Fascism, farming and J. B. Priestley

March 31, 2000

Norman Lindop, senior vice-president 1942-43. "I became NUS senior vice-president in my year as president at Queen Mary, while I was taking finals. The annual general meeting was between two exams. I then got a job in the chemical industry - war work - and had to travel to meetings when I could. I did it because I was politically motivated - I was a communist like many of the others - but it was not just that. There was an atmosphere of hope and expectation.

"The 1930s were a dispiriting period. Fascism was rampant; there was a lot of unemployment. When people came to think of what the war was about, there was a lot of expectation to make things better.

"Before the war, the NUS was mainly about travel and socialising. Afterwards, it grew in scope. In 1942-43, the NUS was organising farm camps on quite a big scale - students would spend their holidays picking fruit for the war effort.

"I went to the annual student congress in Birmingham in 1942. J. B. Priestley spoke to us, and there was much talk about the conduct of the war.

"The great mass of students weren't so conscious of political divisions as they would be later. There was none of the cold war feeling that came later. But you couldn't be neutral about politics in the 1930s because it was such a critical part of life."

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