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International Socialism, Summer 1963


John Eric Austin



From International Socialism, No.13, Summer 1963, p.30.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


I was disgusted by the incorrect and misleading statements which appeared in the quarterly notes in the spring edition of International Socialism under the section headed Young Socialists. You say that at the 1962 YS Conference the Standing Orders Committee, ‘foisted an anti-Keep Left resolution on an unwilling Conference’. To use the verb ‘foist’ implies that the Redditch Emergency Resolution was put on the Agenda surreptitiously or in an underhand manner by the SOC. There was nothing clandstine in the action of the Committee. I am aware that allegations have been made elsewhere that the SOC was lobbied and that I was collaborating with George Brinham, but these allegations are completely without foundation, and I am quite sure that the other members of that Committee, Comrades Jeffries, Smith and Kerr, will endorse what I have said. One cannot escape the fact that it was Conference which decided to debate the Emergency Resolution on Keep Left not the Standing Orders Committee. Let me remind you of the actual position. The Standing Orders Committee recommended that the ‘Redditch Affair’ be discussed : the reference back was carried by 161 votes to 108. Again SOC considered that they could only recommend that the Emergency be discussed; this time the reference back was carried by only one vote, by 155 votes to 154, a clear indication of the shift in opinion during Conference. On a recount the recommendation was agreed by 168 votes to 155. The Emergency Resolution was carried by 183 to 150, a decisive majority. Surely the only criterion we have for determining the feeling of Conference is the voting figures, and they show that not only was Conference willing to discuss the ‘Redditch Affair’ but that they were in agreement with the resolution.

You claim that the 1963 SOC was rigged. There is no basis for this allegation. The Committee elected at the 1962 YS Conference was Patricia Roe, Robert Lloyd, and myself, you say that Pat Roe was ‘dropped leaving two, one of whom ... is a confirmed right-winger.’ Miss Roe was not dropped by Transport House in an attempt to rig the Committee: Miss Roe in fact wrote to Reg Underhill explaining that she was unable to serve on the Committee since she would be abroad. As is the usual procedure in these cases the unsuccessful nominee with the next highest vote was co-opted in her place. The voting in the election for a member of the Standing Orders Committee for Area 1 at the 1962 Conference on the 3rd ballot was Miss Roe 49, Mullaney 19, Graham 9, Barton 9, and Pat Mullaney, a left winger, was co-opted on to the Committee to join Bob Lloyd, another left winger, and myself. To give the impression that this was a wicked right wing plot to rig the Committee is unjustifiable and indefensible. Consequently Conference did not demand Miss Roe’s reinstatement as you predicted, the delegates were not misled by your statements.

I should have thought that a journal such as yours would have commanded greater respect as a serious journal if if did not indulge in these hysterical attacks on Transport House. As it is by making allegations of this type, which have no factual basis, you cease to be regarded as a serious political journal, and will be regarded in the same light as Keep Left and Young Guard.


John Eric Austin
YS National Committee
Member of YS Standing
Orders Committee 1962 & 1963


‘Foist’ also means to ‘introduce unwarrantably’. In the particular context in which it was used, it denoted the unwarrantable obstinacy of the SOC in rejecting – twice – the evidence of ‘the only criterion we have for determining the feeling of Conference’, namely ‘the voting figures’ to which John Austin refers.

We do apologise, however, for extending Transport House’s anti-youth conspiracy beyond its true limits. These are wide, but did not, in fairness, extend to rigging the SOC. Finally, we note with considerable pleasure that the YS Conference has matured since 1962. This year it condemned the expulsions of Keep Left supporters on the National Committee and was prevented from dealing with the wider issue of proscriptions only by the unfortunate court action that has been started. It again demanded control of its paper and policy.


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