Tom Abbott (socialist)

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John Thomas Abbott (19 February 1872 [1] – 22 September 1949) was a British socialist activist.

Abbott grew up in Blackburn and became a weaver at a young age. He joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in 1894, shortly after its formation, and agitated in opposition to the Second Boer War. As a result, he lost his job, and instead became a full-time organiser for the ILP, initially in Accrington, then in Whitehaven, and from 1918 in Manchester, covering the important Lancashire District of party. [2]

At the 1931 general election, Abbott stood for the ILP in Stockport. Although this was a two-member seat, the official Labour Party candidate refused to run a joint campaign, and while Abbott ultimately took 15,591 votes, this left him in last place. [2]

He supported the disaffiliation of the ILP from the Labour Party, [3] but in 1934 he resigned from the ILP, protesting about the involvement of the Revolutionary Policy Committee, the predominance of middle-class members of the National Administrative Council, and moves to reduce the autonomy of branches from the centre. [2] Several other members left the party in his wake, including Arthur Mostyn, a former councillor, and they linked up with former MP Elijah Sandham to form the Independent Socialist Party. Abbott was elected as its general secretary, [4] but the party achieved little and was wound up shortly after his death in 1949. [5]

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  1. 1939 England and Wales Register
  2. 1 2 3 "The ILP split: Lancashire organiser resigns", Manchester Guardian , 20 April 1934, p.13
  3. Gidon Cohen, Failure of a dream, p.34
  4. Gidon Cohen, Failure of a dream, p.101
  5. "Births, marriages and deaths", Manchester Guardian , 23 September 1949, p.10