A comedy of errors

Attempts to undertand the history of the CPGB and its leadership of the National Left Wing Movement in the 1920s are far from satisfactory, writes Lawrence Parker

Craving respectability: Ramsay MacDonald and Montagu Norman, governor of the Bank of England

From the early 1920s onwards the Labour right began a concerted effort to distance itself from the newly formed Communist Party of Great Britain. First that meant turning down CPGB attempts to become an affiliate organisation, then stopping CPGB members from standing as Labour candidates and then, finally, driving them out of the Labour Party altogether. Till then dual membership had been the norm. Many Constituency Labour Parties refused to go along with the witch hunting of communists and were, as a result, disaffiliated by the right-dominated bureaucratic machine. In 1925 a whole range of labour movement organisations came together to form the National Left Wing Movement in attempt to give coherence to the fight against the purge.

I am planning to write up the history of the NLWM in the near future. However, in the meantime, it is worthwhile debunking some of the previous interpretations of the movement that have been committed to print, here specifically, three not untypical representatives of the Trotskyist movement.

Militant Tendency

Let us begin first with the Militant Tendency - busy, in 1986, facing down a purge of its supporters in the Labour Party and, quite understandably, wanting to get to grips with the political dynamics of previous purges. Longstanding Militant activist Tony Aitman wrote an article - ‘Labour’s purge of the 1920s’ - in the same year.1 While we need to take cognisance of the fact that there is a limitation in what can be achieved in a comparatively short article, its framework for understanding the CPGB and the NLWM is quite pitiful.

We can start with the promising enough assertion that the expulsion “of communists from the Labour Party in 1925-1928 provides a number of lessons - and a warning to the right”.2 However, Aitman digs a moat filled with pale-pink water around any positive lessons that there might be. “Militant is a newspaper whose supporters represent a trend of opinion in the [Labour Party] - unlike the Communist Party of the [1920s,] which was a separate and distinct organisation.”3 On one level, this is delusional, given that Militant had its own separate and distinct organisation at the time; the fact that it was able to sustain its own weekly newspaper independent of Walworth Road (the former Labour Party HQ in south London) was obvious testimony to this. However, on another level, Aitman’s point here is useful, as he does at least suggest the difference between the NLWM and a more debased form of ‘entryism’ that has come to be associated with Trotskyism (although one can also find inflections in the CPGB’s work in the Labour Party in the late 1930s).

Militant felt it had to adapt itself to Labourism. This necessarily entailed a denial of its own independent existence as a specific formation with a distinct ideological and structural dynamic. The CPGB - although it occasionally seemed to want to give the impression that non-CPGBers were running the NLWM4 and was susceptible to definite ‘rightist’ pressures5 - did not deny its own distinct organisation. Indeed, that separateness was the precondition for initiatives such as the NLWM.

In terms of the development of the NLWM and the eventual departure of the CPGB from the Labour Party in 1929, Aitman says: “If the Communist Party had fought to retain the support and confidence of the rank and file of the Labour Party, there is no doubt that they would have won reinstatement and the National Left Wing Movement would have gained far greater momentum.”6 This line of dubious reasoning appears to be a part-import from the work of Brian Pearce (which will be discussed below) and a gee-up to the Militant troops on the receiving end.

Such wishful thinking simply ignores the conditions inside the Labour Party by late 1928 after three years of the right pushing back on the left. The disaffiliation of those Labour branches prepared to work with the NLWM meant that the bulk of its membership was precisely from those disaffiliated branches, removing communists from points of influence in the party proper. Judging from CPGB writings of the time, the future looked set to reveal the gradual disappearance of the NLWM. Reading between the lines of a thesis from the central committee called ‘Ourselves and the Labour Party’ from February 1928, you can see the CPGB essentially conceding that the NLWM was an organisation of communist sympathisers and, in some ways, a ‘shadow party’7. It certainly was not thought of as a genuine mass organisation in the labour movement or, in contradiction to Aitman, one that looked particularly likely to be a springboard for the reinstatement of CPGB members, supporters and sympathisers (this point is developed in relation to the work of Pearce below).

