The League Against Imperialism: British, Irish and Indian Connections
Communist History Network Newsletter, Issue 14, Spring 2003

The whisperings of Labour officials suffering from the Communist complex have been supplemented by reports that Scotland Yard is keeping an eye upon the organisation [the League Against Imperialism] and that one should consequently be careful before associating with it. Of course Scotland Yard has its eyes upon it. A movement which sets out to unite and strengthen the subject peoples of the world in their struggle against Imperialism is not likely to be overlooked by the Secret Service of the most powerful Empire in the world! [1]

The 'League Against Imperialism' (LAI) was originally a loose-based socialist coterie called the 'League Against Oppression in the Colonies'. Its appeal proved widespread and left-wing notables throughout Europe were eager to utilise its full potential. The LAI was an organisation of particular interest to Irish and Indian radicals, and became a vehicle through which connections between the two nationalist movements were established and strengthened. The mutual benefit that this relationship afforded both countries reached its crescendo in the early 1930s. In December 1926 the Government of India reported how the League 'continues to despatch literature dealing with "The Congress of the Oppressed Nations", which is to be held in Brussels… reference has already been made in previous reports to the fact that the League is almost certainly financed from Moscow.'[2] This international conference was held in Brussels in February 1927 and was the catalyst that led to the organisation's reformation. It was given both a snappier name, 'The League Against Imperialism' (LAI), and, according to Fenner Brockway of the Independent Labour Party (ILP), a precise objective:

To create a two-fold unity: first, between the organisations representing the subject races of the world; second, between such organisations and sympathetic movements in the Imperialist countries. The object was to bring about world solidarity in the struggle against Imperialism.[3]

The idea of staging a congress in Europe at which colonial nationalists could meet with western sympathisers was first suggested by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). It may have been instigated after the Comintern had commented unfavourably on the CPGB's progress, or lack thereof, in 1924. It highlighted its neglect of colonial work and instructed it to establish 'very close contact' with the nationalist forces in the British Empire. The CPGB established a Colonial Committee in 1925 under Clemens Dutt's leadership and began to probe for contacts in India, Palestine, China, Egypt and Ireland.[4] The setting up of an international congress, however, was actually carried through by Willi Münzenberg, general secretary of the Workers' International Relief and chief propagandist for the Comintern.[5] From the outset there was evidence of widespread suspicion in relation to this newly formed group. Before securing Brussels as a venue for the first International Congress the intention was for it to be held in Berlin. This would have been a most suitable and convenient location as it was Münzenberg's base, but the Weimar Republic refused permission. Then Paris was suggested. Needless to say the French authorities refused, fearful of reaction in their own colonies.[6] A key concern of these European states was the extent of Soviet direction of the LAI. Jean Jones has stated that Soviet Russia's initial reaction was one of scepticism towards the League, as they did not take kindly to Münzenberg's methods of recruiting broad-based support for communist causes.[7] Such doubts, however, began to wane as leading intellectual and political figures were seen to affiliate themselves with the organisation, most importantly Jawaharlal Nehru but also Professor Albert Einstein, French writer Henri Barbusse and the American novelist Upton Sinclair. The appointment of a British delegation to the Brussels meeting was organised by Reginald Bridgeman, a Labour Party member and ex-diplomat of aristocratic roots.[8] It is perhaps because such a diverse range of participants, many with no communist affiliations, accompanied the LAI's initial introduction to the world stage, that its actual communist origins were to remain, at least publicly, in doubt.[9] The League was essentially established by two prominent communists who were in regular contact with Moscow: Münzenberg, as already mentioned, and the LAI General Secretary, Virendra Chattopadhyaya who was established in Berlin as a spokesperson for Indian Communists. The British authorities were baffled as to how they had managed to '[enlist] the sympathies of some prominent pacifist writers and men of learning.'[10] What they failed to realise was that this organisation provided a much needed service, namely the opportunity for anti-imperialists of a variety of political backgrounds and from around the world to meet and exchange ideas. The potency that this attraction had – at the expense, it might be argued, of winning communist converts – was an unintended by-product not foreseen by either the League's creators or detractors.

