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How I Became A Socialist

Why I Left CND

I was one of the enthusiastic teenage supporters of CND who took part in the 1964 Easter March. That was the last year I marched, because by Easter 1965 I had ceased supporting CND and had become a member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

It is difficult to recall when I first became attracted to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I think I was automatically thrown into sympathy with it by the foolish outlook of many of its fiercest opponents. 1 was visiting London one Easter, saw the March pass through Trafalgar Square and was surprised by the huge number of marchers. Later I bought CND pamphlets from a “Communist” bookshop. One in particular impressed me—Win We Must by Bertrand Russell. This decided me to join my local CND group.

How I Became a Socialist

Looking back, I can see that I was nearly a middle-of-the-road floating voter, swayed by whichever tricky-slick talker promised me the most in the shortest possible time—be he Conservative, Liberal, Labour, Communist or whatever. How your head swims at election times when all the MPs and prospective MPs are in top gear! All they need, they say, is to get into Power and everyone's worries will be over. What bloody optimists!

I was born and live in Stoke-on-Trent, the grimy industrial city somewhere in the middle of England. And take it from me, the air isn't much less murky now that can be seen in those old photographs taken during the bottle-kiln days. It's just that when you live in a certain kind of atmosphere for most of your life you tend to take it for granted. It's only on a return to the Potteries after a day in the country or seaside that you notice what a depressing place it is.

Why I Joined the SPGB

I was, of course, not the only one to leave the Communist Party. My main claim to distinction is that I was for many years a national official of the Young Communist League—its National Organizer, in fact. During most of the 'twenties I was the official representative of the YCL in Moscow, and subsequently, a member of the five-man secretariat of the Executive Committee of the Communist Youth International, the "Sanctum Sanctorum".

The manner of this was (as always) mainly the result of outside circumstances. You see, my older cousin, Fred Peet, was the acting General Secretary of the newly formed Communist Party in 1920, while Inkpin (the Secretary) was doing twelve months for publishing the Theses of the Third Congress of the Communist International.

Why I Joined the SPGB

Having found some of the previous contributions on this subject to be quite fascinating, I would like to join in. After a pretty normal childhood in a petty-bourgeois Jewish family in darkest Manchester with fairly strict religious ideas till around the age of seventeen, I entered the rebel period (to be told by father that I would soon grow out of it like all the others; at the age of 92 he still thinks I will). Then, as now, it was obvious to any teenager with the slightest pretence to thought of any kind, that society was an unpleasant mess and could surely be made a damn sight nicer. Which meant, of course, that one must latch on to one of the left-wing parties or groups (my! how times haven't changed). It happened that at that time there was a new splinter group of the Labour Party coming into fashion led by a wealthy lawyer called Stafford Cripps — a sort of Wedgbenn of his day, though even more of a hypocrite but less of a clown (well, he had to be).


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