From the June 1929 issue of the Socialist Standard
A friend has written asking our advice as to what he and his friends are to do on May 30th. Are they to vote for the “do-nothing Labour Party,” or to write the word “Socialism” across their ticket once more. Our friend confesses himself tired of waiting for the Socialist Party to put up candidates, and expresses his wonder that the teachings of Karl Marx and Engels are not more stimulating on such occasions. It is unfortunate, but this issue was not published in time to help our friend to make up his mind, but if he is a regular reader of our paper, he will have perused our April number, where this point was purposely dealt with in ample time for the General Election. It may comfort our friend to know that we are more tired than he, awaiting the opportunity to vote for the first Socialist candidate. That opportunity would have occurred last week but for one thing: the workers were not ready. We had the candidate and the constituency. All we wanted was the deposit money. The Representation of the People Act provides that a candidate must deposit the sum of £150 on nomination, and be prepared to forfeit that sum if he fails to poll an eighth of the total vote cast. Among the differences that distinguish the Socialist Party from the Labour Party is the marked paucity of millionaires, majors, peers, professors and divines in our ranks. We therefore have to rely solely and entirely upon the voluntary coppers of the poor. We have not, nor would we desire, a loose arrangement with the Trade Unions by which they provide the funds and we the candidates. Nor do we receive subsidies from the Russian Government. So that until a sufficient number of the working-class want the Socialist solution of the poverty problem, and further are prepared to stint themselves to provide the immediate sinews of war, we can only do what is within our powers.
Our Correspondent is disappointed. So are we. But in our disappointment there is no despair. On the contrary, we were never more hopeful. To anyone who can read the portents, the future is full of promise. Although these lines are written before the General Election, it is obvious that we are in for a politically livelier time for the next generation. It is extremely doubtful if any Parliament in the immediate future will last the time or have the heavy majority of the last one. Political instability, coupled with economic worsening should, as rationalization proceeds apace, give us the audience we wish for. Five years of political torpor dulled concern in things parliamentary, but with interest keyed up by change and economic insecurity, we believe the working-class will respond to the message of the Socialist. Our overwhelming concern of the moment is to get that message across, and to keep hammering it home. Thousands of pamphlets, thousands of leaflets, monthly, weekly and daily journals, those are what we want. Then will follow thousands of members, hundreds of thousands of members, and then — Socialism.
Perhaps our correspondent will feel more hopeful if he learns that after years of patient and crippling effort, we have succeeded in getting offices a little more worthy of the Party. With a building of four stories and a basement, we shall be better equipped to make our name and message known throughout the world. When one thinks of the work that has been accomplished in the old cramped premises, and contrasts what should be confidently anticipated from the new, one feels youthful again and filled with golden hope. When we are settled down, we hope our friends and those interested will come and see us. But more of that another time.
And what about our motor propaganda van? Ah! you have not heard of that. There is every possibility that you will see it in your district before very long. Does not that open up visions of wide and rapid propaganda; of our message being earned wherever a road exists; of provincial towns; of relays of speakers and batteries of literature? The possibilities are immense. Why, instead of feeling disappointed, we know that we are just about to commence in earnest. We see that things are moving and that we are about to take a great leap forward. There is one great and pressing immediate need: MONEY. If we were presented with a whole fleet of motor-vans to-morrow, not one would turn a wheel without petrol. And petrol is not bought with promises. As our dear friend the Prince said recently, "Sympathy is not enough.” It won't buy an eyeful of petrol. So if there is any friend, sympathiser, or well-wisher, who would like to see not one, but a hundred Socialist candidates at the next General Election, let them implement their good wishes with something more solid in a Capitalist world—money.
It can be done in hundreds of small ways. Remember the Thames has been flowing night and day for thousands of years, and it is made up entirely of raindrops no larger than a pea. Buy an extra "Socialist Standard” every pay-day and give it away to a pal. Buy our pamphlet, "Socialism,” 48 packed pages, for twopence; better value than Benns’ sixpenny booklet, three times the price and only double the number of pages. Keep on buying the pamphlet and sending to your friends. They will never become Socialists if they never hear about it. Above all, no matter how small the effort you can make, be regular. A regular income to the Party means regular progress, and regular progress means Socialism — in our lifetime. Look out for the Socialist Van, but if it does not show up soon enough for you, reflect that we have petrol and oil to buy, and tax and insurance to meet. And then, be practical.
W. T. Hopley