Communist Party of Great Britain

The Role of the Communist Party

Communist Party Syllabus

Published: June 1965
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This syllabus on the ROLE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY is intended as a basis for Branch education classes.

An understanding of the role of the Communist Party is essential not only for members of the Communist Party itself, but for active fighters for socialism outside its ranks, since the whole British working class and working people need a much stronger Communist Party today more than ever. We would therefore stress the importance of throwing open all classes and discussions on this syllabus to non-Party people and to make every effort to win their attendance and to recruit them to the Party.

This syllabus is divided into four main sessions, but in many cases it will be found useful to hold two or more discussions on a single session. The duration of the course, therefore, must be decided by the Branch organising it.

Advice for further reading is given after each session, but all attending the classes should be encouraged to read the following, if at all possible.

Twenty-Seventh Congress Report (C.P., 1s. 6d.).

Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism—Chapter 13, especially section 2.

Lenin: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back—Sections I (paragraph 1 of the Rules) and R (A Few Words on Dialectics).

Lenin: What is to be Done? —Section II, sub-sections A and B, and Section III, sub-sections A and C.

J. V. Stalin: Foundations of Leninism—Section 8.

Aims and Constitution of the Communist Party of Great Britain (inside the Party card).

Forging the Weapon—Handbook for Members of the Communist Party.

John Mahon: Report to the Twenty-Fifth Party Congress on Inner Party Democracy.


Session I

The Lessons of History

Why was the British Communist Party founded in July/August 1920? Who founded it and with what aim?

To answer these questions we have to look at the long-term lessons of British Labour history, to examine the immediate background of the establishment of the Party—The First World War, the October Revolution, the first stormy post-war years—and we have to study the deep urgent needs of the British working class and the British people to which the Party’s foundation corresponded.

(A) What were the long-term lessons of British Labour History?

The British Labour movement is the oldest in the world. The first real modern proletariat began to emerge in Britain in the last thirty years of the eighteenth century. It was in Britain that the trade unions and co-operative movements first began to develop on a wide scale. And it was in Britain that some of the first attempts were made to form an independent working-class political party. The early rudimentary efforts at the formation of such a party can be seen in the Corresponding Societies of the 1790’s, some of which, like the London Corresponding Society, were mainly working class in composition; and still more in the National Charter Association of 1840, which was organised in branches (called “classes”) of ten, with a Party card renewed quarterly and an elected Executive Committee.

In the years 1850-1880, when Britain was the workshop of the world and when the British capitalist class, dominating the world market, were coining colossal profits and were able as a consequence to “buy off” large sections of the working class and to tie them to capitalism and the capitalist outlook, the British working class lost for a time its revolutionary aims. This was the period when the strongly centralised unions of the skilled workers were developed (New Model Unions), but these unions accepted the capitalist system and confined their struggles to the defence and improvement of wages, hours and living conditions within the framework of the capitalist system. There was no attempt to form an independent or political working-class party in this period, but the workers followed the political lead of the Liberal and Radical wing of the capitalist class.

After 1880 when Britain had lost its monopoly position in the field of world trade, and new rivals like Germany, France and the U.S.A. were challenging Britain’s position, the Socialist movement and the ideas of socialism found new roots in the British working class. But Britain had and was rapidly extending an enormous colonial Empire from which increased profits were still culled, and which allowed the capitalist class to “buy over” an upper section, an “aristocracy of labour”, within the working class.

Thus when socialist ideas began to develop in Britain in the 1880’s, two more or less clearly defined trends began to emerge—a right and a left: a reformist trend, which talked about the advance to socialism in terms of social reform, as something gradual, piecemeal, peaceful, within the framework of capitalism; and a Marxist revolutionary trend, which understood the class struggle and saw that socialism could be achieved only if the working people, led by the working class, won political power.

In this period, 1880-1914, the working class again began to develop the struggle to form their own independent political parties. The Marxist Social Democratic Federation was formed in 1883, and the Socialist League led by William Morris, in 1884. The Independent Labour Party was founded in 1893, and the Labour Party (at first the Labour Representation Committee) in 1900.

Why was it that these political parties and groupings were not adequate to lead the British people to the victory of socialism?

In essence this was the position. The trade unions were great mass organisations, the greatest in the world. But the role of the unions was to defend and improve the living conditions of the workers; they were not socialist bodies. Vital though they were, they could not lead the political struggle for the defeat of the capitalist system.

The Independent Labour Party (I.L.P.) a political party, officially socialist, was not a Marxist organisation. Its leaders rejected Marxism, and it quickly came under the leadership of the right-wing reformist Labour leaders like Ramsay MacDonald. The Labour Party, the formation of which represented an important step forward for the British working class, was not at first a socialist body at all (only in 1918 were socialist aims written into its Constitution), and it, too, quickly came under the leadership of the right-wing reformists.

On the left, the small revolutionary Marxist groups like the Social Democratic Federation (S.D.F.), later the British Socialist Party (B.S.P.), and splits off from it like the Socialist Labour Party (S.L.P.), together for a period (1884-94) with the Socialist League, carried out a wonderful, courageous, pioneering activity, spreading the ideas of scientific socialism. But they were weakened by sectarianism, they tended to confine themselves to propagandist activities, and many of their leaders belittled the immediate struggles of the mass of the Labour movement. They were isolated from the mass movement, organisationally weak, lacking in cohesion.

Thus by 1914 the British working-class movement tended to be divided. There were great mass organisations like the trade unions and the Labour Party, but lacking socialist theory and socialist leadership. And there were revolutionary groupings which accepted Marxism but which lacked contact with and roots in the mass Labour movement.

There was a deep rift between socialism and the mass Labour movement. And neither a mass Labour movement (however well organised) without socialism, nor socialist groupings (however courageous) lacking contact with the mass Labour movement, could successfully lead the British people forward to socialism.

Already by 1914 history was demanding that the British working class should create a new revolutionary Party whose task would be to unite socialism and the mass Labour movement. But it was the next stormy six years of 1914-20 that were to bring this deep lesson of history to a head.

(B) What was the Immediate Political Background to the Formation of the Communist Party?

The outbreak of the First World War brought the position to a head. The right-wing leaders of the Labour Party and the T.U.C., betraying all international socialist decisions, gave full support to the war and made every effort to tie the Labour movement to the official capitalist war machine.

On the left, many of the men and women in the Marxist groupings, like the British Socialist Party and the Socialist Labour Party, or in the left of the Trade Union movement, conducted a courageous struggle against the war and in the defence of living conditions. This was seen in the anti-war campaign of John Maclean in Scotland, in the wage struggles of the engineers on the Clyde and in other areas, and in the great rent struggles. But with all this courage and with all the militant struggle, the movement lacked cohesion and clear political leadership. There was no revolutionary organisation with a revolutionary policy to supply such leadership.

