red back ground
The Communist Party
Britain's Marxist party of the labour movement

Organised for socialist revolution, rooted in the working class, working for unity.
Democratic, drawing upon the initiative and creativity of its members.
Centralised, to act as a disciplined and united force.
Internationalist, enjoying close relations with scores of communist parties and movements for peace, progress and national liberation.
Based on the class and internationalist principles of Marxism-Leninism.

“The aim of the Communist Party is to achieve a socialist Britain in which the means of production, distribution and exchange will be socially owned and utilised in a planned way for the benefit of all. This necessitates a revolutionary transformation of society, ending the existing capitalist system of exploitation and replacing it with a socialist society in which each will contribute according to ability and receive according to work done. Socialist society creates the conditions for advance to a fully communist form of society in which each will receive according to need.” – from Communist Party Aims & Constitution

Communism did not start with Karl Marx or with the October 1917 socialist revolution in Russia. In Britain, a rich historical seam of communist ideas dates back to the Middle Ages and before. 
At times of great crisis, communist and socialist ideas often come to the fore. The desire for a future based on peace, co-operation, community, solidarity and common wealth has long inspired the peoples of England, Scotland and Wales. 

The Communist Party has carried this living, revolutionary tradition into the 20th and 21st centuries. Its roots lie deep in Britain’s trade unions, socialist societies and other working class organisations. 

According to its rules, the Communist Party is guided by the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism. This is far from being a fossilised set of ideas. 

Marxism-Leninism is a science, starting from the understanding that ‘the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles’. In The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), Karl Marx and Frederick Engels analysed the development of capitalism.

In Britain, much of the capital needed for industrialisation arose from the international slave trade. The Industrial Revolution proceeded on the basis of brutal exploitation of labour at home and the super-exploitation of colonies around the world. 

Because a minority class of capitalists owned the means of production (the factories, mines, machinery, tools, materials, land, etc.), they could employ workers and pay them less than the value created by their labour power. The ‘surplus value’ gained through such exploitation is the source of normal capitalist profit. 

This can expand when sections of the workforce (women, young people, migrants and national or ethnic minorities) are used to undermine employment terms and conditions.

In their drive to maximise market share and profit, the capitalists fight to raise productivity and hold down wages. The same drive also takes place in the capitalist state sector, in order to minimise the impact of taxation on company profits. 

As a result, periodically, more commodities are produced than can be sold at a profit. The capitalists then cut back investment, production and employment, plunging the economy into a downward spiral until economic activity becomes more profitable again. In the meantime, society’s productive forces are destroyed, sometimes on a huge scale and in conditions of misery and despair. 

Marx and Engels showed how the dominant class in each society uses the power of the state apparatus (the political institutions, civil service, courts, prisons, armed forces, police etc.) to serve its common interests, not least by maintaining the system of exploitation itself. 

But the point arrives where relations between the classes, based on economic property ownership and power, act as a brake on society’s further development. Narrow capitalist class interests contradict those of a society based on the vast, interconnected web of economic activities carried out by working people. 

Capitalist society is fundamentally one of exploitation, crisis, inequality and conflict. The working class and its allies need to overthrow capitalist rule and use state power to build a socialist society, as the prelude to full communism. The transfer of state power from one class to another is the essence of revolution. 

Lenin analysed the rise of cartels and monopolies in every branch of capitalist economy. Their struggle for domination over markets, natural resources, territory and trade routes has propelled capitalism into its highest and final stage, imperialism. As each capitalist state fights for the interests of its own monopolies, the consequences are militarism and imperialist war. 

The growing fusion between the economic power of the capitalist monopolies and the political power of the state has produced what Lenin called ‘state-monopoly capitalism’. He also outlined how capitalism would become increasingly wasteful, destructive and parasitic, increasingly seeking profits from enforced monopoly and financial speculation. 

Counter-revolution in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe has removed all restraint on imperialist exploitation and oppression at home and abroad. 

Today, the major imperialist states collaborate to promote the common interests of their own monopolies (many of which have become transnational corporations or TNCs). Through the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank, they impose liberalisation, austerity and privatisation programmes on whole countries and economies. 

Western TNCs plunder the earth’s natural resources for the swiftest maximum profit, threatening the planet’s very eco-system. Under the cover of ‘globalisation’ – a new phase of imperialism – the monopolists get richer as billions of people around the world go without adequate food, shelter, clean water or health and education services. 

