2017 02 – Walter Citrine and Ernest Bevin (Part 1)

Leaders in the heyday of Britain’s unions:

Walter Citrine and Ernest Bevin (Part 1)

by Dr James Moher

Introduction

Walter Citrine (1887-1983) is largely forgotten today, apart from for his indispensable guide to the conduct of meetings, the ABC of Chairmanship. Yet, along with Ernest Bevin, he was a towering figure in the Trades Union Congress and Labour Party at the height of their twentieth century power and influence in British society. The contrast with the position of today’s TUC and Labour Party is stark, so it may be useful to learn how they did it.

Bevin is remembered as a giant but Citrine has gone completely out of favour. There are a number of reasons for this but the main one seems to be that he was caricatured by opponents as a ‘grey, predictable, apparatchik figure’, ‘the super-bureaucrat’. Aneurin Bevan’s sneer about Citrine, ‘poor man, he suffers from files’, was typical of the way in which he and others, like Michael Foot, sought to belittle someone whose vision and role was different from theirs.1

After the war, Citrine retired from the TUC, whereas Bevin held high Cabinet office as Foreign Secretary from 1945 until 1951. Bevin’s achievements were deservedly but uncritically lauded by no less than three biographers soon after his death.2 His close relationship with Clement Attlee ensured that he was given most of the credit for the unions’ sterling role in the war effort. Though more ‘right-wing’ than Citrine, Bevin’s prominence and achievements made him simply too big a target for ‘the Left’ to take on.

Citrine’s equally major contribution to government during the war as TUC General Secretary, Privy Counsellor and world-wide Plenipotentiary (which we will see), soon faded in the public mind and he had no one to sing his praises once he left the Labour scene. Worse still7, when the unions shifted leftwards from the late 1950s, it was Citrine who became ‘fair game’ for those who thought they knew much better.

There have been recent attempts to redress the balance with valuable re-assessments of Citrine’s life and times.3 In revisiting Citrine’s achievement in a chapter of a forthcoming book,4 the writer recalls his and Bevin’s significant achievement in taking the trade unions (and the Labour Party) ‘from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street’.

 

Early lives

Walter McLennan Citrine (1887-1983) was born in Wallasey, on Wirral, into a seafaring family. He left school aged twelve in 1899 for dusty and heavy work in a local flourmill. In 1901, his father, a ship’s rigger and pilot on the River Mersey, got him an apprenticeship as an electrician. He qualified in 1906 working round the Mersey and south Lancashire. An autodidact from his early days, he acquired ‘the dictionary habit’ early on by studying and memorising the meaning of words.

He took night classes in economics and accounting, and taught himself shorthand – a skill that would stand him in good stead throughout his life. He also became deeply interested in electrical theory’ (the cutting edge of technology then). This ability to reason in such abstract matters and to write lucidly, marked Citrine out as a new type of professional when he got involved in union affairs. 5

When Beatrice Webb visited him in 1927 she told him, ‘you are the first intellectual who has held such a responsible position in the trade union movement’. Though he didn’t take the ‘intellectual’ tag as a compliment, having a poor opinion of many of those in and around the labour movement at the time.6 Nonetheless, it was his analytical and very rational mind which marked him out throughout his union life and it may well explain why Bevin and he were never close, though hugely complementary in their partnership at the head of the unions.

 

Formative influences

Although his father was an active Merseyside Conservative Unionist, the young Walter was more influenced by his socialist workmates and he imbibed the classic Marxist texts, including Value Price and Profit, and Capital at an early age. These seem to have had some impact, though he was never a communist. It was the ‘street socialism’ of the time, especially Robert Blatchford’s ‘Merrie England’ and ‘the Clarion’ that got him involved in the left-wing, Independent Labour Party from the early 1900s. He was soon giving talks to fellow union and ILP members in Wallasey, where he stood unsuccessfully for Labour in the 1918 general election.

