2018 02 – British Trade Unionists in the Soviet Union in 1925 (2)

British Trade Unionists and the Soviet Union:
the visit of Walter Citrine in 1925.  Part Two

by Dr J.  G.  Moher

In Part 1, we explained the significance of Walter Citrine’s 1925 visit to the USSR.  As the new Assistant General Secretary of the TUC, he had impressed the leader of the All-Russian Central Council of Trade Unions (ARCCTU), Mikhail Tomsky and so was invited personally to visit, along with a very pro-Soviet senior General Council member, George Hicks, General Secretary of the Building Trades union (AUBTW).  Though not official, it wasn’t just a personal visit.  It arose from their contacts on the recently established Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Committee (ARJAC).  This committee was the response of the General Secretary, Fred Bramley and his left-wing General Council leaders to broker unity between the Russian unions and the International Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU).  Citrine was Bramley’s new number two, who was also very much up for the project and it may be that, given the very poor state of Bramley’s health, he (and Purcell) developed a firm commitment to the Anglo-Russian union cause which they had embraced, by seeing the Soviet Union at first hand.  A central issue between them and their continental IFTU Executive colleagues,[1] was whether Tomsky and the Russian TUC were an independent body within the USSR, representative of an immature but genuine union movement or, as the continentals and the western establishment believed, a purely political (Bolshevist) body, bent on subverting international trade unionism in the cause of revolutionary communism.  In Tomsky’s case, the truth seemed to lie somewhere between these extremes.

Like many on the left at that time, Citrine, a member of the firm but not communist left, Independent Labour Party since his early days in Liverpool and Manchester, went to Russia very sympathetic to the Russian Revolution and the new Soviet Union.  He wrote, ‘I had been enthused by Lenin’s picture of an electric republic, organised on such lines as would ensure to every citizen, however humble, the advantages of a planned economy and the blessings of modern civilization.[2]  Yet he was not ideologically wedded to the Marxist-Leninist type of socialism which had come to power in the Soviet Union.  Citrine also always insisted on speaking his mind.  On this trip, he often differed from his more Marxist-minded colleague, George Hicks, in his assessments and about how far to press his quite critical questions and arguments.  Hicks, then a fervent supporter of the Bolshevik government, once berated Citrine angrily as having ‘a damned cheek.’ ‘Here are these men who have gone through blood and fire, through a revolution, and you have the audacity to question them and criticize them’.[3] They had known each other since Citrine first came to London, and lived in Clapham in 1924, where Hicks was based as general secretary of the building trades union (AUBTW).  He was also a close associate of Purcell’s (they went back to their Industrial Syndicalist Educational League days) and they met frequently in the Clapham area, now with Citrine also, socially.[4] While Hicks must have at first wondered whether they were mistaken about Citrine, in the course of that trip they formed a firm friendship which would last for years’ afterwards on the General Council and after Hicks became MP for Woolwich East in 1930.

 

IV  Lenin

Perhaps the sharpest example of Citrine’s ‘damned cheek’ came over their exchanges, late one night, about Lenin, who had died in January 1924.  While discussing the relationship between the Communist Party and the trade union movement with Tomsky, who told him that he was also on the CPSU Central Committee inner circle, the Politburo, Citrine queried whether ‘it is wise to be too closely identified with the Communist Party.  Would it not be better to retain your independence?’ Tomsky replied that such independence was not possible in Russia as the leading trade unionists like him were all in the Communist Party and so ‘it is all one movement; there is no difference’.  Citrine persisted to argue that differences could arise, as in their experience with the British Labour government the previous year.  However, Tomsky maintained that in Britain ‘you have not got a Socialist State’ and that ‘we are the State’ and so it was not possible for differences of interest to arise.

