What was the Cairo Forces Parliament?

Introduction

The Cairo Forces Parliament was a meeting of British soldiers in Cairo, Egypt in February 1944 which voted for the nationalisation of banks, land, mines, and transport in the United Kingdom.

Background

Among those that took part was Leo Abse who later became a Labour MP. Another participant who later became a Labour MP was Henry Solomons, who was appointed the Labour ‘Prime Minister’ of the Cairo Forces Parliament.

Sam Bardell, a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain was secretary and the parliament attracted political activists from the Common Wealth Party and the Trotskyist movement.

Similar parliaments also took place within the British Army in this period of the war. In the British Army in India such parliaments existed briefly at both Mhow and Deolali transit camp, and perhaps others. The Mhow parliament took place six months after the Cairo parliament, with 70-100 members and official blessing, although was soon shut down from above. The original structure of the Mhow parliament had a government and left wing opposition, but due to a larger number of left-wingers in the parliament the government dissolved and was replaced by the left party, with a centre and right opposition parties.

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