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1. This article is based mainly on the public and semi-public documents of the Communist Party, most of which are available in a variety of libraries and archives. Only where it seems likely that the document in question has a unique location have I indicated its sources. An earlier version of this article was presented to Opening the Books: Communist Party History Conference, Manchester, January 1994. It was produced with financial assistance from University College Cork.
2. R. Miliband, Parliamentary Socialism (London 1975) 274; E. P. Thompson in Socialist Register 1973 (London 1973) 52.
3. For a survey of relevant literature see J. Harris, `War and Social History: Britain and the Home Front during the Second World War', Contemporary European History 1, no. 1 (1992).
4. S. Fielding Thompson and N. Tiratsoo, `England arise!' The Labour Party and Popular Politics in 1940s Britain (Manchester 1995); T. Mason and Thompson, `"Reflections on a revolution"? The political mood in wartime Britain' and S. Fielding, `"Don't know and don't care": popular political attitudes in Labour's Britain, 1945-1951', in N. Tiratsoo (ed), The Atlee Years (London 1993); and S. Fielding, `What Did "The People" Want?: The Meaning of the 1945 General Election', The Historical Journal 35, no. 3, 1992.
5. M. Franklin and M. Ladner, `The Undoing of Winston Churchill: Mobilisation and Conversion in the 1945 Realignment of British Voters', British Journal of Political Science 25 (1995) 429-452. For an early study that cast doubt on the idea that the result of the 1945 election was an expression of political radicalisation see M. Abrams, `The Labour Vote in the General Election' in C. Madge (ed), Pilot Papers: Social Essays and Documents 1, no. 1 (1946). See also the works cited in n.3 and S. Brooke, `The Labour Party and the 1945 General Election', Contemporary Record 9, no. 1 (1995).
6. B. Schwarz, review of England Arise! in Renewal 4, no. 1 (1996); J. Hinton, `1945 and the Apathy School', History Workshop Journal 43 (1997).
7. Science & Society 61, no. 1 (1997) 123.
8. See S. Fielding's review `British Communism: Interesting but irrelevant?', Labour History Review 60, part 2, (1995).
9. Fielding, Thompson and Tiratsoo, op. cit. 52-54.
10. Victory, Peace, Security: Report of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party 26.
11. Membership figures are based on a detailed breakdown and analysis of district and national figures. The main sources were the party members' bulletin Mobilising for the Second Front (October 1942) 9; the party journal World News and Views (hereafter WNV) 26/9/42 387, 19/2/44 63, 9/12/44 399; and the Executive Committee reports to the 17th and 18th party congresses.
12. H. Cantril, Public Opinion 1935-1946 (Princeton 1951) 196; Daily Worker (hereafter DW) 18/11/44.
13. WNV, 24/11/45 384, 23/3/46 95, 27/8/46; Executive Committee Report to the 19th Party Congress, 18.
14. WNV 28/7/45 230.
15. For example, in 1945 there were seven and a half thousand column inches per month of local press reports on the party. Executive Committee Report to the 18th Congress 15.
16. The Way to Win: Decisions of the National Conference of the CPGB (May 1942) 5.
17. On the party's policy before June 1941 see J. Attfield and S. Williams (ed), 1939: The Communist Party of Great Britain and the War (London 1984); F. King and G. Matthews (ed), About Turn: The British Communist Party and the Second World War (London 1990); N. Branson, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, 1927-1941 (London 1985); K. Morgan, Against Fascism and War: Rupture and Continuities in British Communist Politics, 1935-1941 (Manchester 1991); and M. Johnstone, `The CPGB, the Comintern and the War, 1939-1941: Filling in the Blank Spots', Science & Society 61, no. 1, 1997.
18. CP press statement, 22/6/41, Communist Party Archives (hereafter CPA). Published in WNV 28/6/41. At the time this research was conducted there was no filing reference system in the CPA (then based in London, now in Manchester). However, there should be no difficulty in locating the documents cited in the archives and copies of all the material are in the possession of the author.
