Lamb dressed as mutton

Lawrence Parker reviews 'A centenary for socialism: Britain’s Communist Party 1920-2020' by the Communist Party of Britain, edited by Mary Davis

The Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain had a relatively busy 2020, at least in the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. Given that the Comintern-affiliated Communist Party of Great Britain had been founded in 1920, the CPB engaged in some socially distanced activity to indulge itself in a masquerade that it was celebrating ‘its’ 100-year anniversary.

In reality, the CPB was parading a less-than-momentous 32 years of existence. When the CPB was founded in 1988, it was common parlance among the rest of the CPGB’s factions that the former was a split - and a pretty ignominious one at that. Even the CPB’s initial leadership conceded publicly that its enterprise was not universally popular among its target audience of CPGB trade unionists and oppositionists (more on this below). The CPGB itself was not formally liquidated until 1991.

So, the CPB is not the party in any sense. Like most other groups on the far left, the CPB exists as a faction that presents itself as a party and could not be said to contain an important part of the advanced section of the working class - as the old CPGB did up until around the early 1980s. This is not to say that the CPB is nothing. It was a CPB-approved strategy - one inherited from the old CPGB - that informed the recent disastrous conciliatory stance of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. (More specifically, Corbyn advisors Andrew Murray and Seumas Milne were involved in an old CPGB faction, Straight Left, which shared some antecedents with the CPB; with Murray latterly being a lapsed CPB member.) However, it is important from the outset to recognise that 2020 was a pretend anniversary for the CPB, in the sense of something younger trying to look much older. Or lamb dressed as mutton, if you prefer something pithy.

This leads us on to this nicely designed book, edited and overseen by CPB veteran, professor Mary Davis, which seeks to celebrate those ‘100’ years. The design masks a lack of proper proofreading in parts of the text and a thematic presentation (essentially this is a collection of essays) leads to a set of repetitions that become wearing, as one proceeds. The quality of these essays is also highly uneven (the ones by Graham Stevenson on the post-war economy and close-combat veteran Nick Wright on the CPGB’s print culture, for example, are particularly poor) and it is easy to imagine this book losing 100 of its 300-plus pages and being none the worse for it. This undercooked venture, then, has all the signs of a project rushed through to meet a deadline.

Policing operation

The sense of haste also feeds through into Davis’s opening mea culpa:

A history of the Communist Party from 1920-2020 is long overdue. This book is not it. It doesn’t even pretend to complete the work started by James Klugmann and Noreen Branson [‘official’ historians of the CPGB] who between them charted the party’s history up to 1951 (p1).

She also sets out her requirement that chapters “avoid academic jargon and style, but not at the expense of intellectual rigour” and that “footnotes and endnotes have been excluded or kept to a bare minimum” (ibid). This complaint against unspecified academic histories is repeated through the book.

Wright argues that, for anyone wanting to understand the CPGB’s print efforts, Klugmann is “essential” and Branson “helpful” (Branson was engaged by the Eurocommunist CPGB leadership and thus more suspect to the likes of Wright). He adds: “All subsequent volumes are compromised by factional bias or a detached and essentially anti-communist academicism and cannot be relied upon” (p196). CPB general secretary Rob Griffiths boasts that “most academic studies” have been removed from his list of further reading (p114).

This, then, is a policing operation to shepherd younger readers away from large amounts of critical material on the history of the CPGB; Griffiths, an individual, to his credit, obviously fascinated by this history, will have read most of it, but will not expound such rationality to the rank and file of his organisation.

But we need to go deeper into this cluster of threadbare prejudices to understand what it means for A centenary for socialism. The CPB’s preference for Klugmann and Branson is no accident. Klugmann (writing in the 1960s and covering only the first six years of the CPGB) established the method then followed by Branson (writing in the 1980s and 1990s; covering 1927-51 in the party’s history): avoid lengthy polemical arguments with other historians; downplay controversial areas; and do not try and extrapolate too much from the facts.1 Klugmann was not completely uncritical of the early CPGB, given that the party of these years was suspect to the leadership in the 1960s due to the revolutionary tone of the 1920s; rather, the era of popular frontism of the mid-1930s was seen to be the party’s real foundational point.2 And, because the CPGB of the 1920s is far to the left of the contemporary CPB, John Ellison picks this up in A centenary for socialism, stating that the early CPGB was not “fully fit for purpose” (p9) - code for ‘not reformist like the CPB’.

