1980s >> 1986 >> no-985-september-1986

Party News: Tolpuddle weekend

The Socialist Party was once again well represented at the annual Tolpuddle Martyrs’ rally which took place on a Sunday in July to remember six Dorchester farm labourers who, in 1834, were sentenced to seven years’ transportation to Australia for the “hideous crime” of trying to form a trade union. A weekend of events organised by the Bournemouth branch was supported by members from many parts of the country. Support was given an international flavour by a 79-year-old Australian comrade who is currently visiting the country and he seemed to thoroughly enjoy it all.

The weekend of events started out with a well supported public meeting in Bournemouth, the subject being Socialism and the Labour Movement.

On the Saturday afternoon literature was sold in Bournemouth and Southampton and when the members were reunited at a social event that evening, reports from both venues were very satisfying. So after getting together on the Saturday evening to recount our experiences we all travelled down to Tolpuddle early Sunday morning to put forward the socialist message at what is a very important event in the calendar of the working class movement.

After a slow start in selling and some difficulty in setting up the literature stall, owing to different arrangements in the organisation of the event this year, we soon began to sell all types of socialist literature and the badges started to sell particularly well.

The Socialist Party stall was probably the most impressive with a wider variety of literature than the various left wing organisations. The newer pamphlets, particularly Women and Socialism, raised a good deal of interest and sold very well.

Events such as the Tolpuddle rally have tremendous political significance as they bring together workers involved in various struggles within capitalism and it is at gatherings such as these that workers are likely to be receptive to what to many of them are new ideas. Of course it is true that at such events there are many groups willing to direct the working class down more wrong roads and dead ends but this is all the more reason for us to be there with a clear socialist message and to attempt to change the various struggles within capitalism into one struggle to end it.

The message from the Tolpuddle weekend is clear; events that bring large numbers of workers together in a mood of unity provide us with a real opportunity to present the one real alternative

Ray Carr