Citrine did not leave it there but argued that nevertheless, ‘the workers should have an instrument like the trade unions to put forward their point of view’.  At that point, Tomsky’s young secretary ‘chimed in, with flashing eyes’, ‘But Lenin said that politics are concentrated economics’, which irritated Citrine as irrelevant to what they were discussing and so he “retorted rather warmly, that ‘Lenin was not Jesus Christ and he said so many contradictory things that if you put them side by side they would cancel out’.  A silence like a pall seemed to fall on everybody.  Evidently I had outraged the deity without recognising it”.  His hosts ‘sorrowfully bade me goodnight, like good comrades grieving over the apostasy of one whom they respected.”[5]  It passed over by the next day, but it brought home to Citrine and Hicks, how much of a ‘cult of Lenin’ had developed.  They had been struck by this previously – pictures, busts and statues everywhere, his chair in the Chamber of Commissars (the Soviet government) left vacant – and even Hicks remarked that ‘the best service that Lenin rendered to the Russian people was to die’, replacing the Orthodox God to worship in the churches![6] They later visited his tomb and laid a wreath.

The whole issue of the atheistic anti-religious crusade in the USSR, was a key source of anti-communist sentiment in the west, especially amongst the Tory diehards like Lord Curzon, but also touched a nerve for some Labour members.[7] It had started during the Civil War, when many Russian Orthodox Church priests, nuns and bishops sided with the Whites.  Many were slaughtered by local Bolsheviks and church property was seized, which can only have fuelled anti-communist feeling in the west.  Citrine had a long conversation in Balaclava by the Black Sea, with the Commissar and CPSU Central Committee member in charge, Yemelyan Yaroslavsky (1878-1943), but only tells us he told them of ‘the methods they had adopted in combatting religion’ in the villages.  This would have been worth recording but Citrine, though from a Liverpool/Scottish Presbyterian background, was not at all religious and so does not seem to have   probed Yaroslavsky’s conduct of an important and sometimes brutal episode of the revolution.  ‘anti-God Society’.[8]

V  Trotsky and Stalin

Citrine also had some interesting discussions with ARCCTU Organising Secretary, Gregoriy Mel’nichansky, about Lenin’s likely successor.  Citrine assumed that Trotsky would be the natural successor.  ‘I should have thought that he was the outstanding personality who would be chosen to succeed Lenin’ and ‘I entirely disbelieved the stories of the quarrels between the Communist leaders, particularly Lenin and Trotsky’.  However Mel’nichansky, who had known Trotsky as a boy in the Ukraine and later in Canada when they were both prisoners of war in 1917, shocked him by categorically dismissing Trotsky.  They all favoured Stalin, he said.  ‘Stalin is the stronger man of the two.  Trotsky is against the trade unions and is opposed to their policy.[9] We won’t support him’.  He also said that Trotsky was ‘not familiar’ (meaning he was ‘stand offish’), ‘you can’t feel that you can talk to him properly’.  Mel’nichansky (himself a Jew), also believed that the ‘strong feeling against the Jews in Russia’ would work against Trotsky’s chances.  He said that in the Russian TUC, they preferred Stalin, as ‘you can talk about anything to him and say what you like.  He doesn’t take offence.’ They thought him, ‘about the best we have got but he will never be a Lenin’, who was ‘a genius’.[10]

In fact, Trotsky was out of the running by 1925 (he would come back into the fray during 1926) and was not around during this visit.[11] They did sit near Stalin at a Bolshoi ballet performance though they did not converse and the General Secretary left early.  However, Citrine, (who was into judgement of character from facial appearances – physiognomy), observed him closely as ‘a rugged and rather simple sort of character.  Certainly his face had not the intellectuality about it that betokened the thinker, but on the other hand there was a good deal of determination to be seen in it.’ [12] Though Tomsky had promised them a meeting with the CPSU General Secretary, (then aged forty-seven), it never materialised.  This may have been because they were in the middle of the continuing power struggle within the inner circle for the leadership of the CPSU, though Citrine did not seem anxious to meet with Stalin.[13]

 