Klugmann and Branson are being elevated in the pantheon of CPGB historians because they were ‘safe’: they were writing under the aegis of a right-centrist leadership that was anxious about the past and intent on presenting the CPGB as an organic part of the British labour movement and not unduly dependent on the Soviet Union. Klugmann was also a thoroughly toxic figure beyond the CPGB due to his authorship of the execrable From Trotsky to Tito (1951). It says a lot about the CPB and this book that they are inclined towards a relative veneration of such historians.

Allied to this is a misleading CPB conception about much of the academic material. I do not have space to go into this complicated subject here, but the problem with a lot of the material produced when CPGB history was fashionable in the aftermath of the party’s collapse was how much of it simply repeated the shoddy myths that the CPGB wove around its own history, particularly on issues such as popular frontism.3

‘Party of a new type’

But Mary Davis might object to this argument that the CPB is in any sense uncritical of the CPGB’s history, given that she says the current volume “does not turn a blind eye to the difficult periods in our history” (p1); it has been marketed as a ‘warts-and-all’ account. Given the amount of skeletons in the CPGB’s closet, this was obviously a necessity.

Exactly why this professed critical aim can never be operable is given away by Davis herself in the concluding chapter. She says: “As an old party, even after 100 years’ existence [sic], we still need to be ‘a party of a new type’” (pp278-79). This concept, despite being practically shared with many Trotskyists, is not a neutral one, being posited in the 1938 Stalin-supervised Short course, where the history of the RSDLP had an ideological makeover into the supposed progression of a monolithic and over-centralised ‘Bolshevism’. This is a transparently false narrative that has practical consequences.

The CPB’s recent response to the Labour Party after the 2015 Corbyn influx veered between opportunism (arguing that any criticisms of Corbyn had to be highly circumscribed4) and sectarianism, whereby it declined to enter any of its forces into Labour (despite that being common practice in the CPGB of the 1920s and 1930s) in order to keep its own frail craft afloat. Such outcomes are historically rooted in the ‘party of a new type’, in that organisations that cannot truly countenance ‘unity in difference’ in terms of internal factions, platforms and so on are always pushed externally into closing ranks with forces to their political right. This gives rise to periodic bouts of sectarianism, as the ‘party’ then struggles to maintain the boundaries of its groupthink after such opportunist intervention. So Davis can herself talk about the CPB’s desire for self-criticism and its need to address reformism and sectarianism in the CPGB’s history, but the uncritical use of an ideological vector such as ‘the party of a new type’ precludes such criticism in anything other than a very perfunctory fashion.

The practical consequences of this ‘uncritical criticism’ are shown in a chapter by Griffiths entitled ‘Party crises, recovery and re-establishment’ (pp92-115). The author looks at the fall-out of 1956, where the CPGB was rocked by the revelations of Khruschev’s speech on Stalin’s cult of personality and by the Soviet invasion of Hungary later in the year. Griffiths acknowledges that these took their toll on the CPGB, which lost just short of 10,000 members and 14,000 readers of the Daily Worker in a couple of years. He also overcomes one of the CPGB’s old myths that it was only ‘middle class intellectuals’ who left the party: the exodus included a number of trade union leaders and many thousands of working class activists (he focuses on the former: see p96).

Griffiths concedes that by the end of 1956 “a deep divide had opened up across the party at every level” (p95). But the author can extract no real lessons from this, and we are left with the bare facts of 1956 - ultimately smoothed away into the recognition that “the CP survived, old loyalties prevailed, party and Young Communist League campaigns continued and the situation in Hungary stabilised” (p96). The struggle went on, in other words. Griffiths argues:

That different views exist within a party is, in itself, not unusual. For communists, where these differences are openly debated and resolved in the interests of the working class and the struggle for socialism, they are often positively healthy (p92).

Of course, a healthy outcome cannot be argued in relation to 1956 (and Griffiths does not appear to suggest that 1956 was a particularly edifying experience), because the CPGB’s bureaucratic centralism could not contain ongoing political differences: open debate was conducted on the leadership’s terms, and slanted accordingly, leading to a factional rebellion in the form of The Reasoner journal and then an angry exodus.

Griffiths, despite an appreciation that political differences are somewhat inevitable, like Davis, is an advocate of a distinctly non-factional ‘party of a new type’; he has no alternative to the pig-headed functioning of the CPGB’s leadership in 1956 and the bare fact of the party’s survival. This empirical method explains nothing and does not even begin to help conceptualise the essentially tortured nature of the CPGB’s last three decades.

