The time to fight back is now!

A Statement by the Suspended Members of the Chelsea Branch of the Young Communist League

First Issued: Red Guard, Volume 1, Number 2, 1967
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Lyndon White and Paul Saba
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Chelsea YCL was set up just over a year ago as part of the ‘Trend’ expansion campaign, by splitting up the memberships of the Kensington and Fulham branches. When we were presented with our branch banner at the District Congress of the London Communist Party we were greeted with a standing ovation from the comrades. Now, hardly twelve months later we have been suspended, and will undoubtedly be expelled. Why? In order that our position may be made clear, a brief outline of the history of this branch follows.

The early Branch Committee was predominantly young and new to politics, and from the beginning we encountered severe difficulties. We were given a membership list by District comprising forty-four names of which only nine objectively existed. The remainder defied all our attempts to contact them. We also had thrust upon us a ’Challenge’ order of 100 copies, as well as a quota that was scarcely commensurate with a membership of nine. Without any real cadre strength the branch could not function effectively.

Branch Committee members were continually confronted by the undemocratic attitude of the District leadership to the dispute between the Soviet Union and China, and their unwillingness to discuss the issues involved. The branch at first reacted negatively to those problems, and tended to lapse into inactivity. However, at the time of the National Congress we became self-critical and decided that this was not good enough and that we should pursue a Marxist-Leninist course and fight for our minority opinion inside the YCL. Consequently we sent four delegates to the Congress. All four comrades reported back to the branch that the Congress was rigged, opposition stifled, and dissidents expelled. We decided that this meant it was all the more necessary to be active. We contacted District and offered to pay up all debts, but asked for all our non-existent members to be taken off our list, and for a quota levy consistent with our real size. We also agreed to take a small supply of ’Challenge’. District was obstructive on most of these points, and appeared only to be willing to take any money we might raise.

We started our activity by picketing the Billy Graham rally at Earls Court, and during a demonstration inside the main hall one of our comrades was kicked by stewards from the Christian Police Association. We also held some public meetings jointly with Kensington. Since we could not get ’Challenge’, we obtained supplies of ’Vietnam Courier’ and other Vietnamese publications and began intensive literature sales. These went enormously well and we have been able to send a great deal of money to the NLF from them. Although we did not agree with the Vietnam petition as a form of activity, we collected signatures and over £5.10.0 which was sent to Vietnam through the British Vietnam Committee. During the recent chauvinist and racialist hysteria following the burning down of the British embassy in Peking, three of our members were arrested whilst selling Chinese literature. It was such an obvious frame-up that the comrades were all acquitted. Recently we have supported tenants’ demonstrations in the borough, and demonstrated at an anti-Communist rally in the Albert Hall called by a fascist front organisation.

All round, our branch is a lively, expanding and highly active organisation – much more so than the average YCL branch. Through our activities we have been able to build up to meetings of twenty or more people. How many of the delegates from defunct ’branches’, that are attending this Congress to give the leaders a safe majority, can say the same? Because we are so active, we have been able to pay off all debts, and launch our journal ’Red Guard’. In addition, we drew up a Branch Programme which was designed to give all our members a solid grounding in Marxism-Leninism; something which is so obviously indispensable if we are to effectively combat the class enemy and their allies who hide within our ranks. We were censured by the District Committee on our programme, and recently called to a DC ’disciplinary’ meeting after the [first] issue of ’Red Guard’. We were not willing to be seen as individuals as the journal is a collective product, and the Editorial Board should have been seen as a body. On our arrival at District Office we were told that the District Committee would not see us as a group – and therefore not at all.

Comrades – we call on you to oppose our expulsion from the floor of Congress and to demand our entrance into Congress. The only reason for excluding us is because we are in political opposition to the leadership, and its members want to exclude opposition at all costs. There are too many awkward questions to be answered. If you are an a-political moron who is only a part of the YCL for the social life, you will support our expulsion, but if you are a Communist – however much you may disagree with our position – you will oppose this blatant political gerrymandering on the part of the DC.