1920s >> 1923 >> no-222-february-1923

The Evolution of W. Gallacher

Once upon a time the Communists were furious in denunciation of the treachery and reformism of the Labour Party and the I.L.P. No abuse was too violent, and they translated their hostility into deeds by opposing J. R. MacDonald when he fought the Woolwich Bye-election as a Labour Party nominee in 1921.

W. Gallacher wrote in the “Workers’ Dreadnought” (Feb., 1920), for the Scottish Workers’ Committee, as follows: –

    “This Committee is definitely anti-Parliamentarian . . . We represent the revolutionary movement in Scotland . . . For a considerable time we have been sparring with the official Parliamentarians . . . But this state of affairs cannot continue long. We are winning all along the line. The rank and file of the I.L.P. in Scotland is becoming more and more disgusted with the idea of Parliament, and the Soviets or Workers’ Councils are being supported by almost every branch. This is very serious, of course, for the gentlemen who took to politics for a profession, and they are using any and every means to persuade their members to come back into the Parliamentary fold. Revolutionary comrades must not give any support to this gang. Our fight here is going to be a most difficult one. One of the worst features of it will be the treachery of those whose personal ambition is a more compelling force than their regard for the revolution. . . . The official I.L.P. is bitterly opposed to the Third International, the rank and file is for it. Any support of the Parliamentary opportunists is simply playing into the hands of the former.”

Later the C.P.G.B. wanted to get into the Labour Party and they began to drop their aggressive tone. Their application was refused, but they persevered with a demand for the “united front.” They decided that it was necessary and desirable that the Labour Party should gain a Parliamentary majority as soon as possible. Any person with the least knowledge of the political situation would have realised at once that the greatest service the Communists could do the Labour Party was to declare open war upon it. This would have enabled the Labour Party to repudiate entirely the untrue but damaging charge of coquetting with Socialism and Revolution. As it was, the Communists insisted on supporting Labour men and must have lost them thousands of votes. W. Gallacher (the same W. Gallacher) ran as Communist Parliamentary candidate at Dundee. It was a double-membered  constituency, and the only official Labour man was E. D. Morel, an ex-Liberal strongly critical of the Government’s foreign policy, and equally strongly anti-Socialist. Although Morel hotly repudiated Gallacher, Gallacher advised all his supporters to vote for Morel. Morel writes on this in the “Labour Magazine” (Dec., 1922): –

    “Another factor in his (Scrymgeour’s) favour was the appearance of Mr. Gallacher, the Communist, who never had the ghost of a chance, but who insisted on every occasion in trying to couple himself up with me, despite my emphatic declaration (and the local Labour Party’s official disclaimer) that I was unalterably opposed to Communism. For his own purposes, Mr. Churchill also used the same tactics from the beginning. The result was, that Mr. Gallacher played into Mr. Churchill’s hands; that many working women electors, who have no use for Communism, were alarmed, when they got to the booths, to find Mr. Gallacher’s representatives coupling my name with his, and “plumped” for Scrymgeour instead of voting  Scrymgeour-Morel; and that lost a number of “silent” voters who, but for the Gallacher-Churchill tactic, would probably have voted for me.”

In spite, however, of the unwelcome Communist “support,” Morel got in.

Then only three weeks after he had been telling Dundee workers to vote for Morel, Gallacher expresses the opinion that “It is expected on all sides that there will be a split sooner or later, and that the Morel-Wedgewood crowd would go back to Liberalism” (“The Worker,” 9th Dec., 1922). Not only that, but while himself a member of the Party (C.P.G.B.) which has defended its support of reactionary Labourites by the gag about the necessity for “unity,” he adds: –

    “This is a sort of ‘hangman’s whip’ that will be held over the heads of the Glasgow team (I.L.P men, by the way!). ‘Don’t split the Party’ will be the rallying cry of the moderates, and it will be used to the fullest to keep the others in check.”

It is always difficult to understand why some alleged revolutionaries will go to an infinite amount of trouble to avoid recognising an unpalatable truth. Although they cannot wait to  propagate Socialism, they are prepared to go on for ever, alternately denouncing known enemies of the working class and supporting them for “tactical” reasons. They will discard every principle and make themselves personally ridiculous and contemptible by perpetual shuffling, all in order to gain something by manoeuvre which they cannot gain in open fight. They never do get anything worth having, and the working class have to pay the price of failure in the despair of the disappointed followers of these blind leaders. The cause of this lies simply in their refusal to recognise the fact that Socialism cannot be won without Socialists. They shelter behind the excuse that the workers are too ignorant and foolish ever to understand their own interests, but, as Voltaire very shrewdly remarked, “He who dreams that he can lead a great crowd of fools without a great store of knavery is a fool himself.”

Edgar Hardcastle

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