Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist)

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Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
Chairman Harpal Brar
Vice Chairman Ella Rule
General Secretary Zane Carpenter
Founded 2004
Split from Socialist Labour Party
Headquarters London, England
Newspaper Proletarian
Ideology Communism,
Political position Far-left
International affiliation None
Colours Red, White

The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist) is a Marxist-Leninist political party in the United Kingdom, under the leadership of Harpal Brar which was created after a split from the Socialist Labour Party (SLP) in 2004. It publishes a bimonthly newspaper, Proletarian and the Marxist journal Lalkar is also closely allied with the party.

Party ideology[edit]

The CPGB-ML claims to be the voice of the true interests of the British working class, whom it maintains are the "ruling class in waiting". It publishes regular statements[1] and leaflets and holds regular public meetings to promote these interests. The party adheres to Marxism-Leninism as they perceive it was developed by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong. They consider that, after the death of Stalin, Khrushchev and other revisionists in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union leadership undermined socialism to the point where the Soviet Union collapsed. The party places particular emphasis on the importance of political education of its members and supporters in the classics of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, and a broad historical understanding of the world, including the achievements of the Soviet Union.[2][3]

The CPGB-ML argues there is no separate ideology of Stalinism, which it believes is a term coined by Trotskyists,[4] and used as an 'insult' rather than accurate political characterisation.[5] The CPGB-ML is opposed to Trotsky's teachings which it considers petty bourgeois and anti-communist, and to modern-day Trotskyists, who it maintains are the agents of imperialism in the working class movement. Harpal Brar's book Trotskyism or Leninism[5] argues that Stalin and Mao were simply disciples of Marx, Engels and Lenin, who applied their teachings to guide workers' struggles in the concrete historical conditions they faced, with great distinction. He has presented his work at party schools and can be viewed on line.[6]

The CPGB-ML believes that there is no single British national interest, but that interests of the British working class are entirely different, and in many instances diametrically opposed to those of the ruling British financial and business elite who govern the country. The CPGB-ML maintains, in its publications and video broadcasts, that Britain is therefore not a democracy, but a dictatorship of the financial oligarchy, clothed in a "democratic shell". It upholds Lenin's teaching on the state and maintains that Britain remains an imperialist country.[7]

The CPGB-ML states that British imperialism and world capitalism are facing a profound capitalist crisis, which is driving them to make mass redundancies, and attack the social conditions of the working people of Britain by destroying the welfare state;[8] and believes that the same crisis is driving British capitalism to war abroad.[9] It campaigns against both these tendencies, claiming that a policy of positive economic construction led by working people in power is the only way to escape the crisis.

For this reason, the CPGB-ML actively opposes legislative attacks made by the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and Conservative Party on the welfare state and its institutions, including the NHS. It is active in the anti-cuts movement, the anti-war movement, and the anti-capitalist movement. Its positive position is that the working class, to solve the problems it faces, must seize state power, which cannot be achieved via the electoral process.[10]

The CPGB-ML was one of few parties in the UK which did not condemn the 2011 England riots, but characterised them as a rudimentary form of anti-capitalist resistance that lacked adequate leadership and direction.[11]

The CPGB-ML opposes social democracy (represented in their analysis by the Labour Party) and what they term "revisionist communist" parties that uphold what its chairman, Harpal Brar, describes as "the disastrous program of the British Road to Socialism".[12] The BRS claims that workers can achieve power and a socialist system by voting Labour, whereas the CPGB-ML states that history has disproved this thesis and it should be discarded.[13]

The CPGB-ML opposes all immigration controls as measures to misdirect workers and blame each other for the capitalist crisis. Migration has been a feature of human civilisation since the earliest times, and capitalism produces it on a wider scale than ever before. What is responsible for hardship among workers is crisis and unemployment.[14]

International positions[edit]

The CPGB-ML steadfastly supports governments around the world which it perceives to be socialist or anti-imperialist. These include a number of communist states and countries like the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), Zimbabwe, and People's Republic of China. Delegations from the Chinese embassy have attended meetings of the CPGB-ML and members of the CPGB-ML and the Red Youth have made visits to North Korea.[15] It was one of the few British parties to consistently oppose Nato actions in Libya and Syria, and support the governments of Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar Al Assad.[16][17]

Democratic People's Republic of Korea[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In April 2013, the CPGB-ML made clear its support of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and its anti-imperialist stance, as well as its opposition of Western efforts to discourage the state from acquiring nuclear weapons.[18][19] It has called for a defeat of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a movement of direct action and non-cooperation among British working people, in order to exert its political influence. The CPGB-ML publicly campaigned within the Stop the War Coalition until its expulsion in 2011, and among working people, for these positions to be more widely adopted.[20]


For more details on this topic, see Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The party also supports the struggle of the Palestinian people against Zionism in Israel, which it characterises as an apartheid state.[21]

Domestic positions[edit]

Northern Ireland[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Irish republicanism.

