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Pictured left in a mock-peasant costume in a 1980s poll tax demo
Both she and George became full-time party workers after the war. She was initially district secretary for the South-East Midlands District, then London District Organiser. This latter post, she later said, was the unhappiest period of her political life. For a long time she was associated with the Organisation Department at King Street, which was particularly linked to maintaining ideological orthodoxy through disciplinary means. But, from 1967 to 1978, she was national education organiser.
Perhaps it was the contrast between these two experiences that, coupled with the Matthews’ enjoyment of annual visits to Italy, that became a factor in making Betty, in particular, open to the interpretations Antonio Gramsci’s writings that became, by the mid-1970s, the hallmark of the British revisionism - often then called Euro-Communism. Certainly, as some of the key 1970s Euro-Communists became CP full-timers, Betty gave them quiet support. By the time of her formal retirement, the Party formation that then existed was facing a great crisis.
As an editorial board member of Marxism Today, as it was being recast in a new and critical role by Martin Jacques, she was a key supporter, whom he regarded as one of the architects of the magazine’s studied iconoclasm, that ironically ran in the opposite direction to its very title.
Her childless marriage with George lasted 62 years, until her death on May 24th 2002, aged 88 after a car crash.
Sources include the Morning Star May 30th 2002