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Tom Bell (politician): Wikis


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Thomas "Tom" Bell (1882 – 1944) was a Scottish socialist politician and trade unionist.



Early Years

Born in Parkhead, Glasgow, Bell became a steelworker and committed atheist. Committed to educating himself, he attended Andersonian College and the Academy of Literature, and soon lectured for the Plebs' League.


Political career

Bell joined the Independent Labour Party in 1900, then moved in 1903 to the Marxist Social Democratic Federation. However, within months, he joined with other dissident members to form the Glasgow Socialist Society, soon renamed the Socialist Labour Party (SLP). He became a leading figure in the party, but was expelled in 1907 for arguing that the SLP should not favour the Industrial Workers of the World. He was able to rejoin the following year, convincing the majority of the party to form the Advocates of Industrial Unionism.

Generally continuing to work in the metal trades, Bell briefly joined the Singer Company to organise for the Industrial Workers of Great Britain, but was sacked following the failure of a strike in 1911.

In 1916, Bell was elected to the Clyde Workers Committee, within which he promoted the SLP's policy of industrial unionism. In 1917, he led a successful national strike of engineers and foundry workers. Again prominent in 1919, he was elected President of the Scottish Ironmoulders Union, Secretary of the SLP and editor of its newspaper, The Socialist. He sat on a unity committee, intending to negotiate for a single communist party with leaders of the British Socialist Party, Workers Socialist Federation and other socialist groups, but their proposals were repudiated by the SLP. Resigning as Secretary, he helped found the Communist Unity Group, which became an original constituent of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).

Employed by the CPGB, he was initially National Organiser. He then attended the third congress of the Comintern, visiting Moscow for five months, despite the British Government denying him a visa. He was elected to the Comintern's Executive Committee, and returned for the fourth congress, remaining in the city as a CPGB representative and reporter, until the end of 1922.

Bell held various posts within the party, including the editorship of Communist Review. In 1925, he was one of twelve CPGB leaders gaoled for seditious libel and incitement to mutiny, spending six months inside.

The next few years were spent between Britain and Russia. In 1930, he became the Secretary of the Friends of the Soviet Union, and in 1937 he wrote a history of the CPGB.

Death and legacy

Tom Bell died 19 April 1944.


Sources consulted

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
New position
National Organiser of the Communist Party of Great Britain
1920 - 21
Succeeded by
Bob Stewart


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