In 1915, Cole became an unpaid research officer at the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. He advised the union on how to respond to wartime legislation including the Munitions Act. This role enabled him to escape conscription on the grounds that he was conducting work of national importance.
Having secured exemption from military service, during the war years Cole developed a political theory of guild socialism.
Cole was initially a pacifist, but he abandoned this position around 1938, stating: "Hitler cured me of pacifism". During the 1930s, Cole sought to construct a British popular front against fascism. He identified the extent of the military threat before many of his colleagues had abandoned their pacifism. Cole lent strong support to the republican cause in Spain.
He was listed in the Black Book of prominent subjects to be arrested in the case of a successful invasion of Britain.
In 1941, Cole was appointed sub-warden of Nuffield College, Oxford. He was central to the establishment of the Nuffield College Social Reconstruction Survey which collected a large amount of demographic, economic and social data. This information was used to advocate for an extensive programme of social reform.
I became a Socialist because, as soon as the case for a society of equals, set free from the twin evils of riches and poverty, mastership and subjection, was put to me, I knew that to be the only kind of society that could be consistent with human decency and fellowship and that in no other society could I have the right to be content.
Neither a Marxist nor a social democrat, Cole envisioned a socialism of decentralised association and active, participatory democracy, whose basic units would be sited at the workplace and in the community rather than in any central apparatus of the state.
In 1936, Cole began calling for a popular front movement in Britain, where the Labour Party would ally with other parties against the threat of fascism.
Cole wrote at least seven books for the Left Book Club, all of which were published by Victor Gollancz Ltd. These are marked with LBC in the list of his books given below. He and his wife, Margaret Cole, together wrote 29 popular detective stories, featuring the investigators Superintendent Wilson, Everard Blatchington and Dr. Tancred. Cole and his wife created a partnership, but not a marriage. Cole took little interest in sex and he regarded women as a distraction for men. Margaret documented this comprehensively in a biography she wrote of her husband after his death.
Although Cole admired the Soviet Union for creating a socialist economy, he rejected its dictatorial government as a model for socialist societies elsewhere. In a 1939 lecture, Cole stated:
If I do not accept Stalin's answer, it is because I am not prepared to write off Democratic Socialism, despite all its failures and vacillations of recent years, as a total loss...Democratic Socialism offers the only means of building the new order on what is valuable and worth preserving in the civilisation of to-day.
In his book Europe, Russia and the Future published in 1941, Cole claimed that however immoral the new Nazi-dominated Europe was, in some ways it was better than the "impracticable" system of sovereign states that had preceded it. In economic terms, it could be said that "it would be better to let Hitler conquer all Europe short of the Soviet Union, and thereafter exploit it ruthlessly in the Nazi interest, than to go back to the pre-war order of independent Nation States with frontiers drawn so as to cut right across the natural units of production and exchange". Cole also stated:
I would much sooner see the Soviet Union, even with its policy unchanged, dominant over all Europe, including Great Britain, than see an attempt to restore the pre-war States to their futile and uncreative independence and their petty economic nationalism under capitalist domination. Much better be ruled by Stalin than by the destructive and monopolistic cliques which dominate Western capitalism.
A second book, titled A Century of Co-operation, examined the history of the movement from the very first co-operatives to the contribution of the Chartists and Robert Owen, through to the Rochdale Pioneers as well as the movement's development (in Great Britain) over the following century.
The couple had one son and two daughters in a marriage that lasted forty-one years. However, the marriage does not seem to have been especially happy. Cole expressed little interest in actual romantic attachment and even less in sexual relations. Friends observed that emotional attachments tended to be with men rather than women. Cole was very fond of some of his male students. They included the future leader of the Labour Party Hugh Gaitskell. There is no evidence of any homosexual encounters either before or during his marriage.
Cole and his wife jointly wrote a number of books and articles, including twenty-nine detective stories.
A History of Socialist Thought: 7 Volumes (London: Palgrave Macmillan (2003) ISBN1-4039-0264-X
Cole, G. D. H. (1923) The Brooklyn Murders
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1925) The Death of a Millionaire
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1926) The Blatchington Tangle
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1927) The Murder at Crome House
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1928) The Man from the River
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1928) Superintendent Wilson's Holiday
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1929) Poison in the Garden Suburb aka Poison in a Garden Suburb
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1930) Burglars in Bucks aka The Berkshire Mystery
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1930) Corpse in Canonicalsaka The Corpse in the Constable's Garden
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1931) The Great Southern Mystery aka The Walking Corpse
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1931) Dead Man's Watch
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1932) Death of a Star
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1933) A Lesson in Crime (short stories)
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1933) The Affair at Aliquid
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1933) End of an Ancient Mariner
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1934) Death in the Quarry
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1935) Big Business Murder
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1935) Dr Tancred Begins
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1935) Scandal at School aka The Sleeping Death
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1936) Last Will and Testament
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1936) The Brothers Sackville
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1937) Disgrace to the College
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1937) The Missing Aunt
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1938) Mrs Warrender's Profession
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1938) Off with her Head!
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1939) Double Blackmail
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1939) Greek Tragedy
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1940) Wilson and Some Others
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1940) Murder at the Munition Works
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1940) Counterpoint Murder
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1941) Knife in the Dark
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1942) Toper's End
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1945) Death of a Bride
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. I. (1946) Birthday Gifts
Cole, G. D. H. and Cole, M. (1948) The Toys of Death
Murder in Broad Daylight. BBC Home Service, 1 June 1934 (As by GDH and M Cole)
The Bone of the Dinosaur. (Detection Club: Series 1, Episode 6). BBC Home Service, 23 and 27 November 1940 (As by GDH and M Cole)
^Morris, Jeremy (2017). "F. D. Maurice and the Myth of Christian Socialist Origins". In Spencer, Stephen (ed.). Theology Reforming Society: Revisiting Anglican Social Theology. London: SCM Press. p. 3. ISBN978-0-334-05373-6.
^Marc Stears, ‘Cole, George Douglas Howard (1889–1959)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 7 May 2017
^ abMarc Stears, ‘Cole, George Douglas Howard(1889–1959)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/32486, accessed 25 Oct 2017]
^Martin Ceadel, "The Peace Movement Between the Wars: Problems of Definition", in Campaigns for Peace : British peace movements. Edited by Richard Taylor and Nigel Young. Manchester University Press, 1987. ISBN0719018927 (p. 84).
^Walter Schellenberg, The Schellenberg Memoirs, London 1956 (Deutsch: Aufzeichungen, München 1979) pp 174.