Ben Bradley

Other names: 

Benjamin Francis Bradley

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1898
Precise DOB unknown: 
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1957
Precise date of death unknown: 

Benjamin Bradley was a leading figure in the Communist Party of Great Britain and an anti-colonialist. A metalworker by trade, he was posted to India in 1927 by the CPGB to promote militant trade unionism, becoming Vice-President of the All-India Trades Union Congress. Bradley was arrested for anti-government activities in March 1929, and sentenced in the Meerut Conspiracy Trials of 1932.

On his return to Britain, Bradley remained active in anti-colonial as well as Communist activities. From 1934 to 1940, he was Secretary of the League Against Imperialism which became the Communist Party’s Colonial Information Bureau. In this role, he produced the fortnightly Colonial Information Bulletin which consisted largely of reports on developments in British colonies. The paper was swiftly shut down when it expressed support for the war effort in spite of the CPGB’s Central Committee’s decision to back the Comintern – although Bradley later appeared to change his mind about the war, concurring with his fellow Communists. Indian Political Surveillance files give evidence that Bradley was a regular participant and occasional speaker at India League meetings in the late 1930s and early 1940s. There, he came into contact with several Indian activists and writers, including Mulk Raj Anand, Iqbal Singh, Krishnarao Shelvankar and Sasadhar Sinha. The relationship between Bradley and Krishna Menon was, according to India Office reports, rivalrous but mutually beneficial. The India League provided Bradley and his fellow Communists with a useful platform for propaganda, while the CPGB’s association with the League served as a means of attracting the interest of the British working class in the plight of India. Reports also claim that Bradley, along with Michael Carritt and Harry Pollitt, was leading a group of Indian Communist students, and that he planned a Conference of Indian Peddlers and Seamen in July 1939 (L/PJ/12/452). These activities suggest his ongoing interest not just in the struggle against imperialism but also in mobilizing for the rights of working-class Indians in Britain. 


Aftab Ali, Surat Alley, Mulk Raj Anand, Ayana Angadi, Jyoti Basu, Reginald Bridgeman, Fenner Brockway, Michael Carritt, B. B. Ray Chaudhuri, Dwjendra Nath Dutt, Rajani Palme Dutt, Michael Foot, Sunder Kabadia, S. M. Kumaramangalam, George Lansbury, Harold Laski, Krishna Menon, Syedi Mohamedi, Harry Pollitt, Shapurji Saklatvala, Promode Ranjan Sen-Gupta, K. S. Shelvankar, Iqbal Singh, Sasadhar Sinha, Reginald Sorensen, Philip Spratt, C. B. Vakil, S. A. Wickremasinghe.

Involved in events: 

Meerut Conspiracy Trial, 1932

Secondary works: 

Howe, Stephen, Anticolonialism in British Politics: The Left and the End of Empire, 1918-1964 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993)

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/448-54, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

CP/IND/BRAD, Archive of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Manchester People’s History Museum