Philip Piratin (15 May 1907 – 10 December 1995), known as Phil Piratin, was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and one of the four CPGB Members of Parliament during the first thirty years of its existence.
Piratin was the son of a small local tradesman. He became a Communist activist, anti-fascist and defender of tenants' rights, a leading member of the Stepney Tenants Defence League. Of Jewish origin, he was a leader of the opposition to Oswald Mosley's anti-semitism and his British Union of Fascists' marches through East London. Piratin was elected to Stepney Borough Council in 1937 and was Chairman of the borough's Communist Party. During World War II, he gained further notice by leading 100 people to shelter in a London Underground station, a practice which then became widespread.
Piratin was elected at the 1945 General Election as Member of Parliament (MP) for Mile End in Stepney, becoming one of the last two CPGB MPs. In Parliament, he worked with several left-wing Labour MPs, some of whom would be expelled by their party as crypto-communists and form the Labour Independent Group. He was defeated when he stood for re-election in 1950 in the new constituency of Stepney - his old seat of Mile End having been abolished due to boundary changes.
Until 1957, Piratin was the circulation manager of the communist newspaper The Daily Worker, but he left early that year, ostensibly over a matter of process. However, in 1991 he told Alison Macleod about his doubts at the time: "In 1956, Phil said, he drove to Oxford, to defend the Party line on Hungary at a meeting of undergraduates. He got as far as outside the hall, stopped - and drove home again. Phil remained in the Party, but he never again worked for it full time. He became a businessman, and, with his brains and energy, a successful one."
- Phil Piratin; Our Flag Stays Red, Thames, London (1948).
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Phil Piratin
- Alison Macleod, The Death of Uncle Joe, Merlin Press (1997)
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|Member of Parliament for Mile End
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