In East Ham South the preliminary shots of the election battle have been fired. All parties contesting are now busy with propaganda meetings and door-to-door canvassing. Unlike the S.P.G.B., however, the canvassers of the other parties are far more concerned with catching votes than spreading information. “Trust us” each of them say in turn, and in less than a month I have been invited to join the Labour, Conservative and Communist Parties. So long as you can write your name you’re in!
In connection with this recruiting campaign, the Labour Party have been parading their M.P., the Rt. Hon. Alfred Barnes, P.C., M.P., round to meetings in various school halls. At the one I attended there were twenty-three faithful followers and three S.P.G.B.-ers. Time was allowed for questions, but apparently not for answers. Upon being asked for a definition of Socialism, Mr. Barnes, recognising the politics of his questioner, said that he wouldn’t give it as we’d only disagree. Really, Mr. Barnes! After further questions we finally challenged him to a public debate. Proudly surveying his enormous audience he informed us that he had no intention of getting an audience for the S.P.G.B.! Could it be that Mr. Barnes has no desire to face a large audience himself?
The Tory rally was again like the vicar’s tea party, complete with pauses for applause at the mention of Churchill and the Empire. Between them, in spite of protests from S.P.G.B.-ers in the hall. Baker White, M.P., and candidate Jordan, referred no less than twenty-seven times to the Labour Party as “Socialists.” Ignorance or dishonesty? Questions were taken in writing and answered with facetiousness. Any attempt to speak from the floor was drowned by the slow claps and jeers of three hundred Tory democrats. While expressing ignorance of the S.P.G.B., Mr. Jordan agreed to debate with us. Whether, in light of his newly gained knowledge, that promise will be fulfilled, remains to be seen.
Last, and least, the Communist Party, who not so very long ago were urging the workers of East Ham to support the Labour Party, have entered the arena by giving their candidate’s life story to the local press. He is a local man; he is married; he has so many children; he is a lighterman; he is an expert on inland waterways. I wonder what it is all supposed to prove? They hold Saturday evening meetings at which S.P.G.B.-ers are especially unwelcome. A challenge to debate three or four years back earned us the title of “social fascists,” and a challenge made earlier this year was discreetly ignored. No doubt they remember Hornsey Town Hall.
So far as our own campaign is concerned, satisfactory progress can be reported. The door-to-door canvassing which began in January, has so far resulted in one hundred regular readers of the STANDARD, as well as well over ten pounds’ worth of pamphlets sold. Our difficulty now is keeping up with the “call backs” and offers from Tottenham and Wood Green Branch to open up new territory have been gratefully accepted.
Our outdoor venue at the Cock Hotel on Sunday evenings proved itself unsatisfactory, due to the local rowdies, both adolescent and adult, so we have moved to Heigham Road opposite East Ham Station. Audiences of more than a hundred, intelligent questions and good literature sales have caused both branch and visiting speakers to express satisfaction with the new station. At the other end of the constituency the new mid-week station at the Boleyn Hotel is showing promising results.
As the election draws nearer, the battle will no doubt intensify. Every house in the borough must be canvassed, every elector made aware of the S.P.G.B. To do this we need YOUR help. If you live within distance of the constituency and are prepared to lend a hand get in touch with the branch secretary or members for specific details..
The more seeds sown now, the greater will be the harvest of conscious working class votes for Socialism. Into battle!