The Russian Revolution of October 1917 made a tremendous impact on the British working class. There was a great movement of solidarity with the Russian workers and against intervention. The triumph of the Revolution made the most militant workers in Britain think what it was that had led the Russian workers to their victory. In Britain militant workers began to study the example of the Bolshevik Party. Marxist literature, including works of Lenin like Imperialism, State and Revolution, and in 1920, Left-Wing Communism, were translated and distributed. The formation of the Communist international in 1919 gave a new impetus for the founding of Communist parties in other countries.

The stormy post-war years of 1919-20, with the economic slump, unemployment mounting, and a fierce employers’ attack on living conditions coinciding with the rise of a revolutionary wave of struggle throughout Europe, gave rise to the ever-growing feeling of the need to found a revolutionary Communist Party in Britain.

In February 1919 a “Joint Provisional Committee for the formation of a Communist Party” was established, with representatives from the British Socialist Party, Socialist Labour Party, South Wales Socialist Society and Workers’ Socialist Federation (mainly in the East End of London), and after many stages of complex negotiation and discussion, the First Convention of the Communist Party was held on 31 July-1 August 1920 in London.

The Daily Herald (then still a working-class paper) wrote on 31 July 1920:

“Today the National Convention that is to found the Communist Party of Great Britain meets in London. The founding of such a Party we count emphatically a gain to the movement in this country. It is not a new split. It is indeed a fusion. It is the creation of an organisation for the expression in action of a definite and existent body of revolutionary thought....

“They are preparing to face the question which too many of us are inclined temperamentally to evade—the problem of the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of the British revolution. The strong point of the Communist Party is its steady realism.”

(C) What Were the Historic Needs of the British Working Class that Led to the Formation of the Communist Party?

The success of the October Revolution, the example of the Bolsheviks, the help of Lenin himself, were all vital contributions to the formation of the British Communist Party; but the Party was not formed from outside, through outside intervention and influence. It arose to meet the historic needs of the British working class. The Communist Party was founded out of the experience of the Socialist and Labour movement, and the lessons of the left struggle in the trade unions and the Labour Party. From this, its founders drew the conclusion that it was necessary to end with both the traditions of the socialist sects—isolated from the main body of workers in the reformist-led organisations—and with the traditions of the unorganised and consequently ineffective left in the Labour Party. The task was to unite the militant fighters for socialism in a single party of the working class and socialism, guided by Marxist theory, which would direct all its efforts to win the majority of the workers, and in the first place the organised workers, for the aims of working-class power.

What were these urgent needs to which the formation of the Communist Party corresponded?

The working class and its allies needed a party which would lead them on all the immediate issues that confronted them, give them a socialist consciousness, and provide their leading section with a revolutionary form of organisation. They needed a new type of Party which would carry out at one and the same time these three tasks

(i) To give the working class a scientific socialist theory, a socialist perspective, socialist consciousness, based on Marxism. To help the working class and its allies to understand the capitalist system under which they lived; how to end it by winning political power, and to replace it by a system of socialism.

(ii) To give leadership to the struggle of the working class and working people on all issues which confronted them at the moment—wages, prices, social services, rents, issues of peace and democracy—to lead, guide, coordinate these struggles.

(iii) To provide the vanguard, the most conscious section of the British working class, with a new sort of organisation, a revolutionary organisation capable of leading the struggles of the British working people right up to the winning of political power and the building of socialism.

These were the urgent needs of the British working class. And it was to meet these needs that the Communist Party was founded.

Further Reading

Harry Pollitt . . . . Serving My Time (Chapters 5-8).

William Gallacher . . . . Revolt on the Clyde (Chapters 10-11).

J. R. Campbell . . . . Forty Fighting Years (C.P., 6d.).

J. Klugmann . . . . “The Foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain”, Marxism Today, January 1960

Session II

The Role of the Communist Party

What are the essential aspects of the role of the Communist Party? The working class needs the Communist Party:

(i) To give the Labour movement a socialist consciousness, a scientific socialist theory, a perspective of advance to socialism.

(ii) To lead the workers and their allies in all the struggles which confront them—from the immediate struggles under capitalism right up to the struggles for political power and the building of socialism.

(iii) To provide the organisation for the vanguard of the working class and working people capable of carrying out these two tasks.

(A) Socialist Theory and Perspective

(i) Living under capitalism, the working people of Britain cannot easily and can never spontaneously achieve a socialist outlook, a socialist consciousness. They are subjected, throughout their lives, to the capitalist propaganda machine. School text-books, comics and children’s papers, the bulk of the daily and weekly press, the B.B.C., television and the great majority of films and plays combine to try to fill their heads with the ideas, outlook, prejudices and illusions of capitalism. These same capitalist ideas are served up to them in a different form by the right-wing Labour leaders.

In this situation, the majority of workers rebel against the effects of capitalism long before they understand and challenge the capitalist system itself. This means that they will fight on wage issues long before they understand and challenge capitalist exploitation and the wage system; they will fight against unemployment long before they understand the nature of capitalist crisis; they will fight for democracy long before they understand the nature of the capitalist state; they will fight on concrete issues of peace long before they understand the connections of imperialism and war, and socialism as the only road to permanent peace. They will not, by themselves, come to understand the need to end capitalism, to replace it by socialism, and how to make the transition from the one to the other.

(ii) It is the special task, therefore, of the Communist Party on the basis of scientific socialism, Marxism-Leninism, to infuse socialist theory, socialist consciousness into the Labour and progressive movement.

A Communist Party is needed to give the working people an understanding of the nature of the capitalist system in which they live, the nature of capitalist exploitation and capitalist slump; the nature of imperialism and the nature of neo-colonialism today, the socialist solution to the problems of the British people, the nature of socialism, and the method of transition from capitalism to socialism.

Only the Communist Party can do this. It will never happen spontaneously (by itself). Socialist understanding does not arise by itself from the immediate struggles, however hard or successful they may be.

The working class does not develop a political, socialist consciousness spontaneously, out of separate or even out of a series of struggles or campaigns.

“It would be the greatest mistake to think that all militant trade unionists are Socialists. Years of right-wing propaganda has weakened socialist understanding.” (John Gollan, Report to Twenty-Seventh Congress, Congress Report, p. 17.)

In the period 1910-14, for example, some of the most bitter trade union battles which the British working class has ever known took place. Great strikes of railwaymen, miners, dockers, etc.—but no socialist consciousness was born spontaneously from these struggles, as was shown when the mass of workers were swept so speedily into support for the war in 1914.

