The working class in Britain is not only made up of white, male, middle-aged, manual workers. Whilst some of the most class-conscious, politicised sections of the working class are those working for capitalist employers in manufacturing, transport, energy, construction etc. Over the last thirty years all workers (especially in the public sector) have become increasingly exploited under capitalism and have becoming increasingly organised and ready to take action in defence of their class interests.

But the working class extends beyond this to all those who sell their labour power and are exploited directly or indirectly by the capitalist class, whether in the past, present or future. More than 80 per cent of Britain's population can be classified as part of the working class.

Furthermore, as the power and reach of monopoly capital grows, higher paid professionals, the self-employed and small business owners – most of whom are likely to be subject to monopoly power – are becoming increasingly proletarianised.

Women and black people comprise some of the most exploited and oppressed sections of society in Britain, yet they are under-represented in the ranks of the Communist Party. Because we do not reflect today’s working class in all its ethnic, multicultural and gender diversity, we cannot fully represent it. The Party's weaknesses in these areas are a reflection of the weaknesses that exist across the labour movement and capitalist society, but they can be compounded by a failure to address this imbalance at all levels of the Party. It is an ongoing and continuing challenge, but concrete steps can be taken to improve the situation:

  • Ensure that the range of speakers at any public meetings, whether organised by the Party or other labour and progressive movement organisations, broadly represents the gender and ethnic diversity of the working class and population as a whole.
  • Create an atmosphere at Party meetings which is friendly and welcoming to women and to new and younger members: summarise and ensure that everyone understands any decisions taken before moving on; explain decisions, structures and ways of working.
  • Encourage everyone to take part in discussion; the chair, in particular, should not allow a small number of individuals to monopolise it.
  • Be prepared to change organisational arrangements and methods of work: “that's the way we've always done things” is not necessarily the best guide for the future. The Party's Leninist principles, structures and procedures allow for flexibility in practice to take account of changes in the composition of the working class, shifts in social and cultural attitudes, and technological advances.
  • Be aware and avoid stereotyping when deciding particular roles and tasks for Party members: the division of labour between the sexes is largely a product of class society and communists are fighting to overcome this division – not to reinforce it.
  • Provide a broad range of roles, tasks and activities so that all Party members can play a part; most people did not join the CP in order to do little more than sit through a two or three hour political meeting.
  • Promote the Party's policies and materials that relate to the most super-exploited sections of society
  • Establish lines of communication with relevant central Party officers (including those responsible for publications, commissions and trade union advisories) to help circulate materials and policies, encourage participation, provide feedback and generally promote different aspects of Party work in your local community, unions and other bodies.
  • Work closely with any local members or organisations of domiciled communist and workers' parties from overseas; help them to organise locally where possible.
  • Approach women's, black and ethnic minority and youth organisations to discuss issues of concern with a view to future cooperation; where appropriate, seek to involve them in broad campaigning movements. 

Taken from the Communist Party Handbook, which can be downloaded for free here