By Honor Arundel
Country Standard Spring 1959
Last year (April 1958) we (The Communist Party) had our first experience of fighting a District Council election in the Tory backwoods of
In the past one Tory nominee had painlessly followed another. No public meetings were held and most voters were extremely vague about the powers and functions of
District Councils at all.
Theoretically, this election is not, in this area, overtly political. No party labels are used. But when my husband (Alex McCrindle) was nominated by a roadman and a farmworker in opposition to a prosperous fruit farmer Everyone Knew.
Apart from one small branch of the Farmworkers'
So our election campaign committee consisted of my husband, myself and the energetic roadman, who has an extensive knowledge of local affairs and bullseye marksmanship in an argument. His daily discussion meetings in the smiddy (Blacksmith's) over lunchtime tea became famous and many a Tory supporter slunk away from them, purple with embarrassment and discomfiture.
We drew our own posters, duplicated and delivered our own leaflets, and canvassed as many of the 1,000 voters as we could. We held two public meetings; one was a flop because it coincided with another local event; but. the one in our village attracted a record attendance of 60 people. "I hope all they ———— are na' going to vote for him " said one disgruntled Tory supporter.
The local Conservative & Unionist Association treated it as a major battle and brought all their splendid organisation to bear against us. With a fleet of cars at their disposal they scoured the countryside to see" that every single able-bodied voter came to the poll.
Sitting outside the polling booth in the keen April wind I counted nine cars in action- and watched country ladies in tweeds and toothy grins trying to be affable and chatty, and strange feudal gentlemen in kneebreeches. They were all—very flattering to us—worried to death.
We managed to secure 160 (Communist) to 550 votes which, in the circumstances, was quite a triumph.
If there had been six of us instead of three, and we had had a couple of cars and a little more money for publicity, I think we could have doubled it.
But the real value of the campaign was not to be counted in votes. It was in the discussions, in the finding of new friends and supporters, and in giving a direction to the growing feeling in the countryside that " they " have had things their own way long enough and it is time for a change.
This is not yet a militant political feeling, but every time Tory rule is challenged, in however humble a way, we are preparing the ground for future advance.
Honor ArundelOctober 15, 1919 - June 8, 1973
It is clear that not all in the Party felt that Swingler, Arundel and the other Communist Poets were necessarily spending their time productively. Maurice Cornforth, in the Daily Worker, wrote that there was “no point in treating communist poets as tender shoots which wilt at the first wind of critical comments from the working class”.
The first edition of which appeared in Febuary 1941 and incorporated “Poetry and the people”. The editors were Swingler, James Boswell and Allen Hutt. the administrator was Charles Ringrose (see entries for all but Boswell), but when Ringrose was called up to national service he was replaced by Honor Arundel.
Arundel married the Scottish Communist actor and Scottish Equity founder Alex McCridle (1911-1990), who played Jock in the popular radio programme Dick Barton, Special Agent (1946-1951), went on to become a regular television character actor and later appeared in the first `Star Wars’ film in 1977 as General Jan Dodonna, leader of the Rebel Alliance.
The house belong to Honor Tracy (sic) [Arundel], an upper-class young woman whose education had destined her for a very different life, and her husband Alex McCrindle ... who was in a radio series of immense popularity.
There were people from the worlds of radio, music, and nascent television, and of course, women with children. Most of them were communists, but none of them were communists ten years later, except for Alex. And Ewan MacColl, the communist troubadour and bard.”