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A portrait photograph of John Gollan.
John Gollan

John Gollan (2 April 1911 - 5 September 1977) was a leader of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).

He was born in Edinburgh, where he grew up and took his first job as a painter's apprentice. His first introduction to political activity was during the 1926 general strike when he helped distribute the papers of the strike committee. On May 1st the following year he joined the CPGB and its youth wing the Young Communist League (YCL). He became a signwriter but his career was cut short in July 1931 when he was arrested for distributing anti-militarist leaflets. He had been organising soldiers to demand better rights and conditions, an activity for which he was sentenced to 6 months in Edinburgh prison. After a popular campaign calling for his release he was freed in January 1932 and began working for the party.

Gollan became the editor of the YCL's newspaper 'the Young Worker' and its successor publication 'Challenge'. He did this for several years until his election as General Secretary of the YCL in 1935.[1] He then held various regional posts before becoming the party's National Organiser in 1945. In 1949, he became assistant editor of the Daily Worker, and in 1954 he became the party's Assistant General Secretary. In 1956 he became the party's General Secretary and immediately had to deal with the drop in membership following the Soviet crushing of the Hungarian Revolution. He held the post until 9 March 1975, when he resigned following ill health, and died in 1977.


  1. ^ Stevenson, Graham (18 December 2005). "Compendium of Communist Biography". p. F to I by surname. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. He went on to be successively editor of the Young Communist League's newspaper Challenge in 1932 and General Secretary of the League in 1935.

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Party political offices
Preceded by
Wally Tapsell?
National Secretary of the Young Communist League
1935 - 1940
Succeeded by
Ted Willis
Preceded by
Jock McBain
Secretary of the Scottish District of the Communist Party of Great Britain
1941 - 1947
Succeeded by
Bill Lauchlan
Preceded by
Position recreated
Assistant General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain
1947 - 1949
Succeeded by
George Matthews
Preceded by
Mick Bennett
National Organiser of the Communist Party of Great Britain
1954 - 1956
Succeeded by
Bill Lauchlan
Preceded by
Harry Pollitt
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain
1956 - 1976
Succeeded by
Gordon McLennan