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J. Keir Hardie
Chapter 6. A General Election—America—Industrial Strife


THE Liberal Government, however, though saved for the time being, was, through sheer incapacity to retain the confidence of any substantial section of public opinion, drifting to its doom, and when, at Easter, 1895, the Annual Conference of the I.L.P. met in Newcastle, its deliberations were influenced to some extent by the knowledge that a General Election was near at hand and that the Party might in the course of a few weeks have to make its first trial of strength at the ballot box.

The chief subject of discussion at the Conference was, therefore, on questions of election tactics and policy, but the decisions arrived at involved something more than a question of merely tentative electioneering expediency. They determined the future character and method of the I.L.P. as a political party working for Socialism.

First of all there was the proposal to change the name to that of “National Socialist Party,” a proposal which, if it had been adopted when proposed by George Carson at the first Conference, would doubtless have remained permanently. Whether it would have excluded any undesirable moderate elements from the Party can now only be conjectured, but after two years, in which, under the name of I.L.P., the Party had established itself and had become familiar to the British public, without in any way compromising its Socialist aim, it was felt by the great majority that a change was unnecessary. The Newcastle Conference therefore confirmed the title under which, through good report and evil, British Socialism has sought to utilise the political power of British democracy. Hardie was not strongly partial either way, and would have continued to serve under any Party name which embodied the Socialist objective.

Not so, however, with regard to the other and more vital proposal to introduce into the Constitution a rigid pledge binding all I.L.P. members “to support and vote only for I.L.P. and S.D.F. candidates at any election.” This was what was known as the “Fourth Clause,” and round it was waged in the press, on the platform and in branch meetings, many a wordy conflict. It was mainly because of the rejection of this clause that Robert Blatchford left the I.L.P. Under this proposal the large majority of I.L.P. adherents would have exercised no vote at all at the oncoming General Election. Some twenty-one candidates had alreadv been chosen, and others were in course of selection, but in upwards of six hundred constituencies, even where their votes might have had a decisive effect as between Liberal and Tory, Socialists under this pledge would be condemned to inaction. Contingent upon this proposal was the other discussion as to whether, in constituencies where there was no Socialist candidate, the vote should be given always against the sitting Member, either Liberal or Tory, the object being to demonstrate the power of the I.L.P. This, of course, was an impossible policy if the abstinence pledge was enforced. Hardie was opposed to the rigidity which such a pledge implied for other reasons. He had an intimate knowledge of the Trade Union and Co-operative movements, and he knew well that even I.L.P. sympathisers within these movements could not be expected, where possible gain to Trade Unionism or Co-operation was obtainable, to exercise such a self-denying political ordinance. To issue a mandate which would not be obeyed would be interpreted as evidence of weakness rather than of strength, and in his presidential address, without any direct reference to the Conference agenda, he appealed to the members to do nothing to alienate the Trade Union, Co-operative and Temperance movements. On the other hand, in support of the clause it was urged by Leonard Hall and others, that “what was wanted was a fixed, definite and permanent policy having regard, not to the present only, but to the ultimate triumph for which they were working in the future.” This, of course, was the very object which it was maintained could best be secured by the less rigid proposal put forward by the National Council. This asked from members the following declaration : “I hereby declare myself a Socialist, pledge myself to sever my connection with any other political party, and to vote in the case of local elections as my branch of the I.L.P. may determine, and, in the case of the Parliamentary elections, as the Conference specially convened for that purpose may decide.” This was adopted and is still the election policy of the I.L.P. Yet, curiously enough, at the very first election the Special Party Conference recommended the “Fourth Clause” line of action and inaction.

The opportunity came in July. The Liberal Government was defeated on the question of an insufficient supply of explosive material for the Army—evidently a more serious default than an insufficiency of food or work for the unemployed. The I.L.P. went into the contest with a manifesto to the electors of Great Britain and Ireland, the following extract from which shows the electoral policy advised, but certainly not adopted, by Socialist voters :—

“The I.L.P. has for its object not merely the return of working men to Parliament, but the entire reorganisation of our system of wealth production on the basis of an industrial Commonwealth. To accomplish this we aim at breaking down the system of party government which is responsible for dividing the great .mass of the people into separate camps, so evenly balanced that the one neutralises the other, and thus reduces the franchise to a mockery. So long as we continue to vote for Liberals and Conservatives, the mockery of government, of which we have seen so much, will continue.

“In twenty-nine constituencies I.L.P. candidates will go to the poll, and the Party has decided at a special conference of delegates from all parts of the country that in all other constituencies the members shall ABSTAIN FROM VOTING. For this election we consider this the most effective method of achieving our object.”

The result showed that the workers in most constituencies where there were no Labour candidates did not act upon this advice. They exercised the franchise and voted against the Liberal Party, which, through a long period of deep distress, had proved itself callous to the claims of the unemployed. The Liberal Party was badly routed. Some of its leading men, such as Mr. John Morley and Sir William Vernon Harcourt, were cast out, chiefly through the intervention of I.L.P. candidates; but in the main the verdict against liberalism was an expression of discontent with the Party rather than of revolt against the system which the Party represented. The Socialist propaganda had not yet penetrated deeply enough, and especially, it had not been able to make the Irish population in the constituencies subordinate their Nationalist aspirations to their economic needs. It was the Irish vote in this election which saved the Liberal Party from utter ruin. And it was the Irish vote that defeated Keir Hardie in West Ham and returned a Tory who had not the faintest sympathy with Home Rule, the official Liberals, by countenancing such tactics, making it clear that to them Keir Hardie was a more dangerous adversary than any Tory. A very high compliment indeed, and one that confirmed the I.L.P. contention that there was no fundamental difference between Liberalism and Conservatism.

The Socialists, though not one of their candidates was returned and they lost their single Parliamentary seat, showed not the slightest sign of dejection. They were, indeed, jubilant. They reckoned up their votes and found that they had polled an average of 1,592 votes per candidate. They believed that a proportionate support was waiting for them in most of the other constituencies where they had been unable to put up candidates, and they knew that with these votes they could win Local Government seats in every part of the country.

Hardie wrote a farewell letter to the West Ham electors, concluding in his usual optimistic vein : “The moral and intellectual power of the community are on our side and those in the end will triumph. I thank my friends for the zeal with which they worked. That triumph of our movement has not been delayed; we have but purified it by purging it of unworthy elements. Let the friends of our cause be of good cheer.” So ended Keir Hardie’s third year’s experiment as a lone fighter in Parliament.

