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J. Keir Hardie
Chapter 10. The Parliamentary Labour Party—Physical Break down—Round the World


THE end of the year brought the opportunity for which he and his colleagues had been waiting and working. The .Government resigned in Decernber, and the Liberals accepted office with Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman as Prime Minister. As soon as his Government was formed, he dissolved Parliament, and the long hoped for General Election took place.

Concerning the new Government and its personnel, Hardie had some observations to make which, in view of subsequent history, are not without interest. Of the Prime Minister, he said, “The most lasting impression er* I have of him is when as chairman of the Unemployed Committee of 1893, he so engineered the proceedings as to get the winter, through without doing anything for the starving out-of-work. It may be, however, that he has repented of the apparent callousness which the exigencies of party forced upon him in those days, and is prepared to atone for the past by his good deeds in the future.” From the democratic point of view the most interesting appointment was that of John Burns to the Local Government Board. “In his early Socialist days,” said Hardie, “he fought magnificently, but he has not shown himself the man to lead a forlorn hope or to stand alone in a crisis. He is a hard worker, and that fact alone will create a stir in his department and may lead to surprising results.” Hardie coupled Burns with Morley in this sarcastically back-handed way: “The most prominent Radical in the Cabinet whose distrust of the people is only equalled by that of John Burns. In temperament no two men are wider apart than our brace of ‘Honest Johns.’ Morley is philosophic, timid and pedantic; Burns headstrong, impulsive and dashing, but they are one in their lack of faith in the democracy.” On the other hand, of Sir Robert Reid, the new Lord Chancellor with the title of Lord Loreburn, he declared, “There is no man in politics with a cleaner record or a more democratic spirit.” High praise indeed coming from Keir Hardie. Lloyd George, also making his first entrance into officialdom, he described as “a politician with no settled convictions on social questions. He will go all the length his party goes, but hitherto social questions have lain outside the sphere of his orbit. As a hard-working lawyer and rising politician he has enough to do to keep abreast of the fighting party line without wandering into the by-ways of social reform.” Asquith and Haldane he characterised as “cold-blooded reactionaries of the most dangerous type. With professions of Liberalism on their lips, they are despots at hearts, and as they are the strong men of the Cabinet and are upholders of the Roseberian interpretation of Liberalism, they can be reckoned upon to see that this view is well upheld in the inner councils of the Cabinet.” Lord Portsmouth he summed up as “a Tory who has left his party on the _Free Trade question.” Lord Crewe was “a recent convert from Unionism,” whilst “a big majority of the others are Unionists in all but name. They are all representatives of the landed interests and they certainly have not joined the Government to press forward either land nationalisation or the taxation of land values.” “Labour folks,” he said, “will note without enthusiasm that there are seventeen land-owning peers, and sixteen place-hunting lawyers in the new Government.” He had no illusions. He was building no high hopes for democracy on the advent of the new Liberal Government. His hopes lay in an Independent Parliamentary Labour Party which would act as a spur to the Government and fight it when necessary, and for the realisation of this hope he now plunged himself body and soul into .the general election turmoil.

The L.R.C. had fifty-two candidates, ten of whom were I.L.P. nominees, while thirty-two of the others nominated by trade unions were members of the Party. Hardie took part personally in nearly every one of these contests, and during the next three weeks he was working literally morning, noon and night, in the roughest of weather, travelling backwards and forwards from one end of the country to the other, speaking sometimes in crowded halls and stifling schoolrooms, sometimes in the open air, and beyond doubt contributing immensely to the success which the final results revealed. He went everywhere but into his own constituency. There was some doubt as to whether he would be opposed, and as he regarded the general success of the Labour movement as being of more importance than his own individual success, he could not allow himself to be tied up in Merthyr waiting for an opposition which was problematical. Besides, he had reason to believe that his position in Merthyr was now so secure that no eleventh-hour opposition could possibly endanger it, a belief justified by the result, though some of his local supporters were not so confident, and were, indeed, considerably alarmed by the nomination of a shipowning Liberal named Radcliffe, whose candidature in the absence of Hardie, seemed to be making rapid progress. As at previous elections, however, the local stalwarts, Francis, Davies, Morris, Barr—an Ayrshire man settled in Merthyr—Stanton, Stonelake of Aberdare, and a host of others poured into the constituency, fought the campaign with vigour and enthusiasm, and Hardie’s arrival on the scene, worn and exhausted, just two days before the polling, and the inspiration of victories in the country finished their efforts. The election figures were :—

Thomas (Liberal) ... 13,971
Hardie ...... 10,187
Radcliffe (Liberal) ... 7,776
Majority for Hardie ... 2,411

It was the crowning glory of a great campaign. For Hardie it was even more than that. It was the realisation of all those hopes which had sustained him through long years of toil and troubles. A Labour Party, twenty-nine strong, entered Parliament as the result of this election, and thus another stage in his life-work had been reached.

He was well pleased, of course, but not unduly elated. The first Parliamentary Labour Party had been returned, but it had yet to be tried, and he knew well that its membership comprised some men who, though their sincerity might not be questioned, were restricted in their political outlook by their trade union training and environment, and in some cases by life-long association with party Liberalism; they might be amenable to influences against which he had been impervious. Better than any of them he knew the temptations which would beset them. His greatest satisfaction was derived from the fact that amongst the men returned were MacDonald, Snowden, and Jowett, all of them by majorities which seemed to ensure their permanent presence in Parliament. Often and often, in private conversation with comrades throughout the country, he had anticipated the return of these colleagues, and had extolled the special qualities which would enable them to make their mark in Parliament, and confound the enemies of Labour. With such men as these he felt assured that whatever might be the ebb and flow of loyalty inside or outside of the House, an Independent Parliamentary Labour Party would be maintained. He was now in the fiftieth year of his life;“ ~ the greater part of which had been devoted to the uplifting of his class. The presence of that class now in Parliament as an organised force was the proof that his life had not been without some achievement. Whatever the future might hold in store for him, the past had been worth while.

In the interval between the election and the assembling ' of Parliament, Hardie spent a week in Ireland along with George N. Barnes, who was also one of the victors in the recent contest, having signally defeated Mr. Bonar Law at Blackfriars, Glasgow. The Irish visit was meant as a holiday, but, like most of Hardie’s holidays, it involved a lot of what other politicians would call work. They visited the Rock of Cashel and Killarney and some of the natural and architectural beauties of Ireland, but they also had public receptions and made speeches at meetings arranged impromptu by the Nationalist M.P.s., who hailed as allies the new Parliamentary Labour Party and were sincerely anxious to honour Hardie for his own sake. They also investigated, as far as possible, the social conditions of the districts through which they passed. Hardie was loud in his praise of the operations of the Congested Districts’ Board, which he declared to be, “in fact, the most sensible institution I have ever known to be set up by law, and, with adaptations to meet differing conditions, forms the model upon which I should like to see an Unemployment Committee constituted.”

