1900s >> 1907 >> no-38-october-1907

The Kirkdale Bye-Election

Blatchford Eats his Words
Appeals to “Socialists” to close up their ranks arid help in every possible way to return Mr. J.. Hill to Parliament are falling fast and furious and the usual reasons are being advanced by those whose policy is changed as often as is demanded by the necessity to maintain the circulation of their newspapers, secure the attendance of the public in large numbers at their meetings or to bring themselves into prominence as “leaders” of the working class. Mr. Robert Blatchford, who for weeks in the columns of the Clarion has been explaining “Why the Labour Party is no good,” now urges all, Socialists and Labour men alike, to help to swell the ranks of the “useless” Labour Party by returning a candidate who will be as useless as the best of them. In the Clarion Election Supplement Mr. Blatchford eats his own words and declares that “the workers need a strong and United Labour Party” because “two ominous words, ‘Conscription’ and ‘Protection’ are being freely bandied about, and attacks, open or covert, are being made upon Trade Unionism and Education,” and further, “The Liberal Party may be a better Party than the the Tory Party, but the best Party for Labour is a Labour Party.” And this whilst the ink is hardly dry on his utterances on the failure of the Labour Party and his declarations that only a Socialist Party will do ! But then, Robert Blatchford is a journalist and also writes romances.

The S.D.F. Position
Edward Hartley, too, calls us “To Arms ! To Arms !” He also, in Justice and elsewhere, has been asserting the necessity for a Socialist party, but like Blatchford and others, is not honest enough to admit that it exists in The Socialist Party of Great Britain. Hill should be helped because he “is not only the secretary of a strong and well-organised trade union (!) but a good Socialist who has advocated his principles for years.” But, Hartley adds, “Even if he were not a Socialist, but only a Trade Unionist who would stand firm on the principle of independence in political action, he would be better than the best candidate who could be selected as either Liberal or Tory.” We hope our friends who tell us they believe in our policy of hostility to all other parties, but who remain in the S.D.F. because they also believe that to be an uncompromising Socialist organisation, will note its willingness to support non-Socialists and even anti-Socialists under the conditions stated by Mr. Hartley.

The Liberal Attitude

Mr. Hartley says also that the Liberals find the Tory candidate so acceptable that there is to be no Liberal candidate, but on the other hand, it may be that the Liberals find Mr. Hill so acceptable that they prefer to leave the field open to him. After all, if at the General Election they were willing to assist “independent” candidates, like Mr. Ramsay McDonald, Mr. T. F. Richards, Mr. Jas. Parker, Mr. G. J. Wardle and others into the House of Commons, why should they fight the Labour candidate now that they have discovered how “sensible, respectable and adaptable” the Labour members are ? As the Daily News admitted, when commenting on Mr. Gill’s address at the Trade Union Congress “no Liberal who is in earnest about his creed . . . can do anything but rejoice in the strength of a party at once so sincere and so reasonable.” And judging by his election address, no Liberal need fear the return of Mr. John Hill for the Kirkdale division. (Since the above was written the Kirkdale Liberal Divsional Council have passed a resolution urging the Liberal electors to vote for Mr. Hill.)

Mr. Hill’s Program

The Labour Leader prints certain portions of Mr. Hill’s election address, and even from these it can be seen how far he is in conflict with the programs of the S.D.F. and the I.L.P. Amongst other things Mr. Hill says :—

ALIENS’ BILL.
I deeply regret that through lack of employment at home British Workers are forced to go to other countries as “Blacklegs,” or stay at home and starve. I am in favour of a Bill to give Protection to British Workers by the prohibition of Aliens being imported to take the place of men on strike, or to undercut or displace British Worker.

EDUCATION.
An a Nonconformist, I believe in simple Bible study—the Bible is still my best book: at the same time, Bible lessons should only be given to children at their parents’ desire, as every parent should have the fullest opportunity to teach his child his own faith. I believe that religion thrives best and retains its sincerity without State interference.

TEMPERANCE.
As a total abstainer, I am in favour of the people of every town or parish having the fullest direct veto on the renewal of old licences or the granting of new ones. The common people ought to have the right to say whether or not temptation shall be beside their homes and amongst their children.

FRANCHISE.
I am in favour of Adult Suffrage. Meantime, I would support the agitation for the extension of the franchise to women on the same basis as it now is, or may be, extended to men. I also favour the Bill giving married women the right to vote on their husband’s qualifications.

