—a Labour Party Official
From Our Own Correspondent
According to a paragraph which appeared in the press recently " Every day Communist propaganda is circulating in the Tyneside shipyards and factories. Fortnightly rallies addressed by Pollitt and Gallacher are held in a Newcastle theatre. An appeal at a recent meeting brought £65 for the Daily Worker fighting fund. Support for these meetings is notable from young fellows under twenty."
There are few areas in England where the Catholic population is greater than on Tyneside and in some districts, notably mid-Tyne, up to 50 per cent. of the people are Catholic. Such a paragraph as the above shows a gross misrepresentation of Tyneside people.
The facts of the case as related by a trade union official are as follows: Some months ago a number of apprentices were transferred from Clydeside to Tyneside where they took up similar work in shipyards and engineering shops. Previous to leaving Glydeside these young men bad been involved in a strike of apprentices who had taken exception to the introduction of dilutees in the trades to which they were
apprenticed. The Clydeside dispute was settled satisfactorily, but on arrival on Tyneside the apprentices found that the new terms in vogue on Clydeside did not apply on Tyneside.
Among the apprentices working on the north bank of the Tyne was Thomas Clarke, a member of the Communist Party, who, on hearing of the Clydeside terms, immediately organised meetings of apprentices and urged them to press for the introduction of the same terms on Tyneside. The outcome of the meetings was that Clarke persuaded the apprentices to strike. When the strike had lasted for a day and a half the employers agreed to meet the apprentices and the matter was settled amicably.
Apart from Clarke, there is no evidence that any of the young men were connected with the Communist Party.
It was just previous to the settlement of the dispute that Messrs. Gallacher and Pollitt arrived in Newcastle to address a meeting in the Palace Theatre in aid ot the Daily Worker fighting fund. No further meeting has been addressed by either Gallecher or PollNittinNcastle.
Following the meeting it was thought that Mr. Gallacher remained on Tyneside in connection with the apprentices' strike, but although strict vigilance was maintained in all the Tyne towns there were no reports of his having addressed or interviewed the apprentices.
When asked his opinion of the growth of Consmunism on Tyneside, an official of the Labour Party, who until recently was a member of the Conzmunist Party, said; " Communism has definitely gone back in the district and the principal reasons for the decline have been supplied by Russia. Had Russia kept out of Finland and steered clear of Hitler I would still be in favour of Communism; but if that's Communism. I am done with it. And I ant not by any means the only one on Tyneside who thinks that way. Russia's attitude in this war has cost the Communist Party its chances of finding favour."
A Tyneside priest of long experience among Tynesiders, agreed that Communism had lost much of its grip in the works and shipyards. " Before the war," he said, " the Communist Party was fairly well organised in the district. There were regular meetings and I believe there was quite a large following. But since the war began we have not heard much pf them.
" No doubt many of the younger ones have been conscripted for service in the Forces and war work has given the older ones something better to think of. In any case, the Bishop has given us the answer to Communism—the Catholic youth movement. With the Government behind us and working with other youth organisations there is every chance that the national youth movement may be too strong for Communism after the war."