The Annual Conference will be over by the time that this edition of the “Socialist Standard’’ is on sale and a report of what took place will appear in our next issue. Last month we gave some details of items which will be dealt with by the delegates, and here are a few more things which are on the agenda. Our Central branch (covering members who cannot attend branches) numbered 162 at the end of the year. Although the members of this branch are handicapped by their isolation a number of them are very active in their areas. During the last few years good branches have been formed by pockets of Central branch members living near to each other. Our Central Organiser reports to the Conference that many branches of the party are increasing their activities, but that a large amount of work falls on a comparatively small number of members. Nevertheless on the whole the condition of most branches seems to be healthier than for some time past. The supply of articles by members for publication in the “Socialist Standard” was considerably better in the last half of 1947 than it was in 1946, and because of this the Editorial Committee were able to give more of their time to working on pamphlets. The number of “Socialist Standards” printed was 6,000 per month up to October, 1947, but owing to unsold copies during the winter months the quantity was reduced to 5,600 for October and November, and 5,400 for December. The party’s Literature Secretary in his report to the delegates points out that copies of “Socialist Comment” (the journal of our companion party in Australia) can now be obtained from Head Office. This paper offers members an excellent opportunity of learning about the local problems of our Australian comrades. Our literature was advertised right through the year in various organs of the press, bringing in a number of new subscribers to the “Socialist Standard” together with some enquiries from abroad. We have also continued to press the B.B.C. for time on the “air” but so far without result. The work of our Overseas Secretary’s department during 1947 increased enormously, and the results of this increased activity are slowly becoming manifest. These results so far consist of closer contacts with groups and parties abroad, interest in our literature in different parts of the world and the growth of an organisation within the party capable of dealing with any socialist development overseas. The delegates will have in front of them details of the activities of all the companion parties abroad. The Overseas Secretary has also tried to get in contact with small groups who have broken away from self-styled working-class parties in Italy, Holland and France, but so far he has nothing of interest to report under this heading. The “Socialist Standard” is now being sent to a large number of groups and workers in various parts of the world, including libraries in Hamburg and Moscow. We have now built up a team of translators and also a panel of linguists who are prepared to represent the party abroad when required. The resolution sent in by branches upon which delegates will vote in accordance with their branch mandates cover a wide field, dealing with the party’s propaganda, literature, etc., but the most lively discussions will probably be on the various “Items for discussion” which appear on the agenda. Delegates are not tied down by their branches on these items in the same way as they are on the resolutions, but it is their duty to report back to their branches on the various points of view expressed. Altogether there is every indication that the Conference will have been stimulating, interesting and beneficial to party welfare.
A New Pamphlet reproducing from the “S.S.” from 1918 onwards articles on Russia containing material of permanent value is now ready for the printer. This is not intended to meet the need for an original pamphlet dealing with Russia from our standpoint. The Editorial Committee has other pamphlets in mind for publication when the financial situation becomes easier. We are still waiting for you to make that situation easier. It is a very serious matter and we cannot over emphasise the need for funds.
Glasgow Branch has suffered severely lately owing to the death of members. John Adrian died in February suddenly under very tragic circumstances. He had been making plans for his usual visit to the Annual Conference, an event which he always looked forward to. John joined the party in 1936 and became a very valuable member. He was not a public propagandist, but a very serious student with a thorough grounding in socialist theory. He organised classes on economics and was a source of inspiration to all members. He had all the essential attributes of the revolutionary worker. Fifteen members attended his funeral at which a party member gave a fitting address. The branch has also lost R. D. Robertson who died in February after a long illness. He was a young member who joined us in 1942. He was an earnest and unassuming lad with a keen and intelligent interest in the work of the party.
The branch have been temporarily inconvenienced as a result of being served a notice to quit their excellent shop premises by May 28th—or to buy them at £700 (an impossible sum). This has faced Glasgow comrades with the difficult task of seeking new premises in the city by that date. The shop with its spacious window for displaying pamphlets, and announcing meetings, proved itself a most useful asset during its several years of branch occupancy.
Indoor meetings are continuing, but with the present mild weather and longer light evenings a start on outdoor propaganda is being made this month; probable venues are Queens Park Gate and Brunswick Street. Again a challenge to the C.P. to debate has been issued, this time through their Penilee branch, who await their central committee’s, sanction. It is expected, however, that the C.P.’s usual political cowardice about debating with S.P.G.B. representatives will add but another refusal to efforts to get them on the public platform. Recently the branch organiser travelled 50 miles on invitation to Kelty, to address a meeting composed mainly of miners. The S.P. case was well received.
The Croydon Bye-Election gave our branch there an opportunity of extending its propaganda work. Indoor and outdoor meetings were run, and while the audiences were on the small side we managed to get the ear of a number of workers in the constituency who were not swept away by the reformist barrage of the candidates.
Kensington Town Hall houses another of our debates on April 12th. The Society of Individualists are putting up Collin Brook (editor of “Truth”) against us. Our man is the General Secretary. The straight subject of “Socialism versus Capitalism” has been agreed upon.
“The Socialist Standard” now costs more to produce than we get for it at Head Office. This is due to higher wages of printers and the higher cost of paper. The resulting loss each month increases our financial difficulties.
“The Communist Manifesto” centenary commemoration meeting at the Conway Hall on March 1st brought a very good crowd together. As is usual at our meetings we finished up with plenty of time given to the audience for questions and discussion. The collection was £17 and about £7 worth of literature was sold.