Awkward Warrior
Frank Cousins: His Life & Times, 2nd Edition

By Geoffrey Goodman
ISBN: 0-85124-417-3 (paper)
ISBN: 0-85124-4092 (hardcover)
616 p.
$42.50 Paper Original
$62.50 Hardcover

Frank Cousins was General Secretary of the Transport and General Worker's Union from 1956 to 1969. During those years he helped change to the Labour Party and the TUC, and in so doing influenced and entire generation.

"If it is truly becoming more and more difficult for union leaders to misrepresent their members, then the one person more than than any other who is responsible ... is Frank Cousins, the hero of Geoffrey Goodman's outstanding biography. The Transport and General Worker's Union is not merely Britain's largest union: at several key junctures it has been a pace-setter.

Until Moss Evans took over the awesome responsibility of holding together this vast federation, itself a minature Trades Union Congress, the T&GWU had known five general secretaries since its inauguration. In the first phase there was Bevin, followed by Deakin, and then for a momentary interlude Tiffin. The second phase began with Cousins and was carried through by Jack Jones.

During the first phase, Bevin built a powerfully centralized amalgamation, and Deakin was associated with its drift into bureaucratic formalism, and the potent alliances which it made with various doctrinaire right-wingers who dominated the TUC and policed the Labour Party during the last years of Attlee's administration and the heyday of the Bevanite rebellion. In those days, the communist party was proscribed and its members banned from holding office the union, while 'unorthodox views were treated as heresy'. Frank Cousins was a heretic, and his unexpected accesion to office, carefully described in these pages in an entirely convincing balanced account, began as a process of destalinisation. Arbitrary powers were first questioned, then challenged, then made accountable. Democratic argument broke out, in the begining tentatively, and later with compulsive force."

-Ken Coates, New Statesman


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