Working for the SLL

Bit by bit the ‘resistance’ was building up.  The International Socialism Group, who the SLL loved to hate, immediately supported the Lewisham three, as did the left wing of the Labour party. The Barristers that the SLL hired,  were from the Old Bailey, London. Greenwich Magistrates Court had not seen any top lawyers, and they are going to see them now.  By the time the court case happened, we were pretty famous in London. Well, amongst the Far Left. Every left wing newspaper was for us. We went to court 2 times, and  the SLL had top solicitors  to represent us. Unfortunately, the police purged themselves. We got off with a severe warning.

I worked every single day for the SLL. In the  morning, regardless of school, I got up to sell the  Workers’s Press, call on potential members for money, and arguing politics with them. In the night in was Party Meetings, more arguing politics with potential members.

Cowan said ‘We  absolutely need fresh members. Why don’t to hire somewhere?’

So, In the spring of 1972 I went down Manor Lane road to Lochaber Hall. It looks like a church hall because that is exactly what is was; it was built in 1910 as the church hall for Holy Trinity in Glenton Road – quarter of a mile away on the other side of Lee High Road.  

Now, after the war, it has become un-used. The sign in the porch said the warden lived down the road. I went up to his door,  and rang it. The warden came up to the front door. I asked him to a rent for hall. He looked at me and calmly said “Nonsense  young man. You look too young!’.

I replied that  we were a group that caters to the unemployed.  I argued. We bickered for a while, and he grudging  said “OK, we will  let Lochaber hall’.

By the 3rd time we had the Dance   at Lochaber Hall, the West Indian kids were so, so tired of me.  They used to shout at me ‘Bloodclot!!!’ ‘Bumbaclot!!’ but I constantly said  over and over again, loudly,   “Don’t you want the Tories out? You have to make up your minds! Come on!!” . By 10.00 pm, the West Indian kids were tired of me, and exhausted.

My message, passed down from Gerry Healy, was really, really goofy.  Gerry Healy said in 1972 “ The strategic task of the next period – a pre-revolutionary period of agitation, propaganda and organisation – consists in overcoming the contradiction between the maturity of the objective revolutionary conditions and the immaturity of the proletariat and its vanguard . It is necessary to help the masses in the process of the daily struggle to find the bridge between the present demands and the socialist programme of the revolution. "

Eh? What??

In  the church hall the adolescent boys went from saying ‘Bloodclot!’ to eventually sitting down wearily in resignation,  and as I said “ Don’t you want the Tories out?” Maybe 50% of them didn’t know ‘The Tories” but I kept on shrilly saying ‘It’s the working class, or the Upper Class!!!  Don’t you want the Tories out? It’s  the Young Socialists with the real agenda to kick the Tories out!! Either you are in it, or you are out!!!’

By the end of the night I have a few weary recruits.  Bit by bit, we built the group.

I used to go into the Clapham HQ once a week. I used to see Gerry Healy once a month. He would wander down the stairs. He did not talk to me - I was just a 14 year old boy, a young socialist, why would he bother with me? He had more important things to do. Gerry Healy was  planning a revolution. He  was a cult. He brainwashed people.

I didn't know it at the time but Daddy had written a letter to Gerry pleading with him to stop it. Daddy had gone along to the local Trade’s Union plumbing head, and said what up what about the Socialist Labour League? The local Trade union laughed. ‘They Socialist Labour League? They are  all bananas! The SLL is 100% bananas!’

My Father  wrote the letter, but  Gerry Healy did not reply…..

I was going to Brockley County Grammar School.  I arranged a strike. Well, sort of a strike but eventually the SLL was keeping me busy from 6.00 am until 11.00 pm. I stopped going  to school, but I did not tell my parents.

Bit by bit I was gathering round a large number of recruits. Soon, we would open up in Brockley and Downham. We went to one 1 meeting a week in south east London, to 4 a week in Lewisham, Peckham, Brockley and Downham . Membership was seriously up.

We had the Empire Pool Wembley in March 1972, which marked the culmination of a Young Socialist national Right to Work march, drew a crowd of over 8,000 - though some of them were no doubt there partly for a concert featuring such attractions as the rock group Slade.

In 1972 spring the SLL south eastern London branch  changed the leadership. The new boss was working class - 'T'- and he was hard core. On Sundays down at Peckham Housing Estate, we went through, for 5 or 6  hours, the works of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky. There was about 10 of us, and two leaders. 

For 12 weeks we went through it, and finally it dawned on me that it was so, UTTERLY boring. Actually, It was so mind numbingly boring, reading chapter and chapter of of  Volume 28 of the Collected Works of Marx and Engels, containing Marx's main work Das Kapital. It was just silly. Volume 28 of Marx? Ha!! Bit by bit I was loosing interested. I haven't even laughed in 6 months. Everyone in the SLL was deeply unhappy. Seriously unhappy, and it was because the SLL leadership was viciously unhappy!