Mexborough and Swinton Times September 24, 1937
Labour Party Woman’s Section Rally at Mexborough
An outline of the Labour Party’s programme was given by Mr. Tom Williams, M.P. for the Don Valley Division at a Labour Women’s of the South Yorkshire Women’s Advisory Council at “Olympia,” Mexborough, yesterday.
The rally attracted about 300 delegates from 10 different Parliamentary Divisions, and the arrangements were made by Mrs. Marie Singleton (secretary of the Council), Mrs. Margaret H. Gibb (the district organiser), and Mrs. T. W. Whipp (the local secretary).
Mrs. E. Haith, (President of the Council), who presided, said how pleased she was so many had been able to come. She spoke of the excellence of the exhibits, considering the little they had cost to make.
An official welcome was voiced by Mr Arnold Shaw, chairman of Mexborough Urban Council, who said, “In the Labour movement we all realise how great a service to the Parties being done by the women members of the South Yorkshire District, and we owe a lot to the women’s sections.
Mrs. T. W. Whipp, the local secretary, supported this welcome. She said that Mexborough itself was a Labour Party stronghold. for their Member for Parliament, a County Alderman, a County Councillor, and 14 out of 15 of the Councillors, were all Labour members. In addition the Labour women of the town took their full share in public life, as was shown by the fact that all the members of the Infant and Child Welfare Centre committee were Labour. Mrs. Singleton had been Chairman of the local Education Sub-Commitee, and was now a member of the West Riding Child Welfare Committee and a magistrate. She herself had been Chairman of the local Education Sub-Committee and was.,along with their treasurer, on the Library Committee.
Presenting the Conference report, Mrs. Singleton said that there were 228 delegates present from 34 sections. The contingents were made up as follows: Barnsley 16; Doncaster 34: Don Valley 68; Hemsworth 48: Normanton, Penistone. Pontefract and Rotherham, I each: Rother Valley 15: Rothwell 3; Wentworth 40. Conisborough had the best turn-out, but she thought that the Royston section deserved praise for attendance.
Mrs. Singleton announced that the annual conference would be held on February 23rd, 1938. In the meantime a one day class would be held at Pontefract on November 24th.
Mr. Williams said he would like to congratulate the “orphans” on their attendance. They were entitled to a special word of praise because, although it was easy to come as one of a contingent of 40, courage was needed to come alone. Mr. Williams said with regard to the Labour Crusade, thousands of meetings were to be held during the week, and the Labour Party were hopeful that at the end of the campaign they would not not on this ly have a large increase in membership, but would have created an atmosphere in which something really fundamental could be done. During the last 30 or 40 years, the Party had done a tremendous amount of good, but there was still a lot to be done. Over a million men were unemployed, although the country was supposed to be at the peak of prosperity.
If they were going to remove insecurity and poverty the first step would have to be one of transforming this capitalist system into a planned system, commonly called Socialism. The Labour Party lad reached the stage when it could no longer improve the lot of the workers, and it vas for this reason that they had arranged this Crusade week. Their programme aimed to do in five years what under the capitalist system could not be done in tens of years; and it was this programme that was being advanced to ‘the public this week.
Peace, said Mr. Williams was the basis of the Labour Party’s general policy: without it there could be no international economic co-operation. He believed in such co-operation, and thought that no problem was too big to be solved if there was a spirit of co-operation. In addition the Labour Party were firm believers m Democracy; they believed in Government, by the people, for the people, with the will of the people.
Mr. Williams outlined the Labour Party’s immediate programme. He said they recognised that unless the Government had full control of the financial mechanism it could have no control over the country’s economic life. They thought that the people’s money should not be vested in private enterprise, and a Labour Government, therefore take control of the banks. The individual and industries would then have far more financial security.
With regard to agriculture, Mr. Williams said England had the finest climate and soil in the world. We had a small country and a large population, but, because of the peculiar form of ownership and the indifference of the owners, 1,750.000 acres of land were not under cultivation. In the last few years the Government had been pouring out money to subsidies, but had done no lasting good. The speaker thought that there was something radically wrong with the system. Private ownership of land had created many problems, and the Labour Party would take it all over.
The third of the four big problems, said Mr. Williams, was the Mining Industry, in which a fundamental change should be made. Coal was one vital raw material, without which all others would be useless. In addition coal mining was the most dangerous occupation for the workers, and, apart from agriculture, they received the poorest pay. H since e foresaw little possibility of improvement under private ownership, and the Party thought that this industry, too, should be taken over by the State. Miners, he said, received their wages In proportion to the prices that were fetched at the pit-head, but he thought that they should be in proportion to the prices paid in cities. Coal was converted into electricity and gas, and it was here that the money was made; the owners of the collieries themselves did not make great profits.
Mr. Williams said that the four systems this of transport were being run in a competitive spirit, whereas they should be run in a complementary one. The Party had decided that the railways, road transport, waterways, and airways should be brought under one control.
At the moment, of the twelve million householders in England, four million were Labour, five million were Conservative and Liberal, and three million did not vote. It was at this last section particularly that the Crusade was aimed. They aimed this week to secure 100,000 new members, and he thought that that figure would quickly swell into a million.
The Party would then have a fair chance of getting a majority in Parliament.
Mrs. Margaret H. Gibb, Sheffield, the District Organser, said that a quota of new members had been given to each section, and she appealed to thin all to do their best to get new members. Last year the women’s membership had increased by as many as 7,000.
A vote of thanks to the speakers and the organisers was proposed and seconded by Miss Sampson, Doncaster, and Miss Hemming, Penistone.