The Tactics of Confusion

Mr. John Burns is “Labour” M.P. for Battersea. He is also (vide the “Capital-and-Labour-are-brothers” Press) the “Statesman of Labour.” As “Statesman of Labour” he draws a salary of £5 per week. The amount is made up by contributions from “Friends of Labour.” For this purpose “Friends of Labour” are those who subscribe to the wages fund of the “Statesman of Labour.”

One such “friend” is Sir C. M. Palmer, M.P., a shipping and mining magnate. This gentleman also doubtless holds that Capital and Labour are brothers. As representing capital, he sends a contribution (probably handsome) to his Brother Burns, representing “Labour.”

Brother Burns is very pleased. He sends, per his wages fund secretary, best wishes for the success of Brother Palmer’s candidature at Jarrow. Also best thanks for the contribution. Especially the latter.

But at Jarrow Brother Pete Curran, “labour candidate,” is opposing Brother Palmer, “capitalist candidate.” And Brother Palmer is using Brother Burns’ best wishes against Brother Pete. Whereat Pete waxes exceeding wrath (which is silly) and, through his secretary, demands explanations (which are obvious).

Brother Burns’ letter is an exhibition of statesmanship. Brother Pete has not subscribed to the wages fund of the “Labour Statesman;” Brother Palmer has. Only dogs bite the hand that feeds them, and Brother Burns is not a dog.

Moreover, Brother Pete is identified with that knot of recalcitrant “labour men”—M.P’s. actual or embryonic—who a short time back made nasty remarks about, and refused to bend the knee to, the “Statesman of Labour.” Brother Burns gets even by opposing Pete’s progress toward Parliamentary position. Acerrima Proximorum odia.

The matter has since been carried a step further, and stands somewhat after this wise :

(1) The “labour men” give it as their opinion that the “Labour Statesman” is much more concerned with the interests of the “Statesman of Labour” than the interests of Labour.

(2) The “Labour Statesman” retorts that the “labour men” have sold themselves, or are anxious to sell themselves, for 200 dirty pieces of gold.

(3) The “labour” men reply that the “Labour Statesman” has nothing to sell, having long since sold all he had—or words to that effect.

(4) The “Labour Statesman” gets even by supporting the “labour exploiter” in opposition to the “labour candidate,” whereupon

(5) The “labour members” elect the “Labour Statesman” to the position of chairman of
the “labour group” in the House of Commons, what time the Secretary of the “labour candidate pathetically appeals for someone to unravel the tangled skein.

It is very nice and pretty, so helpful; such a delightful comedy in five acts. And the working-class must be very proud of their champions, and very appreciative of their champions’ labours.

But, levity apart, is it not time the working-class called upon these self-styled labour leaders, these vain-glorious mouthers of paltry plalitude and empty phrases, these glib-tongued political tricksters who are more concerned with their personal standing than with the vindication of the rights of those they are alleged to represent; is it not time the workers called upon these men to “cease their damnable faces” and quit the positions they cannot fill, making way for those who, knowing the workers’ condition and the reasons for it, are prepared to work with a single mind for the realisation of those changes which will ensure the application of the only remedy for working-class ills ; men who are prepared to fight all the forces that capitalism and landlordism can array against them until the victory is won that will enable the workers to enjoy the full results of their labour and usher in that co-operative commonwealth toward which the Socialist Party, the world over, is pressing ?

Surely it is time! Surely the workers will refuse to be fooled much longer by men who, even when they are not ignorant of the real causes underlying working-class poverty and unhappiness, are prepared to fritter away their opportunities, are prepared to play into the hands of the enemy, are prepared to betray the cause they claim to represent, to effect their own aggrandisement or enrichment—squabbling and bickering over the partition of the spoil like hungry dogs at a bone.

Surely the workers will soon demand, and see that they get, real representation by men who are prepared to take the line imperatively demanded by a clear understanding of the issues the line of irreconcilable opposition, all the time, to every person or party occupying other than the Socialist position.

Capitalism is the the enemy. Who supports capitalism is the enemy. Who supports the hirelings of capitalism is the enemy. Burns is clearly supporting the capitalist-class. The Labour Representation Committee men in the House of Commons, together with the other “labour” M.P’s., support him by electing him to the chairmanship of their group. These are the enemies of Labour.

The Social-Democratic Federation and the Independent Labour Party support capitalist candidates. They ally themselves with and make arrangements with capitalist parties. They seek to win votes by tricking the workers. They call their candidates “labour candidates” because they fear that by preaching the Socialism they privately profess they will not poll such a large vote. By supporting capitalist candidates they support working-class enemies. By obscuring the Socialism they know to be the only remedy for working-class evils they confuse the issues and perpetuate working-class ignorance. These, therefore, are also the enemies of Labour.

That is the position, and presently the worker will understand. When they do they will win to their freedom. Perhaps the time is not yet— but that is not the fault of The Socialist Party of Great Britain. From all parties we stand out— a finger-post pointing for ever to the road along which the workers must travel if they would achieve their emancipation. And at the end of the road is—Socialism !


[Since the foregoing was written, the Secretary of the Battersea Liberal and Radical Association has explained that his appeal to Sir C. Palmer was made on behalf of the Registration Fund of that body, not for the John Burns’ Wages Fund, and that Burns was in no way responsible for it. He adds that in acknowledging the donation he, “as a matter of courtesy, wished him (Sir C. Palmer) every success.”

The precise value of this explanation is not easily estimated. The money was not for Burns’ Wages Fund, but only to make a wages fund necessary by securing the election of Burns. The wish for the success of Sir C. Palmer was only expressed as a matter of courtesy, not, presumably, with the idea of assisting to realise the wish. Burns had no knowledge of the matter, and will therefore, perhaps, repudiate the action—if he objects to it. The “labour,” candidate for Jarrow may now be mollified. Certainly Sir C. Palmer will not be unduly depressed.]

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