However, Citrine’s ambitions were soon channelled into more occupational pursuits. He joined the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) in 1911 and soon became a leading local official. Although that union had a distinctly craft bias, Citrine, with his strong socialist outlook, developed a much broader industrial philosophy. He was attracted to some of the ideas of the popular syndicalism (industrial unionism and ‘direct action’) of the time. By 1914, as chair of the District Committee, he had led the entire Merseyside membership in a nationwide ETU strike. He was elected as their first full-time district official soon after, and was exempted from war service. Although he doesn’t say much about it, he was probably opposed to the war, like most of the ILP.  Although not his and other industrial unions.

 

The ‘A.B.C. of Chairmanship’

His famous handbook grew from notes he produced as a guide to procedures at meetings for his Merseyside activists. In 1914 the ETU adopted it nationally in their rule-book. An expanded version for all other unions called ‘The Labour Chairman’ would later become the ABC of Chairmanship. Many generations of union activists and leaders owe a lot to that little Citrine ‘bible’, as Alan Johnson MP has recently confirmed.7

The ETU grew significantly during the First World War, (from 3,000 to almost 60,000 by 1920), through organizing the semi-skilled grades flooding into the war-time factories. Before the war the union had a tough time in being recognized for bargaining purposes. Citrine, who was re-elected District Secretary unopposed in 1917, was part of this advance, both as an organizer and negotiator with many of the electrical contracting employers around the Mersey. He also became Secretary and President of the Federation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades (FEST), and so was a well-known figure in the wider trade union movement.

He says that he learned a lot from negotiating with some of the large Merseyside employers, such as Cammel Laird and Port Sunlight, developing a less aggressive approach than the traditional ‘platform style of delivery’ then common. He found that developing ‘continuing relationships’ was the best means of extending the process of collective bargaining, ‘based on good faith on both sides’.8

In 1920, he was elected Assistant General Secretary of the ETU, then based in Manchester and held this post until 1923, both as a negotiator and administrator. One of his key achievements was to reform the notoriously inefficient, and occasionally corrupt, lay branch officer administration and financial system, by centralizing the collection and disbursement of contributions and expenses.

The ETU President, at the time, Jack Ball, said that with his system of centralized finance, Citrine ‘saved the union’. He was encouraged to apply for the vacant position of Assistant General Secretary of the TUC in 1923 and from hundreds of applicants he emerged successful, to start in 1924.

This solid union background outline is important to counter the sneer that Citrine was merely some backroom TUC bureaucrat. He was a ‘civil servant’ of the General Council, but because of his all-round ‘brilliant’ skills was given considerable responsibility for a wide range of policy as well as administrative matters. This was the secret of the authority he came to command.

 

Ernest Bevin (1881-1951), was born in a Somerset village, father unknown. His mother died when he was eight. His formal education was also elementary. Moving to Bristol, ‘a stronghold of Non-Conformity’, his formative development was along theological lines as a fervent Baptist preacher until his early twenties. He switched to politics from 1906, becoming active in the Bristol Socialist Society, an affiliate of the Marxist Social Democratic Federation. Nonetheless, Bevin’s socialism was said to be more ‘more than economic’, carrying over ‘much that Nonconformity had taught him into his socialism and trade unionism’.9 These eclectic ideological influences were to mark an individualistic outlook. He was never hidebound by a party line and often struck out in imaginative directions. Interestingly, ‘he did not like the ILP too well’, which Citrine was drawn to about the same time.10

He was at first drawn to unemployment ‘Right to Work’ campaigns and municipal politics. He stood for Bristol Council in 1909, unsuccessfully, on a programme of ‘common ownership of the means of life’. He had a variety of unskilled jobs – even opened his own Café – until he fixed on being a carter to join the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Workers Union Dockers’ union in 1910, at the quite mature age of twenty-nine.

He was immediately elected as chairman of the cabmen’s branch, directing his already formidable organizing skill to the casually employed carters and dockers, with great effect. In 1911 he became one of its full-time officials on £2 a week. And in 1914 became one of three National Organisers, stepping onto the national union and Labour scene, from his Bristol base.