19. `For a People's Victory Over Fascism', CPA. Published in WNV 12/7/41.
20. Central Committee guidelines on the Campaign for the Common Defence of the British and Soviet People, June 1941 in CPA. The guidelines were published in WNV 6/7/41---minus the second paragraph of the passage quoted above.
21. `For the Defeat of Fascism: An Appeal to Our Party', CPA.
22. An important factor in the rapid reversal of the previous policy, in particular the anti-Churchill line, was the counsel of the Comintern. The relevant telegrams from the Comintern archives (in Russian) are on microfilm in the Communist Party archives.
23. The party's position is summarised in the declarations and resolutions of The Way to Win.
24. See the numerous reports in WNV June-December 1941.
25. `For joint action with the USSR', WNV 2/8/41. Springhall was expelled from the party in 1943 following his arrest on charges of espionage. The Political Bureau's decision to expel Springhall was unanimously endorsed by the Executive Committee on 15/8/43. EC Minutes, CPA.
26. WNV 2/8/41, 491. Also WNV 9/8/41, 497-498.
27. See J. Mahon, Harry Pollitt (London 1976) 276-281.
28. See e.g. WNV 2/8/41, 493.
29. ibid. 28/6/41, 410.
30. ibid. 19/7/41, 466; 23/8/41, 540.
31. Cantril, op. cit. 518.
32. On the campaign see W. Rust, The Story of the Daily Worker, People's Press Printing Society 1949, chap. 8 and Rust's article in Labour Monthly, October 1942.
33. WNV, 16/8/41, 524; 22/11/41, 473; 27/9/41, 619; 27/12/41, 824; 17/1/42, 45; 24/1/42, 55; 7/3/42, 155; 18/4/42, 206.
34. ibid. 13/12/41, 791.
35. Details of the membership campaign in WNV January-April 1942. Sales figures of the pamphlet provided by Bill Wainwright.
36. LM, May 1942, 149.
37. WNV 16/8/41, 525; 30/8/41, 556-557; 27/9/41, 607; 18/10/41, 662.
38. ibid. 25/10/41, 675-676.
39. See Morgan, op. cit., esp. 225-234.
40. This characterisation is borrowed from J. Hinton, `Coventry Communism: A Study of Factory Politics in the Second World War', History Workshop Journal 10 (1980). But note that Hinton is referring to the post-June 1941 period.
41. The anti-boss vein of the party's production campaign in summer 1941 can be seen in Pollitt's articles and speeches in WNV: 26/7/41, 466, 473; 16/8/41, 513-514; 30/8/41, 545-546; 20/9/41, 597. See also the PB letter to branches on production, 24/7/41 in CPA.
42. `Our Production Campaign', 20/8/41, CPA.
43. J. Owen, Factory Front, People Convention pamphlet, 11.
44. J. Owen, War in the Workshops (London 1942) chap. 6 and p. 70.
45. WNV 25/10/41, 676.
46. An Urgent Memorandum on Production, 6.
47. The memorandum was drafted by Dutt. See Dutt Papers (British Museum) K4, 1941-1942.
48. J. Hinton, Shop Floor Citizens: Engineering Democracy in 1940s Britain (London 1994) 88. Hinton's book is by far the most detailed and illuminating study of the JPCs. See also C. Riegelman, British Joint Production Machinery (Montreal 1944); N. Fishman, The British Communist Party and the Trade Unions 1933-1945, PhD (London University 1992) chap. 6; R. Croucher, Engineers at War (London 1982); G. Brown, Sabotage (London 1980); K. Coates and T. Topham (ed), Workers Control (London 1971); N. Tiratsoo and J. Tomlinson, Industrial Efficiency and State Intervention: Labour 1939-51 (London 1993) chap. 2; Inman, Labour in the Munitions Industry, HMSO 1957; and People in Production, Mass Observation 1942. For a comparative perspective see Labour-Management Co-operation in United States War Production, ILO (Montreal 1948).