Very remarkable are his observations on the Sinn Fein movement, at a time when its significance was realised by few people in this country, much less the proportions to which it would grow. “It appears to be,” he said, “Fenianism adapted to modern conditions. It is antipolitical and anti-English. Its supporters tell you that the people are being ruined by being taught to look to the English Government for reforms; that instead of developing a dependence upon the English Government for reforms and waiting upon English capital to develop Irish industries, the Irish people should set about doing things for themselves. Up to a certain point they are individualists of a very pronounced type, but, unlike the old Manchester school of Radical economists, they have no fear of State action, except in so far as it tends to undermine the spirit of the people. I speak with all reserve as to the present strength of the movement, but Mr. Barnes and I, from what we saw and heard, formed the opinion that the Sinn Fein movement was bound to play an important part in the development of Ireland.” That prediction has certainly been fulfilled.

With the entrance of the Labour Party into the House of Commons, Hardie’s Parliamentary career assumes a new phase. His personality becomes to a certain extent, though never completely, merged in the Party organisation. There still remained questions, as we shall see, upon which he would find it necessary to take a line of his own, but on the main purpose, that of developing and maintaining a .definite and distinct Labour policy, he was to be subject to the will of the majority. This was a condition of things very welcome to him. It had always been irksome to him to have to take action in any sudden political emergency without a body of colleagues with whom to consult. In the last year of the previous Parliament, it is true, the co-operation of Henderson, Crooks and Shackleton had somewhat lessened his burden of personal responsibility, but even that was vastly different from having a well-disciplined Party in the House with an assurance of support outside.

Naturally, he was appointed chairman of the new Party, which carried with it leadership in the House. There were other aspirants for the position, but a sense of the fitness of things prevailed, and the honour and duty of leading the first Parliamentary Labour Party fell, after a second ballot, to the man who, more than any other, had made such a Party possible.

The achievements of the Party during the next few years need not be detailed here. The passing of the Trade Disputes Act; the final and definite legalising of the right of combination; the struggle for the feeding of school children, resulting, at least, in the feeding of those who were necessitous; the determined and continuous pressing for the right to work, ultimately compelling the Liberal Party to look for a way out through Unemployment Insurance; the forcing of Old Age Pensions—these and many other seemingly commonplace achievements, yet all tending to raise the status of the workers and increase their sense of self-respect and of power as a class, are recorded in various ways in the annals of the Labour movement. They are part of the history of the nation and are to a considerable extent embodied in its institutions and in the daily life of the people. This was the kind of work that was naturally expected from the new Labour Party. Readers of this memoir do not want recapitulation of HarHie’s share in that work.

But it must not be assumed that either he or the other leaders of the I.L.P. allowed their conceptions of political activity to be limited by the immediate struggle for these tentative though essential measures of reform. They were Socialists, representing a Socialist organisation, and to them a true Labour Party must have an international outlook and an international policy in clear contradistinction to the Imperialist policy of the two capitalist parties.

This wider outlook found significant expression in a resolution passed at the instance of the I.L.P. by the Labour Party Conference held in London immediately following this famous General Election. This was a resolution expressly approving the better feeling between Britain and France, desiring its extension to the German feofle, and declaring for a general international understanding that would lead to disarmament. Could it then have been possible to have introduced the spirit of this resolution into British international policy, there would have been no European War in 1914. Already the sinister implications of the Entente Cordiale, involving as it did an alliance not only with Republican France, but with Czarist Russia, and the division of Europe into two hostile camps, were troubling the minds of thoughtful, peace-loving people, who could not help connecting the new militarist plans of the War Office with the schemings of the diplomatists.

Hardie’s distrust of the Liberal Imperialist group as a reactionary influence within the Government has already been referred to, and from his point of view it very soon found confirmation. Mr. Haldane, the War Minister, foreshadowed the coming strife when he declared his intention to popularise the idea of “a nation in arms,” and the inevitable development of his schemes for the creation of a territorial army, voluntary at first, but, as Hardie declared, likely to become conscriptive in its working. “There we have,” he said, analysing Haldane’s scheme, “a set of proposals which will require the most careful watching and the most unflinching opposition from all friends of peace. By force of social pressure or other form of compulsion, the youth of the' nation are to be induced to undergo military training as volunteers. Thereafter they are to be returned into a reserve force which is to be available as a supplement to the regular army when required for service abroad. At a time when continental nations are growing weary of conscription and agitating for its abolition, we are having it introduced into this country under the specious disguise of broadening the basis of the army. When it was proposed to tax food, that was described as broadening the basis of taxation. Now, when an attempt is being made to popularise universal military service, it is a similar phrase which is used to conceal the true meaning of the proposal. In fighting Protection we had the aid of the Liberal Party. Now, apparently, it is the same Party which is to be used to foust a thinly-disguised form of conscription upon the nation.”

Readers with war-time experience can now judge for themselves whether this analysis of Haldane’s Army Reform proposals was correct or not. The only difference between Haldane and Lord Roberts, Hardie declared, was that “the former, being more of a politician, carefully avoids the hateful word ‘compel,’ but evidently has imbibed Lord Roberts’ ideas down to the last dot.” He combated strenuously the theory that the best way to prevent war was to prepare to make war. On the contrary, he held that “the means to do ill deeds makes ill done,” and that a nation in arms was an aggressively warlike nation, whose very existence made the maintenance of international peace difficult, if not impossible. This was more especially the case if it were a nation like Great Britain, Imperialist and Commercialist in its world policy. “Militarism and all that pertains to it is inimical to the cause of progress, the well-being of the people, and the development of the race.”

This may almost be said to have been the keynote of his appeal during the remainder of his life, for even then, to him and to others, there was discernible the cloud no bigger than a man’s hand that was eventually to outspread and darken the political skies and burst in disruptive disaster upon the world. To avert this catastrophe the I.L.P. devoted much of its energy and resources during the ensuing years, opposing all militarist developments, whether it was Haldane’s Territorial Army scheme, or the demands for an increase of naval and military armaments, conducting anti-militarist campaigns right up to the eve of the great tragedy, and hoping always that the International Socialist movement might so increase in strength as to be able to preserve the peace of the world.

Doubtless Hardie had this thought uppermost in his mind during his visit to Brussels the following month as a member of the International Socialist Bureau to prepare for the next year’s Congress at Stuttgart. He had with him as his colleague on this occasion Mr. H. M. Hyndman, of whom he said, “a more charming and agreeable companion no wayfarer ever had,” which causes the reflection that if these two could have been in close companionship oftener much mutual misunderstanding might have been avoided.

