Sir Leslie Cannon Papers

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Correspondence and related papers regarding Cannon's involvement in the Communist Party, and Communist involvement with the ETU, 1946-1961; articles written by Cannon, 1955-1970; press cuttings, 1957-60, 1964, 1967.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in 1920, Les Cannon quickly made his mark on the world of trade unionism. A keen supporter of the Communist Party in his early life, and an electrician by trade, Cannon held the position of Electrical Trades Union Executive Councillor from 1948-1954. However, in the wake of events in Hungary, Cannon became disillusioned with the Communist Party, leaving it in 1956. From then on, he began a campaign to uncover what he saw as a wide ranging plot by the Communists to rig ETU elections - this resulted in the famous 1961 trial, when Cannon's allegations were proved correct, and the then ETU General Secretary was forced to step down. Cannon became ETU General President in 1963, and also over-saw the union's merger with the Plumbing Trades Union, to form the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Trades Union in 1968. Tragically, Cannon died of cancer in 1970, aged fifty, shortly before he was awarded a knighthood in the New Year's Honours List.

Reference: John Lloyd, Light and Liberty: The History of the EETPU, (London, 1990)

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Archivist's Note

The Centre also holds records relating to the Electrical Trades Union and the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union (MSS.387). Authority files exist for Sir Leslie Cannon (GB 152 AAR0800), the Electrical Trades Union (GBR 0152 AAR0571) and the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union (GBR 0152 AAR0570).

Custodial History

The collection was deposited with the Centre by Cannon's widow, Lady Olga Cannon, in 1976. A further anonymous addition to the collection was made in 1989.