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J. KEIR HARDIE 





Copyright 


J. Keir Hardie, 1914 


J. 


KEIR HARDIE 


A Biography 


By 

WILLIAM STEWART 

With an Introduction by 

J. RAMSAY MACDONALD 



THE WAYERLEY BOOK COMPANY, LTD. 
96 FARRINGDON STREET, LONDON, E.C.+ 





HID 83^3 \\zSq l^alL . 


FIRST PUBLISHED OCTOBER, 1921. 


Printed at the London Works of 
THE NATIONAL LABOUR PRESS, LIMITED, 
8, 9, 10 Johnson’s Court, Fleet Street, E.C.4. 


AUTHORS PREFACE 


T HE one man of all Keir Hardie's associates 
most fitted to write an account of his life and 
work was the late /. Bruce Glasier. His know¬ 
ledge of the Labour and Socialist movement in all its 
•phases and aspects, his long and close intimacy with 
Hardie both in public and private life, his sympathetic 
perception of the motives and environment and heredity 
which went to the formation of Har die's character, and 
influenced his actions, and his own fine gift of literary 
expression, qualified him above all others to be Keir 
Hardie's biographer. 

The Fates ruled otherwise. Before Mr. Glasier had 
begun to collect and assort the material for the work, he 
was himself stricken with the illness, which, heroically 
borne through two years of pain, ended in his death. It 
was at Mr. Glasier's request while on his bed of sickness 
that I, not very confidently, undertook the work. The 
Memorial Committee adopted Mr. Glasier's suggestion 
that / should be appointed to take his place. The work 
therefore came to me both as a request and, as a com¬ 
mand. I have performed it to the best of my ability; 
whether well or ill, must be left to the judgment of others. 

To those friends who were most familiar with Keir 
Hardies habits of life it will be unnecessary to explain 
that the task has not been quite easy. Though he had the 
intention of some day writing a book of reminiscences, 
the daily call of the Labour and Socialist movement left 
him without any leisure to sit down to it systematically, 

185148 


Vll 


AUTHOR'S PREFACE 


and when he died he had not even made that provision 
for posthumous fame which seems customary with per¬ 
sons who have figured in public life. He kept no diary, 
and he preserved few letters, though he must have 
received many from important people. If it be true, 
as has been said, that letters are the raw material of 
biography, this particular biography has been produced 
at a disadvantage. That is not entirely true, however. 
Much of the material for a life of Hardie is to be found 
not in his private but in his public writings which were 
Voluminous, and, to a considerable extent, self-revealing. 
But the very wealth and abundance of this kind of 
material have rendered the work difficult if interesting. 

I found it necessary to go through with some selective 
care the two volumes of “ The Miner” twenty-one 
volumes of the “ Labour Leader,” several volumes of 
the “Merthyr Pioneer ,'' and also to refer to other 
Socialist papers, to the columns of the contemporary 
daily press, and to the pages of “ Hansard.” 

There will be differences of opinion as to whether 
this material has always been used in the best way, and 
also as to whether certain events and episodes have been 
over or under emphasised. These differences cannot be 
helped. / had to use my own judgment and have done 
so, and the result must stand. 

For information concerning the early period of Keir 
Hardie's life 1 am indebted, to several members of the 
family, ' especially to his brothers, George, David and 
William. Mrs. Keir Hardie also was most helpful in 
supplying those domestic details which seemed necessary, 
while for some of the early Ayrshire experiences / have 
to thank Councillor James Neil of Cumnock, and 

viii 


AUTHOR'S PREFACE 


several quite obscure but sterling men of the pits who 
were associated with Hardie in his scantily recorded 
pioneering days. 

For an account of the historic Mid-Lanark election 
there was a fair amount of information available, though 
it had to be dug out. Not so, however, with regard to 
the West Ham election, and I have specially to thank 
Councillor Ben Gardner for his valuable help in this 
connection. There is a probability that he, and also the 
many Merthyr friends, notably Llewellyn Francis, John 
Barr, Councillor Stonelake and Emrys Hughes, may 
think I have not made the fullest use of the very valuable 
information which they placed at my disposal. They 
will, however, / have no doubt, realise that I had to be 
governed by a sense of proportion, and had to consider 
each phase of Hardie's life in its relation to his whole 
career. 