49. H. Pollitt, How to Win the Peace, CP booklet, September 1944, pages 39 and 87.
50. On this point see Fishman, op. cit.
51. Trade Union Policy in the War Against Fascism, December 1942; Towards a Greater Trade Union Movement, August 1944; and various pamphlets on individual industries.
52. Dutt Papers, British Museum, CUP 1262, K4, 1941-1942.
53. The CP's policy on strikes is criticised and attacked from a Trotskyist perspective in S. Bornstein and A. Richardson, Two Steps Back: Communists and the Wider Labour Movement, 1939-1945 (London 1982). See also Croucher, op. cit. for discussion of strikes in the engineering industry.
54. Quoted by Steve Jefferys, op. cit. 17. On the wartime strike record see also N. Barou, British Trade Unions, Left Book Club, 1947.
55. See H. Francis and D. Smith, The Fed: A History of the South Wales Miners in the 20th Century (London 1980) chap. 11.
56. On Dutt see J. Callaghan, Rajani Palme Dutt (London 1993).
57. R. P. Dutt, Britain in the World Front (London 1942).
58. The evidence for this speculation is Dutt's advocacy of the People's Convention Movement as a `broad democratic movement for democratic aims'. In the event the Convention was abolished by the party in January 1942. See J. Hinton, `Killing the People's Convention: A Letter from Palme Dutt to Harry Pollitt', Bulletin of the Society for the Study of Labour History 39 (1979).
59. Labour Monthly pamphlet, 1943. Other important texts included: E. Burns, The Case for Affiliation, CP pamphlet, 1943; Harry Pollitt's article in Labour Monthly, February 1943; and Communist Party and Labour Party: Correspondence, CP pamphlet, 1943.
60. See further: C. Nawrat and G. Roberts, `Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining: the Communist Party, the Labour Party and Representative Politics', Politics & Power 2 (London 1980).
61. The campaign is covered in detail in N. Branson, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, 1941-1951 (London 1997) and J. Hinton, `Communism and the Labour Party, 1941-1946', unpublished paper, c.1979-1980.
62. On the Report's reception see Addison, The Road to 1945 (London 1975) chap. 8.
63. Documents for the 16th Congress, 23-24.
64. DW, 2/12/42, 17/12/42, 19/12/42.
65. Dutt Papers, British Museum, K4, 1941-1942,
66. Unity and Victory: Report of the 16th Congress of the Communist Party, 1943.
67. ibid. 29-33, 48-55.
68. Documents for the 17th Congress, 33.
69. WNV, 26/2/44, 70; 8/4//44, 113.
70. See the coverage of the two conferences in various issues of WNV, November-December 1943.
71. See Addison, op. cit. 49-51.
72. Hinton, `Communism and the Labour Party', traces the development of party policy on bye-elections and the electoral truce.
73. On Commonwealth see A. Calder, The People's War (London 1971) 631-655; opinion poll reported in DW 18/1/44.
74. See e.g. R. P. Arnot, What is Commonwealth?, CP pamphlet, 1943 and DW 9/2/43. The response was much like that of the party to the SDP in the 1980s.
75. DW, 2/2/44.
76. ibid. 3/4/44.
77. Pollitt Answers Questions on Communist Policy, CP pamphlet, May 1944, 13.
78. See DW, 20/1/44 and 8/12/44.
79. EC Minutes, 19/1/44, CPA.
80. EC Minutes, 16/4/44, CPA.
81. CP Press Statement, 16/6/44, Dutt Papers, CPA.
82. Jobs, Homes, Security: Post-War Britain and the Way to Socialism.
83. Pollitt was asked by the PB in June 1944 to write the booklet. See Weekly Letter 20/6/44, CPA.
84. See the very interesting review of Answers to Questions, How to Win the Peace, and Pollitt's 1947 Looking Ahead by Malcolm Mitchell in Communist Review, October 1947.
