Communist Party of Britain

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The Communist Party of Britain is the main communist party in the United Kingdom. It is affiliated with the Young Communist League of Britain.

Groups and branches, past & present

Regional, Internet and Industry groupings

Party strategy

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"Party strategy is to influence the policy of the Labour Party through our work in the Trade Union movement. The bigger our party is the more influence we will have. And should the Labour Party not change, then we will have to take a leading political role ourselves."

Tim Gulliver, chair of the South Devon Communist Party, 2010 AGM report.[1]

2021 CPB Executive Committee

At the Communist Party of Britain’s 56th congress on November 6-7 the following executive committee was elected Nisar Ahmed, Sonya Andermahr, Andy Bain, Mollie Brown, Andrea Burford, Sean David Cannon, Ben Chacko, Andy Chaffer, Tony Conway, Mary Davis, Lorraine Douglas, Alex Gordon, Bill Greenshields, Moz Greenshields, Robert Griffiths, Jonathan Havard, Richard Hebbert, Johnnie Hunter, Bernadette Keaveney, Tam Kirby, Hugh Kirkbride, Gawain Little, Sarah McDonough, David Morgan, Tommy Morrison, Kevan Nelson, Evan Pritchard, Carol Stavris, Ruth Styles, Robin Talbot, Jade Welburn.[2]

2019 Executive Committee

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Liz Payne chair, Ruth Styles vice chair, Robert Griffiths Gen Sec. Andy Bain TU organizer, John Foster Int'l Sec, Carol Stavris women's organizer. Martin Levy is editor of Communist Review.

New Political Committee is Liz Payne, Robert Griffiths, Andy Bain, John Foster, Carol Stavris, Ben Chacko, Steve Johnson, Tony Conway, as standing members and Mollie Brown and Alex Gordon as Alternates.

2014 CPB Executive Committee

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Andy Bain, Ben Chacko, Andy Chaffer, Tony Conway, John Foster, Pauline Fraser, Alex Gordon, Moz Greenshields, Bill Greenshields, Robert Griffiths, Tim Gulliver, Anita Halpin, Zoe Hennessy, Steve Johnson, Bernadette Keaveney, Thomas Kirby, Eleanor Lakew, Martin Levy, Peter Middleman, Tommy Morrison, Mark O'Neill, Liz Payne, Ben Stevenson, Graham Stevenson, Joanne Stevenson, Ruth Styles, Anita Wright, Nick Wright.[3]

CPB 53rd Congress stata

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CPB 2008 executive committee

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In 2008 the Communist Party of Britain executive committee consisted of Carol Turner, Ivan Beavis, Geoff Bottoms, Mary Davis, John Foster, Pauline Fraser, Bill Greenshields, Robert Griffiths, Anita Halpin, Kevin Halpin, John Haylett, Joel Heyes, Steve Johnson, Carolyn Jones, Martin Levy, Gawain Little, Alan MacKinnon, Emily Mann, Tommy Morrison, Andrew Murray, Rick Newnham, Ben Stevenson, Graham Stevenson, Carol Turner and Anita Wright.[4]

CPB Commissions

In 2016 the Communist Party of Britain EC endorsed the following Commission convenors who subsequently took up their positions: Mark O'Neill (Anti-austerity & People’s Charter), Tony Conway (Anti-Racism Anti-Fascism), Mike Quille (Culture), Chris Guiton (Economics), Robert Wilkinson (Education), Robert Wilkinson (Anti-EU & Popular Sovereignty), Graham Stevenson (Communist History Group), John Foster (International), Bill Greenshields (Political Education & Cadre Development), Joanne Stevenson (Peace), Tommy Morrison (Unemployment), Liz Payne (Women).[5]

Peace

The Communist Party of Britain Peace Commission has met on several occasions and was instrumental in reinvigorating the British Peace Assembly (BPA) in the period since the last Party Congress. This is particularly important in linking the peace movement in Britain with the anti-imperialist, anti-NATO World Peace Council (WPC). Liz Payne attended the WPC Executive in Goa in late 2014 to discuss plans for the revival of BPA activities. The event to relaunch the BPA was held at the Marx Memorial Library on July 31, 2015, on the eve of the Red Star Festival, with Comrade Stavros Tassos of the WPC Executive representing its general secretary, Athanasios Pafilis. It was agreed that the BPA’s activities would include an annual Bernal Lecture, the first of which is being planned for early 2017.

59. The Party recognises the important link between its international work and that of peace and several comrades are active on the International Commission and the Peace Commission, as well as linking with other domiciled sister parties on anti-war issues in relation to specific countries and regions. A number of Party comrades are active within the peace movement in Britain, including in Stop the War and CND and in campaigns relating to individual conflicts such as Ukraine and Syria.

