Councillor Gordon Jenkins was a Neath butcher who became an elected Communist councillor. He was a member of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers and a delegate to Neath Trades Council. During the Second World War he served in the Royal Artillery and joined the Communist Party in 1948.
In 1955, when he first contested Neath’s South Ward he got only 127 votes. With local Communist Party supporters, he was only able to give out leaflets; there was no canvassing. Nevertheless, every time he contested the seat, the vote increased. In 1958 the Party members canvassed the ward for the first time and continued to do so in each succeeding election.
By May 1961 the Communist vote was greater than the Tory’s. After seven contests, in June 1961, when Aldermanic elections caused a by-election for the ward, he was elected a councillor with 1,455 votes, beating both Labour candidates and coming top of the poll with a majority of over 300 over the first Labour candidate.
The Neath Communist Party branch had election files recording all 1,400 Communist votes in the ward as a result of many canvasses. Three thousand houses out of the total of 4,500 were canvassed. On polling day, from 8 am to 8 pm Communist Party members and supporters with cars went to these houses to bring their voters to the polling booths. Jenkins spoke at 300 street meetings; twenty Communist Party members and a few non-party people helped.
The Neath Party Branch worked as a collective not merely at election times, but in the ward between elections as well. In 1955 there were twenty-two members in the branch, in 1961 there were fifty.
Source: World News February 24th 1962
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