Below we publish a letter from a young comrade who had the opportunity to witness revisionism in action, as Rob Griffiths of the Communist Party of Britain was invited to speak at his school.
While it is disappointing that such a rank opportunist and arch revisionist was given the opportunity to speak, it is not surprising given that the decaying husk of the CPB simultaneously presents itself as the revolutionary party of the working class while also being devoid of any revolutionary content, effectively serving the ruling class.
Another contribution of one of our newer members, explaining why they joined. This time from a comrade from the South East.
On the 26th of July, 2014, at the annual anti-imperialist barbecue, I joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).
I inhabit a conservative town in a reactionary corner of south-eastern England, and know of no other communists nearby. I might easily have grown to maturity as another reactionary – why then did I come to the CPGB-ML?
I first encountered Marxism at the age of eleven years, shortly after entering secondary school, when, quite by chance, I encountered Friedrich Engels’ profound work The Principles of Communism on the internet. Gripped by that work, I have educated myself ever since that day on the workings and relations of society and have become firmly convinced that Marxism-Leninism is the only correct and scientific expression of the accumulated experience and class interests of the exploited working class, the proletariat. I have, therefore, long recognised the practical need for a sincere Communist Party armed with the advanced theory of Marxism-Leninism. However, there is in Great Britain today a plethora of different groups and ‘parties’ calling themselves communist, and therefore there was a large amount of material to sift through. While researching communist organisations in this country, I encountered, to name but a few, the Communist Party of Britain, the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and the odious Socialist Workers’ Party. What I found greatly disturbed me, for it seemed that all the parties and organisations I came across, particularly the Communist Party of Britain which advocates the absurd and revisionist notion of a parliamentary road to Socialism, were completely divorced from the real nature of society in this country, and thus could not know the genuine interests and tasks of the working class and its movement.
I was greatly relieved and inspired when I discovered that there was one organisation, one party, which cut through the thick layers of pseudo-socialist and revisionist rubbish, which was unrelenting in its fight against opportunism, and which was clearly and obviously acquainted with the objective reality of modern Britain and the true interests of the working class – this was, of course, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).
Over time, I studied the material of this Party, reading Lalkar, Proletarian, the books of Comrade Chairman Harpal Brar et al, etc. and became convinced that the theory and general line of the CPGB-ML were correct. However, one question remained: an advanced theory is all well and good, but as Stalin said, revolutionary theory “becomes sterile if not accompanied by revolutionary practice.” Indeed, all Marxist-Leninists, unlike the revisionists, Trotskyites, social democrats and the like, know that correct theory comes and can only come from practice, from accumulated historical experience and practice as it is now. So then, was this Party an active one?
Clearly, the communists are up against the odds in their work of attempting to build a genuinely revolutionary Marxist organisation in the United Kingdom. The super-profits plundered from the oppressed countries through merciless imperialist exploitation make it possible for the ruling class of this country to bribe significant sections of the working class, to bind them materially to capitalism. This phenomena of the embourgeoisification of workers was first observed by Marx and Engels in England towards the end of the nineteenth century, and the theory and practice regarding it was formulated and systematised by Comrade Lenin in such works as Imperialism and the Split in Socialism, in which he noted that it was basically this embourgeoisified section of the working class which provided the social and economic basis of opportunism and revisionism. Indeed, since Lenin’s day, as imperialism has become ever more decadent and moribund, this labour aristocracy, as it was called, has only grown, its influence has only increased and become more pervasive, and it is aided in its deception of the working class and its movement by decades of relentless and shameless social democracy and Khrushchevite revisionism. We see, then, that to build a sincerely and thoroughly anti-revisionist, anti-imperialist, revolutionary Communist Party in the conditions which exist in the United Kingdom is no easy task, and the Communists attempting it are faced with an enormous task.