60. We must pay a special tribute to Comrade Alan MacKinnon who has passed away since our last Congress. He was an outstanding fighter for peace who campaigned tirelessly to the end, including by sending a message of solidarity and support to the BPA on its re-foundation.[6]

Party growth

Communist Party of Britain general secretary Robert Griffiths has issued the following statement today (November 10) following the party’s 56th congress on November 6-7 2021.

"The Communist Party of Britain is now at the threshold of substantial growth in size and influence in the labour and progressive movements. Last weekend’s 56th congress marked the party’s emergence into a new phase of development after the long struggle to re-establish it since 1988. The weekend’s debate and decisions reflected a unity and confidence that will stand the CP in good stead over the next two years. There were many more younger delegates than previously, itself a product in part of the great progress being made by the Young Communist League. The 56th congress itself was attended by around 150 voting and consultative delegates, representing a CP membership that has risen by almost two-thirds to more than 1,200 since the previous congress in 2018. International guests included representatives from the embassies of China, Cuba and Vietnam and from Communist and workers’ parties in Afghanistan, Greece, India, Iran, Ireland, Portugal, the Russian Federation and Spain. Among the decisions last weekend were those to engage in major campaigns on the climate crisis and the public ownership of energy and against the ‘new Cold War’ declared by the Western imperialist powers against China. Other important policy areas discussed by delegates included the ‘New Deal for Workers’, women’s rights, progressive federalism, racism, housing and homelessness, transport, the ‘Green New Deal’, gender politics, anti-Semitism, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestine and Britain’s nuclear weapons programme.[7]

Russian connection

Communist Party of Britain Executive Committee Report of work to the 54th Congress.

3. The EC subsequently met on 10 occasions for a total of 14 days. Treasurer Martin Graham attended each meeting to deliver a financial report. In March 2015, the EC was addressed by Yuri Emelianov (Communist Party of the Russian Federation).[8]

Centenary conference

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August 1, 2020

Anti-racism and anti-fascism

Speakers:

Environment and climate crisis

Speakers:

Bread and Roses, Culture and Class

Speakers:

LGBT rights

Speakers:

Science, technology, the future of work

Chair: Leonardo Impett Researcher in Artificial Intelligence, Cambridge Communist Party

Speakers:

NHS and public health

Speakers:

Communist Women in action

Speakers

EU imperialism and austerity

Housing and our communities

Speakers

Against imperialism & militarism

Speakers

Young workers for a future!

Chair: Zoe McKeown Young Communist League of Britain Scottish women’s officer

Speakers

Take the Road! - mass meeting for trade union and trades council activists

Speakers

90 years of the workers’ paper - rally

Speakers

With special, surprise guests including Sean Hosey, Steve Marsling, Cathy Dolphin, Pete Smith and Ken Keable, of the London Recruits

Communist Party of Britain general secretary Robert Griffiths On the centenary of the Party, “Past, present and future”.[9]

US after Trump

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With Joe Sims and John Foster, international secretary of the Communist Party of Britain.

Corbyn connection

Jeremy Corbyn for many years wrote a regular column in Morning Star, the Socialist daily newspaper with close links to the Communist Party of Britain. (Its predecessor, The Daily Worker, was founded by the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1930.) He surprised guests at Morning Star’s Christmas party last year and, along with his inner circle, is said to be a regular reader.

Andrew Murray, one of the Labour leader’s advisers, was — until recently — a Communist party member. Seumas Milne, Mr Corbyn’s communications director, is also close to the party.[10]

Helping Corbyn

During both Labour Party leadership campaigns, the Communist Party made clear its preference for a Labour Party leadership that would fight for progressive, left and anti-imperialist policies, thereby preparing the ground for the defeat of right-wing government in Britain. But our Party was careful not to say or do anything that would help Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents in the Labour Party and mass media portray his campaign as being infiltrated and influenced by Communists. Communist Party members were instructed not to participate in the leadership ballots and showed great discipline and restraint in not doing so. A series of editorials and feature articles reflected our Party’s strategic orientation to the labour movement and Labour Party, not least the left-right struggle within them. Early in 2016, the Morning Star published a collection of articles by General Secretary Robert Griffiths, The Battle for the Labour Movement, which set out the analysis and perspectives developed by the EC and PC on the basis of our programme, Britain’s Road to Socialism.[11]

Protecting Corbyn

Communist Party of Britain Executive Committee Report of work to the 54th Congress.

