Correspondence :The S.L.P. And the S.P.G.B.

Gents.,—It is a fitting finish to the two years and more of cowards’ silence that a feeble, unsigned attempt has been made to explain the differences between the S.L.P. and the S.P. Anyone of average intelligence can easily see that the writer defeats his own object. To give a detailed history of the London “Impossiblists,” and to correct Mr. Jack Fitzgerald’s fables in full I should require an issue or more of your paper, therefore I shall simply point where he has mis-stated the truth, and, if my Party (the S.L.P.) are disposed to re-open the matter, I shall go fully into the matter in the columns of our Party Organ (The Socialist). If your readers obtain a copy of our paper for July, 1906, they will find therein a reply to some questions of Comrade E. J. B. Allen, a reply to some of the fiction circulated by Mr. Fitzgerald and others. There were several members of the S.D.F. in London who corresponded with our Scotch comrades ; and as the so-called London section was unorganised it would be interesting to know who gave Mr. Fitzgerald power to act as correspondent. Granted that Fitzgerald was asked, or took upon himself the task, of writing to London men to turn up to the joint Conference at “Cock and Hoop,” on Easter Sunday, 1903, that had nothing to do with his supposed official correspondence with our Scotch comrades after Friedberg had left this country. The London section (so-called) did not suggest that Anderson and MacGregor be invited to that Conference, and I don’t imagine for one minute that Anderson would have showed his face there if such an arrangement had been made. Fitzgerald and McNicol were not asked to tell Comrade Geis he was not wanted, and ask him not to turn up to Conference. But there, I see that Mr. Fitzgerald has forgotten to mention that fact. I might state here for the benefit of your readers that I was Chairman of that Meeting, and also elected Secretary of the London Section that really came into being in an organised manner that night, therefore I am competent to know what took place. Yates did not state “that they had been building up a new party during the last two years.” What Yates did say was “that they had built up an organised section during the last two years, consequently they had the necessary organisation to form a new party when necessary, and after the 1903 S.D.F. Conference that was the only thing they could do.” Elrick who also spoke said “that no self-respecting man could remain any longer in the S.D.F. He was in favour of a London Party affiliated to a Scotch Party.” Yates said he “did not want merely a Scotch Party but a party covering England, Scotland and Wales.” L. Cotton of Oxford also spoke for formation of a new party covering Great Britain and said we should not succeed as mere local societies. Matheson did the same. If Fitzgerald really believed the fables of Alexander Anderson why did he not bring the so-called charges against the Scotch section forward at that meeting. There was plenty of time after he had returned from seeing Matheson and Yates off at St. Pancras, and if necessary, we could have arranged for a meeting on Easter Monday. No ! Fitzgerald preferred to wait until the Scotch Delegates had returned before spreading his charges that have never been proved. His fable about De Leon and his actions at the Amsterdam Conference was refuted before De Leon came to London, and he could have put the question to De Leon at that meeting if he desired, but somehow he did not desire that. My information re De Leon and his credentials came from De Leon himself when I put to him the tale that I had heard from Elrick and that was being circulated among members of your Party. I believe that De Leon also dealt with the yarn in the “Post Box” of the Weekly People, but as I have lent my back copies of that paper I cannot say definitely. In conclusion I would point out one can prove anything by merely taking certain sentences out of a man’s speeches or writings. Mr. Fitzgerald has done this in his anonymous article (A Statement of Differences) and while it proves him to be a tricky debater it does not say much for his honesty of purpose.
—Yours etc.,

[We are sorry Mr. Jerman has preferred to prejudice his criticism of our article by an exhibition of bad manners that may well be taken as evidence of an ignorance—deplorable in a correspondent of the mere decencies of discussion. A case is not improved by random and entirely unsubstantiated charges of cowardice and deliberate misrepresentation; nor is it benefited by the laboured irony of, for example, the suggestion that to anyone of average intelligence, our article defeats its own object. Mr. Jerman, of course, does not himself believe that or he would not have been at such pains to endeavour to defeat what had already been defeated. Irony is a two-edged weapon which may only be handled by the literary tyro at the imminent risk of damage to himself.

That Mr. Jerman is a tyro is clear from the fact that he does not understand that unsigned articles are always editorial. The article in question is from the E.C. of the S.P.G.B., not, as Mr. Jerman so hastily concludes, from our Comrade Fitzgerald writing anonymously.

As, however, Mr. Jerman’s letter largely consists of personal references to Fitzgerald, we have asked our comrade for his comments upon the points raised and append his notes. To those notes we have nothing to add except, in all friendliness, to suggest to Mr. Jerman the advisability of seriously endeavouring to free himself from the limitations of a vocabulary and the heavy handicap of a literary style which are riot better but worse for having been imported from America and imperfectively transmitted to us through a sadly defective Scottish gramaphone.—ED.]

A careful comparison of Mr. Jermau’s letter with the article mentioned will, I think, render anything in the nature of an extended reply unnecessary. For Mr. Jerman’s benefit, however, and as my name is so frequently mentioned, I will briefly deal with the points he attempts to raise.

1. He asks “who gave Fitzgerald power to act as correspondent ?” As mentioned in the article, and as Mr. Jerman well knew, when Friedberg, who was the recognised correspondent of the section, left England he handed that business over to myself.

2. Mr. Jerman says “the London section did not suggest that Anderson and McGregor be invited to meeting.” Quite true, as a section, but several members made the suggestion, as Mr. Jerman was aware.

3. As the question of Mr. Geis is not raised in the article Jerman’s remarks are entirely gratuitous. I asked Geis to stay away on my own responsibility as he was not a member of the S.D.F. at the time and he promised to do so but broke that promise and came to the meeting place.

4. It is true that Mr. Jerman was chairman of the meeting but there was no secretary, nor were any minutes taken at that meeting. He was appointed secretary to the committee elected to receive information from Scotland and is, therefore, in no better position to speak of what occurred at that meeting than any other member present. His attempted quibble about the words “organised section” as against “New Party” for what difference there may be in them can be refuted by the evidence of several others attending the meeting besides myself, but it is best met by the fact that at the next meeting of the London section held at the “Hope” Coffee Tavern when I repeated the statement now disputed Mr. Jerman did not deny or in any way question that the words “New Party” had been used by Yates.

5. Mr. Jerman’s next point re. Anderson’s fables would be charming in its naivete were it not so clumsy an attempt to avoid an awkward point. Nowhere in the article is anything said about “Anderson’s charges.” What is said is that it was the Scotchmen who made the charges against Anderson and then refused to meet or face the man they charged and this also Mr. Jerman knew well. The only occasion upon which Anderson’s name is used is on the point of forming a New Party behind our backs which Mr. J erman admits when he says that they (the Scotchmen) “had an organisation ready” and which is fully admitted by J. C. Matheson in the September issue of the Socialist. Moreover, if Mr. Jerman was so convinced on these points it is a wonder he did not at once join the London Branch of the S.L.P. instead of waiting several months, before doing so.

6. Regarding De Leon’s position at Amsterdam, why did Mr. Jerman ignore the points made in the article and try to shuffle out of it by saying he spoke to De Leon himself ? Why at the London Meeting did he not bring the matter up while I was speaking to De Leon as he was leaving the Hall ? Mr. Jerman will, I think, find the points in the article are posers enough for him to answer—whenever he makes a genuine attempt to do so.


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