1968 – Morris P, Islington School Student

Joined the YCL in 1968. Supporter of the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa. Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party of Guyana domiciled in Britain.

My name is Morris Persaud and I am currently the Secretary of the UK Branch of the People’s Progressive Party of Guyana (PPP).

I came to the UK in 1961 and joined the YCL in Islington around the end of 1968 whilst still at school. The late Dr Cheddi Jagan, then General Secretary of the Party and former Premier, had  come to the UK to brief the diaspora following rigged elections in Guyana. I recall my parents ‘dragging’ me off on a two-mile walk in the middle of winter to listen to him.

I recall that he was asked how Guyanese in the UK could help the Party. His answer was to join trade unions, read and support the Morning Star and work with the Communist Party. As history would have it, whilst out shopping with my mother I happened to see someone selling the Star and bought one out of curiosity. In there was an advert to apply to get information about the CPGB. I sent it off and forgot about it!  A short time later I had the ‘knock’ on my door which was to change my life!

I ended up joining the YCL then went into the Party until it split. My YCL Branch had a ‘pitch’ at Finsbury Park Station and I recall one evening we sold nearly 100 copies of Challenge in a couple of hours.

My membership of the YCL launched my political career and I was soon working in solidarity with comrades on social and political issues both domestic and internationally. I was especially proud to have worked with many exiled ANC comrades and I still keep in touch.

I am now predominantly focused on my work in the PPP. I am keen to foster comradely relations with UK progressives and our Party in Guyana.

Our Party was returned to power in August 2020. We face an uphill task to rebuild a shattered economy and despondency of our people especially the youths. But we have began the process of nation building.

Guyana is a large country (about the same size of the UK) with a population of less than a million people. With the discovery of vast amounts of oil and gas off our coast, there is massive potential for growth. But we will not make the mistake of only depending on oil and we will develop our traditional industries such as agriculture, fisheries, timber and mining within an eco-friendly environment.

We are aware of our key geopolitical importance in the Caribbean region which the US still regards as their ‘backyard’. We have many hurdles to overcome but as a small nation, we have to look for friends not enemies! I invite comrades to take an interest in our country over the coming months and years.

Unfortunately, I have lost touch with many of my comrades in the YCL and Party but I wish them all well.

I wish the YCL all success in your 100th Anniversary celebrations.

Morris