Lexit

With Robert Griffiths as Chair, Alex Gordon as Convenor and Jonathan Havard as Treasurer, Lexit worked closely with Scottish Left Leave, the RMT, ASLEF, the Bakers’ Union and leading people in the Labour Leave campaign to produce a range of materials, set up a website and organise or support a large number of public meetings. Locally, many Party organisations and members participated enthusiastically in the Lexit campaign. As well as the Lexit officers, comrades Liz Payne, Graham Stevenson and Bill Greenshields participated in numerous public, trade union and media debates in a Lexit or Communist Party capacity. The future role of Lexit is now under consideration by the Party and its allies.[12]

Working with MPs

The Communist Party of Britain played a leading part in organising solidarity demonstrations for the people and government of Venezuela and for Communists in Ukraine. An Early Day Motion against the banning of the Ukraine CP , tabled with Party assistance by Paul Flynn MP in the Commons in January 2016, was signed by 13 MPs.[13]

Celebrating Spanish Civil War fighters

Journalist Martha Gellhorn, reporting on the volunteers who fought fascism in the Spanish civil war, wrote: “They were fighting for us all, against the combined force of European fascism. They deserved our thanks and our respect and got neither.”

In October 2020 , in towns and cities across Britain, communists and comrades chose to differ.

In an overwhelming display of solidarity, gratitude and honour, they came with wreaths, flowers, flags and banners.

Staging more than a dozen events, commemorating the homecoming of the International Brigaders in October 1938, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) was supported by the International Brigade Memorial Trust (IBMT).

In the face of Covid-19 restrictions changing at the last minute, plans were made and remade.

Cheshire East Councillor Joy Bratherton was set to attend the Manchester event with colleague Mick Roberts from Unite, but as their home town of Crewe was blanketed in tougher measures, they laid wreaths at the memorial bench in the town’s cemetery honouring brigaders George Fletcher and Eddie McQuade.

In Kingston-upon-Thames, a small group took to a boat on the river, remembering brigader Felicia Browne, the first British citizen to die, fighting with the Karl Marx militia in Aragon.

In Middlesborough, too, a group walked to the Newport Bridge and cast their wreath into the river Tees.

Martin Levy from the CPB said: “They fought because they had knew that if fascism was not stopped in Spain it would soon come knocking at our own door. The best way to honour the brigaders’ memory is to fight for peace and democracy and to build worldwide solidarity against imperialism.”

Scottish comrades went to the exquisite La Pasionaria statue at Glasgow’s Custom House Quay, unveiled in 1980, and depicting the communist MP Dolores Ibarruri with arms stretched upward.

In Manchester, her namesake Dolores Long, daughter of brigader Sam Wild, gave the famous farewell speech of gratitude made by Ibarruri to the volunteers as they left Barcelona.

In a message of solidarity from Spain, Dr Almudena Cros, president of the Asociacion de Amigos de las Brigadas Internacionales (AABI), said she was delighted to see the outpouring of respect for all those who came to fight “for the cause of democracy, of the working class, and of the Spanish Republic.”

The brigaders would never be forgotten, “they are the best examples for our generation, and for the generations to come.”

In Cardiff, another lively city muffled by lockdown, a small group walked to the stone memorial in Alexandra Gardens, Cathays Park.

Wreaths were laid by Mary Greening, daughter of brigader Edwin Greening, and by Will Barton of the CPB and Malachi Kakembo of the Young Communist League of Britain (YCL).

Barton said: “Their struggle was not in vain. Their achievement in helping to hold back the advance of European fascism played a vital part in the battle that unfolded across the continent.

“But the struggle is not over. Today we are seeing again the rise of fascism across Europe — even here in attacks on refugee housing in Wales.

“Our continuing struggle against this is part of what we have come here today to do.”

Kakembo said: “The International Brigade fought to defend the work of groups such as the mujeres libres or free women, whose radical feminist demands terrified Franco and the fascists!

CPB general secretary Robert Griffiths said: “We are especially proud of those men and women in Wales — miners, unemployed workers, nurses, seafarers — of Welsh, Irish, Jewish, Spanish and Arab descent who made that journey to Spain.

“Today, as the scourge of racism, fascism and imperialist war walks the Earth with renewed vigour, we must ensure that the sacrifices of the International Brigaders and their medical units were not in vain.”

In London, at the memorial on the Southbank’s Jubilee Gardens, IBMT chair Jim Jump said: “Of 2,500 International Brigade volunteers from Britain and Ireland, more than 520 gave their lives. Most were communists.

“As a registered charity, the IBMT is required to be politically neutral, and indeed we are. But we’re happy to be associated with this commemoration because we are dealing here, not with party politics, but with historical facts.

“Historians have calculated that three-quarters of the British volunteers in Spain were Communist Party or YCL members.

“They joined because the Communist Party, unlike others, was not fooled by the appeasers in the national government of the time who concocted the cynical non-intervention policy that deprived the Spanish government of arms, oil and other essentials.”

In Manchester, Paul Ward of the CPB said the struggle of more than eight decades ago had echoes today: “In an increasingly troubled world, with a Prime Minister in Britain who is openly racist, homophobic, misogynistic and promotes Islamophobia, we can all join the fight against racism and fascism. We are all internationalists. We are all anti-fascist.

“From Cable Street to the Ebro, to a valley called Jarama, to the brigades leaving Barcelona, we continue to say: ‘No Pasaran — they shall not pass’.”[14]

References

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