History of the Communist Party of Great Britain, 1941-1951 - Vol. 4

By Noreen Branson | Go to book overview

13
INDUSTRIAL WORK AND
ATTITUDES TO
NATIONALISATION 1945–7

Despite the expansion of political work in local communities, and the change in rule intended to help this forward, the workplace was still regarded by party members as the chief focal point – the place where the ideas and values instilled by a capitalist society could be most effectively countered and the socialist message spread.

Workplace activity involved building up trade union organisation and many party members were elected as union representatives or shop stewards and found themselves negotiating with the management on issues such as pay, hours, working conditions, canteens and washing faculties, safeguards against accidents and so on. But they also discussed political issues with their workmates; distributed leaflets, sold the Daily Worker and tried to recruit people into the party.

Following the election of the Labour Government in 1945, the rebuilding of Britain was seen as the priority. The party argued that this required ‘a positive economic programme for planned productive development’. Nationalisation of key industries should be speeded up, price control should be extended together with government control over investment as part of a plan for reorganisation and reequipment of the main industries. These aims were debated at the party’s 18th Congress in November 1945, and formed the basis of a pamphlet by J.R. Campbell ‘Over to Peace’.


ENGINEERING

When the war ended, Len Powell remained full-time general secretary of the Engineering and Allied Trades Shop Stewards National Council. The organisation’s monthly journal New Propellor (soon to change its

-129-

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