From the Fighting Line
Branches should see that reports of work, incidents of the local fight, and all matters of Party interest and propaganda value for publishing under this heading, are regularly communicated.
BATTERSEA—“All work and no play.” etc. After the heat and burden of the municipal fight, Battersea took a siesta in the form of a concert and dance at historic Sydney Hall, on the 9th ult. (Incidentally, Battersea also took a collection in aid of the Party Organ Fund, which was thoughtful and helpful.) For the occasion Paddington sent over a troupe of mummers who produced an impressive little dramatic sketch, “Wasted Lives,” which had been specially written by Comrade Fred Leigh. Setting the scene in Moscow during the time of the bloody street fighting between Russian workmen in revolt and the brutal forces of autocracy, Leigh skillfully presented the spectacle of a Fabianesque English doctor being driven by the irresistible logic of events from the position of a dilletante anti-revolutionary, into the necessity for taking sides for or against the struggling factory workers with whom lie finds himself. He chooses the side of the people and in the final tableau falls with the tiny remnant of a barricade defence who, forced to retreat into the house, make a last stand, and are shot dead by the victorious Cossacks.
Having regard to the narrow limitations of stage space and the almost entire absence of stage properties, Messrs. Leigh, Allen, Charles, Hopley and Jackson, (not to mention Stage-Manager Lewis) are to congratulated upon a very meritorious performance.
The musical contributions of Comrades Beale, Stuart, Greenham, Lewis, Passit, Shipper, and others were hugely appreciated, while Comrade Gray took the chair (and the collection) in his own ahem! inimitable manner.
TOTTENHAM has not the vantage ground that Islington Branch possess in Finsbury Park, but Tottenham are by no means depressed. By dint of sheer hard propaganda work they have during the past season almost doubled their membership, and against the combined efforts of local pseudo-labour parties to squelch them, have not only held their own finely, but carried the fight into their opponents’ quarters, to the profound discomfiture of the latter every time. Tottenham are now one of the strongest branches in the Party, and have been able to make a weekly donation to the Central Office of 10/- for some months past.
WATFORD. From the home of one of the largest brunches to the home of one of the smallest. Watford at present is the most distant outpost of the Party (although rumour hath it that even this distinction may shortly he lost); its membership is small and the local conditions are exceedingly difficult for straight Socialist propaganda. The town has probably a larger collection of the one-step-at-a-time-and-the-smaller-the-better parties than any other town of the same size can show, and the unhappy effects of their confusionist work is very marked. A branch of the Party several hundred strong could find plenty of work to engage its constant attention. Yet a very few determined members even under these conditions can make their presence felt, and the little Watford Branch can claim to have done that during the past year. Its manifesto on the local elections back in the Spring made an effective case against the candidates claiming to represent the specific interests of the working class with the result that all of them were defeated by large majorities. Sunday open air meetings of a fairly good character have been held throughout the fine weather, and although the seed sown may take longer to germinate under the adverse local conditions, there is no doubt at all but that the work put in will presently bear good fruit. Steady does it at Watford. Better a few members acting as one than a few hundred acting at sixes and sevens.
TOOTING. The Tooting Branch has been very much alive of late, although no reports of their doings has appeared for some time.
The Branch decided to contest the local ward at the recent Borough Council Election, hoping that by participating in a such a contest in opposition to all and sundry, they would clear away some of the cobwebs from the minds of those who, taking their Socialism from the capitalist Press, labour under the delusion that Socialism is simply Liberalism and Labourism in an advanced form.
The contest also answered those critics who contend that our principles only afford scope for a negative attitude. We entered the field of positive political action with Comrades Barker. Dumenil, and McManus, and when the wire-pulling in the capitalist camp had run its course we found we had for opponents 3 Municipal Reformers, 4 alleged Independents (really 2 Liberals and 2 Tories running jointly) and 3 “Labour” candidates. We placed our position before the public against the position of all the others without fear or favour, repeatedly challenging anyone to come upon our platform and show any real difference between the other ten. No one attempted the impossible.
We got an advertisement from an unexpected quarter which is interesting as showing the tactics of the confusionists. Speaking for the S.D.F. in Tooting Broadway, on, the Sunday before the election, T. Glossop, in the course of his address, without any question being asked, advised the working men of Tooting to vote, not for the “Labour” candidates, but for the three run by the S.P.G.B., who were the only Socialist candidates in the field. Posters were up all over the district at that moment announcing that Mrs. Despard. F. Knee and W. H. Humphreys, all S.D.F.’ers, would speak in support of the Labour candidates at Tooting Graveney School on the Monday. We have since heard that Glossop tried hard to induce F. Knee and Humphreys not to address that meeting but without success, for they all kept the engagement. When the public of Tooting want to know why we are opposed to the S.D.F. they can for the future have some local matter as well as national. The gulf between the S.P.G B. and the “Labour” Party (any section) should be now apparent to all interested. The Branch got an election address into practically every house and flat in the ward irrespective of the resident being a voter or not. The Labour Party, who are so desirous of educating the workers, ignored the voteless. which is an advantage as the voteless have less to unlearn. We did no canvassing whatsoever, but held plenty of open-air meetings at which we had a little Radical opposition, which was easily dealt with and a fair number of questions. The public generally showed much more interest in our election meetings, than in our ordinary propaganda ones. It may interest some also to know that a considerable influx of new members is one result of the campaign. Tooting is getting a move on to some tune, as, in addition to increased membership, the speaking capabilities of the members have improved considerably as a result of the increased practice that they have had. The total cost of the election to us was £3 3s 6d and the votes recorded for our candidates were Barker. 94. McManus. 77. Dumenil. 59. Of these 50 were plumpers.
(Notes from West Ham. Romford, and Paddington held over.)