John Gollan 1947

Declaration on the Basic Policy

Source: This declaration, moved by John Gollan and seconded by G Adhikari (Communist Party of India), was adopted on 3 March 1947 at the Empire Communist Parties Conference, held in London on 26 February to 3 March 1947. Published in Communist (Bombay), Volume 1, no 1, April 1947. Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

We, the representatives of the Communist Parties in the countries of the British Empire, have met in conference in London from 26 February to 3 March and having considered the problems of the common fight of the peoples against imperialism, for national independence, world peace and security and for cooperation of all nations based on equality, make the following declaration.

We greet with enthusiasm the unprecedented upsurge of the colonial and subject peoples in the great struggle for liberation and pay our homage to the countless martyrs who have laid down their lives in this just and noble cause. We send our fervent greetings and solidarity to the national movements of the colonial countries and express our ardent support for unity for the uncompromising aim of national independence.

The victory of the people in the war against fascism, a victory to which the colonial peoples greatly contributed, has led to the strengthening of the democratic forces throughout the world. The Socialist Soviet Union is stronger than ever, the New Democracies have been firmly established in Europe, the United Nations founded and the ranks of the workers in all lands consolidated by the World Federation of Trade Unions. The defeat of Germany, Italy and Japan has undermined the old imperialist order everywhere. We see the struggle for national independence as a continuation of the aim for which the war against fascism was fought. The immediate advance of the peoples of the subject countries to national independence is now on the order of the day.

Anglo-American imperialism is everywhere seeking to preserve and extend its grip on the colonial world, suppress the rising tide of colonial revolt, split and disorganise the national movements and by political manoeuvres deny real independence. It seeks to maintain privileged imperialist exploitation by its arms and police and is building up strategic bases in Palestine, the Arab countries of the Middle East, India, Malaya and parts of the Far East to kindle another world war aimed at the Soviet Union and the peace-loving peoples of the world.

These policies are an expression of the crisis of the colonial world and above all the crisis of the British Empire. The United States, now the dominant world imperialist power, with huge material and strategic resources, is out to dominate the world and to absorb the British Empire countries as the richest prize. British imperialism, weakened by the war, is more and more forced into the position of a junior partner of America. The crisis in Britain and the crisis in the Empire go hand in hand. Britain’s imperialist policies and commitments, draining her manpower, intensifying the enormous deficit in the balance of payments, still further increase the dependence on American strategic and military superiority in the Anglo-American bloc.

We condemn the continued occupation of Greece, the subjection of Cyprus and Malta, the holding down of Palestine, the bolstering up of reactionary feudal puppet regimes in Iraq and Transjordan, the retention of British troops in Egypt, the categorical refusal to recognise the national independence of India and Burma, the denial of a democratic constitution to Malaya, and the maintenance and use of British troops in these countries to suppress their freedom movements, and the military aid given by British imperialism to crush the liberation struggle of the peoples of Indonesia and Viet-Nam.

A great responsibility rests upon the working class and peoples of the British Empire countries in the struggle between the forces of reaction fomenting a new world war and the forces for peace and progress. The imperialist policies continued by the British Labour Government are a betrayal of its election pledges. Aided and abetted by the Dominion Governments, it is stimulating and encouraging the war-mongering elements everywhere. These policies are not only a denial of the just rights of the colonial peoples but a negation of the real interests of the working people of Britain and the Dominions.

The Communist Parties will ceaselessly strive to rouse the working masses and all freedom-loving peoples within the countries of the Empire to struggle to defeat the war-makers.

The fight for the peace of the world, the advance of the subject peoples to independence, the struggle of the workers for socialism are all part of a common fight. The alliance of the freedom movements of the subject peoples and the working-class movement is vital for the victory of the aims of both.

The common interests of all the peoples of the Empire countries require: abandonment of the Anglo-American Bloc and the restoration of the unity of the Three Great Powers and full support for the United Nations; strengthening and extension of the British-Soviet Treaty, close cooperation with the Soviet Union and democratic nations for disarmament, democratic advance and international cooperation; withdrawal of troops from all except ex-enemy countries in accordance with the peace settlement; acceptance of the principles of democratic self-determination; international economic cooperation.

We declare that the democratic right of self-determination of all peoples is the cardinal principle of Communist policy. We demand the immediate unqualified independence of India, Burma and Ceylon.

We express our solidarity with the Arab peoples in their fight for the evacuation and independence of Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Transjordan, and we oppose all imperialist schemes such as those for a ‘Greater Syria’, the Near Eastern Bloc and Anglo-Arab Joint Defence Committee, which are a menace to the national existence and future of the Arab people.

We demand the recognition of the right of Cyprus and Malta to complete self-determination so as to enable those countries freely, in accordance with the wishes of their peoples, to reunite with their respective motherlands, Greece and Italy.

We condemn the denial of elementary rights and liberties, the widespread practice of racial and colour discrimination in Africa and other British Empire territories. We demand the repeal of all repressive and discriminatory legislation, ordinances and laws; the provision of popular legislative assemblies based on universal suffrage, freedom of speech, movement, association and organisation — and declare our full support to these peoples in their aspirations for freedom and the right of self-determination.

These measures can be effective only if the monopolies, which operate in the colonial countries, are rendered unable to dominate the economic life of the peoples, squeezing out their wealth and enforcing conditions of starvation, disease and misery on the peoples. It is the duty of the Labour Governments in the Metropolitan and Dominion countries to abolish these monopolies and to aid the peoples of these colonies to develop their resources in their own interests so as to win them as allies on an equal basis in the fight for the achievement of socialism. This will lay the basis for international economic cooperation of those countries with the advanced industrial countries of the world on the basis of equality, ensuring their rapid economic development and the onward march of the advanced countries towards socialism.

We welcome the growing solidarity between the movements of the workers in Britain and the Dominions and the subject peoples of the colonies. Our joint struggles will strengthen the bonds of fraternal assistance between the trade unions of Britain and the Dominions and the colonial peoples.

The British Communist Party has a special responsibility in association with those forces of the labour movement now struggling for a complete change in the Labour Government’s foreign, colonial and empire policy. The Communist Parties of the Dominions also have special responsibilities along similar lines particularly in Australia and New Zealand where Labour Governments are in power along the same lines.

Our conference in London has strengthened the bonds of fraternal solidarity of the Communist Parties within the countries of the Empire. The leading role in building the solidarity of the peoples of the Empire countries must be borne by the working class in Britain, the Dominions and the colonial countries. Foremost in this task will be the Communist Parties, with their socialist understanding and internationalist spirit.

We are confident that the outcome of our conference will assist to strengthen practical cooperation between the working-class movement and the peoples of the Empire countries in the struggle for our common aims — against imperialism and reaction, for liberation and democratic advance, for peace and for social progress, preparing the way towards the world victory of socialism and the equality and brotherhood of all nations.


G Adhikari (India)
Tim Buck (Canada)
Desmond Buckle (West Africa)
Danie J Du-Plessis (South Africa)
John L Henry (Australia)
S Joannou (Cyprus)
P Kumarsiri (Ceylon)
S Mikunis (Palestine)
HA Naidoo (South Africa)
R Palme Dutt (Britain)
Gerald Peel (Australia)
Emile G Touma (Palestine)
Wu Tien-Wang (Malaya)