There is another aspect of this Parliamentary struggle which should not be lost sight of in forming our estimate of the character of this man. There was no wages’ fund from which he could draw an income. He was not the paid servant of any trade union. Payment of Members was still far in the future. During these three years, as always, he had to earn his own living and maintain his home in Cumnock. That he, the self-taught man from, the pits, untutored and untrained except in the rough school of perpetual industrial strife, should have been able to do this without the slightest sacrifice of principle, is proof of great capacity and indomitable spirit. It was the recognition of this that won for him the respect of the better section of his opponents, and the trust and affection of his colleagues and comrades in the movement of which he was now the acknowledged leader. Doubtless, during these years there were times when it was well-nigh impossible to make ends meet, either in London or in Cumnock, but of these things neither he nor the good wife at home ever made mention.

Release from Parliament brought the opportunity to realise a long-cherished desire. In the autumn of the previous year he had made plans to visit America, and had actually booked his passage, but at the last moment certain unexplained obstacles intervened—probably financial— and the project had to be abandoned.

Now there came an invitation from the American Labour Day Committee to attend the Chicago Labour Congress on September 2nd. The Chicago Labour Congress was described by H. D. Lloyd (who also wrote pressing Hardie to accept) as “composed of the best elements of the Trade Union movement of Chicago,” and it was urged that Hardie’s visit would be “a matter of national—and international—importance.” He had some hesitation in accepting the invitation, due to the fact that Mrs. Hardie had been for some time in rather poor health. She had, however, recovered considerably, and, said Hardie, “she, with that devotion to the cause which had enabled her to endure so much uncomplainingly in the past, sank herself once more.” He regarded the American expedition as part of a much bigger project. “Next year,” he said, “I hope to visit Australia or New Zealand and thus get the entire advanced Labour movement into active speaking contact,” a plan which he ultimately fulfilled, though not in the chronological order here indicated. In addition to this high seriousness of purpose, Hardie undoubtedly expected much personal enjoyment from the Transatlantic excursion. He made his preparations with almost boyish zest and enthusiasm, and revelled humorously in the kindly arrangements for his comfort made by numerous friends and comrades. He relates with great gusto how one friend sent him a cigarette case, how another brought him a cigar case, and yet another a box of cigars wherewith to keep it filled; a fourth brought a packet of “Old Gold” and a pipe, and a fifth, “the widow’s mite, in the shape of a matchbox made by himself”—a monotonous succession of gifts, due, as Hardie whimsically said, to the fact that he had “only one vice,” characterised by one of his friends as an ability “to smoke anything from a cuttypipe to a factory chimney.” “At least, I shall have plenty of tobacco for the next seven days.”

He celebrated his thirty-seventh birthday quietly at Cumnock, and next morning started off on his travels.

At Liverpool, the port of departure, he was joined by Mr. Frank Smith, who was to be his companion and confidant in his and many other enterprises. Mr. Smith had come into the Socialist movement by way of the Salvation Army, of the social work of which he had been one of the principal organisers, until the futility of patching up an ever-exten3in^evil had driven him to look for a fundamental cure, and naturally brought him to Socialism. Right up to the end Hardie and he were very close friends.

The Merseyside Socialists organised a great send-off demonstration, and, not content with marching in procession to the quayside, chartered a tug on board of which a crowd of enthusiasts attended the Cunard liner right out of the harbour bar, cheering and singing in a way, as Hardie said, “calculated to make every passenger on the ‘Campania’ discuss Socialism.”

The immediate result was an invitation to address the passengers on the subject of “Competition,” this title, having been suggested by the denunciatory banners displayed from the tug. This was the kind of request which Hardie never refused. Probably no man has ever spoken for Socialism in so great a variety of circumstances. The hillside or the street corner, the church pulpit or the university debating hall, made no 'difference to him; He delivered his message with as much emphasis and impressiveness to students and professors and aristocrats and millionaires as to colliers and dock labourers and common working folk.

On this occasion he drew his illustrations of the social and industrial world from the classes into which the passengers were divided—the privileged class, the plutocrats, and the common people—and showed “how the two former were sitting on the backs and keeping their hands in the pockets of the latter, robbing them of the land, robbing them of the fruits of their labour, and all in the name of the law and by the means of competition, and so keeping the workers in subjection.” Needless to say, the two I.L.P. men and the steerage folk enjoyed themselves, and probably some of the “plutocrats” also.

One personal note of the voyage may be preserved as characteristic. The other passengers were in the habit of putting back their watches an hour each day, so as to be right with New York time on arrival. Not so Hardie. “With that sympathy with Toryism which I am known to possess, I declined to alter my time. By keeping to the Cumnock time I could always tell exactly what was being done at home—when the children went to school, when they returned, when they went to bed, and the rest of it—and found more to interest me therein than in trying to keep pace with Daddy Time.”

The two companions contributed to the “Labour Leader” at the time a series of intensely interesting descriptive articles, which even now might bear reproduction in book form, alike as an extra biographical memento, and as a means of comparing American labour conditions of that time with the present. For Hardie it was a memorable pilgrimage.

His was the kind of mind that never becomes blase or impervious to new sensations. Every day, almost every hour, of his journeying brought something of the thrill of a new adventure. At New York he was most cordially welcomed and feted by all sections of the Socialist and Labour movement, who sank their differences in order to do honour to the fearless agitator from across the “fish pond.” He visited Daniel de Leon, at that time editor of “The People,” whom he describes as a fair specimen of the energetic, clear, cool enthusiast. Seen in the editor’s den at 184 Market Street, he recalls the pictures one has seen of the French Communists manning the barricades, in his striped blouse, white kerchief at the throat, slightly oval face, with full beard growing grey, and the clear eye and olive-tinted skin of the South. A man accustomed to give and receive hard knocks, he has enemies as well as friends, but all agree that for single-mindedness and purity of aim he has few equals.”

In New York, and through his fifteen weeks’ tour, Hardie noted regretfully, the keen almost fierce antagonisms fade away, at least temporarily, in the common desire to show him respect and give him a “good time.” The travellers were nearly a week in New York before starting West. They spent daylight hours in the “Bowery,” and night-time hours in China Town. They contrasted the vaunted Yankee equality with the rigidity of the “colour line.” They were the guests of the select Manhattan Club, whose members viewed with disapproval alike the political opinions of their visitors and their preference for ginger ale to burgundy. They dined at Delmonico’s where pipes were taboo and cigars the only permissible smoke, and they mingled with the early-morning line of hungry men waiting for a free distribution of bread outside the Vienna Bakery. They penetrated as far as they dared into the social underworld, and, as their motives were higher than mere curiosity, they doubtless succeeded better than most sightseers.

