Up close and personal

The CPGB’s mass entry work in the Labour Party in the late 1930s has been partially obscured by delusions associated with popular frontism, writes Lawrence Parker

1936: marching together

This two-part article deals with the experience of the Communist Party of Great Britain re-entering and then leaving the Labour Party in 1935-40. Although reasonably well known, this activity has partially been obscured by the idea among historians that this era of the popular front was a ‘golden age’ for the CPGB, in which a much softer form of politics reaped rewards in the form of the party’s burgeoning influence. Therefore, attempts by the CPGB to militantly break Labour Party rules and ‘infiltrate’ a broader political body appear incongruous.

In fact, the idea of the CPGB’s centrality to British political life in the 1930s is a significant delusion invented by subsequent generations of party leaders and writers to help the organisation face up to its historic marginality. Popular front politics - the subordination of communist and social democratic forces to ‘liberal’ and bourgeois allies in order to assist the Soviet Union’s wooing of Britain and France in the cause of collective security against Germany in the run-up to World War II - were unpopular in Britain and proved to be spectacularly unsuccessful in preventing fascism and war. The notion that the CPGB was ‘central’ in this period more mundanely computes that it grew its influence in the second half of the 1930s, in contrast to the era of the Comintern’s third period (circa 1928-33).

It is this intensely ideological view of the popular front as a period in which the CPGB renewed and fructified itself that continued to hold sway on the party and its leaders. Thus, in one later historian’s words, the Comintern’s Seventh Congress of 1935, which saw the popular front take centre stage in world communist politics, came to be seen by CPGB members as a “foundation congress”.1 As the party fell into the marsh of respectability in its latter decades, this popular front-mania became even more seductive. Thus, in 1985, Noreen Branson, who was by this time a CPGB ‘house’ historian, took great exception to the title of EH Carr’s The twilight of the Comintern 1930-1935: “Not a very appropriate metaphor,” she mused. “‘Out of the shadows into the sunlight’ would fit much better.”2 ‘Into the sunlight’ is an exceptionally weird way to think about an organisation - the Comintern - that was shortly to have many of its cadres liquidated by the Soviet bureaucracy (still, at least they had some nice weather for it). However, leaving that aside, Branson’s objection to Carr’s metaphor is because it implies that the era of the popular front following 1935 was not exactly up to much. In her fantasy world, this is where communists could leave behind all those fallacious ideas about revolutionary upsurge and begin to “face reality”.3

While one might expect the CPGB itself to have engaged in this practice, it becomes less explicable why subsequent non-CPGB historians have emoted the same ideas about the party and the popular front. Thus, in Morgan’s uplifting prose, the Comintern’s popular front Seventh Congress initiated changes that were not just of “ephemeral significance, but amounted in many respects to a redefinition of the style and substance of communist politics”.4 I daresay that Noreen Branson could not have put it any better. This simple reproduction of the CPGB’s own myths recurs on a number of occasions. Therefore, in a review article, Geoff Eley, discussing CPGB historian Eric Hobsbawm’s view of popular front ‘successes’, simply reproduces some very questionable assumptions on Hobsbawm’s part without challenge. Therefore, the pursuit of the popular front, we are told, without irony, was “opposed to a course of sectarian confrontation with the political system or the rest of the left” and that it involved a “reckoning with the official Leninist culture of the Third International during the 1920s and early 1930s”.5

This is a hopeless perspective on the CPGB in the 1930s that simply illustrates the problems of swallowing historical myths. A case study of the CPGB’s entry work in the Labour Party in the later 1930s - which accompanied unsuccessful CPGB attempts at affiliation to Labour, such as in 1935-36; and attempts to pull Labour in the direction of ‘united front’ and, later, ‘popular front’ campaigns - shows that communist politics had not changed in substance since the 1920s. The CPGB did behave in a sectarian fashion towards those perceived as its opponents, and towards the Labour Party as a whole, because this was precisely the obvious outcome of softening its differences with the labour movement and diluting its identity in the principle-free wasteland of the popular front.

