1960s >> 1969 >> no-782-october-1969

Book Review: The British C.P.

The Sociology of British Communism by Kenneth Newton (Allen Lane. 50s.)
As the title suggests, this book sets out to study what sort of people join the Communist Party and why, but it does not get very far as Newton himself admits that interviews with a couple of dozen Communists is not much to go on.
Newton is fair to the Communist Party pointing out for instance that it is silly to blame them for fomenting strikes. After all, he says, when during the war they were strikebreakers and blacklegs they could not prevent strikes. He notices, as any impartial observer must, that over the years the Communist Party has dropped its mock revolutionary phrases and become an openly reformist party:

   “The British Communist Party . . . has come to accept the philosophy of gradualism and piecemeal reform, though the reforms it demands are still more radical than those of the other political parties in Britain”.

Newton is also fair to the Socialist Party of Great Britain pointing out that, in contrast to the CP, we “demand a knowledge of socialist prindples before (we) allow applicants to become members” and also that we are a “thoroughly democratic” organisation.
There are a number of mistakes like saying the Socialist Labour Party was the largest of the groups that formed the Communist Party. In fact, the British Socialist Party was, and only a breakaway faction of the SLP joined.
Adam Buick