The Irish representatives at this Congress were Frank Ryan and Donal O'Donoghue, and upon their return to Ireland they took part in the formation of an Irish LAI 'section'. The first reference to an LAI-inspired anti-imperialist demonstration in Ireland can be found in a Garda (Police) report from 20 August 1928.[11] The meeting, around 600 strong, which assembled in Foster Place, Dublin, does not appear to have been very well organised. The main activity was centred on the burning of several Union Jack flags. On Westmoreland Street, the windows of premises flying the Union Jack were broken and several arrests were made. At this stage it seems, taking into account both the evidence from the archives and from contemporary press reports, the group responsible were seen as little more than an offshoot group of radical republicans whose concerns were primarily restricted to Irish affairs. The possibility of it developing significant international connections, communist or otherwise, in the fight against imperialism was not a concern. By October, with the help of Sean MacBride further meetings were organised of a more civilised nature. A meeting was held in the Mansion House on 5 October; a Garda report estimates the attendance at around 2000. Attendance swelled again the following month when Foster Place catered for nearly 3000 people at a meeting addressed by John Mitchell, Mrs Brugha, and Alec Lynn amongst others. The LAI in Ireland was taking shape.

In London in 1921, a new state-run surveillance and monitoring agency – Indian Political Intelligence (IPI) – had been established, in reaction the development of Indian anarchist activities in England since the turn of the century. IPI was run jointly by the India Office and the Government of India. UK, European and American operations were run by IPI in London. IPI reported to the Secretary of the Public and Judicial Department of the India Office, and the Director of Intelligence Bureau (DIB) in India and maintained close contact with Scotland Yard and MI5. One of IPI's main concerns in the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s was the LAI. Its members, contacts and activities were all monitored closely. Unlike the Irish authorities who were concerned with the immediate danger of anti-imperialist meetings and their potential to incite public disorder, the IPI's agents concerned themselves with the League's communist and subversive affiliations. As far as the IPI were concerned:

the main objects of the League are to foment trouble and discord in the foreign possessions of the Colonial powers and to exploit unrest in the interests of Moscow. The League has addressed itself persistently to the exacerbation of feeling in India.[12]

Within a year of the formation of the LAI the India Office realised that pragmatic action of some sort was needed to counteract the success the League had had in gaining international support. As a result of liaising with Scotland Yard, the IPI and various other departments, it was decided that measures were to be taken to prevent, if possible, the granting of Empire-wide travel permits to known LAI members.[13] This was by no means an easy task to carry out, as IPI explained to R T Peel of the India Office in December 1927:

membership of the League is rather nebulous. Except perhaps in certain countries, members of the League do not appear to pay subscriptions, but likely persons are 'roped in' on occasions when they are of use, and in this way become members… it is therefore difficult to compile a complete and accurate list… We do, however, know the names of the various office-bearers of the League, but this again presents a difficulty, because a number of them are Socialist MPs.[14]

It was finally decided that instead of black listing the entire known membership of the League, a narrower list would be drawn up of persons (other than Indians) who were consistently active in the LAI. It contained the names of those the authorities considered:

the more dangerous persons in the League… IPI suggest(ed) that the Home Office should be asked to ensure that no visa for India (be) granted to any of (these people) without previous reference to (IPI).

After consultation with Scotland Yard, IPI were in a position to submit further names of both 'Britishers and Aliens who appear to constitute the main figures other than Indians connected with the League's activities'. It contains some intriguing additions. Three of those newly named were stated as being nationals of the Irish Free State, regarding whom Scotland Yard wrote as follows:

As regards Landon, McBennett and O'Donoghue, these people are subjects of the Irish Free State. Landon and McBennett are believed to be aliases, since it is known that in addition to O'Donoghue one Peadar O'Donnell and a certain Frank Ryan attended the Conference of the League Against Imperialism which was held in Brussels in December last. O'Donnell is a member of the IRA Executive Council and is Editor of the Republican weekly newspaper An Phoblacht. Ryan, who is a student, is also attached to the IRA GHQ as Inspector Officer. O'Donoghue is assistant to O'Donnell on the staff of An Phoblacht and is 'Vice O/C [Officer Commanding] Dublin Brigade', IRA [Irish Republican Army].

