Here is a written interview with Gerrard Sables, Branch Secretary of the North Devon, branch of the Communist Party of Britain. Questions were submitted by Pat Thompson, Chair, Houston Communist Party and answered directly by Gerrard Sables. Following is the interview:

1. Why did you join the Communist Party of Britain (CPB)?

I joined the CPB in March 1991 having left the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in June 1987. My membership of CPGB started in June 1972. The CPB was founded in April 1988 and the CPGB dissolved in December 1991. Our party was founded in April 1988 with the rules and constitution and policies of the CPGB. So when I joined the CPB I considered that I was rejoining the Communist Party. I first joined in 1972 inspired by the campaign against the Vietnam War, the campaign to free Angela Davies, the role of the party in the trade union movement, and a whole host of other reasons. I was at the time an active trade union representative and reader of the Morning Star as I am still.

2. What are your duties and responsibilities as a party member? In what activities do you become involved as a party member on a local level?

The duties and responsibilities are set out in Rule 15 of our Aims and Constitution. Put in a nutshell it is to carry out party policy. Each member has to pay dues, read and promote the Morning Star, if at work to be a trade union member and member of a co-operative society. She or he has to improve political knowledge and contribute towards developing party policy

3. What is the position of the CPB on the Labour Party?

We accept that the Labour Party is the mass party of the working class. Over half of trade union members are in unions affiliated to the Labour Party and it was set up by trade unions. We do what we can to turn the Labour Party left both by struggle and debate. In the early days of the CP there were many who had joint membership. We are very critical of the Labour party’s tendency to class collaboration and to imperialism. There is within the Labour Party a continual battle between left and right. Our position on the Labour Party is under constant review.

4. What you consider to be the “work of the party” of the CPB?

Building a mass movement that is a broad based but labour movement led anti-monopoly alliance to acheive working class power.

5. Is the CPB involved in trade union activity? If so, how?

Party members are active at all levels of the trade union movement. I should imagine it is the same in the CPUSA as it is in all communist parties.

6. What do you think of the anti-Communist laws in Texas?

Bloody disgraceful and they need to be fought hard. Anti-communism is the essential ingredient in fascism.

7. What do you think of Trotskyism?

It’s a pain in the arse. There are so many different organisations claiming to be Trotskyite that one cannot consider it as a united philosophy or movement. Having said that, I know some Trotskyites we can work with: in anti-cuts campaigns, Palestine Solidarity and Anti-war movements. In Britain there are two significant Trotskyite parties: the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party. I get on reasonably well with members of both. The higher up their organisations you go the sillier they are it seems.

8. What do you see as being the major problems confronting the working class in Britain?

This coalition government which we as a party are doing our best to be rid of. Prior to Thatcher becoming Prime Minister Britain was the most equal society in Western Europe; now it is the least. There is an attempt to divide the working class which we oppose. The media with the sole exception of our paper follows the agenda set by big business and imperialism. Capitalism is the major problem.

9. What do you see as being the major problems confronting the working class in the USA?

Probably the same problems that face the working class in other capitalist countries.

10. Is the CPB Marxist-Leninist in its philosophical orientation?


11. What do you think of the term “vanguard party of the working class” and is the CPB that party in Britain?

I don’t really like it. Any party that claims to be that is tempting fate. Our party has a resposibility to change society for the better but others also accept responsibility. alliances are not built by boasting.

12. Please comment on anything else you feel would be relevant to this discussion.

Our party launched the Peoples’ Charter. It is now the policy of the TUC and all of the big trade unions. Our party seeks to unite around policies. Our strongest weapon is the Morning Star which is now supported by all the big unions and is the most respected paper of the left.