VI    Zinoviev and the Comintern

Citrine does record an interesting interview with Grigoriy Zinoviev in the Kremlin later on in October, before they left Russia.  His assessment of his character and guarded references to Zinoviev’s role in Soviet and international affairs are of interest.  Then aged forty-two, Zinoviev had been Head of the Communist International (‘the Comintern’) since its foundation in 1919 and was a key ally of Lenin (and initially Trotsky) in pursuing the Soviet strategy of ‘world revolution’ especially in Europe.  In this endeavour, they set up a Red International Trade Union Council in 1919, which became the Red International of Labour Unions (RILU or Profintern as it was also called) a year or so later.[14]  Lenin had never expected the revolution to succeed in just backward Russia and fondly expected it would soon spread to western Europe[15], especially Germany.  and Trotsky’s ‘permanent revolution’ theory is especially identified with this expectation.  Aleksander Lozovsky, an apparatchik with very limited trade union experience was appointed Secretary of ITUC/RILU.[16] He was a keen rival of Tomsky’s, the actual leader of the massive (c10 million members claimed) Central Council of Russian Trade Unions (ARCCTU) and was initially favoured by the Bolshevik leadership, though a broader ‘United Front’ strategy of working with non-communists had been agreed in 1921.[17]

Despite some short-lived Soviets in central Europe at the end of the war[18] and more recently, a bungled Comintern/German Communist Party (KPD) uprising in Saxony in March 1923[19], the Soviet leadership, Stalin and Tomsky especially, had come to the conclusion that these hopes of the revolution spreading would not be realised in the foreseeable future.[20] Zinoviev, who had opposed the United Front strategy, still retained illusions of revolutionary potential, had a major hand in that ‘idiotic’ German adventure (Lenin’s furious description of it), through his agents.  Perhaps to distract attention from their own responsibility for the fiasco, Zinoviev had switched their attention to Britain and was now openly claiming that the leftward–moving unions there portended significant revolutionary potential.[21]

The infamous ‘Zinoviev Letter’ of September 1924, widely now thought to be a forgery, was said to be his instruction as Head of the Comintern to the British communists ‘that cells should be formed in all units of the troops, amongst factories working on munitions, and at military store depots’, in preparation for revolution.[22]  Although it was probably a White Russian émigré forgery, the ‘Red Letter’ caused ‘a furore’, as it lent credibility to fears (not only right-wing) of Zinoviev/Comintern conspiracies,  like the recent German effort.  Citrine, like his TUC leadership superiors then, was also critical of Prime Minister MacDonald’s hesitant handling of the affair.  His Foreign Office delivered a protest to the Soviet attaché in London treating the ‘Red Letter’ as genuine, while MacDonald was campaigning in the general election in October.  [23]

In fact, the Zinoviev Letter had just ‘fanned the flames’ already set going in Parliament and the press over other anti-Russian/anti-communist issues.  It has been fairly said that, ‘The Russian treaty was the truly lethal cause’.  Opposition from the Liberals, on whose votes the government depended, to the Treaty’s favourable financial provisions, made it so.  They claimed that it was due ‘to Labour [Party] and trade union left’s last-minute intervention.’[24] Asquith tabled a resolution rejecting the treaty for early November.  The issue was made worse by the equally ‘cack-handed’ handling of an unauthorised prosecution of the communist Workers Weekly’s acting editor, J.  R.  Campbell, which enabled the Conservative leader, Stanley Baldwin to move a censure motion and the Liberal leader, Herbert Asquith to move for an enquiry.  MacDonald treated this as a matter of confidence and the Tories lined up behind the Liberal amendment to beat Labour by 359 votes to 198.  Parliament was prorogued and the election set for November 1st.  It was in this context that the equally poorly-handled ‘Zinoviev Red Letter’ became, in Citrine’s (and no doubt TUC) eyes ‘a principal factor’ in the fall of the Labour government.  It had been splashed across the Daily Mail (‘Moscow Order to our Reds.  Great Plot Disclosed Yesterday’) and the rest of the media, just before the election.[25]

 

