Notes from the Merrie Village

The Islington Branch have engaged the Public Hall, Caledonian Road Baths, for a great mass meeting to celebrate the anniversary of the Commune of Paris, on Monday, March 21st. The hall will seat over 800 persons, and the local comrades are determined to fill it.

In March 1908 we challenged Mr. R. N. McDougall, of the Liberty and Property Defense League, to debate. He stated in reply that he would debate “after the Licencing Bill has been finally disposed of.”

Reminded a few weeks ago of his promise, Mr. McDougall replied : “I have recently had two big debates with Socialists, but do not mind another provided you are willing to comply with one or two conditions. Firstly the debate must be in some town outside the metropolitan area where a fair sized audience could be got and a report in the Press. Secondly you must undertake all financial responsibility and management of the debate and in addition must pay me £1” (italics ours) “to cover my expenses. If you object to these terms I reply that I am not seeking the debate, having much better ways of spending my time than discussing Socialism with people who do not understand it.”

No doubt the latter portion of the communication was prompted by the recollection of his recent debate with the Rev. Conrad Noel, and it would be interesting to know if the sum of £1 was Mr. McDougall’s price in the other debate he refers to. Our secretary had visions of being inundated with applications for debates if this practice were adopted ; so we here take the opportunity of informing all and sundry that those desiring debates on these terms need not apply.

Speaking at Highbury Corner a few weeks ago a member of the I.L.P. asserted that the S.P.G.B. “are retarding the progress of Socialism.”

Challenged to debate that question with a member of the S.P.G.B., he advised the challenger to communicate with the Islington branch of the I.L.P. Our branch immediately wrote to the I.L.P., who replied with the now stereotyped phrase : “No good purpose could be served by a debate between two Socialist organisations.”

This is somewhat illogical as in the first place we were told that we are “retarding the progress of Socialism,” and therefore could not be a a Socialist organisation ; but as a convenience for wriggling out of an awkward situation, well, then we are Socialists.

H. A. Y.

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