Fulham Branch Report


With unemployment and poverty on the increase in Fulham and the consequent mushroom growth of the everlasting reform and fake organisations, it has been necessary for the above branch to increase its activities and institute a vigorous propaganda to put before the workers our, and consequently their position, and to counteract the sloppy sentimentalism that is being served up as Socialism by the advocates of municipal pawnshops and other twaddle. Our hostility to capitalism and inevitable denunciation of these adjuncts of capitalism is met with nothing but approval by the more intelligent of the working class. That our efforts are being rewarded is obvious to the most casual observer. Proof ? Since our propaganda the Labour Party with its idiotic and pusillanimous policy is conspicuous by its absence, the I.L.P., true to its traditions, is a negligible quantity, and the S.D.P., some speakers of which are suffering from a severe attack of intellectual anacmia, is in a comatose state, although they do occasionally hold a meeting. But our propaganda is so effective that their speakers are invariably subjected to a trenchant criticism.

At our Sunday morning meeting on July 10 at Dawes Road, Fulham, we had Mr. W. Thorne, M.P., on our platform in opposition, although Bill, believing discretion to be the better part of valour, could not be induced to debate. He previously addressed a meeting of the Gasworkers Union when, stung by Comrade Barker’s allusion to the mutual blacklegging of trade unions, he took the platform, supposedly to deny this blacldeggiug. He did not, however, attempt to deal with the point, but merely said that the unions should federate and stop every wheel in the factory. Among his gems of wisdom was the assertion that a general eight hour working day would absorb the unemployed (a statement with which, curiously enough, Thome’s fellow-speaker, a Mr. Connell, disagreed), although it would not cure all our economic evils. We were a party opposed to political action, and he was against a physical force revolution, believing that an attempt at such would meet with overwhelming and bloody suppression. He concluded with, the pathetic wail “You are always attacking me.”

In reply our comrade Barker pointed out that Thorne had not touched the question of trade unionist blacklegging, and that the S.P.G.B. does advocate political action, as our Declaration of Principles shows. He reminded the audience that Thorne himself was not so long ago brought into the police court charged with having told the unemployed to have recourse to physical force—to wit, the raiding of bakers’ shops.

Be it remarked that Barker was continually interrupted by Thorne’s supporters in the audience. At this juncture Thorne himself, who is constitutionally incapable of observing the respect due to an opponent, interrupted and denied the incident of the bakers’ shops. He said that in Trafalgar Square he had merely quoted Cardinal Manning’s teaching that it was not immoral for a starving man to steal.

With characteristic disregard for the truth he denied the statement that he had supported Mr. Percy Alden’s Liberal candidature at Tottenham. and said that what he did was to state at a social gathering where Mr. Alden spoke, that the latter had worked with him (Thorne) on the West Ham Borough Council, and had been a good member of their party.

When the statement of Mr. Hyndman, Mr. Thome’s teacher and fellow member of the S.D.P., was read —”It follows that so long as the capitalist system endures so long must the appropriation of unpaid labour continue, so long must there be an army of unemployed at hand to restrain the demands of those who are at work” (“Economics of Socialism.”)—Thorne showed his approval, with delightful inconsistency, by lustily bellowing “Hear hear.” This, contrasted with his statement that unemployment under capitalism could be abolished by the institution of a general eight hours working day, made it clear to some, at least, of the audience, how contradictory and confusing, and consequently injurious, is the teaching of Thorne & Co.

Thorne’s pantomimical display and the severe trouncing he received at Barker’s hands, paved the way for a record crowd at the Cross on the following Sunday. Barker again dealt with Mr. Thorne’s trickery, but it was significant that no one attempted to defend Thorne, even tho’ his chairman of the 10th was in the audience.

Now, Comrades, let us get to work again, taking no rest while one labour misleader dares to show his face at a public meeting.

R. T. M.


For the benefit of others on whom Mr. Thorne’s protestations of innocence may fall, we publish the following self-explanatory and condemnatory letter.—eds. ” S.S.”

(Registered Office) 214 Pentonville Road, King’s Cross, N. July 17th. 1903.
My Dear Alden,—I am very sorry that you cannot run as a labour candidate, but whether you do so or not I honestly believe that you would, if returned to Parliament, help the cause of the down-trodden masses all that lay in your power. Any man who has our principles rooted in his mind cannot help fighting for the cause of the working classes. I have written to our Tottenham branch secretary, and told him how you laboured for the workers’ cause during your connection with the Town Council of West Ham. You know that I come into conflict with many of my comrades for backing up men like yourself, but that I cannot help.
I wish you success in any constituency for which you may stand.—Fraternally yours,
(Signed) Will Thorne.

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