The British Socialist Party (BSP) & ‘The Call’ – Introduction

THE BRITISH SOCIALIST PARTY (BSP) & ‘THE CALL’

The BSP was formed in 1911. It was an uneasy alliance between the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), which had been formed by H.M. Hyndman in 1885 and other less doctrinaire socialists. The SDF had been riven with internal disputes and splits and hence the formation of the BSP was an attempt to unite those that remained. In practice, this only amounted to a papering over of the cracks. This was evident over two issues in particular. One was Hyndman’s unreceptive attitude to trade unions and the other was his support for World War 1. An uneasy co-existence was maintained until 1916 when the Hyndman faction was defeated at the National Congress in Salford. Among those who led the opposition were E.C.Fairchild, Albert Inkpin, A.A.Watts and John McLean. All of these formed part of the leadership of the new BSP which was now left to pursue its anti-war policy unhindered. The defeat of the Hyndman faction effectively meant that the BSP was the only Marxist organisation in Britain. It published a weekly newspaper, ‘The Call’ from 1916-1920. This paper was consistently anti-war and ardently supported the Bolshevik cause and the October Revolution. Unsurprisingly, the BSP played an important role in the formation of the Communist Party in 1920.