Correspondence, We oppose sweet reason to Gorle and Wormwood

[To the editor.]
Watford, May 14th, 1912.
Sir,-—I read with amusement the crude, ill-mannered observations under the above heading in your last issue. It would be hopeless to attempt to reason with the self-satisfied person who wrote them. I only write to give those of your readers who have a sense of justice and an ear for reason art opportunity of appreciating what your “activities” represent.
The statement that in Watford “every year as these elections come round a new organisation (sic) is brought into being ” is not true.
The statement that “the first thing done by the B.S.P. was to allow its secretary and another member to be run by an organisation that did not ask what political opinion any of the candidates held ” is silly deceit. The organisation in question is the Trades and Labour Council. The candidates were run jointly by it and the local branches of the B.S.P.
The statement that the above Council consists of “men of all other shades of political faith except Socialists” is a wilful and pitiful lie. The writer of the notes knows that many active Socialists are of it, and he knows also that their electoral contests are run on strictly class lines. Despite all his vituperative abuse he admits that the capitalists brought candidates out against us and “beat this mob who would drag the cause of the workers in the mire.” For cant and concentrated piffle the last phrase would be difficult to beat.
The staiement that “Socialism was never mentioned in their addresses, never put forward at one of their meetings,” is absurd. A more bare-faced calumny has surely never appeared even in your columns. Socialism was put forward at all the meetings and in the addresses of the avowed Socialist candidates, and though the fourth candidate did not call himself a Socialist, his address and his speeches were Socialist in tone and in effect.
Your Watford Pharisee goes on : “No, advocating Socialism is the work of Socialists and only those. That is why it was left for us to do. We did it, and in doing it exposed these freaks and popularity seekers, much to their discomfort.” Your correspondent is in error. Those of us who considered the “exposure” at all were sorry for its perpetration and nothing more.
We were opposed by the capitalists, as he himself points out, and yet he and his friends can find nothing better to do than to help the capitalists by telling lies about and throwing mud at us. That is how they “advocate” Socialism and actually, in so far as they have any influence, hinder Socialism.
Imagine the idiocy of thinking you are advocating Socialism by referring to these, whom the capitalist class recognise as Socialists and do all they can to keep off Councils, etc.; who are in touch with, and members of, the working-class organisations ; imagine, I say, the folly of describing such as a “mob,” “freaks,” and “popularity seekers.”
Having had a longer and more active experience of public life than any member of your Watford Branch, I can assure them that they are quite welcome to all the popularity any of my comrades or myself have got or are likely to get. Really, Sir, such utterances as those of your correspondent can only be paralleled by the drivel poured out by the Anti-Socialist Union lecturers. All of which drives me to one of two conclusions. These two conclusions are that you are either consciously or unconsciously working for the capitalist class.
It is beside the question to say that our methods are wrong, to call us a mob, freaks, and popularity seekers. We are in and of the trade unions against the employing class on the industrial plane. We are against the capitalist class on the electoral plane. We are for the abolition of the wage system and the establishment of Social-Democracy. If, then, you are against us you are for the capitalist class.
Consciously or unconsciously you are black-legging for the capitalists against Socialism.
Yours truly,


The above letter well illustrates Mr. Gorle’s anarchistic methods. Neither the B.S.P. nor any of the organisations concerned in the late election has authorised him to write it. He charges us with making false statements, and makes some complimentary remarks about us. The latter need not be dealt with.

As Mr. Gorle has not brought forward any evidence to rebut our statements we can only assume he is following the example of the lawyer who endorsed counsel’s brief: “No case: abuse opponent.” Lest Mr. Gorle should want to use the same retort to us re our use of the words “mob” and “freak,” we would refer him to the “Century Dictionary,” where he will find the word “mob” (Latin—for our critic’s benefit—mobile vulgus) definedd as “a promiscuous aggregation of people ; an incoherent crowd,” and “freak” as “a curious result of real or apparent vagary.” The multifarious bodies which support (or are run by) Mr. Gorle are very much of an incoherent crowd, as is manifested by a perusal of the various election leaflets they have issued from time to time ; and the results of their actions cannot fail to appear freakish to class-conscious workers.

