Having supported Labour in all elections while Jeremy Corbyn was leader, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) has started standing candidates again.
TheMorning Star, which poses as a broad labour movement publication but is in reality a mouthpiece for the CPB, quoted the party’s general secretary Robert Griffiths in its May Day edition: “That we are fielding numbers of candidates unprecedented in recent decades is no accident... The latest edition of our programme — Britain’s Road to Socialism (BRS) — has struck a chord with many militant working class voters, especially the young...”
There is, of course, one obvious problem, as the Morning Star had to acknowledge in an editorial on 13 April: “Much of the labour movement remains sceptical of voting left of Labour. Despite the party’s lurch right under Keir Starmer, there is a widespread belief that a non-Labour vote only helps the Tories in England and Wales, and the SNP in Scotland.”
How did the editorial answer that? It didn’t, except by stating “the left within Labour will be strengthened by the promotion of socialist solutions to the crisis and by leftward pressure on Labour candidates across Britain.” The CPB’s “socialist solutions” amount to a set of left-reformist demands like public ownership, control of the export of capital, and the development of green energy sources, all laudable aims, of course, but scarcely socialism.
And one question naturally arose: how should socialists vote where there is no CPB candidate? That’s most places: the CPB reported nine candidates in the London Assembly elections, and seven in the rest of England, for example. (In the London Assembly list poll, the CPB got 0.3%, as did the Socialist Party’s Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, TUSC).
You might assume the answer would be “Labour” but it seems not; a Young Communist League statement on the elections reads:
“In areas of the country without a Communist candidate, we call on members to consult primarily with the structures of the Communist Party for guidance on electoral strategy. Sometimes this will mean voting for a good Labour candidate, in other circumstances it might mean supporting a left-wing alternative. Please consider the options, and come to a collective decision.”
In an editorial (4 May) on the Welsh Senedd election, the Morning Star called for “a Labour vote in the constituencies and a Communist vote in the regional list.”
If the CPB was serious (and honest) about wanting Labour to retain control of the Welsh Senedd, then that simply made no sense. Labour had 29 of the 60 seats. If the CPB had got more than their 0.2% of the list vote, that could have blocked a Labour majority.
The editorial states “the destructive anti-socialism of leading English and Scottish Labour figures is not a major characteristic of the Welsh party. Anger at Labour’s Westminster leadership is not a good reason to deny Welsh Labour a vote” (so it is a “good reason” in England and Scotland?)
Alongside that editorial, the paper ran an uncritical interview with Labour’s Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford.
Politically, this simply doesn’t make sense, unless you believe that Welsh Labour is qualitatively to the left of English and Scottish Labour — and there is simply no evidence for that (although Drakeford is a more empathetic character than the robotic Starmer, and on the day scored Labour’s best ever result in Wales).
So what were these Stalinists playing at, calling for a Labour vote in Wales, but nowhere else? And how on earth can they explain theMorning Star’s preposterous claim that “A strong Communist vote will benefit the whole of the Welsh Left and does not contradict the need to re-elect Welsh Labour”?
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx wrote that “the Communists... have no special interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole”. It would seem that the CPB’s “special interests” on 6 May amounted to an incoherent, unprincipled, sectarian stunt.