Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Balakrishnan, Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Thought, Charged.

with 8 comments

Not Very Funny Now.

Just announced: “Man charged in London ‘slavery’ inquiry

Police have charged a man with false imprisonment, rape and child cruelty in a suspected slavery case in London.

Aravindan Balakrishnan, 74, has been charged with one count of cruelty to a person under 16, four counts of rape and 19 counts of indecent assault.

The suspected offences relate to three women. No further action is being taken regarding his wife arrested last year.

Mr Balakrishnan, who was arrested in Lambeth in November 2013, is due before Westminster magistrates on 17 December.

Anthony Connell, senior prosecutor at the Crown Prosecution Service, said there was “insufficient evidence” for the prospect of conviction relating to Balakrishnan’s wife who was arrested at the same time.

The three alleged victims – a Briton in her 30s, an Irish woman in her 50s and a Malaysian woman in her 70s – were rescued from an address in Brixton in October 2013.

The false imprisonment charge against Mr Balakrishnan relates to a 14-year period between January 1999 and October 2013.

The four rape charges span periods from 1980 to 1983, and the indecent assault charges cover periods from 1980 to 1992.

Another woman connected to Mr Balakrishnan, Sian Davies from west Wales, died aged 43 in 1997 at the house where they were living.”


Balakrishnan ran the The Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought

The Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought (substituting Mao Zedong Thought after 1979) was created in 1974 when Aravindan Balakrishnan (popularly known as Bala), formerly a member of the National Executive Committee and Central Committee of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist), led a break-away from that organization. The new organisation was characterized by the ultra-left posturing and Mao worship formerly evident in the CPE (ML) or, as Bala described them: the “Communist” Party of Elizabeth (Most-Loyal).

Drawing upon the Chinese experience of base areas, the Institute argued in favour of revolutionaries being based in working class communities, “the weakest link for the fascist state system” where political mobilisation involved whole families free from the “fascist rules and regulations and job security” involved in workplaces or educational institutions. Here revolutionary cadre could integrate and learn from the “sterling qualities of the labouring people while raising the intellectual level of the workers. Taking a working class job in the community is vital for this.”

On the left, when they were active (in the 1970s) we thought this was amusing, and made fun of the sect, collecting their mimeographed ‘paper’, laughing and imitating it.

It doesn’t seem very funny now.


The Workers’ Institute of Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong Thought (known as the Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought until 1979) was a small Maoist political party based in Brixton, London. It was formed by Aravindan Balakrishnan in 1974 after his expulsion from the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist). They began publishing the South London Workers’ Bulletin from a south London squat, aiming to build a “red base” in Brixton and encourage the Chinese People’s Liberation Army to liberate the area. This came to broader attention when the diarist in The Times in April 1977 reported some of the group’s material as an amusing aside.

The Workers’ Institute claimed affiliation to the Communist Party of China. A document by the group issued in 1977 argued that the British population was moving in a “revolutionary direction”.Balakrishnan prophesied that China’s People’s Liberation Army would have launched a revolutionary invasion of Britain by 1980. Their headquarters in Acre Lane, Brixton, known as the Mao Zedong Memorial Centre, opened in October 1976. “This new development”, the 1977 document asserted, “has taken the British fascist state by storm”.[5] The groups remaining members moved underground following a police raid on these premises in 1978. In 1982, Steve Rayner wrote a study of the organisation and critiqued its presentism. Robert Griffiths, general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, said of the group in November 2013 “If one were to be brutally honest they were more of psychiatric interest than political interest. They had nothing to do with the mainstream leftwing and communist politics of the day.”

In 2013, the former leaders of the group were arrested as suspects in the Lambeth slavery case, allegedly being responsible for the enslavement and domestic abuse of three women. Balakrishnan was formally charged with multiple offences on 11 December 2014. No further legal action is to be taken against his wife.

Hatful of History (November 2013)

Inside the paranoid Maoist cults of 1970s Britain: A post at The Conversation UK

By now, the internet is awash with material on the Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and the alleged ‘domestic slavery’ case. The Conversation (UK) has published a brief article by myself on the Workers’ Institute and the political milieu they emerged from the 1970s. The piece opens with the following:

The couple accused in the case of alleged “domestic slavery” in London were reportedly the leaders of a tiny Maoist sect, the Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, which had gone “underground” in the late 1970s. To understand how the Workers’ Institute ended up so far off the radar, we need to understand where they came from – the strange world of radical Maoist politics in 1970s London.

And the rest can be viewed here.

I would like thank Sam Richards from the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism Online for his help with sources and additional information, Matt Fitzpatrick and David Lockwood for reading the draft version  and Andrew from The Conversation for his editorial work.

I thought readers might also be interested in some observations made by Sam, which I wasn’t able to incorporate into the final article:

1) It was the Cultural Revolution that inspired a new wave of Maoist organisations, largely populated by (previously non-aligned) students. They were joined by some anti-revisionists (mainly ex-Communist Party members)  active in the original groups, but those original groups faded away. English Maoism was at its most active a new, radical and immersed in Maoist rhetoric and imagery.

2) These groups were consciously internationalist: the Communist Party of England (ML) was (and remained throughout its name changes) part of ‘The Internationalist’ trend led by Hardial Bains, founder-leader of the Communist Party of Canada (ML).

3) Communist Unity Association (Marxist-Leninist) judged they had “adopted ’Maoism’ as a source of slogans, ritual chants and the focus for a student cult” in Imperialism and the Struggle for a Revolutionary Party (1974).

