History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, 1941-1951 - Vol. 4

By Noreen Branson | Go to book overview

2
RELATIONS WITH THE
LABOUR PARTY AND THE
COMINTERN 1941–3

The tendency for hostility to communists to recede as a result of the Russian achievements on the fighting front, was a matter of continuing concern to the Labour leaders. The issue arose as early as July 1941, following a letter from R. Palme Dutt to Labour Party headquarters suggesting consultation on ‘associated action in the prosecution of the war’. The proposal was of course rejected by the National Executive Committee and a public declaration that ‘no association with the Communist Party is possible’ was issued jointly with the TUC on 31 July.1

It soon emerged that this declaration was being disregarded in many localities where Labour Party members were cooperating with communists in campaigns to promote Anglo-Soviet solidarity. Such joint activity was in violation of long-standing rules, one of which, adopted in 1934, stated that ‘united action with the Communist Party or organisations ancillary or subsidiary thereto without the sanction of the National Executive Committee is incompatible with membership of the Labour Party’. Thus many organisations, such as the League Against Imperialism, or the Relief Committee for the Victims of German Fascism had, during the ‘30s, been put on a ‘proscribed’ list; no member of the Labour Party could belong to them and those who appeared as speakers at their meetings could be threatened with expulsion.2

Initially, most of the public meetings called to promote Anglo-Soviet friendship were either arranged directly by local Communist Party branches, or were organised under the auspices of the Russia Today Society, a body long since placed on the forbidden list by the Labour leaders. From 1941 onwards, thousands of people

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