Notes From Islington
Islington is indubitably the home of labour quacks: all sorts and conditions of men eager to secure a seat on the Borough Council were put forward by the different organisations.
Besides the “Municipal Reformers” and “Progressives” with the usual programmes and disputes between them as to whether the rates had or had not been reduced 1¾d, in the £, we had what is known as the Progressive Labour Party, which s the local decoy duck for the Liberal Party. One of its most prominent members was once in the I.L.P., but as that organisation was always supporting the Liberal Party, he concluded, so he tell us. that the only logical attitude an I.L.P.’er could adopt was to leave that body and join the Liberals. Then there was the Islington Labour Party, the I.L.P. and the S.D.P. In the Upper Holloway Ward the last two ran conjointly, the latter issuing leaflets explaining that the rates and taxes did not affect the workers and the former leaflets advocating a half rate on empty houses. At a meeting in the Caledonian Road Baths, convened by the I.L.P. and Islington Labour Party, a speaker advocated a 5% tax on London ground rents to “ease the rates for the people.” At the same meeting Mr. Keir Hardie said he “still clung to his faith in Jesus Christ” and “they must in God’s name work and vote for labour candidates.” The Islington Labour Party agreed to withdraw from St. Peter’s Ward (in which the S.D.P. had six candidates) on condition that the latter abstained from contesting the Highbury Ward. So anxious were the Islington Labour Party to secure a seat on the Council that one of their prominent members—Mr. Copeland—asked the Liberals to allocate half the number of seats declared vacant to the Labour Party.
It was left to the Islington Branch S.P.G.B. to inculcate into the minds of the workers the principles of Socialism. We arranged a week’s mission to place before the working class the Socialist position, and urged them to abstain from voting. The first night two good meetings were held, but rain prevented further meetings until Friday, when we had a fine meeting at Highbury Corner. It was on Saturday evening the strength of the Party in the neighbourhood was felt. Just prior to opening our meeting at Highbury Corner the Islington Labour Party arrived with band and banners. Several speeches were made from a cart, but not a single educational sentence was uttered. Nothing but sentimental twaddle was heard. After about fifteen minutes they departed, amid cries of “labour fakers,” “labour bleeders.” Commencing our meeting about 8, we had from the outset an audience of several hundreds, who listened to our speakers with marked attention. Presently we were disturbed by the arrival of a van containing the Progressive Labour Party’s candidates, one of whom instructed the driver to drive right into our audience. Some of the comrades immediately seized the horse and backed the van, and the P.L.P. candidate came very near being precipitated in a most undignified manner into the gutter. Ten minutes convinced them that Highbury Corner that evening was no place for them, and as they were about to leave us in possession of that spot, one of their candidates, Mr. Roberts, again gave instructions to drive right on to our platform. But our audience, by this time numbering about a thousand, seized the van, and but for the timely interference of the police the result might have been disastrous to the P.L.P. candidate. Vociferous cheers were given for Socialism.
A good collection was taken and about 70 Socialist Standards disposed of.
Our indoor propaganda meetings have been even more successful than we dared anticipate, the hall being packed on each occasion, and undoubtedly they will prove a means of enlarging our ever-increasing membership.
On November 6th the Social and Dance in aid of the Party Organ Guarantee Fund was held, and once again success was ours. The array of talent with which the audience were delighted was the best we have ever had, and as a result of the evening’s entertainment the Fund will be augmented by about £3. Three hundred copies of the November issue of the “S.S. have been disposed of this month.
H. A. Y.