Aitman also states: “From the inception of the National Left Wing Movement, sections of the Communist Party were opposed to [the NLWM] in the most virulent, sectarian terms.”8 This is a confusion and conflation of a number of different elements. From foundation, the CPGB had a right wing more in favour of affiliation to the Labour Party (partly composed of former members of the British Socialist Party); and a left that was much more sceptical (this time partly composed of former members of the Socialist Labour Party). Further, the hyper-centralised conceptions of the party regime in the infamous ‘21 conditions’ agreed at the Comintern’s Second Congress in 1920, meant that the early CPGB eschewed positive conceptions of factionalism and was unable to formally concede notions of ‘unity in diversity’. When it took this culture into the Labour Party, opportunist adaptations and subsequent tacking to the left blighted the work of CPGB members.9 In other words, organisations that could not maintain ‘unity in diversity’ internally were very unlikely to be able to maintain it externally in the form of united fronts.

However, it is difficult to find the NLWM being denounced in “virulent” and “sectarian” terms from its inception and one suspects that Aitman is reading later third-period developments backwards. What one does find is figures such as Rajani Palme Dutt coming to a set of robust conclusions in projecting the CPGB’s future work with the Labour left, calling for “an unceasing ideological fight for our fundamental revolutionary conceptions and tasks, and a relentless warfare against every form of illusion and confusion that stands in the way of the advance of the working class”.10 However, this definite left stamp is not reducible to ‘sectarianism’, in that this standpoint is being advanced in the context of the CPGB “developing, organising and strengthening the left wing, and promoting its consolidation into a united opposition bloc, both in the Labour Party and in the trade unions on the basis of the class struggle”.11

Other than by illustrating an emphatic difference between Militant’s conception of ‘entryism’ and the work of the CPGB in the 1920s, Aitman’s trite musings are worse than useless in understanding the political dynamic of the NLWM.

Cliff and Gluckstein

In the second half of the 1980s, Tony Cliff and Donny Gluckstein of the Socialist Workers Party provided an analysis of the NLWM in the context of larger, book-length studies. However, the motive behind these accounts is problematic. Cliff and Gluckstein rather give the game away in their section on the NLWM in Marxism and trade union struggle: the general strike of 1926 (1986). At the end of the chapter, Cliff and Gluckstein make reference to a set of articles by CPGB member William Paul in early 1926 on the emerging NLWM. In one of them, Paul is quoted talking about a special joint conference of the Labour Party and trade unions to elect a future Labour prime minister and cabinet if the party were to be returned to power on a socialist programme. Clearly this is a rather eccentric idea, but Cliff and Gluckstein are more interested in drawing a parallel with the work of the SWP’s then opponents in the Militant Tendency: “Any resemblance [of Paul’s writing] to political organisations of the mid-1980s and their programmes is by no means accidental.”12

The method of Cliff and Gluckstein is therefore to differentiate the SWP from Militant. If Militant sees the NLWM largely as a repository of leftism, then Cliff and Gluckstein must see it as a repository of rightism. This is the disfiguring method of soap-powder brand differentiation, as opposed to that of historical investigation (with the rider that both tendencies have, down the years, seemed more prone to attracting stains than repelling them). This mess is compounded by the SWP’s ridiculous counterposition of ‘activity’, protest and the workplace to struggles inside political organisations; and Cliff’s notorious sleight of hand in regard to historical sources (Cliff is generally to historical veracity what Dave Lee Travis is to the project of women’s liberation).

Cliff and Gluckstein do, however, illustrate once more the difference between the CPGB’s work inside the Labour Party of the 1920s and the project of ‘entryism’:

Thus Trotskyists in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as the Socialist Review Group (the precursor of the Socialist Workers Party), used ‘entrism’ inside the Labour Party. This did not involve a public declaration of revolutionary intent, or insistence on official recognition of the right to free criticism and organisational autonomy. Such entrism had to be recognised as a tactic imposed by great weakness. As soon as it had served the purpose of helping revolutionaries to stand on their own feet, entrism had to be abandoned.13

In other words, entry into the Labour Party is only to be used in a process of sect coagulation rather than as a bolder attempt to shape the politics of the labour movement - a rather unambitious prospect, to say the least. But Cliff and Gluckstein suggest a different political dynamic for the NLWM, in that it “did not trim its sails to stay inside the party, because, unlike the Labour and trade union lefts, it was based on an independent political organisation with roots in the collective organisation of workers”.14 In general terms, that is true enough, but one suspects this has been maintained as a coded two fingers to the Militant Tendency, or at least to its public persona as a ‘hidden’ organisation in the 1980s.