In Tom Sibley’s chapter, ‘Spain: the fight against fascism’ (pp23-33), this empiricist mask slips somewhat, and the author appears keen to engage with critics of the CPGB’s record during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. In particular, Sibley takes exception to Tom Buchanan’s Britain and the Spanish Civil War (1997) and Ken Loach’s film Land and freedom (1995). This illustrates why, in general, the CPB is keen to avoid engaging at length with political critics of the CPGB’s history: when it does, it begins to sound like an unreconstructed Stalinist outfit. Therefore, Sibley argues in relation to the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), which was brutally persecuted by the Stalinists, that

... recently opened archive material [unattributed by Sibley] shows that the insurrection [the 1937 Barcelona May Days] was planned months in advance and that the dissident anarchists and POUM put their sectarian and disruptive demands above the requirements of the national struggle to defeat fascism (p30).

These are now minoritarian and disreputable arguments on the British left and you can see why. Sibley adds:

Many of the accusations made against the POUM, particularly that of being fascist agents, were over the top or downright lies. But what cannot be gainsaid is that the POUM’s actions were a betrayal of the [Spanish] Republic and a gift to the fascists (ibid).

So, the POUM was not fascist, but “heavily infiltrated by fascist agents” (ibid). Ultimately, Sibley is reaching the tortured conclusion that the POUM was fascist in terms of outcome; but he also knows that directly calling it that is unacceptable and damaging to the CPB’s ‘broad-left’ credibility.

He lingers too long over the CPGB’s critics and would have done better to follow the general method of this tome: offer up the barest facts and get out quick, before a reader can demand any awkward extrapolations!

CPB splitters

The travails of this book reach rock bottom when we come to the account by Griffiths of the party’s “re-establishment”. What he is actually talking about is the 1988 split conducted by a CPGB faction around the Morning Star, the Communist Campaign Group, which eventually became the CPB. Griffiths, within the overall empiricist and defensive parameters of this work, records a couple of interesting points.

In summer 1983, the Eurocommunist-led executive committee of the CPGB, dissatisfied with the opposition shown by Morning Star editor Tony Chater (previously a grey, right-centrist CPGB bureaucrat; a veritable patron saint of paper clips) to attacks by Marxism Today on trade unionists, proposed a recommended list for the People’s Press Printing Society management committee. The PPPS was set up by the CPGB in 1945 to ensure party control over the then Daily Worker, although it was technically a self-governing cooperative established to insulate the party from lawsuits. In practice, it had always been subordinate to the CPGB and, as Griffiths records, the majority of its shareholders were communists (p103).5

Griffiths says that in response to the CPGB leadership’s recommended list, the existing management committee “protested that a ‘body outside the PPPS’ was seeking control of the paper - a reference that may have been technically correct, but was also unprecedented in its hostility” (ibid). By undermining the idea that the Morning Star was a CPGB paper, Chater made a grave tactical blunder with this statement, alienating many in the opposition to the Eurocommunists. Griffiths echoes the thoughts of former CPGB industrial organiser Bert Ramelson, who, while strongly critical of the CPGB EC’s handling of the affair, felt “the description of the CP as an ‘outside’ body … had been politically inept, as well as inaccurate, except in the narrowest, literalist way”.6 Griffiths also notes that the CPB’s second congress in 1989 voted, against the recommendation of its leadership, by 99 votes to 59 to hold a “consultative conference on communist unity” with communists outside the CPB (p111), including the New Communist Party (NCP), founded back in 1977.7

What these apparently unconnected facts, quickly brushed over by Griffiths, point to, is the reality of the narrow base of the CPB in 1988 after Chater had alienated many potential supporters in 1983. It was fundamentally composed of individuals and small knots of former CPGB members. At best, it won only one CPGB district, West Middlesex, although this was later contested by opponents.8 The ‘official’ CPGB journal, 7 Days, reporting on the CPB’s foundation congress, said: “The congress leadership could only claim to have won the adherence of one of the CP’s industrial advisories (and that a district rather than a national one).”9

The CPB had even seemingly alienated some of the bigger trade union names on the Morning Star management committee and in the PPPS - ie, on what should have been home turf. These included expelled CPGB members such as Ken Gill, general secretary of TASS (later MSF) and a TUC general council member, and Terry Marsland of the Tobacco Workers’ Union. Neither of these individuals joined the CPB in 1988 and seemingly became opponents in the immediate aftermath of the breakaway.10

The CPB’s initial leadership was aware that the circumstances of its foundation were less than ideal. Thus Chater, speaking at the 1988 congress and shortly to go on the CPB’s first EC, frankly admitted:

There are many comrades opposed to the revisionists, including some who have been expelled [from the CPGB], who still have reservations about the re-establishment process we are initiating. We want to continue discussions with them and continue working with them. We reject all sectarianism and labelling.11

Unlike now, when the CPB tries to simply pass itself off as the same organisation as the old ‘official’ CPGB, in its early days it was much more cautious. Thus, for example, a pamphlet issued in 1990 said: “The CPB is now clearly the inheritor of the traditions of the 70 years of struggle of the Communist Party in Britain” (my emphasis).12 In other words, the CPB was not thought to be the party in an absolutist sense.

