolies so that the British capitalist class can continue to export capital and speculate in finance and property without destroying British state power’s domestic economic base. This ruthless drive to maximise monopoly profit is generating an enormous overaccumulation of capital, much of which will never be realised at its full nominal value. It is preparing the ground for future financial scandals and crashes.
6. Socially, the offensive has intensified overwork by underskilled workers who are increasingly impoverished and insecure. Mass unemployment persists as superexploited migrant labour is imported to maintain a large “reserve army” which can be drawn into employment and then expelled with ease. This has proceeded alongside the imposition of an employment model in key sectors of the economy, such as retail and finance, where zero hours contracts and other forms of precarious work have become the norm for millions of workers in Britain.Thus trade union bargaining power is undermined and wage levels depressed. This wide-ranging attack on real wages, pensions and welfare benefits has rapidly deepened poverty and inequality. In addition, the consequent reduction in working class purchasing power limits the scope for real economic recovery, thereby aggravating the problems of capital overaccumulation and helping to precipitate the next cyclical downturn in the British economy.
7. Culturally, capitalist ownership and its market anarchy favour mass production of anything that can be turned to a profit. Extreme concentrations of wealth together with neoliberal hostility to regulation have enabled many more of Britain’s cultural institutions to fall into the hands of financial speculators, business crooks and pornographers who have no interest in promoting informative, progressive, challenging, liberating or genuinely participative aspects of culture. Instead, much of capitalism’s output reflects the system’s drive for maximum profit regardless of other considerations.
8. Ideologically, the ruling class offensive has unleashed a new propaganda drive against socialist, collectivist and progressive ideas and values. Particular targets include the public services, trade unionism, social solidarity, wealth redistribution, public ownership and anything relating to socialism and communism. Mass media outlets confine news and current affairs coverage to a narrow consensus in which even Keynesian and social democratic views struggle to gain a platform, while socialism and communism are excluded altogether.
9. Politically, big business and the mass media exert enormous pressure, reinforced by the ‘first past the post’ electoral system, to maintain consensus between the major political parties. Straying from the austerity and privatisation agenda or opposing British imperialism’s world view is punished by ferociously hostile media coverage and the loss of financial support. ‘Normalisation’ of fascist parties and representatives in Britain and other parts of Europe as a legitimate part of the political spectrum, while communists are ignored or pilloried, is a particularly disturbing development. At a time when the ruling class has shown itself so unfit to rule – when the scale of corruption in business, parliamentary, media and police circles is too big to be covered up adequately – the mass media allows a platform mainly to ‘anti-Establishment’ views from the far right rather than from the left.
10. In anticipation of this all-round assault, the Communist Party proposed that a mass movement be built around a People’s Charter for Change, putting forward alternative policies to those of austerity and privatisation. Led by the RMT but backed also by the FBU, PCS, other unions and socialists, including left Labour MPs, such an initiative gathered pace in the course of 2009 as the People’s Charter was endorsed by the British TUC annual conference. But there was resistance to wholehearted campaigning in favour of the charter in advance of the 2010 general election. The initiative began to lose impetus, especially after the incoming Tory-LibDem regime more than doubled the public spending cuts proposed by the outgoing Labour government and mounted a vicious attack on pay and pension rights in the public sector.
11. Confronted with an open declaration of class war, unions in that sector understandably prioritised the defence of their members’ terms and conditions. Millions of workers responded magnificently to the call for industrial action in defence of their occupational pensions. In the private sector too, trade unionists in the construction, electrical, railway and other industries demonstrated their willingness to defend jobs, pay and trade union rights against employers backed by a government willing to drive through the biggest decline in working class living standards for 80 years. Yet the trade union movement was unable to build sufficient unity to halt or even slow the austerity offensive. Union sectarianism within the public sector and an inability to secure wider understanding of the common interests of public and private sector workers rendered the general strike call at the 2012 TUC conference inoperable.
12. Throughout this period, the Communist Party advocated trade union and working class unity, pointing out that the necessary defence of public sector pensions was too narrow a basis for the scale of resistance needed. We exposed the link between pension liabilities and covert plans for extensive privatisation. Britain’s communists insisted that winning the case in the labour movement and among the wider public for generalised strike action was far more important than immediately “naming the day.” Even more significantly, we argued that industrial militancy was a necessary but insufficient condition for defeating the Tory-led austerity and privatisation agenda. Coordinated and generalised strike action had to be planned within a political context, one which rejected the legitimacy of the Tory-LibDem regime in favour of a political alternative around which a wide coalition of forces could be mobilised.
