North Paddington Gets Another Chance
November 20th, 1946
Once again we have entered the parliamentary campaign in North Paddington. Once again working men and working women of Paddington have the privilege of striking a blow for Socialism. Writing on the eve of the poll, we do not know how many will take advantage of this grand opportunity to send a shiver through the capitalist world, but we do know this: whatever the number of those who cast votes for our candidate, they will be socialist votes, and these are the only ones worth while; all the rest are wasted votes.
This time our masters’ press have had to take notice of us as an entirely new phenomenon on the political horizon, the real voice of the workers’ interests at last; a party that is antagonistic to all the other political parties, whether they call themselves Labour, Liberal, Tory or Communist; a party that alone represents the fundamental interests of the workers, advocating nothing but Socialism as a solution to the workers’ many problems.
Members and sympathisers have rallied splendidly for the contest; canvassing, speaking, organising, folding literature, bill-posting, and doing all the other work necessary to get socialist ideas over to the electors as clearly as possible. Our insistence in our literature, at our meetings, and on the doorstep, that we do not want votes unless they are registered by workers who understand Socialism, is a new attitude to electors and a revolutionary and mystifying one to newspaper reporters. The latter are still further mystified by our insistence that our candidate is only the mouthpiece of socialist workers; they were also perturbed by the lack of the customary biographical details.
The Tory candidate was a very unwilling guest on one of our outdoor platforms in a debate—though it is a travesty to call it a debate. He was given an opportunity to state his policy and defend Capitalism. He attacked the Labour Government but made no attempt either to deal with our position or to defend Capitalism. He was given a second opportunity, after our speaker had stated the case for Socialism and challenged him to defend Capitalism. The Tory candidate then only occupied the platform long enough to say that he did not agree with what our speaker had said, but he could not stay any longer; off he went without another word, in spite of jeers and boos from members of the large crowd who had been expecting at least some defence from him.
We have had two excellent meetings on two Sundays at the Metropolitan Music Hall, about 1,600 attending on each occasion. At the second meeting there were a great many questions, and Communists turned up for the first time in the election. They had had time to consider the wobbling “party line” and at the last minute decided to support the Labour Party. The collection at the two meetings amounted to nearly £110. We have also had good meetings at smaller halls, but bad weather has seriously interfered with outdoor meetings, although we have had some very good ones.
We got out an Election Address and an “Election Special” (a large news sheet), both of which were delivered by hand to every house in the constituency; also the Candidate’s final address, which went through the post to every elector. One of the articles from the “Election Special” is reproduced in this issue (“ War and Increased Production ”).
In spite of the fact that we have had only two weeks to get things going, we have had an excellent campaign, and members and sympathisers have thoroughly enjoyed themselves explaining the socialist position to the workers of Paddington.
On the eve of the poll we held an open-air meeting at the Prince of Wales, a well-known place for outdoor meetings. Although it was a cold, wet evening, over five hundred people came to listen and remained until late at night. A Conservative opponent, who asked questions, was invited to take the platform for twenty minutes to state the Conservative policy in opposition to our case. When he got upon the platform he informed the audience that he was Major Beamish, Conservative Member of Parliament for Lewes. All he did was to attack the Labour Party. Our speaker then pointed out that we were just as much opposed to the Labour Government as we were to the Tories. He then put the case for Socialism, dealt with the past history of the Tories, and invited Major Beamish to have another twenty minutes dealing with our speaker’s contribution. Again Major Beamish restricted his remarks to an attack upon the Labour Party. He showed total ignorance of the Socialist position that had been laid down, which was evidently new and bewildering to him. Groves pointed this out, and also asked him why he was opposing Nationalisation when the Tories agreed with it and had already nationalised various industries themselves. Major Beamish, from the ground, said emphatically that he opposed Nationalisation. He was asked if he would restore the Post Office and other nationalised industries to private owners. He said “No.” He was offered another ten minutes to state a case in opposition to ours, but declined. He offered to go on the platform for thirty seconds to wish Groves luck, and wanted to shake hands, but the latter pointed out that when we said we were bitter antagonists of both Tory and Labour parties we meant it, and there was no room for hypocritical gestures.
To-day, election day, we have stopped all activity. A Press reporter called and we pointed out to him that we had done all we could to convince the working men and women of Paddington that our case against Capitalism and for Socialism was sound, and it was now up to them to show how far they had travelled on the road to understanding Socialism. We are opposed to doing anything on polling day that could in any way influence their vote, in spite of the fact that the opposition parties have loudspeaker cars running round, and supporters at the polling booths. Our loudspeaker was dismantled this morning.
Our effort in Paddington will have an effect far outside the narrow limits of a London district. It will bring fresh hope to, and enthuse, those who think like us in the provinces and the lands beyond the seas. We are now in the parliamentary contest in this country to stay, and we will not rest until the working class have captured the control of Parliament for the purpose of introducing Socialism. That day may not be as far distant as many imagine.
Since going to Press we have learned the Election result, the figures being:—