IN CONCLUSION.
As I am opposed to the present commercial system of production for profit, I would advocate in Parliament the Nationalisation of the production, distribution, and exchange of the common necessities of life. The enormous and ever increasing trade and wealth of the country is only tending to make the poor poorer, and rich richer and creating a luxurious, idle class on the one hand, and a starving unemployed class on the other. It is only by a more scientific system of society, a more just division of the products of labour, a system based on the ethics of Christ’s teaching and work, that the workers shall be emancipated.

And it is on utterances such as these that the Clarion, the S.D.F., the I.L.P., and the Trade Unions unite ! Such unity proves our case against them in regard to political action.

Mr. Hill’s Hotch Potch

So far as we know Mr. Hill is the first “Labour” candidate to advocate the exclusion of aliens, and to adopt the Tariff Reformers’ position that the low wages and lack of employment of the working class here are due to the admission of aliens. Evidently Mr. Hill is one of the “working-men Tariff Reform missionaries” that Mr. C. Arthur Pearson threatens shall take the field against Socialism. The paragraph concerning “Education” conflicts with the resolution of the Trade Union Congress, the program of the S.D.F. and the I.L.P., and again typifies the latitude allowed to “Labour” candidates for vote catching purposes, and proves conclusively how the S.D.F. and the I.L.P. will ignore their own programs in order to be “in the swim.” Both these two bodies, also, are pledged to public ownership and control of the drink traffic, a “reform” which Mr. Hill does not support. His reference to “the common people” is an insult to the working class, and his plea for a more just division of the products of labour is an admission that the present system is just and all Mr. Hill wants is to make it more so !

The Only Way
There is one course for the workers of Kirkdale to adopt, although the result will be announced before these lines are in print,—Abstain from voting. A candidate who will pander to all sections, as Mr. Hill, with the support of the S.D.F., the I.L.P., and the Clarion, is doing, proving thereby that he holds to no guiding principle beyond the personal desire to add the much coveted letters M.P. to his name, or, if we acquit him of this, showing conclusively that he does not comprehend the working-class position, is worse than useless to his class, and can only fall a victim, as the others have done, to the flattery and the hospitality of the master-class representatives. To serve the working class a candidate must stand as a rebel, be prepared to act as a rebel if elected, and to take all the consequences of such action. Prating about “a system based on the ethics of Christ’s teaching and work” after two thousand years of wars, barbarities, faction fights and other loving pleasantries which Christ’s followers indulge in, may be a good card to play in Liverpool and the appeal no doubt goes straight to the heart of atheists like Robert Blatchford, and the leaders of the S.D.F. and the I.L.P. But neither by looking up to Christs nor down to devils, neither by appealing to politicians nor by relying upon “leaders” will the workers secure their emancipation. Only by realising that they are slaves, that there is no hope for them while Capitalism exists, that their emancipation can only be secured by abolishing, not palliating, the capitalist system and by organising themselves to take for themselves possession and control of all the means of producing and distributing wealth, will their historic mission be fulfilled. As voting for Mr. Hill would not assist them, but make the existing confusion worse confounded, we trust that the result will show that large numbers of the workers of Kirkdale have declined to vote for either of the candidates before them. But we confess we are not hopeful. The Social Revolution must be preceded by a mental revolution. Much deep study must be undertaken before the mental revolution is accomplished, and until then the workers will fall an easy prey to Labour Misleaders like Mr. Hill and his supporters.

J.K.

“If Mr. Hill is defeated,” says the Labour Leader of September 27th, “he will not be defeated on account of his Socialism, but on account of the identification of Socialism with views which form no part of our Socialist purposes or faith.” And, it may be added, if Mr. Hill is successful he will not be successful on account of his Socialism, but on account of the identification of Socialism with views which form no part of the Socialist purpose or faith.

Justice, however, declares it to be a “Socialist” fight. The contest, they say, is “one between Socialism and anti-Socialism.” “The fight is distinctly one for and against Socialism, and if Mr. Hill wins it will unquestionably be a Socialist victory.” In view of the candidate’s program, which Justice admits might be “more pronouncedly Socialist,” these words must have come as a severe shock to those S.D.F. members who assert that their organisation is “stiffening.” It is more flabby than ever.

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