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Posts Tagged ‘communism’

The roots of the organisation lay in the Second Congress of the Communist International (Comintern) in July 1920, which considered the formulation of a colonial policy, and included a debate between Lenin and Manabendra Nath Roy, founder of India’s Communist Party. In 1926 a League Against Colonial Oppression was formed, a precursor to the League Against Imperialism, which formed in 1927.

In Aberdeen a branch was formed following a meeting addressed by Glasgow based Communist Party member Helen Crawfurd and the branch Secretary was Bob Cooney, Communist Party organiser for north-east Scotland. The branch was initiated in response to and existed for the period of the Meerut Conspiracy Case (1929 – 1933), in which trade unionists were imprisoned for organising a strike in British ruled India.

References: see below. Also, Remembering the Spanish Civil War 1936 – 1939 (George Scott (ed.), Aberdeen Trades Council, 2nd edition, 2001).

Sources: papers of the international organisation held at the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam.

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A University of Aberdeen society which advertised in the Freshers’ magazines. The society was formed in 1961 but then does not appear in the magazines again until the end of the decade.

There was also an active Aberdeen Communist Party and Young Communist League in the city.

References: University Freshers’ magazines.

Sources: unknown.

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Bob Cooney was born in Sunderland in 1908 but then his family moved back to Aberdeen and Bob was educated in Aberdeen. He became involved in the street politics and debates in the Castlegate in Aberdeen and became a communist and bitterly opposed to poverty. In 1930 Bob quit his current employment in order to devote himself full time to his politics. Between 1931-1932 he spent time in Russia, working at night and studying at the Lenin Institute by day. On his return to Aberdeen, and as Communist Party organiser for north-east Scotland, Bob threw himself fully into organising hunger marches (he went on two marches, in 1935 and 1936), mobilising the unemployed and spoke at open air meetings across the country. He was at the forefront of protests against fascism, which came to a head when the British Union of Fascists under William Chambers Hunter came to Aberdeen. There were running battles in the centre of Aberdeen and the fascists were beaten back. In 1937 he volunteered as part of the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil war (along with 17 other Aberdonians, 5 of whom were ultimately killed), which he viewed as the front line against fascism. He was initially appointed as Commissar of a training group eventually rising to the position of Commissar of the XV (British) Brigade. He survived the Civil War and then served for the duration of WW2. He died in Aberdeen in 1984 after a life of activism.

References: information from Aberdeen City Council commemorative plaques database and Proud Journey: A Spanish Civil War Memoir (Bob Cooney, Marx Memorial Library and Workers School, 2015).

Sources: his songbooks which he used at the Aberdeen Trades Council in the c.1970s/1980s are held as part of the Trades Council papers at University of Aberdeen Library. Also the memoirs he created in 1944 and which were published in 2015 (see above) and oral history interviews he made in 1976 and available via the Imperial War Museum website.

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