By 1920, six years Citrine’s senior, Bevin had become Assistant General Secretary of the Dockers Union and moved to London. He soon started to make a name for himself with his leadership of the Councils of Action movement which prevented the government exporting arms to Poland on the Jolly George to assist the anti-Soviet Union forces there.11

Here was direct industrial action for political ends in classic syndicalist style. Yet Bevin was no syndicalist. More characteristic was his forensic presentation and advocacy of the dockers’ wage claim to the Shaw Inquiry into dock labour that same year, which earned him massive publicity and the title Dockers KC. 12

At the same time he became the butt of communist-inspired attacks in his union over their failure to call out the dockers and road transport workers in support of the miners on Black Friday, 15th April 1921.

As a result, the Triple Industrial Alliance and the syndicalist-led Transport Workers Federation, of which he was an Executive member, fell apart. No slouch about pursuing ‘the industrial class war’, Bevin had come to regard such poorly organized and uncoordinated attempts to drag his members into serious battles with Capital and the State, as poor generalship.

He was already turning his attention to the more realizable task of building the ‘One Big Union’ which would more effectively deliver for his members. In 1922, the fourteen unions were merged to form the Transport & General Workers Union, with over 350,000 members.

Its structure of regional and trade group autonomy under a strong central General Executive Council proved effective in holding together this massive and disparate formation. Citrine admired this ‘original and flexible’ creation13 and Bevin easily emerged as the strongest candidate to lead it. His leadership style, though described as ‘popular bossdom’ by some, put him and his union on the wider map of the labour movement.14

He would go on to grow this union throughout the 1920s to becoming the largest TUC affiliate, with aggressive recruiting drives and astute mergers.

So Citrine and Bevin were very different types. One sought to devote his skills to making the TUC ‘the general staff’ of an effectively coordinated union ‘army’, while the other sought to build a position of power by organizing a large new battalion in that TUC ‘army’. Bevin didn’t help to make the General Council a more powerful body so that it could lord it over the large regiments that he and others – Miners, Engineers, Rail and General & Municipal workers – led. Those tensions would come to the surface periodically between the two men, but they were never allowed to distract from their common purpose until the war years.

 

The Trades Union Congress

Well before he became a TUC official, Citrine was pushing ideas for the reform of its Parliamentary Committee. The role of that committee had been primarily to lobby Parliament for legislative change, a function they were quite good at – Trade Disputes Act 1906, Trade Union Act 1913, political funding and reform of the amalgamation law- but it was coming under widespread pressure to take on an industrial coordinating role. In 1919 as an ETU delegate to the Glasgow TUC Conference, Citrine had intervened in the debate on the conduct of the prison officer and police strikes, critical of the Parliamentary Committee’s failure to support them.

In 1920, he put a proposal to the Daily Herald ‘for endowing the TUC with greater powers’ and wanted it to evolve into ‘a general staff for labour’. It wasn’t published, but he was later ‘staggered’ when ‘proposals not very different from my own were featured in the Herald over the name of Ernest Bevin.’ 15 Bevin was a leading member of the Daily Herald Board, but Citrine did not accuse him of plagiarizing his ideas.

They had met at the Glasgow Conference, when Bevin was complimentary about his speech. Interestingly, they were both thinking along the same lines. The difference was that it was Bevin who had the clout to bring about change.

The Parliamentary Committee was replaced in 1921 by a General Council of thirty, elected annually by the affiliated unions in seventeen industrial groups, and from there until the General Strike in 1926 they were pressing for, and getting, more power from the jealously autonomous unions. The General Secretary’s position was made full-time and MPs were barred from taking it on as a casual responsibility, as had been the case.

When he came to be interviewed for the AGS position in 1923, Citrine’s pitch fitted well with the radical mood and ambition of the new left-led General Council of union leaders.16 Bevin didn’t actually take his union’s place there until October 1925, which coincided with Citrine’s promotion to Acting General Secretary on the death of Fred Bramley.

As a ‘new boy’ in London ‘from the provinces’ Citrine was immediately thrown into the world of tough union leaders, ‘most of them had come up the hard way’ and so ‘carried their directness of speech and tenacity of purpose with them’.

