The son of Harry and Marjorie Pollitt (see separate entries), Brian Pollitt read economics at Cambridge. He was Chair of the University Communist Party branch from 1960-62 and again in 1968-69. He was also elected President of the Cambridge Union Society in 1962.
Brian Pollitt first visited Cuba – which he has become strongly associated with – in December 1962 when, as President of the Cambridge Union Society, he was a member of the British delegation to celebrate the 4th anniversary of the Revolution on 1 January 1963. He was engaged in fieldwork in Cuba from 1963-65 as a research student of Cambridge University, evaluating Cuba's agrarian reforms by conducting a survey of agricultural workers and peasant families. He then trained a Cuban research team and directed a survey of 1,061 rural households in 1965-67. Since 1975, he has been the principal organiser of the Charity "Scottish Medical Aid for Cuba".
A member of the CPGB until its dissolution in 1991, he joined Democratic Left and stayed until it converted into a network in 1999. Currently, he is a member of the Scottish Socialist Party.
Until 1996 he was Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies at Glasgow University and is currently an Honorary Senior Research Fellow for the Department of Economics at Glasgow University, he still publishes regularly on the Cuban sugar economy and the island's broader economic trajectory. In 2008, he edited and introduced essays by Maurice Dobb on "The Development of Socialist Economic Thought" (L&W, 2008).