1900s >> 1908 >> no-46-june-1908

I.L.P. Compacts in Manchester

To the Editor.

Dear Sir,—A copy of the Socialist Standard for April, containing Mr. J. Brough’s second letter, has just been put into my hands. There are one or two points arising out of the same that I would, with your consent, like to discuss. In the first place I wish to draw the attention of your readers to the manner in which Mr. Brough, like all equivocators, seeks to evade the real issue by constantly changing his position. At the open-air meeting I addressed in July, ’07, Mr. Brough charged the I.L.P. with having formed a compact with the Liberal Party. This I denied at the time. In his first letter (Socialist Standard, Feb., ’08), the charge is reduced to one of complicity—the L.R.C. being the guilty body, the I.L.P. merely a party to the act. That he is totally unable to justify either one charge or the other is made perfectly clear by Mr. Brough’s second letter. The “compact” is discreetly dropped. (A tacit acknowledgment, by the way, of the “veracity of my denial.”) Forced to abandon one position, Mr. Brough takes up another. He now tries to patch up his case by pointing out that certain I.L.P.’ers (acting on their own initiative, as they must have done on the evidence cited by Mr. Brough from the Daily News, Jan. 11, ’06), voted Liberal. This I submit is not the point in dispute. I never undertook to answer for the action of individual members of the I.L.P. But I can, and do, truthfully say that neither the I.L.P. nor the L.R.C. did as Mr. Brough asserted in his first letter—that is, entered in “a compact, a mutual agreement, or contract,” with the Liberal Party.

The “compact” is a figment of Mr. Brough’s fancy. And one that he now wisely, and for him conveniently, ignores. He has failed to substantiate his charge. And his climb down is so obvious, so unmistakable, that I would have left the matter to the intelligence of your readers had not Mr. Brough made himself responsible for another gross and deliberate lie.

He says : “I cannot understand Mr. Swan’s dislike to having his party alluded to as compromising with Liberals, as I and others have heard him say ‘It does not matter how they (L.R.C. men) get to Parliament, as long as they get there.'”

Mr. Brough knows as well as I do that he never heard me say anything of the kind. The remarks he distorts and tries to twist were made by me in answer to a question from Mr. Brough re the attitude of the L.R.C. towards Victor Grayson. In the course of my reply I said that it did not matter whether Grayson had got into Parliament with, or without, the aid of the L.R.C., so long as he had got there. In this case, as in so many others, Mr. Brough puts into words something they do not contain. Not that I am surprised at Mr. Brough resorting to tricks of this kind. They are characteristic of the man. Were he to be deprived of this his occupation would be gone
.—Yours, etc.,
TOM SWANN

Dear Comrade,—If Mr. Swan replies somewhat rudely, the reason is probably to be sought in that he hopes by his wild and whirling words to hide the poverty of his case.

At the Editor’s request I simply resume the facts.

In the first place the contention re compacts has obviously not been dropped, for indeed none of the evidence has been rebutted by Mr. Swan.

Contributory evidence has been given, not from one source alone, but from many sources ; and the evidence in proof of arrangements with Manchester Liberals to which the I.L.P., being prime movers in the L.R.C. there, were incontestably parties, is overwhelming.

Again I ask, if there was no arrangement with the Liberals, why did the secretary of the Manchester and Salford L.R.C. state in a letter to the Clarion that “The introduction of a Socialist or Labour candidate in East Manchester would seriously damage the good prospects of their candidatures in S.W. and N.E. Manchester” ? If the I.L.P. were not parties to this why were they, as they stated in the Clarion, unable to promote any candidate in E. Manchester “on account of their affiliation to the L.R.C.” ? These facts have already been given, and why has not Mr. Swan, if there is any other explanation than that of an understanding with the Liberals, given a reason for them ?

Further, Mr. Swan’s bare denial is totally insufficient to dispose of the evidence from the Manchester Courier of Dec. 16th last, that—

“Some time before the last General Election the Independent Labour Party displayed an anxiety to contest the West Salford Parliamentary Division, and formally adopted a candidate. As a result of an arrangement with the Liberal Party that Labour candidates should not be opposed in the North-East and South-West Manchester Divisions if the other Manchester and Salford Divisions were not contested by Labour candidates, the prospective nominee of the party withdrew.”

And did not Mr. Clynes, M.P., himself say upon his victory (Daily News, 15/1/06) that “the victory is due to a combination of forces, which, by their united power, had given a great blow to Chamberlainism” ? This and other evidence has already been given. Is it necessary to give more?

The Daily Chronicle, 1/1/06, in an article on “Triangular Contests” said:—

“A settlement [between Liberals and Labour men] has been arrived at in many of the great centres of population—in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Newcastle, Preston, Wolverhampton, Sunderland Stockport, Leicester, Huddersfield and a number of other towns.”

Again, the Daily News, 15/1/06, said :—

“At Halifax, again, Mr. Whiteley’s wise arrangement with Labour has produced an ideal result in his return with Mr. Parker at his side and nearly 4,000 votes in front of the Tory candidate. Here there is an object lesson in the right use of great and in the main harmonious powers. The same moral applies to North-East and South-West Manchester, where it is clear that the Labour candidate had the whole Liberal Party at his back.”

And so we might go on.

With regard to the answer to a question put to Mr. Swan at a meeting, it is again Mr. Swan who is lying. The question was not put by me, but by W. L. Brown, of 39, Buckingham Street, Moss Side, Manchester, of whom I have made enquiries, and he writes : “Mr. Swan had said that ‘the return of V. Grayson for Colne Valley had done more to put the fear of God in the capitalist party than any other event during the last thirty years ! I asked how it was that the return of K. Hardie, P. Snowden, and J. R. Macdonald and others had not filled the capitalist with fear also ; were they not Socialists ? Mr. Swan replied, ‘Damn it, man, you’re only quibbling. Of course they are Socialists ; everybody knows they are Socialists. It does not matter under what banner they get to Parliament as long as they get there.'” It will be seen that this agrees substantially with rny version, while it flatly contradicts the assertions of Mr. Swan on that matter.

In his first letter Mr. Swan gratuitously accused the S.P.G.B. of being a mere adjunct of the capitalist parties; up to the present he has not substantiated his statement, nor can he do so. His statement, if I may be pardoned the use of his own lurid language, is “a gross and deliberate lie” ; while evidence has repeatedly been given in these columns, and in the Manifesto of the Party, proving that the I.L.P., which he champions, is in practice a “mere adjunct” of the Liberal Party.

For the rest I am prepared to leave the case upon the evidence already given, which evidence Mr. Swan has yet to meet.
—Yours fraternally,
JIM BROUGH

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