Party News from the December 1948 issue of the Socialist Standard
Bloomsbury Branch received a letter last May from Max Aitken, M.P. accepting a challenge to debate with the Party. This letter, dated 14th May, 1948, was a reply to one that had been sent to Mr. Aitken, and in it he said “. . . I am quite willing to debate on any subject with a member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain . . .” Subsequent letters dated 29th May and 5th June, were sent to Mr. Aitken suggesting the Holborn Hall as a venue, a subject for debate, offering to make and pay for all arrangements and giving a choice of dates. A request for a reply to these letters was sent on June 18th. There followed a reply from Mr. Aitken’s secretary who said that, as soon as Mr. Aitken returned from abroad he would bring the correspondence to his notice. A letter of acknowledgment was sent. On August 10th, when it was learned that he was back in London, Mr. Aitken was sent a further letter asking him to name the day. On September 11th, yet another letter was sent to him by registered post asking for an early reply. Bloomsbury Branch is still waiting.
It appears that we must add Mr. Aitken to the list of M.P.s who have valiantly accepted debate with us and then found that they were a little chilly below the ankles.
Kingston Branch has, at last, found a branch room in Kingston. The room is warm and comfortable and the situation convenient. The address is 9, Vicarage Road, enter by the door in Wood Street, facing Bentalls Stores. The first meeting at Malden Library was not an enthusing success, due, in part at least, to the fact that the branch’s advertising efforts were spoiled by the bills being covered with opponents’ posters. All the same, despite a small attendance, the literature sales were very good and the audience showed its appreciation of our case by contributing a bumper collection to defray expenses.
In Manchester a comrade has, during the past six or seven months, been engaged on a one-man literature drive. Going from door to door in the Manchester district, he had, at the end of October, sold 2,440 pamphlets. sales amounting to over £40. He expects to be well past the £50 mark by the end of the year. We understand that he has mainly concentrated on selling the pamphlet, “Principles and Policy of the Socialist Party” and he tells us that next year he will take the whole stock of ”Is the Labour Government the way to Socialism,” some four to five thousand copies, and he ‘‘will shift the lot.” This is a wonderful job of work, but the comrade tells us that he is really only just scratching the surface. Given a team of five or six assistants he considers that he could really “make things hum” around Manchester. He further recommends his scheme to London branches. "It is a method,” he says, “’that must be relentlessly followed up week after week. If some London branches co-operated to work in a chosen area and had every house 'taped’ for several calls, at the end of six months, I think you could really expect things to develop. Is there any possibility? When I see what a puny slice of the real possibilities rewards my labours, I want a hundred pairs of legs . . .” From figures given in his letters we learn that from October 16th to October 23rd he sold, single-handed, 110 pamphlets, and that the figure would have been higher had it not been for poor weather and lengthy discussions with some of the workers at their homes when he called on them. This is undoubtedly a great job well done and the greatest compliment we could pay this comrade would be to attempt to emulate his example.
The W.S.P. of U.S. send us some encouraging news. A new local is in the process of being organised in San Francisco. Also at Chicago local members are going about the job of organising a new local with determination. The Detroit local, formed last year, has made considerable gains. New York local is holding regular classes and discussions. Some ”members at large” (members who reside in districts where no branch exists, as our Central Branch members) are extremely active. An instance is given of one in Ohio who has recently collected $15 for Party funds, obtained 20 new subscribers to the Western Socialist and puts the Socialist case at local forums and discussions. Los Angeles local is also conducting regular activities. Boston is as active as ever—attracting large audiences resulting in fine literature sales and a number of new contacts. Headquarters at Boston is ‘‘open seven days a week from early morning to, frequently, late at night.” From some standpoints the Western Socialist has made advances, ‘‘but, 'Red scares,’ thought control propaganda, etc., have had some effect on contacts and subscribers. Also, some of the locals and Companion Parties have cut their W.S. orders.” The paper is now badly in debt. S.O.S.
The Dublin Socialist Group reports further progress. There was recently formed in Dublin a Civil Liberties organisation. At a meeting of this organisation held at the Mansion House, Dublin, our comrades spoke from the floor with such effect that they were reported even in The Cork Examiner which spoke of them as being "well briefed” and an "advanced Socialist Group.” Their meetings at The Boilermakers Hall are still a success. They have now held over 30 consecutive meetings in this hall since the group was formed in the early part of this year. A sixth member of the group has now made his public speaking debut. Like all Socialist organisations, they have to count their coppers before they embark on any line of activity. Irish readers please note.
The Publicity Committee reports that enquiries have been received from individuals who have read the volume of "Collected Socialist Pamphlets” in their public library. Is this Party publication in YOUR public library? It should be !
Paddington Branch is making arrangements for the kick-off for the election campaign. The campaign will be opened with a meeting at the Metropolitan Theatre this month.
An ex-Comrade (deceased) made the Party the beneficiary under his will for the sum of £1,400. The General Secretary has reported that ho has received a cheque for £1,276 17s. 10d., this being the sum remaining after the deduction of death duties.
Two New Discussion Groups have recently been formed, one at Derby and the other at Barking in Essex. Interested readers will find the respective addresses on other pages.
In Africa we have a number of comrades who are anxious to get on with some Socialist work. They reside as far apart as Nigeria and Natal, The Gold Coast and Rhodesia, but all are in contact with one another and are eager to correspond with, or otherwise contact, all readers of the Socialist Standard living on the African continent. The following is from a letter received from a comrade who tells us that he is "a full-blooded African ”:
”. . . The idea of a World Socialist Party appeals strongly to me. It lifts the ideal of Socialism above national boundaries and sovereignties. The difficulty, as I see it, is organisation, and organisation means finance. The unequal fight between a Capitalism hoary with age and triumphant with remarkable successes, and nascent Socialism, is disheartening to contemplate. We see how even the S.P.G.B.'s activities are being seriously hampered by lack of funds. Centuries of unrestricted growth have sent Capitalism’s roots deep down into the fertile soil of societies. The tasks confronting Socialists in Africa are even more formidable.
“But the work must be done — and done doggedly and tellingly. To this end those of us who dream dreams and see visions have to address ourselves.
“Africa is calling all writers—all those who have some gift or claims to self expression—to sing of the triumphs and failures, joys and sorrows of this continent which is now stirring with all the vim of centuries of suppressed energy. It would be of great advantage if Socialists take this tide of African Renaissance now in its flood . . . . you can count on my full co-operation in anything that lies within my power.”
African readers can be “linked-up” by writing to the Overseas Secretary of the S.P.G.B.
Journals and Papers are requested for overseas comrades. In particular we are asked for weekly issues of newspapers. Any member or friend who has copies to send can be supplied with addresses to which to send them.