Wednesday, May 11, 2016

ANOTHER “ LOST LEADER.” (1911)

Editorial from the January 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard

Mr. D. J. Shackleton, late “Labour” M.P., upholder of the black legging labour exchanges, apologist in general for the Liberal party, has at length received due reward for services rendered. The devil looks after his own. The capitalist Liberal Government, in elevating Mr. Shackleton to the position of Labour adviser to the Home Office, has again emphasised the fact, so often retailed by us, of its willingness to buy any material (however soiled) that it has found in the past, and expects to find in the future, useful in its struggle against the rising force of Socialism.

Mr. Shackleton, while ostensibly representing the interests of the workers in the House of Commons, has, in fact, with almost unprecedented effrontery and cynicism, taken every opportunity of leading support toward maintaining and furthering the interests of the employing class. The Liberal capitalists, with their usual astuteness, have seized an opportune moment for the appointment of Mr. Shackleton to his new post. Seeing all around signs of a more or less articulate Labour protest, they have executed an excellent stroke of business by taking under their direct control a man with a first-hand knowledge of the trade union movement, and Shackleton will no doubt earn his salary.

While members of the working class remain in their present condition of political ignorance, leaving their affairs in the hands of “leaders,” there will continue to be desertion and betrayal. On the other hand, if they were conscious of their position as a class, if they had no leaders and refused to be followers, little or nothing would be gained by capitalism or lost to Labour by the “ratting” of one of their number. Such a man, having no followers, would go alone. The probability is, however, that many more of their “leaders” will be lost before the absurdity of following any man or men dawns upon the workers. Burns, Mitchell, Bell and Shackleton, have all been offered and accepted their price. It is hardly conceivable that the inestimable services to capitalism and Liberalism of such men as Ramsay MacDonald (supporter of child-labour) and Philip Snowden (apologist for the Featheretone and Belfast murders) should be overlooked.

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