Friday, February 13, 2009

British Socialist Party 1911-1920


The British Socialist Party (BSP) was a direct descendant of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) founded in 1883 (or more strictly as the Democratic Federation in 1881). 

The Social Democratic Federation joined with the Independent Labour Party and Fabian Society in 1900 to establish the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) but disaffiliated in August 1901. In 1908 The Social Democratic Federation renamed itself the Social Democratic Party.


In August 1911 Victor Grayson, the left wing socialist and former Member of Parliament for Colne Valley in Lancashire and others launched a call for a united party with clearly defined socialist aims (Clarion 4/8/1911).

The subsequent Conference held in Salford in October 1911 brought together 218 delegates with that objective, this included delegates from the Socialist Party (86), Independent Labour Party (41) Clarion organisations (32) and 48 Socialist society delegates.

It was agreed that the new Party formed by the conference would be officially launched on 1st January1912. the British Socialist Parties journal taking the name of the SDF's newspaper "Justice".

The headquarter of the British Socialist Party wa
s at 21a Maiden Lane, The Strand, London.

The Object of the British Socialist Party

"The object of the British Socialist Party is the establishment of the co-operative commonwealth - That is to say the transformation of capitalist competitive society into a socialist or communist society

The first conference of the BSP was held at Lesser Free Trade Hall Manchester Saturday May 25th, Sunday May 26th, and Monday May 27th 1912 In 1914 the British Socialist party voted to affiliate to the Labour Party but did not affiliate until 1916 A split occurred in the British Socialist Party between a pro War faction and an anti war faction (grouped around their newspaper "The Call").

This disagreement led to a split and the expulsion of one of the BSP (and Social Democratic Federation) founders and pro war Henry Mayers Hyndman (1842 - 1921), at the 1916 Conference, Hyndman and his defeated supporters then duly left the BSP.

From 1916 onwards"The Call" edited by Fred Willis of Willesden (and later Inkpin) became the paper official journal of the British Socialist Party, replacing "Justice". The Call, was produced between 24 February1916 until the 29 July 1920, when it became the Communist the organ of the Communist party of Great Britain.

The British Socialist Party played a leadi
ng role in the "Hands off Russia" movement founded 18th January 1919, a campaign launched to stop British Government intervention (British troops landed in Murmansk, Archangel, Baku and Vladivostock in the summer of 1918) and aid to the "White" and "Czarist" Russians during the Civil War. The Campaign was famous for the "blacking" of the ship the "Jolly George" bound with armaments for the White Russians.

One prominent convert to the British Socialist Party in the campaign was the Liberal Member of Parliament for Leyton East, Cecil Malone.
later, in 1920 Malone argued in a speech that during the course of a workers Revolution, it was reasonable to execute some prominent members of the bourgeoisie, asking what "are a few Churchills or a few Curzons on lampposts compared to the massacre of
thousands of human beings?" This statement led to his imprisonment for six months.

Later in 1919 the British Socialist Party voted to unanimously to affiliate to the Third (Communist) International.

As a member of the Third International the British Socialist Party played a key role in the founding of the Communist Party of Great Britain (now Communist Party of Britain) along with the smaller Socialist Labour Party, various local Socialist Societies, Communist Guilds, and even the Socialist Prohibition Fellowship.


Communist Unity Convention Delegates
British Socialist Party 1920 
H.W. Inkpin - Ashton Under Lyne
H.L. Bryceson - Barking   H. Smith - Barking
A.H. Gillison - Bethnal Green  J. Valentine - Bethnal Green
Miss Balfour - Bradford
A. Angel - Central London     T.A. Avis - Central London
F. L. Kerran - Central London
Cecil .L. Malone MP - Central London
E.H Whatton - Central London
A.H. Wall - Clapham
? Griffths - Desborough 

Mrs H Inkpin - Dumfries
Mrs Nixon - Earlestown
J. Grainger - East Ham

H.Hearse - Edinburgh 
A. Carter - EdmintonG. Crouch - Edmonton
Mrs Kennedy - Erith 
W.A. Hill - Glasgow central
Mrs D.B. Monefiore - Glasgow College 

A. White - Glasgow Gorbals
F. Freestone - Grays
H. Hinshelwood -Greenock
J.F. Hodgson - Grimsby

 E. Marsh - Hackney Central
A. Nixton - Hackney Central
A. Vandome - Hackney South 

A. Edwards - Hampstead   H. Milsom - Hampstead
F. D. Fitzgerald - Harlesden
W. Moffatt - Hastings

Mrs A. Inkpin - Hornsey 
Arthur Gardiner - Huddersfield
J.T. Ives - Islington South
A. Raxworthy -Islington South
W. H. Brown - Islington West
F. Tanner - Islington West
O. Bangett - Kentish town C. Batchelor - Kentish town W.H. Ryde - Kentish Town
A.G. Tomkins - Kentish Town

 Miss I Wilkinson - Kentish town
 F. Day - Kettering 
W.P Coates - Leeds 
H. H. Godley - Leeds
Mrs Bamber - Liverpool East
J. Goldstein - Liverpool East 

Mrs Walker - Liverpool East
A.E. Adshead - Manchester Ope
Jim Crossley - Manchester Openshaw
J.Grierson - Manchester Openshaw
O. Williams - Merthy Vale 