As Citrine put it: “Ernest Bevin was one of these. He was not at the time a member of the General Council, but, early on, Fred Bramley described him as Napoleon Bevin. The description was not far out, whether it related to his features or character. Bevin’s approach to a subject was always constructive and yet, side by side with this, he was the finest drawer of ‘red herrings’ that I ever met. It was fascinating to listen to him in argument. When he felt he had a weak case he could divert a discussion so adroitly that no one could detect where the switch had taken place….I regarded him from the first as one of the strongest, if not the strongest, personal forces in the trade union movement.”17

However, they did not immediately get off ‘on the right foot’. They clashed openly on the General Council in 1926 when Bevin attacked Citrine’s Research Officer Walter Milne Bailey, for publishing an article in an American journal about the General Strike. The staff threatened to ‘down tools’ until he apologized. Some chance, from Bevin! However, Citrine came into the meeting and tore into Bevin, saying he wanted to be associated with the staff’s protest.

Bevin reacted characteristically by storming out claiming ‘I always knew the secretary had his knife in for me’. Citrine was worried that that spat had lost him the T&GWU’s support when he came to be elected as substantive General Secretary the following September at Congress. In fact, it did not.

On reflection Bevin respected the courage and quality of the Council’s new senior officer who was able and prepared to stand up to him.18 This incident reveals a key feature of their productive relationship over the following two decades, though they would never become close ‘mates’.

 

The ‘Labour Movement’

This was a vibrant but by no means coherent or fully integrated ‘movement’, but they had settled with a stronger TUC rather than the failed Triple Alliance of Black Friday. At its heart was a heavily unionised industrial working class, spearheaded by the miners (MFGB) with over a million members, the rail workers (NUR/ASLEF) around 1million, the road transport, dock, general and municipal workers (T&GWU and NUGMW) in the high hundreds of thousands; and hundreds of thousands of skilled engineering, electrical and shipbuilding workers (AEU, ETU and Boilermakers). Although predominantly male and ‘blue-collar’, there were also sizeable female and white-collar sections – textile workers, shop assistants, clerks and others. In all, about 6 million up to 1926 in over 200 unions affiliated to the TUC. With many other small unions not in the TUC.19

The unions and socialist societies had also created an increasingly successful political Labour party from 1900 onwards to campaign for liberal laws which gave maximum freedom to organize and strike.

As it developed, they secured the right to use a part of their considerable funds to bankroll the party for their political purposes and to support it in many other ways, using their organizational skills and the political drive of their activists at all levels.

The Labour Party achieved astonishing electoral success in a relatively short time. It grew from just hundreds of thousands of votes in its breakthrough year of the 1906 general election with 29 MPs, to over four and a half million and 191 MPs in the 1923 election. Coinciding with Citrine’s arrival in 1924, the Parliamentary leadership formed the first, albeit minority, Labour government.

Yet this Labour ‘movement’ was not at all clear, except in programmatic terms, where it was going. It had plenty of policies to change society but no detailed idea of what it wanted to do when it found itself in government, as became increasingly possible by the end of 1923. A divided Tory government fell and the Liberals were split, enabling a minority Labour Party to take office in February 1924.

The Parliamentary leadership, led by Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937) – a former ILP left-winger who had ‘been there at the creation’ – just wanted to establish their credentials to govern. Despite their fragile position, the left-led TUC and union leaders such as Bevin, expected ‘their’ party to deliver substantial gains for their members. If not the socialist dream immediately. Their differences and social distance were to prove irreconcilable, and MacDonald kept the TUC ‘at arms length’.

Citrine, who had just joined the TUC in January 1924 as the new Assistant General Secretary (AGS), was invited to address the Parliamentary Labour Party at a House of Commons dinner in place of his boss, Fred Bramley, who was ill again.

He struck a critical note by openly referring to the lack of close collaboration between the government and the TUC. He went on to say that the TUC, which had a different membership and function from the Labour Party, would ‘occasionally express a different view’.

This declaration of independence did not go down at all well with MacDonald or his PLP colleagues, but it reflected his General Council’s attitude.20 Up to then, the Parliamentary Committee had left politics to the Labour leadership, but a different mood was now prevalent at the TUC.

The following year they would separate offices formally, as Bramley and Citrine set up their own Research, Publicity and International departments to develop and promote an independent line. Whilst this was borne out of left-wing dissatisfaction on the General Council with current Labour policy, Citrine would cement the distance now established as a principle for the future. That would have enormous future significance.

