Wainwright Bill

Bill Wainwright

Wainwright, who died aged 91 on October 27th 2000, was a journalist and pamphleteer for nearly 60 years. He was elected to the Communist Party’s executive and political committees and became the Party’s assistant secretary when John Gollan replaced Harry Pollitt as general secretary in 1956. His final years of full-time party work were spent as assistant editor of the Daily Worker and the Morning Star.

Born on November 24th 1908, he was raised in London’s East End. After leaving school he studied chemistry at Chelsea Polytechnic, and became an associate of the Institute of Chemistry of Great Britain. He walked from his home in Stepney to Chelsea during the general strike to avoid using the blackleg trains.

It was the rise of fascism in the early 1930s that was the turning point for him. Wainwright took an active part in this from his flat at World’s End, Chelsea, protecting open-air meetings from fascists armed with knuckledusters and truncheons. He went to heckle Mosley at the notorious 1934 BUF meeting at the Olympia in west London, where he was recognised, frog-marched out, and beaten up.

He then became editor of the Young Communist League paper, Challenge, and then the YCL’s national organiser. He also met and married his wife Molly, a political and personal relationship that lasted until her death in 1991.

During the war he served in the Home Guard and from 1941 worked on publicity for the war effort at the CP’s headquarters in Covent Garden. Soon after the war he became general secretary of the British Soviet Friendship Society. In the 1950s he was involved with the British Peace Committee.

A supporter of the CPGB EC, his role as the Morning Star’s part-time science editor, was ended due to his highly advanced years, although he was reinstated after synthetic protests and played little role thereafter. He supported Democratic Left after 1991.

Source: Guardian November 16th 2000

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