VII   The TUC Left leadership

As General Secretary, Fred Bramley, (1874-1925),  ‘a rugged, stockily built, clean-shaven Yorkshireman’ and ILP left-winger but solidly Labour man, had always regarded Zinoviev and his Comintern’s ‘declamations on trade union matters’ as a liability.[26] He would say so ‘bluntly in Moscow in December 1924’.[27]     He was a cabinet-maker who became national organiser for the militant, National Amalgamated Furnishing Trades Association (NAFTA), a very small union, (c20,000).  He was elected to the TUC Parliamentary Committee (forerunner of the General Council) in 1915 and served until he was elected Assistant General Secretary in 1917.  This was probably due to his left links with George Hicks’ AUBTW, who had the much largest membership in NAFTA’s TUC electoral trades group.[28] The TUC changed from a Parliamentary lobbying body to a more industrial-focussed General Council structure in 1921 under Bramley’s guidance.  His ambition was ‘to make the T.U.C.  a much more powerful body – to make it, in fact, the centralized leadership for the whole trade union movement in industrial matters’ – an aim Citrine strongly shared.[29] Every year thereafter until the General Strike, the General Council asked unions at Congress to delegate increased powers to them in industrial disputes, culminating in their ability to call the General Strike in 1926.[30] Bramley became a full-time General Secretary in 1923 after the previous part-time/MP incumbent, Charles Bowerman, retired and with tireless energy, (at the expense of his precarious health, Citrine believed), he drove this process.  He also increased the General Secretary’s role in international affairs considerably and set up a separate International Department.  Bramley was a strong sympathiser with the Russian revolution from the start and of ‘international unity’ with Russian unions, ‘though he was certainly no communist’, his leadership was critical in what followed.

With the election of the first Labour government in December 1923, the TUC under Bramley, naturally pressed for expected labour movement reforms, without any restraint on unions’ exercising their considerable industrial muscle during an upturn in the economy to recover post-war wage losses.  Bramley and the TUC were called in by the Ministry of Labour to help resolve the many industrial disputes which broke out  – in docks, railways, London Transport, miners – which they did generally in the unions’ favour.[31] This jarred with Labour Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald’s desire to show that the first, albeit minority, Labour government could govern and their short term in office (less than a year) produced minimal radical social reforms.  So, the TUC were kept at a distance as regards government policy and legislation.

Accordingly, Bramley did not see ‘eye to eye’ with Ramsay MacDonald and Philip Snowden, (former ILP left wingers), when they were Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924.  He was chair of the London Labour Party during the war and on various national policy-making committees in opposition.  He helped set up a National Joint Council of TUC/Labour Party senior figures, but it rarely met during MacDonald’s term in office.  As an influential ILP/Labour activist, Bramley would have had little sympathy with MacDonald’s minimalist approach.  Yet in the area of international affairs, on which he majored as a staunch anti-war and pro-Russian revolution, they were at least on parallel lines.  The Labour government did restore full diplomatic relations and negotiate a favourable trade and credit agreement in 1924 – a major TUC objective.  But the general friction, mutual lack of understanding and poor relationships between the two wings of the labour movement in the MacDonald/Bramley era was probably one less appreciated reason for the first Labour government’s disappointing record and early demise.

The Chair of the TUC General Council that year (1924/5), A.A.  (Alf), Purcell MP[32], was an even stronger supporter of the Russian revolution and though never a Communist Party member, was more ideologically aligned with their views.  He too had a strong union/political background and had a long involvement in the labour movement since the 1890s.  A skilled French Polisher and general secretary of a small craft union, he became a national officer in the Bramley’s craft union, NAFTA, having merged with them in 1911.  From London, his union career had developed as chair of the influential Manchester and Salford Trades Council from the 1890s until he joined the General Council in 1917.  He succeeded his friend, Fred Bramley in the same TUC electoral trade group, no doubt with their mutual friend George Hick’s AUBTW support.  His political trajectory was from the Marxist Social Democratic Federation to the Industrial Syndicalist Educational League (ISEL).  However, when on the TUC General Council, Purcell settled in the Labour Party, becoming the Labour MP for Coventry (1924) and the Forest of Dean (1925-9).[33]

