Originally published in The Leninist No.117 March 28 1992. Available on our archive here
The general election manifesto of the Provisional Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain
COMMUNISM, we are told is dead. Just about every paper you pick up, every news broadcast you listen to, says it was buried in the collapse of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. In the simple act of equating the corrupt bureaucracies in these states act with communism itself, our rulers want us to believe that the world has seen the back of communism.
But communism is not dead.
Communism was never about the deformed socialism built by Stalin and betrayed by Gorbachev. It has its roots, not in the Kremlin, but in the real needs of workers the world over. Communism is about achieving world peace, world progress and world plenty. Communism is the answer to the problems of world capitalism which, far from going away, are intensifying day by day. Homelessness, debt, ecological ruin, unemployment, discrimination and economic crisis are all the products of this system. It is time for a change.
With the Soviet Union out of the way, conflicts between the major capitalist powers are not only becoming clearer, they are becoming ever more acute. Twice this century capitalism has been responsible for world wars in which 75 million human beings died. Our dead for their profit. We cannot let them drag us into a third world war.
That is why the Communist Party is standing in this election. We want to get rid of capitalism and build a communist society: a society which through mass participation produces for need, not for profit; a society which knows neither was nor poverty, country nor race hate, a society that uses science and technology to liberate people, not crush them and make them redundant.
Every five years we get the ‘choice’ of who will misrepresent us in the talking shop in Westminster. That is the beginning and end of democracy under capitalism – a democracy which suits our rulers only so long as it goes their way.
Our Party makes no pretence that elections under capitalism change anything. They do not. The fact that the capitalist class owns and controls the means of production is a thousand time more significant than which party wins this election.
But the election does give us an opportunity to raise the argument for communism and allows us to rally new forces. A vote for the Communist Party is the only vote that is not a wasted vote. A vote for the Communist Party is a vote for working class resistance and solidarity.
Unlike the Tories, Liberals and Labour, our Manifesto has nothing to do with how to run capitalism. Neither is it a list of empty promises. It is an action programme for what workers need to fight for today.
What we fight for
Our starting point is what people need to live a decent life. If the bosses point to their profits and say the system cannot afford it, then the system should go! Communists support all workers in their struggle for better wages and conditions. We demand:
- A national minimum wage of £250 per week!
- End all compulsory overtime, with no loss of pay!
- A maximum working week of 35 hours!
Over more than a decade, trade unions have been shackled. Government laws have limited the action unions can take in defence of our wages and rights. Trade unions leaders have accepted this for the sake of the easy life – for them, not us. The Labour Party says it will keep the laws that the Tories introduced. Communists fight for class struggle unions to defend the working class against the bosses and bureaucrats.
- For rank and file democratic control of the unions!
- Class action to smash all anti-trade union laws!
We hear every day that the growth of unemployment is natural, or even that the unemployed themselves are to blame. Both are lies. Unemployment occurs because capitalism cannot employ all workers profitably. So if you are ‘unprofitable’ you are thrown on the scrapheap, then blamed for it by those who have thrown you there. The unemployed are used against employed workers by the bosses; cheap labour schemes, such as Youth Training, are just one example. We do not have to accept this. Through organising the unemployed alongside employed workers we can challenge capitalism:
- Work at trade union rates or benefit set at the level of the minimum wage!
- Where a workplace is threatened with closure, it must be nationalised under workers’ control!
- No slave labour ‘training’ schemes!
- Real training under workers’ control!
Law and order
The Tories and Labour are both committed to strengthening the police and putting yet more people in prison. We are for getting rid of the conditions that cause crime and anti-social behaviour. To do that and to defend our communities we must build workers’ defence corps – our class organised to defend our class – and undermine the bosses’ armed forces.
- For democracy and trade union rights in the armed forces!
- For the right of the population to arm itself!
Homelessness is on the rise, while house building is at an all-time low. The streets of the large cities are still the ‘homes’ for many thousands of people. Yet there are plenty of buildings which are empty because they cannot be profitably let. Housing is a basic right. Communists do not put a price or a profit on it.
- For the right to housing for all!
- Organise to take over vacant properties!
- Organise for defence against the threat of eviction!
