Some Elections Tricks
The capitalists live by exploiting the wage workers. In order to keep that parasitic position and their social supremacy they must keep their control of the political machinery of the nation. The Socialist, then, sees that in order to throw off capitalist exploitation and put an end to poverty in the midst of plenty, the workers must organise their own political party and proceed to the conquest of political power. With such a mission, however, the workers find that in the master class, organised as it is, in the Conservative and Liberal parties, they have an implacable foe, with whom to arrange, compromise or “join hands” is simply to promote confusion and surrender working-class interests. The Social-Democratic Party has, at times and in places, taught this essential Socialist principle. But never in practice has this absurdly self-contradictory body been able to adhere to the principle. Childish hero-worship and a sad lack of the sense of humour have times out of number led it into compromise, defeat and ridicule.
A leaflet issued by the S.D.P. in support of Mr. Hyndman’s candidature at Burnley speaks of
while Mr. Quelch says at Northampton that he is prepared to vote for it (although that means helping to provide the master class with their armed forces of repression).
For long past the Social-Democratic organ—Justice—of which Mr. Quelch is editor, has described the Labour Party as a wing of the Liberal party and denounced it for compromise. Yet Mr. Quelch, when angling for votes at Northampton, says that he is prepared to receive its whips.
We submit that the following reports from the Coventry Sentinel amply establish our contention that the S.D.P. is not a Socialist organisation and has no claim upon the workers’ support.
“It was the intention of the Social-Democratic Party in Northampton to run two candidates for the seats there, but one has been dropped and an ARRANGEMENT WITH THE LIBERAL PARTY is freely and openly admitted. A vote of the S.D.P. executive went in favour, by a very large majority, of running Mr. Gribble, the ‘General,’ but Mr. H. Quelch insisted on being chosen, and as he has taken a strong hand in the matter, the party felt obliged to accept him.
“On Friday last a meeting was held in St. George’s Schools.
“Councillor Kirton was in the chair. He placed Quelch next to Hyndman. He agreed with a one and-one arrangement with the Liberals, and thought they could join hands on the Lords question.
“Mr. Harry Quelch said the Socialist position was plain, and at least one Socialist should be sent to Parliament TO SEE THAT THE LIBERALS DID NO FALTERING, NO LOWERING OF THE FLAG. He hoped Northampton would show what it meant on this occasion very clearly. They were quite willing to join hands with the Liberals on the one-and-one principle. In 1900 they sank all differences and joined against Jingoism. They were not compromising and there must be no humbug.
“Comrade Gribble said Comrade Quelch had been their adopted candidate. There were many in the Liberal party who were desirous of seeing the Socialists represented in Parliament, and among some of the rank and file and some of the leaders there was a feeling that one candidate from each should run. On the other hand, there were some who opposed that view. With the Socialists it was a matter of policy, and policy ruled most things. The Liberals could not get in in Northampton without the help of the Socialists; equally so the Socialists could not succeed without the help of the Liberals. The reason of the Liberals holding the one-and-one view was seen in the steady growth of the Socialist party. He defended Mr. Quelch’s position on the Budget, and said it would have been his own. He thought they and the Liberals could join for specific purposes, but Comrade Quelch would fight for the principles of Social Democracy. He proposed the vote of confidence.
“Councillor Pitts seconded on somewhat similar lines. Comrade Quelch, he said, would fight for Social Democracy, though he could join with the Liberals on the House of Lords and Tariff Reform.
“Comrade Gribble was perfectly right when he said neither Liberals nor Socialists could win for themselves. He had expected a three cornered fight and was DELIGHTED AT THE IDEA OF AN ARRANGEMENT, but he warned the Liberals that if they did not act fairly there would never be any thought of an arrangement again. They had chosen Quelch, they should run Quelch, and if the Liberals refused to run Quelch in Northampton, well, they would fight them.” The vote was carried without dissent.
“A further meeting was held in the Town Hall on Monday night, at which Mr. Jas. Gribble presided.
“The Chairman regretted that there was any misconception of the objects of Mr. Quelch and the Social Democratic Party as a whole. Whether there were two Liberals and two Socialists, or one Socialist and one Radical — which he personally hoped would be the position — (applause) — Northampton would make a big mistake if it did not return Comrade Quelch. (Applause.)
