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Developing strategy and direction on the left

ROBERT GRIFFITHS looks ahead to the Communist Party of Britain’s forthcoming congress

THE 57th congress of the Communist Party in Britain takes place over first weekend in November. 

The discussions will concentrate on new developments since the last congress two years ago, and what the CP proposes for the coming period.

The main debates will be prompted by the party executive committee’s political resolution and those submitted by our branches and district and nation committees.

This will be the biggest congress for some time, comprising almost 150 full voting delegates and around 20 consultatives who can participate but without a vote.

Most likely, there will be significantly more trade union, women and young delegates, reflecting the ongoing strike wave and the rapid growth of the Young Communist League.

Visitors will include leaders of communist and workers’ parties in India, South Africa, Ireland and Belgium as well as representatives from domiciled parties and embassies in Britain. 

What are the main developments highlighted by the outgoing CP leadership?

Its main resolution begins with the continuing shift in economic power towards China and other developing countries such as India and Brazil.

Here lies the materialist basis for the antagonisms, provocations and conflicts in relations between the older Western imperialist states, Russia and China.

This is the context in which the eastwards expansion of the Nato-EU bloc, the destabilisation of Ukraine, the Aukus and Quad pacts, the progress of Brics and the new cold war against China are considered.

It explains imperialist policy in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, where recent developments are reviewed and solidarity expressed with the peoples of Palestine, Cuba and Venezuela in their struggle for sovereignty and development.  

The resolution upholds the need for a peace process to begin in Ukraine against the determination of Britain, the US and Nato to prolong the war.

It also reiterates the Communist Party’s condemnation of Russia’s widespread military offensive against Ukraine in February 2022.

With Britain expanding arsenal of nuclear and conventional weapons, the main resolution emphasises the need for a peace policy opposed to weapons of mass destruction and membership of aggressive military pacts, including the EU’s Pesco project aligned with Nato.

As a shroud of silence descends over left-wing Labour MPs for the first time in history, the Communist Party pledges to increase its work in peace and anti-war organisations across England, Scotland and Wales.

At a time when all voices for peace and against nuclear rearmament are totally excluded from the mainstream monopoly media — and Julian Assange remains in prison without trial — the Morning Star is praised for its unique role as a voice for truth and sanity.   

Domestically, it is pointed out that Britain remains one the world’s major imperialist powers economically, politically and militarily. 

Yet it is also the case that British state-monopoly capitalism has entered a phase of intensified, all-round crisis.

The neoliberal offensive of monetarism, deregulation, privatisation, marketisation and financialisation — which began in the late 1970s — has severely weakened and destabilised the economy and society generally. 

The disintegration of the neoliberal world order has laid bare the structural weaknesses and contradictions of British monopoly capitalism. 

In their drive to further enrich the City of London and its financial monopolies,  successive Conservative governments have failed to boost investment, productivity and innovation.

Instead, state borrowing and investment has soared as public services crumble around us.

Britain’s financial and economic crisis has been joined by a prolonged political crisis.

As the resolution puts it: “The ruling capitalist class lost its clearly defined role inside the EU as a champion of economic neoliberalism and US-Nato foreign and military policy … its politicians were divided over whether or how to leave the formal structures of the EU while retaining as many advantages as possible of its pro-big business rules and policies.” 

Five Conservative prime ministers later, no comprehensive settlement has been found, although Britain has joined a new European Political Community, maintained military links and is now rejoining the EU’s scientific Horizon project. 

Ongoing political instability, unsettled EU-UK relations and their implications for Northern Ireland and the challenge of Scottish separation have all helped turn Britain’s political crisis into a state crisis.

The ruling-class response has been an authoritarian turn to more repressive anti-strike, anti-protest and anti-immigration measures, playing the “racist card” against migrants and asylum-seekers.

Attempts are also being made to realign Britain with the single European market, not least to the benefit of the City.

The ruling class is also preparing for the possible election of a Labour government, creating the party’s dependency on corporate donations as the Starmer leadership dilutes its policies and carries on its purge of socialists.

The energy monopolies have doubled their prices, while receiving compensation for not trebling them; high interest rates squeeze working-class living standards still further, all boosting the profits of finance capital.

The working-class response has been to strike back with a wave of industrial action not seen on this scale for decades. 

The CP resolution assesses the strengths and weaknesses of this movement and proposes and echoes the call for a united front to be “built and led in unions, workplaces and communities by militant and politically conscious workers and their organisations.”

The latter could include trade unions, trades councils and People’s Assembly groups at every level.  

Of course, the environmental and social dimensions of the general crisis of capitalism cannot be ignored.

Sections of the resolution on carbon emissions, global warming, social welfare and housing, women’s emancipation and the fights against racism and fascism analyse the key challenges today and propose a left-wing programme of policies to meet them.

Thus the resolution concludes with an assessment of the political prospects for left and progressive advance. 

With the SNP currently in retreat, if only temporarily, progressive federalism now appears a more realistic option for securing real powers and resources not only for Scotland and Wales, but also for the regions of England.

Reversing the UK Internal Market Act would enable their parliaments and assemblies to challenge capitalist market forces, while also maintaining the unity built up between the workers of England, Wales and Scotland over the past 150 years against the British ruling class. 

However, there remains the profound crisis of working-class representation in Britain’s political system. 

A Labour victory at the next general election would be a better outcome than a Conservative victory, raising working-class morale and demands.

But this cannot mean voting for those Labour candidates who have played a prominent part in turning the party to the right, purging the left and advocating neoliberal and pro-war policies.

Starmer in 10 Downing Street would guarantee nothing. Only mass campaigning and pressure might bring progressive reforms.

A stronger and more influential Communist Party will — together with a militant united front — be essential in order to help provide strategy and direction for the working-class movement and the left.

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