The writer has thought it well, during the course of this narrative, to present Hardie as he appeared to some of his contemporaries. This “New York World” picture of him may not come amiss:

"As a representative of the great class he is undoubtedly more interesting than anything he may say. He is a strong man. His face is strong and his jaw is square; his head is big and well shaped. His hair is fairly long and curly. He is intensely earnest. He has no nonsense about him and no cant. He uses words to express what he thinks, not to sound well. He dresses simply, perhaps too simply, for there is as much affectation in simplicity as in show. His shoes are low-cut and heavy, and his blue shirt and tie match and are sensible. His nose is straight and long. He has a good eye which looks squarely at and into you. His chest is big. He is temperate. He has read more than the average ignoramus who will try to teach him about American institutions. He knows what few men who try original thought ever learn. He knows that he can never hope to learn much or to do much. He realises that he is like a small insect working at the foundations of a coral island. He does not expect to raise society ninety feet into the air in his lifetime. Those who argue with Mr. Hardie will always find one difficulty about him. He knows pretty well what he is talking about.” Thus the American pressman measured him up, if not quite accurately, with some superficial shrewdness.

At Chicago his reception was on a bigger scale even than at New York. This was accounted for partly by the fact that his visit coincided with the great Labour Day demonstrations at which he was regarded as the chief speaker, and he was well reported in the press. Here he diverged sixty miles north to Woodstock, where Eugene V. Debs was in prison on a charge arising out of the part he had played in the Pullman strike. Hardie was hugely tickled when Debs himself came down the prison steps with a “walk right in and make yourselves at home.” The great labour leader has been in prison since then, and has been under much more rigid surveillance. He is there, much to the disgrace of America, whilst this is being written.

During his brief sojourn at Chicago and Milwaukee he attended a nomination convention and gained some insight into American electoral methods. When he came away it was “with a feeling of regret that so many earnest, wholehearted reformers were engaged in fighting such side issues as the silver question when by going straight for the Socialist ticket they would settle that and many other questions.”

The tour took the travellers almost as far west as they could get. They went to Denver, Leadville, “two hundred feet up in the clouds,” Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and the Montana mining district, Altruria, Santa Rosa, Kansas City, St. Louis, and many other places not in the way of the ordinary tourist.

At San Francisco the travellers ran up against the “Almighty Dollar” on a somewhat big scale. The Mayor of the city, better known as the “Silver King” from the fact that he had amassed millions of dollars out of silver-mining and speculation, was an ardent believer in bimetallism, which was at that time the chief plank in Mr. Bryan’s platform as candidate for the Presidency. The Mayor had persuaded himself that if it could be shown that England was falling into line with the American bimetallist campaign it would greatly help Mr. Bryan’s candidature, and he put it to Hardie, in the presence of Frank Smith and the Rev. Mr. Scott of the Presbyterian Church, as a business proposition that he should get the I.L.P. to make a declaration in favour of bimetallism, or, failing that, that he should himself make a speech in its favour as Chairman at the I.L.P. Annual Conference in return for which service Hardie would receive a cheque for 100,000 dollars— about £20,000. The Mayor and the minister were both surprised when Hardie and Frank Smith laughed the idea out of court, the Mayor especially being quite unable to comprehend the point of view of a labour leader who could turn down a business proposal of this kind.

There were doubtless many others equally mystified by such conduct. To them it almost seemed as if this inexplicable Scotsman had a contempt for “siller.” He had refused the Liberal Party money. He had refused the Carnegie money. He had refused the money from the Edinburgh ladies, and now he had rejected almost contemptuously a fairly substantial fortune in return for a speech.

Forty-eight hours later the two travellers landed in Butte City possessed of a financial equipment of exactly one dollar, ten cents.—about five and sixpence—to find that remittances expected from Chicago had not arrived. The story of how a providential Scottish piper saved the situation afforded Hardie many a reminiscent chuckle in days to come. The local comrades, chiefly Knights of Labour, had placed a buggy at their disposal to enable them to see the sights, and, when returning from a visit to an Indian encampment, their ears were regaled by sounds which set the Scotsman’s blood tingling. “Do you hear that music?” he said to the driver. “That ain’t no music,” was the reply," that’s the Scotch pipes.” “Drive to where they are being played,” said Hardie, and the driver, whose appreciation of Scotch whisky was greater than his knowledge of Scottish music, speedily landed his fares at the door of a wooden drinking saloon whose proprietor, a stalwart Scot of the Macdonald clan, was marching in front of the bar playing reels and Highland dirges, and who, with his drouthy customers, hailed the Labour man from the Old Country with enthusiasm. A meeting in the Opera House was arranged impromptu for the same evening, and, thanks to the rallying power of Macdonald’s pipes, a crowded audience heard the Socialist message. Seventy-five dollars were handed to Hardie as the surplus after paying all expenses. “And that,” said Keir, when telling the story, “was how Providence came to the rescue at Butte City.”

Hardie addressed meetings in most of the important towns, and in the industrial districts. He conferred with the trade union and Socialist leaders and with all kinds of public officials, and in every possible way tried to gain information concerning industrial and political conditions. But he did not delude himself into the belief that he had learned sufficient to justify him in speaking as an authority on American Labour problems. As he said in summing up : “The impressions one gets in hurrying across a great continent are necessarily mere surface impressions, and do not qualify one to dogmatise or even to describe. I like to know, not only what appears to the observation, but the causes which have produced the things seen, and these are not always so easily obtained.” “Still,” he continued, “I have the feeling that having gone there to learn, the visit in this respect has not been entirely in vain. Of one thing I am certain. The cause of Socialism and the I.L.P. has been benefited, and some fresh links have been forged in the chain which will one day bind the workers of the world in international solidarity. There as here, we found that the common sense of Socialism is a much more powerful argument than its hard, dry, scientific, economic justification. Few people are scientists, but all are human, and the secret of the success of the I.L.P. There at home has been the homely, essentially human tone which has been the chief note of its teaching.”

That last sentence is exceedingly illuminative of Hardie’s own Socialist inspiration. He was not of the stuff of which doctrinaires are made.

The winter of 1895 was a very distressful one, especially in the west of Scotland, where, in addition to the unemployment consequent upon trade depression, there was a lock-out of engineers which lasted for several months, and of course affected some of the auxiliary occupations. Socialists, as such, were not in a position to intervene, and could only make use of the trouble as propaganda against the capitalist system.

There was no Keir Hardie in Parliament to help to focus political opinion on the industrial question, and the Tory Government, with no effective criticism from the Liberal Opposition, could afford to let matters drift. During the first few weeks after his return from America, Hardie’s domestic affairs, concerning which he was always very reticent, naturally absorbed much of his attention, as also did the affairs of the “Labour Leader.” Previous to his departure for America he had found it necessary to appeal to readers and sympathisers to redouble their efforts for an increased circulation and advertisement revenue. There had been a very encouraging response, but the ship was still in troubled waters financially. It is doubtful if it ever fully emerged from this trouble during all the years whilst Hardie was responsible for its guidance. Yet somehow he managed to keep it going.