Previously our attention has only been drawn briefly to IRA attendance at the LAI World Congresses in February 1927 and July 1929 in the shape of those mentioned above as well as Sean MacBride.[15] The meeting referred to in the extract by Scotland Yard, however, was an executive council (EC) meeting of the LAI held in Brussels in December 1927. That O'Donnell, Ryan and O'Donoghue were also in attendance at a gathering of this calibre, and possibly other EC meetings implies that they contributed more to the LAI than was previously realised. Yet their inclusion on the list is of interest for another reason, one that demonstrates how the LAI was providing the British authorities with far-reaching and unforeseen problems. Even before the infamous External Relations Act of 1937, and even amongst the higher echelons of the British administration, misunderstandings prevailed about the exact legalities of Irish citizenship in relation to Britain and the Empire. The Scotland Yard report suggested that the:

alternative would be to ask the Free State Government to cancel their British Commonwealth endorsement. This is a matter of some delicacy and one which we feel should, if possible be avoided… It frequently happens that Free State subjects turn up abroad with a Free State passport and ask to have it made available for certain countries. The Consul invariably replies that he cannot make an entry on a Free State passport, but that if the subjects care to have a British passport he would be quite ready to issue one with the necessary endorsement.

Foreign Secretary Austen Chamberlain was opposed to the idea of treating all members of the League as communists, yet was prepared to agree to the refusal of endorsements for India to all persons whom the Home Office considered dangerous. He did not consider this to be any significant change of existing policy and – it was reported – went on to express his irritation at:

being asked to do what is really the business of the Indian Government to do in India. He considers that India should refuse admittance, as all other countries do, to those whom she objects to receive.

The Second World Congress of the League Against Imperialism again hoped to meet in Paris but instead opened in Frankfurt-on-Main on 21 July 1929. A good example of the League's growth in popularity as well as the enthusiasm of its organisers was the proposal to hold a Youth Congress to coincide with the Second World Congress.[16] An Anti-Imperialist Youth Bulletin, published by the Youth Section of the British LAI, soon appeared. Amongst other publications produced by the LAI in Britain – held in the files of the Dublin Department of Justice – were Indian Front and Irish Front; both edited by Ben Bradley, then secretary of the LAI British Section.[17] Irish Front contained contributions from members of the 'Republican Congress' movement based in London, such as Tommy Paton; and those affiliated with The Irish Worker's Voice. Produced several years later in the LAI's life, in the mid 1930s, these publications are more explicitly communist in outlook, and demonstrate how the CPGB continued to use anti-imperialist organisations as conduits for the party's own propaganda.

By 1929, LAI sections had been established in many non-European countries including Mexico, Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and South Africa, and the surveillance of any form of Indo-Irish collaboration within the LAI had stepped up a gear. Correspondence between the LAI's branches in London and Berlin was being intercepted. A Garda report records that MacBride attended the Frankfurt gathering as an 'Irish Communist Delegate.'[18] Irish questions were dealt with at a morning sitting of the congress in which O'Donnell presented the general outline of the Irish Freedom Movement. MacBride, who extended attacks on the British Labour Party, is noted as having remarked how no British delegate had been present during the discussion of the Irish questions. However preoccupied the British delegates were with their own troubles,[19] the Irish had avid listeners in the shape of those Indians present. After O'Donnell's talk, Hassan Mirza, an Indian activist in Europe who was suspected of arms smuggling by IPI, added: 'The defeat of the Irish Freedom Movement would be a lesson to the Indians not to place their trust in the "bourgeois leaders".'[20] This Second World Congress saw more involvement from the Russian delegates and it became apparent that a new Comintern policy was in effect, to reverse the previous policy of tolerance towards the non-Communist left and colonial nationalist movements.[21] It was also at this conference that a few new appointees were unveiled, most notably Shapurji Saklatvala, the London based Indian CPGB member who was MP for Battersea in 1922 and again from 1924 until 1929. This new direction however was not exactly welcomed with open arms. There is evidence that Münzenberg made some attempts to block it, and thought it necessary to solicit the help of figures not long ago considered favourable. In a letter intercepted by the British authorities from the American LAI member Roger Baldwin to Jawaharlal Nehru, he states his belief that:

Münzenberg's stand for a real united League (Against Imperialism), rather than the agent of Moscow which the League pretty nearly became as a result of the Frankfurt Congress, would be greatly helped by letters from influential persons such as yourself.[22]

However, by 1931 many of the prominent figures whose support had been warmly welcomed in Brussels and who had substantiated the LAI's claim to be open to all individuals and organisations supporting the anti-imperialist struggle, had either resigned or been expelled. This included Nehru, who in April 1930 in his capacity as President of the Indian National Congress directed it to cease all correspondence with the LAI.[23]

By late 1929, after the Second World Congress, the LAI Dublin meetings had acquired a more international tone. On 10 November 1929 at a gathering in Findlater Place, organised by Frank Ryan and Maude Gonne MacBride, two resolutions were put to the people:

