The experience of the General Strike and the political degeneration of the Daily Herald had convinced the Communist Party of the need for a daily working class paper, one which would challenge the monopoly of the press barons.

On New Year’s Day, 1930, the Daily Worker appeared for the first time, under the clandestine editorship of Bill Rust. A reporter from the Daily Herald telephoned to ask if a second issue would be coming out tomorrow. Within months, the TUC had sold a majority shareholding in its own paper to a capitalist publishing company.

The Daily Worker was immediately boycotted by advertisers, wholesalers and distributors. The Communist Party had to establish its own distribution apparatus, with daily rotas of volunteers collecting parcels at their local railway stations for delivery to newsagents and other sellers.

This remarkable saga of dedication to the paper continued for the next eleven years. By 1932, the paper's circulation reached 20,000 daily, with 30,000 on Fridays and 46,000 on Saturdays. By 1935, it would sell 30,000 daily and 100,000 on the weekend.

This was no mean feat when you consider the technological and financial constraints that the Party was working under. The success of the Daily Worker showed what could be achieved by even a small number of dedicated and disciplined supporters working in a collective manner. Without massive financial resources, and in complete opposition to the capitalist state and big business, workers in struggle now had a daily voice—soon dubbed the 'Daily Miracle'.

Day in, day out, the paper railed against mass unemployment, wage cuts, the profligacy of the idle rich and the rise of fascism. The state hit back with police raids, censorship, prosecutions, fines and the jailing of managers Kay Beauchamp, Frank Priestley, Bessie White and numerous other staff members.

Party cells in industry produced their own papers as well, such as the Salford Docker and, for railway workers in west London, the Old Oak Star. Party organiser Idris Cox wrote:

“The foundation of the Communist Party must be in the factories. This is where the class struggle is seen most clearly in actual practice. It is therefore in the factories that the workers can best protect their everyday interests, deal the most serious blows against the boss and organise the struggle for the overthrow of Capitalism. Factory cells, therefore, are the basis of Communist organisation”.

In fact, the first issue of the Daily Worker had highlighted a dispute in the Yorkshire woollen industry, where the Communists were seeking to exercise 'independent leadership' outside official union structures as part of the 'Third Period' line.

In the Lancashire cotton industry, the millowners were trying to replace women weavers with men working more looms each. Communists Lilly Web, Margaret McCarthy, Rose Smith and Bessie Dickenson led the resistance in a series of strikes and lockouts, eventually producing their own paper, the Cotton Strike Leader.

But attempts to provide 'independent leadership' to that of the South Wales Miners Federation proved a fiasco, prompting Arthur Horner to challenge the whole 'Third Period' line in industry. The Comintern charged him with 'Hornerism', but stopped short of serious disciplinary action.

In 1931, in the ultimate betrayal, Ramsay McDonald entered secret talks with the Tories and Liberals to emerge at the head of a 'National Government'. In the General Election that followed, the Labour Party was reduced to a rump in Parliament. Twenty-six CP candidates—five of them in prison—won 75,000 votes between them. In West Fife, Willie Gallacher polled 22 per cent of the vote.

In response to this vindication of elements of the ‘Third Period’ line, the Party threw itself into intensifying militant activity, trebling Party membership to 9,000 by January 1932. Communist candidates also scored impressive votes in local elections that year, especially in Wales and Scotland. In March 1933, Arthur Horner won 11,228 votes (38% of the total) in the Rhondda East parliamentary by-election, less than three thousand votes behind the victorious Labour candidate.

But many of the new recruits did not stay in the Party for long, having joined in a flush of militant enthusiasm. Differences within the CP leadership over 'independent leadership' and unofficial strike committees eased, as 'life itself' demonstrated that Communists should fight for influence within the unions rather than apart from them.

When the National Government announced fresh cuts in the pay of Royal Navy ratings, a thousand sailors took industrial action in Cromarty Firth, even raising the red flag above their vessels.

The action was quickly condemned as a mutiny by the national government and prompted panic on the London Stock Exchange. Bankers and speculators deserted sterling, forcing the pound off the Gold Standard. Communists were widely blamed for the 'Invergordon mutiny', although it was at root a spontaneous outbreak of discontent. One of its leaders, Len Wincott, joined the CP and later accepted an invitation to live in the Soviet Union, while another, Fred Copeman, went on to command the British Battalion of the International Brigades in Spain.  

