At Marx House

At Marx House

Maxim Gorky
Maxim Gorky

April 26th, 2005, 7:18 pm #1

I travelled up to London last weekend for the AGM of the Marx Memorial Library. Not a very pleasant trip for someone my age but well worth it to see Nick Wright and George Anthony get their come-uppance once again at the hands of the supporters of Mike Hicks and Mary Rosser.

The former Straight Lefters were well outnumbered this time though George Anthony more than compensated with his usual raucous and ill-informed interventions. Wright crept in during the proceedings and departed soon after depositing his vote.

Though I say "former SL'ers" it was really the Islip crowd that revolve around Gill and Anthony along with some of old Camden Artists. Haylett and a number of others were notable by their absence.

The retiring committee who were up for re-election were all returned by an overwhelming majority. Their lowest vote was 73 and their highest 98. The best the Anthony/Wright slate could get was 29 and their lowest was 26.


Maxim Gorky
A former Artist
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Bert Papworth
Bert Papworth

April 27th, 2005, 12:11 am #2

Was that long term comrade from Oxford there... Geoffrey F? I suppose he supported the Hicks/Rosser slate-I think he is still a supporter for the MML-at least he spoke at one of their lectures a few years back.He must be one of the few remaining genuinely non-aligned non-factionalists left-ie he never as far as I know joined one but joined the CPB on its formation-but scripulously avoided factionalsim until then-or am I wrong?
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Maxim Gorky
Maxim Gorky

April 28th, 2005, 9:13 pm #3

If you mean Geoffrey Ferris I can't say I saw him on Saturday though the room was quite crowded so I may have missed him. He used to take part in MML activities but I haven't seen him for some years now. Perhaps he's dropped or time, the old enemy, is taking its toll as it does to all of us.

Maxim Gorky
A former Artist
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Charlie Woods
Charlie Woods

April 28th, 2005, 10:41 pm #4

No he has not dropped out, but I think you are right about being less able to be active, though its not age.I suspect he will remain a communist til he drops.
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Maxim Gorky
Maxim Gorky

April 12th, 2006, 10:53 pm #5

I did the Long March from the south coast to the Marx House AGM which was appropriately enough on April Fool's Day. All the usual suspects were there though not so many as the time before. I could see by the sour look on Nick Wright's face that the Artists formerly known as Straight Left, or at least those in the Halpin/Foster camp, were in for a hiding and that's how it panned out. They were easily seen off by Mary Rosser and Co with the opposition, vocally supported by Anita Wright, Anthony, Morton and Squires, getting just 16 votes at best. Poor old Monty Goldman turned up as usual to beef up the CPB loyalist crowd and I presume Kevin Halpin was ill though his wife was there.

The rift in the CPB over Respect clearly undermined the Artist challenge. John Haylett obviously decided he had better things to do on his rest-day than turn up as voting fodder and Gill and Mortimer were noticable in their absence.

Maxim Gorky
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Donald Maclean
Donald Maclean

April 14th, 2006, 10:40 am #6

The results were published in the Morning Star on 13th April and they are as follows:

Tish Collins 67
Mary Rosser 67
Muriel Hevey 66
Janet Perham 66
Tom Wipperman 66
Tony Newbery 65

all duly elected

the results for the also-rans were:

Mike Squires 17
Anita Wright 17
Dave Esbester 16
Emily Mann 16
Gary Morton 16
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Commissar George Aitken
Commissar George Aitken

May 8th, 2006, 1:56 pm #7

Anyone see the letters in the Star recently about how Mike Squires was "expelled" from the Marx Mmeorial Library (a bizarre image -suggestive of a vagarnt being kicked out for falling asleep in the newspaper section)apparently for urging "trade unionists" to get involved with the Library's work. I can guess the nuances of this tale, but it does seem a rather bizarre turn of events. Since this site is the fount of all wisdom on such matters can anyone shed some (hopefully humourous) light on this latest odd turn of events.
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Maxim Gorky
Maxim Gorky

May 8th, 2006, 3:51 pm #8

Mike Squires, a leading former Straight Lefter who recently joined the CPB, is also one of the leaders of the campaign to oust Mike Hicks and Mary Rosser and their supporters from control of the Marx Memorial Library. His version of why he was expelled appeared in the Star two weeks ago together with a supporting letter from another of his faction and his appeal comes up later in May.

News from London always travels slowly down to the south coast these days so I haven't heard what the official grounds for purging Squires was. Perhaps our Cambridge friends can help?
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Kim Philby
Kim Philby

May 8th, 2006, 8:33 pm #9

Not much to add to Gorky so far except that the letter supporting Squires in the Star was sent by Dave Esbester, his old chum and co-conspirator at the MML (if my memory serves me well). Their bloc, which fell so badly at the last Marx House AGM consisted of:

Dave Esbester
Emily Mann
Gary Morton
Mike Squires
Anita Wright

all were nominated by the great George Anthony. E Mann & Squires received a second nomination from Esbester; A Wright got another from Squires. Though all now in the CPB I'm not sure of the exact status of the list -- though as it was vociferously supported by Monty Goldman and Anita Halpin one can only assume it had the blessing of the London District.

pip,pip,

H A R Philby
(Col.retd)
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John Gregory Chamberlain
John Gregory Chamberlain

May 25th, 2006, 9:23 pm #10

From Star wars to library wars

Lawrence Parker reports on what looks like a new factional war in the Morning Star's Communist Party of Britain over the Marx Memorial Library

May 25 2006


Libraries are traditionally viewed as havens of peace and tranquillity. Maybe the Marx Memorial Library was once such an oasis. Not these days.