To pledge themselves to resist by every means in their power any display of Imperialism and to agitate for the release of the political prisoners and secondly to have the Imperial troops withdrawn from India, Egypt and other oppressed colonies.[24]

The radical press covered the growth of the LAI in Ireland with great zeal. Articles began to emerge containing detailed histories of other countries under imperialist rule, most notably India. At this time, in one of An Phoblacht's many articles covering these meetings, they tell us how they had reason to believe that the British authorities in India were forbidding the import of Terence MacSwiney's book Principles of Freedom as well as Dan Breen's My Fight For Irish Freedom.[25] September 1930 was a busy month in Ireland for those affiliated with the anti-imperialist movement. Thousands of Republicans' we are told in An Phoblacht, 'attended a Monster Aeridheacht Mor on the slopes of Lough Leane, near Collinstown West Meath last Sunday (13 September 1930) to meet the Indian Nationalist, Rainzi.'[26] He brought greetings 'from 350 million of his countrymen who were engaged in a life or death struggle to free, not only India, but… to help liberate the other down trodden nations of the world.' This was a prelude of sorts to the main event about two weeks later. On 24 September an LAI meeting was held in the Mansion House. The focal point of this meeting was events in India. Several Indian representatives were there and over 1200 people attended. A Garda report tells us how 'members of the Irregular organisation acted as stewards inside the house and included Michael Price, J.J. McConnell, Joseph Burke, Michael Kelly and Thomas O'Brien.'[27] There were nine speakers in total and on the platform were four men and one woman of Indian nationality, who accompanied Krishna Deonarini,[28] the Indian Representative of the LAI and the main guest speaker. Sean MacBride was the chairperson and the Irish speakers included Peader O'Donnell, Peader O'Maille, Mrs Sheehy Skeffington, Alex Lynn, Helena Maloney and Jim Larkin Jr. A long and aggressive resolution was first proposed:

That this mass meeting of Dublin Citizens declares the solidarity of Republican Ireland with the Indian masses in their struggle against British Imperialism and its Indian allies. We would urge on our Indian comrades the lesson of the betrayed Irish Revolution and would appeal to them to guard against the dangers that halted our struggle. […] We call on the labouring masses of the Irish race to recognise that Imperial Britain and revolutionary India are at war, and that the loyalty of revolutionary Ireland is to the enemy of Imperial Britain.[29]

An Phoblacht attempts to impress upon its readership a sense of great historical significance to this Indo-Irish collaboration when it states that:

Not since before the 'Treaty' was signed has that historic venue seen so large or fervent a gathering… the Round Room was packed until not even standing room was available, while an enthusiastic overflow meeting took place on the street outside.[30]

The meeting was concluded by Frank Ryan who read over the motion that was passed with three cheers for India and then three more for the Workers Revolutionary Party of Ireland. The Red Flag was then sung as the crowd stood to attention.[31] Rienzi went on to attend another rally the following week in Cork and his visit appears to have been a great success. The Garda report informs us that Rienzi, who the IPI noted the following year was trying to gain admission to Trinity College Dublin (TCD), was accompanied by Madame Charlotte Despard.[32] She played a major part in arranging his visit. Although by this time quite elderly and not an active member of the LAI in London she was however affiliated with another group there that was under the watchful eyes of the IPI; The Independence of India League (IOIL). One time suffragette and friend of Stafford Cripps and other British socialists leaders, and the sister of Lord French, viceroy of Ireland from 1918 to 1921, Charlotte Despard was involved in the 'Release the Prisoners Campaign' with Maude Gonne MacBride, Helena Maloney and Hannah Sheehy Skeffington, who all became involved in the LAI Irish Section. Her house in Eccles Street was being used as a workers' college by the left-wing IRA and was also the headquarters of the Irish section of the Friends of Soviet Russia.[33] Through her membership of the IOIL, and friendship with Vithalbhai Patel,[34] she had many Indian contacts in London and was actively involved in Indian nationalist campaigns there. At a 'Friends of India Conference' held in Tottenham Court Road in June 1932 those in attendance welcomed her presence describing it as a 'happy augury since she had been many times associated in championing lost causes… which had ultimately turned out to be victorious issues.'