A statement which he made at this time helps to throw light on another matter which has sometimes been a source of conjecture to friends as well as enemies—his relationship to the movement financially. In response to enquiries as to his terms for lectures he said: “I have endeavoured, not with much success, to clear my out-of-pocket expenses from these talking engagements. Train fares and travel mean money. So does postage. So does the loss of time involved in connection with the work which, in the case of a man who earns his living by his pen, as I do, comes to a serious item. The return journey between Scotland and London costs about £3 10s. in fares and necessary food. To some parts of the Kingdom it costs more; to some less. I found two years ago that a fixed uniform charge of £3 3s. for all meetings in the provinces enabled me to meet all expenses. This charge covers everything, hotel bill, travelling and all other outlays. When I am living in London or Glasgow these places have all the meetings they want, and there is no question of fee or expense.” It is quite clear from this statement that the I.L.P. offered no inducement to adventurers in search of fame or fortune. It had neither political preferment nor financial advantage to offer to its adherents, nor any soft jobs. Yet it continued to attract into its ranks many men and women of high attainments.

It must, at any rate, be quite clear that the founder of the I.L.P. was not living luxuriously. As a matter of fact, during his first three years in Parliament, twenty-five shillings a week was the most he was able to remit to Mrs. Hardie in Cumnock, and sometimes not even so much as that.

On December 21st, he presided at a dinner given to “Labour Leader” contributors at the Albion Hotel, Ludgate Circus, London, and paid tribute to the satisfactory service rendered by his co-workers on the paper. This meeting, however, is chiefly memorable because it was the occasion of the last public utterance of Sergius Stepniak, the great Russian Nihilist exile, whose book, ^Underground Russia,” was the first revelation to the British people of the working of those tremendous unseen forces beneath the surface of Russian society whose effects are now plainly visible to the whole world. Parts of the speech may be quoted as illustrative alike of the characters of Stepniak and Hardie and of the similarity of Socialist conception by which both men were inspired.

“Socialism,” said Stepniak, “is now the only force able to inspire men with that boundless devotion, and utter disregard for personal safety which we see constantly exhibited by Socialists in every land. It is remarkable that whenever you have before you a movement which is really like the religious movement at the time of the Reformation, it is Socialism which is behind it. It is so in Russia, France, Germany, America—everywhere.” Speaking of the great growth of the Socialist movement in this country, he said: “Although I know that my comrade in the chair does not like signalling out personalities, I feel it is only fair to say that Keir Hardie was the one man in England who did more than most in that great work. There are points in his programme with which I do not entirely agree, but I cannot help admiring in his individuality, the character, the straightforwardness, the perfect simplicity and unconquerable energy which finds renewed impulse in every obstacle. Keir Hardie has shown what an Englishman can do. I can say that in the name of thousands of my comrades in Russia, where Keir Hardie’s name is as well known as that of the greatest of Englishmen.’’ Two days later Stepniak was dead, having been run down by a passing train while crossing the railway line on his way to a meeting of his co-patriots in another part of London. The following Saturday there gathered outside .Waterloo Station representatives of the world-wide revolutionary movement, to pay tribute to his memory and to renew their vows of devotion to the common cause. His fellow countrymen, Kropotkin and Volkhovsky; Bernstein, of the German Social Democrats; Malatesta, of Italy; Nazarbeck, of Armenia; William Morris, Keir Hardie, Herbert Burrows, John Burns, of the British Socialist movement, besides many representatives of art and science and literature, and a sad concourse of exiles, mourning the loss of their great brother.

Stepniak, like so many of the Russian revolutionary leaders, was born in the ruling class, and had given all his power and genius to the overthrow of that class. He had organised secret propaganda and revolt, had found it necessary to meet violence with violence, and—it was believed—had helped to rid the world of more than one of its worst tyrants. Yet the testimony of all his associates declared him to be one of the gentlest of men, a man of a sweet and a lovable nature. When the I.L.P. was formed and between him and Hardie there had been frequent intercourse. Hardie was also at this time on terms of intimacy with Kropotkin and had spent hours at his home drinking samovar-made tea, and smoking many pipes of tobacco while the apostle of Anarchism paced the floor of his paper-littered room and gave illustration after illustration to prove that parliamentary institutions were “a quicksand in which honesty, manhood, courage, and all else were lost.” “Were we all Kropotkins,” said Hardie, “Anarchism would be the only possible system, since government and restraint would be unnecessary.”

Naturally, communion with these and other strong souls, purified as by fire through persecution and suffering, was not without influence on a mind that, up to the very last, never ceased to expand. His perception of the fact that though many people have the same purpose, they must of necessity approach their problems from different angles and from different circumstances, made him averse to dogmatise as to methods and he was tolerant of Socialists and reformers whose ways were not as his ways. This trait in his character was very evident at the International Congress this year when the place of Anarchists in the Socialist movement became a very vital question.

The Congress, which was held in the Queen’s Hall, London, began on Monday, July 27th, and continued for six days. The organising committee responsible for calling it had to be guided by the following resolution passed by the Congress held at Zurich in 1892 : “All trade unions shall be admitted to the Congress, also, all those Socialist parties and organisations which recognise the necessity for the organisation of the workers and for political action.

“By political action is meant that the working-class organisations seek, as far as possible, to use or conquer political rights and the machinery of legislation for the furthering of the interests of the proletariat and the conquest of political power.”

Upon the interpretation and application of this “standing order,” so un-English in its dress and form, there was much and heated debate. A considerable number of delegates, especially from Holland and France, had come with credentials from societies that did not include parliamentary action in their programmes. Some of these were trade unions pure and simple which had sent well-known Anarchists as their delegates. There were also “Free Communists”—all non-parliamentarians. Hardie was in favour of their admission. “It might be alleged,” he said, in defining his position at the meeting of the I.L.P. section, “that if they supported these people’s claims they were sympathising with Anarchists. For his part, he was more afraid of doing an unfair thing towards a body of Socialists with whom he did not see eye to eye, than he was of being called an Anarchist.” Tom Mann took the same point of view, and both supported their positions in the Congress. The I.L.P. delegates were divided on the question, but the German section and the British S.D.F., who largely dominated the Congress proceedings, were united in refusing admission to the non-parliamentarians. In the end, Anarchist delegates were excluded, though many of the prominent Anarchists found entrance as trade unionists. Fundamentally, the question at issue was the same question which had divided Bakunin and Marx in the days of the old International and which in these days still intervenes to prevent the reconstitution of a united international Socialist movement. Modern Socialism is simply the concrete expression of ideas of government which at that time had not passed the stage of being mere formulae. Hardie did not think it well that the whole movement should be bound rigidly along a certain fixed preconceived line of development, and he believed that political and industrial methods were not irreconcilable.

