Pseudo-Socialism at the Polls. A record of futile trickery

Pseudo-Socialism has been hopelessly routed at the polls. So much the better for Socialism. The pseudo-Socialist as a rule, comes into the field with a long


as one who has “fought and bled” for the cause. His presence in the political arena is a source of incalculable injury to the cause of working-class emancipation, for he is necessarily the propagandist of confusion, obscuring the issue, making travesty of the very principles upon the clear understanding of which alone can the proletariat move forward to their freedom, and leading the worker to say in disgust, “If this burlesque of inconsistency, contradiction and obvious fraud is Socialism,


In the recent election four such candidates were before the workers—Hyndman, Grayson, Shaw, and Irving—who discarded what they called the “treacherous and unsound Labour Party” in order to try their luck as avowed Socialist (!) candidates at Burnley, Kennington, Battersea and Rochdale respectively.

Mr. Hyndman had been the quasi-Socialist candidate for Burnley for a great many years, a period broken only by his withdrawal in the 1900 election because the Liberal nominee was opposed to the South African war. With this exception he has nursed the constituency since 1896, playing the political weather-cock game with the best of them. He turned with every breeze that blew, until one grew giddy with watching him. The


The S.D.P. policy at this election was to vote Tory. In their official organ, Justice, for Dec. 24th last, in a leading article entitled “The Socialist Vote,” appeared the following :

“In accordance with their instructions at the Easter Conference : ‘To organise and direct the vote of the Party in its best interests according to exigencies of time and place,’ the S.D P. Executive urged the Socialist electors to ‘turn your votes against the men in office.’ ”

Then the article goes on to show that the membership of the Party was so hopelessly confused on this “clear” issue that the result was really laughable. “At Ashton-under-Lynn,” the confusionist organ says, “Birkenhead, South Salford, Darwen, North Islington, West St. Pancras, Cardiff and Plymouth, the Tories wrested seats from the Liberals, and in these cases it is evident that the balancing power was the Social-Democratic vote and that the lead of the Executive was followed. … At East Bradford a few of our voters went Liberal, but they mostly abstained. At Northampton the Socialist vote of January went


. . . At Exeter for special local reasons, our comrades voted Liberal and the Tories lost the seat.”

A marvellous policy, to be sure, supporting capitalist Tweedledum in order to kill capitalist Tweedledee. In the same article these who ab¬
stained from voting are stamped hopeless Anarchists in the following terms :

“In such cases the Socialist voter counts himself out—he refuses to play any hand in the game-—he stands outside—quite unwittingly he adopts the role of the Anarchist. It is quite true and fitting that we should vehemently declare—’A plague on both your houses.’ Yet it is quite consistent with that spirit to kill them off one after the other. In fact it is hardly conceivable that they could be polished off simultaneously. . . . the Liberals are our worst enemies ; they adopt our colours, even our language, travesty our ideas, and hold the place which but for them,


At West Bromwich the S.D.P. branch paraded to the polling booth to show that they intended to abstain ! . . . There is no chance for us so long as the Liberal Party can hold the field.”

Events have proved that this attitude of confusion disgusted very many late supporters of the S.D.P. in Burnley and Rochdale. In the former division Hyndman lost 1,200 votes, and each of the other candidates increased his vote by over 500. It is not too much to hope that many of the others abstained from voting as a consequence of our enlightening propaganda in the division.

During the election campaign the Tories published and distributed broadcast, a Tariff Reform pamphlet written by one Ernest Marklew. Mr. Marklew is a prominent member of the Burnley S.D.P., and was Hyndman’s principal speaker. As for Mr. Marklew’s pamphlet, it was published by the “Enemies of the Red Flag,” 269, King Street, Hammersmith— a fact which may have helped Mr. Hyndman to drop many former supporters who, imagining him to stand


were surprised and disgusted at the company he keeps.

