As the Congress discussion opened, leading members of our group were expelled: the expulsions followed a long discussion between the Group and the Party leadership. A few weeks later, nine other members of the Group, because we continued to work as a group, were said to have placed themselves outside the Party. Thus, in S.W, London alone, fourteen active Party comrades have been forced out of the Party.
No explanation of these events appeared in the Party press. The Party leadership gave no reasons to the membership for its actions. Our letters and resolutions to the Secretariat have been kept from the Party. Even the right of appeal, given to every expelled member, has been denied us. Untrue statements circulate to meet any doubts in the minds of those Party members who know of the struggle in this area. Otherwise – silence.
A leadership that suppresses the point of view of its critics is afraid of open discussion. A leadership that refuses to explain measures taken against its critics has a weak case. Our Group has nothing to fear from open discussion. We have fought all along for the thrashing out of differences before the whole Party.
Our criticism of the trade union policy outlined by the C.C. Resolution of January, was made because behind its vague formulations, was concealed the point of view now openly expressed by Pollitt and Gallacher. In reply, we were said to be against work in the trade unions when actually many of our members were more active in the unions than most of the C.C. We were told we were “quibbling”. Yet the Party discussion has revealed acute differences within the leadership on this question, and has found R.P. Dutt defending a point of view very close to ours. Dutt and Rust have been accused, as we were, of advocating a course which would throw the Party back “once again into the morass of sectarianism”. The delegates cannot fail to see the conflict existing within the leadership on this question. Why then was the Balham Group “quibbling” in raising this question seven months ago?
By approaching local working class organizations in S.W. London, we sought to establish a real united front, in place of the “united front” of the past, which usually consisted of party auxiliaries. We secured such a united front on the basis of the immediate issues affecting the workers. The 12th plenum declared that more proletarian democracy was needed within united front organizations. One of our “crimes” was to put this into practice before the Plenum was held! Why are we refused the right to state our viewpoint on this vital Question?
Overshadowing these questions is the German crisis, and the Balham Group’s effort to raise the subject within the party. During the German crisis of 1923, all sections of the C.I. conducted a great campaign. How much has the party done in the last twelve months? Up to the time of our expulsion, we demanded that the party leadership should commence a discussion within the party and conduct a solidarity campaign among the workers. Nothing was done. The party has avoided facing the most serious aspect of the international situation. So much so, that the manifesto of the Amsterdam Congress, contains not one word about Germany. Do the party leaders attach importance to the German revolution? Have we any part to play in that struggle now? Or are they silent in the interests of socialism in one country? Events are showing that our demands were justified. We ask the delegates to the Party Congress to demand that an effective campaign be begun at once.
According to the London D.P.C. our chief “crime” was the carrying, on the S.W. London Anti-War Committee, of a mandate for this committee’s delegate to the Amsterdam Congress. The mandate contained, and this was the main objection, the statement that we should tell the workers that the U.S.S.R. was their country, and that the Red Army was their army, ready to fight on behalf of the workers of any country. This elementary statement of the principles of the Russian Revolution was described as “Trotskyism”. Yet if this is against the present policy of the Party, the Party has travelled a long way from its position when Lenin led the Comintern.
Our expulsion is a blow at the principles of the Party. By all the tests of Bolshevik criticism, the present party leadership has failed to build the party or its influence in the working class, at a time when opportunities are greatest. Every phase of party experience should have been examined in the party discussion: the memberships should have secured from the discussion Bolshevik understanding and appreciation of the tasks ahead. But open discussion and party education have been replaced by bureaucratic control, drastic misuse of party discipline against critics, the glossing over of vital differences within the leadership, the suppression of vital documents, and in place of argument, invective.
Since our expulsion, we have continued to work to win the workers to a revolutionary point of view. By work in the unions, amongst the unemployed, in the united front, our members have proved themselves active in the struggle. We seek to return to the party and stand by our comrades in the trials ahead. To this end we ask the Congress delegates to raise inside the Congress, the question of our return to the Party: to demand access to the documents in which our point of view is set out: to allow one of our members to take part in the Congress: and in so doing, help towards building a virile Communist Party, free from the bureaucracy, which in the past few years has done so much harm.
The Balham Group
Last updated on 27.12.2002