Voting. Was Air your views... godena's support for election

CAGJimKane at CAGJimKane at
Sun Aug 11 06:45:09 MDT 1996

Comrade Richard Bos tells of the New Communist Party's abstention campaign in
the Euro-elections a while back, adding that the problem with such campaigns
is that their impact is soon fogotten. Is he suggesting that the low turn out
figure that year had anything to do with the NCP's campaign? I suspect not,
as he seems generally sound of mind. If he is suggesting this, then he is
making the same mistake as the fly who sits in the side of an express train
and imagines that he is propelling it along with his wing power.

The New Communist Party is a small organisation - far, far smaller than the
CPUSA. It was formed in 1977 as a pro-Moscow split in the Communist Party of
Great Britain. Its split was precipitated by the impending expulsion of the
comrade who was to become the NCP's first leader (Sid French), a leading
figure in the Surrey branch of the CPGB. The majority of the pro-Moscow
faction within the CPGB stayed in the old party at this time (they went on to
form the Straight Left faction), leaving the NCP with a weak, regionally
based organisation [for example, the NCP has at most four members in
Scotland, plus a couple of sympathisers; the rest stayed with Fergus
Nicholson, leader of the pro-Moscos current within the CPGB, now editor of
Straight Left newspaper].

Initial membership was about 600 (compared to around 30,000 membership for
the CPGB at the time). That has dwindled substantially over the years,
through defections (one Labour MP, sponsored by the Welsh NUM is an ex-NCP
members, for example) and, sadly, throuigh deaths, as the NCP was and is an
aging party. Of the two or three hundred or so paper members that must
remain, I would be surprised if more than seventy are genuinely active. You
certainly will not see much evidence of the NCP if you go on a demonstration
in Britain. The biggest NCP contingent on a demo that I can recall was in
1989/90 on the Bloody Sunday demo, when nearly 30 were mobilised (at great
effort). The usual is five or six.

I do not make these points in order to gloat - I do not take pleasure in the
decline of a Communist organisation, even one with which I have fundamental
disagreements. But we have to be honest. Communism in Britain has just about
returned to year zero - none of us has much impact on the working class. In
fact, the links between the Communists and the working class is at its lowest
point for a century. The NCP are not imune from this process: they are part
of it

The NCP had a fierce internal discussion in its early years on whether it
should seek to be a mass party, or a party with mass influence. It is of
course neither, although its public pronouncements imply that it is the

What is needed is not delusion about our real strength, but an open admission
of our weaknesses, and a serious approach towards rebuilding the movement
that the working class so badly needs. We ned to rebuild Communism as a
material force in this country, and this cannot be done *with* Blair's
Labour, but only through struggle *against* it.

Those groups which recognise this in Britain are coming together, in action
and organisationally. There is a realignment taking place within the left.
The fundamental dividing line in one sense is the attitude each group takes
to the Labour Party. The NCP has taken its stand (though it is to be hoped
that they will change their minds). It is standing *with* Blair.

For Communism
Jim Kane
BM BNox 4473
London WC1N 3XX

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