Robert Williams - National
C. T Hendin - Padington 

Ernie Cant - Paisley
F.W. Llewyellyn - Plymouth A. Vickery - Plymouth Mrs G Vickery - Plymouth
George Deer - Rawtenstall

G Hicks - Reading J. Luck - Reading  E. Martin - Reading
A.A. Watts - Sheffield
D. (or L) Manoin - Sheffield
L. Royle - Sheffield G. Newton - Sheffield
W.G. Anderson - Southend  S.G. Warr Jnr - Southend
H. Addy - Salford South J. Forshaw - Salford South A.A. Purcell - Salford South
T. Barber - Southwark A De Bois - Southwark H.J. Morley - Southwark 

G. Roberts - Stalybridge 
B. Tobin - Stepney 
A. T. Leat - Todmorden
Arthur R. Sifflett - Tooting  P. Whitaker - Tooting

 H. Ward - Walsall
G.S. Hinds - Walthamstow 

J. Dunbar - Warrington
J. Houghton - Warrington
G. Elliston - West Ham South 

Miss F. Baldwin - Wigan
J. Ansell - Willesden? Cochrane -Willesden W. Glendinning - WillesdenC. A. Littlefield - Willesden G. Sinnico - Willesden Mrs Sinnco - Willesden A. H. Vickers - Willesden
Fred Willis - Willesden
Other CUC delegetes of interest

Acton Communist Group: E. A. Hooper

Barking ILP A.W.Cox and R. F. Martin

Battersea Herald League: Mrs Du
rston, H. Waterman, G. Wheeler
Battersea Socialist Society: J. Calncy and W. Okines

Ferndale Socialist Society C. L. Gibbons

South Norwood Communist Group: E. T. Eames

Southwark Hearlad League:
C. Abbott and H. Trickey
Walthamstow Communist Party: J. Chiswell and G.Goulding

On merger into the Communist Party, the British Socialist Party claimed 6,000 members, but most of these were just "paper" members.

At the Communist Unity
Convention held at the Cannon Street Hotel, London on 31st July 1920, the Chairman Arthur MacManus "There would at least exist (after today) in Great Britain a reliable, rigid straight and determined Communist Party" .

The Communist
Party of Great Britain was established 1st August 1920

Call 29th July 1920 The British Socialist Party will cease its With the holding of the Communist Unity Convention in London next Saturday, the British
separate exsistance and its branches and members will be merged in the new Communist Party"

Arthur MacManus
Chairman at the Communist Unity Convention conference stated on 31st July 1920
"There would at least exist (after today) in Great Britain a reliable, rigid straight and determined Communist Party"

Albert Inkpin
Born London 1884 joined SDF 1906, in 1907 appointed Joint Assistant Secretary until 1913. Became a member of BSP.
Inkpin succeeded H.W. Lee as the General Secretary of the BSP 1913-1920. Editor of the BSP "The Call" 1916-1919. Represented the BSP at the Zimmerald Conference in 1921 honoury President of the Communist International along with Lenin and Trotsky.

Ernest "Ernie" Walter Cant
Born 1890 Stoke Newington, London. In 1912 became national organiser for the Young Socialist League. WW1
Conscientious objector sent to Ipswich prison for two years. released in 1919 after a hunger strike. London organiser of BSP 1914-16. Scottish BSP organiser 1919-1920 . Chairman of the BSP at it’s 1915 . CP London organiser (from formation)1920-August 1925. Ernie Cant was drafted into Nottingham prior to help the miners campaign against Spencer unionism.
Alfred Augustus Watts
Alf Watts was born in 1862, a compositor by trade and a member of the Social Democratic Federation, later he became the treasurer of the British Socialist Party.
Poplar Guardian 1904-1928 and as such was a key supporter of the Poplar Councillors in 1921 and and he himself was elected a Poplar Labour/Communist Councillor 1925-28. He was also a London County Council Councillor for North Battersea 1919-1925. Watts died in 1928

The resolution on parliamentary action at the 1st Congress of the CPGB (the Communist Unity Convention

Mr Arthur Sifflett (BSP Tooting) In favouring parliamentary action because we simply could not afford to omit its use, he did not imply that he attached undue importance to it. He was of the opinion that there was no time for us to convert the electorate to any extent and get our men on the floor of the House of Commons in any number. He believed the revolution was too near for that.

Answering comrade Stewart’s reference to guns, we did not want guns if we could avoid them; but force would not be withheld so far as the master class were concerned. The workers must consider the question of armed force if necessary, to meet what would be brought against them. It was not enough to say, ‘Wait until the time’, because we should find the other man armed and ourselves with nothing but ideals. We must avail ourselves of the parliamentary weapon, but not overrate it. Its only utility was for the education of the masses to bring about the social revolution.

Other prominent in the BSP members include
William MacLaine, Jospeh Fineberg, Tom Quelch, Harry Quelch,Harry Pollit BSP Branch Secretary of Manchester Openshaw branch, Willie Glallacher (later Communist MP amd Clyde leader John MacLean.

BSP member wrote to the Glasgow Herald printed 12 January 1914 stating

"No matter in what constituencies we (BSP) put up candidates, the Labour Party hacks will denounce us as interlopers, even although our party has done work for three times  the period during which the Labour Party has been in existence"