Meantime, while the hidden hands of diplomacy and finance were busy in European politics, and while the Labour Party in Parliament was steadily finding its feet and becoming a force in the shaping of industrial legislation, the Women’s Suffrage movement was attracting, not to say distracting, attention in the country. The past attitude of party leaders and politicians generally, the I.L.P. always excepted, had been to ignore it loftily, to assume that it was a manufactured agitation, the product of a few enthusiastic cranks, and that there was really no demand for the vote by any numerous section of women. The ethics of political equality did not, of course, trouble these status quo politicians. The Women’s Social and Political Union set itself out to shatter this serene aloofness, and did so very effectually, shattering some other things in the process. At a Liberal demonstration in Manchester the previous year, at which Mr. Churchill was the chief speaker, a number of suffragists, incensed by the refusal of the platform to answer their questions, set up such a din that the police were called in to eject the women, and a kind of miniature riot took place. Miss Adela Pankhurst and Miss Annie Kenney, two young but very vigorous ladies, were arrested, but no prosecution followed. Immediately after the General Election, a deputation of women sought an interview with the Prime Minister at his residence in London, and on being refused admittance created a disturbance. Three women were arrested on this occasion but were also released without a prosecution. Thus this phase of the movement began.

Hardie did not identify himself with nor express approval of these demonstrations, but he did what was better. Being fortunate in the ballot, he made himself sponsor for a resolution in Parliament which, if it had been carried, and of this there was tolerable certainty, would have advanced the women’s cause by several years. The women had been very active during the General Election, and had pledged a majority of Members of the House of Commons to support their demands. Hardie’s resolution was designed to enable these gentlemen to redeem their pledges, and thereby secure a majority vote which would in effect have been a mandate to the Government. The resolution was as follows : “That in the opinion of this House it is desirable that sex should cease to be a bar to the exercise of the Parliamentary Franchise.” Hardie, knowing that time was valuable, spoke briefly and persuasively. It was known that, as usual, an attempt would be made to talk the resolution out, but precedents were clear, and the Speaker would no doubt have given the closure. Some suffragists in the Ladies’ Gallery who were not well acquainted with procedure, seeing the clock fingers creep round to the closing hour, believed that everything was undone, and made a demonstration. That ended the matter and defeated all hope of the closure. The resolution was talked out, or it might be more accurate to say, screamed out. Hardie uttered no word of disapproval of the demonstration, and indeed, to some extent defended the action of the women, but he would have preferred that it had not occurred. He believed that it would have been possible to get the debate closured in time for a division, in which case the resolution might have been carried by a substantial majority. Whether or not his hopes would have been realised can, of course, never now be determined.

Thus ended the famous “grille scene/’ the precursor of many much more violent demonstrations at public meetings throughout the country, in some of which Hardie himself was destined to be a sufferer. So indiscriminate is fanaticism, even in a good cause.

These events happened in his jubilee year. In response to the suggestion that the occasion should be signalised by some public manifestation, he characteristically advised that it should take the form of a special fund for organisation. Having regard to the recent heavy demands upon the rank and file for election finance, this was not at the moment considered feasible, though it was not lost sight of, as we shall see. What was decided upon was a public reception and presentation. This took place on October 24th in the Memorial Hall, London, which was crowded to overflowing with men and women representative of every phase and section of the Labour and Socialist movement, desirous of celebrating, as one Welshman with a fine spiritual perception put it, “Keir Hardie’s fifty years on earth.” There were telegrams of congratulation from four hundred and forty-nine branches of the I.L.P. and also from numerous other Socialist and Trade Union organisations, besides messages of goodwill from many distinguished people outside the Socialist movement. As showing how completely he had lived down misunderstanding, for the time, the message from the Social Democratic Federation may be quoted. “This Executive Council of the S.D.F. congratulate Comrade Keir Hardie on the attainment of his fiftieth birthday, express their admiration of his independent Parliamentary career and his outspoken advocacy of Socialist principles as the object of the working-class movement, and wish him many years of life in which to carry on his work for the people.” Hardie himself arrived on the scene late, for the characteristic reason that he had been in Poplar speaking on behalf of the Labour candidates there. Philip Snowden presided, and Bruce Glasier made the presentation, which consisted of an inscribed gold watch with fob and seal, subscribed for by the N.A.C. and a few intimate friends, and a gold-mounted umbrella for Mrs. Hardie. Modest gifts, but for that very reason precious to the recipients. Hardie was very proud of his gifts for another reason, quite unknown to the donors. “I’ve aye wanted to hae a gold watch,” he said naively to the present writer, thus confessing to an ambition that was very common amongst douce Scots working men in the days when gold watches were rare possessions. ' He did not possess his treasure long, nor was he able to hand it on as an heirloom. At the byelection in Bermondsey a few years later the watch was stolen and was never recovered.

Hardie’s fiftieth year found him at the height of his mental powers; clear of vision, resolute of purpose, practical and tolerant in the Council room, vigilant in Parliament, persuasive and idealistic on the platform, and with the never-resting pen of a ready writer. He stood out at the time, beyond all question, as the greatest of working-class leaders. His physical appearance also seemed to reflect his mental and spiritual attributes. There had grown upon him an unaffected dignity of bearing, which, with hair and beard greying almost to whiteness, endued his personality with a kind of venerableness, inducing involuntary respect even from strangers. He looked much older than fifty years, except when the light flashed from his eyes in friendly laughter or in righteous anger. Then he looked much younger. Always, even to his intimate friends, there was something mystic, unfathomable, about him. He was at once aged and youthful, frankly open and reticently reserved. The explanation may perhaps be found in some reminiscently introspective words written by himself about this time. “I am,” he said, “younger in spirit at fifty than I ever remember to have been. I am one of the unfortunate class who have never known what it was to be a child—in spirit I mean. Even the memories of boyhood and young manhood are gloomy. Under no circumstances, given freedom of choice, would I live that part of my life over again. Not until my life’s work found me, stripped me bare of the past and absorbed me into itself did life take on any real meaning for me. Now I know the main secret. He who would find his life must lose it in others. One day I may perhaps write a book about this.” The book was never written, more’s the pity. It would most certainly have been personally reminiscent and biographical, and the present writer’s task would have been unnecessary.

In December of this year he had a surprise for his colleagues of the National Council which took the shape of an offer of £2,000 which had been placed at his disposal and which he desired should be utilised as an organising fund on condition that a similar sum be raised by the Party within a month. The offer was, of course, accepted and the conditions prescribed complied with, the result being a great revival of organising and propaganda activity throughout the whole of the I.L.P. movement. It was disclosed afterwards that the Edinburgh ladies already referred to bad taken this method of showing their interest in Hardie’s jubilee celebrations.

