1 April 2021

Our voice and organiser

Originally published in Weekly Worker No.100 June 29 1995. Available on the WW archive here

IT IS timely that we reach the hundredth edition of the Weekly Worker as we approach the halfway point in the twelfth Party Offensive. The Offensive is central in our fight to reforge the Party, with the organisation turning outwards in two months of intensive work to raise the finance needed to achieve the year’s tasks.

Our paper has always been the voice and organiser of that fight. Its development has been guided by the needs of the struggle to reforge the Communist Party of Great Britain, not imposed by financial limitations.

We made the first step in transforming our fortnightly journal into the Daily Worker in 1992. Our previous journal was primarily concerned with laying the theoretical basis necessary to reforge the Party through polemic with the left and in particular ‘official communism’. In 1992 the paper developed from this base to take our ideas out to the mass in a much more concerted way.

The general election of 1992 was an important one in putting the CPGB back on the political map after the hatchet job inflicted on our Party by the liquidationists who had dissolved themselves into the Democratic Left in 1991.

We stood candidates in that election and produced the Daily Worker for the campaign. We were clear that the CPGB and its paper could not be voted or legislated out of existence.

The Daily Worker during the election provided a foretaste of the paper that will be necessary to take communist politics – so distorted and discredited by ‘official communism’ – out to the mass again.

Later that same year the miners moved into action and a real concrete necessity for a workers’ organiser and propagandiser emerged. Previously our organisation had been involved in lengthy discussions on how to transform our journal. The situation demanded a paper that did not drop the need for developing theoretical clarity, but also could intervene in the day to day struggles of trade unionists and workers, wherever they moved into action.

The miners did, and our organisation transformed itself without hesitation. The discussions around the paper were transcended as we immediately changed the paper’s masthead from The Leninist to the Daily Worker. Its contents were posed and provided by the movement itself. We used the paper throughout to provide a voice for workers’ own views and to agitate for what was necessary, taking the slogan ‘Prepare for a general strike’ up and down the country.

With our tiny quantitative resources most comrades were surprised by the impact the Daily Worker was able to make through the hard and disciplined work of comrades prepared to pull themselves out of their normal routine and put the organisation onto a war footing. Our organisation won not only a hearing for the tasks of the immediate battle, but also many new readers and communist sympathisers.

The paper at this time came out sometimes four times a week – we urgently needed to print it ourselves.

The work to build the Party printshop had already begun, but at this time our press was limited to producing A3 broadsheets. It was clear that the pace of events in the middle of mass struggle demanded the ability to respond to events at the time – one month, one week later would be useless to the working class.

As the miners’ struggle subsided, the organisation debated how to take the paper forward. The broadsheet format was now derided by many comrades.

Some had argued that we should stop production and only print a bigger paper when we could afford it. Others that the paper should go back to being a purely theoretical journal, or else should not have theoretical articles in it at all, but only short agitational workplace reports.

As local and European elections loomed, other political tasks were posed. Some argued that we should not contest these elections or that all other work should be subordinated to getting an A2 printing press and a bigger paper.

These discussions continued throughout our work in many different forms, as each new task was posed. The majority view won through by a combination of debate and practice. We were clear that there should be no retreat. The paper should continue regular production and build on the gains made. It must be a tool for our communist work – the two could not be separated. We would never develop the paper as an isolated group trying to save up enough money for a printing press. The paper could only develop by using it to win new friends and support for our communist work. This is the only way both the content of the paper and the finances for it could be raised.

Transforming what was now the Weekly Worker into a regular four-page paper with issue 42 was a huge leap for us. With the A2 press the paper had the possibility of expanding to include debates and theoretical supplements.

The need for a bigger paper has now become urgent, as the process of rapprochement has begun to become a reality.

If the Party is to win new forces, it must intervene in workers’ struggle with its paper. And if communist forces are to come together in the task of reforging the Party, its paper must be able to carry the debates and disagreements between the different revolutionary traditions which we hope to unite in one Party. Clearly serious debate cannot be carried out within the present four pages.

The struggle to expand the Weekly Worker must go hand in hand with the process of rapprochement, of reforging the CPGB. This must be one of the tasks of this year’s Summer Offensive as we take the paper forward to fight the next general election and, more importantly, the process of extreme disillusionment which a Labour government would trigger off.

Join us in the fight for our paper, in the fight to reforge the Communist Party – our weapons of class war.

Lee-Anne Bates

Return to the ‘Reforging the CPGB (1981-present)’ series