Shapiro Michael

Michael Shapiro

Michael Shapiro was born in East London and won a scholarship, which enabled him to take a B.Sc. (Econ) degree at London University. Shapiro joined the Communist Party in 1934, and was a lecturer in Economics at a London University college and a prominent Jewish Communist in the London Party for many years afterwards. In his spare time, he was an expert on housing questions and worked and wrote on housing issues under his pen name, Michel Best. 

As Secretary of the Stepney Tenants Defence League from 1936, he worked closely with Tubby Rosen and Father John Groser of St Michael's Church, Watney Street. With Elsy Borders (see separate entry), Shapiro was also instrumental in the formation of the National Federation  of Residents' and Tenants' Associations around 1939.


One and one of the twelve Communist councillors elected in Stepney after the war, he was mentioned personally in Piratin’s `Our Flag Stays Red’.



See left for picture of Shapiro shortly after his election as a Communist councillor.

In 1950, at the invitation of the Communist Party of China, Michael went to China to work for the Xinhua News Agency to help with the translation journalistic work. He worked there for many years on the English translations of Mao's works and as Daily Worker correspondent. It is likely, given his association with Alan Winnington, that Shapiro was sent by the British Party to assist the new China. 

As a war correspondent on the `wrong’ side in the Korean War, he found himself in circumstances whereby he could not return to Britain and he ended up marrying locally and dying in China in 1986. His wife was Liu Jinghe, a prominent member of the Party in China and a respected psychologist. 

Shapiro was strongly in disagreement with the British Party’s position on China in the years of breach between the parties for the rest of his life. Similarly, his brother Jack Shapiro was a noted British Maoist.

Michael Shapiro spent a total of 36 years copy-editing English stories and doing translation for the Department of Home News for Overseas Service of Xinhua. A prize in his memory for journalistic excellence has been established. 


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