Old comrades rally to a new cause

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Indy Politics
Rejoice! The Communist manifesto is published. The workers are still marching gloriously in the vanguard of the revolution, but until that happens, the proud footsoldiers of the class struggle would quite like it if we all voted for Tony Blair's New Labour.

So, that seems straightforward enough then. Not that yesterday's Communist election launch did not have some scope for confusion, though.

This, of course, is the Communist Manifesto of 1997, not the Communist Manifesto of 1848. However, the real manifesto of the Communist Party of Britain, The British Road to Socialism, was first published in 1951.

The party we are dealing with here is fairly easy to distinguish from other left-wing movements. It has nothing to do with the Communist Party of Great Britain, which no longer exists.

Or the Democratic Left, from which its 1,200 members split in 1988. Or the Revolutionary Communist Party, which is more ... well, revolutionary. Or the Workers' Revolutionary Party, which presumably has more workers.

Or the Communist League. Or the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Or, for that matter, the Socialist Party.

No, this is very definitely the Communist Party of Britain. The party that believes that "the working class and its allies must take political, economic and state power out of the hands of the capitalist class."

This is the party that believes in mass struggle and in the principles of Marx and Lenin. The party that wants you to put Mr Blair into government.

Although the Communist Party of Britain has three candidates of its own standing in the general election it is prepared to take a realistic stance in conceding that it is unlikely to form the next government.

So, even though its policies include withdrawal from Europe, full grants for students, free childcare for all and 50 per cent tax for people earning more than pounds 50,000 a year, it is backing Labour.

Mike Hicks, the party's general secretary, explained: "We have always taken the distinct position that it is the Labour movement that will be in the position to encourage the Labour Party to take a different course."

Labour, he added, had a genuine working-class base in the trade union movement. This, in the end, would set it on the right road.

Mr Hicks has not yet received a message of gratitude from the Labour leader for his party's support, and nor does he expect to receive one. For while the Communist Party of Britain might be backing Labour, it is not backing Tony Blair.

"We don't think Tony Blair will go on for ever. Individuals will come and go and the movement will live on," Mr Hicks said."Revolutionary change will happen. We will be part of it. The future is not capitalist, it is socialist." Unfurl your banners, comrades, and polish off your tool kits. The barricades have been out of use for so long that they are bound to need a touch of maintenance before the grand day comes.