Party News: From Our Branches
Reports from Branches for insertion under this heading must be in before the 20th of each month, otherwise they cannot appear.
Sick and weary of the conflicting tactics and vacillating policy of the S.D.F., the members of this branch, some of them veterans in the Socialist movement, were among the first to come and raise the red flag from the mire through which it was being dragged, and are proud of having assisted in the formation of The Socialist Party of Great Britain, which now so worthily bears that flag aloft. To combat the confusing effects of the compromise and opportunism of the S.D.F. as well as the influence of that Tammany Hall-like organisation of the “Statesman of Labour” and his “heelers,” we have all through the summer conducted a vigorous campaign, holding three propaganda meetings every Sunday, besides the usual weeknight meetings. As a result we are able to report a gratifying increase in membership. In addition we have an Economic Class, meeting on Thursdays, and a History Class, meeting on Fridays, both commencing at 8 pm., to which all members of the party are heartily invited. The only condition of membership is regular attendance.
We of the Battersea branch fully realise that all our time and energies are required for the work of educating the workers to a clear conception of the causes of their misery, and of organising them so that they will concentrate all their efforts upon the capture of the political machine which is held and used by the master class as an instrument of oppression and exploitation. We have no time, therefore, to waste in appeals to the capitalist class for measures of reform, because we know that nothing short of complete economic freedom, and nothing short of the overthrow of capitalism, will put an end to the system under which the robbery and oppression of the worker goes on.
No, comrades, what we want the oppressor will never give. The workers themselves must achieve their emancipation. “He who would be free must himself strike the blow.” It is our part to show the worker how the blow must be struck.
We echo the cry of our comrade Lehane. The watchword is Onward ! to the Socialist Republic. —The Man with the Red Flag.
Despite the fact that we have had to open up a station for our open-air work, our propaganda meetings have been well attended; the number of The Socialist Standard we have been able to dispose of being very good, considering the disadvantages under which we have laboured. Judged by the character of the questions we are called upon to answer, especially in regard to alleged labour and semi-Socialist bodies, our work is beginning to tell, and there is every possibility of our numerical strength, small though it is at present, being considerably augmented in the near future. If all good Socialists, attached or unattached, would but appreciate the importance of being associated with an organisation such as ours, based as it is upon sound principles, and pursuing as it does a straight and clearly defined policy, how much more effectively would we be able to accomplish the work we are called upon to do in this district! However, we have made a commencement, and are on the way to overtake, perhaps to beat even, the Islington record.
We are endeavouring to have a series of meetings at Fulham Cross on Thursday evenings at 8.30, and if any speaker happens along that way we shall be pleased to greet him and utilise his services.—E. J. B. Allen, Sec.
The Comrades of “Merrie Islington” are certainly justifying their existence as a branch of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, and can, without undue egotism, look back upon a month’s hard propaganda and feel highly satisfied with the results thereof.
Our morning meeting of Sunday, September 4th, in Finsbury Park, established, I believe, a record for the party. A large audience listened while Comrade Lehane stated the case for Socialism as the only solution for the many evils and problems that exist around us, and at the close of the address subscribed 15s. 4½d. to our war chest, besides purchasing 8 pamphlets and 69 copies of The Socialist Standard. The rest of our Sunday meetings, although not quite such financial successes, have resulted in good sales of literature. Plenty of questions are always forthcoming, and are always satisfactorily dealt with.
Wednesday evening meetings at Highbury Comer are also making good progress, in fact, the encouraging feature of all our meetings is the increasing number of men who stay throughout, buying our pamphlets and putting questions, while in the result some have reached that stage where they deem it to be their duty to join us and help in the fight.
All things considered, we are going strong. Since our formation we have had the best mass meeting, the best ordinary propaganda meeting, our list of guarantees for the Press Fund is the highest, we have accounted for 247 copies of the paper, and we believe that by the end of the season our number of recruits will be the greatest of all the branches. To put it briefly, the Islington Branch of the S.P.G.B. promises to be the “greatest thing on earth.”