The British state treats elderly working class people as just so much excess baggage. This is because now that their working life is over, no more profit can be made from them. They are pushed away, to rot in poor housing on insulting pensions. Communists demand:
- The right to stop work at 60. No compulsory retirement age!
- State pensions to be set at the level of a national wage of £250 per week!
Both the Tories and Labour have run down the health service. This is because of profit: capitalism is no longer prepared to fund the NHS because it is not squeezing enough from the working class. Hospitals are being run more and more like factories. Health workers have fought to defend their service, proving that the only people with whom the NHS is ‘safe in their hands’ is them. Our health should not be dependent on the capitalists’ profits. We demand:
- Abolish the waiting lists!
- State funding for the NHS on the basis of need!
- Abolish all health service charges!
- For workers’ control of the health service!
Black people are under attack. Discrimination at work is combined with harassment by police and racist gangs. Immigration controls criminalise migrant workers. Racism divides the working class, playing one section off against another. Low wages, rising unemployment, crime and poor housing are caused by a system which functions for profit, not human need. They are not caused by black workers. Communists actively oppose racism; racism is produced by the capitalist system to divide the working class. Communists oppose all immigration controls: no worker is ‘illegal’. We support the right of black people to defend themselves against racist attack. But we oppose separatism. Workers unity is the only way to combat racism.
- Smash all immigration controls!
- For workers’ defence against racist attacks!
- Full citizenship for all workers!
Women are used by capitalist society as a reserve ‘army’ of cheap labour. In Britain today, women’s take home pay is about 65% of men’s. Women have less security of employment, often in part time and non-unionised work. They also have the extra burden of childcare. Women are kept in a subordinate position to provide cheap labour and to rear the next generation of workers for the capitalist class. To maintain this situation, the state denies women many necessary rights, particularly abortion rights. Women should have control of their own bodies through effective abortion rights: as early as possible, as late as necessary. But today, even the limited existing rights are under attack. The only way to defend them is to go on the attack. Communists therefore demand:
- Free abortion and contraception on demand!
- Free high quality, 24 hour child care facilities!
- Equal pay for equal work!
For the unconditional, immediate withdrawal of British troops from the north of Ireland. British imperialism is not ‘keeping the peace’, but is an oppressive occupational force, dividing the Irish people. The north of Ireland is also the British state’s training ground for repression. What it learns in Ireland is turned against workers fighting in Britain: striking trade unionists, black youth, lesbians and gays – anyone who stands up for their rights against the capitalist system. So all workers in Britain have a real interest in supporting the fight for Irish liberation. Communists support the right of Irish self determination. We therefore support the fight for this. Workers in Britain must take sides – for the IRA, against the British army.
- Troops out now!
- Self determination for the Irish Nation!
Scotland and Wales
Communists support the right of all nations and nationalities to self determination. If the people of Scotland and Wales want independence, they must have it. But we do not advocate separation. Capitalism here has developed on an all-Britain basis and has laid the basis for potentially powerful all-Britain working class unity. Nationalism divides our class. The enemy of the working class in Scotland, England and Wales is British imperialism. If we are to win against it, we need maximum unity. A united working class in Britain can win its demands; divided it will lose.
- For the right of self determination!
- For the unity of all workers in Britain!
Lesbians and gays
Aids has been used by the state to create a moral panic. Legislation has been used in the same way; the infamous Section 28 is an attempt to depict lesbians and gays as a menace to society. Recently, there have been a number of jailings of gay men for consenting sex. ‘Queer bashing’ by bigots in and out of police uniform is becoming more common. Communists oppose all attacks on lesbians and gays, and all attempts to portray homosexuality as unnatural.
- For full state funding and free healthcare for Aids victims!
- Smash all anti-lesbian and gay legislation!
- For workers’ defence against the ‘queer bashers’!
We do not believe that the capitalist system can afford to give us these rights. No parliament will grant them. But all these demands are necessary for people today. And they can be gained – by sweeping aside the capitalist system and its institutions with the organised power of the working class. If the system cannot afford what we need, then the system must go!
The Communist Party exists to organise that fight. To build that Party we need more than votes: we need the best fighters of the working class. Join with us and fight for a future worthy of humanity.