Everyone who has participated in a strike knows that the strikers, however militant, do not automatically become Socialists as a result of their struggles. In a period of struggle the workers can more easily come to understand the socialist approach and a socialist solution, but only a Communist Party with a clear theory can take this opportunity to develop socialist consciousness in the course of the daily struggles.

(iii) Applying the general principles of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete problems of Britain, the Communist Party puts before the British working people a perspective of advance to socialism, the real line of march. It can show them the gleam of socialism in Britain, make clear to them the road which is before them.

The reformist right-wing Labour leaders in Britain have abandoned the aim of socialism and seek to eliminate it as the aim of the Labour movement. This was seen especially in the main policies pursued by the Labour Government elected in 1964, led by Harold Wilson. This Government continued the policies of its Tory predecessors on all major questions—arms expenditure, incomes policy, budget attacks on the people, support for U.S. imperialist aggression in Vietnam, the Dominican Republic and other places, support for the anti-Soviet, cold war, military blocs, NATO, SEATO, support for re-arming Western Germany, etc. In the economic field they have seen their task as “modernising”, that is, rationalising the British economy. Especially they have continued the Tory propaganda that the ideas of classes and class struggle are now “out of date”. This Government was foremost in calling on the workers to make sacrifices in “the interests of the country” and in presenting its policies as applying to all—capitalists and workers alike. Thus they seek to continue the attempt to eliminate the ideas of class struggle and of working-class power as having any relevance to the struggle for socialism. Their whole aim is to tie the workers to the capitalist system.

But the Communist Party, showing the line of advance and pointing out the socialist goal, gives purpose to the daily struggles and, in so doing, strengthens these struggles, linking them with and showing their place in the fight for political power. The long-term programme of the British Communist Party, The British Road to Socialism, is based on the application of Marxism to British conditions in the post-war world. It gives the working class purpose and direction, inspiration, a socialist perspective, and enables them to see their daily struggles linked to this general perspective of advance to socialism in Britain.

(iv) Marxist theory enables the Communist Party to act in the interests of the whole of the working class and not of any one section of it at the expense of others; to act in their future as well as in their present interests. This means that the Communist Party has to help the working class to fight against narrow sectional and craft ideas, to fight for the unity of the working class, to fight for unity of the whole working people, to fight for the common struggle between the people of Britain and peoples of the newly liberated countries against neo-colonialism, as well as the peoples who are still subjected to direct rule by British imperialism, to fight for international working-class solidarity.


It is a fundamental task of the Communist Party, on the basis of Marxism-Leninism, to provide the British working class and its allies with socialist theory, socialist consciousness, that frees them from the chains of capitalist (and reformist) ideas, enables them to understand the capitalist system in which they live, how to change it and replace it by socialism, and how the transition from capitalism to socialism can be brought about in the concrete conditions of Britain.

(B) Leadership of the Immediate Struggles and of the Struggle for Socialism

(i) The Communist Party works to give the working people an understanding of socialism; a socialist consciousness, but no amount of socialist propaganda and education, essential though it is, is sufficient by itself to lead to the victory of socialism.

The mass of the people under capitalism do not start with a socialist consciousness, but the Communist Party has to find the means of leading them into the struggle against capitalism and, step by step, into the conscious struggle for socialism. There must be no wide gap between the Communist vanguard and the mass of the people. The Party cannot find the way to lead the people to socialism if it is isolated from them. Failure to understand this was one of the greatest weaknesses of the Marxist groups which existed before the foundation of the Party, and these sectarian weaknesses were, to an extent, carried forward into the Communist Party.

(ii) The mass of the people are hit and hurt by capitalism. Capitalism hits them on the issues of wages, prices, hours of labour, rents, inadequate social services, insecurity, unemployment, housing, attacks on their liberties, threats of war, etc., etc. The people are ready to fight on these immediate issues long before they are clear on the nature of the system which is responsible for these attacks and the need to replace it with a socialist system.

What is the attitude of the Communist Party on all these immediate issues which confront the working people of Britain under capitalism? Is it indifferent—does it look on these struggles on immediate issues as “mere palliative measures” that weaken the fight for socialism?

On the contrary, the Communist Party is deeply concerned with the defence and improvement of the immediate living conditions of the people within capitalism. It regards the fight on these issues as an essential aspect of the class struggle against capitalism without which the fight for socialism is impossible. It does not wait for socialism to start the defence of the interests of the people.

The Communist Party must work in every way to help the people and lead them to carry out every form of struggle in defence of their immediate interests. No aspect of the struggle is too humble. Whatever concerns the people is the concern of the Communist Party: therefore the Communist Party and its members must take up the active leadership of all the immediate struggles on economic issues, social issues, issues of democracy, independence and peace.

Every victory in the immediate struggle weakens capitalism, strengthens the working class. In the struggle the workers learn facts about the nature of capitalism and the need to change it, provided that the Communist Party works correctly.

And in leading the immediate struggles, the Communist Party works for the greatest possible unity, both within the working class and of the working class with all the other sections of the people who are also attacked by capitalism.

This means knowing the people, living as part of them fighting on the issues which most concern them, helping them to find the most effective forms of action in all their struggles and the greatest unity and solidarity in the course of the struggles.

(iii) In the course of their struggles, the working class and working people develop a great variety of organisations concerned with the defence of their immediate interests—trade unions, trades councils, shop stewards’ committees, co-operative organisations, organisations of ex-Servicemen, of the women and of youth; organisations for civil liberties, peace organisations and committees, professional and cultural organisations. The Communist Party gives every support to all organisations which in any way defend the interests of the mass of the people. It supports their actions, works to strengthen them, and its members will be amongst the most active, loyal and selfsacrificing members of all organisations of this type.

The Communist Party works to strengthen their struggles and to coordinate them. It fights for unity amongst them; it helps to give them perspective and to show them the link between the immediate struggles and the struggle against capitalism. Wherever the struggles are waged—provided they are objectively anti-capitalist—the Communist Party will be to the fore.

It is for these reasons that, along with the activities just mentioned, the Communist Party regards the electoral struggle, the adoption of Communist candidates for local councils and for Parliament as of the greatest importance. In rejecting the right-wing Labour view that socialism is achieved purely by electoral means, i.e. simply by the election of a Labour Government which can be won on the basis of a non-socialist programme calculated not to scare away the “floating voter”, or by “a swing of the pendulum”, the Communist Party regards its electoral activity as an integral part of its work in giving leadership in all aspects of the class struggle. We see local elections as part of the struggle to secure improvements in the social and living conditions of the people: We see Parliamentary elections as part of the struggle to present an alternative class policy and to secure its acceptance by important sections of the working people.

