Britain Out of Ireland!
Organisation:New Communist Party
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

25th January 2010

As part of our continuing series (or is it a sub-genre of the Left Archive?) of leaflets from British left political formations regarding Ireland here is a fascinating example. The New Communist Party  was forged in the heat of a split within the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1977. As the CPGB factionalised between ‘Leninists’ and Eurocommunists Sid French [incorrectly named by me as Sid Smith in the original piece - wbs], founder of the NCP was expelled. That latter party has remained extant to this day, positioned within what can best be described as an ‘orthodox’ Communist position which has seen it see off factions who were too pro-Soviet and others who might be described as insufficiently so. That, according to wiki, it’s most significant rupture was over support for Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London in 2000 perhaps provides an insight into a grouping which has never run for electoral office itself but always provided de facto support for the Labour Party. Worth noting that it has been a participant at various International Conference of Communist & Workers’ Parties meetings over the past decade or so, albeit its attendance appears to have tailed off.

What is evident in this document is some difference from the CPGB and CPI approach to Northern Ireland.

The document takes as its starting point the strike on British radio and television media on August 7 1985 as a protest against the censorship of a BBC ‘Real Lives’ documentary on the North by the government due to an interview with ‘an elected representative of the Irish people, Martin McGuinness’.

It suggests that:

‘In truth the IRA, and the Republican movement of which they are part, are simply people struggling to free part of their country from foreign military occupation, and their whole country from foreign domination. Just as in the Second World War resistance forces fought the German occupation of Europe, so today in Ireland the IRA is fighting the British occupation of the six counties’.


The military campaign of the IRA is a response to, not the cause of, the British military occupation. It is a response to the violence and repression directed against the Republican movement and the nationalist population as a whole in the six counties. In 1969, when the increased deployment of British troops to the six counties began, the violence was coming from the Unionists. The Provisional IRA had not even been formed.

Interestingly on page 9 it quotes Desmond Greaves from a CPGB pamphlet written in 1969. Perhaps more interestingly on pages 29 - 32 there is no analysis of Republicanism of whatever variant when discussing the late 1960s and 1969 in particular. There is mention of ‘forces at work within the Labour movement here in Britain who profess to be supporters of Irish freedom, but whose position is nothing more than what might be described as labour imperialism.

It continues:

The position of all genuine progressives must begin from an understanding that Ireland first of all must have the right to self-determination and real independence. Post independence developments and the method of reunification can only be conducted by the Irish people as a whole once Britain has gone…

And furthermore…

Yet the Militant Tendency (otherwise known as the Revolutionary Socialist League - operating secretly within the Labour Party) argues for the creation of a party of labour, uniting Protestant and Catholic workers as a first step to achieving a united Ireland. Secondly the Campaign for Labour Representation in Ireland actually argus for the British labour Party to be organised in the occupied six counties, (This particular campaign is basically tied up with the Irish political party, the Workers’ Party).

There’s more, and it’s well worth reading. Note that in the “Recommended further reading” are An Phoblacht, Irish Democrat and Irish Socialist and Unity.


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  • By: Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung Mon, 25 Jan 2010 10:15:39

    […] New Communist Party (NCP): Britain Out of Ireland! (~ […]

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  • By: Baku26 Mon, 25 Jan 2010 12:59:49

    Sid Smith? Sid French.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 25 Jan 2010 13:29:16

    I was, as you can well imagine, thinking of the Iroquois professional lacrosse player… an easy mistake to make. 😉

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  • By: Mark P Mon, 25 Jan 2010 14:45:50

    A turgid pamphlet from a sect that seems to have been fossilised from the instant it came into being.

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  • By: entdinglichung Mon, 25 Jan 2010 15:51:31

    as far as I know, the NCP is among the few groups, which do believe in the existance of North Korean satellites orbiting earth 😉

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  • By: Starkadder Mon, 25 Jan 2010 18:18:07

    But not quite as far out as the Posadists, then. 🙂

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  • By: splinteredsunrise Mon, 25 Jan 2010 21:22:45

    As the late John Sullivan said, if you liked the 1950s, you’ll love the New Communist Party. Their big ambition was to get the Moscow franchise – that they never succeeded may have been as well for them. Not an unpleasant or especially mad bunch, though. They remind me a bit of Socialist Appeal.

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  • By: splinteredsunrise Mon, 25 Jan 2010 21:25:18

    Oh yes, and an interesting reference there to the Campaign for Labour Representation. Essentially a BICO rather than WP enterprise as I recall, albeit that there was some overlap from the old Workers Association people.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 25 Jan 2010 21:35:00

    Very much agree. In the 1980s I came across some of the CLR people at one thing and another in Belfast and other places. Never really struck me as WP… which wasn’t surprising given that the WP was, and is, still organising in the North and that CLR would sort of cut to the heart of that project – although I guess in a longer term context perhaps some factions in the WP saw, and I’m completely hypothesising here) saw them, the WP, playing Greece (or the CPGB kind of sort of) to the BLPs Rome (kind of sort of).

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 25 Jan 2010 21:37:04

    I have a soft spot for the Posadists…

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  • By: Mark P Mon, 25 Jan 2010 22:04:13

    The Workers Association was a wholly-owned BICO enterprise too, wasn’t it?

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  • By: splinteredsunrise Mon, 25 Jan 2010 22:36:43

    They set it up, but it did get a bit broader than them, including some ex-PD people. Henry Patterson was certainly in the WA and I think Jeff Dudgeon may have been too. Some of them later moved into the Officials, though Jeff has had a more colourful political trajectory.

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  • By: Tomboktu Mon, 25 Jan 2010 23:39:49

    Ah, Jeff … famous in Armenia, in a specialist way, believe it or not. About eight years ago, when Armenia became the last member of Council of Europe to decriminalise homosexuality, his name was cited. He had set the precedent that was cited by gay activists in those few countries that had been holding out. ILGA-Europe even managed to bring Charlemagne into it in their press release.

    And then, about five or six years ago, when the gay bar on Dublin’s Capel Street (that’d be the “other” gay bar, at the “other end” of the street) held an opening party, they wouldn’t let him in. Nor Norris. It didn’t last long, that bar.

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  • By: Starkadder Tue, 26 Jan 2010 20:34:36

    Muriel MacSwiney – Terence MacSwiney’s widow- was
    in the Workers’ Association as well . Muriel
    also knew Dennis Dennehy of DHAC fame in the
    late 60s. I’m sure Athol Books have a publication about her.

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