One for Local History Bluffs

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This topic contains 23 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  alanjjohnstone 3 months, 1 week ago.

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    It struck me just how much coverage is given by the media to local historic events and their commemoration. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Party could get attached to such publicity.

    Surely, there must be little-known incidents in working class/socialist history around London that so far simply doesn’t get appropriate recognition?

    Couldn’t we re-discover them and hold our own small public ceremony and advertise it to gain attention.

    Again we don’t require great numbers to turn out…I have witnessed such occasions when only a half a dozen and a decent-looking banner. Add an evocative press release, take our own video and photos to upload to the web and e-mail to the media.

    Isn’t there something we can take advantage of. Put on your thinking caps, comrades. Wasn’t there  ever any Chartist massacres on Clapham Common, for instance? A possible peasant’s rebellion in Peckham? A trade union big strike in Camden, maybe? I’m not a Londoner so how the fuck would I know but I am hoping for someone who does know.

    If what we remember can resonate with present-day, all the better and easier to publicise, and not just on the left.

    Just an idea to throw about, and probably get tossed out.


    Dave Chesham

    Two London branches are on the verge of shutting up shop – what more do you need to know, Alan?



    The socialist party doesn’t count with too many  Human Resources , they are using whatever they have , socialist activity and recruitment around the world is declining Some members of this party want others members to resign when this organization can’t afford to lose one member and we are not going to get more even if we pass hundred of resolutions I worked full time looking for new members for several years and I was only able to find one

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 4 weeks ago by  marcos.


    The Trotskyist socialist party is on Podcast. They are reading their articles online The socialist party can read the articles of the SS but someone  said that the party doesn’t have enough  peoples to work on the monthly journal



    Dave, I have been characterized as the pessimist of the Party for highlighting this decline in membership and that the demographic nature of the Party ie the age and often infirmity of the existing members. So as the saying goes, no need to teach your granny to suck eggs. Any ideas on activity from me is made in the full knowledge that we cannot involve great numbers. But until i’m persuaded that it has got to just one man and his dog, I cannot help but propose publicity-seeking political activity.

    I have made a number of suggestions to orientate the Party into activities that can make members “armchair revolutionaries” with the laptop as their weapon. None appear to resonate sufficiently with members and when I read the latest report of Conference, it seemed we are still in denial about the state of our organization. In fact the most promising developments is the transformation of a social party into a social club. (I cite Lancaster’s get-together and Manchester’s regular walks, as examples)

    I see no actual change in the style or substance of any adaptation or adjustment to the Party that takes into account that we can no longer fully function as an effective political party, albeit we presently have the funds to engage in periodic electoral activity. But it is disappointing that some branches deign to even engage in that.

    The interest and involvement of other Party members in this forum is reflective of a deep ennui within the Party. More seem happy to talk to one another on Spopen and Spintcom rather than engage with a potential wider audience. WSM Forum although still extant is visited by less than a handful of long-time sympathisers

    Your own branch at one time showed very healthy signs of growth and I wonder what you were doing right but also what caused it to stall and then go into reverse. There must be a lesson to be learned.

    Bijou on the forum here has made a proposal which I don’t think he has formally followed up on by delivering it to the EC for debate. But why aren’t branches responded to his appeal. The only feedback has been you, me and Robbo, so at least there are four who seek new ways of

    Back to the original problem. No members – no activities – no members.

    If we cannot attract interest then we should re-consider our role.

    The Summer School (run by only one person, it seems) from all appearance seems relatively successful. Many left groups concentrate on such events – the SWP and the CPGB – inviting notable non-members to lecture and in doing so creates a presence that they punch above their weight.

    I already begun a search of events we could link to and it brought me to the local Socialist History groups  who host meetings.

    There are strategies available that do not require numerous members, we got to identify them and focus upon getting the few able-bodied members to engage in them.


    Bijou Drains

    Alan to put both sides of the story, I think that unfortunately a great deal of the day to day running of the party falls to the comrades in the South East area, which perversely means that the area with the most opportunity for initiatives like the one you suggest, tend to fall to comrades who already have their hands full. I can understand why it might be a bit irritating to these comrades to have suggestions for even more work.

    In a way that was what I was trying to do something about by suggesting we have a weekend of activity organised for regional members to come to London and do something to take the burden away from the South East based members. Perhaps we could incorporate the idea of Local History events into it.

    I also wonder why we need to get the EC involved in organising such a thing, and thinking about it this might be part of our problem. What’s to stop a like minded group turning up at head office, and just getting on with doing things for the party? If five of us, for instance, coordinated with the premises committee and came down to London and tidied up the back yard at HO, or washed all the windows, or whatever, why do we need to bother the EC? I’m sure they have got better things to discuss than that. Perhaps part of the problem is we are waiting for some committee to do things, rather than just get on with doing it.

