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The
executive committee brought in an amendment in the contrary sense to
that of the radical resolution, and this amendment was ably supported by
MacDonald. Hardie and Barnes, however, persuaded the Congress to vote
down both resolution and amendment on the ground that the "Independents"
in Parliament _ought to support the Liberal and Radical government,
except in certain crises_--as illustrations of which Barnes mentioned
the Labourites' opposition to armaments and their demand for the right
to work. Keir Hardie also declared that he was not satisfied with the
conduct of the Labour Party in Parliament; his motion condemning the
government's action in the Welsh coal strike, for example, had secured
only seventeen of their forty votes. He claimed that the influence of
the Liberals over the party was due, not to their social reform program,
but to their passing of the trade-union law permitting picketing after
the elections of 1906, and that he feared them more than he did the
Conservatives. However, he thought that this Liberal influence was now
on the decline, and said that if the Liberals attempted to strengthen
the House of Lords, as suggested in the preamble to their resolution,
abolishing its veto power, the Labour Party would be ready to vote
against the government.

The Labourites did, as a matter of fact, vote against this preamble, and
the government was saved only because Balfour and the Conservatives lent
it their support. It still remains to be seen if the Labourites will
detach themselves from the Liberals on a really crucial question, one on
which they know the Conservatives will remain in the opposition--in
other words, whether they will do the only thing that can possibly show
any real independence or make them a factor of first importance in the
nation's politics, that is, overturn a government. Doubtless this day
will come, but it does not seem to be at hand.

This discussion was much intensified by the decision of the executive of
the Labour Party (in order to retain the legal right to use trade-union
funds for political purposes) to relieve Labour members of Parliament of
their pledge to follow a common policy. This decision again was opposed
by the majority of the "Independent" section including Hardie and
Barnes, but favored by a minority, led by MacDonald. With the aid of the
non-Socialistic element, however, it was carried by a large majority at
the Labour Party's conference in 1911. Thus while one element is growing
more radical another is growing more conservative and the breach between
the Independents and the other Labourites is widening.

Perhaps the closest and most active associate of Mr. MacDonald at nearly
every point has been Mr. Philip Snowden. Even Mr. Snowden finally
declared that a recent action of the Labour Party, when all but half a
dozen of its members voted with the Liberals, against what Mr. Snowden
states to have been the instructions of the Party conference, "finally
completes their identity with official Liberalism." Mr. Snowden asserted
that if the "Independents" would stand this they would stand anything,
that the time had come to choose between principle and party, and that
he was not ready to sacrifice the former for the latter.

Shortly after this incident, which Mr. MacDonald attributed to a
misunderstanding, came the great railway strike and its settlement, in
which he and Mr. Lloyd George were the leading factors. Received with
enthusiasm by the Liberal press, this settlement was bitterly denounced
by the _Labour Leader_, the official organ of the "Independents." Mr.
MacDonald on the other hand expressed in the House of Commons deep
satisfaction with the final attitude of the government and predicted
that if it was maintained no such trouble need arise again in a
generation. No statement could have been more foreign to the existing
feeling among the workers, a part of whom it will be remembered failed
to return to work for several days after the settlement. The
"Independents" as the political representatives of the more radical of
the unionists, naturally embody this discontent, while the Labour Party,
being partly responsible for the settlement, becomes more than ever the
semi-official labor representative of the government--a divergence that
can scarcely fail to lead to an open breach.