Having read a fair amount of the primary sources around the NLWM, I have to say that I find the Cliff/Gluckstein account of its work thoroughly insensitive, presumably because most of this descriptive matter has to be routed through the false idea that it is only considering a rightist phenomenon. For example, they write:

[The NLWM’s] chief efforts were directed at getting detailed resolutions through Labour Party conference … abandonment of imperialism, diplomatic relations with the USSR … industrial policy: a minimum wage, a 44-hour week, workers’ control, nationalisation of all basic industries without compensation and the formation of a workers’ defence corps. This was followed by policy documents on ‘land and agriculture’, ‘unemployment’, ‘national and local finance’, ‘health and housing’, ‘local government’ and so on.15

This has been concocted to make it all sound as if it was merely an eclectic set of resolutions posed willy-nilly to Labour Party conferences (rather in the manner of traditional Labour lefts). It was no such thing. The headings that Cliff and Gluckstein have lifted above are actually taken from the programme of the National Left Wing Provisional Committee produced in 1926.16 The SWP has no interest in setting out its own political programme, but this becomes problematic when others are denied one, even when they had a programme as a matter of established historical fact! This particular programme was elaborated because the CPGB had identified the diffuse and weak nature of the Labour left and wanted, as JR Campbell said in 1925, “to crystallise this leftwing sentiment and associate with the people holding leftwing opinions, and endeavour to win them over to a complete communist position”.17 This is the very obverse of Cliff’s and Gluckstein’s idiotic guff about the NLWM “sustaining a reformist left within the Labour Party” and other such nonsense.18

Also, in the quote above there is the formulation: “This was followed by policy documents on ‘land and agriculture’, ‘unemployment’, ‘national and local finance’, ‘health and housing’, ‘local government’ and so on.”19 What this particular “and so on” leaves out, in another sleight of hand, is a set of political demands from the NLWM programme: full adult suffrage for both sexes; full political rights for soldiers, sailors, airmen, police and civil servants; and the abolition of the House of Lords and the monarchy. It is easy to see why this omission has been made (apart from the fact that acknowledging such demands raises up the whole issue of the healthy inheritance of political demands from the Second International).

Cliff and Gluckstein complain that the NLWM’s “vast range of policies [ie, its programme, the word that dare not speak its name], couched in worthy resolutions rather than designed for action, made it a sort of pseudo-revolutionary party in its own right”.20 Apparently, “it all depends on whether the demand helps mobilise the reformist rank and file or demobilises it. To be useful, it must be related to the consciousness of the rank and file”.21 But this is simply to ignore the process that the CPGB had gone through in the Labour Party in the period of Ramsay MacDonald’s first administration. It had found self-defined ‘lefts’, but it had seen through the trap of their mere mobilisationas lefts, at least in theory, as a dead end and advocated a bolder, more politicised, communist approach to differentiate left and right.

Hence, Tom Bell in September 1924 said: “There is undoubtedly a need to crystallise the left elements in the Labour Party and give them definite political direction. But that is not to be done at the expense of the Communist Party.”22 Or, as JT Murphy put it more starkly in early 1925, “The ‘left’ has either to move nearer to the Communist Party, identify itself boldly with the Minority Movement [in the trade unions], or be part and parcel of the MacDonald machine of imperialism.”23 In the analysis of Bell and Murphy, the mobilisation of the Labour left cannot be achieved by simply adapting to their consciousness; to do so merely courts defeat.

In fact, the arguments of Cliff and Gluckstein have a somewhat academic flavour, given that their expressed preference is for the reformist and localised Labour left, as against the national political struggle of the NLWM. In their words: “Poplarism [Poplar was the home to a ‘rates revolt’ and other struggles from 1921] was the one glimmer of light in the gloom of the left inside the Labour Party during the 1920s.”24 They add: “Until 1924 the activities of the Poplar Labour Party were not hindered by the general reformist beliefs they undoubtedly held.”25 This indicates an almost mystical addiction to the qualities of action worthy of Georges Sorel.

However, more seriously, CPGB writers such as Palme Dutt strongly implied in 1925, prior to the NLWM’s formation, that the overestimation of such local forces, whatever their inclination to protest, had only perpetuated the dominance of the Labour right:

The leftwing forces, however strong separately and locally, have not yet been able to unite in a common bloc or on a common programme. The various groups, tendencies, movements … are all dispersed. They have no common programme, and not the most rudimentary form of common organisation. In consequence the right wing is able to maintain its power.26

Cliff and Gluckstein, on the other hand, have ended up precisely back at the type of fragmented leftwing reformism that the CPGB had identified as useless for the furtherance of the struggle in the Labour Party.

