Towards the Daily Worker

Party notes

Some people have commented ironically on the presence of Weekly Worker sellers on the Morning Star picket line. Of course, proudly emblazoned on the masthead of every issue of our paper is the promise, “Towards the Daily Worker”, the Star’s previous title.

This is not simply an empty boast. This organisation has actually achieved two trial relaunches of the Daily Worker - the most important being in 1992 in step with the rising class struggle around the miners’ fight against pit closures.

And perhaps some comrades on the picket also remember that in re­sponse to this the management committee of the Peoples Press Printing Society (the cooperative that owns the Morning Star) threatened legal action against us unless we desisted “from using the title Daily Worker” and halted “publication forthwith”. By way of an answer, we staged an occupation of the Star offices and promised in a statement to “fight them” with the weapons - not of the bourgeois courts - but of “militant history and working class morality” (see J Conrad In the enemy camp p118).

The PPPS apparatchiks promptly backed off and have never once sub­sequently challenged our right to use the title Daily Worker, despite the fact that officially it is ‘incorporated’ and supposedly ‘owned’ by the Morning Star. I think this reflects more than simply legal considerations. At base, it reflects a struggle for the banner of the revolutionary commu­nist tradition in this country. This is a tradition that is inimical to the tame reformism exemplified by the Star and its now recalcitrant offspring, the Communist Party of Britain. Yet both have shamelessly ponced off this heritage, presenting themselves as organisational (and political) continui­ties of the CPGB of 1920 or the Daily Worker of 1930.

Our militant challenge called their bluff and exposed these pretensions. In fact, as our statement cited above underlined, “the Morning Star stands on a different tradition, the anti-Communist Party tradition of liquidationism. It was firmly orientated to the right, to reformism ...” (ibid p117). Needless to add, the CPB’s claim to stand in the tradition of the revolutionary CPGB of 1920 is equally spurious.

The launch of the Daily Worker in 1930 was a positive by-product of the negative turn of the world communist movement towards centrist sectari­anism from 1928 onwards. The intention was to compete more energeti­cally with Labour for the allegiance of the class. Despite the sectarian deformations of the ‘third period’ line imposed on it by the Comintern leadership, over the next few years it developed a proud record of interna­tional solidarity, class struggle and militancy.

Yet this huge achievement of the communist movement has been de­rided from various sources (including the Euro leadership of our own Party at one time) as simply an imposition, bankrolled by the venal Soviet bureaucracy. In fact, the launch and subsequent survival of the Daily Worker did lean heavily on the USSR. But it would be a travesty to ignore the Herculean efforts of tens of thousands of ordinary Party members who supplied copy, sold and distributed the paper in the face of the active hostility of the bosses’ state and boycotts from wholesalers.

We have made the point that there is nothing wrong in principle with the proletarian movement in one part of the world - especially if it has state power - lending assistance to a component part elsewhere. But the Soviet leadership demanded a price for its assistance - the subordination of the Party in Britain, along with the world movement, to sectional interests of the bureaucracy.

This is a lesson that communists have learned. From the beginning of our fight against the opportunist incumbent leadership of the Party in 1981, we understood that one of the prerequisites of independent politics is independent finances. This has set our organisation apart from the others claiming the mantle of the Party, opportunist groups accustomed to easy money through prostituting themselves around the world to increas­ingly distasteful regimes (a practice the New Communist Party has spe­cialised in) or - like the CPB and its Morning Star - living off the fat of the past.

Today, the CPGB relies on the initiative, self-sacrifice and commitment of its own members for its finances. Without this approach, it would have been impossible to relaunch the Daily Worker. But have these relaunches simply been stunts? Is the promise (or, as some see it, the threat) of a Daily Worker on the front page of this paper simply empty bluster?

I am sure the comrades from the CPB know us a little better than this. For us, the drive to relaunch our daily paper is organically linked with the fate of the class struggle in this country.

In a letter to Tom Bell commenting on a reported decision of the South Wales Miners Federation to affiliate to the Third International, Lenin emphasised the need for “a daily paper of the working class ... an economic and political tool of the masses in their struggle” (cited in J Klugmann History of the Communist Party of Great Britain Vol 1, London 1968, p73).

As Lenin advised, a daily newspaper is a necessity for a workers’ party striving to lead the class. Its success or failure is organically linked to the tempo of the struggle, the political level of the mass of the workers, the ability of the Party to fuse with the advanced layers of the class and the painstaking efforts of the Party to nourish this most vital of assets .

The daily Morning Star has survived as a tame mouthpiece for labour movement bureaucracy in this country and through the corrupt patronage of the bureaucracy of the USSR. But its disappearance would not be a cause for crowing - it would emphasise the huge vacuum that exists in our movement for a genuine paper of the class, built and sustained by a genu­ine Party of the class. As our masthead makes clear, this is what our organisation is in business for.

Mark Fischer
national organiser