1900s >> 1905 >> no-6-february-1905

A Look Around

Last month we called attention to the action of J. Hunter Watts, member of the Executive Council of the S.D.F. in voting for a Liberal Candidate, and our comment has drawn forth a letter from him, which is dealt with elsewhere in this issue. This month it is our painful duty to refer to the sad case of Mr. J. J. Kidd, who is also a member of the S.D.F. Executive.

So that we may not be charged with telling a half truth we print Mr. Kidd’s interesting and incriminating letter in full. It is addressed to Mr. Alfred Jermyn, Liberal Candidate for the South Ward at the recent municipal elections at King’s Lynn.

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Oct 20. 1904.

Dear Mr. Jermyn, I am writing this to tell you that I sincerely hope you may be at the head of the poll on November 1st. Although I am now in another political camp, I remember with a great deal of gratitude the many sacrifices you have made for the cause of progress, how many times you have, almost single-handed, pioneered the Liberal cause in Lynn. I had the pleasure and privilege to work with you for some years and I always had some feelings of admiration for your work in those times, the up-hill task you often had. There is one sore place in my memory, and that is your opposition to the “housing” scheme; but there, I will not bring up grievances. I am only too glad that neither my desire, nor circumstances, have brought me out as a candidate in this ward this year, thereby risking you the loss of some few votes. I hope I may never be the means of defeating one who I feel deserves more at his fellows’ hands than he has yet received (I mean, of course, appreciation). I hope all earnest and sincere Liberals like yourself will one day realise that the political arena of the future will be Labour v. Capitalism, the struggle between the possessors and the dispossessed and then you will throw unqualified energy in the workers’ movements. If all those Liberals who realise this would cut themselves adrift from all that hampers this movement irrespective of party claims, there would not be so much division in the Progressive ranks as there is today.

I hope you will appreciate my good wishes and pardon my presumption, but I feel that you are entitled to both. I shall give my vote to you on the day of the poll from a sense of duty and pleasure.

You will, however, regard this as strictly private and confidential.—Yours faithfully, (Signed) J. J. KIDD.

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It is apparent from Mr. Kidd’s desire that his letter should be regarded as “strictly private and confidential” that he saw the impossibility of reconciling his action with the policy to which he was pledged as a member of the S.D.F., and which, when appointed to the Executive of that body last year, he undertook to enforce.

Will it be believed that three weeks after Mr. Kidd wrote this letter, upon a casual vacancy being declared in the same ward, he appeared as a candidate in opposition to Mr. Jermyn. We quote from “The Lynn News and County Press,” whose leading article contained the following comment:

“If Mr. Kidd had been consistent in his opposition to Mr. Jermyn, we should have put it down to his loyalty towards his comrades of the S.D.F., and, while regretting his course of procedure, should have felt bound to admire his allegiance to principle. But we are in a position to state that during the recent fight Mr. Kidd actually went out of his way to give support to Mr. Jermyn, and expressed himself as the last man to wish to prevent Mr. Jermyn’s return to the Council! What do Mr. Kidd’s comrades think of this ? What do they think of a man who, but a week or two ago, was earnestly in favour of Mr. Jermyn when a mere Labour candidate was running, and expressed thorough approval of his municipal policy, but now turns round and opposes him tooth and nail ? It is on our own initiativre that we make these accusations against Mr. Kidd’s fidelity as a public man; if the Socialists of the South Ward desire further information let them ask Mr. Kidd for a copy of the letter he wrote to Mr. Jermyn just prior to November 1st. We know, as a matter of fact, that Mr. Jermyn has written to Mr. Kidd, asking leave to publish this letter—a document which we are sure would absolutely destroy the Socialists’ confidence in Mr. Kidd; but Mr. Kidd has seen Mr. Jermyu and personally begged the Progressive candidate not to publish it. Mr. Jermyn’e hands are therefore tied, because the letter was marked ‘private and confidential’; but if Mr. Jennyn cannot succeed in dragging it into the light of day, perhaps Mr. Kidd’s deluded supporters may be more successful. In any case we think it well to give them a glimpse of their idol’s clay feet! “

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After this well-merited attack Mr. Kidd wrote a further letter to Mr. Jermyn, in which he said “I have prepared a leaflet for publication which will cause you pain and annoyance.” Mr. Jermyn at once published all the correspondence, and it can well be imagined who suffered the “pain and annoyance.”

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Let us never forget that, as Liebnecht says, the class war is the basis of Socialism, and that those who do not accept this, however friendly they may be to us personally, are socially and politically our enemies, says “Justice.” If the Executive members of the S.D.F. forget it, what can be expected of the rank and file ?

There are very many of these social and political enemies whom probably we shall never convert, but we shall certainly gain their respect if we adhere steadfastly to principle and persue a consistent policy which shall intelligently interpret our principles. On the other hand, actions like those of J. J. Kidd not only justify our opponents in despising the actors, but bring the Socialist Cause into disrepute and make a laughing-stock of the members of any organisation permitting such conduct.

It is nearly five years since H. M. Hyndman wrote that the S.D.F. was “wholly destitute of political aptitude.” Conduct such as Kidd’s proves that it still is so. The least that can be said of it is that it is like the Peace of God.

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To those who imagine that no contentment or decency can exist otherwise than in a dtate of capitalism-cum-Christianity, the following extract from a letter which appears in the “Mill Hill (Leeds) Chapel Record,” written by Rev. C. Hargrove, from the Tutuila Island, Samoa, under date 28th October last, may not be altogether unpalatable reading:

“The decency of this half-naked people surprises me. I have been to and fro among the villages and have never seen anything dirty or offensive on the part of man, woman or child. They seem possessed of an innate sense of propriety and cleanliness.

“They have no idea of saving or private ownership; if a man earns a few dollars his is paid and help him to spend it. Food in especial is common property, and no native would think of refusing another a share of whatever he has. ‘No better than a foreigner’ is their contemptuous description of the man who tries to save. One consequence of this practical communism is that labour is scare and dear. Why should a man work hard for a wage which will not profit him? So the Government has had to import labourers from less fortunate islands to do the toilsome work of excavating and road-making, which has been needed to make a harbour and wharf and coaling-station. They will no doubt learn our ways in time, and each look after his own family and accumulate a bit of money by hard work, and take to petty theft, now almost or altogether unknown among them. They will be more serviceable to the stranger. Will they be as happy or as good or even as Christian as they are now?”

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According to the chief organ of “Tariff Reform,” the “Daily Express,” the German miners on strike demanded 4s. 6d. per day! Yet they tell us that wages are so high in protected countries!

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A. public Meeting was held at the Finsbury Town Hall last Tuesday evening, under the auspices of the Central Finsbury Liberal and Radical Association, to hear an address by John Burns. According to the bill the chairman was supported by W. C. Steadman, Alderman C. W. Bowerman, Alderman Isaac Mitchell, G. Dew, B. Cooper, H. Gosling, H. R. Taylor, C. Jesson, and other Labour “Leaders.” How these people like to hang on to the tail of the capitalist politicians!

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Mr. Andrew Johnston, J.P., C.C., says that as long as the nation pours a half a million down its throat every day of the year we shall have the unemployed problem. We are prepared to prove, in debate with this gentleman, that the unemployed problem does not exist because people drink, and that it could be solved even though more drink was consumed than at present.

J. KAY

(Socialist Standard, February 1905)