This analysis reaches farcical levels when Cliff and Gluckstein discuss the Palme Dutt article quoted immediately above. They show Dutt stating the following:

The new revolutionary tasks, the revolutionary approach to the fundamental conceptions of state, democracy, war, the need of a revolutionary mass party - these are not yet understood. And until they begin to be understood the left wing beats against the wall of its own limits. These limits must be broken down … To raise the left wing to revolutionary consciousness - this is the supreme task.27

And: “The development of the left wing is not only the key to the development of the Communist Party; the development of the Communist Party is also the key to the development of the left wing.”28 Amazingly, Cliff and Gluckstein posit this as an example of the “distance the party had travelled” in “giving way in political terms to left reformism”!29 It is particularly nonsensical to apply this to Dutt, who by early 1925 had swung to the left and suggested the era of Labour Party domination was coming to an end.30 The May 1925 article was precisely Dutt trying to impress the strongest communist stamp possible on the Labour left. That is why Dutt wrote in what Cliff and Gluckstein call “very radical terms”, but, of course, they do not explain why he, as a ‘reformist’, wrote in this manner.

Directly after the above quotes from the Dutt article, Cliff and Gluckstein engage in another sleight of hand. They write:

The successful overthrow of capitalism in Britain will need the mass of leftwing Labour supporters to be won to revolutionary ideas. But this cannot be done by seeking to become a permanent faction in an organisation dedicated irrevocably to winning power through parliament.31

This, presumably, is meant to unpick Dutt’s ‘radicalism’. However, one only has look at the piece to realise that the idea of Dutt, of all people, wishing the CPGB to become a permanent faction of the Labour Party is ridiculous. How otherwise can we explain Dutt’s injunction (previously quoted above) for “unceasing ideological fight for our fundamental revolutionary conceptions and tasks, and a relentless warfare against every form of illusion and confusion that stands in the way of the advance of the working class”?32 Only on Planet Cliff could that possibly be read as the words of someone committed to a permanent relationship with the Labour Party.

Rightism and rightist pressures certainly existed inside the NLWM and took various forms, some of which Cliff and Gluckstein are able to locate, but they were not the simple outcome of a revolutionary organisation working inside a broader reformist formation. Rather, they were part of a generalised CPGB pattern of right-left flip-flopping, as the organisation embarked on united front work under the conditions of the hyper-centralised party formation envisaged by the Comintern. Cliff and Gluckstein, however, can only abstract one facet of ‘rightism’ from this process, so that the SWP can appear ‘left’ in relation to the Militant Tendency of the 1980s; their work is profoundly useless for understanding the NLWM’s real dynamics.

Brian Pearce

Brian Pearce’s analysis is of a fundamentally different order to the previous two examples. In April 1957, Pearce (writing as ‘Joseph Redman’) produced a pamphlet (written the previous year) called The British Communist Party and the Labour left, 1925-1929 under the imprint of The Reasoner - a journal set up by CPGB dissidents Edward Thompson and John Saville.33

Pearce was in the process of breaking from the CPGB and moving towards Trotskyism, in the shape of Gerry Healy’s Socialist Labour League.34 Bringing up the history of the CPGB’s historical flip-flops on the Labour Party - in this instance the shift from organising the NLWM to the sectarian politics of the third period in the late 1920s, under the influence of Moscow - in the context of the party’s crisis following the events of 1956, was dynamite. It was a further embarrassment to the CPGB leadership, in that its 1951 programme, The British road to socialism, was effectively the CPGB writing a programme for the Labour left. Dredging up old episodes of communists calling Labour members ‘social fascists’ only a few years after it was organising alongside them was definitely not welcome, despite its historical veracity.

Clearly, Pearce was much more enthusiastic about the NLWM than the writers considered above. He appears to be implying from his narrative that the movement was a successful one, on an upward trajectory. He tells us that the Sunday Worker “claimed a circulation approaching 100,000”35 and that at the National Left Wing conference of December 1925 it was reported that “nearly a hundred divisional and borough Labour parties” had defied the decision of the Labour Liverpool conference in October 1925 to start disqualifying communists as members.36 When the Labour leadership started disaffiliating those parties that had defied the leadership, “this only intensified the conviction of the members affected that something like the [NLWM] was needed”.37 Pearce says that the betrayal of the General Strike “gave a further fillip to the new trend”.38 During 1927, the NLWM “assumed increasingly organised form” and began to garner trade union support.39 By the September 1928 conference “provincial representation in particular was better than it had been in either of the previous conferences”.40 And so on.