With the above taken into account, the CPGB-ML is indeed incredibly active in its work. Day by day the party is growing in number, and having attended party meetings and talked to party comrades myself I can testify for the fact that it is the only communist party in the country which is really attracting active support from real British workers and a not insignificant number of young people. Increasingly, sincere Comrades from other organisations, realising that their own groupings have been castrated and robbed of their revolutionary heart by social democracy, Trotskyism and revisionism and opportunism of various kinds, are defecting to the CPGB-ML, which is the only party consciously striving to create and develop conscious links with the masses, which it does by selling its newspapers and journals, attending protests and demonstrations, issuing leaflets, conducting workers’ educational programmes, and, simply but effectively, talking to the masses, actually learning from them, as well as through various other activities.
Surely, the party can only intensify its work and spread its influence, and surely as the crisis of capitalism develops, as the British working class its jolted from hardship to hardship by its despotic imperialist rulers, the Marxist movement can only develop, grow, and spread, so that we may reasonably speak of having active cells and cadre in all corners of the country, ready to make their contributions with all their zeal and effort to the cause of the proletarian revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat and communism.
So then, we may say, backed by the experience of the struggle of the proletariat and the truth of Marxism-Leninism, that this Party is the only thoroughly and consistently anti-imperialist, anti-revisionist and politically active communist organisation existing in Great Britain, it is the party of British socialism, and it is for all these reasons that I have joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).
Long Live the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)!
The following letter to our blog was written by a young comrade from the Midlands who recently left the YCL to join Red Youth. His reflections are those born from the frustrations of working in a party castrated by revisionism. We will stress now, before you read his observations, that Red Youth certainly doesn’t have all the answers and we’re up against it trying to build a revolutionary youth organisation in a country where no revolutionary mood prevails amongst the masses, for the time being. These are the same objective conditions which both the YCL and CPB have to contend with. Our strength (and their weakness) lies in our correct analysis of these conditions; a thorough and rigorous critique of social democracy, its root causes and it’s influence on the British labour movement. We are pleased with the enthusiasm with which this comrade joins us in our work, but we must emphasise that ours is a long, arduous struggle which requires much patience as well as persistence. For this reason it is absolutely critical that Red Youth comrades make every effort to study Marxist-Leninist theory, to develop their political understanding and be able to take part in the work to build up the revolutionary class conscious. That struggle is a marathon, there are no quick fixes, easy avenues or cheats. Its long, hard struggle, and we welcome all those who are prepared to make that journey.
That said, despite a thoroughly positive and glowing appraisal of our party’s work to date (!) the letter highlights some of the aspects of our culture and work which set us apart, stemming from our analysis of present and past. We do not shy away from openly admitting the need for revolution and actively work towards it. Our correct understanding of the specific historical conditions that led to the ‘golden’ post-WW2 boom – as a result of the devastation of the war and continued imperialist exploitation of the Third World means that we do not shed a tear for the death of social democracy. We recognise that no amount of tinkering and reform can put an and to capitalist crisis and the drive towards imperialist wars. We recognise the inalienable right of people to fight imperialism and we stand firmly with them and openly call for the defeat of our “own” government in these wars of aggression and plunder. Capitalism cannot provide a decent and secure life to the masses of working people, it can only offer temporary concessions to a few. This is where we differ from the CPB and YCL, who have all but abandoned any talk of revolution and dream of a return to the heyday of social democracy. We agree with and participate as far as we are able in the fight for reforms and concessions under the present conditions – but we will not lose sight of our end goal, the socialist revolution. – RY
“Almost nine months ago, I joined the Communist Party of Britain in Shropshire – three weeks ago I left for the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).
I’d describe my former self as the kind of communist that clung to the insole of the labour party. But why did I change my mind? What went ‘wrong’ along the way? Keen to serve a movement I was then happy and honoured to be a part of, enthused to draft new ways to create a big communist student movement in my local area; I was elevated quickly. First, to Young Communist League organiser for Shropshire, then the West Midlands, then the whole Midlands – all this over the course of 3 months, partly because I was the only YCL secretary in the Midlands. It was this elevation, that made me realise how useless and inactive the party was. Later, the real CPB would be revealed to me as the badly organised, anti-youth, anti-DPRK, anti-communist organisation it is.