It was as a result of all of these critical situations, especially the
great railway strike and its sequels, that an effort has been made to
form a "British Socialist Party" to embrace all Socialist factions, and
to free them from dependence on the Labour Party. It has succeeded in
uniting all, except the Independent Labour Party and the Fabian Society,
and includes even a number of local branches (though only a small
minority of the total number) of the former organization. This Party has
issued an outright revolutionary declaration of principles. Mr. Quelch,
editor of the Social Democratic organ, _Justice_, had proposed the
following declaration of principles, which was far in advance of the
present position of the Independent Labour Party, if somewhat ambiguous
in the clause printed in italics:--


"The Socialist Party is the political expression of the
working-class movement, acting in the closest co÷peration with
industrial organizations for the socialization of the means of
production and distribution--that is to say, the transformation of
capitalist society into a collective or communist society. Alike in
its object, its ideals, and in the means employed, the Socialist
party, _though striving for the realization of immediate social
reforms demanded by the working class_, is not a reformist but a
revolutionary party, which recognizes that social freedom and
equality can only be won by fighting the class war through to the
finish, and thus abolishing forever all class distinctions."[143]


The phrase in italics was opposed by several of the revolutionary
representatives of Independent Labour Party branches who were present as
delegates and others, and by a narrow vote was expunged. The declaration
as it now stands is as radical as that of any Socialist Party in the
world. The new organization is already making some inroads among the
membership of the Independent Labour Party and there seems to be a
chance that it will succeed before many years in its attempt to free
that organization and British Socialism generally from their dependence
on the Labour and Liberal Parties.

Perhaps the contrast between "Labour" Party and Socialist Party methods
and aims comes out even more clearly in Australasia than in Great
Britain. A typical view of the New Zealand reforms as being steps
towards Socialism is given by Thomas Walsh, of the Auckland _Voice of
Labour_ (see _New York Call_, September 10, 1911).

After giving a list of things "already accomplished," including a
mention of universal suffrage, state operation of the post office,
prohibition of child labor, "free and compulsory secular education up to
the age of fourteen years," and "State-assisted public
hospitals"--besides the other more distinctively capitalist collectivist
reforms, such as government railways, mines, telegraphs, telephones,
parcel post, life and fire insurance, banks and old-age pensions and
municipal ownership, Mr. Walsh concludes:--


"These are some of the things already done: there is a long list
more. The revolutionary seize and hold group may label them
palliatives, may howl down as red herrings across the scent, may
declare that they obscure main issues, but I want to know which of
the reforms they want to see abolished, which of them are useless,
which of them are not necessary? _Contrary to the fond delusion of
the revolutionary group, the defenders of the present system don't
and won't hand out anything; everything obtained is wrenched from
them_; and in the political arena, armed with the ballot box and
the knowledge of its use, there is nothing that labor cannot
obtain.

"Have the reforms secured blurred the main issue, have we lost
sight of the goal? The objective of the New Zealand Labour Party
to-day is the 'securing to all of the full value of their labour
power by the gradual public ownership of all the means of
production, distribution, and exchange.' Contrary to your critic's
opinion, what has already been done has but whetted the appetite
for more, and to-day New Zealand labour is marshaling its forces
for further assaults on the fortress of the privileged.

"_Every reform we have secured has been a step toward the goal_;
every step taken means one step less to take. The progressive
legislation has not sidetracked the movement--it has cleared the
road for further advancement.

"In New Zealand the enumerated reforms are law--_made law in
defiance of the wealth-owning class_. At the moment labour does
not possess the power to administer the laws, but far from that
being an argument to abandon the law, it has convinced New Zealand
labor that the administrative control must be got possession of,
and through the ballot box New Zealand labour will march to get
that control. _Given control of the national and local government,
the food supplies can be nationalized and more competitive
State-owned industries established. And by labour administration of
the arbitration court the prices and wages can be so adjusted that
the worker can buy out of the market all that his labor put into
it._

"To the brothers in America I say, Go on. Don't waste time arguing
about economic dogma. Get a unified labor movement and _throw the
whole industrial force into the political arena_. Anything less
than the whole force means delay. The whole force means victory. We
have progressed. We have experimented. We have proved. Yours it is
but to imitate--and improve."


I have put in italics the most important of Mr. Walsh's conclusions that
are contradicted by the evidence I have given in this chapter and
elsewhere in the present volume.



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Keywords: hardie, declaration, parliament, between, italics, resolution, control, against, secured, conservatives
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