Pearce has a broader viewpoint with which to back up his positive impressions:

There were large numbers of Labour Party supporters who were becoming disgusted with the policy of their leaders and who were desirous of changing both policy and leaders in the direction of militancy and a socialist programme but who … did not themselves agree with all of the Communist Party’s ideas … and they did not want to join its ranks. The [NLWM] served as a bridge between the [CPGB] and wide, leftward-moving sections of the working class.41

Again, a basically correct formulation, but one that obviously steers clear of the difficulties that the NLWM was in by 1928.

Thus, for example, Pearce talks about a ‘majority thesis’ of the CPGB central committee published in February 1928, in relation to the purge of communists. He partly paraphrases: “The extent to which the efforts of the reactionaries to exclude the communists had already succeeded should not be exaggerated; communists could still get onto the controlling bodies of local Labour parties as trade union delegates.”42 It is perfectly true that the majority thesis was arguing for a continuation of the CPGB’s organisational and electoral tactics. However, it did note a lot of problems in connection with this work that Pearce chooses to ignore. For example, since the exclusion and disaffiliation of CPGB and NLWM members from the Labour Party had begun, “The work of communists within the Labour Party is undoubtedly becoming more difficult.”43 In relation to the NLWM, “there are still many important areas where this work is receiving insufficient attention. Given this attention, a genuine mass, leftwing opposition in the Labour Party is possible in the near future.”44 Reading between the lines, it was being suggested that the NLWM was not in fact a genuine mass, leftwing opposition in the Labour Party.

While it is true that the central committee thesis did state that communists could still get onto the controlling bodies of local Labour parties as trade union delegates (ie, they could attend general management committee meetings and conferences to select parliamentary candidates, which is actually how the thesis describes this), but it also noted a number of significant changes since the mid-1920s. CPGB members could now not run as Labour candidates without the sanction of the right leadership or enter Labour openly; a CPGB trade unionist could not sit on the executive of a divisional or local Labour body; and no CPGB trade unionist could go from a local Labour Party as a delegate. The only route to national conference for CPGB members was through their trade unions.45 So, as one can see from his partial selection from this document, Pearce was very clearly trying to deflect attention from the difficulties surrounding the disaffiliations and purges that the CPGB documented at some length.

On one level, I think this is the situation of 1956-57 talking. Pearce is discussing a radical shift to third-period sectarianism (and there is a definite historical truth in Pearce’s heavy implication that the stage of the NLWM was much more healthy than what followed). To make that shift appear as abrupt and senseless as possible (ie, as a baseless flip-flop), I think he falls into a trap of painting the NLWM white against the impending black of third-period sectarianism. It is more dramatic that way and would have had more impact on a CPGB in turmoil; but it cannot do justice to the actual history of the NLWM, which was stunted in its development by the Labour right’s purges, with much of its membership siloed off into a nowhere land of disaffiliated parties.

There is also another, more complicated issue that may or may not have impacted upon Pearce’s presentation, but is worth discussing in any case. That is the drawing upon the writings of those such as RP Dutt and JT Murphy, who by 1928 had read the smoke signals from Moscow and had developed a sectarian strain in their politics (this left trend is identified by Pearce in his essay). The argument could run that, because they had decided on a different political course, then anything they wrote on the NLWM and difficulties in the Labour Party was inevitably jaundiced by the nature of their position.

It would be a significant mistake to take this approach. As we have seen, the majority of the central committee, who, in 1928, wanted to continue work in the Labour Party, were not shy of declaring problems with the work of the NLWM. JR Campbell, part of this central committee majority, points out in relation to the Labour Party’s 1927 Blackpool conference that the “left wing fought from a disadvantageous position, not on its own resolutions, but against the resolutions of the bureaucracy”.46 Similarly, another supporter of the majority in early 1928, Andrew Rothstein, was calling for a “sharpening [of] the fight against reformism of every shape or colour” and raising up a familiar litany of problems in relation to the NLWM of a lack of criticism of the Labour right and a passivity in terms of its organisation.47

It would also be an error to disparage the comments of the CPGB’s left concerning the difficulties of the NLWM’s functioning simply on the basis of their fealty to Moscow. Rather, the accuracy or otherwise of their comments should be judged against the generalised critique that the CPGB was making of the NLWM, which, in turn, was a reflection of the right making a difficult terrain for communists in the Labour Party. For example, JT Murphy’s claim in late 1928 that the NLWM “would die in a fortnight if the party ceased to support it”48 was highly questionable, given that there was a layer of left-Labourite non-communists in the organisation looking to the CPGB for leadership (judging from the debate in the Sunday Worker, as the CPGB liquidated the NLWM in March 1929).

