33, Albany Street, Beswick, M/c. Feb. 5, 08.
Dear Sir,—Mr. J. Brough issues, through the February No. of your paper, a direct challenge to me, and one it may be worth while to accept. I shall perhaps be able to throw some light on the methods of the S.P.G.B.

The author of this challenge ends his letter by asking “What has Mr. Swan to say now ?” Exactly what I said before. The statement that a compact was entered into by the local L.R.C. and the Liberals at the last general election is a deliberate lie ? It was a lie, when Mr. Brough first made it, and it is a lie still. In addition I would like to point out that apart from the Courier extract, concerning which I will have something to say later, Mr. Brough has not brought forward one scrap of evidence in support of his charge. The letters from the Clarion will not bear the construction he has placed upon them. He has read into them something they do not contain.

Mr. Brough bases his case upon the fact that the L.R.C. and the East Manchester I.L.P. declared that a candidate in East Manchester would damage Clynes in North East, and Kelley in South West Manchester. That such was their opinion has never been denied, but has been freely and frequently admitted. Such an admission, however, is not tantamount to an acknowledgement that a compact was made by the L.R.C. and the Liberal Party. To assert that it is, to quote Mr. Brough, to “use words for a purpose different from that in which words are generally understood.”

Mr. Brough explains very carefully what is meant by the word “compact,” and thereby places himself at my mercy. A “compact” is a mutual agreement, or contract, etc., etc. Very good. Now a compact is only possible when there are two, or more, parties to it, and can only be arrived at as the result, the outcome, of certain verbal or written communications. If there is no communication there can be no compact. That either verbal or written communications passed, between the L.R.C. and the Liberals I emphatically deny. And if I am speaking the truth Mr. Brough’s precious “compact ” falls demolished about his ears.

But why waste ink? Mr. Brough may test the truth, or untruth, of my words quite easily. The Trades Union connected with his occupation sends several delegates to the L.R.C., one of whom is upon the executive of that body. Let Mr. Brough, through these delegates, have the question brought up ; let him demand the facts. I will undertake to back up his efforts. And if, after this course has been adopted, it can be proved that I have tried to mislead Mr. Brough, I promise to publicly apologise to him for having done so. This is a perfectly fair proposition, and a reasonable one. Let Mr. Brough act upon it.

Now a few words in reference to the extract from the Manchester Courier. If what I have stated above is true, it follows that the statement contained in this extract is as false as that made by Mr. Brough. They are both to the same effect ; they stand or fall together. The fact is the Courier man knows no more, and he could not know less, about the matter under discussion than Mr. Brough himself. And I submit that a Socialist who goes to the Tory or Liberal Press for information concerning other Socialists, and uses this information without ever trying to verify it is playing very low indeed. Tories and Liberals alike are interested in circulating lies about us. And if you repeat these lies you are doing their work whether you are paid for it or not.

Mind you, I do not dispute the right of Mr. Brough, or anyone else, to criticise me, or the organisation to which I belong. But criticism to be of any value must be prompted by a desire to see truth prevail, not by stupid pugnacity; it must be based upon fact, not wild assumption; and must be the outcome of knowledge, not of ignorance. If the S.P.G.B. will confine itself to criticism of the former, aud leave the latter kind to our mutual foes it will fulfil a useful function ; if it does not it will remain a mere adjunct of the capitalist parties.—Yours etc.,

77, Nightingale Lane, Hornsey, N. 10th Feb., ’08.
Dear Comrade,

I.L.P. compacts in Manchester, etc.

Although I am not quite sure that the word “compacts” is correctly used in this connection, it is undoubtedly true that there was a tacit understanding in I.L.P. and L.R.C. circles in Manchester prior to the last General Election, that if either of these bodies promoted any more candidatures in Manchester, (with particular reference to East Manchester division), the Liberals would oppose Messrs. Clynes and Kelley in their respective divisions. This was an open secret at the time, and plainly means that Messrs. Clynes and Kelley angled for, and actually received, Liberal support, of course for “value received” elsewhere.

With regard to your reference to Mr. G. D. Kelley, M.P., in the leading article in February issue of the STANDARD, I should like to say that there is not much point in your remarks about this gentleman stating that he is not a Socialist. Throughout his public career, as a secretary of his Trades Union, as secretary of the Manchester and Salford Trades Council, and also as a member of the Manchester City Council, he has been a consistent Liberal; no man showed more bitter hostility to the local I.L.P. during the time that Party upheld their famous “Fourth Clause” of independence. Therefore I submit that although he became “converted” to “Independent” Labourism just as soon as he saw a chance of sailing into the House of Commons under those colours, like the remainder of the so-called Labour Party, yet unlike most of that kidney, he is an open and not a secret opponent of Socialism, inasmuch as he never once has denied or even attempted to cover up his Liberalism. Any Manchester employer of labour in the printing trade will vouch for the harmlessness and respectability of Mr. G. D. Kelley, M.P., especially those who came in contact with him as secretary of his Union.—Yours fraternally,

Leave a Reply