Purcell visited Russia on a joint Labour/TUC delegation in 1920.[34] As a respected and persuasive exponent of the revolution, he was chair of the Hands off Russia campaign, and the outstanding British Left union figure.[35] Though ‘attracted to communism’, he had declined to come under the discipline of the CPGB or the Comintern, when it was set up in 1921.[36] His biographer, Kevin Morgan, described Purcell’s politics and his militant union milieu well, as one in which many on the left in the unions operated as “syndicalistic and communistic in a loose sense, as a  ‘mood’, and attitude, a mentality committed to ‘Direct Action’, ‘Industrial Solidarity’ and class war.” [37]  As Chair of the TUC, he also became President of the International Federation of Trade Unions at Amsterdam (IFTU) in 1924 and so, a pivotal figure with Bramley in championing the move to bring the Russian unions into the international trade union family.  They would encounter very strong resistance from the union leaders of most of the other continental member countries, who as social democrats, had had bitter experiences and rank abuse from the Comintern and its ‘Red International’ since 1920.[38]  Purcell had just assumed the presidency of the TUC, when Citrine took up his post as Assistant General Secretary in January 1924.  Purcell impressed him, and he relied on his advice as chair of the General Council.[39] Bramley was often away on international business, especially at IFTU Executive and General Council meetings in Amsterdam or elsewhere in Europe.  By 1925, his health broke down frequently – he was off sick from April to September 1925 and was just about able to attend the Scarborough Congress.

The other important General Council member of the Bramley-Purcell axis from 1921 was George Hicks, General Secretary of the building trades union, AUBTW.  A bricklayer activist and syndicalist (ISEL also), he had come to prominence during the London-wide building workers lock-out and became General Secretary of his union in 1919 and of the merger building trades AUBTW in 1921, when he also joined the General Council.  A staunch supporter of Bramley and Purcell, he became a key figure on the IFTU scene as Chair of the International Committee from 1924.  The fact that he was chosen to accompany the new Assistant General Secretary, was probably no accident.  Citrine’s invitation was a big honour and an indication that they were seeing him as a rising star.  Bramley’s evident declining health must have encouraged such thoughts among many of the leading figures of the General Council.  Although strongly supportive of the Bolshevik regime, Bramley, Purcell and Hicks were certainly no ‘dupes’, as their ‘protégé’ but extremely independent-minded Citrine would testify.

 

VIII  – the official TUC visit to Russia 1924

In Moscow, Citrine’s ultra-cautious approach in his interview with Zinoviev   in October 1925, was significant.  When the Red Letter affair broke the previous year, the TUC leadership had just been invited to Russia for an extended official visit in recognition of their efforts for ‘international unity’.  In November, they sent a high-powered delegation, led by Purcell and Bramley themselves.  They were greeted and regaled in the most effusive manner on a six-week tour of the USSR, with demonstrations, speeches and red flags/bands everywhere they went.  With the information provided, they produced a glowing report of how improved things were in the USSR, claiming it was ‘a State controlled by themselves’ where ‘there is no doubt about the workers being in possession’.  The General Council had it published as a book in May 1925 and it sold fifty thousand copies around the world, being translated by Moscow also.[40] They also produced a separate report on the forged Zinoviev Letter, having been given access to Comintern files.  [41]   In this, they completely exonerated Zinoviev or his department from having sent any such letter and pronounced it a base forgery.  They also concluded that the Comintern’s influence in England ‘is at present exercised for moderation’ on the local CPGB!  They went further, describing the Comintern as simply ‘a coordinating body’ for Communist Parties around the world, rather than a promoter of ‘world-wide conspiracies’, as was widely believed, especially after the German attempt the previous year.[42] The report was savaged in most of the British Press (apart from the Labour-supporting Daily Herald, but not lauded there either) and their call for an inquiry ignored by the incoming Conservative government.  Although diplomatic relations were not severed, the trade agreement was scrapped and financial credits for exports were withdrawn.

Citrine would probably have read that report before he left for Russia.  He couldn’t have failed to notice the scathing reception it received in The Times, of which he was a regular reader.  Their ‘Labour Correspondent’ had majored on reporting the TUC/IFTU/Russian TUC links over a number of years.  Significantly, perhaps, in his memoir Citrine doesn’t mention the official report on the Zinoviev Letter.  He would certainly have known Bramley’s scathing views on Zinoviev and the Comintern: ‘His mischievous meddling was a major stumbling block to better relations between the English and Russian movements.  Bramley had said so bluntly in Moscow in December 1924.’ [43] Purcell too was exasperated by the Comintern and Profintern (Lozovsky) meddling.