This seems the right place to bring into view Hardie’s opinions on the general strike. He had endeavoured, without success, to get the I.L.P. to put down a resolution in favour of a general strike for the achievement of a universal eight-hours’ day, and in the “Labour Leader” he expressed regret that an opportunity had not been provided for discussing the proposal at the Congress. In this article he declared himself definitely in favour of it, and adduced arguments which seem more weighty to-day than they did then, perhaps chiefly because the objective has changed from an eight-hours’ day to the much bigger one of making an end of war. It must be remembered that Hardie had been cradled and reared in the midst of industrial strife, and that though he was now the foremost advocate in this country of political action, and was continually advising the miners that through the ballot box they could achieve their ends more quickly than by industrial action, he had never counselled them to let go the strike weapon. Throughout his American tour he had been impressed by the backwardness ot labour political organisation in that country and by the readiness of masses of the workers to come out on strike, and he believed that, by a policy of this kind, the political actionists and the industrial actionists in Europe might find common ground. He did not, however, believe in any mere spasmodic lightning strike policy. He recognised that for successful international action long preparation was necessary. His suggestion was that the International Congress Bureau should take charge of the movement, that the date of the general strike should be fixed four years in advance, and that the intervening time should be employed in propaganda and organisation and in the co-ordinating of the labour sections in every part of Europe, America, and Australia. He believed further, that such a movement would force the hands of the international diplomatists, and compel them to agree to the establishment of common labour conditions in all countries. He, in fact, supported the general strike, believing that the more effectively it was organised the less need would there be for putting it into operation, while the preparations for it would tend to unify the forces working for international Socialism. It is not the business of the biographer to discuss these theories and policies, but simply to present as faithfully as may be the mental processes of the man whose life is being portrayed.

During the greater part of this summer, the I.L.P. was engaged in defending the right of free speech. Ever since its formation, the I.L.P. had used the open-air meeting to an extent never attempted previously. Wherever a branch of the party existed, the out-door Socialist meeting became a feature of the public life of the district. Exceedingly capable lecturers addressed these meetings. Assisted by local speakers who were always ready to reinforce the efforts of the more experienced platform orators, J. Bruce Glasier, Mrs. Bruce .Glasier, Enid Stacy, Caroline Martyn, S. D. Shallard, Joseph Burgess, Tom Mann, Leonard Hall, Keir Hardie and a host of others, were continually on the move from place to place. In many places large audiences were attracted and Socialist leaflets and pamphlets were widely circulated. Naturally, the more conservative elements in the community did not look upon these signs of active life with favour, and in various localities they sought to invoke law and authority to stop the flood of, what seemed to them, pernicious doctrine. The usual result was to give the new movement a bigger advertisement. The greatest of these fights took place at Manchester. What was known as the “Boggart Hole Clough case” filled the papers for some time and excited every branch of the I.L.P. in the country. It was, however, only typical of what took place on a lesser scale in many other districts.

Boggart Hole Clough is a kind of glen situated in a public park then recently acquired by the Manchester City Council. The I.L.P. had been holding meetings there, and, on the plea that they were causing an obstruction, the Parks Committee decided to prohibit the meetings. The I.L.P. paid no attention to the prohibition, maintaining that there was no obstruction. Their speakers, however, were summoned before the stipendiary magistrate and fined. Two of them, Mr. Leonard Hall and Mr. Fred Brocklehurst, went to prison for a month rather than pay the fine. Week by week the prosecution of speakers and literature sellers continued. But the Party had determined to fight the matter out, and fight it out it did. Week by week the meetings were held and the audiences grew bigger and bigger. The accused persons, amongst whom were J. Bruce Glasier, Keir Hardie and Mrs. Pankhurst— the latter not yet notorious in the suffrage movement— defended themselves in court. Boggart Hole Clough and the Manchester Court House became the two most interesting places in Lancashire, both radiating valuable Socialist propaganda. Notices of appeal to higher courts were intimated, and Boggart Hole Clough threatened to become a national question. The stipendiary began to find excuses for adjourning without passing sentence, The climax came when Hardie intimated that he had four hundred and seventy-three witnesses to call. That finished it. There were no more prosecutions. By-laws were framed which enabled the Parks Committee to climb down without too much loss of dignity, and the Boggart Hole Clough question ceased from troubling. The general effect was to confirm the British right of public meeting and freedom of speech, a right which not even the exceptional wartime regulations of recent years were able to destroy.

The free speech agitation was good for the I.L.P. At the Annual Conference held at Nottingham, in April, there had been some signs of lassitude, due probably to reaction from the extraordinary electioneering exertions of the previous year. A by-election in May, at Aberdeen, where Tom Mann polled 2,479 votes and reduced the Liberal majority from 3,548 to 430, had helped greatly to re-inspire the rank and file throughout the country with a belief that their movement was very far from being a forlorn hope; and now this struggle for free speech, which, on a smaller scale, had to be maintained in many other places than Manchester, provided just the kind of stimulus required for a party, which, if it were to continue, must be continually fighting and putting itself in evidence in competition with the other parties.

Following quickly upon this stimulus came the opportunity of a by-election at East Bradford, and it was decided to contest the seat, not with much hope that it could be won, but partly, to test the strength of the movement in a district which was the birthplace of the I.L.P., and partly to exploit the opportunity for propaganda afforded by a contest which would arrest the attention of the whole country. Hardie himself was chosen as the candidate and entered into the fray with his customary vigour. “Not as one would,” he said, “but as one must—that I suppose is the guiding principle, and so I go. We will make a fight of it, and the I.L.P. has never yet had occasion to regret its byelection contests, neither will it East Bradford.”

It was a three-cornered contest, and like every other parliamentary election in which Hardie was one of the principals, was conducted with exceeding acrimony on the part of his opponents, the Liberals as usual carrying off the palm for unscrupulousness and making no secret of the fact that they were more concerned to keep Hardie out than to win the seat from the Tories. Three years of him at Westminster had been more than enough for them. In the words of T. P. O’Connor: “Keir Hardie had to be fought.” In the end, the Conservative candidate was returned by a majority of 395 over the Liberal, and Hardie received 1,953 votes.

