Labouralism at the Polls. Another Victory for Confusion

After the General Election of 1906 we were able to expose the Labour Party’s lying pretence of “independence” (SOCIALIST STANDARD, March 1906), its pretended acceptance and practice of the quite insufficient, if indispensable, principal, that the workers political party


ally itself or compromise with any of the parties of Capital.

Now after the General Election of 1910, we have again a like duty to perform—namely, to show some of our deluded fellow workers that the so-called Labour Party is not even what it pretends to be, little as is that same threadbare “independence,” but is, on the contrary, nothing less than A DELIBERATE FRAUD UPON THE WORKING CLASS.

Some twelve years ago, Hardie, MacDonald, Snowden & Co., having long decided that the teaching of Socialism brought more kicks than ha’pence, found in the battered and largely discredited condition of the Trade Unions their opportunity. Trade Union officials were then only too glad to forward a scheme that promised to strengthen their position and increase their incomes. Hence the much trumpheted Labour Party, known at first as the Labour Representation Committee.

Soon came success with the election of D. J. Shackleton and Will Crooks, both unopposed by the Liberals ; the latter, indeed, having some of his supporters carried to the poll in the motor cars of admiring if cynical peers—the qualms of a few wavering I.L.Peers being quietened by the adoption of the Revised Constitution of the Labour Representation Committee. By this Labour representatives were to “undertake to form or join a distinct group in Parliament, with its own whips and its own policy on Labour questions, to


from identifying themselves with or promoting the interests of any section of the Liberal or Conservative parties.” (Italics ours.) Upon the strength of this declaration (still in force) thousands of working folk have mistakenly given the Labour Party their enthusiastic and optimistic support—likewise their contributions. With what result ? Betrayal! The requickening of the Liberal party and the great prosperity of the redundant “Labour leaders.”

The recent General Election provides evidence in abundance supporting our condemnation—evidence also, however, that the Labour Party’s position is far from secure, and that with the declining popularity of Liberalism down will go its understudy, Labourism.

Both lost heavily; the Labour Party being reduced to 40, including the newly joined miners. Arthur Peters, J.P., National Agent of theLabour Party, makes the situation pretty plain in the Labour Leader (4.2.10). Says he : “The writer agrees heartily with the views expressed by Mr. Philip Snowden, M.P., when he recently pointed out that the questions of the Lords’ veto and the Budget were almost identical with those of the Liberal party ; or, to put the point in another way, it was rather too much to expect ‘the ordinary man in the street’ to pick out the distinction.” And so the electors naturally meted out much the same treatment to one as to the other.

Keir Hardie, cynically contemptuous of the intelligence of his followers, denies with moral fervour (both before and after the election) that the almost universally perceived alliance between the two parties exists. Hardie, of course, must try to keep up appearances, but he protests too much. That the parties to this deal should show us all the cards is hardly to be expected. But this much is clear: that in the present state of mind of the Labour movement, no formal inter-party negociations or swearing “on the book” could have gained more seats, pelf or place. Quite the contrary : the complete and much bemoaned failure of the 25 three-corner contests indeed serve, with some, to save the face of the Labour Party—while Mr. Peters is able to console himself with the reassuring reflection that they only damaged


to the extent of letting in 4 Tories.

The game was apparent, when (see SOCIALIST STANDARD for Jan), as the election approached, candidate after candidate was withdrawn and mutual concessions made ; when labourites and ministers toured the country making almost identical speeches—pro-Budget and anti-Lords ; when the Liberal Press could hail the Labour aspirants as its friends and usually its proteges. It is worth noting that of the total of 78 constituencies contested by the Labour Party, 40 were not even contested by the Liberals, “Labour” being left a clear field. These provided 30 out of the 40 Labourite wins.

The practically equal number of votes (the Liberals being nearly always at the top of the poll) cast in the 10 double-member constituencies successfully and jointly contested by the Laboural party, indicates unmistakably the state of mind of the electors, and the political identity of the ostensibly separate and independent candidatures in question. Only one candidate of each organisation, of course, was put up.

Here are a few examples :

Constituency Labour-man Liberal
Leicester MacDonald 14,337 14,643
Blackurn Snowden 11,896 12,065
Derby Thomas 10,139 10,343
Stockport Wardle 6,682 6,645

The local papers show that the number of “plumpers” was, as a rule, very small.