This perhaps explains Citrine’s extremely unfavourable take on the Head of the Communist International when they met in October 1925.  He said that Zinoviev was ‘sinister and nervy’.  Again adopting a strange physiognomic description, ‘He was undoubtedly a Jew, dark, with a hooked nose and long, unruly hair.  He had light blue eyes, and a high-pitched voice.  He had a restless manner and when one was talking to him he could not keep still.’[44]  The ‘Red Letter’ affair was not discussed, but Zinoviev brushed aside all such allegations saying ‘that he had not thought much about MacDonald or his Government’, which was far from the case as we know.[45]  But Zinoviev was more interested in quizzing Citrine about the latest rebuff to the CPGB’s annual request for affiliation by the September/October 1925 Labour Conference in Liverpool.  Zinoviev contrasted this with the ‘warmer feeling’ displayed at the earlier TUC conference at Scarborough, suggesting there might be a divided attitude in the two parts of the British labour movement.  He was not entirely wrong as ‘the right’ in the unions and the MacDonald Labour leadership were in control at Liverpool.[46]

The Scarborough TUC Congress had again greeted an address from Tomsky warmly, endorsed ‘by acclamation’ the General Council’s efforts to bring them into IFTU and approved the setting up of the Anglo-Russian Joint Advisory Committee (ARJAC) to further those efforts.  However, Citrine told him he should not overrate this difference between the TUC and Labour Conferences – ‘we [the trade unions] were not unfriendly to the Communists, at the same time we did not feel that they were an inherent part of our movement.’  He said that they viewed the Russian communists ‘faced with very real problems’, as a whole lot different from the British ones with their ‘irresponsible advocacy of world revolution… operating under the instructions of the Comintern’.[47] This would remain a constant distinction for him in all his dealings with the Soviet Union as opposed to the communists in the British or International trade union movement.  Naturally, those exchanges and mutual suspicions, shortened the interview considerably and they just shook hands and left.  [48]

 

IX – the struggle for power in the CPSU 1923-7 – TUC links a key issue

Zinoviev had been one of the ‘Triumvirate’ with Stalin and Kamenev on the Politburo in the struggle with Trotsky from 1923-5, but now that alliance was crumbling and they later allied with Trotsky against Stalin.  The massive country that was Russia, was now of significance as a world power with its own State interests, which needed pragmatic trade, finance and diplomatic relations with the capitalist world.  However, the offspring of the Bolshevik’s world revolutionary aims, (the Communist International and its various offshoots such as RILU/Profintern) – remained wedded to purely revolutionary objectives and sometimes pursued distinct policies to the domestic Soviet government.  These, often conflicting, outlooks created sharp tensions within the ruling Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU).  They were an elite, mixed social band of professional revolutionaries of equal status in the CPSU.  The loss of their outstanding leader, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin in 1924 was a grievous blow and the battle to succeed him triggered a bitter power struggle.  As the expected world revolution had not materialised, they had to chart the future path of socialism in the Soviet Republics.  Stalin emerged as the strongest contender.  He had a coherent plan to develop the USSR – ‘Socialism in One Country’ and he had total union backing.  By contrast, his very talented opponents – Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev and Bukharin – were all over the place, lurching from policies of ‘permanent world revolution’ to variations of the policies adopted on collectivisation of agriculture and heavy industrial development.  Bitter struggles between these factions broke out, exacerbated by sharp personality and factional issues in a party with a tradition of incessant and bitter ideological wrangling and abuse.  It soon deteriorated to crisis dimensions.  There could be no evolution of a British-style ‘two-party’ system around a basic consensus.

We might speculate that had the Russian unions developed sufficient clout with the ruling group, they might have provided the steadying influence needed to allow such a consensus to develop.  However, that scenario was unlikely, as the Russian unions had only just got going and had nothing like the maturity of the British counterparts.  On the Central Council, Tomsky, Dogodov and Mel’nichansky were a force for stability, but as it proved in 1928, they could easily be removed at the whim of the Party faction.  Citrine, back in London would have appreciated the significance of that Russian union development.  He had not come to a conclusion in his report about the nature of their autonomy on leaving the USSR, but their subsequent conduct during the General Strike made up his mind.  Tomsky’s subsequent removal confirmed that view.  On his return visit in 1935, he insisted on seeing Tomsky (now in charge of the Soviet Publishing arm) and he was produced to reassure Citrine that all was well.  To learn of his death by suicide a year later was quite depressing for Citrine.[49]

 

Part Three, the final part of Dr Moher’s article, is now on-line.

