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New Left Review I/153, September-October 1985


Lee Pitcairn

Crisis in Britain Communism: an Insider’s View

The Communist Party of Great Britain is in the throes of a severe crisis. Political scissions and antagonisms between different tendencies, struggles for control of the Party machine and its publications, expulsions of leading militants, forced suspension of the work of major structures present a dramatic spectacle of disarray. The crisis not only throws the party’s future role and significance into question, but casts a sharp light on shifts in the British left as a whole. The past three years have seen a wave of questioning of existing conceptions of socialist advance, but no development of new or credible alternatives. The leadership of the Communist Party has moved sharply to the right, but has split its own organization in doing so. The leadership of the Labour Party has—so far more successfully—rallied significant sections of its membership, a few years ago identified with the Left, to a CentreRight politics reminiscent of Wilson’s epoch. These developments have been intimately inter-connected. For the nature and evolution of the cpgb have never been separate from their setting in the labour movement as a whole.

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