“Comrade Quelch said if the Liberals wanted unity in their light against the Lords, then it was for them to show their bona-fides. ‘LET THEM SAY : “WE ARE PREPARED TO UNITE.” If the Liberals mean what they say, let them do their best to secure that there shall be at least one Socialist returned at the forthcoming election.’ (Applause.)” At question time Mr. Griffin asked : ‘Are you as a party willing to support the Radical party, if they as a party are willing to support you as a party ?’
“Comrade Quelch : That appears to me TO GO WITHOUT SAYING. (Applause.) There is not a question, it seems to me, which the Radical party can advance for immediate practical politics on which we should not be prepared to co-operate with them in securing for the people all that they offer, and still asking for more. (Applause.)
“A third question drew the response : ‘If we can get nothing better than the Budget, I shall vote for the Budget.’
“A further enquiry elicited the statement that there was no pledge in the S.D.P. to prevent a man voting for Mr. Lee-Smith if he chose at the election. Mr. Quelch also declared that he was on perfect terms of friendship with the Labour Party, and WAS PREPARED, if he got into the House, TO RECEIVE THEIR WHIPS.
“Mr. W. B. Johnson moved the resolution of confidence in the candidate.
“Mr. Slinn seconded the resolution, and it was supported in a vigorous and powerful speech by Comrade Herbert Burrows, Socialist candidate for Haggerston. ‘Down with the Lords and up with the people’ was their motto, he declared, and he expressed the pleasure it would give him to see the whole 600 Lords as navvies, with wheelbarrows, on a nine-inch plank. (Laughter.)
“The resolution was carried with only three dissentients.”—Coventry Sentinel, 18.12.09.
“The Northampton Social-Democratic party continued the Parliamentary election campaign at the Kettering-road Schools on Friday night. In the absence of Mr. W. B. Johnson, Mr. W. F. Moss presided.
“Mr. Moss said since the Town Hall meeting things political had undergone a change in Northampton The Liberals liad decided to run two candidates—a course which FORCED THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATS TO DO THE SAME, and run both Comrade Quelch and Comrade Gribble. In a measure he thought it would make for the betterment of the S.D.P. From now they went forward, not merely as wreckers of other parties, but to win the fight. What had happened had proved again that the Liberals could not be trusted ; some of them never thought they could. Now the S.D.P. fought both capitalist parties.
“Mr. H. Quelch started by averring that what had happened had not given him any disappointment, annoyance, surprise or chagrin. It was precisely what he had expected from the very moment of his adoption. He congratulated the Liberals for taking their courage in both hands, and following the advice of the Tory Press, local and national. It only proved that the Liberals and Tories were but wings of one party. The Tories denounced them for daring to consider any arrangement, and the advice had gone home. Personally he never expected that the Liberals would keep their word, and on the whole he was delighthed at what had happened, resulting in so stalwart a colleague as Gribble. The cry that if the Social Democrats had only run Gribble the Radicals would have been content was insincere ; if they had done that the Radicals would have said if you would but run Quelch, or someone else ! The S.D.P. had not invited the union ; they did not mind that it was not coming off.
“Mr. J. Gribble spoke next. He regretted that his candidature had been necessary, for he hoped the ‘one-and-one’ theory would have been adopted. It was now said the Liberals wanted a man to win. Well, on what hypothesis did they base the idea that he could win and Quelch could not ? Even now, IF THE LIBERALS WOULD BE HONEST AND ACCEPT QUELCH AS THE CANDIDATE OF THE S.D.P. AND ONLY RUN ONE, HE WAS PREPARED AND SHOULD BE DELIGHTED TO STAND DOWN. The reasons for his being more with the Liberal party than usual in the Town Council was simply due to the fact that the Conservatives were in power.
“Mr. G. S. Whiting wanted to know why, if the S.D.P. regarded Liberals and Tories as identical, they wished to have a coalition with the Radicals? Mr. Quelch denied that the Social Democrats asked for coalition ; they were ready to join hands.
”Mr. Terrett said no coalition was ever intended ; it was simply a policy for the election that would have helped both. It was said that whom the Fates sought to destroy they first rendered mad. It was a mad act to bring the second candidate to Northampton, and meant certain damnation. Did the Liberals think they would get the Socialists, after what had happened, to vote for their two ‘duffering’ Radicel candidates? THERE WOULD NEVER, IF HE KNEW IT, BE ANY OVERTURES AGAIN.
“The confidence vote was carried with six dissentients.”—Coventry Sentinel, 25.12.09.
(The capitals and italics in the body of these articles are ours. —Ed. “S.S.”)