The Communist

London Labour Party Conference

Communist Party Affiliation Turned Down

Source: The Communist, December 02 1920.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: David Tate
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

It is no exaggeration when our London District Council declared that the outstanding item considered at the London Labour Party Conference was the question of the affiliation of the Communist Party.

That the London Labour Party Executive itself considered it the important matter was soon evidenced by the arrangements made for its early discussion.

Mrs. Watts, Mile, End Labour Party, opened the discussion in a quiet but well-reasoned speech. The specious plea that affiliation should be refused because of the attitude of the National Labour Party was summarily dismissed. The Executive’s plea that discipline was necessary was severely castigated by an exposure of their leniency to delinquents of the Right. Comrade Alderman Addington, North Islington Labour Party, seconded.

Alex, Gossip, Furnishing Trades’ Association, made an eloquent appeal for our admission. He pointed out that in the time of trial, 1914, it was those who now ranked in the Communist Party who led the van against imperialism and war; that in all matters interesting labour the Communists showed the same determined spirit. This was supported by Comrade Taylor, Pianoforte Workers, who accused the Executive of playing into the hands of the Capitalist class. He predicted the fulsome praise which would be bestowed on the Executive by the Press if we were excluded.

We had had an indication of the arguments which would be advanced by the Executive. They had issued a series of extracts from our Convention report which they claimed justified our exclusion. In dealing with these, Comrade Arthur Siffleet was merciless. He characterised the tactics of the Executive as rivalling those exposed by Upton Sinclair in “The Brass Check.” Item by item, he showed how the extracts had been torn from their context and deliberately misrepresented. If we called some leaders traitors, our accusations were endorsed by Jack Jones in the House on Wednesday. If we foresaw the capitalists using violence Fred Bramley, late Chairman of the London Labour Party, also predicted it in Friday’s “Herald.”

Herbert Morrison replied for the Executive. He completely justified our attacks. Commencing with a statement that he bore no animosity, he proceeded to be as venomous as possible. Notwithstanding the exposure made by Siffleet, he continued to quote and misrepresent. Naively he confessed that everybody tears extracts from contexts and uses them for their own purpose. Then, in a burst of rhetoric, he asked if London was to be governed by London or Moscow.

Comrade Vaughan, Mayor of Bethnal Green, followed up the attack on the Executive. The Government feared one Communist far more than 1,000 labour leaders. Even the carrying of the Executive’s recommendation would not exclude us. He represented his union, and would continue to come. Sam Elsbury, Garment Workers, urged that if we were to be excluded, why not also J. H. Thomas who, in his book describing the aims of labour, found room for the continued existence of Royalty, etc.

On being put to the vote there voted: for affiliation, 283; against, 380.

G. C. Ammon, a member of the Executive, moved a resolution on Ireland, in the count of which he predicted the use of violent methods by the Government at home. The faces on the platform were a study of contrasts whilst Alf Smith, Vehicle Workers, was justifying hitting back when the enemy hits. The pacifists and constitutionalists were clearly disconcerted.

It needs to be recorded that when the vote was taken on our question a perfect forest of hands went up in our favour. It was quite evident that the majority of local Labour Parties, Trades’ Councils, and Trade Union Branches were with us, but the heavy block votes of the official elements in the Trade Union District Councils were the chief factor in supporting the Executive.