At the beginning of autumn last year we – the Socialist Party – received a notice of eviction from our National Centre by the end of summer 2018. This comes as a huge blow – we have been at our current premises in Leytonstone longer than any other, for over 17 years.
The landlord intends to redevelop our offices into luxury flats for the wealthy, a process that is happening all over London. Following the Tory government’s relaxation of the planning laws there is a gold rush taking place as landlords and property developers scramble to make money out of the housing crisis. This is all whilst families and young workers struggle with little to no affordable housing. The Socialist Party stands and fights alongside all those facing attacks from gentrification including Haringey residents against the HDV, Walthamstow against the Monster Block as well as leading the successful Butterfields Won’t Budge campaign.
We have therefore launched a Building Appeal to raise money to help pay for a move and for a new place. We are asking you to donate to help us get new premises and keep our presence in London, to stand up to the big business developer take-over of London and join us in the fight for affordable housing for all and for a socialist future.
We may need money towards a deposit if a suitable property comes on the market that we can buy; we may need to spend money refurbishing a building; we may need to pay a higher rent as more parts of London are becoming gentrified and rents are rising in what used to be affordable areas.
The seriousness of this situation for us cannot be overstated. From the first offices we rented in Kings Cross in 1964, the establishment of a national headquarters in London was a historic gain for us. Below is a short history of the progress we made in acquiring and rebuilding premises, establishing a press and purchasing our previous national centre in Hepscott Road in 1984, enabled by an appeal for party members to donate a week’s income that raised £177,000.
This was only possible based on the huge sacrifices that members and party workers have made throughout the history of our party, detailed in the books by Peter Taaffe: Rise of Militant and From Militant to the Socialist Party.
From the first editor of the Militant in 1964 – Peter Taaffe – working mainly on the promise of a wage, to the first real premises in Bethnal Green in 1971 and the purchase of the first press shortly afterwards, our members and supporters made those sacrifices because they understood the importance of the party’s national headquarters and national leadership to be based in the capital city, at the heart of its national politics. The capital is where the trade unions have their headquarters and where the majority of government institutions and foreign embassies are based. It is where most national demonstrations take place and it has the necessary transport links for national meetings.
We are where we are today because of those sacrifices and it is incumbent on us to ensure that we carry on that proud tradition. Therefore we are asking every member and supporter to pledge a donation to this Building Appeal. Many Socialist Party members are donating the considerable amount of a week’s income and in some cases more, as they have done with past appeals.
We recognise that this will not be easy for many but the Socialist Party has no rich backers and we can only rely on our own members and supporters. Your donations, whether it’s ten pounds or more from a school student, several hundred from someone who is working or thousands from a windfall, inheritance, property sale, PPI payment etc will make a vital contribution.
Please help us reach our target of £150,000+ and donate today.
THE HISTORY OF OUR PREMISES
1964 Militant launched as a monthly. £500 fighting fund launched in the first issue.
1965 An editor taken on fulltime, mainly on the promise of a wage. 2 rooms taken in Kings Cross and offered for hire to help pay the rent. The first all-London Militant readers meeting attended by 50 people and raised £4 12 shillings and sixpence for the fighting fund.
1966 Press fund launched with target of £1,000 (raised in 3 years).
1970 Premises acquired in Bethnal Green which needed rebuilding. Members sold treasured possessions to enable the move. Press bought for £1,050 and a camera for making plates (£800). A fund for a weekly paper was launched with target of £1,000.
1974 New premises rented for use as a print shop. Committee for a Workers’ International launched.
1975 Fire destroyed the printshop building, severely damaged press and ruined typesetting equipment. An emergency appeal raised £27,378 and the press was back in action in one month. By the end of the year had moved into Mentmore Terrace premises.
1976 12 page paper produced. Reached 1,000 regular sellers.
1977 Appeal for a new press raised nearly £50,000.
1978 Production of 16 page paper on new press without red masthead.
1979 2 more units added to press and red masthead restored.
1980-82 Additional premises taken on and more printing equipment purchased. Collections over these 3 years raised £347,000.
1983 Building fund launched in October.
1984 Building fund reaches £175,000 and Militant moves into new premises in Hepscott Road.
2000 Hepscott Road premises are sold and move into current premises in Leytonstone. Printshop moves to factory in Clapton.
2007 Old web offset press has to be scrapped. Printshop moves to railway arch in Leyton. Week’s income appeal launched, raising over £51,000 for new digital colour press.