I can with pleasure review the work put in by our members during the last month. We have good branch meetings and members turn up well at our propaganda meetings. On Peckham Rye on Sundays it is sometimes difficult to get a meeting at first; but we always succeed eventually. Take last Sunday as an instance: E. J. B. Allen gave an effective lecture; he was followed by H. Martin and H. Belsey. The audience showing no inclination to disperse Allen continued and finished up. Some good spade work by means of impromptu discussion followed; by this means new members have been made.
I should like to call the attention of all comrades to our Friday evening discussions, which take place at our branch rooms, 33, High Street. We promise all comrades and friends who attend these discussions an enjoyable evening; like Oliver Twist, they will want more.
We have been pushing The Socialist Standard well, and have already sold over 200 copies, and if we do not sell out our stock it will not be our fault.—W. Russell.
A month of plodding endeavour, with good meetings every Sunday—good in point of attendance, good in point of literature sales, with good speakers stating the case for inadjectival Socialism so clearly that a wayfaring man though a fool could not make a mistake as to the issues.
As well as may be, we are doing the work the Socialist is called upon to do—the preliminary spade work necessary to the organisation of a class conscious working class party—and doing it in face of the added difficulties that the existence of a perfect shoal of peddling reform parties—born of the ill-informed and misdirected exuberance of a few local reformers—inevitably create.
For a comparatively small town the number of these parties is, to put it mildly, abnormal, and it is no great wonder that, with so much to distract and divert their attention from the consideration of the real problem underlying their condition, the workers should not readily appreciate their class standing and the necessity for organisation upon the basis of the class struggle as the indispensable condition of successful conflict with capitalism.
If our ardent local new-party mongers (a brand new reforming body is turned out about every month) would but stop to think sometimes, they might be able to understand that every one of the insignificant and ludicrous little parties is simply a further factor making for working class confusion—simply one more division of the available working class intelligence that might otherwise be focussed upon first causes of, and real remedies for, working class ills; one more obstacle that will have to be overcome before Labour can enter into its own.
What the workers of Watford and elsewhere want is a straight lead upon a clear issue, and it is precisely because they have never had the one given them, and the other kept plainly before them ; it is precisely because they have been led to follow the fantasy of reform, and have found themselves at the end of their journey in very much the position they formerly occupied, that they to-day are sullen, disconsolate, and recalcitrant.
And so the reformer must go into the category of working class enemies, and must be fought as strenuously as the hard-grained proletarian ignorance and apathy, the more so because he is the apathy producer, the ignorance perpetuator.—Alec Gray.
Going strong! Held meetings every Sunday night, with one exception (speaker disappointed) since last report. Standard and pamphlets selling well, latter a good sign. Assisted with meetings at Poplar and Ilford. At latter place the Romford Division Branch has been formed. We are now endeavouring to arrange a combined attack of the two branches (West Ham and Romford) upon the new town of East Ham, where a Socialist Party is urgently needed, the distress being very great. Unemployed demonstrations and deputations to the Council have already started. The numbers of the unemployed all over the area covered by the West Ham Union are already growing rapidly, so that they promise to be very large indeed as soon as winter sets in. I should not be surprised if the local administrative bodies do not find that they have a little more than they can handle when they attempt to deal with the “Unemployed question” this year.—G. J. Hodson
Since my last report, in addition to excellent meetings on Jolly Butchers’ Hill, we have extended our activities to the West Green Corner of High Road, Tottenham. Our first meeting on this spot was held on Sunday evening, Sept. 4, and was certainly a success both from the standpoint of numbers and of interest, as shown by questions touching our principles. The Socialist Standard sold well. Meetings have been held every Sunday since with equal success, and in the very near future the Tottenham Branch of the party will surely be formed.— John Crump.
Printed by Jacomb Bros., 2a, Wingfield Road, Stratford, E. for the Proprietors, The Socialist Party of Great Britain. Published by C. Lehane, Secretary, Communist Club, Charlotte St., W.