Nemesis !

The Municipal Elections are doubtless dealt with elsewhere. I am not therefore concerned here with their results generally, but an incident arising out of the Burnley contest merits, I think, a special word.

Burnley is a town where the S.D.F. claims a considerable following. It is regarded somewhat in the light of an S.D.F. stronghold—as S.D.F. strongholds go. And Mr. Daniel Irving is the strong man of this S.D.F. stronghold—as S.D.F. strong men go. He has sat on the Board of Guardians; on the School Board; on the Town Council. He is therefore a prominent citizen and in the past has doubtlessly worked strenuously for working-class interests—according to his lights.

Yet he has failed to retain his seat on the Town Council. In the recent elections he was defeated. The S.D.F. strongman of the S.D.F. stronghold has failed to maintain his position. Mr. Councillor Irving of yesterday is Mr. Ex-Councillor Irving of to-day.

This is remarkable. It seems to require some explanation.

The S.D.F. appear to recognise the importance of the catastrophe. One of their captains has fallen, and he has fallen on a most unlikely field. He has been vanquished in his own ward. In the ward that would know him best.

Why is this ? Is it because the ward knows him best that he has been defeated ? Or what’?

The S.D.F. sees the difficulty and Mr. Hyndman. their leader, writes to the Press to explain.

This is the explanation of Mr. Hyndiuan: Mr. Irving has been defeated by a “dirty dodge” of the Burnley Liberals. The Liberals knew they would be defeated—these loathsome Liberals. And so they entered into a binding compact with the Tories. Together they defeated Irving. And Mr. Hyndman says that the moral is “Let Socialists do Liberals all the harm they possibly can on every occasion.”

Now I do not know how other Socialists regard this explanation, but to me it reads uncommonly like—may I say drivel ? Drivel seems the only word. And Mr. Hyndman ought to know better. Because no one has insisted more often than he that Liberals and Tories are equally the enemies of the Socialist; that they are equally the enemies of the working-class because they both represent capitalist interests. Mr. Irving has said the same thing. Innumerable times. And of course it is true.

That being so, why talk of a “dirty dodge ?” Why is it a dirty dodge ? Why is it a dodge at all ? What is more natural than that representatives of the same interest should work together ?

Besides, Mr. Hyndman says that all Mr. Irving required was a straight fight with the enemy. Well, hasn’t he had a straight fight ? If not why not ? Will Mr. Hyndman please be clear.

Or is the suggestion that, it was not a straight fight because Mr. Irving expected the Tories to support him ? Did he ? if so, what is the matter with Mr. Irving’s Socialism ? Did Mr. Hyndman expect it ? If so, he must be as devoid of political aptitude as he alleged the S.D.F. were. If not, why the wail about “dirty dodges” ?

Mr. Hyndman’s explanation requires explaining. I suggest he can do better than this if he will. He really need not be so thin. He knows something of the local position. He is himself Parliamentary candidate for Burnley and should know. He is a prominent member of the S.D.F. which is another reason, why he should know.

Unless he don’t want to know.

He should know that there are compacts other than those between Liberals and Tories in Burnley. Really dirty compacts. Compacts between Socialists (or men masquerading as such) and Liberals. He should know because he has himself been a party to such a compact !

Has he forgotten the compact entered into with the official Liberal candidate as a result of which his (Hyndman’s) candidature was withdrawn in favour of the Liberal ? Was this a clean compact ?

Again, has Mr. Hyndman never heard of the dissatisfaction (to use a mild word) caused by the Irving tactics in connection with the Burnley School Board elections of a few years ago ? Has he never heard of an arrangement or compact being made with the Progressives (read Liberals) on that occasion ? And has he never heard of the more recent arrangements that found expression in the joint candidature of Irving and a crowd of pseudo-labour men on, a joint programme constructed to meet the requirements of the least progressive (read most re-actionary) of the crowd ?

If he has heard ; if he does not forget I mean to say, his explanation is drivel and I fear somewhat dishonest drivel at that. If he has not heard, or if he does forget he should be less hasty with his explanations and more ready to first of all make sure of his ground.

I put it to Mr. Hyndman that no man can claim to represent working-class interests who coquettes with the representatives (conscious or otherwise) of anti-working-class interests. But. indeed, that is unnecessary because Mr. Hyndman admits it.

I put it to him that only a Socialist can represent working-class interests. If he does not agree, why does he represent himself a Socialist ? And why does he urge Socialist candidatures against what are called Labour-Progressive candidates ? If he does agree he will admit that no tactician or coquette such as Mr. Irving has been can hope to build up a working-class party consciously organised on distinctive class lines.

He will concede that by such methods only confusion can be wrought in working-class minds. And he will agree that a confused working-class mind will translate itself into political action opposed to working-class interests—by the return of Liberals and Tories to political power against the Socialist.

That being so I suggest to Mr. Hyndman that Mr. Irving was defeated because he should never have been elected. That is to say his previous election was secured by votes which were not given by conscious working-class voters—he was not elected as a Socialist but upon some subsidiary issue. Or if he was elected by class-conscious voters he has dissatisfied them—which indeed is not surprising—by his methods since. They have rejected him because his Socialism is not satisfactory.

In the first place it is clear the Socialist position was not adequately defined at the election. Or. which amounts to the same thing, that the subsidiary issue predominated over the Socialist issue. Which means that the educational work which should have preceded the election was not adequately performed. In the second case the occasion is one not for a white-washing but for a condemnation.

I commend the choice to Mr. Hyndman’s consideration. And I think upon reflection he will admit that the whole ground is fairly covered by the one word I have set at the head of this article—Nemesis !


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