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PRE-CONGRESS DISCUSSION: Phil Katz - Building the CP

Delegates meeting at the 52nd CP Congress will have an opportunity to discuss party organisation. In the current situation our organisation should be singularly focused on the battle of ideas and mobilizing workers and communities for an alternative to the capitalist crisis.


CP organisations not aimed at that should stop and reflect on what they are doing, because now is not the time for wasted effort or ‘going through the motions’.  

It’s no secret that our party is growing both in influence, number and in geographical reach. The recent CP Building School reflected this and graphically brought home that many new joiners were born after 1989.  This tests how the party educates and integrates new members and how it encourages them to become builders of the labour movement.

I believe, therefore, currently, the CP needs three core types of organisation: local branches that can help build local labour movements, spaces for Marxist Education [throughout the country branches are grappling with the challenge of building active branches whilst finding time to educate members], and Party Advisories and Commissions [A&C’s].

The latter form a layer of organisation, which is new to most members. Many remain unaware they even exist.

A&C’s are national in focus. They are based on the major strands of Britain’s Road to Socialism, they face outwards, which is appropriate for our times and they mirror the key elements of the labour movement they are designed to build and reinforce.

A&C’s rely on the craft, professional knowledge and work experience of members. They absorb new members who want to be more active beyond the branch.

The CP needs to do much more to explain to members what A&C’s are, how they are different types of organisation and what they set out to achieve. We need to get across to all members, not just recent joiners, how they can get involved.

Party branches can see in A&C’s ways of giving experience and responsibility to members. Branches should encourage members to take part in A&C’s as a kind of school for learning - how to grapple with Marxism to give it practical focus.

Sectors and subject based A&C’s include: housing, trades councils, anti-racism & anti fascism, anti-EU & popular sovereignty, peace, women, unemployment and precarious employment, health and welfare, LGBT, public services, pensions, education, industry and transport, food and farming, science, technology and the environment, International, Marxist education and those which are based on campaigning in unions. A&C’s can be opened up – where possible and when appropriate – to supporters.

The skills and knowledge acquired through activity in A&C’s will help to build stronger local branches and make them more fully integrated into party structures and campaigning.

Advisories have existed as CP structures for generations and have had a real impact on directing the leading thinking and struggle for activists. It is important now that they do not bury themselves with unrealistic aims, formalities or protocols. Each A&C has a steering committee. So, bigger meetings can take place more or less often, rather than to a rigid timetable or agenda, cover a range of issues and they certainly do not need to be held in CP central office in London. In them, every member can play a part.

I believe that A&C’s are a key to the next phase in rebuilding the party and the labour movement.

Phil Katz, Cambridgeshire CP