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Daniel Speight

Fred Copeman

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John could you help me in one more inquiry. It's regarding Fred Copeman after he left the Communist Party. From the Spartacus web site it seems he moved to the right, joined the Labour Party, worked for Morrison in the war and was a Labour councillor in Lewisham. The strange bit was him becoming a foreman at Fords in Dagenham.

I doubt I will ever get to read his Reason in Revolt, but did he just give up in the end? I have asked my father to talk with his best friend who would have been at Fords at the same time, but I'm asking two eighty year old men here and the answer might come quite slowly. :)

He should have been a Labour hero with London buildings or Woolwich ferries named after him. Anything you have on his later life would be welcome.

Thanks again

Danny

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John could you help me in one more inquiry. It's regarding Fred Copeman after he left the Communist Party. From the Spartacus web site it seems he moved to the right, joined the Labour Party, worked for Morrison in the war and was a Labour councillor in Lewisham. The strange bit was him becoming a foreman at Fords in Dagenham.

In November 1938 Copeman was a member of an official delegation to Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union. He was disillusioned by the level of inequality in the Soviet Union and on his return he ceased to be a member of the Communist Party. I visited the Soviet Union in 1985 and one of the reasons I disliked it so much was the inequality I saw. Members of the Communist Party were clearly the new members of the ruling class.

I would reject the idea that Copeman moved to the right by joining the Labour Party in 1939. The Communist Party in the UK was completely under the control of the Soviet Union at the time. As I have argued elsewhere, Stalin was by this time clearly a right wing figure (an ultra conservative).

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SPcopeman.htm

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I would reject the idea that Copeman moved to the right by joining the Labour Party in 1939. The Communist Party in the UK was completely under the control of the Soviet Union at the time. As I have argued elsewhere, Stalin was by this time clearly a right wing figure (an ultra conservative).

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/SPcopeman.htm

I guess left and right can be very subjective for those involved at the time. Certainly Copeman's disillusionment with the Russian communists was fairly early. After 1956 the flood gates opened, but still in the late 60s I met British Communist Party members who would have felt far to the left of the Labour Party.

Not having any real knowledge of Marxism I have to simplify it for myself so I would say that those that believed in revolutionary socialism would have considered themselves left of those who saw a democratic way to their socialist ideal.

In 1939 and through to much later communist party members would have still believed they were revolutionary socialist and all the changes in policy by Stalin were needed. Looking back it's easy to see that Stalin was a dictator in a very nationalistic Russian empire, but at the time most party members would have thought they were defending the revolution. Copeman had the chance to see for himself what was going on which obviously changed him.

A move to left from the communist was possible. Small groups, some followers of Trotsky, were already in the UK. A move to the Labour Party, even to left wing groupings inside the party would have an acceptance of the idea of a non-revolutionary path to socialism. (This is probably too general as there would have been some left groups that saw entry into Labour Party as a way of furthering their revolutionary aims.)

I do wonder about Fred Copeman because he was working for Morrison during the war and the fact that he became a foreman at Fords, a company not noted for its fondness of the labour movement. None of this should affect his status in the history of labour movement as he had already done so much. Spain and the fleet strike just being two instants in his extraordinary life.

Danny

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I drew a blank on my father's friend who had been at Fords. He spent most of his time at a Ford unit in the Woolwich Arsenal, not at the Dagenham plant. I just found the following on Amazon but I can't access the page the have for some reason. It's from On the Lookout: A Partial Autobiography by C.H. Sisson.

Excerpt from Page 58: " ... book about universities by Sir Walter Moberly, essays by Alex Comfort, an autobiography by Fred Copeman, a Communist turned Papist. Most of these books I should certainly not have ... "

If anyone has access to this book could they see if there was anything else. Fred Copeman's autobiography was published in 1948 I think so that wouldn't probably help. Did he become a Catholic in the end?

Thanks

Danny

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