Party News: The Socialist Party of Great Britain. General Meeting

At the Communist Club, 107, Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square, London, W., on Sept. 18, 1904, was held the general meeting of The Socialist Party of Great Britain. A good muster of the members were present. The Secretary having called the meeting to order, Comrade Kent was appointed to the chair. The Standing Orders Committee having been appointed, the Secretary read the Report of the Executive Committee as follows:—-

  “Unlike other organisations in this country claiming to be Socialist, and, therefore, democratic, we have not deemed it necessary to hold our meetings in secret and to exercise our discretion as to what translations should be made known to you, and what business concealed from you. It is our opinion that each and every member of our party is entitled to know what is going on inside the organisation. Under the political conditions now prevailing in Great Britain, and other countries governed by Parliaments, conspiracy is discarded as a revolutionary method, and the plea for secrecy is put forward only by organisations ignorant of political development, or whose leaders desire to hoodwink the rank and file.

  Most of us have had experience of the political confidence trick in the Social-Democratic Federation and other organisations. Therefore your Executive Committee from the very beginning threw their meetings open to any member of the Party desiring to be present during the transaction of the business, and the opportunity was, we are pleased to state, freely availed of. Not a single one of our meetings was held that was not attended by non-members of the Executive Committee, and our discussions were, with permission, frequently participated in by them.

  This fact would largely obviate the need for a report of our proceedings, but as for various reasons the bulk of our membership could not be present at our meetings, we will proceed to detail our work during the first three months of the existence of the party.’’

The Report then after giving details of the party membership and the attendances of the members of the Executive Committee, resumes :—

  “We have to the best of our ability carried out the instructions you have given us. Mass meetings have been held in various parts of London with the twofold object of heralding the advent of the party and collecting funds for the extension of our propaganda, and in both respects we have had a record success, A lecture list has been organised which will well bear comparison with that of any political organisation holding propaganda meetings in the metropolis. The party has at its disposal over 15 speakers whose vigorous and sustained outdoor work has enabled us to hold over 20 meetings each Sunday and many others on week-days. Altogether about 300 propaganda meetings have been held since the inception of the party.

  The lack of suitable literature soon made itself manifest, and the want of this most powerful instrument of propaganda has to a large extent negatived the good effect of our speakers’ addresses. When the party was forced into existence, we found ourselves without any literature of our own, and an examination of the literature published by other organisations did not reveal very encouraging results. We did not, however, believe that bad literature was better than none, and decided to ask the branches to be careful of the literature they handled and recommended them for the time being to confine themselves to the list furnished them by this committee.

  Many otherwise suitable pamphlets—among them several published in America—had to be discarded owing to the presence of objectable advertisements, and even in the selected list some were found to which the same objection was raised. The question of the publication by the party of pamphlets explanatory of our position has engaged our attention, but pressure of business at the Centre |and lack of the necessary funds have prevented us from taking more active steps in this direction.

  To facilitate the branches in procuring supplies of all suitable literature, we have established a Literature Agency, which has been largely availed of. The development and extension of the agency will be greatly aided when adequate accommodate for this department is provided by the acquisition of party premises. For the building up of a library of Socialist propagandist literature, time and money are required, and when sufficient of the one has gone by and the other come in, we have no doubt the party will fully equip itself in this respect.

  At the inaugural meeting you instructed us to open a fund for the establishment of a party organ and the first number appeared on the3rd inst.

  Owing to the whole-hearted manner in which the branches have taken up the prospect of the party organ, a sale of two-thirds of the total issue each month is guaranteed, and the really splendid response made by the members to our call for funds to start and maintain The Socialist Standard has placed our paper on a sound financial basis.

  Deeming it advisable that the party should be represented at the International Congress, we decided to ask our comrade John Kent to proceed to Amsterdam. Comrade Alexander Pearson was also furnished with credentials. Our delegates were seated and The Socialist Party of Great Britain was duly recognised by the International Congress.

  The report of the party delegates to the Congress has already appeared in The Socialist Standard and you will be asked to discuss it at this meeting.

  The question of trades unionism and the attitude of our party thereto has been the subject matter of two meetings of the party. The discussions which have taken place at these meetings have been of an extremely interesting and highly educational character, and an incalculable amount of good is bound to follow from the free and frank expression of opinions on a subject which is at present engaging the attention of the workers, particularly of this country.

  We venture to assert that never before in the history of the working-class movement in Britain has the question of trades unionism been so searchingly investigated from a scientific standpoint. We have no trade union leaders to conciliate, neither have we the desire to alienate the sympathies of any section of the working-class. The absence of vested interests in the maintaining of the status quo of unclass- consciousness economic organisations has enabled our party to examine the question in the light of science unhampered by any consideration other than the desire to find the truth, and as a result of the discussions which have taken place, we are able to lay before you a resolution, confident that your decision upon it will be the outcome of an earnest and honest desire to further the cause in which we are embarked.

  We have discussed .at some length the question of the training of speakers. We have also considered the question of the education of the members in general, in order that the party may be better fitted for the struggle for working class emancipation, and with this object in view have organised a Central Economic Class for the purpose of disseminating a knowledge of the scientific basis of Socialism.

  The Peckham branch has placed at the disposal of the party their printing press, and this is already being utilised for the printing of propaganda leaflets.

  Dealing with the progress of the party, we have to report the formation of 14 branches, : viz., Battersea, Central, Clerkenwell, East London, Edmonton, Fulham, Islington, Paddington, Peckham, Southwark. Tooting, Watford, West Ham, Wood Green, and the increase of members has been considerable.

  Our party is now firmly established in the metropolis, and its influence is being spread into the provinces where we have several members and hope soon to have more branches.

  We claim that we have done all that could be accomplished in the circumstances and within the time. This has meant work for us. Not a single penny has been paid to any of our members for their services, but the consciousness of the inevitable triumph of our cause is sufficient reward for any exertions we may have put forth, and the knowledge that in that triumph will fructify the aspirations and yearnings of the today silently suffering multitude of the disinherited, will, we are confident, stimulate everyone of our members towards greater efforts for the upbuilding of The Socialist Party of Great Britain.”

This report having been accepted by the party, the questions of the Party Organ, Trades Unions, etc., were discussed at some considerable length, and the rules of the party were decided upon.
The following officers were appointed :
Treasurer—Alec J. M. Gray.
Executive Committee—Comrades E. Allen, T. Allen, A. Anderson, Crump, Elrick, Fairbrother, Fitzgerald, Hawkins, Hodson, Kent, Neumann, Woodhouse.
Auditors —Comrades Newlands and Neumann.


The meeting, after singing “The Internationale,” broke up with hearty cheering for the Social Revolution and the triumph of Socialism.