Wilson David Arnold

David Arnold Wilson

Born 1897 Wilson later became a railway clerk, an active trades unionist and Communist in Bradford during the 1920s and 1930s. Left wing politics in Bradford up until the First World War had been dominated by the Independent Labour Party. But, by the 1920s, there was only a hazy border locally between the ILP and the Labour Party.

The Communist Party on the other hand, had its roots in the Shipley area, primarily because a number of the Party’s West Yorkshire most important activists lived in the area. Its influence in this period in Bradford was seen even by Wilson as marginal and primarily based amongst left wingers elements in the West Yorkshire ILP grouped around a Marxist current in the ILP led by Dr C.K. Cullen (Medical Officer for Health, Poplar, London). In West Yorkshire, adherents included Edward R Hartley and Charlie Glyde.

During the 1926 General Strike the Communist Party’s headquarters at Shipley were raided by police, who confiscated printing equipment but also failing to find the future General secretary of the TUC Vic Feather who was hiding in the toilet.

The situation during the 1926 strike in Bradford was different to that experienced in many northern towns, simply because textile workers, then the predominant industry in Bradford, were not called out on strike by the TUC as they were classified as `non essential’. However support for the miners from the textile workers was strong because of the miners’ support during the wool strike of 1925. Willie Gallacher stood as the Communist candidate for Shipley at the 1930 general election, securing 701 votes (1.7% of the vote).

The David Arnold Wilson papers and unpublished autobiography are held at the University Library of Manchester and deserve much more attention.

Source: Michael Walker, `Labour Heartland’ (the Labour Party in West Yorkshire), Reynolds & Laybourn

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