Born on the 21st January 1894, Roland V Walton was a member of Leicester Secular Society (a body founded in 1851), as early as 1912. A remarkable body, which is still going, Walton remained a member for the rest of his days.
In the early 1920s, he was a Trades Council delegate from the leatherworkers’ union. This would probably be what later went by the title of National Union of Glovers and Leatherworkers.
(The NUGL lasted until 1971, when it combined with the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives and other leatherworkers’ unions to form the National Union of Footwear, Leather and Allied Trades (NUFLAT). This later merged with the hosiery workers, which in turn merged into today’s `Community’ union.)
Walton was a member of the British Socialist Party and then become a member of the Communist Party along with most other members of the BSP.
In 1932, he was censured by the Trades Council, by 30 votes to 15, for conducting a meeting in opposition to the Trades Council's official May Day platform. He was a Communist local election candidate in 1932, when he stood in Newton ward, gaining 105 votes.
During the 1930s, he was very active in the anti-fascist movement.
An activist in the Co-operative movement for all of his adult life, in 1937, having suddenly left the Communist Party, Walton was unexpectedly elected as president of the Leicester Co-operative Party, although he remained active in Friends of Russia and similar organisations.
This brief moment of possible opportunism apart, probably resulting in a lenghty involvement in the local Co-op structures, his future activity is unclear until we know of his continued activity on the Trades Council in the 1970s. He was also then regularly attending meetings of the Leicester Secular Society. A luminary of LSS in recalling past events of the society recounted how “stood up every week … to address the Society … (and) used to relate (his comments) to some extent to what had been talked about by the lecturer, but he always used to make the point that Lenin had been smuggled through Germany during the First World War in a sealed train to launch the Russian Revolution. This for some reason he always mentioned … eccentric old guy"; no doubt this obsession of connecting all and anything to what he saw as mendaciousness made Walton feel happier about his own pre-war desertion of Marxism.
Walton died in February 1986.
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