Immediately and more seriously, Bevin, as T&GWU General Secretary, riled MacDonald and his Ministers when he authorized two major strikes – the dockers nationwide and London tram workers- soon after the Labour Government had taken office. Bevin was not prepared to defer what he described as the ‘economic war’ or compromise his members’ claims.

This may have been on account of internal unofficial militant pressures on his T&GWU leadership, but it also reflected Bevin’s philosophic outlook. He had no sympathy with those, like Mac Donald, who sought ‘to broaden the Labour Party’s role of political agent of the trade unions into that of an independent national party’. 21

MacDonald invoked the Emergency Powers Act with the intention of bringing in troops to run the trams, a move which naturally outraged Bevin and the TUC. The dispute was settled on the union’s terms, before it came to actual deployment of troops, but it hugely embarrassed the infant Labour government and started an enduring bitterness between Bevin and MacDonald, who accused him of disloyalty.22

Surprisingly, Citrine had little to say about that important episode of the first Labour Government and the unions, apart from his talk to the PLP, which may have reflected some unease about the unions’ role in the downfall of the Labour government. The minority government fell after only eight months, triggered by the Daily Mail’s publication of the fabricated Zinoviev Letter, which purported to incite disaffection amongst British soldiers. The return of a majority Tory government in the ensuing general election, also owed much to the unions’ disaffection.

 

The General Strike

While his initial brief was mainly administrative, the indisposition of his boss, Fred Bramley, meant Walter Citrine was increasingly called on to deputize in wider matters. He impressed the senior General Council members such as the left-wing President, Alf Purcell MP, who he relied on for advice in Bramley’s absence.

An indication of his standing and outlook was a personal invitation to visit the Soviet Union by the powerful leader of the Russian unions, and Politburo member, Mikhail Tomsky (1880-1936). Tomsky was in London for critical Anglo-Soviet trade negotiations and was invited to address the TUC Congress at Hull in September 1924. It was from this visit that Citrine was suddenly recalled in October 1925 to become Acting GS when Bramley died from a heart attack. He had hardly time ‘to draw his breath’ when the left-led TUC was thrust into the thick of the biggest and most dramatic industrial and political confrontation of the twentieth century.

Citrine was present throughout the meetings of the General Council and of the TUC negotiations with the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, on behalf of the miners and coal-owners, though only in an officerial capacity. The strike lasted nine days in glorious May weather involving over four million workers throughout the country. Although enthusiastic in pursuit of the action, Citrine was not impressed by the lack of preparation by the TUC leaders in charge.

He had advised this in committee beforehand, but was ignored. In fact, they had never intended that it would come to a strike, expecting the government to pressurize the coal-owners into a compromise by the threat of such action. As they had done in 1925, ‘Red Friday’, with Bevin’s T&G actively prepared to halt the movement of coal. 23. This was again a form of extra-parliamentary action by the Miners Federation, the T&G, NUR and TUC, signalling the trade unions’ attempt to pressurize the government directly.

But this time they gravely miscalculated. As the strongest union with a deeply empathetic cause and a messianic-type leader in Arthur (A.J.) Cook, the Miners Federation were able to push an excited London conference of all union Executives to demand, and an unresisting General Council to call, a general strike. It would start on Tuesday May 4th 1926.

The government’s initial stance was to continue discussions with the TUC for a negotiated settlement, but their mood hardened as the solid nature of the stoppages throughout the country dispelled any notion of a compromise settlement, with both the miners’ leaders and the coal-owners ‘digging in’ for a long and most disruptive confrontation.

An increasingly hawkish Tory Cabinet, with Churchill to the fore, began treating the strike as a constitutional challenge and prepared to use military force unless the TUC called it off. The General Council, including Bevin, felt that they had no alternative in those circumstances. It was left for Citrine and the TUC President to deliver their capitulation.