In partly recognising that Chater queered his pitch with many CPGB members and that the CPB splitters voted for unity talks with the NCP (by that point a frankly loopy organisation), Griffiths hints at a recognition that the CPB split of 1988 was intensely problematic. He, after all, was no big mate of Mike Hicks, the CPB’s first general secretary, or Chater.13 But to grasp such a recognition too firmly would, of course, pose deep existential questions for his faction. Therefore, we have to convict Griffiths of avoiding some difficult questions for the CPB, despite the promises of his editor.

If this book is guilty of empiricism, then it is, in places, a very restrained empiricism with clear limitations on what can and cannot be addressed.

Stalin and the BRS

The omissions in other parts of this work are downright peculiar, given that the CPB would have surely realised there was no way that they would not be noticed. Thus Kenny Coyle (like Griffiths, one of the more astute and better-read individuals in the CPB) contributes a strange chapter on The British road to socialism (BRS) - first adopted as a programme by the CPGB in 1951 (pp218-31).

This programme was always controversial among the various shades comprising the CPGB’s left because of its advocacy of a parliamentary road to socialism and reliance on a coalition of left Labour and communist MPs to initiate the first stages of socialism - intrinsically blind to the existential predicament of a Labour left forever tied to the Labour right and thus to the capitalist establishment. Griffiths - himself partly a product of that CPGB left - was, of course, anti-BRS himself in the 1980s, although he eventually made peace with it after joining the CPB in the late 1980s. Previously, the reformist BRS of 1951-52 had been contemptuously dismissed by Griffiths and his co-thinkers as “British special pleading for abandoning the very principle of [the] dictatorship of the proletariat”.14 The CPB adopted a version of the BRS in 1989, renaming it Britain’s road to socialism in 2000.

Coyle presents a number of antecedents for the BRS of 1951, in particular a 1949 document, ‘The socialist road for Britain’ (p223). He adds: “This first BRS is also notable for drawing on the experience of socialist revolutions outside the Soviet Union” (p224). Coyle refers to the concept of ‘people’s democracy’ then current in eastern Europe, although this was dropped by the CPGB in 1958 due to the term’s unpleasant connotations with secret-police dictatorships. For the attentive, Coyle’s methodology has more than a passing similarity with that of Klugmann (him again), when the latter was writing about the antecedents of the BRS in 1977. He referenced influences from Dimitrov (Bulgaria), Gomułka (Poland), Gottwald (Czechoslovakia) and Thorez (France), alongside a more ritualised reference to Harry Pollitt’s Looking ahead (1947).15

What is missing in these accounts is the fact that the BRS was drawn up by the CPGB’s leadership under the supervision of Stalin. This was frankly admitted by former CPGB general secretary John Gollan in 1964:

A number of communist parties at the time, including the CPSU, showed considerable interest in what we were thinking when we were drafting The British road. The main ideas advanced in the programme, particularly that of the possibility of peaceful transition in Britain, were discussed in detail in conversations Harry Pollitt had with Stalin at the time, who approved fully of our approach.16

Gollan was aiming this comment deliberately at the CPGB’s Maoist left, which combined a dislike for the ‘reformist’ BRS with an admiration of Stalin. Griffiths did much the same thing when Pollitt and Stalin’s correspondence had come to light in 2007. Speaking to the CPB’s 2008 congress, Griffiths took aim at Harpal Brar’s various groups (who also share a combination of dislike for the BRS and veneration of Stalin):

In the post-war world, as the Labour government aligned Britain with US imperialism, Nato and the cold war, our party drew up its new programme, The British road to socialism … Today, we know much more about the role of Stalin in proposing some of its contents. This is not an embarrassment for us, although it might be for those ultra-revolutionaries [ie, Harpal Brar] who seek to revive a Stalin cult - and find that he broadly endorsed a programme they have been denouncing for years as reformist class treachery.17

While this may not have been an embarrassment in 2008, it appears to be something of an embarrassment now, particularly when the facts are not in dispute. While Stalin’s role in the BRS is not internally embarrassing for the CPB (indeed, I suspect the OGPU secret police fan-boys, such as Nick Wright, do a happy caper at the mere thought of it), externally it is more problematic when the CPB is more concerned, as in this book, to promote its native, British, antecedents. Ironically, this makes it no less ‘Stalinist’, considering that the awful dogmas of ‘national roads to socialism’ were fundamentally bound up with the notion of ‘socialism in one country’ that emanated from Stalin’s faction in the 1920s.