The organisational inactivity of the CPB Two months after becoming Shropshire students organiser I drew up a small plan and discussed it with my branch secretary, who seemed as usual relatively pleased to accept my ideas. We had 3 comrades of eligible age for the YCL in Shropshire; a 12 year old school girl who was the daughter of a branch member, a 22 year old man, and myself. I outlined the following items:
The convening of our three young communists in a place suitable for students to hold a meeting, to debate what we stood for and what we want to achieve
The leafleting of the sixth-form college in town about the event
The setting up of a YCL Shropshire Facebook page
The ordering of copies of challenge and other youth campaigning materials to support setting up a communist youth movement in Shropshire
This was in September 2013. In February, almost five months later (and a month and a half before I joined CPGB-ML), I was still waiting for support in terms of literature, party education materials, help to find a meeting place. Until December I was still expecting this fictitious support.
But it was my promotion to Midlands district officer that was the real turning point for me. I was charged with creating the Midlands district of the YCL, organising a regional movement of youth in their late teens and early 20s for the mobilisation of Marxism-Leninism within the labour movement. This is a big task to give an enthusiastic 16 year old campaigner – nevertheless, as I put it at the time to queries of “was I sure”, I was well up for it.
I knew that we only had 175 active and non-active members in the whole of the Midlands, so I was trying to be realistic, not stretching too far to branches that may lack any bulk in membership under 30. The plan was to get together three people (aged between 11 and 29 as is within the party rulings regarding age), in each the Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Shropshire branches together, and encourage them to have bi-monthly branch meetings and a monthly study group. If this proved successful over a year we would collectivise everyone within the age bracket across the Midlands and hold a YCL district launch in Birmingham. Another part of the planned strategy was to leaflet colleges in order to create education branches.
Things were looking good at first – we had in the Shropshire branch 3 eligible YCL members. In Birmingham we had one young contact who was caught up in border disputes with other branches and consequently not doing anything, and someone who was nearly 25 – this was fine at first.
In Wolverhampton there was nothing: not only was I to find at the 15th February district congress that they were one of the most inactive branches as part of our deflated Black Country initiative, but I found out a week before hand they had no members under 30.
Four months before that fateful meeting, I received a 15 year old contact in Nottingham. I thought this was excellent at the time, I thought if he could work with the largely mature Nottingham branch on youth for me I could then focus more on the further West Midlands stuff. However, I was to find that due to disorganisation this was apparently impossible. I found that the Nottingham branch, another gem of inactivity, was made up of two men in their 60s and one in their 50s, who were all apparently “to afraid to talk to him” and that the only one in four months who had made any effort to contact him other than a couple of times electronically was me.
And then they had the gall to ask me to help build the YCL in Wales from Shropshire. I was furious with the total lack of anything, but particularly after this erroneous request. I was just about ready to explode because of all this – but then there were the ideological holes to boot.
The ideological hollowness of the CPB My ideological suspicions began around December but they had nothing to do with the labour party at first. It started with the pro-capitalist coverage of the DPRK. Nothing in the Morning Star is ever really pro-capitalist no matter how wrong or counter-revolutionary, but this really was. It quoted UN statistics without checking the sources and alleged that the north ‘wasn’t socialism’ and highly ‘undemocratic’. It even contradicted their position on the country in Britain’s Road to Socialism, going far enough to publish headlines like “UN pledges to bring North Korean leaders to justice”. I thought in Britain’s Road to Socialism our message on the DPRK was quite clear, that we supported its ‘right to popular sovereignty’, that we supported it against American imperialism!