The orthodox political oracles were not slow to appreciate the meaning of the Labour poll. Said the “Times” : “The Independent Labour Party seems to have drawn away votes in nearly the same proportion from the ministerialist as from the opposition.” Said the “Morning Post” : “We have no desire to make little of the Labour vote in Bradford, for it is clear that two thousand electors are ready to support a Labour candidate in both the Eastern and the Western divisions, and such a body might well hope to turn the scale in the event of a contest being confined to a Unionist and a Radical.” They need have had no dread of that eventuality. The I.L.P. had no desire to become merely the deciding factor between the two political sections of capitalism. Its aim was to demonstrate the identity of interest embodied in these two sections and to organise the workers for the purpose of fighting both and of destroying the system which they represent. Hardie made this unmistakably clear, both in his “Leader” comments and in an article which he wrote for the “Progressive Review,” at that time edited by William Clarke. In this he derided the attempts of Liberal spokesmen to make out that the Liberal Party and the I.L.P. had common aims and needed each other’s help. This article was replied to in the same magazine by Mr. Herbert Samuel, then regarded as one of Liberalism’s coming men, a fact which is mentioned here simply to show how definitely the ex-miner was accepted as the exponent of the new political force. They might vilify and abuse and misrepresent him in their party press. They might ridicule and caricature him in their comic papers. But there was one thing they could not do. They could not ignore him. He was an established factor in the political life of the nation, and his influence had to be reckoned with in every move in the game of party politics. It must be said that Hardie never made any attempt to soften the asperities of political controversy. He was well endowed with that aggressiveness which is an essential part of the equipment of any man who seeks to make headway on the political battlefield, and he sought always to accentuate rather than modify the essential antagonisms between the old order and the new. The one thing he feared for the I.L.P. at this time was the possible sacrifice of independence for the sake of some immediate gain or illusory concession, and he seemed deliberately to maintain a situation in which compromise would be impossible.

Nor was it from the capitalist parties only that he had to face criticism. Strange to say, he was suspected by certain sections of the Socialist movement itself, notably, the Social Democratic Federation, which, in its weekly organ, “Justice,” ostentatiously dissociated itself from Hardie on the ground that he did not represent the Socialist movement of this country. The chief counts against him were that in Parliament he had muddled the unemployment question, had at the' International Congress identified himself with the Anarchists, and had said in the country that Socialism was not a question of economics at all—a series of charges which seemed to show that the capacity for misrepresentation was not monopolised by his capitalist critics. He replied by a statement of facts concerning his parliamentary work and his attitude towards Anarchism, and by a declaration of his Socialist principles, which, while it repudiated the charge of indifference to economics, showed quite clearly that he was not the same kind of Socialist that his critics claimed to be. “I am a Socialist because Socialism means Fraternity founded on Justice, and the fact that in order to secure this it is necessary to transfer land and capital from private to public ownership is a mere incident in the crusade. My contention is that under present circumstances we are under the necessity of keeping this side uppermost, and my protest is against this being considered the whole of Socialism or even the vital part of it.” He was exposed to a perpetual crossfire from capitalists, Socialist doctrinaires and laggard trade unionists, and there was never any danger of his controversial weapons becoming rusty for lack of practice. Intellectual stagnation was not possible for Keir Hardie.

A detailed chronicle of his public activities during these years would probably prove to be monotonous reading, but the experiences of that period were far from monotonous for those who passed through it. It was a period when the struggle between organised labour, nationally and internationally, seemed to grow ever fiercer and fiercer. Such a chronicle would have to tell the story of the long drawn-out Penrhyn quarries dispute, in which the owner of the soil asserted his privilege as a landlord and as an employer, by simply closing down the quarries regardless of the men’s right to work, the consumer’s demand for the commodity, and the State’s overlordship. It would have to tell of the great

Hamburg dock strike, of the help given by the workers of this country and the strengthening of the International Labour alliance thereby. It would have to tell of the historic lock-out of the engineers, which lasted fully six months and revealed itself as a determined attempt on the part of the federated employers to destroy Trade Unionism. It would have to tell of the persecution, imprisonment and torture of Anarchists in Spain, of the consequent assassination of Canovas, the Spanish Prime Minister, and of the outburst of indignation on the part of the workers of all countries against the atrocious methods of the Spanish Government. It would have to tell of the expulsion of Tom Mann from Germany, and Macpherson, the “Labour Leader” correspondent, from France, and it would have to note the slowly gathering clouds of war which finally burst over South Africa and produced in this country a fever of Jingoism which threatened to extinguish the I.L.P. and all that Hardie and his associates had worked for.

To all these events and movements Hardie was in some way, directly or indirectly, related—through the “Labour Leader” and on the platform, giving to the wrongs of the oppressed at home and abroad, that sympathetic publicity withheld by the capitalist press and capitalist governments, raising funds for the relatives of men on strike or locked out, stating the men’s case clearly and strongly, not merely in relation to the particular industry immediately affected, but in relation to the general Labour movement, and emphasising always the comprehensive significance of all these troubles as the inevitable outcome of capitalism in its present stage of development, finally curable only through Socialism. In these years Socialists had something more to do than propound theories about value and economic rent, and the people were in no mood either to listen to these theories or to understand them. For many of them the immediate struggle was with the wolf at the door, and the business of the Socialist agitator was to help his class to fight the wolf. It was a serious loss that Hardie was not in Parliament during those years.

His 1897 Christmas message in the “Labour Leader” is not pleasant reading. “I am afraid my heart is bitter to-night, and so the thoughts and feelings that pertain to Christmas are far from me. But when I think of the thousands of white-livered poltroons who will take the Christ’s name in vain, and yet not see His image being crucified in every hungry child, I cannot think of peace. I have known as a child what hunger means, and the scars of those days are with me still and rankle in my heart, and unfit me in many ways for the work to be done. A holocaust of every Church building in Christendom tonight would be as an act of sweet savour in the sight of Him whose name is supposed to be worshipped within their walls. If the spiritually-proud and pride-blinded professors of Christianity could only be made to feel and see that the Christ is here present with us, and that they are laying on the stripes and binding the brow afresh with thorns, and making Him shed tears of blood in a million homes, surely the world would be made more fit for His Kingdom. We have no right to a merry Christmas which so many of our fellows cannot share.”

It was not often that Hardie wrote with such bitterness, but his words were no more than an expression of the thoughts in many minds at this time.

Not alone did the industrial struggles and their concomitant miseries fill the minds of thoughtful people with fears for the future; there were also the continued outstretching of rival groups of capitalists in search of new markets and the military preparations of the several governments presaging international war.

