Born in Muktsar, Punjab, British India, Brar has lived and worked in Britain since 1962, first as a student, then as a lecturer in law at Harrow College of Higher Education (later merged into the renamed University of Westminster), and later in the textile business. Brar owns buildings in West London which he uses for CPGB-ML party activity, and he part-owns an internet shop called "Madeleine Trehearne and Harpal Brar" which sells shawls.
Brar joined the Maoist Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist League but soon left to become a founder member of a small group, the Association of Communist Workers, as well as being a member of the Association of Indian Communists.
He and his comrades officially dissolved the ACW in 1997 to join Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party, a breakaway from the Labour Party after its abandonment of the original version of Clause IV. Brar and his comrades worked to bring what they described as an Anti-Revisionist Marxist-Leninist programme to the SLP, but were eventually expelled seven years later.
Scargill expelled the entire Yorkshire Regional Committee and five members of the National Executive Committee. From this, in July 2004, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) was formed, and Brar was elected as its chairman.
Adopting positions maintained by Brar and his comrades since the 1960s, the CPGB-ML has been vigorously opposed to all those who work with or in any way endorse the Labour Party since its inception. Its stated aim on formation was to oppose opportunism in the working-class movement, revive the "class against class" programme embodied by the Communist Party of Great Britain during the 1920s, and to work for the establishment of socialism in Britain.
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist–Leninist) was registered with the Electoral Commission in 2008 under the name "Proletarian", which is the title of the bi-monthly newspaper of the CPBG-ML. The party was registered "to prepare for standing in elections".
On 19 July 2008, Harpal Brar was one of the people who founded the Hands off China campaign. The campaign is dedicated to defending China and "is aimed to defend China's sovereignty and territorial integrity" and "the country's just stance on issues of its vital national interest such as Taiwan and Tibet."
Brar heavily disagrees with the belief that the fight for Indian Independence was a peaceful and pacifist movement, led entirely by Gandhi. He wrote a book on Indian history called Inquilab Zindabad: India's Liberation Struggle, in which he argues that the fight for Indian independence was a violent and bloody class struggle, and goes onto accuse Gandhi of supporting British imperialism. The back cover of the book says:
There is a widespread myth spread by bourgeois historians that Gandhi and the Indian National Congress were solely responsible for achieving India's independence from the much-hated British Raj, and that they did it using only the message of non-violence, peaceful non-co-operation and civil disobedience.
The truth is quite the reverse. The heroes of the 1857 revolt, the Ghadar patriots, and Bhagat Singh and his comrades inspired and led the Indian masses in armed struggle as the best means of liberating their country from British colonial occupation. Many thousands of ordinary people and many hundreds of revolutionary leaders made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of this noble cause. Their struggle is summed up by Bhagat Singh's popular slogan, "Inquilab zindabad!" (Long live revolution!), which electrified the Indian masses. It is an insult to their memory, and to their self-sacrificing heroism, to credit India's independence to the most compromising, cowardly and obscurantist representatives of the India bourgeoisie.
Brar defends the governments and leaders of the USSR until the appearance of "Khrushchevite revisionism" during the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956. Lalkar, the newspaper edited by Brar, criticises The British Road to Socialism (the programme of the original Communist Party of Great Britain) from its earliest version in 1951 as "un-Marxist" and regards the claim that Stalin approved it as a "fiction". Brar is seen as an unapologetic admirer of Stalin and has been attacked as an "anachronism" in the Weekly Worker publication of the Communist Party of Great Britain, which Brar in turn regards as Trotskyite propaganda.
He, along with his daughter Joti Brar, is an active member of the Stalin Society, the website of which contains articles denying Soviet wrongdoing in the Katyn massacre, the Ukrainian Famine (Holodomor), and the Moscow Trials which they blame on the Nazis, dismiss as propaganda, or describe as fair process, respectively.
For many years, he was on the executive of the Indian Workers Association (GB) and was the editor of that organisation's journal Lalkar. He continues to publish the journal, but the IWA cut its ties with the paper in 1992, when members of the Executive Committee with affiliations to the Communist Party of India (Marxist) objected to Brar's publishing of an article that was mildly critical of the adoption of market socialism in China.
Since 1992, Brar has self-published fourteen books on various aspects of Marxism, imperialism and revisionism. These works are a combination of original material and articles previously published in Lalkar and have been translated and distributed internationally by a number of sympathetic communist parties around the world.Inquilab Zindabad, India's Liberation Struggle
Revisionism and the demise of the USSR
The 1926 British General Strike
Nato's Predatory War Against Yugoslavia
Imperialism and War
Imperialism – the Eve of the Social Revolution of the Proletariat
Chimurenga! The Liberation Struggle in Zimbabwe
Imperialism – Decadent, Parasitic, Moribund Capitalism
Bourgeois Nationalism or Proletarian Internationalism?
Perestroika: The Complete Collapse of Revisionism (1992)
Trotskyism or Leninism? (1993)
Social Democracy: The Enemy Within (1995)
UK Parliament elections
European Parliament elections
London Assembly elections (Entire London city)