Those governments in the former socialist or developing world that stand in the way of imperialism and its neoliberal policies are toppled by military force, usually inflicted by the NATO powers. 

Thus the demand for popular sovereignty – for workers and peoples to exert their interests over those of monopoly capital – is central to the political class struggle in the 21st century. Only communists and the left can combine the fight for popular and national sovereignty with the call for international working class solidarity against imperialism. 

Capitalism now stands exposed as a system in general crisis, unable to meet many people’s most basic needs or to fulfil even their most modest aspirations. State-monopoly capitalism is economically unstable, environmentally ruinous, socially cruel, politically corrupt and morally bankrupt. 

Socialism remains the only alternative: a society in which the people govern democratically for the benefit of all, owning and planning the economy, protecting the eco-system, sharing society’s wealth and enabling everyone to fulfil their own potential in conditions of freedom. 

The capitalist class still organises and relies upon state power at the national level. Therefore, as Lenin understood, the working class of each country has to find its own road to revolution, to build and lead a broad alliance of forces guided by its own revolutionary party and programme, creating its own form of democratic and working class rule. 

Founded in 1920, Britain’s Communist Party brought together militant socialists and trade unionists who understood the need for a revolutionary change in society. They had been repelled by the mass slaughter of the 1914-18 Great War, when the leaders of the labour movement sided with the British ruling class against rival imperialist powers. They were inspired, too, by the founding of the world’s first workers’ state in Soviet Russia. 


Since then, Britain’s Communist Party has been in the frontline of the political class struggle, fighting for working class interests against exploitation and oppression, in favour of human liberation and socialism. 

Despite the imprisonment of its leadership, the Party played an outstanding role in the 1926 General Strike. Throughout the 1930s, it organised mass movements of unemployed workers and housing tenants. The mass trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932, led by Young Communist League members, eventually changed the law to allow rights for ramblers on private landed estates. 

The CP led the militant mass movement against the British Union of Fascists and sent more than a thousand volunteers to fight fascism in Spain. During the Second World War, communist local councillors broke into London Underground stations and led many thousands of people to safety. The Party led the giant campaign to open a ‘second front’ against Hitler in western Europe. 

From 1945, the election of communist MPs and hundreds of local councillors demonstrated people’s appreciation of the Party’s work. Communists were elected to leading positions in some of Britain’s major trade unions. 

With its allies in the labour movement, the Party opposed the Cold War against the Soviet Union and socialism. Communists campaigned against the establishment of US military bases in Britain, membership of NATO and Britain’s massive rearmament programme.

In 1951, the first edition of the Communist Party’s programme, The British Road to Socialism, was published. This stated that Britain must achieve socialism by its own path, using mass struggle to transform Parliament into a democratic instrument of the will of the vast majority of the people. 

As Marx and Engels had put it, the working class has to win the battle of democracy in order to achieve socialism. 

Britain’s communists supported the enormous efforts to build socialism in the war-torn countries of the Soviet Union and eastern Europe. Great economic, social and cultural advances were made in the most difficult conditions, as many of those societies experienced industrialisation, mass literacy, universal healthcare and rights for women and small nationalities for the first time. Yet, in that process, facing imperialist aggression and subversion, communist regimes also committed serious violations of democratic and human rights. 

This confirms the need for the mass of the people to participate in decision-making in every field, to create a vibrant socialist democracy in place of the narrow, distorted and corrupt political systems found in capitalist society. 

In post-war Britain, the CP played a major part in campaigns for more and better housing, comprehensive education for all (in place of selective schools for the few), for equal pay and equal rights for women, and for greater employment and trade union rights for all workers. 

Communists continued their militant anti-racist and anti-fascist campaigning and helped found the Notting Hill Carnival as well as other cultural events such as the Edinburgh People’s Festival (forerunner of the ‘Fringe’) and the South Wales Miners Eisteddfod. Many top writers, artists, musicians and scientists were Party members or supporters, part of a wide network of bookshops, clubs, societies, periodicals, bookshops and other initiatives. 

Almost alone in the labour movement for many decades, Britain’s Communist Party called for parliaments for the peoples of Wales and Scotland. 