On dry land, meanwhile, the National Unemployed Workers Movement led by Wal Hannington was galvanising mass resistance to the hated Means Test, house evictions and a new round of proposed benefit cuts. Despite official hostility from the TUC and Labour Party, it built up a dues-paying membership of 50,000 unemployed workers, organised into more than 300 branches. The NUWM agitated outside the Labour Exchanges, fought welfare cases on behalf of the jobless and marshalled the South Wales miners march of 1927, a Scottish unemployed march in 1928 and the national Hunger Marches of 1929, 1930, 1932 and 1936.

Police violence against NUWM demonstrators prompted left-wing lawyers such as Harry Thompson to establish the National Council for Civil Liberties (known today as Liberty). The London Metropolitan Police planted weapons in a van to secure the imprisonment of Communist organiser Will Paynter, later leader of Britain's miners. YCLer and future Party general secretary John Gollan received a six-month sentence for inciting soldiers to 'disaffection' with His Majesty.

From the outset, Britain's Communist Party had supported national liberation movements against the British Empire. Communists and socialists built the League Against Imperialism and, as the British section of the Comintern, the Party assisted workers and revolutionaries in the resistance of British imperialism in the colonies. Members Ben Bradley and Philip Spratt were among those jailed in the Meerut Conspiracy Trial in 1933, accused of undermining British rule by organising trade unions, strikes and the Communist movement in India.

In January 1933, as the monopoly capitalists helped Hitler and the Nazis into power in Germany, the Communist International dropped the 'Class against Class' line in favour of working class and left unity to counter the fascist menace. In Britain, the response of the TUC was to issue the first of a new series of 'Black Circulars', once more urging unions to ban Communists from all official positions in the movement including election to local Trades Councils.

On a more positive note, Communists and socialists marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Karl Marx by opening the Marx Memorial Library. While the Nazis were burning books—as the prelude to burning people—the library was collecting them for workers to study.

By the end of 1934, the CP in Britain was urging votes for Labour candidates who supported left unity. In January 1935, a huge wave of protests called by the NUWM across Britain forced the government to abandon its vicious new unemployment benefit and Means Test regulations.    

There were other, more unorthodox victories too. In 1932, Manchester Communist Benny Rothman had led a mass trespass to the Kinder Scout in the Peak District, defying the closure of large tracts of the countryside by big landowners. They were members of the British Workers Sports Federation, in which many Communists and socialists participated as an alternative to sports clubs organised by Christian, 'patriotic' and militaristic bodies.

Although a jury of the landed establishment jailed Rothman and four other young communists, controversy around the case led to the first legal rights for ramblers everywhere. Communists launched the Country Standard newspaper in 1935 to highlight the battles of farm labourers for decent wages, safety at work, secure housing and trade union rights. Among its earliest contributors was the novelist Sylvia Townsend Walker.

The Party’s 13th congress in February 1935 called for united action to remove the National Government. It also produced a new programme, For Soviet Britain, which advocated the forceful overthrow of capitalism because 'the capitalist class will never allow itself to be gradually expropriated by successive Acts of Parliament'. Parliamentary rule should be replaced by “Workers' Councils, made up of workers elected democratically from every factory, workshop and mine, and from every other grouping of men and women of this country who have to work for their living”.

The new programme also set out the policies that would emancipate women in a socialist society: equal opportunities in the labour market and at work; equal pay; time off with full pay and free medical care during pregnancy; crèches, clinics and school meals for the children of working mothers; and labour-saving appliances in all new houses. Whilst films and books encouraged young women to marry their boss for the ideal happy ending, Britain's Communists urged them to fight for equality and join the Women's Cooperative Guild instead.

At the General Election that November, in the only two Communist contests, Willie Gallacher won West Fife and Harry Pollitt gained 13,655 votes in Rhondda East. 

The Party now began to reorganise itself, with factory, ward and street groups to be coordinated by local Branches and a Branch Committee. Party fractions in the trade unions were growing rapidly through their work in rank and file and shop stewards' movements among engineers, coal miners and London bus crews, publishing influential papers such as the New Propeller, the South Wales Miner and the Busman's Punch. General secretary Pollitt described this process as 'a revolution within the party'.