Party News from the May 1948 issue of the Socialist Standard
May Day is being celebrated by the Party on an extensive scale this year. The original plan was to conclude large outdoor demonstrations in Hyde Park with a bumper meeting in the Metropolitan Theatre on Sunday evening, May 2nd. Unfortunately, through no fault of ours, we cannot obtain the Metropolitan Theatre this year, and the Sunday evening rally is to take place in the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square. The May Day procession organised by the London Trades Council takes place on Saturday afternoon, May 1st, and our aim is to have at least 100 members selling literature and delivering handbills on the route. We have made application to use decorated trailers as platforms in Hyde Park both on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and on the Saturday we hope to have an amplifying apparatus at work as well. The whole of our effort is being extensively advertised.. There is every reason to believe that, given reasonable weather, May 1st and 2nd will be something to remember in party history. We hear from the provinces that Manchester, Glasgow and Bristol are well ahead with their own plans for special May Day efforts. The speakers at the London Conway Hall meeting will be Cash, Turner and Groves.
The Summer Outdoor Propaganda Season is now off to a good start, and most branches will have their various stations at work by the time this issue is published. South-West London branch is spreading its wings a bit more this summer with meetings planned for Friday evenings at Comyn Road, Clapham Junction, Saturday evenings at Rushcroft Road, Brixton, and Sunday afternoons at Clapham Common.
Kingston Branch commenced their outdoor season on March 20th at Castle Street, Kingston, with a very successful meeting. During 1947 the Communist Party tried to establish meetings here. They invariably commenced them early, but as soon as our platform was erected their audiences evaporated and ours grew. This year the branch will commence their meetings at 6.30 p.m. to save the audience the trouble of moving from one platform to the other. The branch attempted to hold Saturday afternoon meetings and establish a literature stall in Kingston Market, but they were stopped by the police on the grounds of “Obstruction." When petrol is available the branch is going to organise Sunday propaganda outings to various south coast towns during the summer season.
Manchester Branch recently held a debate with the Stockport Labour Party at the Unity Hall in Stockport. The hall was packed—about 150 being present. The Labour Party’s representative was Councillor Watson, and our man was A. Mertons. Watson was quite hopeless. All that he could say was that the S.P.G.B. might be right, and so, for that matter, might be quite a number of other parties. So far he had been unable to make up his mind, but in the meantime someone had to do the “practical” work! He had great difficulty in filling out his time and seemed relieved when our representative managed to collar an extra 15 minutes. All members present agreed that the debate was very well worth while. Two days after the debate the branch held a meeting at the Rusholme Public Hall where Mertons was again the speaker on “The Struggle for the World.” There were about 120 at this meeting and members were well satisfied. Outdoor propaganda has commenced in Platt Fields on Sunday afternoons, and during the summer the branch aims to revive the Eccles Cross outdoor station. In addition regular indoor meetings are going to be held in the Onward Hall, Manchester. The branch has also an economic class in course of preparation. Without being unduly optimistic it is possible to foresee more and sustained activity by the branch which should result in an increase in membership.
Edgware Branch has recently been in difficulties owing to a shortage of active members, but now appears to be on the up-grade. Sympathisers living in the district will be welcomed to branch meetings.
The Independent Labour Party through one of its organisers in London, has been nagging us to send a speaker to their summer school to talk on something palatable to them like the “Managerial Revolution" or “ Russia.” We replied that we would send a speaker to talk about the policy of our party. There the matter rests for the moment pending an official reply to an official letter sent to the I.L.P. We do not aim to entertain the last few tottering remains of an organisation which has been in the last throes for years and is now dishonourably sinking into oblivion. If they want to hear something about Socialism we’ll give it to ’em.
A Party Meeting is being arranged for members to discuss the question of "Socialism and Violence.” A hall has not yet been booked, but members will receive ample notice.
The Annual Conference is reported elsewhere, but one item of news has just come to hand. In addition to the general success of the conference we learn that party funds will benefit by about £70 as a result of collections, dance tickets, prize draws, etc.
Ealing Branch’s debate at Kensington Town Hall again proved the popularity of this form of propaganda. This debate was with Collin Brooks, Editor of ”Truth,” and Chairman of the Executive of the Society of Individualists. Our representative was the General Secretary. The hall, holding 600 people, was filled to capacity, and literature sales and collection were very good. Brooks, who had agreed to defend Capitalism against Socialism, spent nine-tenths of his time attacking Labour Party state capitalism in spite of strenuous efforts on our part to get him to the point. He refused to get to grips with the real issue of the debate, perhaps through ignorance, or perhaps by choice, one guess being as good as another. Members present considered that good propaganda work had been done by the debate.