The Unity Manifesto was issued immediately after the Socialist League Conference. It demanded a massive fight against fascism, unconditional opposition to rearmament and recruiting, a pact between Great Britain, France and Russia and ‘all other States in which the working-class has political freedom’, nationalisation of the arms industry and democratisation of the armed forces. It called for national work plans, the forty hour week, pensions of £1 per week at 60, increases in income tax on higher incomes, heavier death duties, control of ‘stock exchange gambling’ and of private profiteering, nationalisation of the mines, higher wages, holidays with pay and the abolition of the Means Test.
There were, however, notes of reservation which pointed the way to future difficulties. The ILP held back from affiliation to the Labour Party ‘until democratisation has taken place’. All parties agreed to abstain from any general criticism of the Soviet Union and its Government–a hard pill for the ILP to swallow – and while the CP was allowed to demand that the National Government should adopt a pact with France and Russia, the Socialist League claimed the right to emphasise the need for a change of government before such a policy could be implemented.
The campaign opened officially with a large meeting at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester on 24 January. Cripps, Mellor, Maxton and Pollitt spoke. 3763 ‘pledge cards’, pledging support for the aims of the campaign, were signed. Even the hostile Daily Herald described the reception of the speakers as ‘enthusiastic’. Harry Pollitt, in particular, received an ovation.
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