Despite Citrine’s emphasis on the positives, there was no escaping the scale of the defeat and humiliation for the TUC and later the miners. It is an indication of Citrine’s support for the strike that he was not blamed by the miners’ leaders and he was elected General Secretary at the annual Congress in September 1926, with their support. Bevin’s view of the strike was more bleak saying, ‘we have committed suicide.’24

We have dwelt on this titanic event at length as it was a watershed in the fortunes of the Labour movement and in the careers of Citrine and Bevin. Despite the undoubted fiasco of ‘the Great Strike’, it had been an amazing display of solidarity and protest by the British working class, which had sent a ripple down the spines of all other classes in Britain.

When Citrine brought the news to the Cabinet that they were going to call it off, Baldwin expressed genuine relief – ‘I thank God for your decision’. In his 1927 New Year message, George V appealed for reconciliation and this was endorsed by all the political leaders and many employers. But this didn’t stop the Conservative Party and their angry employer supporters in the country, MPs and Ministers, seeking revenge.

However, the Trade Disputes and Trade Union Act of 1927, which they passed, did not include much of their atavistic desires to roll back union rights beyond the landmark 1906 Trade Disputes Act. Perhaps due to Baldwin’s moderating influence. Nevertheless, the TUC acted as if the government had reverted to the Combination laws. It gave Citrine and the TUC a useful rallying point to restore morale from the depression induced by the defeat of the strike itself.

Nevertheless, the ‘Great Strike’ had changed the outlook of Walter Citrine, Ernest Bevin and of many more on the union and Labour side. All illusions about bringing down the ‘Walls of Jericho’ through syndicalist action, which had had a strong purchase on the minds of union activists like them since the turn of the century, were dispelled.25 Things would never be the same again.

 

The Comintern assault

Britain’s trade union leaders were put on the defensive after the defeat of the General Strike, getting most of the blame for the TUC’s alleged ‘betrayal’. The Communist International (The Comintern, founded in 1919 by Lenin) was then a serious force globally, especially in the national trade unions, through the ‘Red International of Labour Unions’ (RILU). In Britain it operated through a CPGB front organization known as the National Minority Movement (or NMM).

Excited by the prospect of revolution in Britain in the run up to the General Strike, the Comintern leaders sought to exploit discontent among the defeated miners and Left-led sections of other unions. They attacked the TUC frontally and union leaders generally. This was not measured criticism either. The union leaders, Bevin included, were reviled ‘as traitors, renegades and capitalist lackeys’.

The NMM’s slogan was, ‘Don’t Trust Your Leaders’ and that was the tenor of their dirty campaign.26 Even those General Council union leaders on the Left, such as Alonzo Swales (AEU), Alf Purcell (Furniture Trades) and George Hicks (Construction), were disgusted and angry. But the communists met their match when the new TUC General Secretary and his Council fought back vigorously.

When he became President of the International Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) in 1927, Citrine learned from the other countries’ union leaders how such tactics had split and mortally weakened the Labour movement in Europe.27 Bevin experienced it at first hand in his own T&GWU. Communist-led activists again exploited tensions between militant ‘rank-and-file’ groups, for example in the London bus section, and the union leadership, as they had done in 1921.28

Characteristically, Citrine did his homework and put together the evidence of  ‘a deliberately organised attempt .. made to capture the Trade Union Movement and to exploit it for a revolutionary subversive purpose’. He published this as a personal view. Initially in a series of articles for the Labour Magazine, but they were soon taken up and issued by the General Council as an official TUC pamphlet. 29

It was a pretty compelling case and contributed to the marginalisation of communists in most of the British unions for a decade. Citrine thought that many individual communists, such as Harry Pollitt and Arthur Horner, were genuine in their beliefs, but by slavishly following the Comintern’s line, he felt that they had greatly ‘overplayed their hand’.30

Confirmation of this Comintern design is now admitted even by scholars sympathetic to the British communists’ side of things.31 Between 1926 and 1937, about 150 British ‘alumni’ of the Lenin School in Moscow, became ‘the most extreme of the intrusions by the Third International, the Comintern … of a trained, responsive and carefully vetted cohort of revolutionary activists.’ 32

