Birmingham meeting celebrates BCA merger

First Published: Class Struggle, Vol. 4, No. 14, July 10th-July 23rd 1980
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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A meeting in Birmingham on Saturday June 28th marked the merger of the Birmingham Communist Association (BCA) with the Revolutionary Communist League Britain (RCLB). Attended by members and friends, the meeting heard messages of congratulation from Indian, Kashmiri and Bengali groups.

A speaker from the BCA outlined that organisation’s history and spoke of the various struggles in which it had engaged. She paid tribute to comrade Joshi’s influence in the formation of the group. (Comrade Jagmohan Joshi, who died last year, was General Secretary of the Indian Workers’ Association (GB); he lived in Birmingham). She welcomed the fact that the BCA had found it possible to merge with the RCLB. The BCA comrades had always sought unity with other Marxist-Leninists on a national scale, and welcomed the opportunities that were now available for a further development of their work, for instance in organising around the RCLB’s paper.

A speaker from the Birmingham branch of the RCLB outlined the branch’s history, and welcomed the step forward that can now take place in its work on the basis of unity with the BCA. A representative of the Committee of the RCLB pointed out that unity with the BCA had been reached during the same period that the RCLB had united with the CWM, confirming a welcome unity trend in the Marxist-Leninist movement. The RCLB has already learnt much from the revolutionary experience of the BCA, which is in many respects complementary to the past experience of the RCLB. Unity will consequently have effects that reach beyond Birmingham, and will strengthen the RCLB’s fighting capacity not only on a local but on a national scale.

The meeting was followed by a social, at which there was a very wide variety of revolutionary music. Friends from Banner Theatre sang some well-known songs of the labour movement, and also some of their own compositions, including a ballad composed about struggles on a picket line during the recent steel strike. Asian comrades performed revolutionary songs in Bengali, Kashmiri and other languages. The BCA’s own singers also performed, as did Red Flag from Liverpool and the New Era Singers from London.

All those who attended this occasion must have agreed that it marked a small but potentially very significant event in the politics of the left in the Midlands. In our next issue we shall be publishing an interview with the former Secretary of the BCA.

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“Class Struggle” recently conducted the following interview with a spokesman for the Birmingham Communist Association.

“Class Struggle”: The Birmingham Communist Association (BCA), has just united with the RCLB, but many of our readers in other towns will know little or nothing about you. Could you give us some background about yourselves. How did the BCA come into existence?

The BCA was founded five years ago. Before that we were part of a loose Marxist-Leninist discussion group led by Comrade Jagmohan Joshi in Birmingham. Some of us saw the need to build an active communist organisation and with help from Comrade Joshi we formed the BCA. At that time there was no national or local organisation with which we were in political agreement. But we saw ourselves as a temporary organisation which always had the aim of uniting with other groups to help build a new Communist Party.

CS: What was the political outlook of the BCA?

We have always taken the stand that socialism could only be achieved through revolutionary struggle and that the leading, and main, force in the struggle is the working class. We have also thought it important to use “united front” tactics to get as many people as possible involved in particular struggles. We have stressed the idea or integrating theory and practice so that our theory is not just dogmatic phrases but really aims to understand the real world. In this way our practical work is guided by a real understanding and not just a spontaneous reaction to events. We support the “three worlds theory” which helps us to analyse the developing international situation and also puts our work in Britain into the general perspective or the international struggle.

CS: What political work has the BCA been doing?

Wherever possible we have been active in our individual workplaces and in our trades unions. We have always thought it important to be involved in the struggle against racialism and the oppression of national minorities. To do this we have been active in broad fronts against racialism and fascism and we also directly supported struggles led by the various national minorities’ organisations. Over the years we have taken part in a number of demonstrations on various issues and put out leaflets in local communities.

In addition we were involved in the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding.

Also we held regular weekly meetings of the members and did theoretical study.

Probably we were very similar to the other small Marxist-Leninist groups.

CS: How did unity with the RCLB come about?

As I said, we always had the aim of uniting with others. We started the discussions with the RCLB on a regular basis over a year ago. Despite the differences in size and experience of our two organisations we found that we could have principled discussions about the main issues involved in the revolutionary struggle in Britain.

Through our joint meetings we were able to establish that we had a common position or approach on the major items. These included Ireland, women’s emancipation, a class analysis of Britain, the struggle against racialism, and the international situation. Equally important we came to understand that we both had a similar style of political work. We began to do some joint anti-racist work. This was a good test of the unity that was developing during our discussions.

CS: What do you see as the advantages of uniting?

There is always the danger that a small group will become liberal. It is very easy when you are a small local group to degenerate into just a social group or only see the struggle from the point of view of your town. It’s difficult to have a definite direction in your political work. Being small you cannot achieve a great deal and it’s easy for members to become disillusioned.

As members of the RCLB our work will have clearer priorities and direction. Also our experience will be summed up by a larger number of comrades. Our work will have a national perspective. A national organisation is in a better position to study and understand international affairs. All this will mean that individually we will have the chance to develop our political understanding further. Also of course we will be able to use the experience gained in the BCA to help build the RCLB.

Also we will have a national newspaper (“Class Struggle”) to aid and publicise our work.

Uniting is a small contribution towards building a new Communist Party in Britain.