Mr. Gorle says our statement that “every year as these elections come round a new organisation is brought into being” is not true. He gives no evidence, so we will.

Mr. Gorle became Councillor Gorle in April, 1905. Before that period there had been formed in Watford no fewer than seven organisations claiming to represent the workers independently of the avowed capitalist organisations. He was supported at his election by one of these organisations. In 1900 four candidates of the same brand were run and backed by five organisations (including one resurrected—the S.D.F.). At the general election for the same year the Socialist (?) and Labour Party was first and last heard of issued a manifesto, and then died. In 1907, owing to the apathy of the other organisations (which were supposed to be alive) the S.D.F. and two other organisations ran four candidates, but not on the same election address. In 1908 two candidates (including Mr. Gorle) were backed by the Trades and Labour Council, with the support of other organisations being claimed although those organisations were not named. In 1909 three candidates were run by five organisations, including another new one—the Watford Socialist (!) Society. In 1910 one candidate was run—a member of the S.D.P. (another new organisation previously known as the S.D.F., which apparently discarded its old name when changing the object of the party). In 1911 three candidates, all members of the same organisation, ran on different programmes. They were supported by three organisations, one the W.S.S., which had been resurrected for that purpose. (The secretary had stated that he had been trying to get a quorum for some while in order to wind up affairs.) During 1911 a branch of the S.D.P. was formed, according to its most prominent member, as a protest against the actions of the W.S.S. The Executive of the S.D.P. only sanctioned the formation of this branch subject to the consent of the W.S.S., whose secretary had been quorum hunting in order to put up the shutters. (See “S.D.P. News,” August, 1911.) In 1912 four candidates were run, two of the B.S.P. (another new organisation), one I.L.P., and one Labour, and they were all supported by the same organisations.

So we have had during the last twelve years eleven different organisations (manipulated in the main by Gorle and Co.), excluding various resurrections which would bring the number up to fourteen.

So much for our critic’s first charge of false statement.

The charge of “silly deceit” can be dealt with by giving a quotation from a leaflet sent out by the Trades and Labour Council and signed by their secretary. Speaking on religion and politics it states : “No declaration of their opinions on these subjects is asked of our nominees, whom we support because we are convinced of their suitability for the positions to which they seek election.” This quotation also disproves the statement that they fight elections “on class lines.”

With regard to the “Active Socialists” of the T. & L.C., we know them. Some of them have as much claim to be called Socialists as have Sir William Bull or Councillor F. H. Gorle ; others are neither active nor Socialists, or they would cease to be parties to such business as is shown in our report and this note.

As to Socialism being put forward in the addresses, the word is not mentioned on the B.S.P. man’s address, and no Socialist position is laid down. On the I.L.P. member’s address the word appears once —”I maintain that the ethics of Socialism are identical with those of Christianity.” No Socialist position is put forward whatever. With regard to the Labour candidate’s address, which Mr. Gorle describes as Socialist in tone and effect, we would point out that the avowed capitalist candidate ran on a similar list of so-called reforms ; therefore it would appear (according to Mr. Gorle) that the capitalist candidate’s address was Socialist in tone and effect. Our critic, in his remark, strange as it may seem, appears to agree “in tone and effect” with our statement that there is no difference from the worker’s point of view between the alleged Labour and the avowed capitalist candidates. (Were you not rather hasty, Mr. Gorle, when you penned that remark as to tone and effect ?) As to our opponent’s statement about bare-faced calumny, we would remind him that truth is not calumny although it may be libel.

Their methods were nothing but popularity seeking by vote-catching devices, and for the office of councillor. The one reference to Socialism (!) and Christianity quoted above speaks volumes.

We know it is considered blasphemous to speak disrespectfully of the god of the Christians, but the god of the Watford Labour Church and other similar local movements (Mr. Gorle) considers it ill-mannered for us to speak the truth about him.

If anyone still doubts the truth of our statements, let him apply to the secretary of the Watford Branch of the S.P.G.B. We have documents issued by Gorle & Co. to back up all our statements.

With reference to -Mr. Gorle’s final charge—that we aie blacklegging for the capitalists against Socialism, would he have the courage to make that charge against the S.P.G.B. in a public debate ?


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