Party News – Debates
Our Party, being what it claims to be—the Socialist Party—we have nothing to hide. We therefore invite the most searching investigation and fearlessly challenge the most merciless criticism of our opponents; and, conscious of the soundness of our position, the integrity, solidity, and consistency of our organisation, we glory in putting forward our representatives to undergo the ordeal of public debate. Not so, however, is it with other parties. Guilty conscience truly doth make cowards of them all.
In our November issue we struck a somewhat triumphant note, having succeeded in forcing a few of the enemy to toe the line. This, we now fear, has but further frightened those dealers in darkness, for many have cried off.
Two encounters, however, have recently taken place with an Industrialist Unionist at Woolwich, and a Liberal, a Mr. Marlowe Reed (a broken reed) at Wood Green. In each case the plight of our opponent was piteous in the extreme.
A full record of the shifts to which the enemy resort in order to evade our challenge would make an imposing volume, and while providing amusing reading, would furnish further justification of our attitude of hostility. But space allows only a few examples to be given. Remembering the mauling their representatives have already received from our speakers, the gentlemen of the Anti-Socialist Union are becoming as artful in their antics as they are slimy in their statements. Formerly they pooh poohed the idea of debates, but finding their cowardice recognised, their men now glibly throw out challenges, referring any who accept them to their Head Office. Afterwards they boast that no communication has been received. This was tried at Tottenham, but evidence of the delivery of a registered letter being produced, the Anti-Socialist Union woke up. Its next wriggle was to say that if we fixed up a man to represent the Socialist Party, the S.D.P., and the I.L.P., it would be willing to meet him in debate. There will be no debate. Our men are Socialists, and could no more defend the anti-Socialist S.D.P. or I.L.P. than they could defend the A.S.U. itself, and the A.S.U. knows it.
Another brave lot are the North London Tories. A speaker of the North Islington Conservative and Unionist Association challenged us. The challenge was accepted, whereupon their secretary, Mr. Didsbury, wrote repudiating the whole matter, and stating that “if any speaker should at any time accept a challenge for a debate, that will be on his own responsibility, and not of the Association.” But where is their union if they cut off their own speakers?
At Tottenham, at a meeting held and addressed by the Conservative candidate for the division, and also addressed by a real, live, noble lord, the chairman accepted a challenge to debate Tariff Reform versus Socialism Our comrade, the challenger, was invited to the platform to confirm the challenge— an invitation he accepted—and the facts were reported in the local Press. Now, however, the Tory party have passed the matter over to the Tariff Reform Working Men’s Club. This body claims to be non-political, and cannot discuss Toryism, Liberalism or Socialism, but they are willing to debate Tariff Reform v. Free Trade. They too, funk our challenge.
Clarionettes, and other musical instruments (as friend Dawkins would say), may have heard of Muir Watson, Clarion Vanner. This champion of confusion was tackled at Stoke Newington, and, to evade the ridicule of the audience, finally declared his readiness to defend the Labour Party in public debate with the Socialist Party’s representative. A voluminous correspondence between us, and the Stoke Newington I.L.P. and ; their Mr. Muir Watson, resulted in the I.L.P. (in deference to Mr. Watson) insisting that the debate must be private, and that they must have the right to veto our representative if they think fit. That plumbs the depths of political cowardice.
Another shining light of the I.L.P., Mr. Councillor Ebury of Heckmondwike accepted a challenge to debate, but now states that, as he speaks for his living, we will have to pay him to debate with us, and also pay his incidental expenses.
The above suffice to show the make up of the motley crew of political prostitutes who, exploiting the misery of the poor, fatten by fostering their ignorance. It is up to the working class to recognise the Socialist Party as the only party of Labour ; the party with the courage to seek out and do battle with all sections of the enemy ; the party that with their assistance will chase all opponents off the earth, and gain the World for the Workers.