Thursday, January 16, 2020

Party News Briefs (1948)

Party News from the November 1948 issue of the Socialist Standard

Our Autumn Delegate Meeting was held at the Conway Hall, London, on Sunday, 26th of September. It was well attended, including delegates from provincial branches. The work of delegate meetings is to review and discuss the half-yearly report of the Executive Committee. This usually gives rise to interesting discussions, but does not result in many resolutions being tabled. This recent delegate meeting was unique in that respect. The number of resolutions submitted to the chairman was outstanding and denoted that branches intend to use this between-conferences meeting to hasten along activities which they regard as urgent.

Lengthy discussion took place on the proposition to produce a pamphlet on our Party's attitude to war. Every delegate who spoke urged that a publication of some sort on this pressing subject should take precedence over any and every other proposed pamphlet. Some argued that it was necessary to produce an exhaustive work on the subject, but the majority were more anxious to get something turned out quickly, and it was widely agreed that our previous pamphlet, War and the Working Class, with certain deletions and additions, should form the basis of the new pamphlet which was so urgently needed. Even this did not satisfy all. It was further suggested by some delegates that an immediate leaflet, bulletin or manifesto should be issued to tide over until the pamphlet was ready.

Another item in the report that caused considerable discussion was the brief item on electoral activity. The relative merits of different constituencies from the Socialist viewpoint were hotly debated. The action of the Executive Committee in making arrangements to contest North Paddington again at the next General Election was opposed by some delegates, but the delegate meeting endorsed the E.C.’s action.

The suggestion that an associate membership be established to enable ex-members who have taken up permanent residence overseas and socialists who reside in countries where no companion party of Socialism exists, to be attached to our Party, was discussed. Some delegates saw many flaws in the idea and some thought it might be detrimental to the Party's interests. But the suggestion was considered worthy of further discussion, and so it was referred back to be brought forward again to the next Annual Conference when a more detailed scheme is to be presented.

The report to the meeting contained a detailed list of the propaganda meetings, indoor and out, that were held during the first six months of the year. In considering this item it was complained that some branches did not submit reports of all the meetings that they held, and that some speakers did not keep their speaking engagements. With reference to the latter complaint, it was pointed out that the formation of new branches on the outskirts of London had the effect of extending the London propaganda area. It was a considerable distance for a speaker to travel, after his day’s work, to attend a meeting at Croydon, Kingston or Edgware, and it was difficult to get transport right across London late at night. Other reasons for these faults were advanced. It has been arranged to call a meeting of speakers and branch organisers at Head Office to discuss this problem in greater detail.

One short paragraph in the report is worthy of the attention of readers of the Socialist Standard : "The balance on General Fund, £369, is still low and the adverse trend during the period from April to June points to the need for greater donations during the coming months both for general expenses and the printing of further pamphlets.”

Kingston and Ealing Branches' outing to Southsea on October 3rd was a success. A 33-seater coach filled up with members and wives between Ealing Broadway, Twickenham and Hampton Court, and deposited them by the sea at Southsea at a few minutes to twelve. On the South Parade, it was discovered, was an asphalt area set aside as a place for public meetings. A platform was erected here with a notice that a meeting would be held at 2.30 p.m. Members then dispersed to eat, swim, lounge on the beach or disport themselves in whatever manner they thought fit. Everyone reassembled at 2.30 at the meeting place, including a few members who reside on the south coast, and a large audience soon gathered and remained until the meeting terminated at 5.20 p.m., in order that members might catch the coach home without hurry. The weather remained warm and sunny all day and everyone expressed satisfaction with a day well and usefully spent. There must be more such outings next year. They give a fillip to the enthusiasm of members who are isolated in coastal towns and villages and they provide opportunities for enjoyable days in the company of other party members, as well as useful propaganda efforts.

Glasgow Branch has been holding highly successful outdoor meetings at Drury Street (off Renfield Street) in the busy centre of the city, and they hope to keep this’ street going as a permanent outdoor stance. At 7 p.m. on Sunday, 10th October, a series of indoor meetings commenced at the Central Hall, 25, Bath Street. These meetings will continue fortnightly throughout the winter months. Debates are also being arranged and challenges have already been sent by the branch to practically every M.P. in the Glasgow area.

From Leeds we learn that a literature sales drive has met with outstanding success, and a member of Bradford and District branch writes to ask if other branches, members and readers of the S.S. will submit ideas on "new and novel methods of stimulating and maintaining the circulation of The Socialist Standard.”

From an opponent we are more accustomed to receive curses than compliments. But compliments do sometimes come from unexpected quarters. The following is from the Daily Graphic, Wednesday, October 6th, page 2. It is contained in an article by “Candidus” entitled " 'Idealists' who fear free speech ”:
  "The only Socialists who have been consistent in their attitude to Russia—and, for that matter, in their attitude to genuine Socialism—are the members of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, commonly known as the S.P.G.B. The ‘official’ Socialists are terrible snobs. They have a deep respect for size, so they sneer at the S.P.G.B. as the 'Small Party of Good Boys.’ But, dialectically, the S.P.G.B. possess all the aces, not least in reference to Russia.
  "From the outset the S.P.G.B. detected the true nature of the 1917 Revolution and foresaw the consequences of it. They have just published a brochure entitled 'Russia,’ which is a collection of the articles on the Soviet Union that have appeared in their periodical from 1917 onwards.
   "I am far from sharing the S.P.G.B.’s political philosophy. I should, however, be less than fair if I did not bear testimony to the Party’s remarkable record of consistency and acumen, as manifested in this brochure. It is easy for me to respect an antagonist who is both honest and intelligent. I may add, as a final word, that the articles in the brochure are written in admirable English.”

Our comrades in U.S.A. tell us that their recent Socialist Seminar was a great success and that another is scheduled for next month (October). They wish us to draw attention to the fact that they have a number of bound volumes of the “Western Socialist” from 1943 to 1946 for sale at 2 dollars for a two-year volume, and that selling some of these volumes will be a great help in their present financial crisis.

The new S.S. Poster is now ready. It can be used for newsagents’ stands or meetings or some branches may wish to make small mass displays. The number printed is 2,000.

Birmingham Branch is sending out invitations to 55 trade union branches in the district to hear a Party speaker on one of the subjects likely to be of interest to trade unionists.

"Collected Socialist Pamphlets" is now in full swing. In the London area the public libraries of Leyton, Hackney, Hammersmith, Finsbury, Shoreditch, Walthamstow, Deptford, Watford and Bexleyheath have already purchased copies. In the provinces copies have been supplied to Sheffield, Durham (University), Middlesbrough, Oswestry, Wigan, Stourbridge, Warrington, Eccles, Bradford, Kidderminster, Preston, Clydebank, Aberystwith (University), and Bridgend. Eastbourne, Kirkcaldy and Crewe decided to take copies after inspection. Portsmouth and Gravesend librarians, however, after perusal, decided against purchase. Will these two districts remain the undeveloped areas of Socialist awareness? Five copies have gone to Bombay. “Collected Socialist Pamphlets” is a strongly bound, special library edition, published at 8s. 6d., and intended for public libraries only. It contains the pamphlets on “Socialism,” “Nationalisation or Socialism,” “Questions of the Day,” “Principles and Policy of the S.P.G.B.” and Report of Debate on Federal Union. The price is the lowest possible in view of the present cost of binding. Containing in all 307 pages, it compares favourably with most books issued at the present time. All librarians in the U.K. and Northern Ireland have been given particulars of this volume, and if they have not ordered a copy, it is because there has been no local demand. It now rests entirely with members and readers of The Socialist Standard as to whether other libraries are supplied.
W. Waters

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