 

[1] [1]  So hostile were most of the IFTU Executive to allowing the Russian unions in – with much justification on account of the vilification they had endured from the Red International since 1920 – that they conspired to block the TUC bid.  Calhoun, The United Front, pp.  4, 374-6.  The key IFTU figures were: Vice-Presidents, Leon Jouhaux of France; Theodor Leipart of Germany and Corneile Mertens of Belgium; Secretaries, Jan Oudegeest of The Netherlands, Johann Sassenbach of Germany.  The other secretary, John W.  Brown of Great Britain was strongly for the merger.  ibid., p.56.

[2] [2] Citrine, Men and Work, p.  88.

[3] [3] ibid., p.103.

[4] [4] ibid., p.  80.

[5] [5] ibid., pp.96-8.

[6] [6] Davis, An Outsider Looks In, p10.

[7] [7] Williams, Labour and Russia, p.  9.

[8] [8] Citrine, Men and Work, p.116.  See Wikipedia items on the anti-religious campaign and on Yaroslavsky, an ethnic Jewish revolutionary who remained active in the Central Committee up  until his death in 1943, lived to see his work undone for patriotic war purposes.

[9] [9] A reference to Trotsky’s proposal to ‘statify’ the unions in the 1920/1 CPSU controversy, which we touched on in Part 1.

[10] [10] Citrine, Men and Work ibid., pp.98-101

[11] [11] Calhoun, The United Front, p.  9.

[12] [12] ibid., pp.  98-99.

[13] [13] This impression is gained from Citrine’s 1925 contemporary report, Visit to Russia.  It was not a later gloss in his 1960s memoir Men and Work.  It was the time when Zinoviev and Kamenev were about to be ousted from the Politburo.

[14] [14]  E.H.Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923, (vol 3, A History of  Soviet Russia, 1952), pp.561-5; 123-33

[15] [15] Citrine got an indication of how seriously this illusion was among senior Bolsheviks from the Assistant Commissar of Foreign Affairs, Maxim Litvinoff, who he (first heard addressing a Labour Conference in Nottingham and again) met at the Opera House in Moscow, as late as 1925 on his visit.  His wife, an Englishwoman ‘strongly dissented’.  Men and Work, p.106.

[16] [16] Calhoun, The United Front, pp.12-13.

[17] [17] Goethem, Geert van (2006).  The Amsterdam International: The World of the International   Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), 1913-1945 (Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2006 ed.), pp.77-82.  He used the Citrine Archive at the LSE (BLPES) and the TUC archive as the original IFTU files   were captured by the Nazis from their Paris office in 1940.  Introduction, 4-5.

[18] [18]  For the 1918 phase, see Carr’s Bolshevik Revolution, ch.23, Revolution over Europe, pp.171-231.

[19] [19]  ibid., ch.30, Retreat in Comintern, 381-421 especially at pp.194-5 and 384-7.

[20] [20]  Carr, The Bolshevik Revolution, ibid., pp.194-5; See also Calhoun, The United Front, pp.7-9.

[21] [21] Calhoun, The United Front, pp.47-8.

[22] [22] Citrine, ibid., p.118.

[23] [23] ibid., 117-8.  D.  Marquand, Ramsay MacDonald,(1977), pp.  381-8.

[24] [24] Calhoun, The TUC and the Russians, pp.  89-90.

[25] [25] ibid.,p.91.  While the Russian issue was undoubtedly a factor, it is now generally thought that   the Conservative seat landslide victory was more due to the collapse of the Liberal vote.  The   Labour vote overall increased by over a million votes.  A.J.  Williams, Labour and Russia: the  attitude of the Labour Party to the USSR, (Manchester, 1989), p.17.

[26] [26]  Calhoun, The United Front, p.94.  TUC Annual Reports – General Council election results from the early 1920s until 1928, (when Purcell dropped out to become a Labour MP).

