Ring the bell, Verger

Sad cases are often reported when old people die and lie undiscovered for

Keir Hardie is not amused.

weeks or months. Another has come to our attention. The Independent Labour Party, aged 83, was recently found dead. A note beside the body said it had given up the ghost in a conference hall at Easter.


The coroner said the deceased had been ailing for many years, having existed on milk-and-water alone; there was a severe congenital malformation, making it remarkable that he had lived so long. Witnesses testified that he had plenty of money but became lonely and unable to make friends. He was known in the neighbourhood as “I Yell Pea”. As a younger person he had appeared fit and well, though probably overtaking his strength; in 1931 he quarrelled with his brother, a Mr. Leigh Burr-Parti, and had never been the same man since. The deceased’s landlady said he rambled a good deal about his godfather’s cap and his desire to emulate his Aunt Cleopatra, who had been all things to all men.


His will desired that his surviving relatives should go to the aid of Leigh Burr-Parti, whom he described as a good fellow who had only got into bad company. The executors are sending out monthly funeral cards headed “Labour Leader”, and would like to hear from anyone who can think of anything else to put because they can’t.


A number of wreaths and tributes were received, many of them from obscure people who signed themselves “M.P.” A Mr. Benn wished everyone well; Syd Bidwell wanted to see “real socialist literature”, as this is something he has missed reading; Mr. Heffer, Mr. Allaun, Mr. Atkinson and others sent messages of goodwill but were interrupted by coughing fits while they were writing. There was also a message from Highgate Cemetery saying that one of the occupants was turning in his grave.


Our suggested inscription for the tombstone is: The ILP was one of those who were going to show how to achieve Socialism by swifter and surer methods than Socialist ones. Its present-day counterparts repeat that they know quicker ways. The ILP’s history shows the boot to be on the other foot. Those who want Socialism are constantly made to wait — by the likes of them.


Robert Barltrop