I do sincerely believe, however, that the book as it 
stands contains nearly all that is essential to a true 
understanding of the character of Keir Hardie and of 
his life work; and thereby makes it possible for readers 
to form a fust estimate of the great service which he 
rendered to the working people, not of his own country 
only, but of the world, and therefore to Humanity. 

WILLIAM STEWART. 


September gth, 1921. 


IX 




















































CONTENTS 


Page 


Introduction by J. Ramsay MacDonald . . . xv 

Chapter 

1. The Making of an Agitator ..... i 

2. Journalist and Labour Organiser—“ The Miner ” . 17 

3. Mid-Lanark — The Scottish Labour Party — The 

Socialist Movement . . . . • -35 

4. The Second International — West Ham — The I.L.P.— 

Parliament ........ 58 

5. Standing Alone—The Member for the Unemployed . 85 

6. A General Election—America—Industrial Strife . 105 

7. South African War—The L.R.C.— Merthyr Tydvil . 143 

8. Parliament Once More—" The White Herald ”— 

Serious Illness . . . . . • • *73 

9. The Class War in Theory and Practice . . . 208 

10. The Parliamentary Labour Party—Physical Break¬ 

down—Round the World ..... 221 

11. Foreign Policy—The King’s Garden Party—Attacks 

from Within and Without ..... 260 


12. Two General Elections—Industrial Turmoil—The 

Brink of War ....... 290 

13. South Africa and Ireland—Coming-of-Age Conference 

—Armageddon ....... 326 

14. The Last Year ........ 35 ° 

Chronology ........ 37 6 

Index .......... 379 








LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 


J. Keir Hardie, 1914, from a photograph by 

Walter Scott. Frontispiece 

To face page 

J. Keir Hardie, 1893 100 

J. Keir Hardie in his Room at Nevill’s Court, London, 

from a photograph by Alfred Barrett . . . .196 


J, Keir Hardie, 1910, from a photograph by Annan and 
Sons 


306 






INTRODUCTION 


T HE purposes of biography are manifold, but 
they have this common end : to interpret the 
subject and show forth what manner of man he 
was of whom the writer writes. That done faithfully, 
the biographer can launch his work upon the waters and 
trust to the winds and the currents for a prosperous 
voyage. 

But what is “ faithfully ” ? A patient and accurate 
accumulation of facts and events strung upon time as 
boys used to hang rows of birds’ eggs upon strings ? A 
cold, impartial scrutiny of a life made from a judgment 
seat placed above the baffling conflicts of doubting 
conscience, groping reason and weak desire? 
Biographies may be so written. But the life of him who 
has stood in the market place with a mission to his 
fellows, who has sought to bring visions of greater 
dignity and power into the minds of the sleeping and 
vegetating crowds, who has tried to gather scattered and 
indifferent men into a mighty movement and to elevate 
discontented kickings against the pricks into a crusade 
for the conquest of some Holy Land, cannot be dealt 
with in that way. He must submit to the rigid scrutiny; 
the dross that is in him, the mistakes and miscalculations 
which he made, must be exposed with his virtues, 
wisdoms and good qualities. But to portray such a 
man, the biographer has not only to scrutinise him 
objectively; he must also tell how he appeared to, and 
was felt by, the people who were influenced by him, and 
preserve for the future the hero or the saint who received 
the homage of leadership and the worship of affection. 
The glamour of the myth gathers round all great popular 


xv 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

leaders and becomes an atmosphere as real to their 
personality as the colour of cloud and sun is real to a 
landscape. Were we to separate what is inseparable, we 
might say that such a man has two beings, that which 
the critic alone can see, dissecting him as though he 
lay a lifeless thing upon a table, and that which the 
artist sees regarding him as one of the living formative 
forces of his time. 

In the latter way the biography of Keir Hardie must 
be treated if it is to be a full interpretation of the man. 
Mr. Stewart, who has done this book, writes of his hero, 
frankly and unashamedly, as a worshipper. He is a 
disciple who for many years has enjoyed the intimacy of 
his master, and he sees with the eye and writes with the 
pen which reveal the inspiring leader to us. He has 
gathered from a great mass of details the outstanding 
incidents in Hardie’s life, and through the deeds has 
shown the man. He has also preserved for all who may 
read his book, and especially for those in whose 
memories those precious days of pioneering have no 
place, the inspiration that made the work possible and 
brought forth from chaos the Labour Movement. 

