Party News – Good Work in Manchester
Just a brief record of work done on behalf of the S.P.G.B. in Manchester and district during the past few weeks. On Sunday, September 23rd, H. W. Hobart was lecturing at Salford for the S.D.F. and to him we put one or two questions at the close of his address. Not being satisfied with his replies and at the invitation of the chairman the platform was occupied for 10 minutes and the futility of the reforms advocated by the lecturer was shown.
The Friday following we came upon the S.W. Manchester S.D.F. holding forth at Russell Street, and a question or two bearing upon the lecturer’s statement that the S.D.F. had always stuck to their principles, led to somewhat of a scene, the whole of the usual stock of compliments being literally showered upon us, but at the request of the crowd, the major portion of whom disagreed with this style of dealing with questions – the platform was once again occupied, the futility of reform agitation exposed, and instances given where the S.D.F. had departed from its principles by allowing men of the type of Thorne to support Liberal candidates and to hide their Socialism as Labour candidates, etc. Receiving an invitation to appear next week and to have our statements publicly exposed as untruths, we appeared at the appointed time and produced samples of Will Thorne’s election literature, Mr. G. Belt’s programme, likewise his leaflet admitting his endeavour to compromise with the Liberal Party etc., etc. After a vain endeavour on the lecturer’s part (Mr. A. H. Watson), to quibble and a tardy admission that the organisation may have made mistakes, the chairman stated that he would not at any future meeting take any further questions from us or allow us to oppose. (# questions were asked and answered and the platform occupied for 10 minutes). A challenge to a public representative debate was likewise ignored, During the remainder of the fine weather meetings have been held on every available evening at various spots, and on two successive Sunday mornings at the corner of Tib St, and Piccadilly we received opposition from S.D.F. speakers. The first was a German member of the S.D.F. whose name I do not remember, the other, J. McGlasson. However, we have not yet stated that we shall not take any more questions or allow opposition, but to one and all we say that we welcome your questions, further. By all means come and discuss with us.
What the average worker cannot see is the reason why the S.D.F. fear debate. To both opponents our words were as follow, “We are prepared to meet in free and open debate, any representative your organisation may choose, whether he be your University educated man or a member of the middle class with all the educational advantages accruing from that position, our organisation will oppose to him a workman, and the workers can decide which organisation is worthy of the support of the working class.” Why did McGlasson shake his head so sorrowfully when he publicly received this invitation to his organisation to debate? Did he think of the days gone by when the S.D.F. members boasted that they were prepared to meet all comers? One thing we do know and that is the crowd wanted to enquire for itself and the manifestoes sold well that morning.
Since coming to Manchester we have, up to the time of writing, disposed of over 750 copies of THE STANDARD, 200 copies of the Manifesto, and 52 copies of “Handcraft to Capitalism” and more are on order for.