The Communist Party was founded in Britain in 1920. From its inception it drew great inspiration from the young Soviet republic and was a constituent part of the international communist movement. But its roots were deep in the British working class, among the various socialist parties and societies and the militant shop stewards’ movement of the time. For all of them, the establishment of a unified, revolutionary party in Britain was the pressing need after the First World War.
Throughout its history, Britain’s Communist Party has been to the fore in fighting for the interests of the working class. It played an outstanding role in the 1926 General Strike, led the unemployed workers’ movement in the 1930s and campaigned for the opening of a Second Front against Hitler during the Second World War. In the post-war period, it opposed the drive to nuclear armament and led the fight against anti-trade union legislation. From its foundation, the Party has been internationalist, campaigning for the liberation of the enslaved colonial peoples, for the defence of the Spanish Republic, against US genocide in Korea and Vietnam, and for Britain to renounce all claims on Ireland.
The very successes of the CP made it a particular target of the capitalist class. In the 1980s, having failed by ‘red scare’ tactics to isolate the Party from its roots, the ruling class worked to undermine it ideologically from within. The leadership failed to recognise this attack and succumbed to reformist ideas, ultimately expelling many of the Party’s finest militants. The communist core recognised the danger and came together in 1988 to re-establish the Party, as the Communist Party of Britain (CPB).
Since then, the CPB has worked tirelessly to rebuild membership and industrial organisation, and to develop and apply Marxism-Leninism, carrying on the finest traditions of the Party.
The Party’s paper, the Daily Worker, was founded in 1930. In 1945, in order to broaden its base of support, ownership was transferred to a co-operative, the People’s Press Printing Society (PPPS). Today, thousands of supporters – individuals and labour movement organisations – own PPPS shares. However, a special relationship exists between the Morning Star (as the Daily Worker is now known) and the Communist Party, based on mutual support and an editorial approach in line with the Party’s programme. Increased circulation of the Morning Star is vital in the battle of ideas and in organising resistance to attacks on living standards, jobs and democratic rights.
In 1951 the first edition of the Party’s programme, The British Road to Socialism (BRS), was published. Inspired by the Manifesto, and developed and refined by subsequent national congresses of the Party, the BRS (now named Britain’s Road to Socialism to reflect the multi-national character of our society) states that Britain must achieve socialism by its own path, through a developing process of organised mass struggle leading to and combining with a socialist Parliamentary majority. In this process, the CPB seeks no exclusive leadership, but rather aims to build a democratic anti-monopoly alliance around immediate objectives in order to create the conditions for further social advance.
Communists are human beings with human strengths and weaknesses. The difference is that they have made the commitment to place themselves at the service of humanity and they recognise that this can only be achieved by joining with others of the same perspective. The Communist Manifesto still speaks across the years with a message of hope for the future. The communist parties exist to achieve its objectives world-wide.
Part of an introduction to the Communist Manifesto, written by Martin Levy of the Political Committee, Communist Party of Britain.