13. In the terms pioneered by the CP’s programme Britain’s Road to Socialism, we proposed that a popular, democratic anti-monopoly alliance be built in which the organised working class movement would play the leading role, drawing together all those who could be won to oppose exploitation and oppression. This would mean promoting not only industrial militancy but community campaigning, making connections between the two, engaging in the battle of ideas, stepping up the struggle to reclaim the Labour Party for the labour movement and recognising the necessity for the movement to have its own mass party. It would involve challenging the myths used to divide the working class, such as falsely identifying public sector pay and pensions, benefit claimants or migrant workers as the cause of Britain’s economic and financial crisis. It would also mean dropping any illusions that the Labour Party leadership or the European Union intends to block the ruling class offensive. Furthermore, we proposed that such a movement should develop what Britain’s Road to Socialism calls a ‘left-wing programme’, many of policies of which are reflected in the People’s Charter. The reality must be faced that such an approach was not adopted by the trade union movement as a whole, despite the efforts of communists and socialists in the course of 2012 and 2013.
14. Nevertheless, substantial elements of it have been embraced by significant forces in the labour and progressive movements since the general election. In particular:
  1. There has been growing recognition of the need for trade unions to play a more active role where possible in community organisations and campaigns, not least through reinvigorated local trades union councils, community-based union branches and support for local anti-Bedroom Tax campaigns.
  2. The launch of the People’s Assembly movement in 2013 and its subsequent adoption of the People’s Charter and other left and progressive policies represents an embryonic mass alliance against state-monopoly capitalism, bringing together several trade unions with community campaigns and sections of the Labour Party and wider left including the Communist Party.
  3. Recognising the role of a daily paper and its website in the battle of ideas, the active engagement of trades unions with the Morning Star continues to grow, with nine unions (Unite, GMB, CWU, RMT, FBU, POA, UCATT, Community and the NUM) now represented on the management committee of the paper’s cooperative society.
15. It should also be recognised that the trade union movement has not been laid low by the ruling class and its government and state apparatus, despite setbacks and defeats as well as some victories. Already in 2014 we have seen civil and public servants, railway workers, teachers and lecturers, carers, electricians, journalists, firefighters, prison officers and others taking industrial action.
16. What now needs to happen is that the labour movement and the left, including the Communist Party, assess realistically the objective conditions and trends in Britain today, take the necessary steps to overcome their own weaknesses and take full advantage of the contradictions within British state-monopoly capitalism.
17. Trade unions need to seek greater unity in the fight against austerity and privatisation to protect public services, jobs, wages and pension rights. They should also appreciate the extent to which ruling class strategy is political and ideological, aimed at weakening trade unions financially and organisationally. The escalating attack on union rights and facilities in the public sector confirms this reality. It must be resisted by the whole labour movement because it prefigures a wider offensive against trade unionism in the private and voluntary sectors as well. The Campaign for Trade Union Freedom can play a valuable role in promoting a united, militant and political response. This must include closer co-operation between unions and through trades union councils to organise unemployed, part-time, temporary, casual and migrant workers. The welcome revival of trades councils would be strengthened if more unions ensured that their local branches affiliated and played an active part in them. With more than three million workers unemployed or underemployed, the TUC, its affiliates and their sectoral organisations should consider how to go on the offensive for a shorter working week and working life with no loss of pay or pension, thereby countering proposals to postpone the retirement age still further to 70 and beyond. Nothing would do more to create jobs, boost purchasing power and improve the quality of life for millions of workers and their families.
18. The People’s Assembly must be strengthened organisationally, financially and politically as a militant movement that unites the unions, trades councils, anti-cuts groups, community campaigns and the non-sectarian left in action against austerity and privatisation, in support of an alternative left-wing programme based on the People’s Charter. A powerful movement of this kind is needed to combat the Tory-LibDem coalition and to prepare for whichever government takes office in 2015 and attempts to continue the ruling class offensive. More broad-based local groups should be established locally and coordinated regionally, with active trade union participation at every level and in every nation and region of Britain.
