From Our Branches
Dead? Not much. Not by a jugful. Just busy, that’s all. Too busy to report, even at times. But alive! O! very much alive. Ask our local Labour-misleading friends the enemy. They may conceivably wish we were dead. It isn’t their fault we are not. But we won’t die, ingrates that we are. So they try the game of ignoring us. It’s a goose game. And their elaborately simulated indifference is worth coming a long way to see. As a sample this: – Before the election the local S.D.F. and I.L.P. who jointly make up a third body—the Labour Church—issued a manifesto. (Incidentally and in justice to the author it should be stated that a considerable portion of the manifesto was lifted without acknowledgment from a pamphlet by C.A. Glyde.) This document urged the workers to abstain from voting. Whereupon the chairman of the I.L.P. Branch (also member of the L.C.) promptly appeared upon the Liberal candidate’s platform, moving resolutions of support—an example immediately followed by another of the L.C. As a result the Branch published a repudiation of their chairman’s action in publicly supporting the Liberal and called upon him to resign his chairmanship. Of course we could do no less than point out in the press that the action of the Watford I.L.P. was out of harmony with the I.L.P. action all over the country, citing the case of the neighbouring Harrow Branch, which had supported the Liberal candidate, and emphasising the inevitable confusion in the working-class mind such muddled tactics must engender. Also we a asked a few questions! Thus. If the matter was of the importance to warrant public repudiation, would not the only logical and sufficient action of the I.L.P. had been the expulsion of the member? If it had been a private member instead of a chairman would he have been called upon to resign membership? If so why not the chairman? If not what is the value of the Branch action? And would it have been all right if the support of the member had been given the member privately, seeing that it was his public action that impelled the Branch to move? Again would the I.L.P. refuse future support to the second individual mentioned who, as a member of the Labour Church and Trades Council was supported in his candidature for public office by the I.L.P. and S.D.F? And would the LC and S.D.F. publicly repudiate his action in supporting the Liberal. The reply from all these bodies has been a very loud and very interesting silence—the sort of answer we are very familiar with here because the only answer that may safely be vouchsafed. However, the local council elections are at hand, when they will probably hear from us again.
One other matter only may be squeezed into our present note. The Party membership is aware that the police have taken action to prevent our meetings in the Market Square. The Salvation Army, however, are not interfered with. After which exhibition of even-handed justice it will be no matter for surprise that the chief constable’s name is Daniel! We have had an interesting correspondence with this worthy which may see the light of publicity in the future. The police fiat came to us at the end of last year’s open-air season, so that there has been no particular need for hurried action. But as it seems inevitable that our meetings in the coming summer will be interfered with, we hope the Organisation will take the question into early consideration. Members prepared to accept the hospitality of His Brittanic Majesty’s lock-up are urged to communicate with the E.C., to whom the matter has been referred, at once.
At the end of last year this branch vacated its old premises, for the sole reason that they were more expensive than useful. This trifling circumstance has been has been commented on by a member of one of the several utopian reform associations of this district as an indication of our decline. On the contrary we have much reason to be gratified with an all-round improvement—increased attendance at branch meetings, an enthusiastic desire to make our influence felt when opportunities offer, and a healthy condition of the funds. This, by way of warning to those who await our funeral not to be over-sanguine (and kindly note that in The Socialist Party we do not “tell lies in the interests of the organisation.” The performance of the fatuous pseudo- Socialists are always interesting, if not instructive. On Feb. 7, Mr. John Clark, M.A., S.D.F., was permitted to lecture at the Peckham Liberal Club on the “Points on which Socialists and Liberals can agree.” Needless to add, the usual stale list of impossibilist radical reforms were advocated with the usual sentimental fervour.
During the election contest in the neighbouring constituency of Deptford, a local official of the S.D.F. displayed the “vote for Bowerman” placard, notwithstanding the gentleman’s plain declaration to his fellow trade unionists that “He had always been a Liberal, and would probably remain one.” Therefore, one is not surprised to read in the official journal of the London Society of Compositors that Mr. Bowerman “has been welcomed by the majority of Liberals in the district, many of whom worked strenuously to secure the return of the Labour Candidate.” Incidents like the foregoing constantly recurring show the necessity for a genuine revolutionary Socialist Party apart from those whose political tactics are marked by confusion, pusillanimity and compromise.
Although this branch has only been fairly active during the winter, the literature sales have been well kept up. We held a splendid “No vote” meeting on Saturday, Jan. 13th. Plenty of questions and opposition were the order of the day.
One sequel to this meeting was a lengthy discussion in a local paper, in which our position was upheld against the Liberals, who talked about political suicide, disenfranchisement, etc. Several young fellows are studying Socialist literature in order to properly grasp our position before joining the party. All things considered, all is well.
We have held some encouraging meetings at Streatham Drinking Fountain, where we have found a favourable spot for open-air work. Comrade Moore has debated with a local Progressive whom he had no difficulty in disposing of.
Standards and Manifestos have sold well, and the special Party Election Manifesto was got into circulation so effectively that we have been credited by the local Liberals with losing them the seat. We have opened premises at 29. The Parade, Upper Tooting Road, where any evening after 8 we shall be glad to welcome any who desire closer acquaintance with the Party Principles.