“Uncomradely and un-communist”- the CPGB and CPA Debate, 1947-1948

Speaker: Gregory Billam

The Communist Parties of Great Britain and Australia until May 1943 were dutiful members of the Comintern, however, when this body was disbanded by Stalin, both Parties were notably excluded from the newly established Cominform in late 1947. Deemed to be on the periphery of international communism, this newly found ‘independence’ prompted a turn towards Communist Parties developing their own ‘roads’ to socialism, and by extension unofficial organising hubs or spheres of influence.

The debate between the CPGB and CPA in 1947-48, therefore, underlines the shifting relationships and ideological realignments within the international communist movement, under the increasing weight of the Cold War and decolonization. Charges of reformism, sectarianism, insufficient anti-imperialist activism, and the ultimate ‘transition’ to socialism shed light on the policing of international communist debate, and the embryonic ‘national roads to socialism’ policy.

The talk will be based on Greg’s research which also formed the basis of an article published in Labour History Review in April 2023

Gregory Billam is a PhD candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant in the History Department at Edge Hill University. His research focuses on British and Australian communism in the post-war period and is the Labour History Review ‘2022 Essay Prize Winner’.