The Communist

Labour Defence Committee

Source: The Communist, December 16 1922.
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.

IN a recent issue of the COMMUNIST appeared an announcement that a section of the Y.C.L. in Liverpool is demanding an abandonment of the “tranquillity” with which the British Labour Movement has looked on while the South African Government has been hanging and imprisoning the militant trade unionists of the Rand.

Even before the horrors of South Africa, there was in existence a Class War Prisoners’ Release Committee, which had been formed to render what help it could to the hunted industrial workers of the world in the United States. This committee was instrumental in getting many scattered resolutions passed by trade union branches and in securing the interest of Labour Leaders in the South African as well as the American persecutions. One of its most active members, Tom Mann, is now touring South Africa, at the invitation of trade unionists who are determined that the spirit of South African Labour shall not be broken.

It is, however, essential that a big effort be made to create more efficient machinery of defence. The long drawn-out misery which capitalism is indicting upon millions of workers has given rise to a discontent which can no longer be placated by soft words and easy promises. The protest of the workers grows more and more insistent, and the only response which the capitalists can make—other than surrender—is repression.

The persecution of the Rand miners in South Africa, the Irish shootings, the wholesale imprisonment of trade unionists in the United States, the dictatorship of the Fascisti in Italy, are but illustrations. Everywhere there is urgent need for most determined action on the part of the workers to maintain the weapons of free speech and trade union organisation. This can be no local fight, it is part of the trade union resistance to the world-wide attack on wages and standards of living.

Realising those facts the Class Prisoners’ Release Committee decided up on a re-organisation. It has changed its name to the Labour Defence Committee to symbolise the new departure in policy. It has elected Harry Pollitt and W. T. Colyer Joint Secretaries. It is planning to secure the co-operation of the Trades Councils and similar bodies.

Communist branches, R.I.L.U. supporters, Local Labour Parties, and others like-minded, who can help in arranging meetings and demonstrations, should write to W. T. Colyer, 34, Highbury New Park, London, N. 5.