1960s >> 1968 >> no-766-june-1968

Party News: Southern Journey

To arrive in Jamaica at 10 o’clock at night in 90 degrees of heat and humidity after leaving London 10 hours before at 35 degrees is a shattering experience, but this disappears when a slight, bewhiskered Jamaican holds out his hand and says “Welcome to Jamaica, Comrade Edmonds”; when a tall, brawny lad with an infectious smile grabs your bags, puts them in his car and within minutes you are sitting in a beer garden being introduced to various people and discussion begins.

Such was our meeting with Cornrade Dolphy and Comrade Barry—I never did find out his other name. The following day we were allowed to rest and in the evening a visit to a club and we sit down to discussion again. Someone walks up. “Hello there, George”. “John,” says George, “this is Bill. He’s interested in the Party”, and so another participant.

The following day, we are picked up early by Barry and George and travel 80 miles into the mountains to talk to a sympathiser who accepted the Party’s case, but was sceptical about the here-after. As an ex-Roman Catholic, I was able to convince him—I hope—that it was fear that was his problem, and we parted with agreement. This was the pattern of the whole of our stay.

Jamaica of course is a country of Montego Bay with its holiday resort, writers and retired millionaires, whilst Kingston, where we stayed, is the commercial town with the poverty and unemployment very familiar in the Carribean area. The United Fruit Company has major control of the Island’s agrarian economy, which is primarily sugar, bananas and coffee. The Daily Gleaner spends much of its time acting as referee between the two political parties’ attacks on each other for graft.

I must here pay tribute to the late Comrade La Touche. They speak of him with much regard and he must have contributed to the growing group of Jamaica.
And now a different kettle of fish; Wellington, New Zealand. Seeing the Airport, we were confronted by a large sign “Trotts here tonight”. For a moment, I thought politics were very active. Unfortunately, it was horse racing and not Trotskyists. However, our welcome to Wellington was as enthusiastic as Jamaica if not as colourful. One cannot speak too highly of Comrade Ron Everson and the band of Socialists who are doing a job of work in New Zealand. I think a remark of Com. Everson will suffice to explain—“I retired from work”, he said, “I couldn’t propagate Socialism and work.” This is indeed true. With the assistance of his wife, Amy, he carries out the work of secretary, literature secretary, organiser and chief seller of Standards and Westerns—indeed a full-time job. He also has a “room for Socialism” in his house in Wigan Street where every Thursday they hold classes, and it was enlightening to see a group of young Comrades with a group of older members. As Ron says, we are getting old —we need the young ‘uns, and I think they have some excellent tutors and material.
We visited several old members including Comrade Rolfe Everson, who alas died since I arrived home. I also was introduced to the Dockers’ Club and gave a talk on War, Want and Waste. It should have lasted an hour, but as it was raining, most of the lads were standing by, so the meeting went on for four hours.
Johnny Edmonds