When I was approached over twitter about the contradiction between my open support for the DPRK and the Morning Star’s stance, I explained that the Morning Star was the paper of the movement. As such it couldn’t marginalise itself down to pure communist viewpoints and had to please a great deal of it’s bulked readership; including CND, Stop the War and the TUC. For a CPB member this was an adequate, well thought-out answer, but I was to find out that even this was wrong.
I e-mailed Zoe Hennessy, the YCL’s general secretary; I felt that the recent anti-DPRK bombardment in all media left or right wing was demoralising our member’s in their support for the country (particularly our young members), so I offered to write an article in support of it to put people’s minds at rest. It was the reply that was to enrage me almost as much as the organisational problems I had encountered: The Communist Party of Britain dose not endorse the DPRK. It never has done and it never will. Apparently the Morning Star is the embodiment of the CPB’s collective views on North Korea and many other things which I thought was merely content added for “the movement”.
While all this was happening an article was published around Christmas on comrade Mao Zedong to celebrate his birthday. It described someone who would “probably have been remembered as a great revolutionary if he’d died in 1952” but who’s final two political campaigns were “an utter failure”, later accusing him of harbouring a personality cult and being an unstable leader. Very celebratory…
Incidentally the paper also refused to publish anything celebrating the birthday of comrade Stalin, utterly spitting in the eye of one of the greatest contributors to Marxist theory aside from Engels or Lenin.
Conclusion So what did I decide to do next? Well I saw a rather impressive group of communists in late September at the Tory party conference demo, who seemed to sidle up to the communist party red block, and chant with us. The two groups looked fabulous together, 60 or 70 red flags were made 90 or more in a block. I saw they had a paper called Proletarian. I wanted work experience in political journalism – so I contacted the editor’s e-mail.
I secured a meeting at the office of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) in Birmingham. I wasn’t wooed at first by their opposition to the people’s assembly or the Labour Party in any measure, as things were still working for me at the point I had this meeting in October, but I saw something in them then that brought me back, and made them indelibly my new and fine comrades, people who I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with.
From about the February 15th district meeting, when I began to see just how pointless it was, I started looking for a new party either similar to my own thoughts or robust enough to accept my robust opinions.
I trawled through things like the Socialist Labour Party, the Socialist Party of Great Britain, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and the Marxist Student Federation – all of these organisations to me either appeared totally revisionist or ineffective in political strategy to the point of laughability. It was then I realised the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) was the only effective left party in Britain; the only one still growing and equipped with practical, applicable campaigning methods for the 21st century.
A party that stood for all the right things – defending the democratic legitimacy of Zimbabwe and it’s legitimate popular leader Robert Mugabe, telling the truth about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, true anti-imperialism; rather than just what seems to be more acceptable to public opinion. They don’t allow their ideological strength to make them dogmatic.
Under the CPB I was given no equipment, no literature and no support. I join the CPGB-ML and almost immediately I’m given seven newspapers, a wad of our youth programme and a wad of leaflets. I am also sold books at £2 a throw – unlike the ones the CPB sold at their district committees for between £5-£20, which were all far out of my price range on top of train fairs. I have a permanent link to my nearest branch organiser, I’m told if there’s anything I need in terms of equipment or help it’s mine providing I’ve got a good reason, we’ve already got Shropshire based members and supporters around too – so we’re all set.
Coupled with this we have a stunning two-part programme, including the mind blowing Red Youth programme “we want freedom” – which envisions a diplomatically non-volatile Great Britain, universally free education and the deployment of capital allocated to youth by youth and for youth. That’s a revolutionary youth programme, not BRS’s “lowering the voting age to 16 would be reflective of how some people think but let’s make everything else up along the way while also making nothing up and doing nothing”.
