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

By Noreen Branson | Go to book overview

21
THE FIGHT TO BAN THE
BOMB: WAR IN KOREA

Shortly before the 1950 election, news came through that the Americans were developing a hydrogen bomb which, it was said, had far greater destructive power than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. In response came a huge growth in the movement against nuclear weapons.

The movement was initiated at a meeting of the Permanent Committee of the World Peace Congress in Stockholm in March 1950, which issued an appeal for the banning of all atomic weapons, with strict international control to ensure the ban was enforced. The Committee called upon ‘all people of goodwill’ to sign this appeal. Hundreds of millions did so in countries all over the world.

In Britain, the British Peace Committee started a campaign for signatures to the appeal which became known as the ‘peace petition’. The aim was not only to persuade people to sign, but to involve them in action to ban the bomb, no matter what their political views. The response to this campaign was impressive. In many areas, local peace committees were set up; their supporters went out collecting signatures on the doorstep, and passed the petition round in workplaces. By September 1950, over a million people had signed, while the demand to ban the bomb was supported at a number of trade union annual conferences.

The Labour leaders were, of course, greatly alarmed at this development and hastily decided to add the British Peace Committee to its list of ‘proscribed’ organisations, which meant that no member of the Labour Party could be associated with it or participate in its campaign – indeed, those who helped collect signatures could be expelled. From August 1950, reports of such expulsions began to appear regularly in the Daily Worker.

The TUC General Council sent out a circular to local trades

-210-

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