To understand this we have to go back to the 1920s and the CPGB’s foundation.

Bureaucratic centralism

The main root for the CPGB’s early oscillation between ‘right’ and ‘left’ was the hyper-centralised conceptions of the party regime in the infamous ‘21 conditions’ agreed at the Comintern’s Second Congress in 1920, which meant that the early CPGB eschewed positive conceptions of factionalism and was unable to formally concede notions of ‘unity in diversity’. The subsequent ‘Bolshevisation’ of the Comintern in the mid-1920s only enhanced this semi-militarised culture.6

When the CPGB took this culture into the broader labour movement, opportunist adaptations and subsequent sectarianism blighted the work of its members.In other words, organisations that could not maintain ‘unity in diversity’ internally were very unlikely to be able to maintain it externally in the form of principled united fronts - where minorities and majorities could openly debate and critique one another, rather than the more familiar Comintern (and subsequently Maoist/Trotskyist) cycle of adaptations punctuated by periods of sectarian denunciation.

In the British context, this outcome was built on earlier divisions between the organisations that fused to form the early CPGB and its early debate on affiliation to the Labour Party. Crudely put, there was a group from the British Socialist Party that tended towards adaptation towards the Labour Party and Labourism; while others, from organisations such as the Socialist Labour Party, tended towards a more sectarian stance. In the words of the CPGB’s first chairman, Arthur MacManus, in 1923: “The struggle was that the non-Labour Party section in the [CPGB] felt that the ultra-Labour Party section in the [CPGB] were really reformist and opportunist. The reformist and opportunist section felt that the other section was impossibilist.”7

All of these features are apparent in the CPGB’s relationship with the Labour Party in the 1920s: for example, with the first minority Labour government of 1924 and the National Left Wing Movement in 1925-29.8 Both of these episodes show sometimes the CPGB as a whole, and sometimes individuals and groups within it, veering between adapting themselves to elements in the Labour Party and moving towards a more dismissive, sectarian stance.9

The internal party culture of the CPGB of the popular front era had not substantially altered since the 1920s. A party training manual from 1937 made it clear that it was still the semi-militarised ‘democratic centralism’ of the early Comintern that was animating the CPGB’s internal organisation. There were to be no “factional struggles” within the party and no unofficial factions in the form of “intrigues”.10 The manual added: “The party is not weakened, but strengthened, by removing members who are incorrigible (a) opportunists; (b) ‘leftists’; (c) disruptive elements.”11 It went on to argue for the necessity of “subordination” of minorities and individuals inside the CPGB “based on conviction … not ordering”.12

At first sight, it seems that it is more reasonable to convince your comrades of something rather than just ordering them … until you think about the ramifications - and impossibility - of subordinating all members of a large organisation on the basis of an inner conviction. Sooner or later, some form of external compulsion is likely to come into play (although a decision to accept that might involve an inner conviction that such compulsion is necessary). To that end, this culture represented an aspiration to a monolith rather than its consummation; however, the CPGB was obviously an organisation that was not interested in any true notion of internal ‘unity in diversity’.

It is unsurprising that when this type of organisation started working more closely alongside the Labour Party in the popular front era, it had exactly the same kind of impact on the CPGB as in the 1920s. A statement produced for the CPGB’s London District Congress of 1938 complained of the “confusion arising in many comrades’ minds … where the pressure of reformism is considerable”.13 It concluded: “Such comrades begin to want unity at any price, without seeing the need to intensify the fight against reformism. Daily work becomes an end in itself.”14

It is important to understand, of course, that such ‘rightist’ pressures did not just emanate from the CPGB itself, but from the Labour Party also. In August 1936, Bill Rust pointed out that “some very good friends” of the CPGB doubted that it could win affiliation to Labour and urged it to disband and “enter the Labour Party as individuals and in this way win the support of the rank and file”.15 But the CPGB had an internal mode of organisation - bureaucratic centralism, dressed up as ‘democratic centralism’ - spectacularly unsuited to deal with this type of pressure.