On April 18 the Morning Star published a seemingly innocuous letter from Mike Squires (a respected labour movement historian who recently became a member of the Star’s Communist Party of Britain), urging trade unionists to join the MML. Presumably, the comrade thought he would be helping Mike Hicks, who was appointed to the new post of trade union liaison officer at the library’s annual general meeting in April.

Mike Squires takes up this depressing tale in the Morning Star of April 22: “The next day [after his initial letter was published], I received a recorded delivery letter from Marx Memorial Library chairwoman Mary Rosser, telling me that I was to be expelled from the library for writing such a letter.” Comrade Squires appealed against this decision and he had a hearing on May 11. There has been no news yet as to the verdict.

From what we can gather, the rather bizarre idea that comrade Squires could be persecuted for urging people to join the library (in the context of a recent drop in subscribers) has fallen away in favour of accusations about a ‘Mike Squires group’ holding meetings in order to discuss the future direction of the library. No evidence has been produced by the clique around Mary Rosser as to the existence of this group or as to how such meetings would break the library’s rules.

There are clearly two blocs at work in the politics of the library and this was revealed in this year’s elections to the general management committee. Duly elected were Tish Collins (67 votes), Mary Rosser (67), Muriel Hevey (66), Janet Perham (66), Tom Wipperman (66) and Tony Newbery (65). The votes for the so-called ‘Squires group’ (all unelected) were: Mike Squires (17), Anita Wright (17), Dave Esbester (16), Emily Mann (16) and Gary Morton (16). The similarity of the spans of these votes shows how capable the group around chair Mary Rosser has been in mobilising its votes against what are, in reality, the CPB’s preferred candidates.

In 1998 the CPB was split into two rival factions and the main battleground was the Morning Star. Things came to a head when the management committee of the People’s Press Printing Society, which owns the Star, attempted to sack John Haylett as editor. The PPPS was led by Rosser and former CPB general secretary Mike Hicks. This led to a strike of Morning Star journalists and eventually it was Rosser and Hicks who were forced out (Rosser is today a Labour Party member). The battleground has now shifted to the MML, where Rosser is clearly extracting a measure of revenge through her faction’s continued control.

The Hicks-Rosser group claim that an alliance of the CPB’s current leadership around part-time general secretary Rob Griffiths and comrades from the old Straight Left ‘official’ communist faction has moved the CPB in the direction of ‘sectarianism’ (Weekly Worker October 12 2000). By this they mean that the current leadership has allegedly diluted the pro-Labourism of the British road to socialism, the CPB gradualist programme, in favour of cosying up to the extra-Labour left, including Trotskyists, who by definition are ‘sectarian’. No doubt this group views the likes of CPBer Andrew Murray ‘going native’ with the Socialist Workers Party in the Stop the War Coalition as ample confirmation of its analysis.

Following the Star strike of 1998, Mary Rosser failed to get re-elected to the PPPS management committee (by one vote) following a determined effort by the CPB and its allies. The boot is now on the other foot and it is clear that the CPB had difficulty in mobilising its membership for the library’s AGM (if votes of 16 and 17 are anything to go by). The CPB is currently deeply debilitated by its internal divisions as to the desirability of gravitating toward Respect.

It seems the Rosser-Hicks faction feels confident enough to begin a more concerted assault on the CPB and its allies, although striking out at people arguing for more recruits is not that savvy (one could see though how an influx of ‘trade unionists’ could benefit the CPB and threaten the stability of the Rosser group).

The committee of the MML gave us this statement: “As a charity organisation answerable to no political body, we have a duty to preserve our charity status for the benefit of all our members. Interference by a political party could seriously affect this position and this is the matter being considered by the committee in the case of Mr Squires.

“At no time has anyone requiring to use the facilities of the library been denied access to materials for research purposes. Mr Squires has not been removed from membership. The matter is still under consideration and until the committee takes a decision, we cannot discuss a matter which is sub judice.”

Such rumblings of “interference by a political party” (the CPB) conveniently mask the fact that the library’s position is being dictated by the Rosser-Hicks political faction.

We would urge readers, particularly those who are members of the library, to write in to the management committee in support of Mike Squires and against any restriction of his involvement in promoting or assisting the work of the library. If his appeal is not successful we would suggest that comrade Squires’ case be heard by a labour movement inquiry. This decision should not be the property of the Rosser-Hicks faction.

Similarly, the Marx Memorial Library itself should not be the property of any one political faction, the CPB included. If the CPB comrades are serious about democratising the library then they should convene an open meeting of the left, to which all tendencies and groupings could be invited. Such an infusion of political energy should be more than enough to see off the Rosser-Hicks faction.
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