8 November 2006


A disturbing story arrives from the liberal Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, claiming that Communist Party of Britain bigwig Anita Halpin, an ultra-Stalinist hack who also sits on various National Union of Journalists committees, has come into a vast amount of money.

She is, apparently, the sole living grandchild of the artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, whose painting "Berliner Strassenszene" has just been flogged — or was due to be flogged — by Christie's today in New York, with the expectation that it would raise between £10m and £14m.

The painting, it seems, was stolen by the Nazis in the 1930s, and has now been "restituted" to the nearest thing there is to its original owner.

I've no idea whether this story is accurate: the painting was certainly advertised as being on sale today, and my Swedish comrades tell me that there is no ambiguity in translation of the news piece.

But the worst possible thing that could happen to British left politics right now would be for the Communist Party of Britain to come into a pornographically large sum of money. It is utterly bankrupt politically, a throw-back to the worst of the 1930s and 1940s, when the British left intelligentsia (with a few honorable exceptions) sucked up to Stalin through the purges and his pact with the Nazis. It is the last organisation on the British left that deserves a penny.

I really, really hope that someone is having a laugh, that I've been had, that there's been a terrible mistake somewhere along the line. But if it is true: just remember, as the cash washes into the pockets of opportunists, mountebanks and charlatans, that Stalinism is the worst enemy of democratic socialism.

OK, I got some of this wrong, but it wasn't a bad tip. Here's the Guardian following it up. I particularly like the fulminating CPB gen sec...

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