In his presidential address to the I.L.P. Conference of 1898, at Birmingham, speaking of these ominous portents, he defined the I.L.P. attitude towards war. From this policy the Party has never wavered either before or since. His reference to war expenditure reads strangely in these later days when national indebtedness is computed by thousands of millions. “The terrible spread of the war fever in these closing years of the century/’ he said, “was to be deplored. The hundred millions of six years ago has become the hundred and six millions of to-day. Naval and military expenditure is for ever increasing, and no year passes without seeing its little expedition setting out with the object of grabbing land which is either of little use to hold or difficult and costly to retain. When every other voice is silent it is necessary that we should make it known that we are opposed to war on principle as well as on account of the cause for which it is now being waged. I do not say we should never fight. As Rider Haggard has said’: ‘The Almighty has endowed us with life and doubtless meant us to defend it/ War in the past was inevitable when the sword constituted the only court of appeal. But the old reasons for war have passed away, and, the reasons gone, war should go also. To-day they fight to extend markets, and no Empire can stand based solely on the sordid considerations of trade and commerce. This is running the Empire on the lines of an huckster’s shop, and making of our statesmen only glorified bagmen.”

The time was very near when these principles, so strongly enunciated, were to be put to the severest test, and all who adhered to them were to have their fidelity thoroughly tried.

At this Conference, Mr. John Penny became secretary instead of Tom Mann, whose energies had of late years been more and more absorbed in the industrial side of the movement, especially those international aspects of it reflected in the Hamburg dock strike and in similar upheavals in the Australian colonies. Tom Mann’s services to the I.L.P. in those early years when it was finding itself were undoubtedly of very great value, and Hardie, expressing the feelings of the entire membership, did not fail to pay tribute to them.

It must be stated here that, notwithstanding the optimistic declarations of Hardie and others, the I.L.P. was at this time passing through the most depressing period of its history. It had existed for five years. It had fought numerous by-elections, but had not yet a single representative in Parliament. It had ceased to grow. The number of branches reported year by year remained practically stationary, and many of these branches were merely nominal and consisted in some districts of small groups of die-hards who had no room in their vocabulary for the word defeat. The Party was at this time saved from utter stagnation by the annually recurring municipal elections, which served to maintain the fighting spirit locally, and by the indomitable persistence of its propagandists, of whom its founder and chairman was the chief. Hardie seemed not to know fatigue, or if he did, never showed it. It is not too much to say that it was his tireless efforts, carrying hope and inspiration to the faint-hearted and despondent, that kept the I.L.P. alive. The following itinerary of a fortnight’s work set down by himself, will serve to show how fully his time was occupied by this propagandist and organising activity :—

Nov. 17.—Left home, 12 noon; reached London 10.45 p-m.
Nov. 18.—Office work. Open-air meeting in West Ham at night.
„ 19.—Left London 7.15 a.m.; opened bazaar at Halifax at 2.30; spoke at Honley at 8 p.m.
,. 20.—Halifax Labour Church, two meetings.
„ 21.—Opened bazaar at 3; addressed meeting at Yeadon at 8.
„ 22.—Addressed meeting Mexboro’; 3 hours in train.
,, 23.—Mexboro’ to Kettering in train 3½ hours. Feet wet trudging through snow. Meeting at 8.
,, 24.—Kettering to London. Meeting in Canning Town.
,, 25.—London to Pendlebury, 5 hours. Two committees.
,, 26.—National Administrative Council, 10 to 5. Conference Social 5 to 11.
„ 27.—10.30 meeting at Eccles; 3 p.m. ditto at Pendlebury; 6 p.m. ditto, ditto.
„ 28.—Meeting at Walkden.
„ 29.—Committee in Manchester at 4. Conference with Oldham branches at 8.
„ 30.—12.45 midnight, started home. Number of letters received and answered, 75.

In addition he had his “Labour Leader” articles to write, varying from four to a dozen columns weekly. How he managed to accomplish this work it is difficult to say. He had long ago acquired the faculty of being able to think and write under almost any circumstances, and much of his journalistic work was done in third-class railway compartments, amongst all kinds of travelling companions; but even so, the mental and physical wear and tear must have been most exhausting, not to speak of the irregularity of meals, and the constant change of sleeping accommodation. Yet he had never a grumble, and every new host or hostess found him cheerful and smiling and ready to adapt himself to every circumstance.

During June of this year he spent several weeks in South Wales. The great strike of the Welsh miners had already lasted thirteen weeks and there were no signs of a termination. The miners’ demands were for a twenty per cent, increase, the establishment of a minimum wage, and the abolition of the sliding scale by which in the past their wages had been regulated.

Though discouraged by their own official leader, “Mabon,” they had come out on strike to the number of ninety thousand in Support of their demands, and there was privation all over South Wales. By a coincidence, the I.L.P. associated itself with the miners’ revolt. The South Wales I.L.P. Federation had resolved upon a special organising campaign, and had engaged Mr. Willie Wright, a well-known propagandist, to carry through the work. As it happened, his arrival on the scene synchronised with the outbreak, and as most of the local I.L.P. men were involved in the strike, there was nothing for him to do but throw himself into the struggle.

If he could not form I.L.P. branches, he could form relief committees, help the women and children, stimulate the men, and through the columns of the “Labour Leader” make known to the Socialist movement throughout the country the real nature and consequences of the South Wales dispute. This he did most effectually. A “Labour Leader” relief fund was raised, committees formed to administer it, and many miners’ children were thereby saved from absolute starvation.

One fact in connection with this relief fund ought to be mentioned. In response to a letter from Hardie,

Mr. Thomas Lipton—now Sir Thomas—sent a substantial quantity of provisions. Hardie had refused to make use of Mr. Andrew Carnegie’s money to advance his own political campaign in West Ham, but when it came to feeding hungry children, no rich man’s money was barred, and he was even willing to become a suppliant on their behalf. Nor did he consider his freedom of action restricted thereby. Shortly afterwards he was exposing Lipton as a sweating employer in a series of “White Slaves” articles in the “Leader.” On the question at issue he had given his opinion at the beginning of the dispute. His advice was that the men should stand firm for the discarding of the sliding scale, and that they should as quickly as possible join up with the British Miners’ Federation, and he spoke scathingly of the Welsh and North of England leaders whose policy kept these districts isolated from each other and also from the main body, thus making a national policy for miners impossible.

When he visited the strike area in June, he found the military there before him, though there had not been the slightest indication of violence or law-breaking on the part of the strikers. At some of his meetings the soldiers were visibly in evidence, while at others they were known to be in reserve and within call at short notice, a state of matters which had an irritating effect upon the workers, especially upon the women folk, and on several occasions very nearly produced the result which the presence of the military was supposed to avert. The absence of rioting during this dispute was certainly not due to any lack of incentive on the part of the authorities.

