Friday, October 30, 2015

McCarthyism at John Lewis Partnership 1949

In April 1949, The John Lewis Partnership central council voted 60 to 34 to adopt a recommendation that in future all employees should be asked to sign a declaration that they are neither members nor sympathisers of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

It was made clear that those who refused to sign the declaration or who signed knowing it to be untrue would face immediate dismissal.

A proposal that similar action be taken against Fascist employed was defeated 53 votes to 34.

The proposal was moved by John Lewis Partnerships director of public affairs the dapper, and monocled Conservative Member of Parliament Mr C.N. Thornton-Kemsley (Kincardine)

Thornton- Kemsley had been a loyal supporter of Neville Chamberlain and had moved a vote of censure in Winston Churchill for his role with Attlee in removing him as Prime Minister in May 1940. A censure vote publicly championed by Epping Conservative Association.

The Evening Standard stated
" This purge threatens the foundations of democratic government by introducing economic sanctions against political opinions.....The methods of inquisition and purge adopted by the John Lewis partnership are a carbon copies of the totalitarian techniques which they affect to combat"

DW 26 April 1949