Collins Enoch

Enoch Collins

Collins was a long-standing Communist Party member in Llanelli, South Wales. A tinplate worker, such was the intensity of the depression, especially victimisation of militants, that at one point during the depression he was the only employed industrial worker on South Wales District Committee of the Communist Party.

The tinplate workers of South Wales had a very honourable and radical tradition dating back to 1870, when the great Lewys Afan founded the first Tinplate Workers Union in the world, John Hopkin, Swansea’s first labour movement councillor in 1890 was also a tinplate worker, who edited the weekly Tinplate Workers Union journal “Industrial world”.

The Party in the Swansea Valley was somewhat aided by the publication of the Lais Lafur, edited by D. J. Rees, which, while generally pro-ILP, was independent enough to carry radical articles.

Enoch Collins was a Communist council candidate in November 1932, securing a respectable 342 votes in Second Ward. Other Communist candidates in Llanelli included Comrades James (331 votes) and Evans (298 votes) in First Ward, Leyshon (327 votes in Third ward), and Seward (121 votes) also in Collins’ Second Ward. The party doubled its vote in Llanelli that year. The only other council seat contested by the Communist Party in the municipal election of November 1932 in Wales was Liswerry Ward in Newport where it secured 227 votes.

Collins emerges in the post-war period as a seriously firm supporter of the idea of welding Welsh nationalism with Communism. In February 1951, he wrote to World News pointing to the perceived disparity between theory and practice of the Communist Party in South Wales. Collins stressed the need for the Party to re-assess its attitude to Welsh national rights once again, “although there was a period when the Welsh district of the Party published the Communist Manifesto in Welsh and also had many pamphlets on Walesand Welsh problems. In those days they had prominence in the Welsh National Eisteddfod”.

A reassertion of the Welshness of the Party in Wales had been burgeoning for a while. The Communist Party had supported a Welsh Assembly from 1936-37 in the 1937 pamphlet by Idris Cox, “The people Can Save South Wales”.  If the war had diverted attention, the 1945 All-Wales Congress boldly stated: “Wales needs to be treated as a nation, not only to enrich its language and culture, but to develop its rich natural and mineral wealth, to increase its productive forces, to revive its agriculture and to guarantee its future prosperity”.

In time, the Communist Party would also emerge as the main driving force in the demand for a Wales Trades Union Congress.

Michael Walker

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