(iv) The Communist Party and its members, armed with a Marxist theory, can see the long-term objective of political power and of building socialism. And thus, not only do they loyally and actively work side by side with the people in all their mass organisations, on all the immediate issues, but they will work continuously to explain their long-term socialist aims and perspectives

They will help to select the most effective issues of struggle and most effective forms of struggle. They will work to lift up, step by step, the level of the struggle from the more humble issues to the more vital political issues.

Thus the Communist Party emerges as the highest form of class organisation. For it alone strives to co-ordinate and lead all aspects of struggle and to give them a common aim and direction—the fight for socialism.

Thus, step by step, in the course of the immediate struggles in every field, the Party spreads the ideas and perspectives of socialism until it can win a decisive majority of the people to take the road of achieving political power and building socialism.

This means that whilst campaigning daily on all the immediate issues of wages, hours, rents, social services, democracy, independence, peace, the Communist Party must continuously put forward the ideas contained in its long-term programme, The British Road to Socialism, and work to win a decisive majority for these ideas.

(v) The Party nationally, the District and Area Committees, Party branches in the localities and factories, work to become the all-round political leadership of the working people. But leadership does not come automatically or just from wanting it, or talking about it. Leadership has to be won and can be won only if it is deserved. And recognition of the value of Communist leadership in the working-class struggle comes as the result of action, when workers are able to experience Communist leadership in the actual struggle.


The second aspect of the role of the Communist Party is to be linked inseparably with the mass of the working class and working people, to lead them in immediate struggles which confront them, to be the most active constant defenders of their daily interests, etc. To co-ordinate the various streams of struggle in different fields. To work for the greatest measure of united action of the working class and of the whole of the working people, and—step by step—to lift the level of struggle until it is possible to win the people for the aim of political power and the building of socialism.

(C) Building an Organisation Capable of Leading the Struggle

But it is not enough to be a Party with a scientific theory of socialism and a Party leading the immediate struggles. To accomplish these tasks the Communist Party has to be organised in a way different from that of earlier political parties of the working class.

The ruling class, under capitalism, seems to have all the trump cards. It has the state, the propaganda machine, the money, the experience. But the working class and working people have one weapon which their class enemy never has—their numbers and their power as being the people that man the factories, the transport and communications and even to a degree the apparatus of state. For their numbers to be effective, organisation and discipline are necessary, and the vanguard of the working class need a revolutionary organisation which can enable them to lead the people to socialism.

(We examine the organisational principles of the Communist Party in the next session.)


A Communist Party cannot function as an effective Party unless it carries out all three aspects of its role—socialist propaganda, leadership of the immediate struggles, the development of revolutionary organisation.

Socialist propaganda alone, however eloquent, will not win the victory of socialism if it is carried out in isolation from the mass of the people and the daily struggles. Leadership of the daily struggles, however militant, will not win the victory of socialism if it is carried out without socialist propaganda and education. Neither socialist propaganda nor leadership of the immediate struggles can be successful if out of these do not arise the steady building and strengthening of an organised Communist Party, rooted amongst the masses in the factories and areas, capable of leading the people from the immediate daily struggles to the struggle for political power and the building of socialism.

(D) The Communist Party and the Fight for Working-Class Unity

(i) Labour-Communist Unity

The Communist Party has always fought for the unity of the working class, an essential feature of which today is Labour-Communist unity. Since the foundation of the Communist Party the central problem of the Labour movement has been the establishment of the correct relationship and alliance between the political class party of the working class and the main body of the mass organisations of the working class still held in the grip of reformist leadership which pursues capitalist policies through the Labour Party.

In the beginning, the Communist Party sought to solve the problem by fighting for the affiliation of the Communist Party to the Labour Party. This the right-wing loaders of the Labour Party and the trade unions have opposed ever since 1920. To prevent it they have destroyed the original basis of the Labour Party as a federation of trade unions and socialist organisations, imposed bans and proscriptions against Communists which were soon extended to many left-wing organisations and fighters. Finally, in 1944, they changed the Constitution so as to rule out the possibility of the affiliation of the Communist Party to the Labour Party.

This situation has meant that affiliation has ceased to be a current question. But despite all the efforts of the right-wing, the Communist Party has remained an integral part of the Labour movement and of the working class, and increasing co-operation between Communists and sections of and individuals in the Labour movement has been a feature of political life. Working-class unity, Labour-Communist unity is today more important than ever. The Communist Party, which has always fought to establish such unity, fights for it today more vigorously than ever before and is seeking to establish it in new forms. These are:

1. To establish unity of action in the factories, trade unions, in the localities and wherever possible, on a national scale on all the key questions which face the workers and people of Great Britain—above all on such questions as peace, wages and social advance.

2. In the electoral field the Communist Party seeks to end the position where Labour and Communist candidates oppose one another. It fights for agreement on a single working-class candidate in each constituency, but until the right wing Labour leaders are willing to discuss this whole question in a serious fashion, it is the duty of the Communist Party to continue and extend its independent electoral activity.

3. To develop united struggle with all left elements in the Labour Party in the fight to change all those policies of the Labour Government which help the monopoly capitalists and are harmful to the interests of the working-class and its allies—membership of NATO, arms programme, support for U.S. imperialism, incomes and budget policies, etc. To work jointly with all such left forces for the propagation of socialist ideas and the winning of support for a socialist policy in all sections of the Labour Movement.

4. To remove the bans and proscriptions in the trade unions and the Labour Party, which weaken the Labour Party, maintain the domination of the right wing and prevent the mobilisation of the organised Labour movement for a new radical policy against the monopolists.

(ii) The Communist Party and the Labour Left

There has always been a left in the Labour Party, for the struggle between right and left policies is inherent in the very structure of the Labour Party, based as it is on mass working-class organisations like the trade unions but with a leadership composed of an alliance of petty-bourgeois reformist politicians and the most right-wing trade union bureaucrats, seeking to impose capitalist policies on the Labour movement.

The left forces in the Labour Party have had a long history of advances and defeats. The 1960 Scarborough Conference of the Labour Party saw the highest point of advance of the Labour left for a generation.

The most decisive factor in the emergence of the left has been the struggle and activity of the Communist Party and of the Daily Worker—its consistent propaganda, education, fighting initiative on all immediate issues—wages, hours, social services—especially the consistent fight for peace.

But the left by itself cannot do the job of defeating the right-wing, changing the policy of the Labour Party and Government and giving all-round, decisive leadership in the fight for socialism.

“Even the most militant and left Labour M.P.s and constituency Labour Party workers face the limitations placed on their activities by right-wing control and discipline. In addition they are not and cannot be an organised party with a common ideology and programme and national, district and local organisation.

