1900s >> >> no-52-december-1908

Keir Hardie in Canada

The Western Clarion (of British Columbia) and many of its readers seem to be under no delusions either as to the sort of job Keir Hardie was attempting to manage during his recent visit in that part of the Empire which we call “ours,” or of the possibilities of the job, assuming it could be accomplished. We reproduce the three extracts which follow with thanks.

  “Keir Hardie, we are told, is to attend the Trades Congress at Halifax, for the special purpose of bringing together the forces of Socialism and Trades Unionism as they have been brought together in the Old Country.
“We are very much afraid that neither the Socialists nor the Trades Unions will bite. The proposition is just a little too raw. Stripped of all wordy ornament it just amounts to this: That the Socialists shall put their hands in the Trade Union’s pocket and their principles in their own.”—LEADING ARTICLE.

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  “So Keir Hardie is coming to Canada on a special mission of inducing the Socialist Party and the Independent labourites to get together for united political action. Well, he has undertaken a contract that all the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t accomplish. He is attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable. That he should think of such a thing shows how little he knows of the uncompromising revolutionary spirit of the Socialists of British Columbia and Ontario. He is harking up the wrong tree, and displays the fatal spirit, of compromise which is the weak spot in the Anglo-Saxon character, and has done more than anything else to retard the growth of genuine Socialism in England and in fact among English-speaking people generally.
“There is and can be no common ground between the Socialist whose end and aim is the abolition of wage slavery and the ownership by the workers of the machinery of production and distribution, and the man who simply wants to effect a few ameliorations of the lot of the wage slave. The Socialist recognises that at this stage of the game the all essential thing to be done is to educate the workers to want and insist upon Socialism as the only permanent and effective remedy and uses elections simply as a means of propaganda, He wants first and foremost to make Socialists. The Independent Labour man merely wants to make votes. The Socialist knows that votes are no good unless there are clear-cut convictions behind them. The Independent Labour man expects to carry everything with a hurrah! and when his candidate comes in among the “also rans” is apt to get cold feet. The Socialist knows that all that can be done at present is to lay foundations, and wants to lay them good and strong on the bed-rock of scientific truth. The other fellow wants to win the election any old way and get something right here and now. The Socialist knows that a desperate, long-seated disease can’t be cured suddenly by any quack remedy, and will only yield to a long course of treatment. The Independent Labour man ignores the root of the disease and wants to doctor the symptoms. Phillips Thomson.”

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  “Keir Hardie. M.P., with his wife and daughter, has been visiting Toronto this week and the capitalist Press has been full of his doings. I’ll content myself with reporting a meeting I had with him a year ago. After the usual preliminaries I enquired’ ‘Comrade Hardie, I’d like to know your position on the class struggle.”
‘ “There is no class struggle,’ he replied, following this up with a denunciation of the ‘foolish’ tactics followed by the Socialist Party of Canada.
“Having had some experience in publishing Labour and Socialist papers, I know it’s difficult at that game to get enough to buy a decent meal ticket, let alone tour the world with a family. Knowing, too, that a man won’t grow rich on the salary paid a British M P. or out of the contributions to M.P.s by the union men, it puzzles me to figure out how Ramsay MacDonald, Keir Hardie, Victor Grayson and such men manage to finance these globe-trotting expeditions. If any comrade can enlighten me I’ll promise to send the suggestion on to the Dominion executive so that if the game is straight the path of the next organiser sent out to our Canada for our Party will be made a little more easy than this summer’s trip by the ‘Old Man.’ G. W. Wrigley.”