BARRAGE OF QUESTIONS AT ELECTION MEETING
Candidates Answer Labour Youth
A barrage of questions, mainly from Councillor R. Chapman and Erith Labour League of Youth, followed addresses by the prospective Parliamentary candidate and Municipal candidates at a Conservative election meeting at Electricity House, Erith, on Tuesday.
Mr. H. Winn presided, and speakers were Miss Margaret Roberts, Mr. J. Daynes (Abbey Wood), Mr. J.F.L. Oates (North-umberland Heath), and Mr. G. McMillan (Old Church).
Mr. R. Marsh (chairman, Erith Labour League of Youth) asked Mr. Daynes why he attacked bulk buying, when it was carried out by the same buyers who formerly operated for private enterprise?
Mr. Daynes replied that, whereas before the war British merchants searched the markets of the world for whatever commodities the people wanted, today citizens had to eat what the Government selected.
Mr. G. McMillan quoted the Prime Minister as writing in 1933: “I conceive the District Commissioner as something more than a public serveant. He is a local energiser and interpreter of the will of the Government. He is not impartial. He is a Socialist, and therefore in touch with Socialists in the region, who are his colleagues in the campaign.’ This statement reminded him (Mr. McMillan ) of the Soviet system of commissars.
“Out of Context”
Mr. Marsh asked Mr. McMillan if he had read the complete address, or “if he had got the paragraph from a Central Office newsletter?” He asked him to deny that he had not read the complete article, and claimed that the quotation had been lifted from its context.
Replying, Mr. McMillan said he would not deny that he had not read the booklet, and that if a book did not interest him he “skimmed through it.” Although he apologised for not knowing the following paragraph, he thought it could not have been important enough to impress him.
[A Kentish Times reporter found the subsequent paragraph in the Labour Party publication “Talking Points.” It is: “I regard the commissioners as acting only in the emergency period during which plans for the future local government of the country will be in process of formation.” ]
The Conservative attitude to old age pensions was questioned by Mrs. L. A. Forbes (hon. secretary, Erith Old Age Pensions Association).
Miss Roberts told Mrs. Forbes it was too early for her to say what would be done in that sphere. The Conservative Party realised that £1 6s. was worth less now than when it was instituted, and when genuine hardship was proved they believed in granting supplementary pensions. However, her party would rather decrease prices and make money go farther.
Control of Councillors
A statement by Miss Roberts, who alleged that the Labour Party exercised a rigid control over their councillors, was denied by Councillor Chapman, who said there was no machinery in his party's constitution to allow for the expulsion of a councillor who did not “toe the party line.”
Referring to the recent Council house rents dispute, a lady in the audience asked why Councillor J. Watkins was expelled when he opposed the majority on the increased rents issue.
“Councillor J. Watkins was not expelled for opposing the group, but for his general attitude,” retorted Councillor Chapman.
Claiming that the Labour Party theory was not always its practice, Miss Roberts said that although the Socialists might not expel a representative, they could withdraw the Whip from him. When an election came, an official candidate with party support could stand against him.
There were several other questions on the relationship of the Conservative Association and E.R.R.A., the housing situation, Conservative policy, and the National Health Act.
A vote of thanks was proposed to Miss Roberts by the chairman, who called on the audience of 200 to support their candidates at the election.