19. Women have been hit disproportionately hard by the ruling class austerity offensive as low-paid workers, users of public and voluntary services, single parents, carers and partners most at risk of domestic violence. Dedicated facilities for women, including victims of rape, have been cut. Yet women have also come to the fore in many local campaigns, whether to defend library and hospital services or to oppose the Bedroom Tax. This makes it still more urgent that trade unions, the People’s Assembly and other campaigning movements do everything possible to support, involve and promote women, including through the provision of dedicated structures and resources where appropriate. In particular, the fight for equal pay for work of equal value has still to be won, highlighting the need for action in favour of compulsory equal pay audits in all sectors of the economy and associated demands. The National Assembly of Women and the Charter for Women can play an invaluable role in linking local and individual campaigns to develop a women’s movement across Britain, promoting political understanding and unity in action against austerity, privatisation, militarism and war.
20. The peoples of Britain can be proud of the extent to which they are building a multiracial society in the teeth of all attempts to divide them against each other. It must remain a top priority to defend multiculturalism and secularism against all attempts to promote religious, ethnic, linguistic or national prejudice and discrimination while building a diverse but integrated working class culture based on class pride, collectivism, unity, equality and solidarity. Mobilising masses of people to deny a platform to racists and fascists wherever possible remains central to this objective. However, this must be accompanied by an explanation of why it is in the interests of workers and people generally to unite against exploitation and oppression. Allowing discrimination against any particular section of the workforce or population eventually undercuts the position of all except the exploiters. That is why the Communist Party rejects on principle the superexploitation of migrant workers, opposes all racist immigration and nationality laws and calls for an amnesty for illegal immigrants. We will continue to work for unity across the anti-racist and anti-fascist movement, based on a recognition that different approaches and priorities need not be a barrier to co-operation, coordination and unity in action wherever they can be achieved.
21. All forces of the labour and progressive movements need to be drawn together in the construction of a mass movement that can turn a defensive struggle against austerity, privatisation and imperialist war into an offensive one for social advance and socialism. The prospects for doing so will be enhanced by the degree to which clarity and unity can be won around a left-wing programme of policies that make inroads into the wealth and power of the capitalist class and its state. Substantial agreement already exists in favour of policies such as democratic public ownership of key industries and services, economic planning, sustainable energy and transport policies that severely reduce carbon emissions, a more progressive taxation system, extensive action to eliminate tax evasion, measures to boost wages, benefits and pensions, imposition of selective price controls, a big construction programme for more council housing, investment in public services and a halt to all forms of privatisation, imposition of capital controls, a major switch from military R&D and production towards civilian and socially useful goods and services. Britain’s repressive anti-trade union laws must be repealed and employment rights expanded. New emphasis needs to be put on promoting policies that guarantee fulfilling employment, training and education opportunities for young people together with equal pay and rights at work for all workers, including women, youth and migrants.
22. At the same time, communists and socialists must step up our efforts to explain how and why so many of the left and progressive policies outlined above fundamentally contradict the neoliberal approach to economic and social questions entrenched in the fundamental treaties and institutions of the European Union. There is a peculiarly British view among progressive-minded people, trade unionists and even socialists that the EU somehow represents an exercise in social progress, solidarity and peaceful co-operation. Most workers across large parts of western and southern Europe have shed such illusions in the course of bitter battles against the brutal austerity and privatisation being enforced by the troika of the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Building a mass left and progressive movement with trade union support against British membership of the EU, especially in the run-up to a possible referendum, will therefore be an internationalist as well as a domestic and democratic necessity.
23. Development of a broad, militant mass movement across Britain against state-monopoly capitalism and for a left-wing alternative is the best context in which to resolve the national question in a progressive, constructive way. Instead of dividing the political class struggle against a united British capitalist class into separate Scottish, Welsh and English compartments, the Communist Party and its allies argue for maintaining working class and labour movement unity in a federal Britain. To secure such federalism on a progressive basis the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly of Wales must be granted powers to challenge monopoly capital in the interests of the workers and peoples of those two countries: powers to stop closures, to intervene industrially and to own and control productive resources. In England, a chamber of the Westminster Parliament could function as an English legislature, with the House of Lords abolished and democratic regional assemblies established by popular demand. Powers and resources should be restored to local government, while directly elected mayors and cabinet-style governance which diminish collective local democracy are scrapped. At the same time, the federal government should retain powers over currency, banking and a sufficient share of tax revenue to be able to redistribute income geographically in terms of social need and to provide a fulcrum for the assertion of democratic power against that of big business.  In this way labour, left and progressive movements across Britain would retain their united potential to overthrow the wealth and power of monopoly capital and redistribute it among the workers and peoples of all three countries.
