From the January 1910 issue of the Socialist Standard
When we are doing good work for our class the enemy is loudest in abuse of our conduct. Indeed, the only condition upon which the capitalists will speak well of us is that we cease to do battle with them and so desert our cause. Therefore we take a pardonable pride in the hostility which our propaganda provokes in the ranks of the exploiters, for we know it is the highest compliment they can pay us. This, however, is by no means the attitude of those “respectable and adaptable” citizens, the “Labour” M.P.’s. The ruling class speaks well of them. They are, in fact, so beloved of the Liberal enemy that he will, an far as possible, avoid the calamity (to him) of keeping them out of Parliament.
Thus the Daily Chronicle says (18.11.09),
“It is interesting to note that in Woolwich and Deptford the Liberals have apparently decided not to put forward a candidate in opposition to Mr. Will Crooks and Mr. C. W. Bowerman. . . . If, as we understand, Mr. Bowerman will be opposed only by a Tory, or two Tories (there is a split in the opposition camp), there is more than ordinary significance in the letter which Mr. A. J. Pease, chief Liberal Whip, addressed to Sir Henry Havelock Allen. In this letter Mr. Pease suggested, as we stated yesterday, that, ’Liberals should, so far as they could, respect the seats of the Labour Representation Committee’s candidates, and the Labour party in return should respect the Liberal seats.’ ”
The Chronicle man, as was natural, set out immediately in quest of the other party to this suggested understanding; and tracked the chairman of the Labour group to earth, only to find him as wily as the fabled fox. As the newspaper states:
“Mr. Arthur Henderson, chairman of the Labour party in the House, was seen yesterday by a ‘Daily Chronicle’ representative, but he explained that, as he had not had time to read Mr. Pease’s letter, and was, besides, hurrying off to Portsmouth, he could not express any opinion on the subject.”
Of course the chairman of the House of Commons Labour Party “could not express any opinion.” Was he going to let the cat out of the bag ? “Keep it dark, for goodness sake? Don’t make a fuss over it or the game will be up!’’ was in all probability his muttered comment. And so the game will be up, we may add, when the rank and file understand the game that is being played.
Notice also how the Chronicle fawns on such men as Mr. Snowden. This is how it speaks of him in its issue for November 3rd.
“SOCIALIST MEMBER’S TRIUMPH.“These three were all good speeches, but they were overtopped by the fourth, Mr. Philip Snowden’s. His ascetic face lit up by the light of intellect is a familiar feature on the Labour benches. While be has often spoken effectively in the House be has never before won the triumphant success that be achieved tonight. He is heart and soul for the Budget—not, mark, because it is Socialism, but only because it marks a very moderate step forward on the long road of social amelioration.
“An entranced House listened with every faculty on the stretch as this thoughtful Socialist expounded his creed. On the Government Bench Mr. Asquith sat with eyes fastened on the speaker, and Mr. Balfour, a nearer neighbour, turning round so as to catch every word, was another absorbed listener. The Budget is called revolutionary. It is nothing of the kind, said Mr. Snowden. It is not a revolution but a preventive of revolution. (Loud Liberal cheers.) It means not Socialism but Social Reform. He developed with great ability the distinction between the one thing and the other. In this connection he quoted the definition given by Mr. Balfour in a speech delivered in Birmingham in November, 1907."
Thus does Mr. Snowden proclaim himself the enemy of Socialism. But in order to throw his followers off the scent, he goes on to cunningly confuse capitalist development (which is toward more intense exploitation.and historically makes Socialism necessary while it precedes it) with the development of Socialist society. This dodge enables him to delude the ignorant into believing that he is working for Socialism while in reality be is helping the capitalists. He further says:
“So far from the Budget being a revolution, it is such a slight movement in the wheel as to be almost imperceptible.”
Its imperceptibility is evidently its greatest virtue. “He is heart and soul for the Budget” because, apparently, it is not Socialism, and because so far from being akin to revolution, it is its very antithesis!
No wonder that Mr. C. F. G. Masterman, M.P. could say in The Nation (24.8.08) that
"The accession of strength came with the realisation of the mildness of the Labour Party. Here were no wild revolutionists, harbingers of an uprising of the lower orders, determined to break up the recognised courtesies and hypocrisies of England’s benevolent plutocracy. Instead there was a mixture of old-fashioned trade unionists, with a sprinkling of well behaved and pleasant Socialists; more punctilious about the forms of the House than the oldest members; more eager in making a bargain with the Government and proving themselves agreeable supporters than the most truculent of the Radicals opposite.”
Let the toilers ponder this capitalist praise of the Labour Party, and they will find it convincing evidence of the utter worthlessness of Labourism to the working class; evidence, moreover, that is being confirmed by the daily conduct of the Labour members both in and out of the House of Commons.
F. C. Watts