I can see the ship sinking for the “Communist Party” already. CPB membership isn’t just under 1,000 as it claims – it’s 700. They did an internal survey recently that said 200 of their members had either died or gone missing. The CPGB-ML in Birmingham alone gets several requests for membership a month. The CPB’s complete refusal of self criticism, unwillingness to reform outdated party structures, the anti-youth mentality all leads one way – decay. The CPB is dying. Every general election it loses members on the same programme, every time labour or whoever else they support are elected they fail to do anything of meaning. My old party only misleads a few students here and there (most notably in the North West where they’ve recruited about 20ish white university students) – but it’s propaganda and negation on the radical student movement reaches far further than even it knows.
For instance everything it says about almost everything apart from capitalism as a system and the British bourgeoisie back up the imperialist argument unwittingly. A British democrat, and I’ve met a few, may say that you have to vote your way out of trouble, that if you don’t like a government you have to vote for the opposition to oust them, namely; the Labour Party. According to British social democracy this is the only way to achieve change. The CPB will say that you have to vote labour to get the Tories or the Lib-Dems out and you can’t have a revolution because a) it will “alienate” people and b) we live in a western “democracy”. So revolution is an absolute last resort and therefore not appropriate or possible unless people all over the country starve on the streets and worker’s have lost all their gains.
I spent 8 months in the labour movement, trying to attract young people with the time to join the labour movement’s communist youth section – but everyone who wanted to do that just did the natural thing and joined the largely middle-class led Labour Students long before I was on the streets. We have the advantage in that all the true communist students are with Red Youth. We’re better organised, ideologically stronger, growing at a much faster rate and regularly active. My message to all in the labour movement who consider themselves Marxists, is to join our party – the true party of Lenin.”
CPB general secretary Robert Griffiths last week made what should, but do not, read as surprising words. This self-proclaimed ‘communist’ took to Facebook to praise former deputy prime minister John Prescott, or as he is known these days ‘Baron Prescott, of Kingston upon Hull in the County of East Yorkshire‘. The reason: Prescott referred to Israeli atrocities in Gaza as “a war crime”.
So for Griffiths the crimes committed against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan are either forgiven or forgotten. And that Prescott was a faithful lackey of the arch-Zionist Tony Blair is also either forgiven or forgotten.
He may be condemning Israeli war crimes today, but while in government Blair, Prescott & co were nothing but one of Israel’s most faithful friends. For example, following the second Intifada, Blair praised the “restraint” shown by the butcher Sharon. Similarly when Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, Prescott while still deputy PM was presented with another opportunity to oppose Israeli war crimes. At no point did he stand up to Blair and Labour’s Zionist policy, instead he helped implement it.
Let us be clear: even if Prescott has found a conscience over the crimes of Zionism, one war criminal’s condemnation of another war criminal is a hollow condemnation. He may well mourn the blood on the hands of the Zionist entity, but he never once so much as moved his own hands to prevent the spilling of the blood of the children of Iraq and Afghanistan.
When Iraq was the issue of the day it was in Griffiths and co’s interest to ‘oppose’ the war, while in practice supporting the architects of the war – the Labour Party. Today there is no political gain to be had for speaking out for the people of Iraq but seemingly it is politically safe for Griffiths to praise a criminal in that imperialist war. It is much more important to be seen as supporting Palestine, while again in practice supporting imperialism, in the shape of the Labour Party. But this “support” of Palestine, is also to use Palestine.
For Griffith’s comment is two pronged: firstly a poor attempt to find some nominally left figures in the Labour Party, to give some shred of credence to his party’s policy of attempting to push one capitalist party to end capitalism.
Secondly, he does criticise the silence of the current shadow cabinet. With the CPB congress around the corner the issue of “re-establishing a mass party of labour” is on the cards. Here ‘communists’ will debate whether to continue supporting the imperialist Labour Party or create a new social democratic party, or in other words yet another capitalist party tasked with ending capitalism. Griffiths is in the camp of the latter and his comment further alludes to this fact. And in all this Palestine is merely an issue used to further his new-party agenda.
Finally, for the CPB leadership John Prescott may represent a good working class old Labour man. To us he represents the very worst of our class: a class traitor and instrument of imperialism with the blood of the men, women and children of Iraq and Afghanistan on his hands.
