Confusionist victory in Watford

Among the “Socialist” victories which the pseudo-Socialist Press has been rejoicing over lately perhaps the Municipal successes at Watford deserve notice, by reason of the new and original vote-catching dodge which resulted in the return of the three “Socialist” and Labour candidates.

The noble cause of propagating working-class confusion is represented in Watford by the Labour Church, the Socialist Society, and the Trades and Labour Council. Two of these bodies have been represented on the Urban District Council for the last six years by a Mr. Gorle (S.D.P. official), who for some time previous to the March elections was engaged in advertising the momentous issues on which they were fought, cleverly provoking opposition from the short-sighted tradesmen, and stirring up working-class sentiment. Thus his bitterly opposed proposal that every house in the town be provided with a sanitary bin by the landlord had about six weeks to “soak in.”

In addition to this revolutionary demand the usual “progressive” program was exploited, with “more sympathetic attitude towards the unemployed ” and “greater consideration for allotment holders” thrown in. Incidentally Messrs. Julian and Gorle expressed themselves as more or less in favour of the overthrow of capitalism. Mr. Julian, who stood for the solidly working class quarter, Callow Land, laid down the proposition in a tone that almost gave the impression that he meant it, while from Gorle’s more cautious address it was clear that “it’s no good being in too much of a hurry.”

Mr. Mansfield stood for King’s Ward—chiefly inhabited by highly respectable clerks—and his program was framed accordingly. He declined to have anything to do with the vote repelling word “Socialism,” and at a meeting at the Victoria Schools on April 22, declared that municipal matters should be dealt with from the standpoint of “pure citizenship.” At this meeting he said that it proved he was not the revolutionary firebrand his opponent represented him to be, that the “extreme” Socialists of Watford (ourselves) were violently opposing him. He also spoke of his twenty years in the Volunteers and Territorials, and of his equally long experience in a railway accountancy office—the latter, doubtless, to assure the rate-payers that they would get their money’s worth in “directing ability.” The candidate showed his ignorance of the very rudiments of Socialism by claiming that the working class pay the taxes.

It was, of course, left to us to strip away the humbug of “citizenship” and “public spirit,” and point out to the workers their economic position and its bearing upon, the elections. How every reform on the programs of the Labour candidates was but another prop to a decaying system ; how poverty and misery were but the effects of the social system, and could not be removed without touching the cause, and finally, how, to overthrow capitalism the workers must capture all political power, national and local.

A manifesto in which the above principles were simply laid down was widely distributed in all three wards, and received unctuous and extensive mention in the local capitalist Press. Doubtless time will show that the branch gained a good advertisement therefrom.

The workers of Watford are waking up, and although the confusionists have tricked them again, the very demonstration of the futility of the reformists’ endeavours which this “victory” will afford them is but another of the hard lessons of experience which must inevitably drive them to the Socialist Party’s position.


Leave a Reply