However, in 1938 the London District Committee reserved harsher criticism for what it saw as a sectarian tendency “carrying over the conceptions of a past period” in “some branches in the oldest Labour areas”, seemingly content to “continue from year to year with a handful of members alongside Labour parties thousands stronger”.16 It added: “Under the screen of contemptuous references to the reactionary Labour leadership they neglect the work of encouraging the militant tendency in the Labour Party …”17 But, of course, this was not primarily the impact of third-period political conceptions, but a motion that had been embedded in the character of the CPGB since its foundation - one strand of members would adapt themselves to the Labour Party, while another would react to such a development in an opposite, sectarian fashion.

In a similar vein to the above, London district secretary Ted Bramley outlined in late 1937 that some CPGB districts and branches were blighted by “sectarianism in practice”, with another tendency permitting “comrades to work as individuals in mass organisations” without linking such activity to the party as a whole.18

The CPGB even seems to have unconsciously formalised the above division in its instructions to members working to support Labour candidates in elections. Party members were instructed to work with Labour materials and under Labour direction and “not take the Daily Worker or party literature round, unless by agreement with the [presumably Labour] election committee”.19 Another way of looking at this is to see it as an unnecessary surrender to the “pressure of reformism” noted previously by the CPGB London District Committee. Rather than assert their communist identity too forcefully in canvassing for Labour candidates, CPGB members were instead to hold “independent meetings” to state why they supported such candidates.20 Presumably, it was here where communists could assert the party identity that they had kept under wraps during canvassing. It is little wonder, with such advice, that the CPGB was oscillating between opportunism and sectarianism.

Dual membership

Already, the idea that the CPGB was engaged in some radical project to overhaul the substance of its political practice in the popular front era is looking a little fragile. The evidence in relation to the Labour Party shows that the CPGB had not really moved much beyond what MacManus back in 1923 had seen as a practical rendering of “opportunist” and “impossibilist” - this being the outcome of the Comintern’s fundamental organisational precepts. This is, precisely, the “official Leninist culture of the Third International” - to recycle Eley’s above phrase - invigorated, not repulsed, by the supposedly softer political imprint of the popular front.

The CPGB did not leave its contact with the Labour Party in the second half of the 1930s to chance meetings at labour movement events, street corners, in the factory or in the public house. Rather, it approached this in an organised fashion, partly through sending its members into Labour to work as disciplined communists.21 By 1938, dual membership - where activists held both CPGB and Labour cards - was thought to amount to a fifth of the CPGB’s entire membership, while there were communist fractions across nearly all of London’s divisional Labour parties.22 In 1937, the Labour NEC also noted that the CPGB was working in an organised fashion inside the Labour Party’s women’s sections.23 Quantifying the membership gains that this tactic produced is difficult to assess in the absence of official figures, although the CPGB grew rapidly overall in this period, from 6,500 in February 1935 to 17,756 by July 1939.24

This type of organisational culture instantly threatens notions of popular front-style politics representing anything substantially new; rather it points backwards to the 1920s and the historical experience of the CPGB. Worse, it suggests the dread words of ‘infiltration’ and ‘entrism’ more commonly associated with the Trotskyist Militant Tendency of latter years. In fact, the moral tropes of ‘infiltration’ are best left behind altogether, presenting as they do the proprietary outrage of the Labour right that its territory is being colonised by alternative ideas and forces.