It may be noted here, and will save any further reference, that these two ladies continued to assist in the same practical way during the remainder of their lives, and in 1913, when Miss Jane Kippen, who had survived the other sister by some years, died, it was found that by her will, the whole of her real estate, approximately £10,000, had been left jointly to Keir Hardie and John Redmond as trustees for the I.L.P. and the Irish Nationalist Party respectively.

The Labour Party—this was the title now adopted by the Labour Representation Committee—held its annual Conference in January, 1907, at Belfast. Both at this Conference, and at the Conference of the I.L.P. at Derby in April, the Woman’s Suffrage question caused serious trouble, and. in the first case, very nearly created a breach between Hardie and the organisation which he had brought into existence. At Belfast, the trouble arose out of an amendment to a resolution urging “the immediate extension of the rights of suffrage and of election of women on the same conditions as men.”

The amendment, which was carried by 605,000 to 268,000, declared that “any suggested measure to extend the franchise on a property qualification to a section only, is a retrograde step and should be opposed.”

The carrying of this amendment was tantamount to an instruction from the conference to the Parliamentary Labour Party not to proceed with its Franchise Bill extending the vote to women on the same qualification as at present ruled for men. Hardie was chairman and leader of the Parliamentary Party. He was, moreover, a firm believer in the policy involved in the limited Bill, a policy which he had supported alike in the House, on the platform, and in the press, and he was keenly disappointed with the conference vote, though he was well aware that the policy of the militant women themselves had helped to bring about that result by prejudicing the delegates against them.

Only a few days before there had appeared in the press what purported to be an official statement from the W.S.P.U. ostentatiously flouting the Labour Party, and declaring that: “No distinction is made between the Unionist and the Labour Parties.” There was therefore some ground for resentment on the part of the Conference, and this doubtless expressed itself in the adverse vote. Hardie deplored these manifestations on the part of the women, which he ascribed “to excess of zeal,” but they did not shake his adherence to the policy of the immediate political equalisation of the sexes. “We have to learn to distinguish between a great principle and its advocates,” he said, and the adverse vote of the Conference came to him as a kind of challenge which he felt bound to meet at once, and before the Conference closed. In the course of moving a vote of thanks to the Belfast Trades Council and the press, he asked leave to make a statement on the matter. The statement will bear recording here, alike for its historical and its biographical interest. It is contributory to our general estimate of the character of the man who made it.

“Twenty-five years ago this year,” he said, “I cut myself adrift from every relationship, political and otherwise, in order to assist in building up a working-class party. I had thought the days of my pioneering were over. Of late, I have felt with increasing intensity the injustices that have been inflicted on women by the present political laws. The intimation I wish to make to the Conference and friends is that, if the motion they carried this morning was intended to limit the action of the Party in the House of Commons, I shall have to seriously consider whether I shall remain a member of the Parliamentary Party. I say this with great respect and feeling. The party is largely my own child, and I could not sever myself lightly from what has been my life-work. But I cannot be untrue to my principles, and I would have to be so, were I not to do my utmost to remove the stigma upon the women, mothers and sisters, of being accounted unfit for political citizenship.”

This statement, which was quite unexpected, created something like consternation among the delegates, and for the first time in its history, the Labour Party Conference ended in a note of depression.

Though there was much resentment against Hardie within the Labour Party for the line he had taken, which showed itself when he stood again for the chair, and the opposition continued to smoulder, needless to say, the separation did not take place. The decision of the Conference, of course, could not be set aside. What was decided upon, mainly on the suggestion of Arthur Henderson, was that individual members of the Party were left free to support a Woman’s Franchise Bill should it be introduced. As a matter of fact, such a measure was introduced during the session by Mr. Dickinson, a Liberal member, and supported in a speech by Hardie, and by the votes of most of the Labour Members.

The trouble at the I.L.P. Conference arose in a different way, though it was essentially the same trouble. Unlike the Labour Party, the I.L.P. was nearly unanimous in its support of the limited Bill, but when in addition to that support, the Standing Orders Committee accepted an emergency resolution, congratulating the suffragists in prison, there was a strong protest against distinguishing preferentially these women from the others who were working loyally for the general objects of the Party. Amongst the most emphatic of the protesters were Margaret MacDonald, the wife of the chairman, and J. Bruce Glasier, whose remarks illustrate vividly the intensity of feeling that was being evoked within the Party by the tactics of the W.S.P.U. “This telegram,” he declared, “virtually committed the Party to the policy of the Women’s Political Union. It expresses warm sympathy with a special kind of martyrdom. He wished, like Mrs. MacDonald, to express sympathy with and stand up for our own women who had stuck faithfully to the Party. He was all for the women’s cause, but not for the Women’s Political Union.” Hardie, who was mainly responsible for the idea of sending the telegram, and also for its wording, appealed for a unanimous vote, on the ground that as a large proportion of the women who were coming out of prison that week were members of the Party, it would be a graceful act to send the telegram, and that it “should go forth wholeheartedly, without expressing an opinion on the question of tactics, that we have an appreciation for those who have the courage to go to prison in support of what they believe to be right.” Notwithstanding this appeal, the motion to refer the telegram back to the Standing Orders Committee was only defeated by eight votes, there being 188 in its favour and 180 against, a striking indication of how evenly the Conference was divided on the matter. Even in the subsequent vote as to whether the telegram should be sent, there were 60 against it. The message was sent, but certainly not wholeheartedly.

The position must be made clear. The I.L.P. was in favour of Women’s Suffrage. It had always been. It was in favour also of the W.S.P.U. method of obtaining the vote, namely, by equalising the franchise for the sexes, whatever the basis of qualification might be. But it was not inclined to subordinate every other social question to the advancement of the women’s movement, nor to allow itself to be committed to methods of agitation upon which it had never been consulted, nor, in electioneering matters, to be placed in the same category with other political parties who had always opposed the women’s claim.

Hardie evidently did not think these dangers were involved in the sending of the sympathetic telegram; or perhaps he thought the Party was big enough to take the risk. The fact that in this matter he was at variance with Glasier and MacDonald and some of the other leaders was very disquieting to many of the members of the Party and a source of satisfaction to its enemies. Evidently the “Woman Question” had disintegrating potentialities, which, if these leaders had been small-minded men, might have worked very great mischief to the movement. To all concerned it brought a good deal of pain, accentuated in Hardie’s case by the fact that he was conscious of the symptoms of a recurrence of that physical trouble from which, since the operation, he had never been wholly free, and which a month later resulted in his serious breakdown.

Amidst all these activities Hardie had found time to write a book for the “Labour Ideal Series” projected by George Allen, and published about this time. The title of the book, “From Serfdom to Socialism,” indicates its subject and scope. Despite the author’s depreciatory foreword, it is one of the most compact and vivid statements of the case for Socialism that has ever been written, comprising in some four thousand words a survey alike of the philosophic and the economic developments towards the Socialist State, not as a finality but as the natural and necessary environment for a future Communist society. “Mankind when left free has always and in all parts of the world naturally turned to Communism. That it will do so again is the most likely forecast that can be made, and the great industrial organisations, the Co-operative movement, the Socialist organisations and the Labour Party are each and all developing the feeling of solidarity and of mutual aid which will make the inauguration of Communism a comparatively easy task as the natural successor to State Socialism.”

