Zinoviev Letter

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The "Zinoviev Letter" refers to a controversial document published by the British press in 1924, allegedly sent from the Communist International in Moscow to the Communist Party of Great Britain. The letter, later revealed to be a forgery, purported to be a directive from Moscow calling for intensified communist agitation in Britain and helped ensure the fall of the Labour government of Ramsay MacDonald in the October elections. The letter took its name from Bolshevik revolutionary Grigory Zinoviev, its purported author.




After the 1923 general election, the moderate socialist Labour Party formed a government for the first time. However it was a minority government, and was liable to fall if the Conservatives and Liberals combined against it. On 8 October 1924, the Labour government of Ramsay MacDonald suffered defeat in the House of Commons on a motion of no confidence, causing MacDonald to go to the King to seek a dissolution of Parliament. The immediate cause of the parliamentary loss had been the government's decision to drop the prosecution of communist editor John Ross Campbell under the Incitement to Mutiny Act of 1797 for publication of an open letter in Workers Weekly encouraging members of the military to join together in preparation for future revolutionary action. New national elections were scheduled for 29 October.[1]

The letter

Near the end of the short election campaign there appeared in the press the text of a letter purporting to have originated from Grigory Zinoviev, head of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (Comintern) and Arthur MacManus, the British representative to ECCI, and addressed to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

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