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Liberals against Apartheid: A History of the Liberal Party by Randolph Vigne (auth.)

By Randolph Vigne (auth.)

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33 34 Liberals against Apartheid Cooper's campaign was, nonetheless, on safer, more familiar ground, revealing none of the pitfalls that lay before Liberal candidates the following year, when the thorny question of the franchise had been fought over yet again. The 1953 Congress had conceded to the radicals on franchise qualifications, which were acceptably low. The second National Congress, held in the Kajee Hall in Durban from 10 to 12 July 1954, was to shatter the contentment of the old Liberals and threaten even the survival of the Party.

B. Lee Warden, after Ray Alexander had been expelled from the Assembly under the Suppression of Communism Act. Gibson had put up a good fight against odds which were enormously increased by the expulsion from Parliament of the previous winners of the seat. He had won good friends for the Liberals amongst Africans who were opposed to the new 'left', that is, Communist, influence on Congress. The Western Cape Chairman, Thomas Ngwenya and a leading ANC and former Communist Party member, Joseph Nkatlo, attended the Cape Provincial Congress as observers in May 1954.

Those who held to the old policy felt a degree of estrangement and their efforts were reduced. Those who, like Paton, Brown, Msimang, Leslie Rubin and others, came to see the rightness and inevitability of full adult suffrage forgave more easily and continued to give the Party all they had to offer. It was noticeable that African Provincial Committee members in the Cape like Dan Tikili, a community leader and staunch ANC man of the old school, Sangxalo, Max Tabata, brother of the Unity Movement leader, and Gilbert Fesi, a stalwart in Gibson's election campaigns had, with radicals like Gibson, Peter Hjul, an able young trade journalist and Gibson's election agent, and Benjamin Pogrund, a law student who was to become a distinguished journalist, strongly supported the full franchise.

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