Locking out the Communists: the Labour party and the Communist party, 1939-46
Twentieth Century British History
Oxford University Press
Reason for embargo
Temporary embargo required due to publisher policy.
The Second World War was a crucial period in the development of the British left, and particularly in finally delineating between the Labour and Communist parties. Communist party membership hit record levels just when Labour’s own organization was creaking under the impact of war, while Britain’s alliance with the USSR from 1941 onwards brought reflected glory on the CP. This gave the Communists their best-ever opportunity to influence, and perhaps even join, Labour. Yet Labour’s leaders and officials were clear in their opposition to Communism, and worked hard to contain the threat they believed that it posed. This led to a long-running battle, which was only ended by Labour’s landslide victory in 1945, and the concomitant organizational changes that it, and the deterioration of Anglo-Soviet relations in 1945–46, allowed. By 1946, for all the fleeting successes of wartime, the Communists were more effectively shut out of Labour politics than ever before. There were long-term effects on Labour’s leadership and officials. By 1946, partly as a result of the war years, Labour language had developed in ways that would enable a close fit with Cold War stereotypes. Crucially, too, Labour’s long struggle against the British Communists prepared it well for the rigours of office after 1945, and set the tone for much of Labour politics over the next three decades.
University of Exeter
This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Twentieth Century British History following peer review. The version of record Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 221 -250 is available online at: http://tcbh.oxfordjournals.org/content/25/2/221.full.
Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 221 - 250