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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.
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…
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.