A. A. Purcell

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Purcell in 1920

Albert Arthur "Alf" Purcell (3 November 1872 – 24 December 1935)[1] was a British trade unionist and Labour Party politician. He was President of the International Federation of Trade Unions from 1924 to 1928,[2] and sat in the House of Commons in two separate periods between 1923 and 1929.

Purcell joined a forerunner of the National Amalgamated Furnishing Trades Association in 1891. About the same time, he also joined the Social Democratic Federation. He was elected to Salford Borough Council, serving for six years, then in 1911 became Assistant General Secretary of the union, followed in 1917 by election as General Secretary. Alongside this, he served as Treasurer of the Federation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades for three years, then as President. In 1920 he visited Belfast as part of a TUC delegation enquiring into the workplace expulsions. He was elected to the General Council of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in 1921, becoming President of the TUC in 1924. In 1925, he chaired a TUC delegation to the Soviet Union.[3] Leon Trotsky was very critical of the political choices of the Stalinist bureaucracy toward Purcell.[4]

Purcell was elected at the December 1923 general election as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the city of Coventry, defeating the sitting Conservative MP Sir Edward Manville.[5] However, at the next general election, in October 1924, he was defeated by the Conservative candidate from the 1923 general election.[5]

However, Purcell was out of Parliament for only 9 months. James Wignall, the Labour MP for the Forest of Dean division of Gloucestershire, died in June 1925,[6] and at the resulting by-election on 14 July, Purcell won the seat.[5] He did not defend that seat at the 1929 general election, but stood instead in Manchester Moss Side, where he was defeated by the sitting Conservative MP Sir Gerald Berkeley Hurst.[5]


  1. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "C" (part 6)
  2. ^ Van Goethem, Geert (2006). The Amsterdam International: The World Of The International Federation Of Trade Unions (IFTU), 1913-1945. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 92–95. ISBN 978-0754652540.
  3. ^ Workers Monthly, Vol.4, p.295
  4. ^ Trockij, Lev Davidovič. (1936). The Third International after Lenin. Pioneer Publishers. OCLC 602345335.
  5. ^ a b c d Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. pp. 116, 190, 360. ISBN 0-900178-06-X.
  6. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "F"

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir Edward Manville
Member of Parliament for Coventry
Succeeded by
Archibald Boyd-Carpenter
Preceded by
James Wignall
Member of Parliament for Forest of Dean
Succeeded by
David Vaughan
Trade union offices
Preceded by
Joe Williams
President of the Trades Union Congress
Succeeded by
Alonzo Swales
Preceded by
Charlie Cramp and Alonzo Swales
Trades Union Congress representative to the American Federation of Labour
With: Ben Smith
Succeeded by
John Bromley and George Hicks
Preceded by
J. H. Thomas
President of the International Federation of Trade Unions
1924 – 1927
Succeeded by
Walter Citrine
Preceded by
William R. Mellor
Secretary of the Manchester and Salford Trades Council
Succeeded by
Jack Munro