Obviously the “Progressive” electors have done as they were directly or insidiously instructed by the candidates and their agents. That is, given one vote to the Liberal and “one to Labour”—parties that Keir Hardie hypocritically pretends are opposed to one another.

The case of Blackburn, where Philip Snowden was the “Labour” candidate and Sir Thomas Barclay the Liberal, may serve to show the means whereby this very gratifying result was obtained. On Jan. 4th Mr. Snowden and Sir Thomas Barclay addressed a great anti-Lords demonstration, two halls being used simultaneously, the speakers crossing over from one to the other—a joint demonstration—a straight-forward


Fervent friends of the workingman were supporting the candidates, in the persons of the Rev. Fred. Hibberd (Free Church Council), Mr. S. Bamber (S.D.P.), Cllr. M. Philips (Irish Nationalist League), W. Wooley, Esq., J.P. (Band of Hope Union) and other worthy red-herring trailers. The chairman of the Town Hall meetin—Mr. G. Bond, president of the Trades Council—”appealed to the electors of Blackburn to send two Progressives to Parliament.” The Rev. F. Hibberd was glad to see a united meeting of “all the Progressive forces” and recommended the electors to send their “two Progressives” to Westminster, reminding them that they had two votes (see Northern Daily Telegraph, 5.1.10).

On another occasion “Mr. Snowden urged as he had already done on previous occasions, a united Progressive vote,” etc.

Mrs. Snowden also addressed the meeting and appealed for votes for “this very near relative of mine and Sir Thomas Barclay.”

“Do you agree with Mrs. Snowden that the second vote should be given to Sir Thomas Barclay ?” Snowden was asked. He replied in the affirmative. (Blackburn Weekly Telegraph, 8.1.10.)

“There were 11,239 ‘splits’ between myself and the Liberal. The Labour Representation Committee issued appeals to the electors to


as well as myself. This course was generally followed.”—Snowden in Labour Leader, 21.1.10 (italics are ours).

“It would have been an intense disappointment to him (Snowden) if he had to go to the House of Commons with either of the two Tory candidates.” And then the capper : “Mr. Snowden is my fellow member, and I can say, as Alderman Hamer said, that Mr Snowden and his followers have worked for us most loyally—as loyally as we have worked for them.”Northern Daily Telegraph, 18.1.10 (italics ours).

Mr. Snowden’s protest “that there is no alliance” is reduced to a whisper.

Much the same occurred in the other two-member constituencies. Of Leicester we learn that “Mr. MacDonald has lost no opportunity of advising his supporters to cast both their votes for the Budget and against the Lords, observing that he cannot be indifferent to whether his colleague is or is not sound on these points.”—Daily News, 15.1.10. In other words, as in 1906, he “loyally”—this seems to be the fashionable-expression—told the electors to give their second vote to


At Dundee domestic felicity was as judiciously maintained.

“‘Support the two sitting members’ Mr. Churchill’s bills say upon the walls. Mr. Wilkie is not free to reciprocate as perhaps he would like, but he advised his friends to give their second vote against the House of Lords, by which form of words he does Mr. Churchill a good turn and his loyalty to the law of the Labour Party moults no feather.”—Manchester Guardian, 18.1.10

At Mid-Derby Mr. Hancock had the kind help of his fellow Liberal, Mr. Lloyd George, who said : “Well, I am on a Liberal platform tonight, I think, supporting a Labour candidate. They have supported me steadily throughout on the Budget. I had no better supporters, and I am proud to be on the platform with them to-night (cheers).” — Manchester Guardian, 25.1.10. The following from the same journal dated 28th Jan. depicts well the position of the miners’ candidates, and in essence that of all the successful Labourites.

“Before the Labour Party took its final shape, Mr. Hancock was, like most of his colleagues in the service of the miners, a Liberal. It is now agreed that the miners’ representatives shall act in Parliament with the Labour Party, and a difficulty might have arisen in Mid-Darby but for Mr. Hancock’s entire acceptability to both wings of the Progressive party. The Liberals are working heartily with the Labour party to secure his return, and for that purpose


has been formed.”

One could fill this issue of the SOCIALIST STANDARD with instances proving the essential unity of the Liberals and the alleged Labour Party. Deptford and Woolwich are but instances of the frequent “acceptability” of the Labour man to the local Liberal Associations.