24. The Communist Party is clear that the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition must be defeated in the forthcoming general election, which means supporting the election of the, at present, only practical and viable alternative – a Labour government. This need not require support for every Labour candidate, especially where communists and other candidates may be standing on a broad left platform against the worst Labour champions of neoliberalism and imperialism. Nevertheless, only a defeat of the Tories and LibDems in the election overall will raise people’s morale and determination to fight for left and progressive policies.
25. In the meantime, to help secure such a result, maximum pressure must be exerted on the Labour leadership to propose a winning programme. At the forefront of Labour’s manifesto should be a commitment to end the austerity and privatisation offensive. Real increases in incomes, including the introduction of a statutory living wage, would boost living standards, production, investment and employment. Selective controls on rents, fares and energy and food prices would bring relief to the many millions of people on low incomes. A massive council-house building programme would give hope to many families and young people desperate for a home of their own, as well as creating up to a million new jobs. Rolling back the privatisation of the NHS, notably in England, and putting an end to PFI profiteering would be a vote-winner, likewise a Labour pledge to take the gas, electricity, water, postal and railway industries back into public ownership. Such a left programme could be be financed by abolishing Britain’s nuclear weapons and reducing military spending to the average European level; taxing the rich, financial speculation and big business profits more equitably; and ending the tax haven status of overseas territories under British jurisdiction.
26. Nor should the connections between domestic and international matters be neglected, which is why the labour movement needs to develop its own independent foreign and defence policy in opposition to EU and NATO and in favour of fair trade, social justice, popular sovereignty, international co-operation and peace.
27. While it is unlikely that many of these policies will be accepted by the Labour leadership, arguing for them can raise the level of political understanding in the labour movement, better equipping it for vital strategic tasks ahead.
28. Since the early 20th century, the Labour Party has been the mass electoral party of the labour movement in Britain. Its class base and broad popular appeal have enabled it to win elections, form governments and introduce reforms in the interests of workers and the people generally. Labour’s federal structure, with its affiliated trade unions and working class composition, has helped to ensure the existence of a significant socialist trend within the party, as well as the stronger social-democratic one. Generations of working people have seen Labour as the main repository of their aspirations for a better life and a fairer, more humane society. But while Labour governments have sometimes improved economic, social and political conditions, they have never challenged the foundations of capitalism and imperialism and indeed have waged wars to defend colonial power against national liberation movements. The social-democratic trend in the party has always refused to pursue a strategy for taking state power and using it to replace capitalism with socialism.
29. After its first term in office, the new Labour trend led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown openly pursued a neoliberal agenda on behalf of British state-monopoly capitalism, which included dismantling the trade union and class basis of the Labour Party to make it completely safe for big business. Since then, the Miliband-Balls leadership has failed to break with neoliberalism. On March 1 2014, the Labour Party embarked on what might well be the final stage of its mutation into a non-labour party. Delegates including those from all but one of the affiliated trade unions voted to weaken, perhaps fatally, the collective basis of trade union involvement in the party.
30. The period up to and immediately following the June 2015 general election will demonstrate conclusively whether or not Labour can be reclaimed as the mass electoral party of the labour movement. Labour’s election manifesto will reveal whether trade union influence has produced a left or progressive programme. If the party moves away from austerity, privatisation and the renewal of nuclear weapons and commits a Labour government to measures in favour of public ownership, progressive taxation, public sector housing, price controls and additional rights for workers and trade unions, this will indicate that the battle to reclaim the party can possibly be won. In the ongoing drive to do so, the whole of the left and the labour movement would have a duty to support the Labour left and affiliated unions in their efforts, reinforced by an upsurge in determination and enthusiasm to implement Labour’s manifesto policies in the face of ferocious ruling class opposition.
31. Should the manifesto fail to propose a clear alternative to neoliberalism, Labour will let down its supporters and either lose the election or subsequently govern with the same feeble and reactionary policies that threw away the largest parliamentary majority in history achieved in 1997. Under these conditions, the labour movement and the left will have no option but to take the necessary steps to re-establish a mass party of labour. Staying with a party that no longer pretends to represent working class interests – and where the prospects of it doing so have all but vanished – is a recipe for permanent defeat and despair. While the initial moves towards re-establishing a labour party will have to come from a minority of unions, some of them small or non-affiliated, it will be vital to win at least one or two of the big battalions of the labour movement to this objective.
