Tom Colyer

William Thomas Colyer was a British socialist activist.

Colyer worked as a civil servant in the years running up to World War I. He opposed the war, joining the Independent Labour Party, and refused to assist in compiling the National Register, which was to be used for conscription. In 1915, he and his wife Amy moved to Massachusetts, joining the Socialist Party of America. Tom became its state vice-president, but as a supporter of the October Revolution, he was a founder of the Communist Party USA split.[1][2]

In 1922, Tom and Amy were detained on Deer Island and threatened with deportation back to the United Kingdom for their communist activism. While at the camp, they formed a prisoners' soviet. They took their case to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and lost; they considered further appealing to the United States Supreme Court, but ultimately decided against this course of action, and were deported on 11 April 1922.[1][2]

Back in the UK, Tom published Americanism: A World Menace, which criticised the country for its anti-communism, Fordism, and religious influence in politics.[3] He joined both the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and the Labour Party. In 1926, he became the secretary of the Greater London Left-Wing Movement, and then the founding secretary of its national counterpart, the National Left-Wing Movement. However, at the end of the year, he resigned from the movement, objecting to the co-option of Sunday Worker representatives onto its governing body. The CPGB argued that Colyer had been ineffective and had failed to develop the national movement; Colyer resigned from the CPGB, devoting his time to the Labour Party.[1]

Colyer became the chair of the Kent Federation of Labour Parties, and stood unsuccessfully as the party's candidate in Chislehurst at the 1931 and 1935 United Kingdom general elections. However, in 1942, he resigned to instead join the Independent Labour Party (ILP).[1] He stood for the ILP in the 1943 Woolwich West by-election,[4] taking second place with 27.2% of the vote,[5] and later served on the party's National Administrative Council, first as a representative of the London region, then as one of four national members.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Parker, Lawrence (2018). Communists and Labour: The National Left-Wing Movement 1925-1929. Lulu. ISBN 0244091870.
  2. ^ a b Moloney, Deidre (2012). National Insecurities: Immigrants and U.S. Deportation Policy since 1882. University of North Carolina Press. p. 180. ISBN 0807882615.
  3. ^ Howard, Thomas Albert (2011). God and the Atlantic: America, Europe, and the Religious Divide. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 116. ISBN 0199565511.
  4. ^ "Woolwich nominations". Manchester Guardian. 2 November 1943.
  5. ^ "Woolwich seat". Manchester Guardian. 11 November 1943.
  6. ^ Independent Labour Party, Annual Report of the National Administrative Council, 1946 to 1952
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
New position
Secretary of the National Left-Wing Movement
Succeeded by
Ralph Bond
Party political offices
Preceded by
Walter Padley
London Division representative on the Independent Labour Party National Administrative Council
Succeeded by
Wilfred Wigham