1940s >> 1949 >> no-535-march-1949

Editorial: May Day in Hyde Park

In a report about plans for a May Day procession to Hyde Park the Daily Worker (14/1/49) had the following:


  “And the Ministry of Works has told the 600,000-strong Trades Council it cannot use loudspeakers in Hyde Park on May Day unless it can come to an agreement with the tiny Socialist Party of Great Britain which had already applied to use loudspeakers on that day. The Council decided to hold the meeting in Hyde Park if permission could be obtained for loudspeakers, otherwise in Trafalgar Square.”

The Ministry of Works take the line that they will not allow more than one organisation to use loudspeakers, presumably because of the noise, and it happens that this year the S.P.G.B. got in its application first. We are, however, not in favour of loudspeakers being permitted to one organisation and not to others and we have so informed the Ministry. Equally, we would be satisfied if no loudspeakers were used by any speaker in the Park.


There is, however, an entertaining side issue. A Russian Communist journalist, a Miss Catherine Sheveleva, after visiting Hyde Park in 1948 informed her Russian readers in the columns of the Moscow Bolshevik that “democratic” (i.e. Communist) speakers do not get a chance of addressing meetings in Hyde Park. She wrote:


   “I was told that in Hyde Park I would see British democracy in action. Yet, in reality, it is full of cranks, behaving like showmen at a village fair. And when a real democrat starts speaking he is nearly always pulled down from the platform by the police.” (Cable from Moscow, Manchester Guardian, 18/5/1948.)


If Miss Sheveleva’s yarn were the truth the British Communists shouldn’t want to waste their time vainly trying to mount a platform in Hyde Park. It was, however, only a bit of the usual dope fed to the Russian workers by their government-controlled press. Did Miss Sheveleva invent it herself? Or was it perhaps innocently accepted by her from her British comrades?