For some months now, Red Youth has been receiving requests to contribute financially towards an advert in the Morning Star, ostensibly to commemorate the birth of JV Stalin. This advert was being prepared by Second Wave Publications, a small left-wing publisher.
In the course of their efforts to publish this advert, comrades at Second Wave ran into a stumbling block in the shape of the editor of the Morning Star, Richard Bagley. We publish below the correspondence that has followed between a supporter of the advert – CPB Morecombe Bay & Lancaster branch secretary Norman Hill – and Mr Bagley, along with the original advert. Our readers may in this way judge the issue for themselves, while becoming better acquainted with the present editorial policy of the Morning Star.
It is our opinion that both the political outlook of the designers of the advert and the editorial policy of the Morning Star represent considerable obstacles to the struggle of the working class in its fight against capitalist crisis and for socialism.
On the one hand, Second Wave seeks to ‘celebrate’ Stalin in such a grossly abstract and amateurish manner that it would be better to spare him the shame, whilst the Morning Star would rather not discuss the matter at all, lest it expose their total capitulation to barely-concealed opportunism, economism and social democracy.
Any celebration of the life of Josef Stalin must be closely connected to, and make absolutely clear, the world-historic significance of the man, his work, and his achievements in the building of socialism if it is to have any relevance to the working class today.
The building of the Bolshevik party and the victory of the great October socialist revolution in 1917; the successes in the building of the world’s first-ever socialist society; the dramatic rise in the standard of living for millions of Soviet citizens, who had in just a few short years left feudal and primitive social conditions behind for good; the victory of the USSR over fascism; the firm leadership given by JV Stalin during these and other challenging and cataclysmic struggles … all this barely scratches the surface of the significance of Stalin and the Soviet experience for us today.
Here is a man who in death, as in life, inspires the most furious and passionate hatred of the bourgeoisie and its troto-revisionist hangers on. And the inspiration for this hatred rests not with the man, his personality or habits, but with his politics and with the achievements associated with those politics – namely, the defence of the principles of scientific socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Under the leadership of JV Stalin, the whole world watched with awe as the peoples of the Soviet Union set new heights for heroism and progress, abolished the exploitation of man by man, destroyed the feudal and capitalist relics of Russian tsardom, united the formerly colonial subjects of the Russian empire into a mighty force for socialism, liberation and progress which touched every corner of the globe and made the single greatest contribution to the ending of colonial subjugation for millions of starving, wretched and oppressed people.
Quite shamefully, Richard Bagley, rather than admit to and celebrate the above, seeks to belittle the role and contemporary relevance of the builder of socialism and inspirer of the defeat of fascism, asserting that he is merely a “single, divisive individual” who “died sixty years ago”. A more clumsy, ignorant and painfully dismissive statement we could not expect to be confronted with in another 60 years!
Even the most crass of bourgeois historians could not be found guilty of such outstanding stupidity. Comrade Bagley, a titan of the international working-class movement, brushes aside the earth-shattering contribution of Josef Stalin in such a matter-of-fact way it almost leaves one breathless.
But whilst such craven capitulation to the troto-revisionist fraternity is really quite tragic, it is to be expected. For, perhaps unbeknown to our friends at Second Wave Publications, comrade Bagley is not the only titan running the show; he is but a mouthpiece for his bosses back at Ruskin House – Griffiths, Haylett and the whole bunch of similarly dismissive Khrushchevite mummies who occupy the leadership of the Communist Party of Britain.
This sour and ageing gentry long ago abandoned all fidelity to Marxism Leninism, taking themselves over to the side of social democracy with a zeal and enthusiasm, the magnitude of which can only be matched by their combined egos. Such anti-communist comments as those made by Mr Bagley furnish further proof, if any were needed, that the party of Harry Pollitt and Willie Gallacher is certainly not the party of Bagley, Haylett, Griffiths and co.