“The task of winning the British Labour movement and the British working class for socialism is a political task which requires above all, a political organisation. That organisation is and can only be the Communist Party, and nothing can replace it in the Labour movement.” (John Gollan, Twenty-Seventh Congress Report, page 19).

There can be no victory of the left in the Labour movement without the Communist Party. Every effort to build a left without the Communist Party has failed to change the right-wing leadership of the Labour Party. The successes of the left have always been gained in unity with the Communist Party.

The Communist Party is the only organised Party of the left in the British working-class movement with a centralised leadership, branch organisations covering the main centres and industrial concerns, and a consistent socialist (Marxist) outlook, and is engaged in systematic mass work and consistent socialist propaganda and education.

For left policies to triumph in the Labour Party, all obstacles to unity in the working class must be overcome. The bans and proscriptions must be ended and there must be co-operation, joint campaigning and work of all left forces and the Communist Party.

Above all, the working class cannot advance to political power and socialism without the Communist Party. The key issue of the advance is the strengthening of the Communist Party.

Further Reading

V. I. Lenin . . . . Left-Wing Communism.

Lenin and Stalin . . . . On the Party (L.L.L. No. 27) (now out of print).

John Gollan . . . . Reports to Twenty-Seventh, Twenty-Eighth and Twenty-Ninth Party Congresses and Political Resolutions of these Congresses (see Congress Reports).

Session III

Democratic Centralism

(A) Organisation Corresponds to Political Aim

(i) The organisational structure of a political party depends on and reflects its political aims and its conception of how these aims are to be achieved. Thus organisation, while of decisive importance, depends on aim. The aim of our Party is socialism and the aim of our organisation is to assist our Party to give leadership and direction to all the struggles of the working class and to link them with the fight for socialism.

The organisational form of the Communist and revolutionary workers’ parties has two main and connected purposes. First, to enable the Communists to take a leading part in all the struggles waged by the working class, to enable them to maintain the closest possible contact with the working class and the people, especially with the decisive sections of the working class, those engaged in large-scale factory production, and their organisations. Without such living contact Communist leadership would not be possible. Second, to mobilise the united force of the Communist Party as such for the struggle for socialism. This demands unity of will, outlook and action, and voluntary self-discipline on the part of the members of the Communist Party. Without such internal unity expressed through democratic centralism on which the Communist form of organisation is based, the Communists would be unable to give effective leadership in the fight for socialism.

(ii) The form of organisation adopted by the Labour Party is not suitable for the Communist Party.

The Labour Party, according to its Constitution, stands for socialism, but the right-wing leaders of the Labour Party have revised and rejected the aims of socialism. As has been the case ever since the Labour Party was formed, the present leaders of the Labour Party are reformists. The British state, they proclaim, is neutral, above classes. The so-called new society which they talk about is to be achieved by gradual piecemeal reform within the framework of the capitalist state and the capitalist economic system, and is nothing but the continuation of capitalism. They reject the need of the working people to win political power. They reject the class struggle itself and put forward in theory and practice a line of class collaboration.

Their main purpose becomes the winning of parliamentary and local elections, the election of Labour councils, and a Labour Government, which will operate within the framework of capitalism.

The Labour Party, therefore, is organised above all for electoral activity and not for the all-round political struggle against capitalism. Its organisation encourages long periods of passivity and inertia, with occasional flare-ups of routine electoral activity.

Moreover, with all the emphasis on elections, the Labour Party leadership subordinates the whole Party to the Parliamentary Labour Party, which is a law unto itself, which makes its own interpretation of Party policy, violating Conference decisions (e.g. decisions of 1960 Labour Party Conference on abandonment of the H-bomb against which Gaitskell and the right-wing fought most fiercely, the Polaris bases at Holy Loch, attitude to Western Germany, etc., etc.). It is the leader of the parliamentary group who is the leader of the Party, and he, not the Party leadership, chooses the members of the Labour Government. A Labour Government, and especially the Cabinet and the Prime Minister himself, are responsible not to the Party, but only to themselves. To maintain their domination of the Party, the right-wing leaders introduce a whole series of bans, proscriptions, and purges, more and more restricting the democratic control of the Party by the Party membership.

Such a form of organisation, arising from such reformist aims which encourage passivity, which is geared only to electoral activity, which subordinates the whole Party to its parliamentary section, which limits and restricts inner-Party democracy, is one which is incapable of leading the British working people to the victory of socialism.

(iii) The Communist Party has a quite different aim and a quite different conception of how to achieve its aim from that of the right-wing leadership of the Labour Party. In its long-term programme—The British Road to Socialism—the Communist Party outlines its conception of how socialism can be achieved in the specific conditions which exist in our country.

The Communist Party explains that to advance to socialism it is necessary for the British working class, at the head of the whole working people, not only continuously to carry out the immediate struggle on economic and social questions, democracy, independence and peace, but to establish a government based on the majority of the people—the working class and its allies—a government which will take real political power into its hands. By this is meant control of the key positions in the state. Only when this is done does the real transition to socialism begin.

The Communist Party stresses the role and importance of electoral activity. To realise the aims outlined in The British Road to Socialism the Communist Party works to win and steadily to increase its representation in Parliament and on the local councils. However, it sees the electoral struggle as an important part of the all-round political struggle and not as the only form of activity for a working-class party. All sides of the working-class struggle must be developed if capitalism is to be defeated.

The Communist Party, therefore, is organised to carry out the continuous all-round political struggle on the immediate issues, to carry out continuous propaganda and education on the theory and aims of socialism, and to lead the mass of the people in the struggle for political power.

(B) Features of a Revolutionary Party

(a) Unity of Will and Action

(i) Voluntary Organisation. The Communist Party is a voluntary body of like-minded people. It is composed of men and women who, conscious that socialism alone holds out the hope of human advance, and understanding the decisive role played by the working class in bringing about the transition from capitalism to socialism, freely bind themselves together into a revolutionary political party of the working class. They aim to give leadership to the working class in all its day-to-day struggles and to link these struggles with the final aim of winning working-class power on the basis of which alone the advance to socialism can be made.

(ii) Unity. The Communist Party is a party of action and struggle. In order to achieve its aims the Communist Party needs unity, i.e. the fight for agreed policies on the part of all its members, a unity of will, aim and action of all its organisations from the executive down to the branches and individual members. But unity cannot be imposed in a voluntary organisation. It has to be achieved by discussion, argument and conviction. Its discussions serve the aim of hammering out policies which have to be carried out in practice.

The Party is composed of higher and lower bodies. The Party Congress is the highest body in the Party. The Executive between Congresses develops policy in accordance with Congress decisions and gives national leadership to the party as a whole. District Committees are established whose task is to apply the decisions of Congress and of the Executive and to work out lines of action for important political areas of the country. Branches exist to apply these policies to local conditions in factories and in the areas.