In his public utterances Hardie did not hide his contempt for what he considered to be the timid and temporising attitude of the miners’ representatives in Parliament, who had made no protest against the presence of the soldiers in Wales, and who, in his opinion, had utterly failed to make use of their parliamentary opportunities on behalf of the men on strike. Probably never more than at this time did he regret his enforced absence from the House of Commons. And, certainly, looking back on his activities during the Hull strike, we can easily imagine how, from the floor of St. Stephen’s, he would have turned the eyes of the whole country towards South Wales, especially as in this case he would have been' fighting for his own craft and speaking of conditions concerning which he had practical knowledge. The Welshmen, for their part, did not regard him as a stranger or outsider. They knew him to be a miner. If they had any doubt, his homely talk soon dispelled it. They had not forgotten his outspoken championship in connection with the Albion colliery disaster a few years previously, while the touch of religious fervour with which most of his speeches were warmed was very much to their liking. He addressed some fourteen or fifteen meetings, mostly in the Rhondda and Merthyr districts, and he has recorded the fact that there was rain at all these meetings, and that nearly every day he got wet through. In the Merthyr district the campaign was organised by the active spirits of the I.L.P., one of the most enthusiastic of these being Llewellyn Francis, of Penydarren, whose barber’s shop became the rendezvous for all the most advanced men, whose assembling together provided the nucleus of that organisation which, two years later, sent Hardie once more to Parliament under circumstances which made that achievement seem almost miraculous. That this ulterior result had no place in Hardie’s mind will be seen when we come to describe the electoral activities of that time.

The strike ended early in September in the defeat of the men, who had held out for full six months. But it was not unfruitful politically. When it started there were no more than half-a-dozen Branches of the I.L.P. in all South Wales. When it finished there were thirty-one, some of them with upwards of two hundred members.

In the second week of September a Conference of all the I.L.P. branches in the Merthyr, Dowlais, and Troedyrhiew Parliamentary Division was held in the Welcome Coffee Tavern, Merthyr, with David Davies, railway signalman, in the chair. Willie Wright was there also, as witness to the outcome of his labours; also Mr. Robert Williams, F.R.I.B.A., an architect of some distinction, resident in London, but always actively interested in the welfare of his native Wales. Mr. Williams was a member of the I.L.P., contributing occasionally to the pages of the “Labour Leader,” and had long been on terms of personal friendship with Hardie. During the strike he had rendered assistance, especially in the organising of concerts in London by a Welsh choir on behalf of the relief funds, and his cooperation in the project for the return of a Socialist representative had therefore considerable weight with the miners. At this Conference the resolve was taken that, come the General Election when it might, the Division would be fought for Socialism. From that day onward the preparations for a contest proceeded apace.

That the dissolution of Parliament could not be very far away was the general opinion in political circles, and the question as to what should be the I.L.P. plan of campaign was giving the leaders and the rank and file much concern. There were two possible policies. .Either to encourage the branches to contest seats in a large number of constituencies and make the General Election a national propaganda campaign for Socialism, or to contest a small number of carefully-chosen constituencies with the definite purpose of getting a few I.L.P. members into Parliament. The N.A.C. favoured the latter policy and recommended to the Annual Conference at Leeds, in 1899, that twenty-five seats should be fought and all the finance and electoral machinery of the Party be directed towards winning these seats. This was the plan agreed upon, but of course the advocates of neither the one policy nor the other could foresee die very exceptional conditions under which the election actually did take place. Hardie himself had not at this time been selected for any constituency. He had been asked to allow himself to be nominated again for West Ham, where there was every reason to believe he would be successful, but Will Thorne having signified his intention of fighting the seat, Hardie abandoned it to him, much to his regret. Thorne was subsequently elected.

This year took place what was known as the “Over-toun Exposure.” This, though in perspective occupying a very minor place in Hardie’s life-work, must be referred to here because of the sensation which it caused at the time, the heart-searchings which it stimulated amongst large sections of sincerely religious people, and the striking illustration which it afforded of the evils inseparable from modern commercialism. In the month of April, a strike occurred amongst the labourers in Shawfield Chemical Works, at Rutherglen, near Glasgow. Had the demands of the men, which were absurdly moderate, been granted, there would probably have been no Overtoun exposure. They were refused, and the workers, who were totally unorganised, solicited the help of the “Labour Leader” to give publicity to their grievances. Inquiries were made and revealed very grievous conditions. It was found that the men had to work twelve hours a day for seven days a week, and that without any meal time; that the wages paid were 3d. and 4d. an hour; that the nature of the work in the manufacture of chrome potash was exceedingly injurious to the health of the workers, producing virulent and incurable skin diseases, and affecting devastatingly the respiratory and digestive organs; that there was no attempt by the management to provide adequate protection against these physical evils; and that the sanitary arrangements in some parts of the works were nil, and in other parts limited to the bare minimum enjoined by law.

The head of the firm and virtual owner was Lord Overtoun, a gentleman held in the highest esteem in religious and philanthropic circles for his good works. He had been made a peer in recognition of his “great worth as a moral and religious reformer.” His estimated spendings on charity amounted to £10,000 a year. He was a leading light in the councils of the Free Church of Scotland, and was himself a frequent preacher of the “Gospel of Christ.” He was a noted temperance reformer. He was opposed to Sabbath desecration, and had headed deputations in opposition to the running of Sunday trams in Glasgow. In politics he was a Liberal and contributed substantially to the party funds. The “Labour Leader,” in a series of articles which, because of the controversy created, continued for several months, depicted these two contrasting sets of facts. The circulation of the “Leader” went up by leaps and bounds. The articles were reproduced in pamphlet form and the sale was enormous. Then there came a day when the printer of the “Labour Leader” refused to print any more references to Lord Overtoun, and the paper appeared with a blank page, save for an explanatory note by David Lowe, the managing editor. Another printer was got, and the paper came out the following week with the Overtoun article included. An interdict was obtained against one of the pamphlets because of a personal reference to a certain clergyman who had tried to defend Lord Overtoun. The offending passage was deleted, and the pamphlet went out to meet a demand which had only been increased by the attempt to prevent its publication. And so the interest kept on growing—likewise the number of Hardie’s friends and enemies, the latter, of course, attributing to him the worst of motives, and in some cases actually construing his action as an attack on religion. There was no. possible answer to the exposure except that which placed religion and business in two separate compartments— an answer which of necessity proved the contention of the Socialists that religion and capitalism were incompatible.

The vindication of the exposure was found in the fact that as the controversy went on the conditions inside Shawfield Works kept improving. Sunday labour was reduced to the absolute minimum necessitated by the nature of the trade, better sanitary arrangements were introduced and wages in some degree increased.

By the time this local agitation had come to an end, something had happened which absorbed the attention of the whole nation, and made it necessary for the British Socialist movement to define its attitude towards British imperialist policy. Great Britain was at war with the two South African Republics,


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