A Challenge to Debate

In the days when the Independent Labour Party counted its MPs by the dozen the Socialist Party often gave them a scare by issuing a challenge to debate. The ILP had a special technique for dealing with us. They normally sent back a haughty reply along the lines that “no useful purpose would be served by such a meeting”. We were not a little surprised, then, to receive a challenge to debate—dated September 22, 1967—from the general secretary of what remains of the ILP. The Socialist Party replied on October 12, 1967 accepting the challenge and we added that we looked forward to receiving the ILP’s proposals as to the details of the meeting.

Since nothing had been heard from them by the end of December 1967, we wrote a further letter offering to help out if they were having difficulty in securing a hall. At the time of writing we are still awaiting a reply. On two occasions we have telephoned their head office and both times they have answered that they were too busy to consider a debate until some indefinite time in the future! All this seems rather strange when it is remembered that it was they who issued the challenge. If nothing else, this shows consistency. The ILP has been dithering ever since its formation in 1893 and its present members are obviously ably maintaining their party’s tradition.