In the nature of things not everyone will agree with particular policies. The political situation is complex and different people will have different views on what shall be the Party's policy in particular situations.

However, discussion has the aim of achieving clarity on what needs to be done. When the Party takes a decision it is outlining a course of action. The decision is made so that it can be carried out.

To achieve such unity of aim, outlook and action and to develop voluntary self-discipline in order that the struggle for socialism can be waged by the Party in the most effective way, the Communist Parties base themselves on the system of democratic centralism in matters of organisation.

(b) Democratic Centralism

(i) An organised, united body fighting for common aims. The Communist Party has to give political leadership under all types of conditions—from the limited democracy of capitalism to periods of outright repression, in periods of upsurges and periods of lull, in periods of defeat and of victory.

The capitalist class seems to have all the weapons—the machinery of the state, the whole apparatus of propaganda, press and education, its long experience in the maintenance of its class rule. Against this the working people have their trump card—their numbers and their power. They are many, the ruling class are few.

But for the numbers of the working people to become effective, they need a disciplined organisation. Above all, the Communist Party as the vanguard of the working class must be organised in a disciplined way. To be fully effective, the branches of the Communist Party must become part of a single system, knit together, following and fighting for a common policy.

This is the basis of the Marxist conception of democratic centralism.

(ii) Two principles. Democratic centralism represents the fusion of two principles without which the development of a revolutionary working-class Party is impossible. These principles are, firstly, democracy from the bottom to the top and, secondly, centralism—the co-ordination of the activity of the whole Party from top to bottom along common agreed lines of policy. Or, in other words, it is centralism supported by democracy and democracy with centralised guidance.

While it is the foundation of Communist organisation, democratic centralism, like any organisational principle, cannot by itself be a guarantee that we will achieve our aims. The guarantee is that throughout the whole of our work we firmly adhere to the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism, win the decisive organisations of the Labour movement for our policy and programme and build the Communist Party as the mass organisation of the working class.

(iii) Democracy. Democracy is ensured by the right of all members and units to participate in the making of policy and of members to be elected and to elect all higher bodies. The membership at all levels are the people to whom higher bodies give account of their stewardship at regular intervals at annual general meetings, area, district and national congresses.

There is thus the fullest freedom for discussion of policy. But the purpose of discussion is to arrive at a policy which shall be the basis for action. After the fullest discussion, a policy is arrived at on the democratic basis of the majority vote. Once such a decision has been arrived at it becomes Party policy binding on all Party members, including the minority.

Similarly with the election of the leading bodies. At branch, district and national level, the election of the leading bodies is one of the most important tasks. Every facility is given for the airing of views, and criticisms in connection with the election of the personnel of the leading committees. These are elected not on the basis of block votes or of bargains behind the scenes, but on the basis of open explanation of the political fitness of the people concerned and by democratic vote. Thus the leading bodies at all levels are elected on the basis of being the best people for the job.

(iv) Centralism. This means that the higher the committee in the structure of the Party the greater the political responsibility. The District Committees have greater responsibilities than area or branch committees. The Executive Committee has greater responsibilities than the District Committees. The principle of centralism is reflected in the subordination of the lower leading bodies to the higher ones, not in any blind mechanical sense but on the basis of the recognition of the greater political knowledge, standing and responsibility of the higher body.

(c) The Features of Democratic Centralism

Democratic centralism, therefore, means:

(i) The right of all members to take part in the discussion and formation of policy and the duty of all members to fight for that policy when it has been decided.

(ii) The right of all members to elect and be elected to the collective leaderships of the Party at all levels, and to be represented at the National Congress, highest authority of the Party.

(iii) The right of the elected higher organisations to make, between Congresses, decisions which are binding on lower organisations. The duty of the higher organisations to consult to the maximum possible before making such decisions, and to fully explain the reasons for them. The duty of the lower organisations to express their views before the decisions are taken by the higher body and to carry them out when made.

(iv) The right of all members to contribute to the democratic life of the Party and the duty of all members to safeguard the unity of the Party. While carrying out the policy and decisions of the Party, members who disagree with a decision have the right to reserve their opinions and to express their views through the proper channels open to them as laid down in the Party Rules.

(d) The Organisational Principle of all Communist Parties

Democratic centralism as a system of organisation is characteristic of every revolutionary Marxist party. Adherence to the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism, plus these features of organisation, are precisely what we mean when we speak of a new kind of party or, “a party of a new type”. Democratic centralism was not elaborated primarily to meet the needs of the Bolsheviks in Russia struggling against Tsarist oppression in the early years of the present century. It is the only form or system of party organisation by which a revolutionary Marxist party can carry out its tasks of leading the struggle of the working class for socialism, in a unified and disciplined fashion. Whether the Party works in conditions of legality or otherwise is, of course, very important. In conditions of illegality the possibilities for wide democratic discussion are severely limited and centralism receives a greater emphasis. But, in whatever conditions a Communist Party works, democratic centralism remains the foundation of its organisation, for its main purpose is to unify the forces of the Party for common action and struggle.

Democratic centralism, the unity and discipline which it involves, is particularly essential in a country like Britain. For here the working-class movement including the Communist Party works in an environment of highly-developed capitalism, in which capitalist ideas are spread with great skill by a most powerful and subtle propaganda apparatus. This infects, in some degree or other, all members of the working class, including members of the Communist Party. Democratic centralism enables the Party to fight against the penetration of alien capitalist ideas which would weaken its unity and immobilise it.

(e) Party Unity

(i) Decisions are binding on all. The stipulation that “the elected leading committees have the right to make the decisions which are binding on the lower organisations” (see above) and that once a decision is taken it becomes a Party decision binding on all members including those who oppose it is not a violation of democracy. On the contrary, it expresses operative not formal democracy and is linked with the whole conception of a Party whose main task is the leadership of the working-class struggle, organisation of action in the fight for socialism and its basis is the essentially democratic idea of the subordination of the minority to the majority.

(ii) The right to reserve opinions. While majority decisions are binding on all, those who disagree have the right to reserve their opinions and to express them to higher bodies who must give them serious attention. They may ask for the matter to be reopened. Since the work of leading committees comes up for review at the next Congress those maintaining disagreement have the right to raise the matter in pre-Congress discussion.

(iii) Factions. While members have the right to reserve their opinions, to express them to higher bodies, to ask for questions to be reopened, they have not the right to combine with other members in other Party organisations who think like them and to conduct an organised struggle for their point of view. This is turning democracy on its head, for it is permitting a minority to organise a struggle to overturn the will of the majority expressed after a full and proper discussion.

