Westwood, Jim Councillor

Councillor Jim Westwood

At the age of 23, he was already a President of his branch of the Amalgamated Engineering Union and a member of its District Committee. Westwood was elected a Labour councillor on Rowley Regis Urban District Council in 1931 and would go on to be Secretary of the Labour group on the council until 1940.

But increasing disillusionment over the attitude of the right wing in the labour movement over Spain and appeasement led him to seriously question Labour’s war policy in 1939. 

Then the decision by Rowley Regis council to sack an assistant, C Rogers, in the Borough Surveyors’ Department because of his strong Communist views seems to have been a last straw. The Mayor had asked the man if he “subscribed to King and British Constitution” and was dissatisfied with his evasive “Must I answer the question?”

Jack Blackburn (see separate entry) was District Architect for Rowley Regis UDC, which employed six Communist Party members in various job roles. A copy of the Daily Worker was found on council premises and all the Party members lost their jobs.  

Westwood was so disgusted with Labour’s compliance with the unfair dismissals, which seemed to him at one with Labour’s craven support for the Chamberlain government in its Phoney War that he joined the Communist Party and influenced many others to do so. A member of the Cradley Heath branch of the CP from 1940, he sat as a Communist councillor at least from June but probably joined much earlier and joined the Midlands District Committee of the Communist Party.

He was President of the local Trades Council from 1944 and wrote the CP pamphlet,  ‘Our Black Country: Its Past and Future’ in 1945. 

In the post war era, Westwood would often unsuccessfully contest municipal elections as a Communist in Rowley Regis but with a good proportion of the Labour vote, reflecting the local respect he had earned over many years.

Sources include: Birmingham Gazette, 1 October 1940; Daily Worker June 29 1940, October 29 1946;

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