Around this time also IPI became aware of another intriguing Indo-Irish connection in London. They were tracing the steps of one Philip Rupasangha Gunawardena who had arrived in England from America around 1929.[35] Born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) he was a member of the 'Cosmopolitan Crew', an anti-Government political association there. Upon arrival in England it did not take long for him to meet with other Indian activists. He joined the Indian Freedom League (IFL) and made regular speeches at their meetings in Hyde Park, and through it soon joined the LAI. He made regular trips to Berlin to carry out work connected with the LAI and was considered by IPI to be an active communist agent of the organisation and was therefore regarded as quite dangerous. It was noted with particular attention that on 16 November 1931 Gunawardena met with one Captain J White 'who has recently been in London associating with known extremists, having come from Ireland by appointment at… the office of the LAI'. Captain Jack White was a founder of Connolly's Citizen Army and leading figure of the 1913 Dublin lockout. By the 1930s, White was liaising with left-wing notables in Dublin like Sheehy Skeffington.

The following year IPI suggested that Gunawardena's passport should not be renewed so that his movement around the continent be hindered. They held out hope that he would return to Ceylon for a trip and – denied a passport renewal – would be unable to return. However this became doubtful after they were informed that he had been given a letter of introduction to Dan Breen to use in connection with another visit which he contemplated paying to Ireland.

The thirties saw the LAI's decline towards its eventual demise in 1937. The consolidation of Nazi power in 1933 finally forced Münzenberg's LAI International Secretariat to flee to Paris, where it remained for a few months until finally moving to London in November.[36] Reginald Bridgeman took control of the organisation there, which by this stage had a severely reduced membership encompassing mainly communists and other far left activists. The Comintern's change of policy was a success – insofar as the LAI no longer had the affiliation of those influential non-communist anti-imperialist thinkers from around the world. Figures such as Nehru, who could have helped the group become a legitimate international lobby for those who were genuinely suffering under imperialist rule in the colonies, now stood estranged from the LAI. Throughout 1934, Bridgeman, with increased help from Indians like Saklatvala, made vigorous attempts to keep the organisation going, and the Secretariat met eleven times.[37] Existing Irish LAI activists stepped up their efforts; linking their anti-imperialist actions to work around the Republican Congress movement in Dublin. O'Donnell was again present at a conference held that year on Blackfriars Road in London. The speakers were to include 'Conrad Noel, Alex Gossip, Harry Pollitt, S. Saklatvala, Ben Bradley (one of the Meerut prisoners) R. Bridgeman, and fraternal delegates form Ireland, India, China, Palestine (Arabs) and Cyprus.'[38] The two countries that featured most heavily on the agenda were Ireland and India with the Sunday sitting devoted to talks on 'The struggle of the Indian Workers and Peasants', followed by 'Ireland and the National Fight for Liberation'. A Scotland Yard report detailed the event and O'Donnell's speech, in which he said that:

the Irish Republican Congress came into being, not only to combat British Imperialism, but to fight against local imperialists and autocrats. Ireland was now governed more or less on fascist lines. O'Donnell, who criticised Mr. de Valera and his Government at some length, suggested that an anti-Imperialist congress should be held in Dublin next year. This resolution was seconded by the chairman of the Dublin District Committee of the Congress, and was supported by a woman.[39]

As seen earlier, Irish radicals had their regular trips to London and the continent reciprocated by the LAI. However it was primarily Indians based in London, as opposed to the British themselves, who were keen to advance relations with the Irish. One such trip paid in 1934 is noteworthy. Early that year a new Indian political group, the Indian Independence League (IIL), was formed – comprised of Indian activists, most of whom were already LAI members – with Saklatvala and Rienzi at the helm. At an IIL meeting held on 27 September 1934 it was agreed to send delegates to the Irish Republican Congress which was to take place in Dublin later that week. Saklatvala was elected as a delegate from the London Branch of the Indian National Congress. He then informed the meeting that 'a man named Connolly and his sister, were influential members of the congress and were interested in India and the group should get into communication with them'. Scotland Yard were being kept up to date on the Republican Congress movement. A brief file note recorded that:

The Irish Republican Congress is being called by a group of men and women who broke away from the IRA in April 1934. The 'Connolly and sister' reference made by Saklatvala are Roderick and Nora Connolly O'Brien, son and daughter of James Connolly who was executed because of his activities in the Easter week 1916 rebellion.