Unfortunately, it is this notion of ‘infiltration’ that Morgan, Cohen and Flinn are lumbered with facing down when discussing CPGB entry into the Labour Party in the 1930s. They talk of “the construction of communism as an ‘outside’ presence, bringing in alien values and loyalties like a Stalinist version of TheMidwich cuckoos”.25 The instinct of Morgan et al is to soften any such impression - I suspect because the authors subconsciously feel that such ‘infiltration’ jars with the much gentler “rekindling of progressive concerns”26 that the popular front is supposed to represent. The emphasis is thus put upon existing Labour Party members defecting to the CPGB; and the “great majority of the CPGB’s undercover members”, who “appear to have joined the Labour Party either before or more or less simultaneously with their adhesion to communism”.27 Morgan et al go on to suggest that such factors meant that the CPGB’s intervention was more effective and that the common ground existing between the Labour left and the CPGB made it easier in many instances to openly express communist politics.28 The CPGB’s conscious direction is therefore downplayed and Morgan et al smooth the process into a much more organic theme of defection.

It is unsurprising that the CPGB was able to win over sections of the Labour rank and file, as the 1930s wore on, with the hot breath of war and fascism breathing down the movement’s collective neck, and its official leadership doing little more than an ostrich act. By 1936, CPGB members inside the Labour Party were noting a “definite drift” to the left in many wards on the part of Labour’s rank and file.29 With issues such as Spain helping “to bring the Labour Party into public activity”,30 it is unsurprising that the CPGB could act as an outlet for the fears and militancy that such causes could inspire.

However, while this recruitment from inside may have had certain organic features, such occurrences would not have been possible without organised and directed entry into the Labour Party (infiltration in the positive sense of the word, considering that the leadership had no moral right to keep communists out; only a bourgeois proprietorial one). Morgan et al discuss the famous case of Douglas Hyde, who moved to Surrey in 1938, joined the Labour Party and quickly started recruiting to the CPGB, each new recruit thinking they were the only communist along with Hyde. He said:

… one night, I got [the hidden communists] together. I did not tell them the purpose of the gathering, but left them to assume that it was just an extended ‘ginger group’ meeting. When all had arrived, I revealed that everyone present was already a Communist Party member and suddenly they realised what had happened and just what strength the party already had in the local labour movement.31

Morgan et al are keen to emphasise that this was a process of existing Labour Party members joining the CPGB. But a communist from ‘without and within’ skilfully controlled the situation, so that the CPGB got maximum benefit. Even when joining the CPGB is portrayed as the natural result of communists being entwined with the Labour rank and file, such as in the example of Fred Westacott in Southampton in 1936-37, where he joined the Labour Party and was simultaneously given details of Southampton CPGB, someone was presumably on hand to ensure that the new Labour recruit got those details.32 Westacott then states that after joining the CPGB at the end of 1937 he proceeded to hold dual membership, which was accepted in the context of a Hamble and District Labour Party that was struggling to exist.33 Again, this has been made to sound like a very natural common-sense development, but it is fairly inconceivable that Westacott would have been able to take this step without the direction of his CPGB branch. On top of this, the actions of Hyde, Westacott and others like them were reflective of more general communist political priorities.

Coming together

Other pieces of evidence back up the view that the winning over of an organic section of the Labour rank and file was achieved through conscious CPGB intervention. In this vein, there is evidence that the CPGB had to overcome some passivity in its own ranks among those who may have perceived that the Labour Party would simply drift into a communist sphere of influence. Thus, in April 1936, ‘Spartacus’ talked of “a widespread belief that we can obtain affiliation to the Labour Party by persuading the reformist leaders we have become harmless”.34 He concluded by asserting that affiliation could only be secured “by winning over the rank and file … to force the officials to accept us against their will”.35 Similarly, in May 1936 Clive Branson argued:

The great power of social democracy lies in the daily contact [that] exists between its individual members … We have got to rub shoulders with the Labour Party people and [demonstrate we] … have penetrated into every sphere of the lives of the working class.36

In July 1937, CPGB general secretary Harry Pollitt was also taking nothing for granted in advocating consistent work with local Labour parties, albeit with an inflection of opportunism: “We should try and end our tendency to take for granted that those grievances that specially interest us are of equal interest to other workers and their organisations.”37

Neither was this state of readiness limited only to propaganda. The CPGB also reorganised itself away from street ‘cells’ and towards branch structures - a move that seems to have been mostly premised on developing its work with the Labour Party. RW Robson argued:

