Central committee business...

Bob Smith - For a Permanent Party Polemic Committee

IN THE midst of all the excitement surrounding the Socialist Labour Party, and in particular the joint discussions and activities between the ‘Leninists’ and the ‘Militants’, it may seem inappropriate for Open Polemic comrades to turn their attention to internal CPGB matters. Surely this is a time to look outwards, to leave aside internecine struggles that beset any revolutionary party and, in the words of one leading Leninist, “seize the historic moment”. Surely this is a time to sit on any reservations one might have concerning the leadership. We think not!

It is precisely when revolutionary politics quickens its pace, when would-be communist politicians are thrust forward into unexpected negotiations, it is precisely at this time that the rank and file party members need to take a long, hard look at their leaders.

Bob Smith’s got a nasty suspicious streak, some readers might say. But given our long collective history of leader centralism masquerading as democratic centralism, who can blame him? And after all, the Open Polemic comrades do advocate a Permanent Party Polemic Committee, a kind of democracy watchdog for a future party. So if the Open Polemic comrades don’t take up these prickly inner-party questions, they very well may not be taken up at all. And remember this, readers, prior to the OP comrades setting up shop in the CPGB, the Leninist faction had a monopoly on political direction. Those that didn’t like the way things got done felt they had no other option than to leave.

Of course, everything is different in these enlightened days of full factional rights, but all the same it is worth remembering that central committee business is everybody’s business. Now let’s get down to specifics.

Our esteemed leadership, in its full wisdom, has taken it upon itself to decree the newly established IWCA (Independent Working Class Association) a non-starter. Justification for this? Some formulations in the IWCA launch leaflet are not to its liking. Of course, before coming to this decision there were wide-ranging discussions across the Party branches, culminating in a vote at a Party aggregate. Not a bit of it. No Party discussion, no reflection, no alternative plans. No, in true leader centralist mode, the whole IWCA is shunted right off the agenda. A good thing too, because it must be bloody embarrassing to have an avowedly anti-labour association popping up at the very time when you’re engaged in heaven-sent discussions with Militant Labour over the SLP. Opportunism? Not a whiff of it!

When all this was dragged up by some OP comrades at a branch meeting we were told we were perfectly free to raise the matter at the forthcoming Party aggregate. Sounds perfectly reasonable. But think about it. The PCC has already decreed on the matter, so when the OP comrades raise the question at the aggregate, once again we find ourselves in an invidious position of taking on the leadership. The rest of the Leninist supporters dismiss our arguments as yet more sniping from the OP reps. The whole debate takes on a ‘them and us’ character when really what is required is a calm, all round discussion about how the organisation should approach the IWCA project without prejudicing our SLP work. “Let there be light - let the membership know everything”, I think, were the exact words of VI Lenin.

We can only hope that as the initial euphoria of the SLP recedes and a more sober estimation of what is possible prevails, our esteemed leadership might find it in their wisdom to reopen the IWCA file and debate it openly with a more positive outlook, if for no other reason than a forum for communist rapprochement with the RCG, CAG and Partisan. OP wants the CPGB to affiliate to the IWCA despite our reservations concerning the Moment of truth leaflet. We’ll be putting up a resolution to this effect at the forthcoming aggregate and we trust members will listen to the arguments on their merit and not be unduly swayed by the premature pronouncements of the PCC.