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blem, and the only basis for a successful no place for these things in the struggle Guardian stock

exchange scare, the idea
socialist youth movement. The barbe- for a better life, are ill-equipped to is fine. What is needed is not a mana-
cue, the hunt ball, and the informal represent youth or to know what is gerial revolution, but the willingness to
marriage market, are essential features meant by socialist humanism. There is let young people manage their own
of the Young Conservative world. Let no place for socialist “squares” in the affairs on a co-operative basis. The
us assert that the world of football, age of Humphrey Lyttelton, Alder- fellowship of working together in the
cinema, skiffle, hiking, art, and the maston, and Manchester United. new Socialist Youth Organisation will
Halle Orchestra, is our world. The Whether or not socialist coffee bars not only be a means to an end, but an
“social hedgehogs” on the left who see from Transport House are merely a end in itself.

ULR Club at Notting Hill
The London Club has increasingly White Defence League. Indeed, the teeming with young people, but the
found that the successful public meet- statements of George Rogers at the Youth Clubs are infrequent, ill-
ings and discussion groups were not time of the outbreak of violence so equipped and unattractive. During the
enough—especially for younger Club alienated West Indians in the area that hottest month of the year—August—
members. Many members had had no it would have been difficult to try to when more West Indians and youngsters
previous experience of political work work there on the basis of a direct were on the street than at any other
of a direct kind. They found the pros- appeal on behalf of the Party. time, many Youth Clubs closed. The
pect of throwing themselves into active The original aims of the Club were area is full of young married couples—
Constituency Party work uninviting, (1) to hold a public meeting to demon- but there are practically no creches
because such a close identification with strate solidarity with West Indians in where working mothers can leave their
the Labour Party betrayed their deep Britain; (2) to organise “direct action” children. The streets are crammed with
criticisms and hostility towards the of a socialist kind, bringing help where small children—but there are no play-
general drift of the Party and its we could, but trying to raise the larger grounds anywhere in sight. A prosperity
policies. Nevertheless, they were issues of policy and politics in the course state? And Notting Hill in the centre
anxious, both to have the experience of of our activity. of the largest city on earth?
working together with like-minded The first project was, eventually, Without a community sense—that is
comrades, and to give some more direct abandoned, particularly when the to say, a spirit of common responsibil-
expression to their political beliefs. second project began to succeed. Some ity, a life of shared experiences, com-
The Notting Hill project and its 40–50 people offered help, under the munity provisions, a sense of being able
subsequent developments were under- direction of Donald Chesworth, a local to affect directly the life, growth and
taken under the direct impact of events Councillor whose work in this field has renewal of the area, an expanding
in the area—the race riots in 1958, the been remarkable. This work was im- physical horizon—Notting Hill had no
bitter antagonism towards West mediate, remedial—and, of course, human resources with which to combat
Indians, the murder of Kelso Cochrane limited in scope. They were stop-gap the special problems of a multi-racial
and the re-emergence of Mosley and measures—but the situation demanded population. The socialist perspective—
the satellite fascist organisations. The them, for at the heart of the problem in change, control, common responsibility,
issues of principle here were clear— Notting Hill is the whole question of reconstruction, tolerance—had been
though, at the beginning, the way of housing, community facilities, and the totally lost, particularly amongst large
working proved difficult. The problem rack-renting practices of some of the sections of working class people in the
was complicated, from the very outset larger landlords (white and coloured). area, where conditions were at their
by two important factors: the relative Our purpose was to provide immediate worst. Such a area was ripe for racial-
lack of organisation amongst the physical help for those other groups ism, anxious to find a scapegoat, yearn-
coloured community—West Indians who were already at work there: and ing after a violent release from the
have no experience of racial violence, to raise, at the same time, the more many problems which hedged it round.
and were, consequently, hesitant in general issues which relate to the life of The West Indians were sitting ducks.
coming to terms with it; and the the community. In August, the character of the pro-
ambiguous position of the local Labour The problem of Notting Hill is not, ject changed in two important ways.
Party and its candidate on the racial at root, a question of race at all— In the first place, the group of helpers
and immigration issues. This was a though the racial situation naturally took on a new task—that of keeping a
microcosm of the political dilemma of sharpened every aspect. It is primarily central Youth Club in the area open
the Labour Party in the country as a a problem of the community itself— during the month of greatest tension.
whole: here was the issue—but where the shocking condition of housing, the The problem of youth—sharp in some
was the Party? The National Executive lack of community amenities, the form in every working class district in
and the Council of the TUC made shifting nature of the population, the London—can be seen in its sharpest
inspired murmurs—but they seemed to difficulties of employment, and the and most aggravated form in Notting
have no impact upon the majority of short-sighted and temporising policies Hill. And here, among the disaffected,
the Party at local level, and no attempt of the Council planners and builders. bored young people who congregated
was ever made to carry through high The rate of property deterioration, the at the street-corners, the first seeds of
policy at local level, where it mattered steep rise in rents, the rapid drop in fascism were sown, as the organised
most. The situation confronted the social “tone” and status have all, racialist groups began to appear in the
Party with the sharpest issues of together, proved too much for the com- open, and the area was penetrated at
principle—but the general tone of the munity to bear—particularly for a every point by a vigorous propaganda
Party was ambiguous: its contacts with community without roots, without and leafletting campaign. This Youth
West Indians in the area—non-existent, morale or hope. Certain zones are Club found a temporary home—but it
the weight of its attack sharper against scheduled for re-development, but the proved so successful, that it has now
the left-wing minority than against the pace is hopelessly slow. The area is become permanent. But there was a

