Activities at Home and Abroad
Excitement in Stepney
On Friday, January 20th, Stepney Branch held a meeting at Whitechapel Library. The speaker, Comrade Cash, took as his subject, “Why I left the Communist Party.” A large audience assembled, some of whom were Communists, who did their best by heckling and shouting to prevent the speaker getting a hearing. When the Chairman asked the leader of the disturbers to leave the meeting he (the Chairman) was threatened with a baton, and, for a while, pandemonium reigned. However, the Socialist Party members present proved themselves more than capable of dealing with the situation, and, in spite of this display of organised hooliganism, the meeting was a success, many people being turned away through lack of accommodation.
It is clear that the Socialist Party of Great Britain is beginning to make its influence felt in Stepney.
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On Sunday, February 5th, literature-sellers from Southwark Branch attended the T.U.C. Unemployed Demonstration in Hyde Park and managed to sell nearly 100 copies of the SOCIALIST STANDARD.
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The newly-formed Gateshead Branch is leaving no stone unturned to make Socialism and the Socialist Party of Great Britain better known in that district. The demand for Socialist literature has been met and encouraged in Gateshead and neighbouring towns. Although open-air meetings have had to be suspended owing to inclement weather, good work is being carried on in other fields of propaganda. The Gateshead I.L.P. and the Bensham Grove Settlement have been addressed on “The Principles and Policy of the Socialist Party of Great Britain.”
Publicity for the Socialist Party was secured by the publication in The Gateshead Weekly Star of a letter on socialism and religion, which mentioned our pamphlet, “Socialism and Religion,” and drew attention to the SOCIALIST STANDARD and its purpose.
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The S.P. of Canada
The Socialist Party of Canada continues to make good progress. Two economic classes and a history class are held each week at N. Battleford, Sask., and have a regular attendance. Whist Drives and Raffles have been arranged to increase funds.
Half-a-dozen study groups have been formed at small points out West, resulting in a considerable demand for our literature.
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The Socialist Party of New Zealand has had its difficulties increased by the ban on public meetings, but this has not prevented propaganda activities being carried on in other directions. Two study classes are held, one at Head Office and one at Wellington, both of which report excellent progress.
The Labour Party and Communist Party were challenged to debate, but both declined. The Labour Party claimed a “common objective” (though it would be interesting to learn on what grounds), and the Communist Party refused to give “Socialism a hearing at their own expense,” after accusing one of our members of running away from them.
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Debate with a Conservative at Canning Town
A debate took place on Monday, February 13th, at the Public Hall, Canning Town, between Mrs. Tennant, for the Conservative Party, and the S.P.G.B., represented by Comrade Hardy.
The Hall was full to overcrowding. A group of Communists in the audience kept up a running fire of interruption while Mrs. Tennant was speaking, and, towards the end of the debate, they prevented both speakers from being heard by a continual chorus of shouting.
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As the possibility of sustained outdoor propaganda is always diminished during the winter, the only alternative is indoor meetings, and these present serious financial problems to a party such as ours. The possibility of covering the expenses incurred with, perhaps, over a half of one’s audience in serious economic distress, is very remote.
On Sunday, February 12th, the branch held a meeting in the Lower Hall of the Town Hall, at which Comrade Bellingham spoke on “Socialism and Unemployment.” The meeting was well attended, some 150 persons being present. The questions asked and the criticism entered took the usual form, that is, in the main, they consisted of an attempted I.L.P. cum C.P. criticism of the Parliamentary method without the advancement of any alternative line of action.
Literature was sold to the value of three shillings and eightpence, and specimen copies of our party organ were given away at the door as the audience left.
All things considered, the local branch are satisfied with this meeting.