On 6-7 October, at Saklatvala Hall in Southall, CPGB-ML comrades gathered to participate in the party’s sixth congress. With a full agenda and some opposing propositions, the mood was one of both excited anticipation and genuine comradeship.
The first duty of the congress was to give silent salute to a founding member and dear comrade, Godfrey Cremer, whose passing earlier this year left a gaping hole in our ranks that comrades are still struggling to fill.
In his opening speech, chairman Harpal Brar made it clear that there would be no suppression of any debate and that, as usual, those who took, and at congress promoted, lines other than those of the majority had nothing to fear. We do not persecute minority views, he explained, we only ask that once a debate is over and the party line settled all comrades should from then on accept and put into practice the agreed policy.
Comrade Harpal highlighted the difficulties that British workers have experienced since our last congress. The crisis of overproduction is hitting the poorest everywhere as imperialism does all in its power to offload the greatest burden onto the backs of oppressed nations and of workers generally. “However,” he said “crisis breaks some and steels others. Our party has emerged steeled!”
The General Secretary’s report focused on the work done, and set out the goals for the coming period. His report was followed by two propositions that took opposing views on the question of our attitude towards Scottish nationalism. During a very constructive debate all the relevant points were put, dissected and studied, resulting in an amended resolution that was carried overwhelmingly with only four votes against (see facing page).
In the spirit of true communist comradeship and discipline, the mover of the defeated motion told the congress to great applause: “I understand democratic centralism and will live with and promote the party line whichever way this vote goes.”
The congress unanimously carried propositions on the economic crisis, the NHS, education, the Venezuelan elections, the DPRK and the Miami 5, to name a few (all motions carried at the congress can be read online at blog.cpgb-ml.org).
Another strong debate arose around our approach to anti-war work, but was confined to a tactical difference rather than any difference of principle, and it is telling that after many useful and illuminating contributions the winning proposition was carried unanimously.
Two motions that were also carried unanimously covered areas that had really made the CPGB-ML stand out from other ‘left’ parties and groups in 2011. These were on the subjects of Libya and youth.
So many supposedly progressive people and organisations (including Stop the War) ended up objectively supporting imperialist plunder and murder in Libya. They did so because of a failure to reject imperialist media lies, along with a failure to understand the real world in which anti-imperialist countries have to operate – the compromises as well as the brave stands that they are often forced to make.
From day one, our party gave full support to Colonel Gaddafi and the legitimate armed forces under his leadership – and we continue to give support to the green resistance still fighting against the murderous and racist puppets who have been placed in power by US, British and French imperialism.
We also give our total support to the Syrian people, their government led by President al-Assad and their armed forces, who are fighting against the same coalition of imperialists and local puppets that has temporarily felled Libya.
Meanwhile, our position of support for the youth uprising of 2011 (dubbed the ‘London riots’ by the mainstream media) put us miles apart from most other ‘left’ parties. No amount of outraged bourgeois propaganda will persuade us to equate the violence of the oppressed with the violence of the oppressors.
What most commentators ‘forget’ are the years of racist and oppressive behaviour by the police in the areas (not just in London) where this fightback occurred. Another fact that has been quickly ‘forgotten’ by many commentators is that the spark for the fightback was provided by the assassination of the young black man, Mark Duggan, by armed police on the streets of north London.
As congress drew to a close, our comrades headed back to their regions with a better understanding of the work that lies ahead of them, a fierce pride in their class and their party, and a heightened resolve to do all in their power to build the CPGB-ML into a fighting organisation that is capable of creating the revolutionary leadership necessary for carrying out a victorious socialist revolution.