At the 1934 IRA army convention there occurred a split involving the secession of the left wing. Amongst them was O'Donnell who proposed a resolution that the IRA should mobilise a united front called the 'Republican Congress' that would campaign to wrest the leadership of the national struggle from the forces of Irish capitalism. What became of Republican Congress (recorded at length elsewhere) was helped greatly by one of the characteristics that it had adopted inadvertently from the IRA – the propensity towards schism. A devastatingly balanced split occurred at its very first meeting, which which Saklatvala and his co-delegate Yajnik were planning to attend. It is possible that O'Donnell's involvement in the LAI had quite an influence on Republican Congress. Doubtless his many trips and attendances at varying LAI conferences and EC meetings since 1927 provided a crash-course education in international networking and anti-imperialist mobilisation. It appears that the earlier LAI model of an anti-imperialist 'umbrella' organisation – as opposed to the strictly communist one of its later years – appealed to O'Donnell. In fact the following quote, concerning the Republican Congress, cold easily be used in relation to the early LAI: '(O'Donnell) did not aim to build a socialist organisation, but a republican, anti-imperialist one, in which workers, socialists, and the labour movement would be in the lead'.[40]

Both Saklatvala and Yajnik did attend the celebrated Republican Congress meeting in Rathmines Hall. Interestingly, considering that the meeting had had such a negative outcome for Republican Congress itself, Saklatvala was most enthusiastic upon his return to London. He met with Bridgeman and Bradley to discuss the meeting. He informed them that the leading members of the Irish Republican movement were very sympathetically inclined towards the ideal of an India completely free from British rule and influence, and that six Irish republicans had promised to attend an upcoming Indian Political Conference.[41] He apparently considered his trip most worthwhile, and it proved to be a useful excursion for another unexpected reason. A few months later in December 1934, Saklatvala was thinking of finding an alternative venue for the IIL meetings – his motive being to discard certain undesirable members in a subtle fashion. IPI reported him as having said that he had it 'on good authority' that Yajnik was in fact:

either an India Office or Police Agent. He added that Yajnik was practically driven out of the Irish Republican Congress and that but for him delegates from the (Irish) Congress Party would have attended the last Indian Political Conference.[42]

He would not however bar Yajnik from attending any meetings as such action might give rise to a 'spy scare' and keep other Indians away. It seems that Congress members were wary of Yajnik, unfortunately for what reason is not made clear. It also is not apparent from the IPI files whether Saklatvala's concerns in relation to Yajnik in particular were accurate. One thing was certain, that someone from the higher echelons of the LAI British section was an agent who provided the authorities with accurate and up-to-date reports on a weekly basis.

Information gathering from within the LAI structures was a vital source for IPI and Scotland Yard. It not only shed light on the nature of this ostensibly communist organisation and the apparent threat that it posed to law and order in the colonies, but also led to the authorities becoming more aware of less easily discernable radical contacts that had been established in the shape of Indo-Irish collaboration. Further investigation would demonstrate that such connections did not stop with the LAI.

Kate O'Malley, The Centre for Contemporary Irish History, Trinity College, Dublin

This article is based on continuing doctoral research into Irish and Indian radical interconnections in the inter-war years, and the effects that this had on the British Empire.

1 The New Leader 26 August 1927, extract from an article by Fenner Brockway.
[ Back ]

2 British Library, Oriental and India Office Collections, India Office Records [hereafter BL OIOC IOR], L/P&J/12/226. See also L/P&J/12/27. According to Reginald Bridgeman, the secretary of the British section of the League, by 1931 there were 17000 members in India with representatives in every province.
[ Back ]

3 BL OIOC IOR, L/P&J/12/267.
[ Back ]

4 John Callaghan, 'The Heart of Darkness: Rajani Palme Dutt and the British Empire - A Profile', in Contemporary Record, Vol. 5 No. 2, (1991) p262.
[ Back ]

5 Jean Jones, 'The League Against Imperialism', The Socialist History Society Occasional Paper Series, No. 4 (London, 1996) p4.
[ Back ]

6 B Gross, Willie Münzenberg: A Political Biography (Michigan, 1974) p185.
[ Back ]

7 Jones, p6.
[ Back ]

8 Ibid, p7.
[ Back ]

9 Many of the Labour Party members were to reach a crisis of conflict with regard to LAI membership. The Labour and Socialist International (LSI) opposed membership to the LAI believing it to be a communist front body whose ultimate aim was to discredit the Second International whilst promoting the spread of communist ideas in the colonies. Matters came to a head in 1927 when British Labour Party members George Lansbury and Fenner Brockway had to choose between the LAI and their party. They both chose the latter. Brockway had earnestly maintained that the LSI's suspicions in relation to the LAI were unjustified. See The New Leader, various articles throughout 1927.
[ Back ]

