The early British Communist leaders, 1920–1923: a prosopographical exploration

McIlroy, John and Campbell, Alan (2020) The early British Communist leaders, 1920–1923: a prosopographical exploration. Labor History, 61 (5-6) . pp. 423-465. ISSN 0023-656X [Article] (doi:10.1080/0023656X.2020.1818711)

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The members of its governing Executive Committee constituted the national leadership of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Prosopographical analysis which employs both quantitative and qualitative methods is utilized to explore the origins; age; education; occupations; experience and affiliation; party career; and destination of 47 of 48 members of the committee who held office between 1920 and 1923. The survey presents, in many cases for the first time, details of their background and activity. Against previous assertions of youthfulness and Scottish and Welsh influence, it demonstrates the majority were born in England before 1890 and that while almost two-thirds were skilled workers or miners, a fifth worked in white-collar occupations. There were high rates of turnover and discontinuity: more than 80% of representatives served briefly and 73% were never re-elected after 1923. Up to half were no longer in the party by the end of the decade and only four remained in its leadership after 1932. Mini-biographies of the 33 Communists whose leading role was restricted to ‘the long foundation period’ confirm the weakness and frequently ineffective and confused nature of its leadership as well as the significant difficulties faced by early British Communism.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, History
Research Areas: A. > Business School
Item ID: 31153
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Labor History on 04/10/2020, available online:
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Depositing User: John Mcilroy
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2020 08:05
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2022 03:04

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