Born Charles Leonard Gibbons on November 23rd 1888, he was a protégé of Noah Ablett, co-author of `The Miners’ Next Step’. Gibbons was a member of the Unofficial Reform Committee and the
Having been committed to a home for destitute children in
One evening in 1909, he happened to see a wall poster advertising a debate on the subject of working class education. At the end of the meeting, he was approached by Ablett, who had been impressed by his contributions to the discussion, and the next day he visited Ablett’s house in Porth. As a result, Gibbons was won over to the cause of independent workers’ education. Ablett recruited him to the local branch of the Plebs League, where he was introduced to Marxism.
Gibbons became a skilful lecturer; by 1913, he was able to teach four classes, in Sale, Hyde, Openshaw and Salford, which attracted 100 students. In the spring of 1914, Gibbons arrived back in the Rhondda, where he assisted in editing `The
Due to his difficulty in finding work, Gibbons enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps, seeing service in
Gibbons then secured election as checkweigher at the
Gibbons’ contributions to the convention showed that his views had ossified as syndicalist as distinct from the Leninist conception of soviets as the basis of political power. Like many in the minority, Gibbons was not convinced over the need for parliamentary participation and Communist affiliation to the Labour Party.
Whatever the possible future course of Gibbons’ involvement in the Communist Party, he probably did not join the new Ferndale branch of the Party, formed immediately after the convention, since he now left South Wales to lecture in industrial history for the Liverpool Labour College.
In the spring of 1921 financial problems forced the college to dispense with Gibbons’ services, and he returned to
Gibbons then worked briefly as assistant publicity agent for Cardiff Corporation; then he was employed by the
Gibbons’ appointment was not without incident, though, for a district committee meeting voted to accept the nomination of a Communist Party member, William Joss. Millar, who was intent on restricting the number of Communists working for the NCLC, attempted to overturn this decision, accusing an activist then a member of the Communist Party named Eva Harris of packing the meeting. He was unsuccessful, and the selection was eventually reduced to a straight choice between Joss and Gibbons. Miss Harris’s objections to Gibbons "on account of his being in the army" did not, however, prevent his selection by a substantial majority. He took up his post in August. Later Eva Harris sufficiently overcame her aversion to Gibbons to become his wife!
Within the NCLC, Gibbons acted as a loyal supporter of J.P.M. Millar. After 1926 Gibbons rejected his earlier syndicalist views, joining the Labour Party and working on occasion as an election agent. Gibbons was an organizer for the NCLC in Scotland until 1945, when he became an examiner in the NCLC’s postal course department, and held a role as a stern administrative controller of errant leftist NCLC organisers. He died in March 1967.
Source: Bob Pitt, Llafur (1989)
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