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Thornett Alan

Alan Thornett

Alan Thornett was born near Oxford in 1937, aged fifteen he left school to work on a farm for 10d an hour. Later he enlisted for three years in the army before starting work in the Morris car plant at Cowley, Oxford in 1959, building the new mini minor car.

While at Pressed Steel Thornett  joined the Communist Party in  late 1959 and became a TGWU shop steward in 1963, Thornett resigned from the Communist Party in 1964 and joined the Socialist Labour League (later the Workers Revolutionary Party).

He was expelled from that group in 1974 along with all but one member of the 100 strong Oxford branch and set up his own grouping, the Workers Socialist League (WSL).

In 1968 Thornett became Deputy Convenor for the plant and later chairman of TGWU 5/55 branch.

He was sacked and victimised by management in 1982

Like many enthusiastic Party activists, Thornett supported Communist Party factory gate meetings near Press Steel No1 gate outside Johnson’s café, where District Secretary John Tarver (Isee separate entry) would often speak in the late 50s.

Other Communists in Pressed Steel, Thornett recalled, included Joe Richards, a Cornishman and a shop steward at Pressed Steel TGWU 5/60 branch, Villamura chair of 5/60 branch, and Charlie Siret, a crane driver. Arthur Stratford, a steward for the truckers in ‘A ‘ building, was important in guiding Thornett into the Party.

At Morris Motors  there was Arthur Exell (paint detail in GK paint), Ron Jones and John Power, the latter of whom was most responsible for attracting Thornett into the Communist Party. Power, Steve Ward and Thornett were also members of the Oxford Young Communist League (YCL ). Thornett recalls Power as “a talented man with a sharp mind and a good memory, responsible for many wage increases and tireless campaigner for improved conditions”. Power worked on the Morris minor track, where he was steward.

The City branch of the Communist Party was organised by John Tarver , Communist party District Secretary, and included Daphne and Eric Johnson who had come to the Communist Party through the Squatters Movement at the end of the War. Jack and Helen Dunman, Jack Crawley a self employed building worker who used to employ party members from time to time. Mick Leahy was an “old timer” who was a self employed tailor.

Thornett states that  “John Tarver organised walks by the river with fine comrades and a pint of beer at the Pirch”.

Michael Walker

Source: `From Militancy to Marxism’ by Alan Thornett