2010s >> 1909 >> no-61-september-1909
Party News: Watford Branch Report
Since last there appeared a report from Watford the various reform parties here have been improving their game of political gymnastics, adding much to the confusion of the working class. A brief report of their doings will be strictly in order at the present juncture.
About six months ago a change took place: a small section of the S.D.P. who had got tired of the juggling their organisation indulged in, left, and joined the Socialist movement, namely, the S.P.G.B. Others who had got tired in then- fight for reforms have retired from the political arena fed up—an end the reformers generally come to. A third section, the professional jugglers, now wondered what they were to do to be saved. Well, they decided to let the S.D.P. die and have a queer burial, and it was so. Now for inspiration to bring about an external change. Ah! they said, we’ve got it. Socialist unity is what is wanted; let us form a Socialist society that will organise the Socialists of Watford under one banner. They called a conference of the various organisations in the town, including the S.P.G.B.
Needless to say, we replied pointing out the absurdity of calling a conference together to form an organisation to unite the Socialists of Watford when they were already united in the Watford Branch of the S.P.G.B.
Nevertheless, either with good or bad intentions (and it matters not which to us), a Watford Socialist (sic) Society was formed with about twenty members. Its business, the secretary stated, was to preach Socialism and nothing but Socialism. Have they done so?
The first active part they took in the political field was to support candidates at a local election who ran on the ordinary reform program— fair wages, right to work, municipal houses, etc., definitely stating that their interests were not party interests, thereby ignoring the class struggle. Well, they got defeated; and the secretary of the society, asked what he thought of the result, said, “All I have to say is that it shows the futility of running a Liberal as a Socialist.” Thus was it confessed that the first political fight they took part in was in support of a Liberal.
Next they decided to run open-air meetings and this is where the unity comes in. Their first speaker was Mr. Wilson Temple, of the Wimbledon Socialist Society (birds of a feather), who was speaking for an hour or more on the futility of advocating reforms and the necessity of preaching Socialism. When he had finished his address one of our comrades asked him, if his position in regard to reforms was as he stated, why was he speaking for and assisting an organisation whose members believed in and preached reform. He replied by saying that “The Watford Socialist Society do not advocate reforms,” whereupon our comrade told him that he was afraid he did not know much about the organisation he was speaking for. This state was fully borne out by the chairman of Mr. Temple’s meeting, who said “I must say, friends, that I am not in agreement with the speaker’s attitude with regard to reforms.” Oh! WHAT UNITY!
Since the meeting referred to was held they have had other speakers, chiefly S.D.P. members, three of whom have spent the whole of their addresses in advocating reforms such as Adult Suffrage, Right to Work, and all the other nostrums. Thus do they prove that it is only an external change that has taken place; a change in name only. It is the old stuff under a new name. We have never been deluded on this matter. We know that the preaching of Socialism and Socialism only is left to the S.P.G.B., for it is not reasonable to expect figs to grow on thistles. Therefore the comrades of the Watford Branch are keeping the principles of Socialism to the front here, preaching from the basis of the class struggle, the overthrow of Capitalism and the establishment of the Socialist Republic. Leaving the palliation of Capitalism to the W.S.S’s., the Liberal Party, the I.L.P., the Tories, the S.D.P., and all other supporters of the capitalist class. For as Mr. A. J.Balfour said, “ the best antidote to Socialism is social reform.