Everyone who came in contact with Hardie felt his 
personality right away at the outset. His power never 
lay in his being at the head of a political organisation 
which he commanded, for the organisation of the Inde¬ 
pendent Labour Party was always weak compared with 
its influence, and he had ceased to be an official of the 
miners before their combination became really formid¬ 
able; nor did it lie in his ability to sway the crowd by 
divine gifts of speech and appeal, for his diction though 
beautifully simple was rarely tempestuous, and his voice 
had few of the qualities that steal into the hearts of men 
and stir them in their heights and depths; more certainly 
still he never secured a follower by flattery nor won the 


xvi 


INTRODUCTION 


ear of a crowd by playing down to it. He set a hard task 
before his people and gave them great ends to pursue. 
He left no man in peace in the valley gutter, but winded 
them on the mountain tracks. What then was the 
secret of the man ? I who have seen him in all relation¬ 
ships, at the height of triumph and the depths of 
humiliation, on the platform and at the fireside, dignified 
amongst strangers and merry amongst friends, 
generally fighting by his side but sometimes in conflict 
with him, regard that secret as first of all his personality 
and then his proud esteem for the common folk and his 
utter blindness to all the decorations of humanity. He 
was a simple man, a strong man, a gritty man. 

Hardie was of the “old folk.” Born in a corner of 
Scotland where there still lingered a belief in the 
uncanny and the superhuman, where Pan’s pipes were 
still heard in the woods, the kelpie still seen at the fords 
and the fairy still met with on the hills, and born in the 
time of transition when the heart and imagination paid 
homage whilst the reason was venturing to laugh, he went 
out into the world with a listening- awe in his soul; 
brought up in surroundings eloquent with the memory 
of sturdy men who trusted to the mists to shield them 
from the murderous eyes of the Claverhouses and their 
dragoons, and dotted with the graves and the monuments 
of martyrs to a faith—dreary moors “where about the 
graves of the martyrs the whaups are crying, and grey 
farmhouses where in the “killing times women 
lamented over their husbands and sons murdered at 
their doors for loyalty to God and the Covenant 
surroundings, moreover, which in later times had seen 
Burns at the plough dejected, and had heard him singing 
his songs of love, of pity, of gaiety, he went out a strong 
man in heart and in backbone, with the spirit of great 
tradition in him; nurtured by a mother who faced the 


B 


xvu 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


hard world like a woman of unconquerable soul, whose 
tears were followed by defiance and whose sighs ended 
with challenge, he went out like a knight armed with a 
sword which had the magic of conquest tempering its 
steel. That was his birthright, and that birthright 
made him a gentleman, whether running errands for a 
baker in Glasgow, or facing the “overfed beasts ’ 5 on the 
benches of the House of Commons. Such men never 
fear the face of men and never respect their baubles. 

From the same sources came his comfort in the 
common folk. All great human discovery is the 
discovery of the wisdom that comes from babes and 
sucklings, as all great artistic achievement depends on 
the joy that dwells in the simple. It has been said that 
there is the false ring of peevishness in Burns’ “A man’s 
a man for a’ that,” and it may be that resentment gives 
a falsetto note to some of the lines. But when the great 
labour leader comes, whether he be born from the 
people or not will be of little concern, the decisive thing 
will be whether he values in his heart, as Burns did, 
the scenes and the people from which spring not only 
Scotia s grandeur, but the power which is to purify 
society and expose the falseness and the vulgarity of 
materialist possession and class distinctions. The mind 
of the labour leader must be too rich to do homage to 
“tinsel show,” too proud of its own lineage to make 
obeisance to false honour, and too cultured to be misled 
by vulgar display. 

A title, Dempster merits it; 

A garter gie to Willie Pitt; 

Giei wealth to some be-ledgtr’d cit, 

In cent, per, cent. 

But give me real sterling wit, 

And I’m content. 