Based in the working class movement, it led the fight against anti-trade union laws. In the 1960s and ’70s, the Liaison Committee for the Defence of Trade Unions – which at that time included many militant workplace representatives – launched mass one-day stoppages, compelling the TUC to call a one-day general strike to defeat the legislation. Communists also provided leadership in the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders’ work-in and the 1972, 1974 and 1984-5 miners’ strikes. Powerful communist and broad left organisations were built in many workplaces and unions, in the public services as well as industry. 

These advances intensified state and ruling class efforts to weaken and divide the Party. In 1988, communists who had been expelled by the revisionist leadership that captured the CP, came together to re-establish the Party on the basis of its Marxist-Leninist rules, principles and programme (since renamed Britain’s Road to Socialism).This was followed by unity processes in the early 1990s which brought in communists who had remained in the old Party until its dissolution in 1991. Today, the Communist Party is widely recognised at home and around the world as the authentic representative of the communist tradition in England, Scotland and Wales. 

The Young Communist League (YCL) organises young people from 12 to 29 years old. Although the YCL is the youth wing of the CP—committed to our programme Britain’s Road to Socialism—it is organisationally independent, deciding its own policy and activities, controlling its own finances and electing its own leadership. The Young Communist League engages in street activity as well as political education and publishes a regular journal Challenge. To view the Young Communist League website go to

When the Communist Manifesto declared ‘Workers of all lands, unite!’, it recognised two important principles: firstly, that working people have different national identities, languages and traditions; and secondly, that they have a common interest in supporting each other against exploitation and oppression. 


From its foundation, the Communist Party campaigned against British imperialism in Ireland, India and the other colonies, exposing British atrocities and demanding the liberation of all oppressed peoples. At the end of World War Two, it opposed the use of British military forces to suppress the communist-led anti-fascist movement in Greece. At the height of the Cold War, it stood out against the US-led invasion of People’s Korea and later campaigned against South African apartheid and US mass murder in Vietnam. 

More recently, Britain’s communists have helped build and maintain solidarity organisations with the peoples of Chile, Iran, Iraq and Colombia against repression and dictatorship, and with the peoples of Cuba and Venezuela against US imperialism. 

As well as helping to sustain the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, communists have been to the fore in the peace movement against NATO and Western intervention in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and the Middle East. 

We support the right of the Palestinian people to an independent sovereign state alongside Israel, based on the pre-1967 borders, and demand the release of all Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli gaols. 

Despite the so-called ‘collapse of communism’ in 1989, communist or workers parties have remained in power in China, Cuba, Vietnam, Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Moldova and Guyana. China’s economy, most of which is still planned and in public ownership, has been the fastest growing in the world for more than a decade, lifting more than 600 million people out of absolute poverty. 

Since 1992, communist parties have been elected to governing positions in South Africa, Venezuela, Uruguay, Brazil, Cyprus, India and Nepal. Mass communist parties enjoy the trust and support of millions of people in France, Italy, Spain, Russia, Greece, Portugal, Japan and other countries. 

The peoples of Russia and eastern Europe are also learning that capitalism creates more problems than it solves. That is why today, where communist parties are not banned, tens of millions of people vote communist in Russia, the Czech Republic and eastern Europe. 

Socialism there will return, reinvigorated and without the ‘bureaucratic command’ distortions of the previous period.

The Communist Party of Britain enjoys comradely relations with nearly 100 communist parties and national liberation movements throughout the world. We participate in the Co-ordinating Committee of Communist Parties which bring together those from overseas who have members living in Britain. We use our extensive links to strengthen relations between the revolutionary, trade union and peace movements of different countries. 

The ruling ideas in every society are those of the ruling class, until they are overturned. 

Monopoly ownership and control of the mass media helps to ensure that British society is bombarded with pro-capitalist, anti-socialist and anti-communist values, opinions and ideas every day. The working class must challenge this ideological domination and develop its own political consciousness of the need to organise for socialist revolution.

That is why the Communist Party emphasises the importance of the battle of ideas between those of capitalism and imperialism, on the one side, and liberation and socialism on the other. 

Alone among Britain’s daily newspapers, the Morning Star provides an alternative daily viewpoint from the left. Its coverage of national, international, political, trade union and cultural news, analysis and debate is unique. 

