Communist Party’s ‘Charter of Rights for coloured workers in Britain’ (1955)

As mentioned last week, I have been flat out trying to prepare some draft chapters for a publisher of my proposed book on the Communist Party of Great Britain and the politics of race. I have just sent them off to the publisher and thought that the left-wing trainspotters that read this blog might be interested in this ‘Charter of Rights for coloured workers in Britain’, prepared by the Party’s International Department in 1955.

  1. No form of colour discrimination by employers, landlords, publicans, hotel proprietors, etc., or in any aspect of social, educational and cultural activity. Any racial discrimination to be made a penal offence.
  2. Opposition to all Government restrictions and discrimination against coloured workers entering Britain.
  3. Equality of treatment in access to employment, wages and conditions. To receive the rate for the job (including equal facilities for apprenticeship and vocational training), and the maintenance of full rights to social security benefits.
  4. Full encouragement to join their appropriate trade union on equal conditions of entry with British workers and to exercise their trade union and political rights.

Looking at this Charter, it is a pretty impressive document for the mid-1950s (although how much of it was put into practice is a subject of debate) – compare it with anything that the Labour Party produced from around the same time and you will see the CPGB was quite progressive in the area of ‘race relations’ in this era. Although, as I have written here, by the mid-to-late 1960s, the CPGB was overtaken by other, more radical, organisations.

Fingers are currently being crossed regarding the proposed book. Any news will be broadcast on this blog in the future!

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