A working class living in moral and social parasitism 
on its “betters” will only increase the barrenness and 


xvm 


INTRODUCTION 


the futility of life. In the end, it is perhaps a matter of 
good taste and self-respect, and these are birthrights 
and are not taught in the schools. They belong to the 
influences which life assimilates as plants assimilate a 
rich or an impoverished air and sap. Perhaps the Scots¬ 
man is peculiarly fortunate in this respect. No country 
has had a meaner aristocracy or a sturdier common 
people. Partly its education, partly its history, partly 
its church government and system of worship, partly the 
frugality which nature imposed upon it for so many 
generations, laid up a store of independence in the 
characters of many of its people, and Burns awoke this 
into activity. I doubt if any man who received the 
historical birthright of Scotsmen at his birth, ever 
accepted a tinsel honour without feeling that he was 
doing wrong and somehow abandoning his country. 

Be these things as they may, Hardie had those native 
qualities which never became incompetent to value the 
honour and the worth of a kitchen fireside, of a woman 
who, like his mother, toiled in the fields, of a man who 
earned his living by the sweat of his brow, subduing 
Heaven the while. He said a life-long Amen to the 
words which Scott puts in the mouth of Rob Roy on 
Glasgow bridge: “He that is without name, without 
friends, without coin, without country, is still at least a 
man; and he that has all these is no more”—Hardie’s 
democratic spirit might have added “and is often some¬ 
thing less.” When he became famous, his world 
widened and he mixed with people in different circum¬ 
stances. But he met them as the self-respecting 
workman, all unconscious of difference and with neither 
an attempt nor a desire to imitate them. The drawing¬ 
rooms of the rich never allured him into a syco¬ 
phantic servitude, a chair at a workman’s fireside 
hard to sit upon never robbed that fireside of its 


xix 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


cheery warmth. The true gentleman is he who acts 
like a gentleman unconsciously. Therefore, this 
quality eludes him who would write of it, for an 
explanation of it suggests consciousness of it. Only 
when the ruling class habits sought to impose themselves 
on him by authority did he resent them and become 
conscious of his own nature—as when he went to the 
House of Commons in a cloth cap, or when, in an out¬ 
burst of moral loathing, he replied to the jeers of a 
band who had returned to the House radiant in 
the garb and the demeanour of those who had risen from 
a well replenished table, by the epithet “well-fed 
beasts,”—and then his native good taste speedily 
asserted itself and he became natural. 

Experience in the world strengthened this part of his 
nature.. Whether as a baker’s messenger forced to pass 
moral judgment on the man of substantial respecta¬ 
bility, or as a Trade Union official studying the results 
of the work of directors, managers and such like, or as 
a politician in touch with the political intelligence and 
general capacity of “the ruling classes,” he saw no 
inferiority in his fellow workmen. He found them 
careless, disorganised, indifferent; but their lives 
remained real and their common interests were the true 
interests. . They were the robust stem upon which 
every desirable thing had to be engrafted. 

Thus it was that the sober people, the people prepared 
for idealistic effort, the people whose ears detected the 
ring of a genuine coin and had become tired of the 
spunous or ill-minted thing, the people who were laying 
the foundations of their new cities on the rock of human 
worth, were drawn to him, honoured him, believed in 
him and loved him. It is very difficult for a man made 
of that material to do justice to “the classes” in these 
times to their qualities, their lives, their interests, and 


xx 


INTRODUCTION 


even their worship—but ITardie was catholic, and rarely 
have his friends heard from his lips an unjust con¬ 
demnation of those people. Charity lay even in his 
most emphatic condemnations. 

Of Hardie’s work it is easy to judge even at this early 
day, so distinctive was it. He will stand out for ever 
as the Moses who led the children of labour in this 
country out of bondage—out of bondage, not into 
Canaan, for that is to be a longer job. Others had 
described that bondage, had explained it, had told what 
ought to come after it. Hardie found the labour 
movement on its industrial side narrowed to a conflict 
with employers, and totally unawmre that that conflict, 
if successful, could only issue in a new economic order; 
on its political side, he found it thinking only of returning 
to Parliament men who came from the pits and work¬ 
shops to do pretty much the same work that the 
politicians belonging to the old political parties had 
done, and totally unaware that Labour in politics must 
have a new outlook, a new driving force of ideas and a 
new standard of political effort. When he raised the 
flag of revolt in Mid-Lanark, he was a rebel proclaiming 
civil war; when he fought the old Trade Union leaders 
from the floor of Congress, he was a sectary; when the 
Independent Labour Party was formed in Bradford, it 
was almost a forlorn hope attacked by a section 
of Socialists on the one hand and by the labour leaders 
in power on the other. What days of fighting, of 
murmuring, of dreary desert trudging were to follow, 
only those who went through them know. Through 
them, a mere handful of men and women sustained the 
drudgery and the buffetings. Hardie’s dogged—even 
dour—persistence made faint-heartedness impossible. 
One has to think of some of those miraculous endurances 
of the men who defied hardship in the blank wilderness, 


xxi 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


the entangled forest, the endless snowfield, to get an 
understanding of the exhaustion of soul and mind and 
body which had to be undergone between 1890 and 1900, 
in order to create a Labour Movement. 

