Communist history

History CP early 50s early 60s



After its defeat in the early 1950s, a process of its leading politicians beginning to simply follow the same broad ideological thrust as the Tories had seemingly delivered the electoral party of the working class virtually wholesale to Tory politics.

A left opposition of sorts did exist in the Parliamentary Labour Party but it was very much focused on leading individuals. Nye Bevan had been clearly on the left in the House of Commons during the war. After the landslide Labour victory in the 1945 general election, he was appointed Minister of Health, responsible for establishing the National Health Service. In 1951, Bevan was moved to become Minister of Labour and National Service. Shortly afterwards he resigned from the government in protest at the introduction of prescription charges for dental care and spectacles. His resignation, along with others was in protest at Chancellor, Hugh Gaitskell’s, introduction of charges imposed in order to meet the financial demands imposed by the Korean War. Bevan effectively led the left wing of the Labour Party for the next five years.

In the meantime, and contrary to much retrospective suggestion, Tory politics began to shift away from the war-time consensus. In 1953, the end to the BBC’s monopoly on broadcasting was signalled with the passing of legislation that would result in the appearance of ITV. The same year, sweet rationing but not sugar rationing ended, followed the next year by the complete abolition after fourteen years of food rationing in Britain when restrictions on the sale and purchase of meat and bacon were finally lifted. Communists argued that all that the Tories had done was to “abolish rationing by the book – only to replace it by rationing by the purse”.  [Communist Party, `A policy for Britain: general election manifesto’, (1955)]



Dewar Moya

Moya Dewar was a school headmistress from Basingstoke, Hampshire who joined the Communist Party in 1948 and was active certainly until the late 1960s. Maya had four children and was involved in various Communist Party […]

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Gralton Jim

Jim Gralton Jim Gralton was born in Effernagh close to Carrick on Shannon in County Leitrim on April 17 1886. His education, such as it was, was received in nearby Kiltoghert school. Like most young […]


Courcouf John

In the 1930s, John Courcouf first got involved in politics on being especially concerned about the rise of fascism. A veteran of the Battle of Cable Street, he joined the Communist Party, and fought in […]

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McCluskey Eddie

Eddie McCluskey   Born in Scotland in 1920, Eddie McCluskey was a prominent union convenor in post-war Coventry, where he had landed in pursuit of work in the immediate period after the war.   He […]


Chivers Len

Len Chivers  Len Chivers was a long-serving member of the Communist Party in south Wales. When he stood as a Communist Party candidate for Cwmtillery Ward in Abertillery in the early 1960s, he secured 986 […]


Marsland Terry

Terry Marsland was born Theresa Bailey on 6 July 1931 into a large family of Irish Liverpudlians, one of ten children.  In 1953, when she married Michael A Marsland, she married into a Communist family. She […]

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Marsden Eddie

Eddie Marsden Born in Openshaw into a staunchly working class family, Marsden was one of four brother and three sisters. He joined the Communist Party locally in his youth during the 1930s and was a […]

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Williamson John

John Williamson   John Williamson was born on June 23, 1903 in Glasgow, the son of a marine engineer. A woodworker and shipbuilder by trade, John had only had eight years of formal education before starting […]

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Williams Robert

Robert Williams   Williams `enjoyed’ one of the shortest periods of membership of the Communist Party but his collecting of a range of significant positions in a very short period makes it significant that his […]