The charm of the book lies in its lucidity and in the complete avoidance of that technical and turgid terminology which looks scientific, but, for the ordinary reader, is only befogging; and it was for the ordinary reader that the book was written.

A short extract from the chapter on “Socialism” will give some idea of its arguments and method. “The State is what the people make it. Its institutions are necessarily shaped to further and protect the interests of the dominant influence. Whilst a landed nobility reigned supreme, the interests of that class were the one concern of the State. Subsequently with the growth of the commercial and trading class, which, when it became strong enough, insisted on sharing the power of the State with the landed aristocracy, many of the old laws passed by the landlords in restraint of trade were modified. Now that the working class is the dominant power, politically at least, it logically and inevitably follows that that class will also endeavour so to influence the State as to make it protect its interests. As the political education of the workers progresses, and they begin to realise what are the true functions of the State, this power will be exerted i!n an increasing degree in the direction of transforming the State from a property-preserving to a life-preserving institution. The fundamental fact which the working class is beginning to recognise is that property, or at least its possession, is power. This is an axiom which admits of no contradiction. So long as property, using the term to mean land and capital, is in the hands of a small class, the rest of the people are necessarily dependent upon that class. A democracy, therefore, has no option but to seek to transform those forms of property, together with the power inherent in them, from private to public possession. Opinions may differ as to the methods to be pursued in bringing about that change, but concerning its necessity there are no two opinions in the working-class movement. When land and capital are the common property of all the people, class distinctions, as we know them, will disappear. The mind will then be the standard by which a man’s place among his fellows will be determined.”

The book had a wide circulation. It was essentially a propagandist document and ought again to be utilised for that purpose.

A reference made by Hardie at this time to the Irish question should be here noted. It is not inappropriate to the present situation. It was made in answer to a statement by the Rev. R. J. Campbell, who was at this period making approaches to Labour, and who, in an article on “The Labour Movement and Religion,5’ had declared that, as an Ulsterman by origin, he had “an objection to handing the whole of Ireland over to the Roman Catholic majority without proper safeguards.” “I often wonder,” wrote Hardie, “why it is that Ulstermen oppose Home Rule for the land of their birth. If there is one fact in the future more certain than another, it is that in an Irish Parliament Ulstermen would wield influence greater than any of them have ever dreamed of hitherto. They are at present cut off from their fellow Irishmen because they hold themselves as a sect apart, and are, in consequence, powerless to influence their country’s development. One session in the House of Commons would cure Mr. Campbell of the last remnants of the old prejudice against his fellow-countrymen which he probably drank in with his mother’s milk and which still clings to him.” Hardie’s diagnosis of the individual Ulsterman’s prejudice was probably correct, though his proposed cure had no guarantee in actual fact. There are Ulstermen who have passed many sessions in the House of Commons, and have become all the more bigoted. It is to be feared that the. Ulsterman does not want to be cured of his prejudice and shrinks from the Home Rule experiment for that very reason.

Mr. Campbell shortly afterwards affirmed his belief in Socialism and joined the I.L.P. mainly as the result of discussions with Hardie. After a few years, however, he slipped out, and has not been heard of politically since.

In February of this year, Hardie had the experience of being “ragged” at Cambridge, whither he had gone to address a meeting at the invitation of student and working-class Socialists. He went through the ordeal without coming to any harm, thanks to well-organised protection on the part of the local sympathisers, who took the brunt of the physical abuse meant for the plebeian agitator. A contemporary press comment may be quoted, especially as it supplies contrasting pictures of Hardie’s experience as a propagandist and social worker.

“On Saturday night last, Keir Hardie was hooted and mobbed by the students at Cambridge University. There is much varied experience crammed into the working day of the Socialist agitator. At one o’clock in the morning of the same day Keir Hardie was present at quite a different function from the Cambridge one. He was with a few companions on the Thames Embankment, a looker-on at the dispensing of charity to some of London’s destitute waifs by the Salvation Army officials. I know not what other experience filled in Mr. Hardie’s day between the Thames Embankment and Cambridge University, but in the beginning and ending of it there was surely contrast enough. The bottom dog at the one end and the top-cur at the other; poverty and ignorance on the Embankment; riches and ignorance at Cambridge. The results of our social system epitomised in two scenes.” And for both, there was deep sympathy in the heart of Keir Hardie.

Up to the moment of his breakdown in health he was engrossed in work, and in the very week in which he was compelled to give up, he submitted a report on Mr. Haldane’s Army Bill which he had prepared at the request of the Parliamentary Labour Party. There was never anything slipshod or superficial about Hardie’s methods, and his analysis of the Army Bill was exceedingly searching and thorough. Upon the basis of that analysis he recommended that the Bill should be opposed, root and branch, for the following amongst other reasons :—

“(a) Because it introduces militarism in our public schools amongst boys at their most impressionable age and ere they have arrived at years of discretion.

“(b) Because the method by which officers are to be secured bars out the working class and creates an army of workers officered by rich men.

“(c) Because it introduces the military element into industrial and civil relationships in a way hitherto unknown.

“(d) Because we are not convinced of the need for turning Britain into an armed camp.

“Employers and workmen,” said the report, “will alike be inconvenienced by the provisions of the Bill, and in the end it will almost certainly lead to compulsory military service.”

On the lines indicated by this report, the Labour Party, led mainly by MacDonald and Snowden, fought the Bill, clause by clause, unsuccessfully of course, the Tory Party being just as militarist as the Liberal Government. Hardie himself, to his deep regret, was unable to take part in a fight into which he would have thrown every atom of his energy. He had already, during the debate on the Army Estimates, in a searching and lofty-toned speech, denounced the measure as “repugnant to all that is best in the moral and civil traditions of the nation.” The passing of the Bill is a matter of history, as is also the continued preparation for Armageddon on the part of the rival nations.

That same week, Hardie was laid prostrate and had to be removed to a nursing home for examination. He was loath to believe that the attack was of a kind that would necessitate anything more than reorganisation of his work.

“One thing is certain,” he wrote to his friend Glasier, “I won’t be able to do any speaking this side of Whit week. The doctors here have been most kind. There were three of them called in for consultation the day I was brought down, and all three have since visited me in their human rather than their professional capacity. I don’t know whether they have been talking amongst themselves, but at least they have all harped upon the one thing—that another attack, which they say may occur at any moment, would be a very serious thing, necessitating an operation. They say that by taking things easy and; by observing ordinary gumption in the matter of food, rest, and the like, I may not only go on all right for years, but the trouble may heal up.”