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more general problem—the need to course, local tenants and residents. ready to help steward meetings which
marshall and analyse our experiences This account misses two other might otherwise have been broken up
into some kind of pattern, and to offer aspects of the project which will be by planted hecklers.
something more permanent and more discussed in more detail in the pam- What is, perhaps, more to the point,
searching in the place of activity for phlet. It should not appear that ULR the election was a time of relative in-
its own sake. The group decided to con- has been the only—or even the most activity for us on the more positive
stitute itself into a fact-finding and active—group at work in Notting Hill. aspects of the project. Keeping fascist
working study group, to gather the There are many organisations—some- hecklers in their seats is, in every sense
basic information about the area, and times, it seemed, too many—and many of the word, a holding operation. By
to use this as the basis forsome hard, people of good will and sympathy and large, the party political divisions
purposeful thinking about what could anxious and ready to assist. It also touched the area itself and its problems
be done by the people themselves. misses what, for many, were the most at so few points, that it was worthless
The study group is now half-way exciting weeks of the project—the trying to work. We had to suspend
through its detailed discussions on the bitter, frustrating weeks of the Election operations. In many ways, the Election
studies of housing, planning, employ- itself. During these three weeks, was a shadow affair. It had to be gone
ment, education, welfare services, Mosley and the fascist groups had the through—but did it matter? In a very
social and political attitudes which have run of several areas in Notting Hill, real sense, except for the White Defence
been prepared. Their aim is, now, to and the scenes were sometimes too League, and the National Labour
prepare a pamphlet, which makes a grim to be believed. His vote was not Party and the British Union of Fascists,
detailed critique of the conditions which high—but his support is far higher than Notting Hill is for the moment beyond
prevail, and which offers some detailed the voting figures suggest. The groups Party politics. S. H.
recommendations for improvement. were also active at local Labour Party
At the same time, Residents’ Associa- meetings. And, although ULR has (Written up from notes by George Dark.
tions are beginning to be formed—the often been regarded as meddlesome Secretary of the ULR Notting Hill Study
core of each Association being, of outsiders by the local Party, we were Group).

‘It’s a free country, isn’t it?’

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