Muddle at the Weekly Worker

Bob Smith - For a Permanent Party Polemic Committee

TO BE perfectly honest, there are no end of messes and muddles in the current CPGB organisation. Is it a party or is it not? Nobody is quite sure. Is it the legitimate successor to the old CPGB or something completely new? A very sensitive question. Is it still the old ‘Leninist’ faction of the CPGB or something else? And the muddles go on. Is it a centralist organisation or is it democratic centralist? Does it have an operative set of rules or doesn’t it? Again, nobody is really sure.

But of all the muddles there is none quite so messy as the Weekly Worker and its editorial board. Getting to the bottom of this particular muddle is not easy, least of all because the goal posts keep moving. Whether someone’s moving them or they just move all by themselves, I can’t say just for now. But move they do.

Take for example the signed articles in the paper. These were, we were assured, the views of the individuals themselves. And in the true spirit of multanimity, other party members (and non-members) were free to write in alternative views. But then it transpired in conversation that these signed articles weren’t simply an individual view but attempts to represent the line of the weekly political report.

That was news to this particular correspondent, particularly since I had no idea what weekly political report they were referring to. ‘Oh, you know - the bit at the end of the weekly London seminars.’ Gobsmacked, I believe, was the term in vogue last year. So that rambling, off-the-cuff monologue from a certain leading cadre was a PCC political report. I wonder if the comrades in Scotland, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds are aware of this fact? Do they get transcripts of the reports faxed to them or are only the London comrades so privileged? All this ‘reflecting the political report’ came out accidentally when some OP members ‘innocently’ asked the Weekly Worker editor what she meant by the ‘CPGB position’.

So if the signed articles are meant to reflect the PCC political report, what about the unsigned articles, particularly the front page article? Perhaps there’s a sub-committee of the Weekly Worker editorial team that they’ve forgotten to invite the OP reps to (But I must not engage in conspiracy theories - we just have to trust each other).

To put this muddle in another perspective: is the Weekly Worker the central organ of the CPGB or not? If it is, where are the editorial statements of the PCC? Shouldn’t it produce a weekly editorial which openly reflects the views of the current PCC? That way factions in the Party would have an opportunity of putting a different view. At the moment it’s a bit like, to use last week’s phrase, ‘chasing shadows’.

Of course all these muddles have a source. They stem from the fact that the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB is courageously attempting to establish a multanimous (non-ideological) communist party via a process of communist rapprochement. Having held a very definite view of the world, and still holding, perhaps to a lesser degree, a particular and coherent view, it is inevitable that all sorts of messy problems will crop up during the rapprochement process.

The best bet is to face each situation square on, drag it out into the open, give it a good airing, and see what can be sorted out. After all it’s easy to be critical. For example, readers may well ask: who the hell is Bob Smith, and just whose views does his column represent - his own, his faction, or the secretive world of the Open Polemic editorial board?  Communist rapprochement and the reforging of a multanimous communist party was never going to be without its contradictions.