4) While the Workers’ Institute was both small in size and largely separate from the other maoist groups, there was always the embarrassment that they would be thought of as “typical Maoists”. In fact the splintering of the Maoist trend in the late 1970s did see the largest (Birch’s CPBML) and the third largest (CPEML under their new name of RCPBML) side with Albania – that is the “supermaoists” of the sixties denounced Mao as anti-Marxist.

5) An alternative journalist viewpoint from 1978, available on EROL, showed that at the time,  the Institute was equally regarded as strange.

“A short guide to Maoists in Britain”, The Leveller, No.20, November 1978:
“An encounter with the Workers’ Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought [“we have undertaken the unprecedented task of building the first stable base area in the imperialist heartlands, in and around Brixton …this has driven the British bourgeoisie up the wall”], truly the most lunatic of the lunatic fringe of left politics in Britain, can be an unsettling experience. Tiny in numbers and fanatical in zeal, carrying dogmatism, rhetoric and sectarianism to ever greater extremes, it is many people’s idea of a typical Maoist group.

Not so. Terry Ilott and John Dawes report that of the numerous Maoist groups, there are some which, though small and theoretically weak (unlike their counterparts elsewhere in the world) we might take more seriously than we do.”

Sam also provided some unseen pictures of the Workers’ Institute, which you can see in this post.

And as I wrote here, the history of British Maoism still needs to be written!


Tendance Coatesy has carried material on French Maoism which indicates a similar degree of political intensity, if not insanity:


Written by Andrew Coates

December 11, 2014 at 5:00 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Somehow I became regarded as some sort of expert on this mad-house. See, for example, here. Back in the late 1970s, we used to queue up in Brixton to get their latest publications as they were so insanely amusing. Once in a while, we used to ask, ‘Whatever happened to the Workers Institute’, as they simply disappeared. Now we know.

    Dr Paul

    December 11, 2014 at 6:28 pm

  2. I’d say that from our friends, acquaintances, and Facebook friends, we could quickly muster a whole team of world class experts on any left-wing political group – particularly sects – going.

    Hell I even know who’s the only British Posadist!

    Andrew Coates

    December 12, 2014 at 1:20 pm

  3. why not take a closer look at what Ara Balakrishnan has said eg in may 1979 he held a conference in Brixton Town Hall called SOCIALIST CHINA BUILDS THE NEW WORLD ECONOMY -I think that few people would dispute that now–35years on!!!!!!mighty America is in huge debt to China ! why not at least pause and reflect and try to see if someone is saying something which, maybe, cannot be understood straight away!

    Julie brown

    December 31, 2014 at 12:14 pm

  4. in case anybody is interested the Workers Institute held meetings in University of London Union up until1982 – the last meeting being in December 1982-WOMEN NEED SOCIALISM –

    Julie Brown

    January 3, 2015 at 4:22 pm

  5. AN URGENT CALL FOR THE LEFT IN BRITAIN AND THE WORLD TO UNITE! From Nov 2013- DEc2014 A Balakrishnan has been politically persecuted using completely unfounded allegations that he was keeping slaves! From the start his name and that of his wife were slandered all across the globe using the media blitz and bail terms were used to restrict his right to communicate and travel anywhere outside the borough.Now these allegations have been quietly dropped because there was no evidence and instead even more poisonous allegations of rape and indecent assault have been thrown at him -the whole world now has been informed as to where he is living- the judge says it is “in the public interest”- BUT in Britain its meant to be INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY-how can he be accused of a crime when he is not found guilty?!!!!-does this not prove beyond any doubt what A Balakrishnan has said long time ago about the nature of the state in Britain–that it is FASCIST! Where is the outcry on the Left as to how he has been treated-where is the solidarity?- it can happen to anybody! so surely it is in everybodys interest to defend Aravindan Balakrishnan! People can stand there and jeer but it may happen to them next! Then all they can say is–“I never thought it could happen to me!” why wise after the event! Interesting to note is the case of members of the British state-former Ministers, ex -spy chiefs etc involved in the Westminster paedo ring and alledged(with a lot of evidence to back ) to have committed child sex abuse and even murder against innocent children in the same period -80s and 90s- their names and addresses are protected I presume “in the public interest” Is it not crystal clear that this is acute class struggle going on!!!! The British state is trying to make an example of A Balakrishnan!Maybe soon we might all be agreeing with him (too late) Nobody can say he didn’t try to warn us !!!!!!!!

    Julie Brown

    January 5, 2015 at 1:44 pm

  6. please does anyone have a copy of A Balakrishnans document called Some aspects of the history of the Workers institute?

    Julie Brown

    January 29, 2015 at 3:28 pm

  7. Let me just briefly put the facts about this case .1 . In November 2013 A.Balakrishnan and his wife were arrested on trumped up charges of slavery by the British State which could see people in Britain becoming increasingly militant and therefore in a better position to grasp his analysis* of the state.A vicious character assassination was orchestrated by the Metropolitan Police through the global trial by media. 2.Seeing their strategy to discredit him was flawed they concocted further poisonous allegations of sexual assault and rape to frame him while quietly dropping slavery allegations! 3. In December 2015 when the political nature of the trial began to emerge the state quickly (from behind the scenes) brought it to a close denying A Balakrishnan a proper defense and sentenced him to 23 YEARS in jail after holding him for an unprecedented 2YEARS! *1.It is a fascist state serving the interests of the parasitic few which uses the lie machine(newspapers,radio and TV) to keep people in Britain in the dark .2.it is an imperialist state which continues the centuries old blood drenched colonial tradition of raping and looting countries and continents.3 it is an integral part of NATO since WW2 accepting control and leadership from the hegemonic superpower US.

    Jo smith

    May 21, 2016 at 11:46 pm

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