British Communists: Have they given up?

I have made no secret of the fact that I used to be a member of The Communist Party in Britain. I started as a teenager, in the Young Communist League, then transferred to adult membership when I was 18 years old. I wasn’t a very good local member. I rarely attended meetings, and never sold the Morning Star newspaper on the streets. But I did actively support the cause in other ways. I became a trade union ‘agitator’, with a Communist intent to try to make the unions more militant. Much later, I was part of a large group that infiltrated the Labour Party, by joining it, and then signed up as a member of an offshoot group, ‘Militant Tendency’, with an agenda to change the Labour Party into a radical Hard-Left organisation.

That ‘plot’ was discovered, and I was formally expelled as a member of the Labour Party. As that was at the time of Neil Kinnock’s leadership, I saw that almost as a relief. Soon after, I split from the Communist Party, because it took an anti-Soviet stance, and I felt that they were becoming too ‘soft’. The last time I was able to vote for a Communist candidate was in 1987, when I still lived in South-East London. He lost his deposit, and received so few votes that they never stood a candidate there again.

During the EU referendum, The Communist Party took a very anti-EU position, and that attracted me. This is what they had to say about the EU.

Nevertheless, the CP will continue to oppose Britain’s membership of the European Union, recognising that the treaties, rules, directives and policies of the EU are designed to protect big business interests and their capitalist markets against any advance towards socialism in any EU member state.
Like most Communist and workers’ parties across Europe, the Communist Party of Britain understands that the EU has also been designed to be unreformable as a construction to defend and promote capitalism and is now developing a military dimension in order to promote the common interests of Europe’s main imperialist powers.

This was exactly how I had always felt about the EU, and why I voted against joining, in 1975.

Since moving to Norfolk in 2012, I have not had many opportunities to vote. But when they have arisen, I have voted for The Labour Party. This is generally perceived to be a nominal protest vote in this region, which is firmly and traditionally Conservative, and on the right-wing of that party too.

So with last Thursday’s election giving an emphatic win for the Conservatives throughout much of the UK, I wondered what The Communist Party had been up to, and why they had never put up a candidate in Norfolk for me to vote for. I found this, online.

The Communist Party reaffirms its commitment to working for the election of a left-led Labour government on a left and progressive manifesto at an early general election.
Once again, we will call upon all socialists, progressives, trade unionists, Greens and Scottish and Welsh nationalists to vote for such a government led by a socialist who has a long and proven record of defending the interests of working people and their families and of opposing militarism and imperialist wars.
In order to demonstrate its commitment to unity around this perspective, the CP will not be standing candidates of its own in the next general election, providing Labour retains its left leadership and fights the election on a left and progressive manifesto.

It appears that they have so little faith in their own policies, that they urged their members to vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, as the ‘best option’ for some kind of Socialist government in this country. Further research told me that it also did this in 2017, and in 2018, it announced that it would no longer stand any candiudates against Labour, as long as the current leadership was in place. Looking into it a little more. I discovered that the current Communist Party in Britain has less than 900 members.

I conclude that they have ‘given up’.

32 comments

  1. stalinsmoustache

    Perhaps we should take a little heart in the fact that neoliberalism has been rejected since 2008 by most of the world, including Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Russia and Asia. Only a few diehards remain in North America, Europe and one coountry in South-East Asia (guess which one). This is why the neoliberal true believers have dusted off the old ‘state capitalism’ to describe what they are seeing, albeit erroneously.
    Have you ever considered joining the Marxist-Leninist bunch, or would it be the Communist Party of Britain?

    Liked by 1 person

    • beetleypete

      I was in the old CPGB (Marxist-Leninist) back then. There were various other small parties using different names, but ‘mine’ was the party of Harry Pollitt and others, originally formed in 1920. Splits with ‘Eurocommies’ later, and a huge loss of members after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan caused it to all but disintegrate.
      I recall being told ‘don’t talk about Stalin’, and also being accused of being a ‘Stalinist’ by some. (Which was pretty accurate, to be fair) That’s more or less why I went ‘underground’, and worked to radicalise the unions and infiltrate the Labour Party, as well as trying to combat the leakage of members to the Socialist Workers Party, which was becoming ‘trendy’ then.
      There is nothing similar left here for me to join now, sadly.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  2. wilfredbooks

    I fear the march of capitalism appears [but that could still change] to be inexorable, even in the old bastions of Russia & China: greed & self-interest reign supreme, eh? Just out of curiosity, did you even encounter any activity from Mosley’s Union Movement on the streets of London in your early days? A few contributors to my biography of Wilfred Risdon were members, and I can imagine that you and they might have had the odd ‘lively discussion’ now & then 😉 Cheers, Jon

    Liked by 1 person

    • beetleypete

      I never met any Mosley supporters, but we did used to ‘clash’ with the National Front occasionally. As I said, I was not that active on the streets, more ‘undercover’. 🙂 I did go to a few big demonstrations in my teens though, and waved a few red flags around at the time.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Capitalism Bookkeeping Caused Global Warming? | DearTedandJody
  4. 2581john

    The CP support for Corbyn in 2018 was probably when he was still perceived as a Euro Sceptic Labour Leaver. Once he moved to a ‘renegotiate then campaign to Remain’ position, I can see why they gave up! I suspect Labour Leavers in Aslef, Rmt, the Bakers Union and TUAEU probably felt the same. 😐

    Liked by 1 person

  5. toritto

    Seems calling yourselves the Communist Party is a death knell these days Pete. Being hard for Brexit and then urging voters to vote for J.C also seems a bit incongruous. Couldn’t bring themselves to vote Tory? Can’t blame em. Party politics has gotten so confusing these days! Things may settle back to normal now that Brexit looks like a done deal. Folks were probably very tired after three years of uncertainty. Will Labor get new leadership? Stand for the Norfolk seat!
    🙂

    Besties.

    Liked by 1 person

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