1926 general strike

A sense of omission and relative embarrassment as to the CPGB’s Comintern links also pervades John Foster’s extremely weak essay on the British general strike of 1926 (pp117-25). Foster begins the essay with a quote from the CPGB’s Rajani Palme Dutt, writing in the direct aftermath of the defeated strike:

The defeat of the general strike is itself a gigantic piece of revolutionary propaganda. Not the masses were defeated, but the old leadership, the old reformist trade unionism, parliamentarism, pacifism and democracy. The masses stood solid, these broke down; these were the real casualties of the fight … the general strike has brought the British working class face to face with the political issue of power … The masses have entered into the full highway of mass struggle, and shown a solidarity, courage, tenacity and class-will, which affords the guarantee of future revolutionary victory.18

Foster asks the worthwhile question: “Was Dutt’s assessment just bravado in face of [the] defeat?” (p117). He answers in the negative and comes to the jaw-dropping conclusion that the strike “decisively undermined the credibility of the rightwing leadership of the TUC and the Labour Party, upon whom the government had previously depended” (p118). To that end it “educated a generation of working class militants, who gave leadership to the left in both the trade unions and the Labour Party across lifetimes that ran through to the 1960s” (ibid). Foster thus argues that as a result of the general strike “the Labour Party was never fully stabilised as a rightwing social democratic party” (ibid).

In the short term, Foster’s analysis and Dutt’s hyperbole do not map well onto the second half of the 1920s: the rightwing leadership was not so undermined in the Labour Party that it could not manage to clear out the vast majority of communists from Labour’s ranks through a concerted campaign of expulsion and disaffiliation of recalcitrant local parties. In the trade unions, the left was fighting after 1926 against Mondism (so called after financier and industrialist Alfred Mond): ie, the practice of class collaborationism.

Why, if the right was so defeated, did the CPGB start turning its back on the Labour Party and trade unions in 1929 with the implementation of its ‘class against class’ line? In the longer term, for the remainder of the 20th century and down to the present day, the left in the trade unions (including CPGB members) and in the Labour Party have generally acted as a loyal opposition, committed to the maintenance of their institutions and to short-term ‘unity’ with the right, as against the Conservatives and the employers. The ‘left’ has always been an important ingredient of stabilisation for the right wing of the labour movement. Foster’s economism, pretending that strike waves can magically capsize the traditional institutions of the labour movement, is eerily reminiscent of the ‘punk’ methodology employed by the Socialist Workers Party and its various fragments.

It is telling that Foster reproduces Dutt’s hyperbole and ignores his other more rational conclusions from the experience of the general strike. Dutt talked, for example, at the end of his article, of the need for “the organisation of workers’ defence corps directly under the auspices of the trade unions, and for the institution of working class propaganda from the whole organised working class movement to the army, navy and air force”.19 Strategically, Dutt argued for “the fight for the mass Communist Party as the sole means to establish the new revolutionary leadership in the … working class movement”.20

This, of course, is far too radical for a CPB that is premised on adaptation to the existing labour movement and the exploitation of a narrow political margin between the latter’s left and right. This side of Dutt in 1926 falls from view, leaving Foster with a sentimental residue of things that Dutt was simply wrong about. Foster attributes to the CPGB entirely different strategic lessons to those sketched out by Dutt: “Probably the Communist Party’s most important strategic understanding concerned the role of local, community-based organisation in the practical development of class solidarity” (p124).

The CPGB, of course, was aware of the importance of local organisation; Dutt himself, in the article we have been quoting, saw factory organisation as a need, but in relation to the movement’s national leadership and its political direction: ie, a dialectic. Dutt was scathing of such localism in this period, as applied to the Labour Party, and to call such localism the “most important strategic understanding” from 1926 is bizarre. It takes us back to the economist methodology whereby strikes and actions can simply capsize national institutions.

