Guy A. Aldred Archive

Communism : Story of the Communist Party
Appendix 2
McGovern and Gallagher

Written: 1935.
Transcription/Markup: Andy Carloff
Online Source:; 2021

1n the Glasgow paper, The Worker, for September 30, 1922, W. Gallacher, who was later to become M.P. for Fife, published an article entitled The Revolutionarry United Front, in which he praised Ritchie, who was afterwards to become a Glasgow Labor Bailie and then a discredited municipal corruptionist, at the expense of various persons including myself. That article is only referred to in this Appendix because of a reference that Gallacher made to John McGovern, then an Anti-parliamentarian and now M.P. for Shettleston. Gallacher’s reference is as follows : —
J. McGovern, who a week ago was talking to me about joining the Communist Party, has once again found grace, and drawing his revolutionary cloak around him, has publicly shed tears over my awful fall. Here, at any rate, is sufficient revolutionary material for a start. Here is a task for Aldred who wants “ A Revolutionary United Front.” Let him invite these, and whatever other “ Purists” may be found, to a conference, and there let them agree on a positive revolutionary policy. I know they would all agree on abusing the C. P., but then Aldred can get a United Front with the boss class on that.

John McGovern replied to Gallacher in the Worker for October 14, 1922.. McGovern’s reply makes most interesting reading in the light of subsequent events. Gallacher commented upon it as follows :
McGovern is simply playing upon his imagination when he serves up the foregoing as having been a conversation with me. However, it is not worth worrying about. McGovern’s job is to set about building up a Revolutionary Party with a Revolutionary Policy. Let him gather his “purist “ colleagues together and get on with the job. He’ll have his work cut out.

It is impossible to decide between McGovern and Gallacher as to which statement is correct. The probability is that McGovern’s statement contains the most truth. Whatever one’s opinions may be as to McGovern’s manner in getting into Parliament, it is at least certain that to the best of his ability he has used the House of Commons as a sounding board for much Socialist protest and agitation. Whatever his faults he is the only M.P. who has challenged the House on the Oath of Allegiance from the standpoint of Socialism and public perjury. Where the McGovern of 1922 denounces the follies of Parliamentarism and comes into conflict with the McGovern of 1942, I have no doubt that it is the 1922 John McGovern who is correct.

Here is McGovern’s letter as published in The Worker,. October 14, 1922 : —


13 Burnbank Gardens, Glasgow.
Dear Comrade:
It is with reluctance I take up my pen in reply to Wm. Gallacher’s statement in last issue of the “ Worker.” because I recognize that I have one thing in common with him — I would never be a successful journalist, and that we would be well advised to leave it alone. However, he has made a statement concerning myself, that I feel compelled to answer, viz. — that I discussed with him the prospect of my joining the Communist Party of Great Britain.
We had a conversation not, as he states, about a week ago, but some six weeks ago, when we discussed the prospect of Unity.
Gallacher asked me to tell Aldred that he wanted a discussion with him, and would come along the following week to 13 Burnbank Gardens, and we would all have a talk about the position of the movement. In answer to the statement that is often made — that Aldred does not desire Unity — I suggested to Gallacher that he should use his efforts towards forming a united C.P. in which we could all work together. I suggested that the Executive of the C.P.B.G. should be asked to convene a meeting of all the delegates of the Anti-Parliamentarian branches, including Guy Aldred, and see if we could form a common program on the Anti-Parliamentary question. Gallacher Confessed to me that the C.P. of G.B. Executive were not anxious to have Aldred in the Party, for the following reasons:
(1) That they all admitted that Aldred was the ablest Communist propagandist in Great Britain, and as such they were afraid of his power.
(2) That he would become the leader of the C.P.B.G. and unseat some of the others, such as McManus, Bell or Paul, who had not such knowledge or ability, and could not wipe Aldred’s boots.
(3) That they did not desire debates with Aldred, as they would be detrimental to the C.P.B.G.
(4) That he (Gallacher) had got hell for arranging a debate with Aldred on the Sunday of the Schwartz debate. The C.P.B.G. Executive had said that this was what Aldred was out for — and what they wanted to avoid — and that he had deliberately played into Aldred’s “ barrow.”
There is no doubt that the above would be the complete explanation of Gallacher’s statement. But those who could attempt to kid the “ Russian “ International that they had 50,000 members in the Workers’ Committee movement in this country, do not mind stretching other statements also.
I agree that, in answer to questions, I have paid a tribute to Gallacher’s sacrifices for his principles, but at the same time I have always urged that that could be no excuse for his betrayal of his boasted Anti-Parliamentary views of the past. It is just about time that some one was weeping for those Communists who are changing their position as often, and as fast, as the British Army in their retreat from Mons.
It seems rather strange that, if Gallacher’s attitude is dictated by the rank and file, the revolt against the “ United Front” should come, not from the Leaders or the
“ Intellectuals,” but from the ordinary branch members who have objected to this weekly change of tactics.
Go on with your Parliamentarism and oaths of allegiance to “ King George, his heirs and successors “ : Continue your association with P.C. Black-Friday Thomas, Anti-war recruiting Ramsay Macdonald, Communal prison-warder Dollan, Cabinet door-mat Henderson, and all the other traitors to the working-class movement! Remember that Colonel Malone’s Communism has not kept him from supporting in the Westminster (gas) House a strong Air Force in defense of imperialism.
Turn out Sylvia Pankhurst for being too extreme and having some independence, but keep the khaki-clad colonels in your ranks; condemn P.C. J. H. Thomas for taking the oath of a Privy Councilor, but praise Gallacher and Foulis for being prepared to take the similar oath required of a Member of Parliament.
What a joke; but never mind, the Workers are beginning to tumble to the game, and the time is coming when neither Russian nor British gold will buy agents and dupes. We have had an exhibition this last two years of how we can assist the starving Russians, by relieving them of their Gold. Pursue the retreat, and pioneer backwards, retreating without the mass who will be moving in the opposite direction away from Reformism and Labor Leaders, towards Revolution and Communism.