To permit this is to permit the organisation of factions within the Party. A faction is a grouping of Party members outside the recognised organisations of the Party—branches, Borough, Area and District Committees, Executive Committee—for the purpose of carrying on inner-Party struggle. Carried to its logical conclusions, agreement to permit minority groupings to unite for the purpose of fighting a particular policy and for individual members who disagree with aspects of the Party’s policy to campaign throughout the Party for their viewpoint, means laying the basis for the struggle of organised political trends within the Party. This would lead to the establishment of alternative political centres and leaderships, alternative policies and alternative group loyalties. The Party would be torn asunder, its unity and effectiveness destroyed, if this were allowed to happen.

(iv) The Guarantee. Formal rights, guaranteeing the fullest democracy within the framework of centralised leadership, are important and are embodied in the Party rules. But the real guarantee that democracy becomes a reality is the extent to which the Party branches are active, engaged in regular political activity and discussion and constantly transmit their experiences and views to the higher bodies, as well as receiving more concrete and helpful assistance from them. A much fuller flow of ideas both ways is essential. There must be a closer connection and better political relations between the branches and the higher committees, and there must be such a development of Party branch life that the great majority of the members take part in it and the branches become more closely connected with the people and active amongst them.

The building of a number of strong, politically active branches, especially in the factories, the fight to secure the election of Communist councillors and M.P.s, is thus of the greatest importance in transforming the whole life of the Party.

(v) The Party is a unity of leaders, leading bodies and members. There is no antagonism between democracy and centralism in the operation of democratic centralism in the Communist Party. Nor is there in the Communist Party the situation which exists in the Labour Party, that of two trends, a rank and file fighting for socialist policies in constant conflict with a right-wing leadership.

In the Communist Party members and leaders—at all levels—have the same interests and aims, base their activities on the common acceptance of the principles of Marxism-Leninism, constitute a unity which is the Communist Party. There is no contradiction between the leaders, the leading bodies and the members. The members elect the leaders to lead and the leaders are responsible to the members who elect them. If bureaucratic methods are found anywhere in our Party, both leaders and members are equally interested in removing them. Nobody in the Communist Party has a stake in leading positions or an interest in maintaining bureaucracy and bad methods of work. All members and leaders are alike interested in waging the common, united struggle for socialism.

The principles of democratic centralism are the firm effective basis on which that struggle can alone be organised.

Further Reading

Report on Inner-Party Democracy. (Communist Party, Is. 6d.)

John Mahon . . . . Report to Twenty-Fifth Congress. (Congress Report, pp. 43-59.)

Session IV

The Organisational Structure of the Communist Party

(A) The Communist Party Branches

(i) The Role of the Branches. The Communist Party is organised in branches—factory branches and local (area) branches.

Clause 2 of the Party rules states:

“Membership shall be open to persons of eighteen years and upwards, who accept the aims of the Party, pay their dues regularly, and work in a Party organisation.”

The Communist Party exists to unite and lead the working class in the struggle for socialism. To organise and lead the working class the Communist Party must itself be organised correctly. Its members must be so organised that they can most effectively preserve contact with the mass of the people and lead them in their daily struggles: the branches are, therefore, based on the places where the mass of the people work and live—the factories, rail depots, pits, offices on the one hand; and the localities on the other.

All who agree with the policy of the Communist Party are welcome in its ranks. Some will be able to do more than others. All can find some useful way of helping, and members will do more as their understanding of the role and tasks of the Communist Party increases. But the Party cannot be a loose assembly of individuals. It is based on organised units—branches. For the Communist Party, therefore, it is a point of principle that every member must work in a basic Party unit, a Party branch.

The strength and influence of the Communist Party depends above all on the strength of its branches. It is through the branches that we get the closest unity between the Party and the people.

Just as the Executive Committee of the Party must give an all-round continuous political leadership to the British people as a whole, so the Party branches must give all-round continuous political leadership to the people in the fields in which they operate.

(ii) The Factory Branch. Of special, indeed key, importance are the factory branches of the Party (under this term are included branches in depots, pits and offices). Why is this?

In modern capitalist society the key section of the working class, the section which is the most politically conscious, which leads all other sections, is the workers in the great industrial concerns. Within the working class, the key role is played by the organised workers in large-scale industry. For the development of mass struggle against capitalism, the key places are the factories and the trade unions.

Communist Party factory branches carry out their work among decisive sections of the working class at the point of production. Here the workers can best be mobilised for the struggle against capitalism; it is here that class understanding, the conception of working-class power, can best be developed; it is here that the struggle is the most effective. This is the very best centre for achieving working-class unity—the unity of workers of different trades and unions, skilled and unskilled, young and old, male and female. Often the large factories can become a centre for rallying the people in a whole area. It is for this reason that the organisation of factory branches is a question of principle of first priority for the Party.

The factory branch is responsible for carrying to the workers of the factory the Party’s policy both on all current issues and its long-term policy. It must know all the problems that concern the workers. It conducts public meetings, above all at the factory gates. It carries out campaigns in the factory in defence of the workers’ conditions, on social issues, on peace. It sells the Daily Worker and the Party literature. It organises classes and meetings to explain the theory of socialism. It seeks to recruit industrial workers to the Party.

An important task of a factory branch as it accumulates the necessary experience and ability is to work out a policy for the factory based on the Party’s policy for the particular industry with which it is concerned. Such a policy is the best way of relating the immediate demands of the workers and the general national policy of the Party.

Its main task is to change the political outlook of the workers, including their attitude in elections. The factory branch is an all-round political body, giving political leadership on all the questions that arise; it has, therefore, an important responsibility for the Party’s electoral work in the area. Its leading members should stand as candidates and the branch should campaign consistently within the factory to win support for the Party’s candidates as well as for the Party’s policy.

(iii) The Local (Area) Branch. Not all the members of the Party work in factories, depots, pits, large offices and concerns. That is why the Party, alongside the factory branches, organises local (area) branches. The struggle of the working people develops not only where they work, but also where they live.

The local (area) branch is responsible for formulating a policy on local issues in line with the Party’s national policy, popularising it and organising the people to take action around it.

The local branch should know intimately the area in which it works. What are the key sections of workers or people in it? What organisations are there in the area—trade unions, co-operatives, Labour Party, other political parties, peace committees, friendship societies, ex-service organisations, organisations of the women and the youth, cultural and sports organisations, churches, local press, etc., etc.? Who are the political and other personalities? What special problems affect the local population? What are the problems of and trends within the local council?

In order to win the position of all-round political leadership in the area, the local branch and its individual members have to be known locally, they have continuously to make a public appearance putting the policy of the Communist Party. The area branches have a special responsibility to help the development of factory branches in the area.

