The Communist Party of Great Britain archive

George Matthews papers
Matthews, George
Date published: 
January 2009

Series CP/IND/MATH: George Matthews was the son of a Bedfordshire farmer who joined the CPGB, initially as an undercover activist in the Labour Party and the University Labour Federation, around 1938. After coming out as an open communist in 1940, Matthews's party career made rapid progress, and he joined the CPGB's Executive Committee in 1943, remaining a member until 1979. From 1950-7 he was the party's assistant secretary, and then editor of the Daily Worker/Morning star (1957-74) and head of press and publicity (1974-9). In the estimation of some of his colleagues, he would have made an obvious and competent secretary of the Party -but according to Harry Pollitt himself was ruled out on grounds of his middle-class, farming background. After retiring from his other party responsibilities, Matthews continued to work part-time in the library and played a significant role in the discussions which led to the archives being made publicly accessible in Manchester. Perhaps for this reason, his are among the notes and papers that can be found scattered in other files and classes through the archives. Though Matthews was regarded as one of the CPGB's experts on agriculture, his papers cover the broader range of political and industrial activities that he encountered in the course of his responsibilities. There is little, however, of a personal character.