How can such men claim any allegiance to communism? Or, rather, how arethey able to convince the rest of their party that they stand in the tradition of the old CPGB? Are the members so insipid? Are they so in awe of their full-time officials? The statement by the illustrious editor of their paper could not be further from these words of Harry Pollitt: ”Stalin – the man who really believed in the working class and evoked from it all that creative genius and energy which has astounded the world for over 30 years and will do more so in the future.”
How poor Comrade Pollitt would hate to hear that the inheritors of the Daily Worker/Morning Star, rather than being inspired to further creative genius by the life work of Comrade Stalin, instead choose to skulk away, brushing him aside and doing their best to pretend that Stalin and Soviet socialism never existed!
It is not Stalin who has no relevance to the working class in its fight against austerity but Bagley and company. It is not Stalin who is divisive but Bagley and all the rest of the revisionists and Trotskyites who work so hard to keep every class-conscious worker tied to the imperialist Labour party and divided from their comrades-in-arms in the oppressed countries.
Bagley has absolutely nothing to teach us about the struggle against austerity and war. Rather, it is Stalin whose words ring out today, as clear, true and full of hope and promise as ever:
“Either place yourself at the mercy of capital, eke out a wretched existence as of old and sink lower and lower, or adopt a new weapon – this is the alternative imperialism puts before the vast masses of the proletariat. Imperialism brings the working class to revolution.”
—- Forwarded Message —– From: N Hill To: Richard Bagley Sent: Tuesday, 10 December 2013, 23:41 Subject: Stalin Commemorative Birthday Advertisement
You have censored an advertisement commemorating the birthday of Josef Stalin on the grounds that publication of the proposed half-page advertisement would ‘bring the paper into disrepute’.
I am interested to know how you arrived at this conclusion: was it based purely upon intuition or was it based upon factual evidence arising from some previous event? If the latter, please provide details.
Please provide me with some reason/s for your decision to censor the advertisement despite a fee and date of insertion having already been agreed with your advertising department some weeks before you made your decision (and then immediately departing for your holiday – leaving no time for an appeal to be made for you to reconsider).
You will be aware that a commemorative birthday advertisement was published in December last year without any problem so has there been a change of policy that has been kept secret from shareholders of the PPPS and the leadership of the Communist Party of Britain?
Norman Hill – in personal capacity
Secretary Morecambe Bay and Lancaster CPB,
Treasurer Northern District Committee CPB,
Communist Party member and Morning Star reader, supporter and promoter for 34 years.
From: N Hill To: Richard Bagley Sent: Friday, 13 December 2013, 9:39 Subject: Fw: Stalin Commemorative Birthday Advertisement
This is a second request for reasons leading you to conclude the advertisement would ‘bring the paper into disrepute’ and to subsequently censor it.
A response will be appreciated.
From: Richard Bagley To: N Hill Sent: Friday, 13 December 2013, 13:09 Subject: Re: Fw: Stalin Commemorative Birthday Advertisement
Apologies for the delay in replying to your email of December 10th but we are currently short-staffed at the paper.
I recognise your long-standing support for the paper so I welcome your request for more information on this issue.
As a long-term supporter you will be aware that each year PPPS members endorse the editorial link between the Morning Star and the Communist Party of Britain’s programme Britain’s Road to Socialism.
My role as editor, alongside many other responsibilities, is to ensure that the content of the paper reflects and assists the development of the strategy highlighted in that document, with the aim in the first instance of forging a popular democratic anti-monopoly alliance.
That is the central political role of the Morning Star as a daily newspaper with the historic and current goal of wide circulation.
Content destined for the paper’s pages cannot be allowed to fundamentally undermine this strategic objective.
The advert that you refer to does not pass this test.
I hope that this clarifies the issue.
Morning Star Editor
From: N Hill To: Richard Bagley Dear Editor,
I thank you for your reply and I am sorry to learn that the paper is short-staffed – I hope this is but a temporary situation.