… weak street cells … have clearly become a handicap to developing closer relations with Labour ward committees, etc, and the total absence of any party organisation other than basic units and sub-districts in London has presented practical obstacles in this district to the establishment of closer relations between divisional and borough Labour parties, trades councils, etc, and those of the Communist Party.38

But such a branch structure was also founded on the consolidation of organised fraction work in the Labour Party and other labour movement bodies, seen as the best route of working “consciously as organised members of the Communist Party”.39

In reality, the CPGB growth in the Labour Party in the late 1930s represented the coming together of two tendencies: a Labour rank and file that was shifting to the left; and the organisation of communist cadres alongside and inside the Labour Party to direct and organise those forces. One tendency cannot be prised apart from the other and there are limited echoes of the more pugnacious methods the CPGB used in the 1920s.

This determination not to let the Labour Party right wing dictate the terms of who entered labour movement organisations was offset by the low-level politics that the CPGB took into such formations in the era of the popular front, which pushed it back into a cycle of opportunist adaptation/sectarianism established in the 1920s. Yet there are still some vivid contrasts from the 1920s. The foundation period of the CPGB’s Sunday Worker newspaper and what was to become the National Left Wing Movement in 1925-26 was marked by a relatively healthy process of ideological clarification in regards to the broader Labour left, which effectively ended with the differentiation of the communists and their supporters from the broader left.

To that end, in 1926 the National Left Wing Provisional Committee produced a programme - anti-imperialist, anti-militarist and anti-monarchical - that was precisely designed to differentiate the CPGB vision of a militant left wing from the rather flabby ‘left’ sentiment that it had found in the Labour Party around figures such as George Lansbury. By January 1936, Bill Rust had turned such conceptions on their head:

What are the issues around which unity can be achieved? We are not thinking in terms of a cut-and-dried programme, but those immediate and sometimes changing issues affecting the daily lives of the workers, small shopkeepers and professional people: wages, salaries, hours, conditions, taxation, democratic rights, armament expenditure, the threat of war, etc.40

League of Youth

This did not mean that the CPGB eschewed making any programmatic demands on the Labour Party: rather that the scope of those demands had significantly diminished since the 1920s and that the element of sectarian vituperation around key parts of its identity (for example, supporting all actions of the ruling bureaucratic caste in the Soviet Union) continued unabated. This can be well illustrated by using the CPGB and the Young Communist League’s work inside the Labour League of Youth as a case study.

The LLOY had emerged in 1926. However, by 1936, it seemed that the organisation had incurred the displeasure of the Labour national executive committee, which moved to discipline the LLOY. However, such manoeuvres only brought to prominence its YCL faction, led by Ted Willis (later Baron Willis, the creator of Dixon of Dock Green). The NEC had taken measures to curb any autonomy that the LLOY might aspire to and the league had no official national committee (only a national advisory committee); and its conferences were forbidden to discuss party policy.41 Willis also claimed that LLOY branches which had attempted to work as sections of their local Labour Party had their funds confiscated and had been disbanded.42

In 1936, the NEC circulated a memorandum on the future organisation of the league, which rejected calls for its self-government; stressed the social aspect of the LLOY’s activities; looked to lower the age limit of league membership from 25 to 21; and stated that its duty was to organise study of the Labour Party’s policy, not elaborate criticisms of it.43 Arthur Jenkins MP was given the unfortunate task of selling this package to the LLOY’s 1936 Manchester conference: He said: “We cannot afford to have League of Youth conferences spending all their time criticising party policy and denouncing it … The task of the league was first to support and to advocate party policy.”44

This memorandum was unanimously rejected at the Manchester conference, which called for its withdrawal and asked the Labour NEC to meet with the LLOY’s newly elected national advisory committee to discuss the future of the league.45 The conference also sought freedom to criticise Labour Party policy; editorial freedom for its TheNew Nation journal; and a united front of working class youth organisations - including, of course, the YCL.46 The question of lowering the age limit was also rebuffed, with delegates arguing that such a decision would be the death of the league in rural areas and that it was between the ages of 21 and 25 when activists did their best work for the movement.47

As a result of this decisive reverse, the NEC disbanded the national advisory committee of the LLOY and cancelled its 1937 conference. The YCL faction rebelled against these incursions, sending Willis on a national speaking tour, establishing a provisional national committee and launching Advance as an unofficial organ of the LLOY.