Taking things easy was the one thing this man could not do, but on this occasion he had no alternative but to go for a very complete rest, and, somewhat reluctantly, he bowed to the inevitable.

Writing in the train on the way home to Cumnock, he said, “I begin to fear that the process of restoration is likely to be somewhat slow. One part of the internal economy has broken down. I have no desire for food, nor will anything solid lie; whilst even liquids cause a good deal of uneasiness. But I now know this, and have resolved accordingly, and my friends may rely upon it, that I shall be docile and tractable. For the moment there is to be no operation. Nature and more gentle and soothing measures are to have their chance first.”

He had got to the point of making good resolutions for the future, and, recalling Liebknecht’s reflections on the effect which night work and overwork had upon the naturally strong constitution of Karl Marx, he said, “I shall try to remember it after I am well, but there is so much to do, and so few to do it. I pray that the end may be sudden when it comes, a lingering illness must be dreadful.” Thus chafingly did he submit to the ordeal of rest.

Several weeks’ treatment at the Wemyss Bay Hydropathic brought him relief from pain but did not restore him to vigour, and it became apparent that his complete recovery would be long delayed. “The doctors tell me that to return to active work now means in all likelihood another collapse at an early date. But I cannot remain idle, nor, I feel certain, could I school myself into taking it easy at work. I have never done so. I can idle when idling, but I cannot work like an automaton. It was the same in the pits and in the quarries in my earlier days. I don’t like the prospect of another experience like the last few weeks, and I know that the doctors are right. A sick dispirited man is not only of no use in the front rank of our movement—he is apt to be a nuisance to himself and others. Courage, initiative, energy, hope, are all needed, and these the ailing have not got, and cannot give.” An unusually despondent mood this, for him, and one that was the surest proof that he was really very ill. And so, gradually, it was borne in upon him that he must accept the advice given by the doctors and by many friends, and go for a long sea voyage.

“I came here,” he wrote again from Wemyss Bay, “to try and get well, and settled down to the task as I would to the fighting of a by-election. Six and seven times a day I have dressed and undressed to undergo treatment of one kind and another. To leave the job unfinished would, I feel, be neither fair to myself nor to those who look to me for guidance. The sea voyage idea is not quite settled, but I give it thought as it has begun to shape itself in my mind.”

When at last the sea voyage was determined upon, the first proposal was for a visit to the Australian Colonies via Canada, but finally a voyage round the world was arranged, and as this, of course, included India, that fact altered, as we shall see, the whole complexion of the enterprise. He was the more easily reconciled to the prospect of a long absence from home by the knowledge that he was leaving the movement healthier than it had ever been, both in Parliament and in the country. His friend, Pete Curran, had just won a signal by-election victory at Jarrow, and Victor Grayson was starting out to contest Colne Valley with high hopes of success. In the House, the Labour Party was holding steadfastly together, and its leading men earning distinction alike as practical legislators and as opponents and critics of the Government. It should be noted here that MacDonald was at this time vigorously besetting the Government with demands for information regarding the nature of the agreements being entered into with Russia, which, if it had been given and so made public, might have changed the whole course of future diplomacy. It was certainly through no lack of vigilance on the part of the Labour Party that the nation became involved in international entanglements from which it could not get free without going to war, and which created war conditions in the whole of Europe.

Before sailing, Hardie wrote one article on the political situation, in which he scathingly indicted the Government for shelving all its social legislation to make room for Haldane’s Territorial Army Bill. “Everything else had to stand aside for this conscription-made-easy proposal,” rendered all the more ominous by the fact that the Government “was making treaties and bargains with Russia, whilst the hands and garments of its rulers drip with the blood of the victims who are daily being done to death for demanding for the Russian people a say in the government of their country.”

He sailed from Liverpool on July 12th, having first to undergo the ordeal of big send-off demonstrations in Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool. In an “Au Revoir” message to the “Leader,” he outlined his prospective journeyings as follows: “In Canada and South Africa, Australia and New Zealand I hope to meet again friends of the long ago, and to learn how our movement progresses. Japan and China will be touched in passing, that, and little more. We want all the cohesion possible in our great world-wide movement, and even a handshake in passing may not be without its value in bringing the forces of Labour in closer touch. India was an afterthought. At present a lying press campaign is being waged to bias the people of this country against the nations of that far-off land and to make it difficult for the Government to do anything to break down the official caste under which we hold them in the bondage of subjection. By seeing and hearing on the spot what the actual facts are, I may, on my return, be able to let in a little light upon the dark places of Indian government.”

The “afterthought” had thus become the main object of his journey, and the friends at home, who could not see much rest for him in such an enterprise, had to console themselves with the knowledge that he would perforce have to spend at least fifteen weeks at sea.

Throughout Canada he was received with great cordiality and he sent home interesting but none too optimistic impressions of the social conditions prevailing in the Dominion and of the state of Labour and Socialist organisation. Here, as everywhere during his tour, in conference with Trade Union and Socialist leaders, he broached the idea of a world-wide Labour Federation, as a practical and effective supplement to the Socialist International, not with any hope of its materialising quickly, but simply by way of sowing seed that might bring forth fruit in the future. He derived much benefit in health from his brief sojourn in Canada and did not meet with any hostility of any kind.

From the moment, however, of his arrival in India it became evident that those interests to which it was not suitable that “light should be let in upon dark places” had made preparations to prejudice him as a witness for the truth in the eyes of the British people. The fact that there was grave discontent among large sections of the people of India, arising out of the 'recent partition of Bengal, made it easy for the people at home to accept as true the luridly coloured pictures of Keir Hardie as a fomenter of that discontent. By the end of September, sensational reports, telegraphed through Reuter, of his sayings and doings in India began to reach this country, and were given great prominence and wide circulation in the press.

He was described as going about influencing the minds of the Bengalis, fomenting sedition, and undermining British rule. He was reported to have said that “the condition of Bengal was worse than that of Russia,” and that “the atrocities committed by officials would, if they were known, evoke more horror in England than the Turkish outrages in Armenia.” “Whereupon,” said a friendly commentator, “the Yellow Press was seized with a violent eruption. It vomited forth volumes of smoke and flame and mud, and roared at Keir Hardie like a thousand bellowing Bulls of Bashan, and even journals less tainted with insanity felt extremely shocked and took upon themselves to administer censure upon the author of this ‘scandalous utterance.’” Even “Punch” joined in the vituperation with a cartoon by Mr. Linley Sambourne, which showed Britannia gripping the agitator by the scruff of the neck and apostrophising him: “Here, you’d better come home. We know all about you here—you’ll do less harm.” At the time that this disgraceful attack was being made, the Indian authorities were writing home appreciative accounts of his doings. For a full fortnight Hardie was the most violently detested man throughout the English-speaking world, for, of course, this mighty noise had its reverberations in every corner of the Empire, and also in America. Knowing full well that his colleagues at home would have some difficulty in withstanding the storm of misrepresentation, he sent a cablegram to the “Daily Mail” giving a brief review of the economic conditions and political situation in Bengal, and concluding with the following significant caution : “People at home should be careful of trusting reports, especially of Reuter’s agents. The grossly distorted home reports are publicly censured by the leading Calcutta journals. Amusement here this morning at the cabled comments of the ‘Daily Mail,’ ‘Times’ and ‘Standard’ in their leading columns. They have been misled by Reuter.—J. Keir Hardie.”

