Phillip Poole held the position of secretary of the Worker’s Theatre Movement from 1929 -1933, during which period it had a small office at 90 Grays Inn Road, London.
He was born in 1909, his father being a fireman in the London Fire Brigade. He attended elementary School where a left wing teacher encouraged his early interest in socialism. This interest in socialism was
reinforced by the Parson at the St Botolph’s Church in Bishopgate, which he attended, who was also politically very progressive and had a large collection of socialist books.
Poole left school aged fourteen and secured a job as an office boy. He joined the Finsbury Labour Party, being the nearest to where he lived in Bishopgate in the City of London. Open air political meetings were very popular and he would carry the platform to a pitch close to FinsburyTown hall which at this time was a safe Tory area.
He then moved to Stoke Newington and rejoined the Labour Party and soon became Propaganda Secretary as well as establishing the first Labour League of Youth in Stoke Newington around 1925. He states that the betrayal of the1926 General Strike had a big impact upon his politics and pushed him further to the Left.
As a result of his perceived “Leftism” and his vote against the expulsion of the Communist Party from the Labour Party, the Stoke Newington Labour Party closed down the Labour League of Youth and despite Poole being its Secretary, he was not allowed to re join the reconstituted League. In anger he joined North Hackney Labour League of Youth, but this was Herbert Morrison’s fiefdom and this “finally shattered all my fairy dreams of socialism”.
He almost immediately joined the Hackney Communist Party, but was asked to continue his membership of the Labour League of Youth and keep his CP membership “secret”. This paid off with Poole being elected to the National Executive Committee of the Labour League of Youth. But he found it difficult to keep up the pretence for long and at aged eighteen he transferred to Hackney Young Communist League.
In 1929, Poole joined the Worker’s Theatre Movement, which consisted of about thirty local groups from Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Sunderland, Castleford, Greenwich, Woolwich, St Pancras and one in Wales. Poole became the first Secretary of the Worker’s Theatre Movement in that year, with Tom Thomas as chairman, a man Poole called the “leading spirit of the movement”.
Joan Horrocks was involved in organising the music side of the Movement. The group was, according to Poole, “strictly (Communist) Party” or sympathisers. Poole was also involved in the production of “Red Stage” the Worker’s Theatre Movement journal which was produced by a son of Tom Mann, Charlie Mann. Poole was also active in his local (Hackney) Red Radio group, which had a pitch off in a cul-de-sac in Aldgate. Red Radio performed once a week a number of political sketches and songs and had its own signature tune:
“We are Red Radio,
Workers’ Red Radio,
We Show you how you’re robbed and bled;
The old world’s crashing,
Let’s help to smash it
And build a workers’ world instead”.
Source: Red Letters No:10
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