However, this did not stop Murphy coming up with some more interesting criticisms of the NLWM’s development. Looking specifically at the issue of representing the local parties that had been disaffiliated by the right, he said:

The [NLWM] … takes a new direction, and becomes the means of winning the local Labour parties to the now disaffiliated parties. This is the logic of the fight [it is] now waging in the national Labour Party.49

Similarly, Murphy’s complaint that, as a consequence of the right’s offensive, the NLWM was unable to apply any genuine united front tactic was also plausible l50

Notes

1. T Aitman, ‘Labour’s purge of the 1920s’ Militant April 18 1986.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. See CPGB London District Committee Trades Council and Labour Party Department Bulletin, January 1 1926.

5. The examples of this are far too numerous to list here. See ‘Rattling the Labour right’ Weekly Worker October 13 2016 for a brief summary.

6. T Aitman, ‘Labour’s purge of the 1920s’ Militant April 18 1986.

7. ‘Ourselves and the Labour Party: thesis of the central committee of the CPGB’ The Communist February 1928.

8. T Aitman, ‘Labour’s purge of the 1920s’ Militant April 18 1986.

9. For numerous examples, see L Parker, ‘Too close for comfort’ Weekly Worker May 19 2016.

10. RP Dutt, ‘The Glasgow congress and the problems of the left wing’ Workers’ Weekly May 29 1925.

11. Ibid.

12. T Cliff and D Gluckstein Marxism and trade union struggle: the general strike of 1926 London 1986, p149.

13. T Cliff and D Gluckstein The Labour Party: a Marxist history London 1988, p108fn.

14. Ibid p148.

15. Ibid p113.

16. See National Left Wing Provisional Committee The Left Wing: its programme and activities London 1926.

17. ‘Towards a mass party’ Workers’ Weekly January 16 1925, my emphasis.

18. T Cliff and D Gluckstein The Labour Party: a Marxist history London 1988, p114.

19. Ibid p113.

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid p114.

22. T Bell, ‘The united front: some questions and answers’ Communist Review September 1924.

23. JT Murphy, ‘Where is Labour’s opposition?’ Communist Review January 1925.

24. T Cliff and D Gluckstein The Labour Party: a Marxist history London 1988, p126.

25. Ibid p128.

26. RP Dutt, ‘The Glasgow congress and the problems of the left wing’ Workers’ Weekly May 29 1925.

27. Ibid; and T Cliff and D Gluckstein Marxism and trade union struggle: the general strike of 1926 London 1986, p146. Cliff and Gluckstein wrongly date this article as May 28 1925.

28. Ibid.

29. T Cliff and D Gluckstein Marxism and trade union struggle: the general strike of 1926 London 1986, p146.

30. See RP Dutt, ‘British working class after the elections’ The Communist International No8 (new series), February 1925.

31. T Cliff and D Gluckstein Marxism and trade union struggle: the general strike of 1926 London 1986, p146.

32. RP Dutt, ‘The Glasgow congress and the problems of the left wing’ Workers’ Weekly May 29 1925.

33 See www.marxists.org/archive/pearce/1957/04/cpgb-labour-left.htm.

34. For an excellent introduction to Pearce in these years, see J McIlroy, ‘A communist historian in 1956: Brian Pearce and the crisis of British Stalinism’ Revolutionary History Vol 9. No3.

35. B Pearce, ‘The Communist Party and the Labour left 1925-1929’ in B Pearce and M Woodhouse A history of communism in Britain London 1995, p185.

36. Ibid.

37. Ibid.

38. Ibid.

39. Ibid p186.

40. Ibid p190.

41. Ibid p187.

42. Ibid p188.

43. ‘Ourselves and the Labour Party: thesis of the central committee of the CPGB’ The Communist February 1928. Pearce wrongly suggests this article comes from Communist Review, which appears to have ended publication in 1927, its successor being The Communist.

44. Ibid.

45. Ibid.

46. JR Campbell, ‘The Blackpool conference: dropping socialism to win votes’ The Communist November 1927.

47. A Rothstein, ‘The Left Wing in 1928’ Labour Monthly January 1928.

48. JT Murphy, ‘Is there a “right” danger in our party?’ The Communist November 1928.

49. JT Murphy, ‘Ourselves and the Labour Party: our party, its election tactics and its relations to the Labour Party’ The Communist March 1928.

50. Ibid.