Chicherin and the Petrovs released - and deported

From The Call, paper of the British Socialist Party, January 10 1918

As we predicted last week, no longer able to temporise with Trotsky’s imperative demand for the release of our comrades Chicherin and the Petrovs, our contemptible dictators gave way with the worst possible grace, and deported them with as much secrecy as could be observed and no little personal indignity.

Our comrades (in the care of the Criminal Investigation Department!) left London last Thursday evening but, notwithstanding the secrecy, a number of friends assembled at the station to greet them and wish them godspeed. In the case of comrade Petrov a concession was made in that the secretary of the BSP was allowed to visit him on the afternoon of his departure, but no similar relaxation appears to have been made to Mrs Petrov or comrade Chicherin.

Such a childish exhibition of ill temper cannot fail to bring universal discredit on its perpetrators, and it is not inconceivable that the hurried departure from Petrograd of the British ambassador, Sir George Buchanan, on grounds of “ill health”, is comrade Trotsky’s prompt tit for tat. But the government was forced to climb down, because Trotsky would brook no further evasions. Will the British labour movement appreciate the moral of this lesson, and learn that it is deeds, not words, that count?

By the return of comrades Chicherin and the Petrovs to Russia the BSP loses three distinguished members; but our loss is Russia’s gain. We shall shortly be able to welcome back another good colleague in the person of comrade Holtzman, the first diplomatic envoy of the Bolshevik government, who, prior to his return to Russia last summer, was for several years an active member of Central Hackney BSP. Our comrade Maxim Litvinov too, who has been nominated as Russian ambassador to Britain, ... has worked closely in contact with us. It is reported that the British government will ‘recognise’ him.

It will have no freedom to do otherwise if the organised workers demonstrate what they really think and feel.