Hyndman baited his trap with “Abolition of the House of Lords” and “Reversal of the Osborne Judgment,”—which shows his striking originality. He linked Revolution and reform together, after the manner of his tribe, claiming on the one hand that “all the great means of creating and distributing wealth shall be owned and controlled by the people at large. Thus alone can ‘bad times’ be abolished and poverty be finally swept away,” and demanding on the other hand all the old nostrums, even down to Home Rule for Ireland, as “the most important stepping-stones towards complete social reorganisation.”

Alas ! “when the fight was over” he said farewell for ever to his Burnley worshippers in a speech in which tragedy and comedy were strangely intermingled. “When one considers,” he said, “the miserable education of the masses one must realise that they had still a long way to drive. You will have to add my name to those who did not realise


Poor old chap ! He had boasted so of the rising class-consciousness of the Burnley workers, and now they had given him a slump of 1,200, their appalling ignorance overwhelmed him, and he folded his traps and crept silently away.

The magnificent optimist with the hump !

Irving at Rochdale also ran on the hotch-potch programme of the S.D.P. As in the case of Hyndman, every twig was bird-limed, while the snarer piped his allurements with consummate art, only to prove the truth of the S.D.P.’s admission that pseudo-Sccialism cannot grapple with Liberalism. We are adding Irving’s name to those who will not realise that for which they strive.

Victor Grayson’s candidature was not only a pseudo-Socialist one, but also a bogus one. Hyndman and Irving at least were backed by an organisation, but even his own Party, the I.L.P., who paid his salary while he sat in Parliament,


Grayson’s candidature.

He opened hie campaign with the now “historical speech on the conversion of his comrade Lloyd George to Socialism. Speaking at the Wheatsheaf Hall, South Lambeth Read, on Nov. 26th he said : “When I read Mr. Lloyd George’s speech I cheered. I said to myself, ‘You’re a late convert, but you’ve arrived !’ I made that speech myself. The arrangement and illustrations used have been common-places of the Socialist platform for twenty years past.”

Grayson’s address appealed to everybody. To the workers because he wanted to go to Parliament “to speak for the dumb mass of poverty and helplessness which cannot speak for itself” ; to the Liberals because he believes in the fulfilment of the Radical promise of a free breakfast table and stands for the abolition of the House of Lords. To Conservatives he appealed on the grounds that “your order and liberties are protected by State


Next year the telephones are going to be taken over by the State. Your pavements, roads, drains, street lighting and sanitary service are maintained by your public authority. . . In Germany there is much more State Socialism than here. What you must demand is not less Socialism but more ; so Grayson is your choice.” The author of that passage should go to Tonypandy and tell the miners there that the police and soldiers are a bit of Socialism, and he would learn what they think.

It is very clear that Mr. Charles Shaw was only put forward by the S. D.P. at Battersea for the purpose of keeping John Burns out. The E.C. of that Party issued a manifesto asking the workers of Battersea to vote for Shaw. During the election of 1900 the E.C. of the S.D.P. sent one of their number, Mr. Jack Jones, to assist Burns because he was opposed to the South African War. Yet he was then, according to their own statements, as much a traitor as he is now.

In the course of his election campaign Mr. Shaw said, “Mr. Burns was once a Socialist, and now we regard him as a renegade, though I believe he is still intellectually a Socialist.”

If the fact that Burns is a renegade is a fit reason for the S.D.P. opposing him now, then it condemns them for supporting him in 1900, for they themselves declare that Burns became a renegade more than sixteen years ago.

Although Shaw brought forward all the fashionable reforms, he only succeeded in catching four hundred or so votes, while the filthy methods of the S.D.P. worked wonders for Burns. He trebled his majority and laughed at the S.D.P., and all world laughed with him.

The foregoing facts demonstrate sufficiently that the emancipation of the working class cannot be the work of individuals, of the like of Hyndman, Grayson and Shaw, but that it must be the work of the workers themselves, organised as a class, on a basis of class-consciousness, clean and free from political intriguing and compromise, winning on toward the Social Revolution, as their one aim on the political field.

H. J. N.

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