I have always been aware of the editorial link between the paper and CBP’s programme, the BRS, and I fully acknowledge the paper’s invaluable work in helping to build a broad democratic alliance against multi-national monopoly capitalism – this is why I have purchased a daily copy since 1978, became a shareholder of the PPPS and why I have sought at every opportunity to sell and to promote the Morning Star despite periods of financial hardship and, sometimes, open hostility from not only the main class enemy but from members of the labour movement, too. So I am dissatisfied with your reply.
Please explain how publication of the proposed birthday commemoration advertisement would, in your opinion and based upon what evidence, ‘fundamentally undermine the paper’s strategic objective of reflecting and assisting the development of the strategy highlighted in the BRS and the paper’s aim of forging a popular democratic anti-monopoly alliance’ and how, precisely, it ‘does not pass this test’.
I am also curious to know why, when a date for insertion and fee had been agreed with your advertising department in early October, you only decided to ban its publication in early December (before immediately departing on holiday).
From: Richard Bagley To: N Hill Date: 13 December 2013 16:47:45 GMT Subject: Re: Fw: Stalin Commemorative Birthday Advertisement
I find it incredible that you are unable to see how the advert submitted would conflict with the paper’s primary goal of forging a popular anti-monopoly alliance. I have said all I am going to say on the matter.
With regards your second point, the advert was rejected when it was brought to my attention. It would appear highly unusual for a fee to be agreed three months early – and indeed, as I understand it, there was an attempt to secure space for the advert at a 30 per cent discount. I can see no reason why the paper would agree to offer such a large discount.
I can only assume that the individual approaching our advertising department was misled, or they have misled you.
From: N Hill
To: R Bagley
Two tragic bereavements in as many months have left me with little stomach for a war of words with you so I simply ask (for the third time), can you please explain why you were of the opinion that publication of the proposed half page advertisement commemorating the birthday of Josef Stalin would have ‘brought the paper into disrepute’ and subsequently prevented it from being printed? On what evidence did you base your opinion? And why was a commemorative advertisement accepted last year without any problem? If you were so concerned about upsetting the perceived fragile sensibilities of a section of the readership why could you not have printed a disclaimer to cover your own back?
These are straightforward questions and ones which I believe deserve a straight forward response. For example, it is not necessary for me to know that the question causes you astonishment or to be presented with the ethos of the Morning Star – which I have known for half my lifetime – or to read the Work Description of the editor of the paper; I just want non-pompous answers to my questions so I may confidently return to subscribing to, funding, and promoting the Morning Star in the knowledge that it is not being steered in a history-denying bourgeois direction.
From: Richard Bagley To: N Hill Date: 25 December 2013 13:58:23 GMT Subject: RE: Stalin Birthday Ad – Morning Star
I am sorry to hear about your recent bereavements and I hope this reply will not distress you further.
I have however no intention of engaging with your detailed interrogation on this issue.
If you choose to define your support for the paper in relation to this advert’s acceptance or not then that is your choice.
It appears, Norman, that you have made up your mind that the paper is a ‘history-denying’ and ‘bourgeois’ publication based on the non-publication of one advert related to a single, divisive individual from Soviet history who died 60 years ago. (Emphasis added by Second Wave)
I have explained why this decision was taken in the light of the very real class challenges that we face in the present, and our party’s strategic policy which requires maximum unity in the face of the worst onslaught on working-class people in 80 years and with no end in sight.
Assessment of Stalin’s legacy and contribution to Soviet history belongs in Communist Review not the pages of the Morning Star, a non-theoretical journal which has enough of the current to focus on without engaging in diversionary and abstract debates on events 60 years ago because it is some people’s peculiar obsession or at the heart of a few individuals’ political compass. (Emphasis added by Second Wave)
I don’t see how anything other than the advert’s publication would put your mind at rest.