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Dr C K Cullen

Carl K Cullen, always known as C K Cullen, was born in Gloucestershire in 1893. His father, Augustus H Cullen (born 1862 in Nottingham) was a Congregationalist Minister.  CK’s mother was Edith J Cullen, born in 1864 in Birmingham.

Career-wise, Cullen took the course of applied social medicine, becoming the He was Tuberculosis Officer for Shoreditch and then a medical inspector, latterly in Poplar. In his youth, he was a volunteer Scout Commissioner, responsible for the work of the Scouts in a large area of the country. On being linked with radical socialist ideas, he sought to interest the Co-operative movement with a form of scouting, which did come to fruition eventually in the form of the Woodcraft Folk.

Although a member of the Independent Labour Party, CK was associated with a strongly Marxist trend, which eventually became the Revolutionary Policy Committee (RPC) faction. After the 1929-31 Labour Government followed disastrous policies, the RPC was finally fully formed in 1931 by both C K Cullen and Jack Gaster (see separate entry).

The RPC was very strong in London and, after disaffiliation of the ILP from the Labour Party was adopted in 1932, it sought cooperation between the ILP and the Communist Party, even advocating the former’s affiliation to the Comintern.  Whilst a position of merger of the two parties was supposedly supported by the ILP, one thing and another conspired to delay progress. Frustration with this led some ILPers in 1934 to split and form their own short-lived formation. The following year, Cullen led hundreds into the Communist Party.  He personally took some fifty ILPers from Poplar, Wood Green and Harrow followed Cullen into the Communist Party.

He was a Vice-president of the Relief Committee for Victims of Fascism, later incorporated into the Anti-Fascist Relief Committee. ( Isabel Brown, see separate entry, was Secretary). This provided aid to Spain including, food, clothing, medical supplies and transport. After the end of the war, refugees in France were helped.

Cullen died in the latter part of 1966, at the age of 73, being registered in Waltham Forest County. Before he died, Cullen had donated land near Kelvedon Hatch, in Essex, which he had owned for some decades and which was initially used to support ILP Youth activities. This became Coppice Camp, or more formally the Harry Pollitt Memorial Youth Camp, which the Young Communist League was supposed to use for its activities. Initially, whilst much renovation was undertaken and some use of the site was undertaken, it became more and more sporadic. By the 1980s, the CPGB was increasingly taking resources from Cullen’s estate for basic expenditure and, in the end, Coppice Camp was one of many of the Party’s assets salted away by the victorious revisionist camp that liquidated the CPGB in 1991. Coppice was sold for £67,000 – considerably less than it was probably worth.     

 
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