The CPGB-ML calls for the withdrawal of British troops from the island of Ireland and for a unified 32-county state to be formed. It supports Sinn Féin's leadership of the Good Friday Agreement, which it believes falls within this framework.


For more details on this topic, see Scottish independence.

After careful analysis, the party accepted a position at its 2012 congress that there are no separate English and Scottish nations, but rather, when those nations were at the point of developing as modern capitalist economies, their ruling classes joined together to form a British nation.[22] Though the CPGB-ML believes in local democracy, it sees the Scottish independence movement as diversionary from building a working class movement across the historic nation of Great Britain and therefore opposes it. It claims that proposals set forward for Scottish independence will not break the Union, the British state, or the British army in any significant manner.[23] In its opposition to Scottish independence, it stands at odds with the Scottish Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party in Scotland, and the Socialist Party Scotland.


The party was founded on July 3, 2004 in London.[13] The party is effectively a split from the Socialist Labour Party (SLP), caused by Arthur Scargill's refusal to accept certain positions adopted by the SLP congress, which he perceived as orthodox Marxist-Leninist lines. These included support of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to defend itself against US aggression by any means necessary. As a result, Scargill chose to expel the majority of the party's central committee and its entire Yorkshire region.[13][24] Those expelled comrades went on to form the CPGB-ML.[25] Many founding members had previously been members of the Association of Communist Workers or the Indian Workers Association.

The party also has a number of members from the early days of the British communist movement and the original Communist Party of Great Britain which was associated with the Third International. The current Honorary President is Isabel Crook, wife of David Crook, both were communists who were in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and later went to work for Mao Zedong and the Chinese communists.[26][27] Prominent former members include Jack and Marie Shapiro, veterans of the anti-revisionist movement and lifelong communists.[28]

The party's chairman is a retired university law lecturer, writer and businessman Harpal Brar, who has been editor of the Marxist-Leninist journal Lalkar (formerly the organ of the Indian Workers Association) since 1979. Harpal was a national leader of the Indian Workers Association throughout the 1970s - 1990s, which participated in and led many important working class struggles. He and the CPGB-ML, have published many of his and his comrades writings on aspects of Marxism. He is a defender of the record of the Soviet Union[29] under the leadership of the CPSU(B) and Joseph Stalin. He has written extensively and made presentations on the Great Recession,[30] the Chinese revolution,[31] and many other subjects.

Harpal Brar spoke in a debate at the Oxford Union in 2008 against the motion "capitalism can save the planet",[32] and in debates at the Durham Union on three occasions: in 2010, against the motion "the West has a duty to impose democracy";[33] in 2011 against the motion "this house would fight for queen and country";[34] and in 2012 in favour of the motion "capitalism has failed".[35] He was interviewed by Durham Students Union Radio after the 2012 debate on the record of Soviet communism.[36]

The party's vice-chairman and international secretary is Ella Rule. Ella Rule has been active in the movement for over 40 years, and has also written and published extensively. She co-wrote and edited the book Marxism and the Emancipation of Women,[37] and co-wrote Imperialism in the Middle East,[38] among other works. She has researched and made presentations on class society in Britain, the economic crisis of capitalism and on the Katyn Massacre[39] and the world food crisis,[40] among others.

The party's general secretary is Zane Carpenter. He has made presentations on revisionism and the reasons the Soviet Union collapsed.[41]


CPGB-ML at London May Day, 2008

The CPGB-ML takes a keen interest in international affairs and supports Irish republicanism, the Iraqi insurgency, Cuba, China, and North Korea. Many CPGB-ML members were active in the Stop the War Coalition until the party's expulsion in October 2011 over its support for Muammar Gaddafi in the Libyan Civil War,[42][43] their respective trade unions and pensioners' campaigns. The CPGB-ML has declared its support for President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War, and supports the state of Palestine against Israel, believing Israel to be illegally occupying Palestinian land.[9]

The CPGB-ML is also a party front called "Proletarian", which was formed in 2008 to "prepare for standing in elections", though they have not stood in any elections to date. Party members spend time leafleting in public and attending marches, but the party believes the working class will only become a considerable force when they are organised and united, given by Marxism–Leninism an advanced understanding of the nature of their oppressors and the means of their liberation. This is the main task upon which the party's campaigning centres.


