After the great response I’ve had to my last post on the British left and BME workers, I’ve been inspired to revisit a paper that has sat on the backburner for a while, but proved valuable in writing the last post. I’d let it slip for a long time, but would like to send it off to a journal in the near future, so I’m looking for anyone who is willing to read the paper to provide feedback before I submit it. The paper is tentatively titled ‘Xenophobia, Class Struggle or Soviet Control? Understanding Communist Attitudes towards West Indian and Polish Migration to Post-War Britain, 1945-1955’ and the abstract is as follows:
This article explores the hostility directed by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) towards Polish workers in Britain in the late 1940s and early 1950s, while at the same time, the CPGB promoted tolerance of and friendship with West Indian migrants who entered the UK to fill the country’s labour shortage. Previous explanations of the CPGB’s hostility, such as the Party’s subservience to the Soviet Union, the general xenophobia of the British labour movement or that the Polish workers actually represented a quasi-fascist officer class, are inadequate by themselves to explain the actions of the Party, with elements of all three factors in the Party’s conduct. This article argues that the motives for anti-immigration attitudes amongst the British labour movement and the left are complex and while condemned, need to be understood. The behaviour of the CPGB is an unpleasant episode in the Party’s history and should be remembered in contrast with the Party’s more positive anti-racist campaigning in the post-war era.
If you’re interested in reading a draft, please send me an email. Thanks in advance!