The paper was founded by the CP in 1930 as the Daily Worker, since when it has survived wholesale and distribution bans, illegality, advertising boycotts and exclusion from the other mass media. In 1945, the People’s Press Printing Society (PPPS), the co-operative which owns the paper, was established to broaden its base of ownership and support. 

Today, thousands of individuals and labour movement organisations own shares in the Morning Star (as it was renamed in 1966) and numerous national trade unions are represented on the PPPS management committee. 

A special political relationship also remains between the CP and the Morning Star, based not only on history but also on the fact that successive annual general meetings of the PPPS have agreed Britain’s Road to Socialism should guide the paper’s editorial policy. 

Increasing the paper’s circulation should be a priority not only for communists, but for all socialists, trade unionists and progressive-minded people. The Morning Star is crucial in the battle of ideas and helps to inform thousands of people who organise resistance to the ruling class and its policies. 

Communists and allies also help to establish and sustain broad local Morning Star Readers & Supporters Groups and campaign committees in order to build the circulation and finances of the paper, and to stimulate political discussion in the labour and progressive movements. 

On its own account, the CP publishes a quarterly theoretical and discussion journal, the Communist Review and a labour and progressive movement broadsheet, Unity! The party organises politcal education schools across its English districts and in Scotland and Wales. 

Manifesto Press is politically aligned with the CP and publishes books on imperialism, political struggle, social policy, history and culture. 

The Communist Party’s programme, Britain’s Road to Socialism, applies a Marxist-Leninist analysis to conditions as they have developed to the present day. 

It argues that state-monopoly capitalism is the main obstacle to progress on every front. At the core of the British ruling class is a small number of finance monopoly capitalists.

Their key shareholdings and directorships dominate the economy and their interests largely determine how state power is exercised. 

However, the potential exists to pursue an Alternative Economic and Political Strategy for the revolutionary transfer of state power. In the course of mass activity, the organised working class movement can build and lead a popular democratic anti-monopoly alliance of social forces (including women, pensioners, ethnic minorities, students, the unemployed and peace and environmental campaigners). 

Unity would grow around a Left Wing Programme of policies to make inroads into the wealth and power of the monopoly capitalists and adopt an independent foreign and defence policy for Britain. 

Through an upsurge in working class and popular action, a left government can be elected, based on a parliamentary majority of Labour, socialist, communist and progressive MPs. Winning such a government would be vital not only at Westminster, but in Edinburgh and Cardiff as well. 

In striving to implement the most advanced policies of the Left Wing Programme (LWP), the mass movement and its left government will have to engage in a decisive struggle for state power. 

This process would need to involve workers and their allies directly in the exercise of political power, including through the establishment of new democratic bodies. These would help ensure that all attempts at counter-revolutionary sabotage and violence are defeated. 

The state apparatus itself would need to be transformed into an instrument of popular and mass democracy, utilising the strength and creativity of the working class and its allies. State power could then be used to dismantle monopoly capitalism and begin the construction of a socialist society. 

Putting an end to British imperialism is the biggest contribution we could make to international human liberation and socialism. 

For Britain to take the road to socialism, however, a strong and influential CP will also be essential – a Marxist party that is both internationalist and rooted in the British labour movement. 

The CP works with its allies to promote the policies of the Left-Wing Programme. Many of these are reflected in the People’s Charter, which is endorsed by Britain’s Trades Union Congress and actively supported by a wide range of trade union and other bodies. Similarly, the Charter for Women, first launched by the Communist Party, puts forward policies to secure women’s equality in the home, the workplace and trade union movement and is now supported by most major unions. 