[27] [27]  ibid.,

[28] [28] TUC Annual Reports – General Council election results from the early 1920s until 1928, Building Trades Group.

[29] [29]  Citrine, Men and Work, p.  86.  ‘to make it, in fact, the centralized leadership for the whole trade  union movement in industrial matters… he [Bramley] soon found that I had long been a  convinced believer in this.’ See the writer’s Walter Citrine: A Union Pioneer of Industrial  Cooperation, pp.186-191

[30] [30]  R.M.  Martin, TUC: Growth of a Pressure Group 1868-1976, (Oxford, 1980), p.192; see also H.A.  Clegg, A History of British Trade Unions since 1989, volume 2, 1911-1933, (Oxford, 1985), 394.

[31] [31]  Ernie Bevin’s T&GWU were particularly militant to MacDonald’s deep annoyance in the dockers’ and London Tram disputes.  See my Labour Review article, February 2017, p.12.

[32] [32]  K.  Morgan, Bolshevism, Syndicalism and the General Strike – the lost Internationalist World of A.A.  Purcell and the British Left, provides an excellent profile of his life and times.

[33] [33]  Wikipedia, Ernest George Hicks, trade unionist.

[34] [34]  Purcell and Robert Williams, Secretary of the International Transport Federation (who did join the CPGB but got expelled over Black Friday in 1921), are thought to have ‘expressed themselves in favour of a new trade union international’ (i.e.  Profintern/RILU).  Carr, The   Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923, pp.208-9.

[35] [35] In 1920, the London dockers prevented the loading of the Jolly George with armaments for the Polish forces.  The TUC and Labour Party set up over 350 ‘Councils of Action’ and the threat of a general strike was taken very seriously by Lloyd George and it was credited by the Soviet Union as having caused (more like hastened) the abandonment of intervention soon after.  For his role, Purcell had the honour of Soviet citizenship conferred on him when he visited in 1924.

[36] [36] Bullock, Ernest Bevin, p.261.

[37] [37] Morgan, Bolshevism, syndicalism and the general strike, [full title] 25-6.  See also Wikipedia article  by Graham Stevenson, A.A.  Purcell, Communist Books, pamphlets, articles and speeches.  TUC Annual Report 1924,  ‘Relationship with the All-Russian Trade Union Council’, pp.  246-7.

[38] [38]  Calhoun, The United Front, pp.12-20.

[39] [39]  Citrine, Men and Work, p77.  Both former national officials (NAFTA and ETU) in Manchester, where, though different generations, they knew each other, perhaps from the Trades Council or Federation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades, (FEST), when Citrine was regional President and Secretary of from 1917 to 1923 and Purcell, Treasurer.  It may even have been Purcell who encouraged Citrine to apply for the TUC job in 1923 and with Bramley, perhaps smoothed the way for his easy adoption for the post by the General Council later that year?  (ibid., p.72).

[40] [40] The Official Report of the British Trade Union Delegation of Russia and the Caucasia.  Nov and Dec 1924.  237pp.  Warwick Digital Collections.  TUC Annual Report 1925, pp.482-4, Bramley’s  speech in moving the section of the General Council’s Report on ‘the International Trade Union Movement’.

[41] [41] The “Zinoviev” Letter: Report of Investigation by British Delegation to Russia for the Trades Union Congress General Council.  November-December 1924.  18 May 1925, pp.  4-6.  Warwick Digital Collections.

[42] [42]  Calhoun, The United Front,2, more accurately described the Communist International as ‘the  self-appointed general staff of the world-wide revolutionary army’.  Carr, The Bolshevik  Revolution 1917-1923, documents its directive nature at pages 116, 126-7, 130-2, 153, 171-2,  230, 404-9, 548-54, 562-3.

[43] [43]  Calhoun, The United Front, p.94, citing The Times of 9 February1925

[44] [44]  Citrine, Visit to Russia 1925, pp.216-7 and Men and Work, pp.117-8.

[45] [45]  Citrine, Men and Work, p.118.

[46] [46]  Calhoun, United Front, pp.188-9.

[47] [47]  ibid.,pp.117-8.

[48] [48]  ibid., p.118.

[49] [49]  Citrine, Men and Work, 94.

Advertisements