Paddington Branch Report
Yes! we are still keeping the flag flying, surrounded though we may be with the cohorts of reaction. Their name is legion. No sooner does the I.L.P. get upon its thin and gnat-like legs, than a branch of the S.D.F. becomes a matter of immediate import. A “Trades and Labour Council” follows as a matter of course, whilst upon its heels treads the Clarion Fellowship. We understand there are still some vacancies. The earnestness with which they deplore the “disruptive” tactics of the S.P.G.B. is only equalled by the eagerness they evince to establish further factions of what they call “our great and glorious movement.” However, such is the environment in which we luxuriate.
There are, of course, the Tariff Reformers and the “Friends of Labour” but their activity seems more sporadic than that of the other capitalist parties just mentioned. We were successful recently in getting the Tariff Reformers to accept a challenge to a debate, but up to date cannot get a hall in which to hold it. One excellent hall we found, they averred was out of their district. True, we have had one generous offer, and that from the “Friends of Labour”—the Liberals—who mistook us for the S.D.F. We approached them for terms of hire of their own hall at Paddington. Back came their very “Liberal” offer. Could we have their hall in which to flatten out the Tariff Reformers? Certainly! have it and welcome. And the terms? Don’t mention it; we’ll give it you. And, what’s more, we’ll provide your chairman for you and do all the needful advertising.
There’s generosity for you! When you want it laid on with a trowel apply to the Paddington Radical Club. Our reply was as follows:—
“For the first time, perhaps in your history, you are dealing with a Socialist party. We are as much opposed to the S.D.F. as we are to the Tariff Reformers, the Paddington Radical Club, or any other capitalist agency; and, further, we shall be happy to demonstrate the extent of our differences with you whenever you feel so graciously disposed as to accept the challenge we now formally tender.
“We, the Paddington Branch of the S.P.G.B., challenge you, the Paddington Radical Club, to debate “Socialism versus Liberalism” or ‘Socialism versus Free Trade,” or any similar proposition where the issue is perfectly clear.
“Regarding your offer to supply the hall, advertise the debate, and provide the chairman, it only appears to fail in one respect: you should have insisted also on providing our speaker for us. We can only conceive of a party entirely “destitute of political aptitude”, such as the S.D.F., or a party in nothing but name, such as the I.L.P., giving the proposal serious consideration.
“Awaiting your early reply,” etc.
W. T. Hopley.
The rest is silence.