The Party’s electoral fight is of enormous importance for in Britain traditionally the progress of a political party is measured by its parliamentary and local government vote.

Waging the electoral fight is a task devolving on all Party branches alike—factory and area. The factory branches have a specially important role to play in the electoral struggle. The area branches, however, have special opportuhities and responsibilities for developing this work. It is only through a consistent public appearance, and a consistent fight on the issues, local as well as national, that concern the people, that the Communist Party can win successes in local and national elections. Election of candidates is only secured where branches are seen as the continuous leaders of the struggles of the people in the areas and in the factories, and contest regularly.

The local branch should map out its work along these lines, link its activity to definite aims, not only in terms of new members to be won, but in terms of developments and changes it is working to bring about in the locality by means of mass activity amongst the people and especially of activity by the Labour Movement. This we call perspective, without which no branch can function effectively.

(B) Collective Leadership and Cadres

(i) Collective Leadership. The Communist Party numbers in its ranks some of the most splendid and outstanding individuals in the British Labour movement. It is proud of them and holds them up as an example of what Communists are like. But the Party cannot be built on outstanding individuals. Unlike the situation in the Labour and Tory Parties, the Communist Party emphasises not the leadership of individuals but the need for working in such a way that responsibility and activity are developed collectively.

Some of the reasons for this are that individuals come and go, but the Party must continue; further, that the collective experience and activity of a group is likely to be much greater and more effective than reliance on one individual—no matter how outstanding; finally, that responsibility for elaborating and carrying out Party policy cannot be left to one or two people. The Party can develop only if all members of leading bodies and branches participate fully in the elaboration of policy and are made to feel responsibility for the collective carrying out of this policy.

The fight for this conception and method of work is of the greatest importance. It demands from leading comrades a recognition of the capacities for development of other people and of their capabilities. It demands on the part of all members of committees and branches an interest in, and a feeling of responsibility for, all the problems facing the Party. It is the only method whereby Communist work can be made really effective.

(ii) Criticism and Self-Criticism. A fundamental weapon for the fight for collective leadership, for developing the Party and all the people in it, is the Communist practice of criticism and self-criticism. The basic ideas behind criticism and self-criticism are—the collective responsibility of all Party organisations and members for activity; the need for a regular objective assessment of the work of the Party in order that it can be improved, and the need for self-examination by individual Communists of the nature of their contribution to the work of the Party as a whole.

Criticism and self-criticism does not begin or end with what is negative and poor in the work of the Party—on the contrary. It starts with what is positive and good and examines why it was not even better. It analyses what is poor and bad in the light of all the circumstances and of the work of all the people involved. It is, therefore, always constructive, not niggling or wounding, and aims to advance the work at all times. Thus branches should estimate each major activity in this spirit—every campaign, local or national, drives in membership and Daily Worker sales, etc. Every annual general meeting of the Branch, should be an example of the application of the principles of criticism and self-criticism and collective responsibility and leadership.

The linking of self-criticism with criticism of others has the aim of emphasising the collective aspects of work as well as developing the habit by individual Communists of analysing the positive and negative sides of their own development.

This critical and self-critical attitude to individual and Party work is of the greatest value in the fight against “hand-to-mouth” methods of Party work, against routinism and slovenliness in Party work. It helps to uncover what is new in the situation, in Party activity and in people.

(iii) Cadres. The word “cadre” means a frame. Its use in our Party means that framework of experienced, reliable, developed and developing people around whom the whole of the work of the Party revolves. It embraces, therefore, the key comrades in the Party at national, district and branch level, those on whom falls the responsibility of Party leadership and example.

The development of cadres is a basic principle of Party organisation and is of the greatest importance for us in Britain today. Cadres do not grow on trees or develop continuously. They must be helped to develop, and the essence of cadres’ work is assisting people to develop their political and other capacities.

This demands a proper attitude to people, an end to dismissing people as weak, incompetent, etc,. once and for all. It demands an understanding that people develop, and that one of our main tasks is to help them to develop. Thus, it demands a proper knowledge of people, their strong and weak points. It demands further a rational approach to allocation of responsibilities and a careful selection of people for particular tasks. It demands above all consistent help to comrades who are given responsibilities, not leaving them to grapple with unfamiliar problems on their own.

Regular consistent work with comrades, discussing their problems, helping them to overcome them, encouraging them, promoting them, assisting them to extend their own understanding of Marxist theory, attention to their personal problems and difficulties—this is what is meant by consistent cadres’ work.

(C) The “Daily Worker”

Neither the role nor the organisation of the Communist Party can be considered and understood separate from the Daily Worker. The Daily Worker plays an essential role in all the aspects of the work of the Communist Party—as agitator, educator, organiser.

It helps to lead the mass of the people in all their daily struggles against capitalism. It helps to educate the people in socialist theory and points the way forward to socialism.

It acts as an “organiser” for the Communist Party and the working people. It is the daily organised link between the Party branch and the non-Party workers, and it is among the Daily Worker readers that the most fruitful field of Party recruitment is to be found.

Thus the campaign for the sales of the Daily Worker is a continuous task of all Party branches, and its sale should be linked with all aspects of Party activity.

(D) Building the Communist Party and the Y.C.L. and “Daily Worker” Circulation

History proves that socialism has only been built under the leadership of a Marxist-Leninist Party. The whole history of the British Labour Movement emphasises the need for a strong Communist Party able to influence the decisive sections of the working class and the broadest sections of the people. This is the need of the hour today (1965), when the major task is to change the policies of the Labour Government, to free Britain from subservience to U.S. imperialism, to free it from the threat of nuclear annihilation, to end the power and rule of the monopolists, to unite the Labour Movement behind a socialist class policy. Only the Communist Party offers such a socialist policy. It is the only party which has worked out the line of advance to socialism in British conditions in its programme—The British Road to Socialism.

The whole present and future of the British people is thus bound up with the building of a powerful Communist Party.

The whole Party must go into action to build the Party membership, especially in the factories, to increase the Y.C.L. and the circulation of the Daily Worker. These are not questions for the Communist Party alone. They are decisive questions for the whole of the British working class and of the people, for the future of the British people depends on the speedy solution of these problems.

Further Reading

Forging the Weapon—Handbook for Members of the Communist Party. (Communist Party. 1s.).

John Mahon . . . . Report to Twenty-Fifth (Special) Party Congress (pp. 43-56).

John Gollan . . . . Political Report to the Twenty-Seventh Party Congress (Congress Report, pp. 18-25).

John Gollan . . . . Political Resolution of Twenty-Seventh Party Congress (Congress Report, pp. 55-57)

Report of the Committee on Party Organisation (Communist Party. Is. 6d.).