10 Public Records Office [hereafter PRO] KV2/772.
[ Back ]

11 National Archives of Ireland [hereafter NAI] Department of Justice [hereafter JUS] 8/682.
[ Back ]

12 BL OIOC IOR, L/P&J/277.
[ Back ]

13 BL OIOC IOR, L/P&J/268, following extracts until otherwise stated taken from same.
[ Back ]

14 The MPs who were declared LAI members and were finally named on the revised list submitted to the India Office by the IPI in 1928 were James Maxton, John Beckett, Ellen Wilkinson and Col C E Malone. However, Wilkinson and Malone, like Brockway and Lansbury before them, had already resigned their membership of the LAI in late 1927 after the LSI had rejected any form of affiliation with it.
[ Back ]

15 For some examples see Tim Pat Coogan, The IRA (London, 1995), Sean Cronin, Frank Ryan: The Search for the Republic (Dublin, 1980), Donal O'Drisceoil, Peadar O'Donnell (Cork, 2001) and Mike Milotte, Communism in Modern Ireland (Dublin, 1984).
[ Back ]

16 BL OIOC IOR, L/P&J/12//385.
[ Back ]

17 See Jean Jones, 'Ben Bradley. Fighter for India's Freedom', The Socialist History Society Occasional Paper Series, No. 1 (London, 1994).
[ Back ]

18 NAI JUS 8/682.
[ Back ]

19 Speeches at the Congress primarily consisted of assaults on the British Labour Party, or more specifically James Maxton, by CPGB and Russian delegates furious with the British Labour Government's colonial policy.
[ Back ]

20 NAI JUS 8/682.
[ Back ]

21 Jones, p13.
[ Back ]

22 PRO KV2/772.
[ Back ]

23 Jones, p16.
[ Back ]

24 NAI JUS 8/682.
[ Back ]

25 An Phoblacht, 30 November 1929, p2.
[ Back ]

26 An Phoblacht, 13 September 1930, p1. The actual spelling of this name is 'Rienzi' and his full name was Adrian Kola Rienzi, a native of Trinidad of Indian parentage. He was also known as Krishna Deonarine. He was affiliated to the LAI British section in the early 1930s. An article in An Phoblacht on the 27 January 1934, tells us how he became an appointed trustee of the Vithalbhai Patel fund for foreign propaganda on behalf of the Indian Nationalist Movement. He attempted to establish Indian newspapers in London, Dublin and New York, see also BL OIOC IOR, L/P&J/12372.
[ Back ]

27 NAI JUS, 8/682.
[ Back ]

28 Actual spelling 'Deonarine', as mentioned Deonarine and Rienzi are one and the same person.
[ Back ]

29 An Phoblacht, 4 October 1930, p3. This entire issue of An Phoblacht was devoted to Indian affairs. The front page is covered with illustrations depicting the 'Imperialist Terror in India' and through out its pages are articles detailing the lives of prominent Indian Nationalists and their fight against British rule.
[ Back ]

30 Ibid.
[ Back ]

31 NAI JUS, 8/682.
[ Back ]

32 BL OIOC IOR, L/P&J/12/270.
[ Back ]

33 Coogan, p76.
[ Back ]

34 Patel was founder of the 'Indo-Irish League'.
[ Back ]

35 BL OIOC IOR, L/P&J/12/409. All following quotes until otherwise stated taken from same.
[ Back ]

36 Jones, p31.
[ Back ]

37 Ibid.
[ Back ]

38 BL OIOC IOR, L/P&J/12/274. All following quotes until otherwise stated taken from same.
[ Back ]

39 The man was Ryan and the woman was possibly Despard. The only references to this proposed Irish Congress that I have found is a file contained in the NAI Department of Foreign Affairs titled 'World Congress of the LAI in Dublin, June 1935' which is unfortunately restricted.
[ Back ]

40 Richard English, Radicals and the Republic (Oxford, 1994) p230.
[ Back ]


41 BL OIOC IOR, L/P&J/12/274.
[ Back ]


42 Ibid. Apparently the six Irish Republicans who had committed themselves to attending the meeting did not show.
[ Back ]

 

Back to Left Nationalism

 



Any constructive comments/suggestions regarding this site? Please direct them to: Matt Kelly