    To set the ball rolling, I’ve booked in time to come down to HO on the weekend Friday 31st Jan to Sunday 2nd Feb. I’ll sort out my own travel and hotels, I’ll see if I can get a couple of other sympathisers I know of and perhaps a NE based comrade or two to come down that weekend. Perhaps, like the Lancaster Social Weekend comrades from that neck of the woods would come down to HO, if there was something constructive to do and a bit of socialising as well.

    If Dave or any others in the South East can come up with suggestions about what can be usefully done, put it on here, I’m happy to do anything but eat vegan food.

    As to the idea of us being a one man and his dog party, Alan, apparently the dog had to be put down last week. 🙁



    Kudos to yourself for taking it upon yourself, Bijou, to not only talk the talk but walk the walk. I wish you and those who take up your invite all the success.

    I fully acknowledge that my view may not be the complete one and I keep raising the issue to produce more feedback from others.

    A great deal of the members’ burden is that we continue to behave as nothing has changed. The infrastructure of the Party is too top heavy,the vacancies on the committees is evidence of this over-organisation.

    We cannot continue as we are on the long term. Eventually the running costs of the Party will exceed our income from fewer and fewer members, doing less and less. For sure some members will say we have staggered on from one crisis to another and still survived. But isn’t the situation apparent from the decline in interest of all the left is that workers politics are no longer aimed at socialism of any variety, despite Labour Party claims of increased members.

    The inspiration of a new future  society has been replaced by either, settling for the status quo and grabbing whatever we can right now through single issue campaigns or more broadly protecting the environment, which ignoring any reservations we have, successfully politicalized a future generation through school climate strikes and XR’s direct actions.

    Branch activity has nearly disappeared although with some exceptions such as those who run a street stall, something that each and every branch can do and should do. It only takes the proverbial one man and his dog, a folding pasting table, a bag full of lit and a likely spot to set up. I don’t see it as a means of selling our pamphlets and the Socialist Standard but to be a visible advert for the Party and show we do exist as a physical presence but as BrianJ said about their branches and what DaveC has said, it creates conversations with people who would under other circumstances would never come in contact with the Party.

    But if no volunteers are stepping up, then as been previously suggested and in places carried out , local media advertising campaigns should be run although I do caution that this needs a back-up of a branch that welcomes enquiries. I’ve experienced  branch meeting where I would not recommend a prospective new member to attend to avoid their disillusionment.

    Harping on as I do will not end. Self-criticism and internal examination is something that is necessary.



    That’s not necessary, Bijou. There is no real problem over doing the administrative work that can only be done at Head Office (e.g. opening letters, sending out Standards and literature orders, answering phone calls, dealing with enquiries, paying bills, archives, library,etc) or with maintaining and cleaning the building. This is done by London and Home Counties comrades.

    Other administrative work is done by members in the Provinces. For instance, all the members of the Standing Orders Committee, Membership Application Committee, Internet Committee, and Blog Committee are from the Provinces, as is the management of our Paypal account. Others could be, e.g. Central Branch Secretary, Advertising Committee, Campaigns Committee.  Recent changes to the computer technology at Head Office now allow remote access, which means that even more Party work can be done by members from their homes outside London.

    The problem is not with back-up administrative work. It’s a seeming reluctance of members to engage in physical political activity or even discuss it, and not just in London and including even the EC. The EC meets once a month for three or four hours, with 3 coming down from the Provinces.  But they have twice rejected a proposal that, in the absence of a functioning Advertising or Campaigns Committee (arguably the most important committees in terms of what used to be called “propaganda” activity), they themselves should take over direct responsibility for these. That is something they could usefully do after getting through the routine admin stuff (trouble is that is what they love dragging out with endless discussions on terms of reference and the Data Protection Act). After all, there are more members present at EC meetings than at most branch meetings.

    At the moment the main field of outside-directed Party activity is the internet and social media which I would say is going well and where members who don’t attend branch meetings (to discuss EC reports and deal with Conference and ADM agendas) take part.  It is physical activity that is the problem. It’s all very well members from afar saying we should cover various events and demonstrations in London. The sad truth is that there are only 4 or 5 London members prepared to do this and not all of them are always available, though with a bit of effort and persuasion this could probably be doubled.

    Apart from the occasional public meeting, the only physical political activities the Party engages in are regular street stalls (but by only three branches) and elections. We should be able to do one outside or near Head Office once a month, but no one took the initiative this summer. Come to think of it, Bijou, this is something you and your mates could help out with if they want a trip to London. Trouble is mid-winter at the end of January isn’t the best time of the year for one. But why not organise one up North on a regular basis? There are a dozen or so members in Yorkshire with nothing to do.