32. The proposal that unions form their own distinct party, rooted in the labour movement and affiliated to Labour like the Co-operative Party merits serious consideration. It would need to have its own policy-making conference, elected leadership and financial autonomy. Such an initiative could give unions a clearer, stronger and collective political voice both inside and beyond the Labour Party – all the more so if it does not operate bans and proscriptions. Were unions to decide later that they need to re-establish their own mass party outside the Labour Party, much of the initial preparatory work would already have been done.
33. This battle of ideas will be central to the debate that needs to be taken forward urgently about reclaiming or re-establishing the labour movement’s mass party. In particular, ways have to be found to engage the trade unions more extensively in this discussion, however difficult this may be in the run-up to the general election and during any post-victory honeymoon period. Trade union bodies at every level, up to and including the Trades Union Congress, should organise discussions, meetings and conferences to consider the crisis in the political representation of the working class, the future of the Labour Party and how more workers can be drawn into political activity and representation. As the left’s only daily paper, with six Labour-affiliated and three non-affiliated unions represented on its management committee, the Morning Star would be especially well placed to stimulate the debates and initiatives necessary to help resolve the crisis of working class political representation, whether through reclaiming or re-establishing the labour movement’s mass party.
34. However, it must be recognised that the biggest problem on the left in Britain is not so much a shortage of socialist parties as of socialists. The long decline and collapse of social democracy, the previous divisions which severely weakened the Communist Party and the adventurism and sectarianism of the far left have all contributed to a failure to defeat the New Right’s ideological onslaught since the 1970s. The left must now take on the full and urgent responsibility to reclaim the labour movement for socialism, which is a precondition for reclaiming or re-establishing a mass party which can advance beyond social democracy. This will only happen if the left and the trade unions prioritise the work of raising the political consciousness of workers in large numbers, explaining and projecting the ideas and values of socialism.
35. Strengthening the Communist Party and its influence would contribute directly to resolving the crisis of working class political representation in Britain. This is because the CP is rooted in the labour movement, organises to build mass campaigning and seeks to apply its Marxist outlook to vital strategic questions in a non-dogmatic, non-sectarian way. A bigger and more influential Communist Party, active on every front of the political class struggle, unifying in its approach, unwavering in its commitment to socialism, imbued with internationalism, would help transform the political situation in Britain.
36. Building the Communist Party would strengthen not only the party itself but every aspect of resistance to the capitalist onslaught. Attention should be given to identifying working class activists as potential recruits to the party. The unique role of the CP in developing such original analysis and a guide to action as the Charter for Women should lay the basis for attracting a new generation of campaigning women. The party must support the Young Communist League politically and with resources to help the YCL extend its work among youth and students.
37. Central to developing the role of the Communist Party must be the activity of Communists in workplaces, most of which are today unorganised or very weakly organised. The strength of the resistance to ruling class attacks in the 1970s was firmly based on hundreds of CP branches in industry. Effective and politically mature workplace organisation, especially in key sectors of the economy, is essential for redeveloping a strong, confident working class movement that can give leadership in communities and wider struggles. Placing Communists at the centre of such work must be a priority if the ruling class offensive is to be defeated.
38. Communists must raise our effectiveness as a result of improving our political education and cadre development and thus the united and disciplined approach of all comrades to our political work.
39. We need to raise our public imageand have a bolder approach to electoral struggle. Communist policies must be highlighted and tested in electoral contests, reflecting experiences in grassroots struggles. All party organisations have the capacity to be involved in elections and should put forward candidates under the party banner in local council polls. This approach can also provide an effective basis for communist participation in parliamentary and assembly election campaigns in selective constituencies. The party should also keep under consideration the construction of longer-term electoral formations in alliance with trade unions, domiciled communists, socialists, environmentalists and other progressives.
40. Key to the ideological struggle and the battle to increase Communist Party is increased sales of the Morning Star, the only paper that offers a daily outlet for communist and socialist ideas and reportage of working class issues. A more influential and financially secure Morning Star is essential to social advance. Every party member can play a role in buying and selling the Morning Star, raising donations to the paper’s Fighting Fund and winning labour movement shareholdings in the PPPS co-operative that owns it. Working with the Star editor and Management Committee we must carefully develop a strategy to ensure that the Morning Star is rightfully seen as the paper of the People’s Assembly, the unions and the broader movement.
41. Ongoing capitalist crisis expresses itself in a worsening standard of life for working people while the pampered elite enriches itself still further. Our party’s revolutionary proposals offer a decisive but achievable alternative to the austerity agenda favoured by Establishment parties. Communists should play a leading role in combining everyday struggles with the longer-term goal of opening the way to a socialist future.