85. See A. Chester, `Uneven Development: Communist Strategy from the 1940s to the 1970s', Marxism Today, September 1979 and W. Thompson, The Good Old Cause (London 1992).
86. On the party in the 1920s see L. J. Macfarlane, The British Communist Party: Its Origins and Development until 1929 (London 1966) and J. Klugmann, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain i & ii (London 1968, 1969).
87. On the party during the 1930s see Morgan, op. cit.; Branson, op. cit. and J. Fyrth (ed), Britain, Fascism and the Popular Front (London 1985).
88. See Draft Programme of the Communist Party of Great Britain, August 1939.
89. These comments on the composition of the party are based on impressions and extrapolations from the delegate credential reports of the 16th, 17th and 18th party congresses and on scattered reports in the party press. In relation to the workplace organisational basis of the party, it is reported that in 1942 their were some 2,000 communist factory groups (WNV, 11/7/42, 302). In London alone there were 800 factory groups in 1943 and the party had recruited 2,500 shop stewards and 250 trade union officials (Steve Jeffreys, `The Communist Party and the Rank and File', International Socialism 10 (1980-1981) 18-19).
90. Political Letters, 27/3/42, 30/4/42; Mobilising the Party for the Second Front, October 1942; How to Organise Party Education, CP pamphlet, November 1942.
91. WNV, 2/1/43, 7.
92. DW, 21/8/43.
93. See WNV, January-March 1944, esp. R. W. Robson's article on 22/1/44; Party Organisation and the Invasion, June 1944; and the EC statement on a mass party in Documents for the 17th Congress, 46-48.
94. EC Minutes, 19/9/44, CPA.
95. S. Blackwell, Some Guiding Points for Strengthening Organisation, Birmingham CP pamphlet, ND.
96. D. Grandjean, Ward Groups: The Way Forward, London District pamphlet, ND.
97. Victory, Peace, Security: Report of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party.
98. ibid. 38-39.
99. ibid. 26.
101. WNV, 23/12/44, 408,413; EC Minutes 17/12/44, CPA.
102. See Political Letter: The Communist Party and the Crimea Conference, 21/2/45, CPA. The Letter pointed out that this was not the first time the party had called for such a national government. In 1938 the party had argued for an alliance of Labour, Liberals and anti-appeasement Tories such as Churchill. Although the Letter did not say so, it seems likely that the party's policy was influenced as well by the emergence of various national unity governments in liberated Europe.
103. On Browder's views see M. Isserman, Which Side Were You On? The American Communist Party During the Second World War (Connecticut 1982) and J. R. Starobin, American Communism in Crisis, 1943-1957 (Harvard 1972).
104. E. Browder, Victory and After (New York 1942) 125-126.
105. Speech to the CPUSA National Committee, January 1944, reprinted in WNV 21/1/44, 25-28. See also E. Browder, Teheran: Our Path in Peace and War (New York 1944).
106. See H. Pollitt, Answers to Questions on Communist Policy, CP pamphlet, May 1944 and articles by Dutt (LM, February 1944) and Rust (DW, 28/1/44). Also, Dutt's personal letter on Browder to a party member on 11/4/44 in the Dutt Papers, CPA.
107. See Weekly Letters, 24/1/44, 3/3/44.
108. EC Minutes, 18/2/45, CPA.
109. Political Letter: Results of Party Discussion, 21/3/45, CPA. A document giving a detailed breakdown of the voting can be found in the 1945 EC Minutes file in the CPA.
110. In the EC Minutes 1945 file there is a document summarising the questions asked at aggregates and a detailed report of the discussion at the North London aggregate.
