Communist Party: a very short story

Unlike Leiston, Ipswich was never a ‘little Moscow’.  As one wit put it:

‘the Communist Party never really took off in Ipswich.  We were always more Co-op than Commissariat!’ 

However, one local woman held a significant post at Communist Party headquarters in London. Betty Reid (1915-2004), a ‘tough-minded Stalinist’ originally from Ipswich, was given overall responsibility for enforcing internal party discipline and making sure the party was not infiltrated by the British security services or dissident left-wingers. 




In the late 1960s, Betty Reid wrote a hard-line pamphlet denouncing elements of the ultra-left in Britain -Trotskyist, anarchist and syndicalist organisations and those that ‘support the line of the Communist Party of China’  (MI5 surveillance snap taken in 1972)




In his history of the Ipswich branch of the Communist Party, Richard Pipe hardly mentions any women at all, except for passing references to ‘Chris Stopher’s wife’, who was the District Literature Secretary, and Lesley Lewis.  Pipe judged Mrs Lewis’ work alongside the Party as ‘invaluable’ but criticised her as she ‘would never read the Daily Worker’! As a lone parent of three boys and an active town councillor she quite possibly didn’t have time.  (Incidently, Mrs Lewis' ex-husband married none other than Betty Reid in 1948.)

Sources include

History of the Ipswich Branch of the Communist Party by Richard Pipe

Guardian 11 February 2004