There are quite a number of worthy folk who are under the impression that the passing of a resolution and its due entry in a minute book are acts at which despots tremble and cities crumble. They, apparently, have yet to learn that without something in the nature of a big and weighty bludgeon behind, the passing of grandioise resolutions has about the same effect on the body politic as the explosion of an airball has on the firmament. With this preamble we will have a cursory (in every sense) look at the Newport Conference.

“Peace must be our watchword,” was the Labour Party’s reply to the German S.D.P’s. greeting. An unkind friend suggested that the first word should be “pieces,” but there, printers are but human and it is certainly printed, “peace.” My cynical intimate insisted that his view was supported by the undoubted fact that the only activity the Labour Party had displayed was when its salaries were threatened. He cited the Taff Vale decision, which practically brought the Labour Party into existence, and the recent Osborne case, which has again raised a howl in Labour politics. He also commented that before anything else was done at Newport, the question of salaries was given most careful consideration—in camera, of course.

However, to get on with it, how is this for a tit-bit? “There is a tendency which I observe with apprehension, to rely a great deal on the services of paid help in the constituencies.” Thus Keir Hardie. Nowhere, we have been assured, is there such enthusiasm among the rank and file, such whole-hearted devotion to duty, such zeal and all the rest of it, as exists in the I.L.P. Perhaps the above is the explanation. Enthusiasm, at trade union rates, has attractions for a certain type. Zeal, as a commodity, we have long suspected. All the delegates of coarse said “here, here,” and—will keep on doing it.

Another one. “We have maintained our independence unsullied,” he said. “We have produced our own measures; we have made no bargains, arrangements or agreements, either in the House of Commons or out of it, with any party.” With which facts we were conversant. Arrangement with the Liberal party was not necessary : one does not make bargains or come to agreements with oneself. The Vehemence with which agreements have been denied—here and there only—during the recent election, is only paralleled by the clarity with which they glaringly confront the ordinary observer. Snowden and Barclay, each scratching the other’s back on the same platform is one instance. In another column are a number of others.

I am afraid mere denial is not good enough : the facts are too patent.

“The same influence which procured old age pensions, the provision of meals for school children, the Miners’ Eight Hours Bill, and last but not least, the land clauses in the Budget, will, to put it mildly, be no less potent in this Parliament than it was in the last. The day may come when some new change of policy will be dictated by new circumstances, but for my own part I see nothing in the circumstance of the new Parliament which would justify us in budging in the slightest degree from the position that has made the party what it is.”

That, of course, is Queer Hardie again. The foregoing and the recital of some lines from the “Marseillaise” literally brought the house down. So the line of inaction which has been so successful in the past is to be continued until—until the workers get tired of paying them £200 per year and the rest. They are not going to budge in the “slightest degree” from the position that has made them what they are. And what are they ? To reply “God knows” would be untrue, because even Omnipotence must have occasional doubts. For all ordinary purposes they are an integral part of the Liberal party. They are as far removed from Socialism as Halley’s comet. Proof ? Some humorist at the Newport Conference proposed that candidates of the Labour Party be allowed to designate themselves Socialists. The Daily News (Feb. 11th) reports : “The conference refused to get warm about it, and after a few weighty words from Mr. Clynes, expressed satisfaction with the status quo in an overwhelming vote—1,492 to 44.”

Reader, scratch those figures in your notebook. Rub them into every meeting of the “Labour” crowd you run against. The next time that friend of yours speaks of the Labour Party as in any way remotely connected with Socialism produce your figures. Better still, present him with a copy of this number of the SOCIALIST STANDARD and show him the evidence adduced on another page.

The conference consisted of the usual wearisome repetition of previous years’ resolutions, and laid down the inspiring rule for future action : “Keep on doing as we have done” until someone gets tired. Workers, we hope you are tired of paying £200 per annum for the provision of soft jobs for so-called labour-leaders,. who spend what time is not occupied in touring the world, in passing windy resolutions which mean nothing, and in safe-guarding their salaries.


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