In reply to a “Daily Mail” inquiry whether he had really made this specific statement attributed to him, he replied :—

“Calcutta, Thursday, October 3rd. “The statements are fabrications. I said that the prohibitions of meetings, etc., reminded me of Russia, and the violation of Hindu women by Mohammedan rowdies reminded me of Armenia, and that Colonial Government was the ultimate goal.—Keir Hardie.” And yet, on the very same day on which he cabled his repudiation of the statement attributed to him, Reuter’s Calcutta correspondent sent a cable to the British press in which he stated that “Mr. Keir Hardie, M.P., admitted in an interview that the statements attributed to him were not exaggerated.” Thus lie followed lie in a kind of cuttlefish endeavour to obscure the truth, the real purpose of the detractors being to discredit the very serious statements which Hardie actually did make concerning the state of matters in India.

Hardie’s own exposure of these misrepresentations was quickly followed by that of the Indian press, which unanimously testified to the correctness of his bearing. “None of the papers here, either English or native,” said a Central News message, “has taken much exception to his conduct, which is thought to have been, on the whole, quite proper and discreet, as becoming the honoured guest of the Maharajah of Mymensingh, one of the signatories of the loyal Manifesto, and of several prominent officials.”

Most satisfactory was the attitude of his colleagues at home in the face of all the obloquy and abuse. The “Labour Leader,” speaking for the I.L.P., declared that “the Party would stand solidly with him in conveying to the Indian people the strongest expression of the sympathy and support of British Socialists in their struggle against social and political oppression.”

Robert Blatchford, in the “Clarion,” appealed to the British press for fair play. Mr. Cunninghame Graham’s utterance was characteristic and at the same time representative of general Socialist opinion in the country. Declaring that he honoured and respected Keir Hardie for all he had endeavoured to do in Calcutta and British India, he said, “There were many millions of population in the country, the discreetest millions of the discreetest population the world had ever known, but there were few Keir Hardies—there were few men who, like Keir Hardie, had risen from the depths of poverty to such a position as he now occupied.” Our position in India was but for a time, and he held that the utterances of Keir Hardie would do much to prepare the minds of the native Indians, and cause them to think of the benefits of free institutions. Instead of deporting Keir Hardie from India, he thought “they ought to send an ironclad to bring him home as the first man who had broken through prejudice, and given the right hand of fellowship to their down-trodden brethren.”

These words undoubtedly reflected the views of the Socialist movement, and also of many people outside of it.

The attacks on Hardie, on this as on so many previous occasions, had exactly the opposite effect from what was intended, and he emerged from the tempest holding a higher place than ever in the estimation of the thoughtful sections of the community, while he had the satisfaction of knowing that public attention had been focussed on the question of the government of India as it had never been since the days of the Mutiny. Complacent and self-satisfied British citizens who had only heard vaguely of the partition of Bengal, and had no idea at all of what it implied, began to realise that all was not well in our manner of governing what the newspapers called the “Indian Empire.”

Happily, it is not necessary to overload this memoir with a detailed account of Hardie’s progress through India. That is to be found in his book “India : Impressions and Suggestions,” first published in 1909; a second edition, issued in 1917 by the Home Rule for India League with a valuable foreword by Philip Snowden, is now available.

He spent two months in India, and visited Bengal, Northern India, and two of the native States—Baroda-and Mysore. He mingled with all classes—Anglo-Indian officials, native princes, rulers and magistrates, peasants and factory workers, Mohammedans and Hindus; with all on terms of equality—that being probably his greatest offence in the eyes of certain sections of the Anglo-Indians who regard the maintenance of the “colour line” as a necessary bulwark of British supremacy. Hardie, naturally, could not recognise any social or race barriers, and held steadfastly to his intention, publicly declared before leaving Britain, that he “would know no colour, race or creed.” As a matter of fact, he knew them all, but made no distinction between any of them, and thereby won the esteem and confidence of all classes in India, and was enabled to see the inner life of the people as no previous visitor had been allowed to see it. In this respect, as in many others during the course of his life, he was a pioneer. The breach which he made in the wall of prejudice has never been quite closed, and through it there has passed much goodwill from the common people of Britain to the common people of India.

By this time Hardie was beginning to be somewhat homesick and longing to be in the thick of the political fray at Westminster. The visit to Ceylon was interesting but uneventful, and at Colombo he debated with himself whether it would not be better after all to leave out Australia and South Africa, and “make a bee-line for the Lugar, via the Red Sea.” “The fact is,” he wrote, “the trip is too long, and I see the new session opening and me still on the water, and I like not that.” His health had evidently considerably improved, and with restored strength came renewed confidence in himself, and he was yearning to be free to face his critics.

His experiences in the Australian colonies were, in the nature of things, in strong contrast with his experiences in India. He was amongst a free people, in the one part of the world where genuine experiment was being made in the principles and practice of selfgovernment, and he was naturally intent on studying— as far as his short tour would allow—the various phases and aspects of that experiment. But he made no claim that the notes which he sent home should be regarded as anything more than the personal impressions of a keenly interested wayfarer. He was well received everywhere, in West and South Australia, in Victoria, and New Zealand, and New South Wales, and regretted very much that he had to leave out Queensland and Tasmania. He had to speak at numerous public receptions organised in his honour. One or two attempts to raise prejudice against him, based upon the press reports of his Indian tour, melted away immediately on personal contact with him. He visited the gold fields at Koolgardie and Bendigo, the lead and copper mines at Broken Hill, and, of course, the coal mines at Newcastle—at all these places talking, as was his wont, as a miner to his fellow craftsmen. He renewed his friendship with Andrew Fisher, his early associate in the formation of the Ayrshire Miners’ Union* then and now one of Australia’s leading statesmen, and still true to his democratic upbringing. He met scores of old friends wherever he went, Scottish and Welsh friends especially claiming kinship and clanship. He spent many social hours with them cracking about old times in the old country and singing the old songs, and generally giving free scope to those social instincts which were always strong within him. At Adelaide he even went so far as to allow himself to be impressed into playing in a cricket match—Press and Parliament—and he records with a kind of boyish glee: “I carried off my bat for eight runs, one hit counting for four.” Probably bowlers and fielders were kind to him. He enjoyed himself thoroughly, and from the health point of view the Australian visit was undoubtedly the most beneficial part of the world tour. Yet it came near making an end of his career. While on a short motor trip out from Wellington, New Zealand, the car in which he was travelling went over an embankment, throwing him some fifteen or sixteen feet down towards a stream at the bottom. He was only saved from a complete descent by contact with trees and shrubbery. No bones were broken, but he was badly shaken and had to rest for several days. Describing the occurrence in a letter home, he said : “The accident has quite upset my New Zealand tour so far as the South Island is concerned, but bad as this is, it might easily have been worse. Doubtless there are those who would account for it by quoting the old saw, ‘Deil’s bairns hae their deddie's luck.’ If there be such, I am not the one to gainsay them.”

