June 1952 issue of the Socialist Standard
In our issue for March we published an article, “Muddled Critic of the S.P.G.B.,” commenting on some remarks about the S.P.G.B. made by Mr. Guy Aldred in his journal “The Word.”
In the April issue of “The Word” Mr. Aldred published our article in full and said that he intends to reply to it in his next issue.
In the meantime, in the April issue, he deals angrily with one passage in our article. Mr. Aldred had earlier written that the attitude of the S.P.G.B. at the 1951 election was “the result of its 1950 experience at the ballot-box.”
To this we replied: —
"The S.P.G.B. was doing this right from its formation in 1904, which means that it was doing it at the time when Mr. Aldred applied for membership of the S.P.G.B., and in 1928 when he offered to give his support to S.P.G.B. candidates on certain conditions." .
Mr. Aldred says that we have knowingly made false statements, firstly in saying that he applied for membership, and secondly in saying that he did so in 1904. He says he did not apply for membership and that the incident in question did not happen in 1904 but in 1906.
Taking first the question of the year, may we suggest to Mr. Aldred that instead of getting so excited about our alleged mis-statement of the date, he should read again our statement reproduced above. It did not mention the date of the incident. What it aimed to convey was that as the S.P.G.B.’s attitude was the same ever since its formation in 1904, his application, whatever its date, must have been at a time when the S.P.G.B. held that attitude.
Mr. Aldred’s main objection is, however, to the statement that he applied for membership. In referring to this we notice that he does not give his readers his own version of the incident though he refers them to the Socialist Standard of November, 1906, for information contained in letters written by him.
We wrote without looking up the November, 1906 correspondence, and find that in fact Mr. Aldred did not apply for membership at that time. What he did was to write informing us that he was at once resigning from the Social Democratic Federation and wanted a membership form of the S.P.G.B. On the same day he wrote to the S.D.F. a letter spying: “I shall apply to the Socialist Party of Great Britain for membership.”
He followed this up two days later with a letter to the Socialist Standard explaining how, after opposing the ' S.P.G.B. in the past, “ I feel I owe an explanation to your readers for having accepted its principles.”
A fortnight later he wrote again saying that he had decided after all to remain in the S.D.F. “to use the S.D.F. platform for placing before members those revolutionary ideas.”
This last letter also contained the following: —
“So far as organised representation is concerned, I will only add that, in my opinion, the S.P.G.B. embodies in its constitution, the best organised expression of class-conscious socialism."
So Mr. Aldred didn’t apply for membership. He agreed with the S.P.G.B., and intended to apply for membership and wrote for a membership form, and then changed his mind and decided to remain in the S.D.F. putting S.P.G.B. views and risking expulsion. But he didn’t apply for membership because having decided to leave the S.D.F. and apply to join the S.P.G.B. he changed his mind again though he still agreed with the S.P.G.B.
We can only wonder why Mr. Aldred makes so much fuss about it