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1924 Cabinet conclusion on the Communist press

Cabinet Conclusion 6 August 1924. The Workers' Weekly
Cabinet Conclusion 6 August 1924. The Workers' Weekly
CAB 23/48     C 48 (24)

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During hard times most workers looked to their trade unions to protect and represent them. Some workers, and indeed some union leaders and politicians, felt that the economic system in Britain was deeply unfair towards ordinary workers and needed to be changed. During the 1920s there was much support for extreme socialist movements such as Syndicalism and Communism. All governments during the 1920s were nervous about Communism because the Russian Revolution of 1917 had overthrown a reigning monarch and replaced him with a Communist state. Communism argued for state control of industries, which worried many politicians and industrialists.

Questions to consider

  1. Who was being prosecuted and why?
  2. What actions had the printers taken?
  3. Is it possible to infer from this extract how seriously the government took the issue?
  4. What does this source reveal about the government's attitude towards radical organisations like the Communist party?


Prosecution of Editor.

5. The attention of the Cabinet was called to a prosecution which had been instituted against John Ross Campbell, Editor of "The Workers' Weekly", the official organ of the Communist Party of Great Britain, under the Incitement to Mutiny Act, for attempting to seduce from loyalty to the King members of the Navy, Army and Air Force who might read the articles in the "Workers' Weekly" entitled "The Army and Industrial Disputes".

The Home Secretary stated that a letter of apology had been received from the printers, who are giving notice to terminate their printing contract, and he understood the Attorney General had given instructions that the printers should not be proceeded against.

The Attorney General said he took full responsibility for proceeding with the case, which disclosed a bad criminal offence, but inasmuch as it transpired that the person charged was only acting temporarily as Editor and was prepared to write a letter to that effect, steps could be taken not to press the prosecution in the circumstances against this particular offender, if the Cabinet so desired.

After considerable discussion of the procedure which had led to action being taken in the Courts without the knowledge of the Cabinet or the Prime Minister, the Cabinet agreed -

  1. That no public prosecution of a political character should be undertaken without the prior sanction of the Cabinet being obtained:
  2. That in the particular case under review the course indicated by the Attorney General should be adopted.

Original document

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