The YCL approached the LLOY in 1936 to suggest a merger. This was slightly surreal, given that the YCL was by this point a leading LLOY faction, so it was advocating, in some senses, a merger with itself.48 John Gollan of the YCL, closely supervising the work of Willis and others,49 explained this in Advance in August 1936:

Some people are saying we want a youth league separate from the Labour Party. We don’t. We want a Labour youth movement [that] is an integral part of the Labour Party but [that] has self-government, as the lack of self-government spells disaster for the youth movement.50

However, there was some insider opposition to the YCL faction controlling the LLOY and its course of opposition to the Labour NEC. Willis himself in August 1936 said: “Some people in our own ranks are attempting to break the solidarity of the league, by preaching ‘complete loyalty to the NEC’.”51 Some correspondents of Advance also complained of the space being given to reviews of YCL publications.52

This policy of organised opposition to the NEC garnered some important results for the unofficial LLOY. By 1937, Advance supporters were dominant on the reinstated national advisory committee and Willis had become national chair of the league. In around 1936-37 (Willis does not offer a precise date in his memoirs), the provisional national committee of the LLOY was summoned to a meeting with the Labour NEC at Transport House, where the ‘adult’ party made an offer to reinstate the ‘official’ national advisory committee of the league and suggested it could advocate what policy it pleased. Also, the unofficial Advance could become the official journal of the LLOY, replacing TheNew Nation. The rider to this offer was that the LLOY should not associate with the CPGB/YCL or work in joint organisations with communists.

Willis said: “In the circumstances, it looked as though this was half a loaf, if not more, and we decided to cooperate.”53 Actually, given that the absurd instruction not to collaborate with the communists (Willis and others were effectively being asked to stop collaborating with themselves) was completely ignored, it seems as if this was very much the full loaf, and the YCL leadership of the LLOY was then in a position of some political strength.

We have covered thus far the positive side of the CPGB/YCL’s involvement with the LLOY; the second and final part of this article will focus on more negative programmatic and ideological features; while also laying out the dramatic circumstances in which the CPGB extracted its members working in the Labour Party in 1939-40.

Notes

1. K Morgan Against fascism and war: ruptures and continuities in British communist politics 1935-41 Manchester 1989, p33.

2. N Branson, ‘Myths from left and right’ in J Fryth (ed) Britain, fascism and the popular front London 1985, p129.

3. Ibid.

4. K Morgan Against fascism and war (op cit). My emphasis.

5. G Eley, ‘From cultures of militancy to the politics of culture: writing the history of British communism’ Science and Society spring 1997, Vol 61, No 3. The wholesale transposition of this ideology of the popular front into modern history writing is even more baffling when prominent supporters of the tactic in a general sense, such as Georg Lukács, have been able to discern some of its darker, sectarian side: “We must break with the false idea which arose in Stalin’s popular fronts: ie, that people who didn’t sign declarations were therefore totally reactionary” - T Pinkus (ed) Conversations with Lukács London 1974, p146.

6. Albeit with some important lacunas, as I have argued in a forthcoming paper, ‘The Sunday Worker and the birth of the National Left Wing Movement’.

7. ECCI British Commission, June 20 1923, RGASPI 495/38/2.

8. See L Parker, ‘Too close for comfort’ Weekly Worker May 19 2016; and ‘Rattling the Labour right’ Weekly Worker October 13 2016.

