It was this writer’s privilege and pleasure to attend the 55th congress of the Communist Party of Britain, held in London on 17 and 18 November, as a guest and representative of the Communist Party of Ireland.
Well attended by comrades from England, Scotland, and Wales, there were also numerous international guests present, including representatives from the People’s Republic of China, the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, the South African Communist Party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) of Cyprus, the Lebanese Communist Party, and the Communist Party of Greece. Greetings were also sent by video from the Portuguese Communist Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
With such a wealth of international guests, the congress was a reminder that as communists we operate as part of a global family, a worldwide movement of socialists striving to build a better world and vastly improve the lives of working people.
There was also a high number of Young Communist League members who attended the congress. For many this was their first congress. Most had volunteered to be stewards. It was encouraging to hear that their youth movement is thriving and growing throughout Britain.
The congress opened with greetings from the chairperson of the CPB, Liz Payne, and the introduction of an excellent political resolution, introduced by the general secretary of the CPB, Rob Griffiths.
The political debate on the floor of the congress was spirited and constructive. I was greatly impressed that, through party discipline, they managed to move and decide on each and every motion in the jam-packed congress agenda.
Comrades gave barnstorming contributions, lambasting Tory austerity, the destruction of the social security net by means of “universal credit,” May’s bogus “backstop” deal—these were just some of the motions that comrades discussed. Progressive motions were put forward arguing for peace, investment, and a people’s Brexit, and tactics on how to fight for these goals were examined.
A Q&A session was held to discuss the political situation in Ireland, and the room where this event was held quickly filled up with British comrades anxious to learn more about the situation here at home. Comrades were curious to learn about the stance of the different parties on leaving the EU. They were also keen to discuss the peace process, and where the potential stood for uniting Ireland.
On the Sunday I had the honour of offering comradely greetings on behalf of John Pinkerton, national chairperson of the CPI, which were met with appreciation and applause. All were in agreement that now more than ever we must build the relationship between our two parties.
To this end I proposed a joint conference of young communists to bring together comrades from the Young Communist League and the Connolly Youth Movement. Let’s bring them all together to the Marx Memorial Library for a weekend of education and socialising, to build bridges between our two movements. This proposal too was met with much nodding of heads and thunderous applause.