The Communist Party of Great Britain and its struggle against fascism 1933-1939
The sectarian tactics of the Comintern's Third Period prevented the Communist Party of Great Britain from articulating an effective response to the rise of fascism during 1933. The CPGB leadership saw the main threat of fascism in Britain coming from the National Government, whose measures were portrayed as leading to the gradual 'fascisation' of British society. This led to the Party leadership ignoring the BUF as politically irrelevant. However, sections of the CPGB rank and file felt differently, linking up with their Labour movement counterparts; organising activity on a mass scale to prevent BUF activity on the streets of Britain. In mid 1934, reflecting pressure from below and the change in Comintern anti-fascist strategy as advocated by Dimitrov, the CPGB leadership changed tack and sanctioned counter-demonstrations to BUF meetings. In October 1934 it offered a united front electoral pact to the Labour Party. In 1935 the CPGB embraced the popular front policy adopted by the Comintern at its Seventh World Congress. The popular front movement was designed to change the 'profascist' foreign policy of the National Government and replace it with a people's government favourable to a military pact with the USSR. This guiding principle lay behind the popular front activity of the CPGB during 1935- 39. By 1939 after six years of hard work the CPGB had little to show for its struggle against fascism. Despite a small increase in membership, and a slight growth in influence amongst the trade unions and intelligentsia, it had failed to bring about a change in British foreign policy favourable to an alliance with the Soviet Union or to emerge as a significant force within the British Labour movement. This failure can be largely ascribed to its pursuit of an antifascist strategy determined mainly by the requirements of Soviet foreign policy and not by the concerns of British workers.