Albert Inkpin

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Albert Inkpin (16 June 1884 – 1944) was a British communist and the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). He served several terms in prison for political offences. In 1929 he was replaced as head of the CPGB and made head of the party's Friends of Soviet Russia organisation, a position he retained until the time of his death.


Early years[edit]

Albert Inkpin was born on 16 June 1884 in London. Inkpin was employed as a clerk and was a member of the National Union of Clerks from 1907.[1]

Inkpin became Marxist and joined the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) in 1906 and was chosen as an Assistant Secretary the following year. He followed the SDF into the new British Socialist Party (BSP) in 1911, continuing in an Assistant Secretary capacity in that new organization.[2]

In 1913, Inkpin was elected the General Secretary of the BSP. Inkpin was a committed internationalist and anti-militarist, an opponent of World War I, and a delegate to the Zimmerwald Conference. This placed him at odds with former SDF leader H. M. Hyndman's support of the British participation in the conflict. This tension between the Left and Right the BSP ended in 1916 with Hyndman and his co-thinkers departing the group. Inkpin assumed the editorship of the BSP's weekly newspaper, The Call at this time.[3]

Inkpin and the more radical elements were thus in a position of firm control of the BSP organisation after 1916 and were well able to join the unity discussions which led to a Communist party in Great Britain in 1920.

Communist leader[edit]

Albert Inkpin was the Secretary of the Joint Provisional Committee of the Communist Party, the group of representatives of member organisations which set the agenda for the upcoming founding congress. This convention was held in London over the weekend of 31 July to 1 August 1920 and was attended by 160 delegates, presenting 211 mandates.[4] Inkpin delivered the keynote address to the gathering and was elected to the governing Central Committee of the new political organisation.[5]

In 1920, Inkpin was convicted of circulating pro-Soviet propaganda, and he was sentenced to six months imprisonment.

Inkpin was named a member of the honorary presidium of the 3rd World Congress of the Communist International, held in Moscow during the summer of 1921.

Inkpin returned from Soviet Russia to face more legal difficulties with British authorities. He was charged and convicted for printing and circulating Communist literature, serving a six-month term from January through June 1922. While he was in prison, Inkpin stood as a candidate for London County Council.[6]

Inkpin emerged from jail to become the CPGB's National Organiser, but he was returned as his previous post the following year. As was the case with top leaders of the early American Communist movement, such as C.E. Ruthenberg and Charles Dirba, Inkpin's background in clerical work no doubt served him well in many of the administrative tasks necessary to run a political organization on a day-to-day basis.

In 1925 Inkpin was again imprisoned, this time as one of 12 prominent Communists charged under the Incitement to Mutiny Act 1797. He was sentenced to six months in prison and remained inside until just prior to the eruption of the British General Strike of May 1926.

Inkpin stood down as General Secretary in 1929 to be replaced by Harry Pollitt, moving over to head the CPGB offshoot, the Friends of the Soviet Union. He remained at the helm of it and its successor organization, the Russia Today Society, until his death in 1944.


  1. ^ Solon DeLeon (ed.), The American Labor Who's Who. New York: Hanford Press, 1925. Page 292.
  2. ^ DeLeon (ed.), The American Labor Who's Who, pg. 292.
  3. ^ DeLeon (ed.), The American Labor Who's Who, pg. 292.
  4. ^ James Klugmann, History of the Communist Party of Great Britain: Volume 1: Formation and Early Years, 1919-1924. London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1968. Page 38. Klugmann notes that the official report of the proceedings stated 152 delegates were in attendance, but listed 157.
  5. ^ Graham Stevenson '"Albert Inkpin", Compendium of Communist Biography. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  6. ^ DeLeon (ed.), The American Labor Who's Who, pg. 292.

Publications by Albert Inkpin[edit]

  • "Re-Establishing" the Second International: The Communist Party of Great Britain Replies to a Letter of Appeal Signed by Arthur Henderson (for the British Labour Party), J.H. Thomas and Harry Gosling (for the Trades Union Congress), and J. Ramsay MacDonald (for the Second International). London: Communist Party of Great Britain, n.d. [c. 1921].
  • The Glory of Stalingrad. London: Russia Today Society, 1942.
  • Friends of the USSR: The Story of the Russia Today Society. London: Russia Today Society, n.d. [1942].

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Henry W. Lee
General Secretary of the British Socialist Party
1913 - 1920
Succeeded by
post abolished
Preceded by
new creation
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain
1920 - 1922
Succeeded by
post vacant
Preceded by
Bob Stewart
National Organiser of the Communist Party of Great Britain
1922 - 1923
Succeeded by
Preceded by
post vacant
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain
1923 - 1928
Succeeded by
J. R. Campbell