Bellamy Ron

Ron Bellamy

Born in Sheffield in 1917, Ron Bellamy won scholarships to Bradford Grammar School and then to Queens College, Oxford, where he read Classical Greats from October 1936, although he switched to Politics, Philosophy and Economics in 1938.

At Oxford, Bellamy was secretary of the Labour club and captain of the college rugby team but he enlisted in the Royal Artillery in September 1939. He served in the UK and North Africa, attaining the rank of Captain, before being invalided out of the army in May 1944 following a head injury.

Ron Bellamy returned to Oxford and graduated with first-class honours on special subjects in Statistics, Advanced Economic Theory and the Economics of War and Resettlement. From July 1945 to August 1946, he worked as a researcher at the Oxford University Institute of Statistics, studying problems of scale and efficiency in retail distribution. The results of his research were published in the Institutes Bulletin, and later as a monograph on the `Changing Pattern of Retail Distribution’. This work was described by one commentator as the most important source for evidence of contemporary change in the distributive trades.

In September 1946, he was appointed to a College Lectureship in Economics at Christ Church, teaching undergraduate and graduate students. At the same time, he was engaged as Lecturer for the Oxford Extra-Mural Delegacy, with the special task of organising and conducting research among industrial workers.

With the onset of the Cold War, Communists found themselves generally under great pressure; nowhere more so was this than in the academic sphere. Bellamy left the more high-profile Oxford in October 1948 for Leeds to become a Lecturer in Economics.  

In 1953, he married Joan Shaw, who was at that time working for the Communist Party; she later became, in turn, tutor, full-time staff tutor and eventually Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the Open University.

In 1961-2 he spent a year as a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, a major research centre of the USSR Academy of Sciences in Moscow.

He was promoted to Senior Lecturer at Leeds in October 1963.

A Senior Lectureship at the University of Ghana followed from 1963-66. Bellamy was also appointed Acting Head of the Department of Economics and served as a Director of the Ghana National Trading Corporation and member of several government and university commissions. In February 1966, President Nkrumah was ousted in a military coup; when the University Senate pledged its support for the coup, Ron refused his assent and resigned his post.

Back at Leeds, he served as Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Social Studies in 1970-72, among a wide range of administrative duties.

Over many years, Ron Bellamy gave lectures and seminars at leading universities and institutes in the USSR, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, and elsewhere.

Much of his published work appeared in Communist Party journals but his papers encompassed a wide range of topics, including the dynamics of capitalism, the world economy and the economics of socialism.

He was a founding member of the Conference of Socialist Economists, and published a paper on Britain and the EEC in the first issue of its Bulletin in 1971.

He was well-known particularly among Marxist scholars in Japan and a comprehensive bibliography of his work was published there in 1984.

He was expelled from the Communist Party after 40 years membership in the early 1980s but played a leading role in the re-establishment of the Party from 1988. Subsequent developments, especially in 1998, saw Bellamy isolated from many of his former comrades and even the Party towards the end of his life; although he remained committed to a Marxist view of the value of a planned socialist economy.

After his retirement as a Senior Lecturer in the School of Economic Studies in 1982, Bellamy was successively reappointed as Honorary Lecturer until 1990. He participated regularly in staff seminars, notably in the Centre for Industrial Policy and Performance and died aged 92, on 5th January 2009.

Sources: Guardian, 17th April 2009; additionally extracts from an appreciation by Hugo Radice 


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