From his summing up of his Australian experiences one passage may be quoted, especially as it seems to show some modification of his attitude towards the Citizen Army idea, a modification, however, which ite overborne by his main argument. Referring to the fixed policy of a “White Australia,” in defence of which he recognised that the Australasian “would fight as for no other ideal,” and to the proposals arising out of that for an Australian navy and compulsory military service, he wrote : “Now, I who hate militarism and everything it stands for, readily admit that the conditions of the Australian continent are different from those of Great Britain. Further, if the choice is between an armed nation and a professional army, my preference is for the former. But in this, as in all else, everything depends upon who is to control the army. With Labour controlling the Parliament and owning the press, the danger of playing with arms would be reduced to a minimum. If, on the other hand, the professional soldier and the Imperialist politician are to run the show, the danger is too great to be taken on. Were I in Australian politics at this moment, I would resist to the end every proposal for giving militarism the least foothold in the Commonwealth. The Japanese bogey, when it is not a fraud, is the concoction of a frenzied brain, destitute of all knowledge of European politics. Great Britain is the last country on the map of the world with which the Japanese will care to embroil themselves. The experiment of keeping Australia white is a great one, the success of which time alone can decide.”

From Australia to South Africa was like passing from a friendly into a hostile country. He had to run the gauntlet of an opposition carefully and vindictively organised by the gold and diamond mining interests whose influence largely dominated the public life and controlled the press of the South African colonies. Hardie was their declared enemy and the avowed friend of the Boers and of the natives. He had championed the Boer Republic all through the war. He had opposed bitterly, and not ineffectively, the introduction of Chinese labour. He had advocated the claims of the natives for fair treatment, and his impassioned protests against the Natal massacres were on record in the pages of “Hansard” and in the columns of the “Labour Leader”; and, greatest sin of all, he was the living symbol of organised Labour, now beginning to assert itself in South Africa as elsewhere. The opposition manifested itself in calculated and unbridled rowdyism, unchecked by the authorities, except at Johannesburg, where murder was feared. At Ladysmith, the windows of the hotel in which he stayed were smashed by the paid rowdies, “no one, not even the hotel-keeper, trying to restrain them.” At Johannesburg a gang had been organised, and a detachment was sent to Pretoria, where the crowd, after the meeting, was the most turbulent of any, and smashed the carriage in which he drove back to the hotel with stones and other missiles. At Durban, there were similar disturbances. Yet at all these places he managed to address public meetings organised by the local Trades Councils and the Socialists, bodyguards capable of protecting him, at considerable risk to themselves, from actual violence to his person being provided from amongst his friends.

Through it all he moved unperturbed, and did not allow the rough treatment he had received to colour his impressions. Thus, for example, at Johannesburg, he describes a two thousand feet mine which he visited as being well ventilated and the timbering the finest he had seen anywhere. He noted that the compounds, especially the newer parts, were clean and comfortable, and that the Chinamen, were living under much better sanitary conditions than they enjoyed at home. At the same time he points out that “there are empty houses, and unemployed workmen, and much woe and want in the Rand,” and that, “nevertheless, the mines pay £7,000,000 a year in dividends.”

He deplored the prevalence of the opinion, as much amongst working people as amongst other classes, that “South Africa should be made a white man’s country and the nigger kept in his proper place,” and he pointed out that the white man, by refusing to work and by getting the Kaffir to work for him under his supervision, was tacitly admitting that South Africa was not, and never could be, a white man’s country. The native question he regarded as South Africa’s greatest problem, but made no attempt to dogmatise as to its solution. He was impressed by the shrewdness and intelligence of the South African native, who, he predicted, “would put up a fight against the farmer who wants his land, and the miner who wants his labour at starvation wage.” Hardie urged that the Labour movement at home and in South Africa should combine to save the South African natives from being reduced to the position of “a landless proletariat at the mercy of their exploiters for all time."

His somewhat pessimistic conclusions regarding the South African outlook were, if anything, reinforced by a day spent in the company of Olive Schreiner, with whom he had been on terms of friendship since before the war, and whose mind was filled with dark forebodings for the future of her country. He was not sorry to shake the South African dust from his feet and turn his face homewards.

The tour, which for many reasons attracted as much public interest as if he had been a royal personage, had at least fulfilled its primary purpose. When, he arrived in Plymouth in the last week of March, he appeared to be in splendid health. “I have never seen him looking so well, though his grey hair has whitened a little,55 said Glasier, who was amongst the welcoming party. “He presented a most picturesque figure, as he stood, erect as ever, sunburnt and aglow, in his tweed suit, his gray Tam-o5-Shanter, and with his Indian shawl slung round his shoulder, he struck one as a curious blend between a Scottish shepherd and an Indian rajah. He avows that he has stuck to his Scotch porridge for breakfast six days a week with a ctea breakfast5 on Sundays.55

Among the first news he received on landing was that the Socialist students of Glasgow University had nominated him for the Lord Rectorship, thus making him involuntarily the central figure in quite a new sphere of Socialist propaganda. The election, which created widespread interest, took place in the following October, after an unusually exciting fight. Hardie himself, in accordance with traditional etiquette in such contests, took no part. The nomination speech was made by

H. M. Hyndman, and other speakers who addressed the students on behalf of Hardie’s candidature were Cunninghame Graham, Herbert Burrows, Mrs. Cobden Sanderson, Victor Grayson and the Rev. Stitt Wilson, of America, while messages in support were sent by Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace, George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, the Rev. R. J. Campbell, and others well known in the world of literature and politics. The leading spirit in this unique campaign was Thomas Johnston, a former student at the University, founder and editor of “Forward,” and now well known as the author of the authoritative “History of the Working Classes of Scotland.” The voting figures were as follows:—

Lord Curzon 947
Lloyd George 935
Keir Hardie 122

Twenty-two of Hardie’s votes were from women students.

The narrow defeat of Lloyd George caused much chagrin amongst Liberals.


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