Saturday, December 01, 2007

Reginald Francis Orlando Bridgeman

Born 14th October 1884 eldest son of Colonel the Hon. Francis Bridgeman

His father had been Member of Parliament for Bolton and ended his military career as Brigadier General.

Reginald Bridgeman was educated at Harrow, but left aged 16 to study languages in France and Germany.

In 1903 he was appointed honary attaché to the British Embassy in Madrid, later he was posted to Paris, later as Private Secretary to Sir Francis Bertie in 1912. Brdgeman as a up and comingdiplomat attended and was involved in the Paris Peace Congress. In July 1918 he was appointed as a Civil Service First Secretary (and a member of Association of Upper Division Civil Servants) .

Bridgeman was posted to Vienna, Austria and would later state he was greatly impressed by the Working Class (Socialist) control of the City, the use of the Imperial Palace and Gardens of Schoenbrunn to house the homeless and feed the starving children of the City. This he recalled "opened his eyes to the practicality of socialism"

Khan in 1921. Later that year the Soviet Bridgeman was then posted to Iran in 1920, and it was here he witnessed the Coup of RezaBridgeman took a controversially position in attending attendingEmbassy's commemoration of the October Revolution.

His attendance was labelled “One of the most shocking episodes in modern history” and Bridgeman was recalled to London (visiting India, and studying illiteracy and poverty rates) on the way back by Lord Curzon, where he was finally pensioned off by the Civil Service in July 1923.

Bridgeman moved to Pinner in 1922, and in 1924 Bridgeman was active in the founding of Pinner Labour Party branch of Hendon Labour Party (and Chairman of Hendon Constituency in March 1927)

Bridgeman's politics were confirmed when in 1923 he married Miss Olwen Elizabeth Jones, of Pinner, West London, the daughter of a Chemist and active in Labour movement.

Bridgeman showed his continued support to the Communist Party by organising annual Sunday Worker Garden parties between 1927 to 1932 at Waxwell Lane, Pinner (Where he had built 14 houses at affordable rent). Sunday worker banners would be tied across the street to the alarm of local Tories.

During the General strike of 1926 Bridgeman was involved with the Wealdstone Trades Council and it's strike bulletin (ref 4 editions at Hull University)

In 1926 he was appointed along with A. M. Wall, Secretary of the London Trades Union Council to be joint Secretary of the British Labour Council for Chinese Freedom and had become active in the formation of the Chinese Information Bureau and “Hands of China” campaigns.

In February 1927 Bridgeman attended the Congress of Oppressed Nationalities in Brussels, (organised by Eili Muzenburg) which resulted in the formation of the League Against Imperialism, Bridgeman becoming Honorary Secretary in 1933

It is probably for his work within the League Against Imperialism that Bridgeman is best known

The LAI was a vital part of the anti colonial struggle, producing numerous publications
Cypriot News (Kypriaka Nea)

It is therefore hardly surprising that Bridgeman was heavily involved in the Meerut trial 1929-1933 of trade union leaders in India including Shaukat Usmani

Bridgeman was selected as the popular Labour candidate to fight the Uxbridge constituency at the 1929 general election.

Threw himself into constituency , cycling everywhere, speaking everywhere and even fly posting
Bridgeman recalled that “The people are naturally conservative and opposed to any change, so that progress is more difficult than one might expect”

Bridgeman stood on a platform of
Pay rises,
Shorter Working hours,
2 weeks holiday paid,
Raise school leaving to 16,
Abolition of overseas bases,
Outlaw war,
Self determination for colonies,
Full diplomatic relations with Soviet Union,
Abolition House of Lords

Bridgeman was also a member of the Pinner General & Municipal Workers Union branch and Southall Labour Club

At the 1929 general election Labour's vote in Uxbridge rose from 8,459 to 16,422 and the Tory vote slashed to a 1,348 majority

In the election of 1929 Bridgeman had been helped by the local Southall Communist Party (ref Hull University records)

When LAI was made a prescribed organisation by the Labour party, because of its links with the Communist party Bridgeman had no choice but to stand as a "Workers Candidate" for Uxbridge
a Southall section of the League against imperialism was established to support Bridgeman.
“Your vote is one weapon, class might be another
Polled 2,358

Bridgeman was readmitted to the Labour party in 1937 and selected as candidate for Hendon but resigned and was later expelled from the Labour Party for supporting the Communist Party backed "People's Convention" in 1941

During the war he was involved with the establishment of a Yiewsley Communist Party branch. Tragically his eldest son was killed in serve during WW2

Between 1949 and 1951 he was national treasurer of the National Council for Civil Liberties NCCL

While Bridgeman was never a card carrying member of the Communist party he was certainly a "fellow traveller" and was very close to harry Pollitt. Bridgeman himself stated

“Communist influence is gaining ground throughout the world, Social Democracy represented by the ILP, LP, TUC in close co-operation with Federation of British Industries is a waining force, while the masses everywhere are revolting against capitalism”

Died 11th December 1968