LEON IVESON’s childhood memories include numerous ILP conferences, Socialist Sunday School football matches and events at the ILP’s Clarion House. Here, he remembers growing up with his parents, dedicated ILPers, Stan and Ivy Iveson.
My dad, Stan Iveson, was born in 1912, the same year as Nelson Clarion House opened. My mother, Ivy, was born in 1913.
My earliest memory of living in a political home is of being taken during school holidays to ILP conferences, which seemed always to be held in seaside towns. I can remember sitting there with my mother and elder brother, feeling fed up and wanting to be somewhere else. A child can only draw so much on a piece of paper.
My dad would be up on the platform with his mates (see pic). They seemed to take it in turns to stand up and make a speech, using words I did not understand. Even now I’m not clear about some of them.
This happened for years. The last one I remember turning up for (voluntarily) was a Saturday night social at a conference in Morecambe, probably in the late 1970s.
During this period I was an apprentice plumber with my dad. He would disappear to Leicester at the behest of a mysterious person who signed his letters ‘Staff’. Dad always returned with a bag full of cowboy paperbacks by Zane Grey and other authors. I found out later that he was on the board of the ILP’s publishing house, Blackfriars Press, and ‘Staff’ was the managing director of the company, Bill Stafford.
If dad wasn’t at the press, he would be ‘at the NAC’ (away at meetings of the National Administrative Council) – another day off work!
During his time at the press and on the NAC he collected a group of friends, including Annie Maxton, John McNair, Fred Barton, Mark Saddler, Don Bateman and many more. He also started drinking whisky and wine, having previously been teetotal – the pressure of politics!
Election time was always very busy, of course. A great deal of my parents’ time was spent working for Sidney Silverman, Betty Boothroyd and Doug Hoyle (now Lord Hoyle), along with the Labour Party agent, the late Len Dole.
I found these very exciting times. I would go canvassing and attend meetings and the count, which could keep us up until the early hours, sometimes ending with the wrong result.
Always something going on
Dad was also very closely involved with the ILP Clarion House in Nelson (left), spending every fourth Sunday there working his ‘turn on’, with my mother and me, and my sister, Katharine.
If he was not doing his turn, there were invariably repairs to be done, together with a regular band of helpers from the ILP, or preparations to be made for a May day event, or bonfire night, or cricket matches, plus various political events, when a ‘Workers of the World Unite’ banner would be strung out across the lane outside. There seemed to be always something going on.
I was brought up in the Socialist Sunday School in Nelson, dad being one of the ‘elders’ of the school. As well as holding classes, he also took a very active part in the social side. There would be days out in the country with a picnic and usually a game of football or cricket.
The school had a football team which played every Sunday in a league. I was about 11 or 12 at the time and admit we lost every game until we played the Socialist Sunday School from Glasgow, Rutherglen Park. We all went up to Glasgow in a van borrowed from the local plumbers’ merchant, and we won for the one and only time.
Throughout all these activities my mother would be at dad’s side, supporting him in whatever activity he was involved in. She took part in a march to Holy Loch at the height of CND campaigns to protest at the presence of US Navy Polaris submarines which were stationed there.
Dad was a staunch pacifist and during the second world war served time in Walton Jail, Liverpool, as a conscientious objector.
He passed away in 1989 and my mother died in 2009. They are remembered on plaques at the Nelson ILP Clarion House, near Newchurch in Pendle.
You can read a 1976 interview with Stan Iveson here.