SHAW George Bernard - Autograph Letter Signed 1948 defending the right to demonstrate
George Bernard SHAW (1856-1950)
Autograph Letter Signed (“GBS”) to Emrys Hughes M.P., telling him he had sent “a stinger of an article” to the Daily Herald regarding police regulation of “processions” in Trafalgar Square.
2 pages small 8vo, together with the autograph envelope, Ayot Saint Lawrence, Welwyn, 9 May 1948.
“When I marched to Trafalgar Square 60 years ago, I had ascertained that the police were empowered to regulate processions but not to prohibit them.
Accordingly, when Burns & Cunningham Graham were arrested in the Square the police dropped the charge of processing and substituted rioting.
At the final inquiry it was decided that Trafalgar Square is not a public place but the property of the Commissioner of Woods & Forests, and that consequently there is no right of meeting there!
I have sent a stinger of an article to The Daily Herald in your interest. If the editor funks it I may have to fall back on Reynolds or Forward. In the Daily Worker it would cut no ice.”
Emrys Hughes, who was elected MP for South Ayrshire from 1948, had been editor of the socialist paper Forward until his entry into Parliament. His first wife, Nan, daughter of Keir Hardie, had died the previous year.
Whatever Hughes’ connection with processions or, more likely, peaceful demonstrations in Trafalgar Square may have been is uncertain.
Cunninghame Graham’s involvement, however, is very well documented. First elected to Parliament as a Liberal, representing South Lanarkshire, he was later involved in the foundation of the Scottish Labour party, and was an early supporter of Scottish independence. In 1887, angered at attempts to allow the police to stop public protests and gatherings, he attended a demonstration in Trafalgar Square, where he was arrested. He was sentenced to six weeks in prison.
Cunninghame Graham was an associate of Emrys Hughes’ father in law Keir Hardie, with whom he joined forces in establishing the Scottish Labour Party, and well acquainted with George Bernard Shaw. His sometimes intemperate (for the times) defence of the rights of working people once caused him to be suspended from the House of Commons.
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