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Arthur MacManus


1889 - 1927

Trade unionist and communist leader. Born into a working-class Catholic family in Belfast (Ireland), he moved with his parents to Glasgow and was raised in the slums of the city's East End. His education included classes in Marxism, where he met James Connolly (1868 - 1916) who became a friend. He joined the Socialist Labour Party, began to organise unions in the factories and fought for better conditions for workers. MacManus took a job in Singer's sewing machine factory in Clydebank but was dismissed after organising a strike there in 1911. He opposed Britain's involvement in the First World War and was arrested following an anti-conscription demonstration in George Square in Glasgow in 1915. He went on to become a leading member of the Clyde Workers Committee and was central to the organisation of another strike at William Beardmore's Parkhead Forge in 1916, but given this company's war work, this was taken as an opportunity by the Government to defeat the Clydeside Workers Committee and MacManus was deported to Edinburgh, along with fellow committee members including Willie Gallacher (1881 - 1965) and David Kirkwood (1872 - 1955).

MacManus was profoundly influenced by the Russian Revolution and strongly advocated uniting the various socialist and communist parties. He became the first Chairman of the Communist Party of Great Britain on its foundation in 1920. He was arrested in 1925 accused of mutiny - in advance of the General Strike.

He died of influenza in the Royal Free Hospital in London. In a remarkable honour for a foreigner, his ashes were placed alongside Soviet leaders within the walls of the Kremlin in Moscow.


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