The British Communist Party and the Trade Unions, 1933-1945

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This is a pathbreaking book, essential reading for students of interwar political and social history. Previous histories of the period have underestimated the crucial role which Communists played in trade union organisation from top to bottom. Despite its relatively small size the Communist Party occupied a strategic place in the trade union movement: the leaders of the movement, notably Ernest Bevin, refused to acknowledge this at the time. Thanks to her extensive research and numerous interviews, and to the 'opening of the books' of the Communist Part, Nina Fishman has been able to uncover a fascinating story, one which official Communist historians have never told, and which other historians could only recount in fragments. The main protagonists are the Communist Party General Seretary, Harry Pollitt, and the Editor of the Daily Worker, Johnny Campbell. The book brings to vivid life the work of activists on the shop floor and in the coalmines during the Depression and the Second World War. The book includes the first comprehensive analysis of Communist activity in key sectors of the British economy, notably in engineering shop stewards' movements and among London busmen. It concludes with an authoritative review of Communists' part in the British war economy and a vigorous challenge to the conventional wisdom about the effect of Communist Party changes of line on the war on activists' abilities to incite and lead strikes.

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