Thomas A. Jackson
- This page is about the British Communist T.A. Jackson. For other people by the same name, see Thomas Jackson.
Thomas Alfred "Tommy" Jackson (21 August 1879 – 18 August 1955) was a founding member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain and later the Communist Party of Great Britain. He was a leading communist activist and newspaper editor and worked variously as a party functionary and a freelance lecturer.
Thomas A. Jackson, best known as a writer as T. A. Jackson and by his friends as "Tommy," was born in Clerkenwell, London on 21 August 1879. Jackson was apprenticed in the printing trade as a compositor at an early age, but soon after becoming a journeyman compositor became a full-time speaker and orator, and later a writer.
In 1900 he joined the Social Democratic Federation and helped found the Socialist Party of Great Britain with the Impossibilist section in 1904. Briefly General Secretary in 1906, he was a very active speaker but, perhaps oddly given his later career, wrote only two brief items for the Socialist Standard. He resigned on 9 March 1909 to become paid speaker for the Independent Labour Party in Bristol and South Wales.
He left the ILP in 1911, then becoming a speaker for the National Secular Society in Leeds and finally a freelance lecturer. During the First World War he found employment as a storekeeper and in 1917 he joined the Socialist Labour Party, becoming a lecturer for the North East Labour College Committee in 1919.
In 1920 Jackson was a founding member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, although he was not present at the foundation congress. During the 1920s he was a major figure in the CPGB, being on the Central Committee from 1924 to 1929 and editor of The Communist and The Sunday Worker. He was one of those arrested before the General Strike of 1926. He was removed from the leadership in 1929, essentially for opposing the ‘Left turn’ (the Labour Party being ‘social-fascist’), but remained a paid journalist for the CPGB, being a frequent contributor to the Daily Worker and writing several CPGB pamphlets.
The classic self-educated working-class intellectual, Jackson was renowned for his oratorical skill, and notorious for his lack of cleanliness. Jackson was married to another SPGB founder member, Kate Hawkins. Before 1914 he was notable in the North and Wales, and for his flowing locks according to his obituary. His Manchester Guardian obituary said he was a Marxist scholar of weight, and that Solo Trumpet was a racy autobiography.
In the early 1930s he was secretary of the League of Militant Atheists.
Death and legacy
Tommy Jackson died at Clare, Suffolk on 18 August 1955, just three days shy of his 76th birthday.
- as T. A. Jackson, published by Lawrence and Wishart.
- Dialectics: The Logic of Marxism and its critics (1936)
- Trials of British Freedom (1940)
- Solo Trumpet (his 1953 autobiography)
- Ireland Her Own (1971)
- Antony Taylor, "Down with the Crown": British Anti-Monarchism and Debates about Royalty since 1790. London, Reaktion Books, 1999. ISBN 1861890494 (p.223).
- Obituary in Manchester Guardian of 19 August 1955 p3
- Socialist Party of Great Britain 1904–1913 membership register.
- Thomas A. Jackson. Solo Trumpet.
- "Thomas A. Jackson". Dictionary of Labour Biography, Volume IV.
- Vivien Morton and Stuart Macintyre. TA Jackson: A Centenary Appreciation. Our History pamphlet 73, 1979.
- Socialist Standard, August 1909.
- T.A. Jackson Archive Marxists Internet Archive