Some of the reasons put forward by successful candidates are full of meaning. We have given above some of the post-election statements of Mr. Snowden. J. Pointer, M.P., says (Labour Leader, 21.1.10.): “The Liberal party, after deciding not to nominate a candidate against me, followed up with a manifesto and declaration that since, on three very important points—the Budget, the Lords, and Tariff Reform—they and we were in agreement, it would serve the general interest best, if they supported me by work and vote. This they did loyally.”

A. E. Gill, M.P. says (ibid) : “I won Bolton by keeping the House of Lords and the land taxes to the front.” Ramsay MacDonald says in the I.L.P. organ of Jan. 28th : “The issues were mainly the Budget and the House of Lords, but unemployment was not forgotten. Both Liberal and Labour electors used their second votes, and so Leicester was kept.” D. J. Shackleton, M.P. said : “The Clitheroe victory was won on the three questions of the House of Lords, the Budget, and Free Trade. . . We had also the active support of many leading Liberals, and it may be said that the Progressives all pulled together.”

Will Thorne, M.P. says : The local


by passing a unanimous resolution of support, and . . Free Church members spoke and worked enthusiastically with other friends in support of my candidature.” W. T. Wilson, M.P. says ; “Our victory in Westhoughton was won by the forces of organised Labour and Progression uniting with the object of resisting the attack of the Lords upon the rights and liberties of the People.”

H. Twist, M.P. says : “After forty years of unbroken possession by the Conservative party, Wigan fell before the attack of a combination of Progressive forces such as the town has not witnessed in the whole of its political history.” And so on ad nauseum.

That the general Labourite propaganda in favour of the Liberals was well appreciated by these is further evidenced by the action of Percy Alden, M.P. for Tottenham, who issued a leaflet quoting the “pronouncements of the Labour Leaders” Snowden, Barnes, Hardie, and Bruce Glasier, and circulated this in support of his candidature. Indeed, the results of the election, generally, point to the conclusion that the humbugging trading upon the issues raised by the Liberals has, both with the Labour Party and the Social Democratic Party, resulted in the greatest advantage to the Liberals. They have with but few exceptions been elected at the top of the poll wherever these two organisations have done a great deal of propaganda—allowing, of course, for the thirty cases where the Labour men, so “acceptable,” were presented with the seat. And all this, we are assured, is


We draw attention to the following as showing that at heart the Labour leaders know that the issues raised at the election are nothing but humbug from the standpoint of working class interests. The well-known I.L.Peer, Mr. Leonard Hall, “criticising the Budget at the Grand Theatre, Manchester, last night, denied it was Socialism; it was merely ‘a stage-managed response of Liberal quackery to the Tory bounce of Tariff Reform. … a cheap window-dressing erploit, a frost and a fraud.'”—Manchester Guardian, 3.11.09. Mr. Keir Hardie is stated to have said at Dowlais (Justice, 19.2.10) “The Budget will become law in a few weeks from now, but there won’t be a man or woman amongst you one penny the better for it.” On the anti-Lords out-cry the I.L.P. organ (5.6.07) said in a leading article : “The whole question of the Lords may be summed up into this—that those who approve of Capitalism and Landlordism are for the maintenance of the ‘Lord’s’ veto . . and those who are against Capitalism and Landlordism care little whether their enemies are elected or non-elected, or whether they be Peers or Commoners.”

Then the strenuous partiality of the Labour crew for the Liberals, and their enmity towards the Peers is confessedly the outward and visible sign that they are not to be numbered with those “who are against Capitalism and Landlordism.” Yet how have we been reviled for putting them


Space will not permit us to give further instances of the shameless way in which these mumpers on the labour movement have allied themselves with the Liberal party, in spite of that constitution which they have signed which expressly forbids any such alliance. We have material enough for a number of such articles as these, and it is possible that we may find space in a future issue for something other than a mere recital of nauseating acts of treachery that must be as wearying and disgusting to our readers as to ourselves. While we do not doubt that the intelligence of our readers is sufficient to enable them to digest the evidence herein given, and to make up their minds on the essential point of whether the Labour Party have or have not allied themselves with the Liberal party, lack of space alone has prevented us assisting with fuller comment, and this we hope to have the opportunity to offer upon early occasion.


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