111. National Unity After the War: Communist Party Statement, CPA.
112. EC Minutes, 15/4/45; EC Statement on Parliamentary Candidates. Both in CPA. The number of candidates was later reduced to 21, following the failure to secure local agreement on a united left candidate in Acton (where Ted Bramley was to stand).
113. DW editorial, 21/3/45.
114. On the campaign for progressive electoral unity see Hinton `Communism and the Labour Party'.
115. A first edition editorial in the Daily Worker ,30 May, 1945 advised people to vote Labour not Liberal on the grounds that the latter were the `weak brethren of the progressive camp'. Common Wealth took a similar line to that of the CP when it decided to stand only in those seats where there was no chance of splitting the vote with Labour and letting in the conservative (DW, 2/4/45).
116. A detailed report on the party's General Election campaign may be found in the CPA. According to Hymie Fagan, the party's National Election agent in 1945, Pollitt lost Rhondda because of the soldier's vote.
117. Political Letter: The Communist Party in the New Political Situation, 28/8/45, CPA. A removal of this section of the Political Letter was proposed by Gallacher at the August meeting. Only two votes were cast in support. EC Minutes, 18/19/8/45, CPA.
118. LM, April 1945, 103.
119. LM, August 1945.
120. Commonwealth got 100,000 votes and 1 MP in the 1945 election. The Liberal vote increased from 6% to 9%, and they might have got as much as 15% of the vote had they stood in more constituencies. On the Liberal Party see M. Baines, `The Liberal Party and the 1945 General Election', on Commonwealth, J. Callaghan, `Common Wealth and the Communist Party in the 1945 General Election', both in Contemporary Record 9, no. 1, 1995. More generally see S. Fielding's important article `The Second World War and Popular Radicalism: The Significance of the "Movement away from Party"', History 80, no. 258, 1995. Fielding argues that `the radicalism generated during the Second World War was defined by more than a swing of opinion towards the left ... it also involved severe criticism of the unrepresentative nature of parliamentary democracy' (56). Fielding emphasises the anti-party mood of this `criticism'; my argument is that there was a possibility in 1945 of fashioning this anti-party mood, largely directed at the Conservative and Labour parties, into support for alternative parties within the political system. James Hinton points out (`1945 and the Apathy School' 271) that after the election there was strong swing towards Labour, perhaps because in winning the General Election so decisively the Labour Party came to be seen as the appropriate embodiment of the will of the nation.
121. See Political Letters of 31/3/44 and 6/4/44 in the CPA which make reference to the leadership's concern about adopting too many candidates to run against the Labour Party. In this connection see also Kay Beauchamp's letter in WNV 24/11/45, 380-381 which expresses the spirit of that element of the communist tradition in Britain that emphasised the project of an independent mass party rather than a capture of the Labour Party and the trade unions for party policy.
122. `Harry Pollitt's Speech 25.5.45', CPA. Pollitt continued: `... and in this connection it may be necessary for us to withdraw one of our candidates in order not to lose important support from one of the Unions'. The reference here may be to Ted Bramley's contest in Acton. There are other references in the CPA expressing the leadership's concern that its election contests might jeopardise relations with the unions.
123. See H. Pelling, The British Communist Party: A Historical Profile (London 1958), chaps. 8-9.
124. In relation to this point see D. Sassoon, `The Rise and Fall of West European Communism 1939-1948', Contemporary European History 1, no. 2, 1992.
125. Hinton, Shop Floor Citizens, op. cit.
126. See Trade Unions and the General Election, CP Pamphlet, January 1945; Engineering Prospects and Wages, CP Pamphlet, March 1945; Over to Peace, CP Pamphlet, September 1945; Britain's Plan for Prosperity, CP Pamphlet, 1947. Also, Pollitt's Looking Ahead, 1947.
127. Between 1943 and 1945 not a single item on the EC's agenda was devoted to a discussion of the JPCs. As far as I can see, the PB also devoted little or no time to production issues.
128. WNV, 8/12/45, 394.
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