  1. ^ "Statements issued by the CPGB-ML" Proletarian Online
  2. ^ "Leninism, a study guide" Red Youth blog
  3. ^ downloadable pdf files of historical and current publications including many by Lenin and Stalin and "CPGB-ML - Party Programme" Proletarian Online
  4. ^ "Trotskyism is a tool of the capitalists ... Leninism is a weapon for the workers!" Issued by CPGB-ML 05 July 2012 Proletarian
  5. ^ a b "Book summary: Harpal Brar: Trotskyism or Leninism?" Proletarian
  6. ^ "Trotskyism or Leninism?" uploaded January 24, 2012 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  7. ^ "Communists and the struggle against imperialism" Proletarian issue 45 (December 2011)
  8. ^ "Europe in chains: lessons of the economic crisis" Proletarian issue 51 (December 2012)
  9. ^ a b "Syria: US imperialism sows the seeds for the next world war" Proletarian issue 49 (August 2012)
  10. ^ "Congress motions 1: the way forward for our party during the economic crisis" Proletarian issue 37 (August 2010)
  11. ^ "Rage against capitalism; the working class fights back" blog Red Youth August 9, 2011
  12. ^ "Britain's Road to Socialism - Communism or Social Democracy? Harpal Brar and other party leaders expound and defend their political position on the subject, uploaded March 4, 2011 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  13. ^ a b c "Formation of the CPGB-ML" Proletarian Issue 1 (August 2004)
  14. ^ "Capitalism and immigration" Lalkar March, 2006
  15. ^ "North Korea: Reality Check! 2/6" uploaded November 11, 2010 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  16. ^ "The following articles contain the word 'libya' in the title" search on April 17, 2013 of Proletarian for "Libya" which shows half a dozen articles expressing support for the government of Mummar Gaddafi
  17. ^ "The following articles contain the word 'syria' in the title" search on April 17, 2013 of Proletarian for "Syria" which shows about a dozen articles expressing support for the government of Bashar Al Assad
  18. ^ "Obama to meet South Korea's Park Geun-hye in May". BBC News. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  19. ^ Branigan, Tania (15 April 2013). "North Korea's UK ambassador defends Pyongyang's stance in rare speech". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 27 July 2013. 
  20. ^ "Anti-war mass assembly - 8 Oct 2011" set of images on Flickr
  21. ^ "Congress motions 2: our international solidarity tasks The motions below were passed at the CPGB-ML’s congress on 5 June 2010" Proletarian issue 37 (August 2010)
  22. ^ "Scotland: a part of the British nation" Proletarian issue 51 (December 2012)
  23. ^ "The National Question in Scotland: Contributed by the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) as a discussion article". Lalkar. September 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  24. ^ "An exposure of the shameful, unconstitutional and anti-communist behaviour of Arthur Scargill and his flunkeys" Article 16 Proletarian issue 1 (August 2004)
  25. ^ "CPGB-ML founding conference" Article 18 Proletarian issue 1 (August 2004)
  26. ^ "Western witness stays true to the Party line" article by Tan Zongyang in China Daily 2011-06-22
  27. ^ "My memories of 1949 " uploaded on June 21, 2011 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  28. ^ Biography of Jack & Marie Shapiro on website of Graham Stevenson, accessed April 17, 2013
  29. ^ "WW2 1/10: Communism v Fascism; the falsification of history" uploaded December 4, 2010 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  30. ^ "Capitalist Crisis 2009 - 1/8" uploaded May 6, 2009 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  31. ^ "Chinese Revolution - The Comintern's analysis 1/10" uploaded March 7, 2010 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  32. ^ "Capitalism can't save the planet" uploaded December 27, 2010 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  33. ^ "'The West' has a duty to impose democracy! 1/2" uploaded October 19, 2010 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  34. ^ "Fight for Queen & Country? 1/2" uploaded January 30, 2011 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  35. ^ "Capitalism has failed" uploaded November 12, 2012 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  36. ^ "Soviet Communism - the truth" uploaded November 2, 2012 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  37. ^ "Book summary: Ella Rule (editor): Marxism and the Emancipation of Women" Proletarian
  38. ^ "Book summary: Harpal Brar and Ella Rule: Imperialism in the Middle East" Proletarian
  39. ^ "Katyn - 1/6" uploaded August 10, 2009 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  40. ^ "Food Crisis 2011" uploaded September 17, 2011 by ProletarianCPGBML to YouTube
  41. ^ "USSR Betrayed 1.m4v" uploaded October 19, 2010 by StalinSociety to YouTube
  42. ^ "Not so memorable - Communist Party of Great Britain". Retrieved 2012-10-13. 
  43. ^ "Not so memorable: The decline in the anti-war movement has left the STWC all at sea, argues Harley Filben". Weekly Worker. October 13, 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2013. "The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) has been summarily expelled, ostensibly because it had been “publicly attacking” the coalition in its press. The CPGB-ML, led by Harpal Brar, is an organisation we have previously characterised as “ultra-Stalinite”; it upholds the legacy of JV Stalin with unassailable loyalty, and also avowedly supports ‘anti-imperialist’ nationalists in the third world. It is the CPGB-ML which turns up at every Stop the War AGM with a motion calling on us to adopt the slogan, ‘Victory to the resistance!’" 

External links[edit]