September 30 2008 at 6:50 PM
Jeremy Hawthorn 

Response to Sid French's speech


I don't have a clear memory of where and when the speech took place. But it was soon after the NCP was formed, and I was then in the Sunderland branch of the CPGB. What did stick in my mind was a form of words that struck me at the time as grossly unrealistic, suggesting that the NCP would quickly become a large and powerful party. As it was, those I knew who joined the NCP went on being what they were before - the active ones active, the inactive ones inactive. I know that by about 1980 one of the active ones was overheard complaining the the local CPGB branch was more active than the NCP one, measured in public activity. And that was true. What it was like elsewhere in the UK I don't know.

The sad truth is that the euros thought that the CPGB would explode into growth and activity once the stalinists were got rid of, while those who left to join the NCP thought much the same in mirror terms. And so on through every split. In fact every split meant a reduction in active cadres, not the opposite. And each time there would be someone to quote Lenin to the effect that "better smaller, than better", until it actually just meant "better smaller". Well, it's pretty good now, isn't it?

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