Idris Cox collection

Scope and Content

Autobiography, undated (1972 (c)) Story of a Welsh Rebel, typescript version of Idris Cox's life.

Administrative / Biographical History

Idris Cox was born in 1899 at Llwydarth Cottages, Maesteg. His father was a miner. In 1900 the family moved to Cwmfelin where Idris lived for the first 24 years ofhis life. As a boy, he joined his father at Garth Pit to work as an assistant to a coal hewer. He began to be interested in politics and at the age of 18 waselected to the Management Committee of Garth Miners' Institute. In 1920 he became the official Lodge delegate to the Maesteg district of miners and to all coal-field conferences. It was also in this year that Idris attended his first Marxist class. In 1921 he was elected Lodge Chairman and he also became involved in the Maesteg Relief Committee which organised canteens throughout thevalley to feed the children during the 1921 lockout.

In 1923 Idris Cox gained a scholarship from the South Wales Miners' Federation (SWMF) enabling himto study at the Labour College in London for two years and it was here that he first met many men who would later become influential in the labour movement. After the 1924 general election Idris became an active member of the Communist Party. In 1925 Idris left the Labour College to return to South Wales. Howeverhe returned to no job and after a short period as a deputy-checkweigher he became unemployed once more. Idris became a member of the small Communist branch in Maesteg and helped them to form a branch of the National Unemployed Workers' Movement (NUWM)

In October 1925 he got a job at Oakwood Pit.

In October 1926 Idris Cox attended his first National Congress of theCommunist Party. Finding himself unemployed once more he began to get more involved in the unemployed movement speaking at labour exchanges and tutoring Communist educational classes. He was made the Area Organiser for the Communistbranches in Mid-Glamorgan. In 1927 he was elected Vice-Chairman of the Maesteg Labour Party. At the Communist Party Conference in Cardiff May 1927 he was elected District Secretary. In 1928 he was co-opted to the National Executive of the Communist Party and later on in the same year he attended the Sixth Congress of the Communist International in Moscow.

After the 1929 General Election Harry Pollitt was chosen to take over the post of General Secretary of the party from Albert Inkpin. Idris Cox was brought from Wales to London to be part of the new Political Bureau. He was given charge of the Parliamentary Department. At this time he was also working as a correspondent to the `Workers' Weekly'. During the 1930s he held the position of National Organiser in the party and spent most of his time visiting various districts around Britain. While visiting Bradford he met his future wife, Dora Roberts who similarly had involvements in the labour movement and the Communist Party. Theymarried in 1931.

In 1934 he stood in the County Council elections in SouthWales for the Caerau and Nantyffyllon division in the Maesteg Valley. He was a close second to the Labour candidate. In 1935 Idris became Editor of the DailyWorker.

He later became Secretary to the International Department and worked in this capacity for 18 years, retiring in 1970. During this time he hadclose relations with leaders of national liberation movements in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean and was involved in the formation of the Movement for Colonial Freedom. Idris Cox was the author of numerous political pamphlets and books including The Hungry Half: a Study in the Exploitation of the `Third World' (1970) and Socialist Ideas in Africa (1966).

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