    Anyway, if you want to come down at the end of January I am sure we can round up half-an-dozen members for a meal and a bit of craic (if we can find a quiet pub, which you can’t in Clapham).


    Bijou Drains

    Adam, my original suggestion was to do both a political and or practical weekend. If it’s not really worthwhile doing a practical why not try and arrange a political weekend in London. I remember a comrade from the Irish party in the 80s or 90s  putting forward the idea that we could be a big party in a small area (perhaps Nigel McCullogh). The idea being that we pick one ward in one constituency and make sure we stand at every election, local, national and European (well you never know) and concentrate propaganda activity in that area. To an extent we are doing that already in parts of the South. If we could organise a biennial activity weekend based in a specific area, perhaps it would help boost recognition in that area. Depending on the take up it could range from leafleting or holding a meeting in the area, through to activities such as the ones Alan is suggesting.

    How organised and far reaching it was would depend on how many people wanted to do it.

    I take on board what your saying about doing it in the North, however personally having a HO to base ourselves in in London is a big help and to be honest it is as cheap and as quick to get to London for me as it would be to get to Manchester (you try a three hour journey on a Northern Rail Pacer train with one toilet and no food trolley, it’s grim up North)



    Actually, that is more or less what we have been doing in the area around Head Office in Clapham, which is situated in the borough of Lambeth,  on the border with Wandsworth. We have contested elections there since 1970 and in the 2000’s contested every election going (Parliament, Europe, London, local council, even council by-elections).

    As  it happens, there are elections to the Greater London Authority next May and no doubt we will be contesting them, possibly by standing a candidate again in the electoral area of Lambeth & Southwark as we did 4 years ago or maybe even standing an all-London list.

    The best time to come down to help would be in April as that’s when the campaign will be on as election day will be the first Thursday in May, which is the 7th.



    “…Trouble is mid-winter at the end of January isn’t the best time of the year for one…”

    With the prospect of milder winters and the proximity of HO to take refuge and shelter and enjoy body-warming hot soups, perhaps it is more possible for Bijou, who has been brought up in the harsh rugged North-East, a place for no namby-pamby softies. What’s frost-bite except the loss of a finger or toe?

    Are we fair-weather socialists? 😛



    Actually, Bijou, if you’ve already booked and are definitely coming down that weekend we can arrange for you to do a (indoor) meeting either on Saturday 1  February or Sunday 2 February (or both).  Let us know at HO email address and we can fix the  details (title, venue, time, etc).


    Dave Chesham

    “The EC meets once a month for three or four hours, with 3 coming down from the Provinces.  But they have twice rejected a proposal that, in the absence of a functioning Advertising or Campaigns Committee (arguably the most important committees in terms of what used to be called “propaganda” activity), they themselves should take over direct responsibility for these.”

    That’s not quite true.  There is a functioning Advertising Committee which has recently instigated a new series of ads in the Big Issue and one member of the EC has largely been responsible for the inserts campaign in the i newspaper which has been hugely successful in terms of the responses received.  In fact another insert will appear in this weekend’s Scottish edition of the i newspaper.

    Sadly that particular member has just resigned from the Executive Committee but I’m certain the Advertising Committee will continue the campaign providing the EC is prepared to sanction it.




    Whether certain committees are functioning is neither here nor there.

    On this thread, i’m told two London branches are about to fold and taking into account the inactivity of most branches (albeit with a couple of notable exceptions), it appears the malaise is wider and it is the branch structure of the Party that is no longer functioning nor fit for purpose any longer.

    Is it not time for a serious look at transforming ourselves into a national/international organization if the publicity and propaganda campaigns are from central committees and not the local branches initiative

    The i newspaper insert is an example in that the Scottish branches were not previously engaged with so to have an opportunity to have any input into the text to make it more receptive to a local audience. Every advertiser tries to shape the  message in a way where it resonates better. The Scottish political scene is very different from the SE England’s.

    Perhaps indeed the content of the insert is satisfactory, but by excluding the local Scottish branches from any discussion, in effect, sidelining them, leaves those branches with little or no role to play. Why turn up at branch meetings if no discussions are ever held or resolutions put to the floor and all that happens is secretary reading out the EC minutes and the members at the branch meeting humming and hawing about the items.

    I’m not 100% sure but I believe there has been no advance notice to either branch that it is this weekend that the insert will appear other than the above post by DaveC.




    Dave Chesham

    “I’m not 100% sure but I believe there has been no advance notice to either branch that it is this weekend that the insert will appear other than the above post by DaveC.”

    Which only goes to show how little you really know, Alan, living thousands of miles away as you do.   Knowledge trumps belief every time.

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