Foster makes no mention of the role of the Comintern in relation to the CPGB in the general strike. The Comintern was usually (and, most often, correctly) to the left of the CPGB in the 1920s. This was true of 1925-26, where, contrary to Trotskyist mythology, the Comintern stressed the revolutionary possibilities inherent in the strike and the inadequacies of the ‘official’ left trade union leaders.21

In contrast, Foster is more comfortable with the CPGB’s more cautious actions during the strike, its demands at each stage being “immediately realistic and practical … designed to combat defeatism and expose the right wing” (ibid). The Comintern’s role is a double-bind for Foster: stressing ‘foreign’ advice and assistance disrupts his view of a CPGB orientated to the localities, while a Comintern that criticises the CPGB from the left is troublesome for the thoroughly moderate CPB.

I am sure the news that I have reviewed this particular book will be about as welcome to the CPB as a Peter Sutcliffe tribute act at a lorry drivers’ convention. However, I would remind the comrades that I have broadly welcomed some CPB contributions to the history of the CPGB. I thought Seifert’s and Sibley’s biography of Bert Ramelson and Marsh’s and Griffiths’s biography of Phil Piratin (both 2012) were well researched and interesting, despite my criticisms at the time.

A centenary for socialism is, by contrast, poorly conceived and badly executed.

Lawrence Parker

  1. See J Klugmann The history of the Communist Party of Great Britain, formation and early years: 1919-1924 London 1969; J Klugmann The history of the Communist Party of Great Britain, the general strike: 1925-1926 London 1969; N Branson The history of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1927-1941 London 1985; and N Branson The history of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1941-1951 London 1997.↩︎

  2. See J Klugmann, ‘The foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain’ in Marxism Today January 1960.↩︎

  3. For more on this, see L Parker, ‘Up close and personal’ Weekly Worker May 18 2017.↩︎

  4. Party Line (CPB), October 14 2015.↩︎

  5. See also D Hyde I believed: the autobiography of a former British communist London 1951, pp191-92.↩︎

  6. R Seifert and T Sibley Revolutionary communist at work: a political biography of Bert Ramelson London 2012, p278. Seifert and Sibley also show that Ramelson was opposed to the CPB split when it occurred in 1988. See p296 and p350.↩︎

  7. An inconsequential gathering eventually took place in January 1991. See M Waters, ‘Shotgun wedding?’ The Leninist January 30 1991.↩︎

  8. See Morning Star February 2 1988. An alternative report suggested that the West Middlesex district committee voted by nine votes to two to reject a split from the CPGB, although this source did state that this was one of the “worst affected” areas in terms of support for the CPB breakaway. See ‘The breakaway - an assessment’ Communist May 1988 (Communist was a magazine of the CPGB’s Straight Left faction).↩︎

  9. N Temple, ‘Party of pretence’ 7 Days April 30 1988.↩︎

  10. Gill eventually joined the CPB in the mid-1990s. For more on these matters, see L Parker, ‘Understanding the formation of the Communist Party of Britain’ Waiting for the revolution: the British far left from 1956 Manchester 2017, pp258-76.↩︎

  11. Morning Star April 25 1988.↩︎

  12. CPB - 70 years of struggle: Britain’s Communist Party, 1920-1990 London 1990 (my emphasis).↩︎

  13. See L Parker, ‘Understanding the formation of the Communist Party of Britain’ (note 10) for a full explanation of these factional line-ups.↩︎

  14. ‘South Wales discussion papers’ The Leninist March 20 1987. Griffiths was almost certainly the main author of these documents. He was the animator of the Cardiff Marxist Forum, and joined the CPGB after membership of the militant Welsh Socialist Republican Movement.↩︎

  15. J Klugmann, ‘A brief history since 1945’ Comment February 5 1977.↩︎

  16. J Gollan, ‘Which road?’ Marxism Today July 1964. The correspondence between Pollitt and Stalin was eventually published in the September 2007 issue of the Revolutionary Democracy journal. It can be accessed at revolutionarydemocracy.org.↩︎

  17. Cited in L Parker, ‘Dead Russians and a Welshman’ Weekly Worker November 13 2008.↩︎

  18. R Palme Dutt, ‘The meaning of the general strike’ The Communist International No21, June 1926 (marxists.org/archive/dutt/pamphlets/strike.htm).↩︎

  19. Ibid.↩︎

  20. Ibid.↩︎

  21. See J Hinton and R Hyman Trade unions and revolution: the industrial politics of the early British Communist Party London 1975, pp35-37.↩︎