From the August 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard
The Election Campaign is over and the votes have been cast. For the first time in the history of this country a party of working men and women has put forward a delegate for parliament on one issue alone—to capture the powers of government for the sole purpose of dispossessing the capitalist class of their ownership of the means of production and establishing Socialism in place of the present social order. At our meetings we stressed the fact that voters who were not in favour of this sweeping revolution should not vote for our delegate. We also stressed our opposition to reform policies and pointed out that we could do nothing for the workers: that Socialism was something the workers must accomplish themselves, understanding what they were after and using the Socialist Party as their instrument; for this purpose. Our opponents at North Paddington were the Tory and Labour parties.
Over the years we have been told that if we wait until the workers understand Socialism we would have to wait hundreds of years. As workers we repudiated this sneer at the intelligence of our class. We were told we were armchair philosophers, and twitted with the phrase “The Small Party of Good Boys.” Our reply has always been that our case is clear, direct and simple and is the only one in the interests of the workers. Consequently the workers will listen to us when we have sufficient means at our disposal to make a concentrated attack to arouse the workers interest.
Events have shown how right we were. For many years members and sympathisers have been contributing to our election fund. As we are only working men and women it has been a slow and painful process. Our principal obstacle was the £150 deposit required; not even a mole hill to our opponents, with their rich supporters, but a veritable alpine wall across our path. Just before the war we had collected enough to venture on the campaign and we put forward a prospective candidate, but the outbreak of war deferred the general election. When we learnt that there was to be a general election this year we decided to take part. We appointed a Parliamentary Committee who planned and, with the assistance of the Propaganda and other Committees, carried through the campaign. We decided to contest North Paddington and nominated a delegate to go forward as our candidate. Then we rolled up our sleeves and waded in, throwing all the strength we had into the contest.
We had no “National figures,” with or without cigars, to dangle before the electors, nor had we any national newspapers to bamboozle them We wanted neither. Instead we had the best of all weapons, the only solution to working class poverty and misery, and working class brains, energy and enthusiasm with which to put it forward. In the few short weeks at our disposal a campaign was planned and carried through that our opponents, who had neither the conviction nor the sincerity that inspired us, were unable to equal.
We got out leaflets explaining our case in detail and members and sympathisers came straight from work (sometimes involving long journeys) to the committee rooms to spend hours writing 100,000 addresses, folding leaflets, printing posters and doing many other jobs. Others organised or spoke at the numerous meetings arranged in the constituency. Meetings were advertised by a loud speaker van, by sticking up 1,700 posters in every available spot and by chalking the roads at suitable places.
Our Manifesto and four other statements explaining the Socialist position were rent to the 34,000 voters in the constituency, and the manifesto to the 1,000 services voters. Men and women members and sympathisers were out every night canvassing and selling literature. They succeeded in covering over half the houses in the constituency spending much time discussing our ease. Every house in the constituency was visited four times by helpers to deliver leaflets or hand-bills. Everyone worked hard and took a joy in what they were doing. No one worried about whether the work was dirty or clean, for they were working for themselves, helping to clean out the dirty stable of capitalism.
And now, looking back, we have the satisfaction of knowing that the planning and the execution were well and truly done.
What response did we get to our efforts? There is only one word the present writer can think of that describes it—amazing! Our case was put forward everywhere without trimmings, just as we have put it forward for 41 years. We held two Sunday night-meetings at the Metropolitan Music Hall, Harrow Road. On each occasion the theatre was packed with two thousand people. These meetings lasted for over three hours during which interesting questions were put to our speakers by the audience. A weeknight meeting was held at the Porchester Hall which was attended by about 600 people.
One night Churchill turned up at the Prince of Wales, Paddington, to give his usual dose of opium. He did not get an enthusiastic reception. After he left our speakers held two large meetings. When it commenced to rain one of the speakers invited his audience to adjourn to the little Emmanuel Hall where about 300 of them packed it out and gave our speaker not only un attentive hearing, but an enthusiastic one as he answered their questions for nearly two hours.
At the beginning of the campaign our audiences were small but as they learnt more about our principles and policy they commenced to flock to the meetings.
The striking thing about all our meetings has been the orderliness and attentiveness of the audiences, and their genuine interest in Socialism as evidenced by the direct and interesting questions they asked.
Our audiences were composed of working men and woman of all kinds and yet they were sufficiently interested and appreciative of our case to contribute £55 to the collections at the first large meeting, £67 to the second, and £23 to the third. Collections have been taken up at indoor and outdoor meetings and a considerable amount of literature has been purchased. Those who came to the Emmanuel Hall meeting on the night of the Churchillian frost contributed nearly £7 to the collection.
Before each of the three large indoor meetings referred to above we put up posters inviting our two opponents to put their case from our platform in opposition to us, and repeated the invitation from the platform but neither of them turned up. They had the opportunity of speaking to 2,000 electors at the cost neither of effort nor expense, hut neither Mr. Brendan Bracken nor Lieut.-General Mason Macfarlane took advantage of this grand opportunity! Why? In our view because they funked it. They had not sufficient faith in their case, or in the response of the workers to it.
We started this election campaign with an election fund of £300. In the course of the campaign we have collected sufficient to enable us to spend another £300.
On the eve of polling day about 1,000 people were present at an outdoor meeting at the Prince of Wales, which lasted from 8 o'clock until after midnight.
All this shows that, whatever the size of the vote for Socialism this time, the workers are at last turning away from the sterile policies that have befogged them and left them in the ditch for so long, and are now willing to listen to the case for Socialism.
When one realises that this happened in the one little corner of England that our meagre resources enabled us to tackle it shows what a tremendous response there would be to our case if we could put in the same amount of work everywhere. But be it understood that this is only the beginning. Next time the volume of our challenge will be far greater.
Yes, the tide is beginning to turn at last. The workers are on the scent of the source of their slavery. Let the ruling class tremble at this portent of the coming flood which will sweep privilege and class rule from the earth for ever.