9. I would make a partial exception to this general tendency in the foundation period of the Sunday Worker newspaper and the National Left Wing Movement, which illustrates a relatively healthy political complexion; this I have argued in ‘The Sunday Worker and the birth of the National Left Wing Movement’.

10. CPGB The party and its work London 1937.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. London District Committee of the CPGB London district congress discussion statement London 1938.

14. Ibid.

15. W Rust, ‘Problems of Labour policy’ Labour Monthly August 1936.

16. London district congress discussion statement (op cit).

17. Ibid.

18. T Bramley, ‘Our propaganda: the problem as I see it’ Discussion (CPGB) October 1937.

19. CPGB The party and its work (op cit).

20. Ibid.

21. Branson suggests these members’ party cards would have been held sometimes at CPGB headquarters in 16 King Street and more often by their district secretaries - N Branson History of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1927-1941 London 1985, p157.

22. K Morgan, G Cohen, A Flinn Communists and British society 1920-1991 London 2007, p131. See also N Branson op cit.

23. The NEC circular is cited in B Pimlott Labour and the left in the 1930s London 1986, p103.

24. A Thorpe, ‘The membership of the Communist Party of Great Britain, 1920-1945’ The Historical Journal Vol 43, No 3, 2000, p781.

25. K Morgan et al (op cit) p130. The Midwich cuckoos was a 1957 science-fiction novel by John Wyndham, in which women in an English village are impregnated through outside xenogenesis and give birth to alien life forms.

26. K Morgan Bolshevism and the British left part 1: Labour legends and Russian gold London 2006, p288.

27. K Morgan et al (op cit) p131.

28. Ibid pp131-32.

29. W McGuire, ‘Why affiliate?’ Discussion (CPGB) August 1936.

30. London district congress discussion statement (op cit).

31. D Hyde I believed: the autobiography of a former British communist London 1951, p65.

32. F Westacott Shaking the chains Chesterfield 2002, pp102-03.

33. Ibid p111. Morgan suggests that the phenomenon of CPGB entry into the Labour Party “was of considerable significance in many parts of the Midlands and south which lacked a resilient Labour tradition”, focusing on the particular example of Oxford: K Morgan Against fascism and war (op cit) p36.

34. ‘Spartacus’, ‘Build the mass party’ Discussion (CPGB) April 1936.

35. Ibid.

36. CE Branson, ‘New line - new methods of work’ Discussion (CPGB) May 1936.

37. H Pollitt, ‘The Communist Party congress and the next stage in the fight for unity’ Labour Monthly July 1937.

38. RW Robson, ‘On communist organisation’ Discussion (CPGB) March 1936.

39. N Branson, ‘On party organisation’ Discussion (CPGB) April 1936.

40. W Rust, ‘The Labour Party’s future’ Labour Monthly January 1936.

41. T Willis Youth appeals to Labour London 1937.

42. Ibid.

43. M Webb The rise and fall of the Labour League of Youth unpublished University of Huddersfield thesis, p67.

44. ‘National conference report: Arthur Jenkins on the future of the league’ The New Nation: organ of the Labour Party League of Youth May 1936.

45. Ibid.

46. M Webb op cit p67.

47. ‘National conference report: Arthur Jenkins on the future of the league’ op cit.

48. T Willis Youth appeals to Labour (op cit).

49. T Willis Whatever happened to Tom Mix? London 1970, p170.

50. J Gollan, ‘Why the Young Communist League proposes the merger’ Advance August 1936.

51. T Willis, ‘We shall not surrender: for the merger against the memorandum’ Advance August 1936. Some of this ‘official’ NEC-sponsored opposition to the communists can also be found in the files of The New Nation from 1936. However, this was a slightly desperate enterprise, given the failure of the NEC memorandum in 1936 and there were a number of complaints from activists about biased pro-memorandum reporting of the LLOY’s 1936 conference in the June and July issues of The New Nation.

52. Letter from Nat Frayman, Manchester Advance January 1937.

53. T Willis Whatever happened to Tom Mix? (op cit) p165.