Citrine’s anti-communism was therefore not primarily ideological, but a reaction to what he saw as an underhand campaign to undermine union leaders’ position with their members, which he saw as both divisive and disruptive. A strong supporter of the Russian Revolution for nearly a decade after they had taken power, ‘I had been enthused by Lenin’s picture of an electric republic…[which] would ensure to every citizen… the advantages of a planned economy and the blessings of a modern civilisation’.33

He had eagerly accepted Tomsky’s invitation to visit the Soviet Union in 1925. He had been actively involved with IFTU President Purcell’s efforts to establish a link between the  Russian unions and the IFTU until ‘a torrent of abuse’ (in a 1,000 word telegram to the 1926 Congress and a RILU pamphlet), over the TUC conduct of the General Strike, ended those close relations. [Men and Work, 88-94].

He would go to the Soviet Union again in 1935, 1941, 1946 and 1956. He retained a keen interest, warm feeling but outspokenly critical attitude for what he saw as the first socialist experiment in a workers’ state, whilst being in no doubt about the increasingly totalitarian nature of the Communist regime.

Click here for Part 2.

1 Michael Foot’s adulatory two volume biography of Aneurin Bevan (1962), especially volume 1, 178, 287 and 298-306, is full of such jibes.

2 Trevor Evans, Ernest Bevin, (1946), Francis Williams, Ernest Bevin, Portrait of a Great Englishman, (1952) and Lord Alan Bullock, The Life and Times of Ernest Bevin, vol.1 Trade Union Leader 1881-1940, (1960).

3 Robert Taylor’s The TUC: From the General Strike to New Unionism (2000),20- 91 and N.Riddell, Walter Citrine and the British Labour Movement 1925-1935, History journal, April 2000, 298-306 .

4 Alternatives to State-Socialism in Britain – Other Worlds of Labour in the Twentieth Century (edited by Peter Ackers & Alastair J. Reid), 2017, Palgrave.

5 Although there is no biography of Citrine, he has left us a marvelous two- volume memoir based on his contemporary short-hand notes – Men and Work (1964) and ‘Two Careers’ (1967).

6 Citrine, Men and Work, 270.

7 Alan Johnson, Please Mr Postman, (2014), 152-3,245-6 and again in The Long and Winding Road, (2016), 193-4.

8 Citrine, Men and Work, 51.

9 Bullock, Ernest Bevin, Trade Union Leader, 9 & 14.

10 ibid., 1-23.

11 Bullock, Ernest Bevin, Trade Union Leader, 130-8.

12 ibid., 116-130.

13 Citrine, Men and Work, 71.

14 Andrew Murray, The T&G Story, (2008), 44.

15 Citrine, Men and Work, 67.

16 ibid., 74-5.

17 ibid.,78. Praise indeed, written with fondness in 1964.

18 ibid., 235.

19 H.Pelling, A History of British Trade Unionism, (1963), 260-3.

20 Citrine, Men and Work, 79.

21 Bullock, Ernest Bevin – Trade Union Leader, 255.

22 ibid., 236-43;255-7. 23 ibid., 270-8.

24 Murray, The T&G Story, 52-3.

25 Hugh Clegg, A History of British Trade Unions since 1889 (1989), vol. II, 1911- 1933, 455.

26 R. Martin, Communism and the British Trade Unions 1924-1933, (Oxford, 1969), Preface, v and 188.

27 Citrine, Men and Work, 90-4.

28 Bullock, Ernest Bevin –Trade Union Leader, 143-179; 521-4, 612-4.

29 W. Citrine, Democracy or Disruption – An Examination of Communist Influences in the Trade Unions, (1928 –TUC Library HX 695).

30 Citrine, Men and Work, 253 and 257. Pollitt’s Reply to Citrine was published by the N.M.M.

31 Our late colleague, Professor Nina Fishman’s The British Communist Party and the Trade Unions (1995), though focused on the later 1933-45 period, in the introductory chapter stressed how Pollitt and Campbell sought to move the CPGB away from its earlier adventurism (pages 4-9).

32 K.Morgan & G.Cohen, Stalin’s Sausage Machine – British Students at the International Lenin School 1926-1937, (University of Manchester CPGB Biographical Project).

33 Citrine, Men and Work, 88.

Advertisements