Abstract of Smith, E. “Fighting Oppression Wherever It Exists”: The Communist Party of Great Britain and the Struggle Against Racism, 1962 – 1981″
Between 1948 and 1962, nearly 300,000 migrants, the majority from the ‘New Commonwealth’, had arrived in Britain in response to the labour shortage Britain had suffered from the aftermath of the Second World War. After the Commonwealth Immigrants Act was passed in 1962 by the Conservative government, the first piece of legislation to implement controls on immigration from the ‘New Commonwealth’, the issue of race became a highly politicised matter for both the Conservatives and Labour. Between 1962 and 1981, both Parties passed increasingly racist legislation to prevent further immigration, while the legislation passed to counter racial discrimination and bias was essentially ineffectual.
This article examines the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB), the largest political party to the left of the Labour Party during this period and the efforts made by the Party to combat racism in British society. In addition to the identification of the various forms of racism in Britain, some of the problems facing the Party were how anti-racism fitted into the wider struggle for socialism and managing to portray to the mainly white Party members the problems faced by black workers. The practical implications of the inclusion of anti-racism into the CPGB’s post-war strategy, outlined in The British Road to Socialism, produced many debates inside the Communist Party, along with the theoretical analysis of the concept of ‘race’ and its place within the Party’s Marxist ideology.