  • Restore public ownership in the energy and transport sectors to plan for future needs by developing clean coal technology and tidal, solar and offshore wind power. 
  • Match public subsidies to failing private companies with a public shareholding and take banking and key industries such as pharmaceuticals and armaments into democratic public ownership. 
  • Protect and develop manufacturing industry through public investment and measures to regulate imports and restrict the export of jobs and capital. 
  • Control the flow of capital, tax financial speculation and close all tax havens under British jurisdiction. 
  • Halt all forms of privatisation and invest in public services and their staff, including a massive programme to build more public sector and sheltered housing. 
  • Redistribute wealth to workers and their families through a Wealth Tax on the super-rich, higher taxation of monopoly profits, cuts in VAT and more spending on social and welfare programmes. 
  • Set the national minimum wage at two-thirds of median male earnings, with no exemptions, and enforce equal pay through compulsory pay audits. 
  • Immediately restore the link between the state retirement pension and earnings at its original value and introduce a second state pen-sion which includes contributions from employers and the state. 
  • Integrate all schools into a unified secular education system under democratic local control, abolish students’ tuition fees and reintroduce maintenance grants. 
  • Repeal all anti-trade union, anti-democratic and racist immigration laws with full employment rights and trade union participation for migrant workers. 
  • Strengthen the economic and financial powers of the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly of Wales in a federal Britain, and re-store powers and resources to local government. 
  • Abolish the House of Lords, break up the media monopolies and bring the police and intelligence services under democratic control. 
  • Cut military spending to average European levels, withdraw from NATO, switch military R&D and production to meeting social needs and scrap plans to replace Trident with a new nuclear weapons system.
  • Oppose all further steps towards a capitalist, militarist United States of Europe and end Britain’s membership of the European Union. 
  • Cancel all Third World debt, promote fair trade (including with People’s China and other developing countries) and oppose the GATS plan to privatise public services across the world.

Membership of the Communist Party is open to all people aged 16 and above who accept the aims, rules and policy of the Party, pay their dues regularly and work in a Party organisation. 

All members are allocated to the most appropriate local branch, the core unit of the Party. They are encouraged to participate fully in branch life in order to pool experience, deepen their own understanding of political affairs and Marxist-Leninist theory, and develop to their full potential as communists. Branch meetings are generally open to interested non-members. 


Through collective discussion and activity, the Party intervenes in the political life of communities and workplaces, projecting its policies and strategy, giving support to day-to-day struggles and working to build a popular, democratic anti-monopoly alliance for fundamental change. 

Each branch holds an annual general meeting at which a branch committee is elected to plan and organise activities and elect local officers. Every branch is grouped with neighbouring branches to form nations and districts which closely reflect established areas of political, trade union and progressive organisation. Workplace and industrial groups and branches may also exist. The role and responsibilities of Party organisations and members are set out in detail in our Communist Party Handbook. 

In each district and nation, a congress is held every two years comprising delegates elected from the branches in their area. The district congress decides the perspectives and priorities for Party work for the next two years, and elects a district committee to carry it forward. The Welsh and Scottish congresses elect their own leading committees and formulate policies for their respective countries in accordance with the general lines of the Party’s programme. 

The all-Britain congress, composed mostly of delegates from branches and national and district committees, is held every two years. It decides policy for the Party as a whole, and elects an executive committee (EC) to carry that policy forward and direct the Party’s work between national congresses. In turn, the EC elects the Party’s leading officers and sub-committees such as the political committee (PC) to assist in work and make decisions between EC meetings. 

The CP places a high priority on trade union activity and members hold many responsible positions at every level of the movement. This work is guided by a trade union coordinating committee (TUCC) and union-based advisory committees. They publish Unity! bulletins at numerous conferences and events. Communists work closely with a wide range of allies to strengthen trade unions and trades councils and win workers to left and progressive policies. 

A number of commissions, comprising leading activists and representatives from nations and districts, help to develop policy and assist the Party’s work (for example among women and pensioners, in the peace and anti-racism movements and on the economy, housing, the environment and international affairs). 

The Communist Party History Group publishes pamphlets in the series ‘Our History’, featuring important past struggles of the working class, progressive and socialist movements 

The CP is a thoroughly democratic party in its structures and processes. Because our decisions need to be firmly based on the experience of Party members at all levels, communists have the responsibility as well as the right to participate in the Party’s democracy. All leading committees and positions are periodically elected and are accountable to the mass of Party members and their delegates. 

Once a policy has been debated and agreed, democracy also requires that members put it to the test in practice and not undermine it. Maximum discussion must be combined with unity in action if the CP is to be an effective force. Therefore, the decisions taken by leading committees are binding on Party members, although they must be explained where necessary and be open to criticism and review within the Party. 

Regular payment of dues is an essential condition of Party membership. Members opt to pay in accordance with a range of different income bands. They may make an additional voluntary contribution each month or year should they wish. 

As well as appearing on Party websites, key news, analysis and reports are distributed as internal communications available to members only.