For this endurance Hardie had an . inexhaustible 
inner resource. He knew 

Thei hillst where his life rose, 

And the sea where it goes. 

He was one of the sternest champions which his class 
has ever produced, and yet his was no class mind. His 
driving and resisting power was not hate nor any of the 
feelings that belong to that category of impulse. When 
I used the expression “communal consciousness,” for 
the first time in a book I had written, as the antithesis to 
“class consciousness,” which some Socialists regarded 
as the shibboleth test of rectitude, he wrote me saying 
that that was exactly what he felt. But even that was 
not comprehensive enough. His life of sense was but 
the manifestations of the spirit, and to him “the spirit” 
was something like what it was to the men whose bones 
lay on the Ayrshire moors under martyrs’ monuments. 
It was the grand crowned authority of life, but an 
authority that spoke from behind a veil, that revealed 
itself in mysterious things both to man’s heart and eyes. 
He used to tell us tales and confess to beliefs, in words 
that seemed to fall from the lips of a child. Had he not 
found his portion where blows had to be given and to be 
fended, and where the mind had to be actively wary 
every moment of the day in advancing and retreating, 
he would have been one of an old time to whom a 
belief in mystic signs and warnings would have been 
reverence and not superstition, and by whom such signs 
would have been given. Those who knew him have 
often met him looking as though a part of him were 
absent in some excursion in lands now barred to most of 


XXII 


INTRODUCTION 


mankind. This, I believe, explains the hospitality he 
always gave to every new attempt to express the truth, 
explains his devotion to the cause of women as it was in 
his lifetime and, above all, explains the mysterious 
affinity there was between himself and children. His 
whole being lay under the shadow of the hand of the 
crowned Authority which told him of its presence now 
by a lightning flash, now by a whisper, and now by a 
mere tremor in his soul like what the old folk believed 
went through the earth when night died and the day was 
born. The world was life, not things, to him. 

Thus, his Socialism was not an economic doctrine, not 
a formula proved and expressed in algebraic signs of % 
and y. He got more Socialism from Burns than from 
Marx; “The Twa Dogs,” and “A Man’s a Man for a’ 
that,” were more prolific text books for his politics than 
“Das Kapital.” This being the spirit of his handiwork, 
the Independent Labour Party, is one reason why it 
became the greatest political influence of our time and 
threw into an almost negligible background, both in its 
enthusiastic propaganda and practical capacity, all other 
Socialist bodies in this country. 

The inconsistencies which are essential attributes of 
human greatness are the cause of much trouble to the 
ordinary man, but these inconsistencies do not belong 
to the same order of things as the unreliabilities of the 
charlatan or the changefulness of the time-server. 
Hardie’s apparent waywardness often gave his cqI- 
leagues concern. He was responsive to every move¬ 
ment and hospitable to the most childlike thoughts 
—so much so that in a battle he not infrequently seemed 
to be almost in the opposing ranks, as at that Derby 
Conference, described by Mr. Stewart, when he sorely 
tried the loyalty of our own women by going out of his 
way to greet those who had done everything in their 

xxiii 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


power to harass and insult them. A great man has so 
many sides to which the various voices of the day make 
appeal. He is not only one man but several—not only 
man, but woman too. But greatness is inconsistent only 
in the things that do not matter very much, and in the 
grand conflict of great issues he stood up as reliable as 
a mighty boulder in a torrent. The strength of hills 
was his for exactly the same reason as he had the trustful 
mind of a child. What appeared to be inconsistency was 
indeed manysidedness. No man was more generously 
international in his outlook and spirit, and yet to the very 
core of his being he was a Scotsman of Scotsmen, and it is 
not at all inappropriate that I came across him first of all 
at a meeting to demand Home Rule for Scotland. A 
man who held in no special esteem the “book lear” of 
universities, he, nevertheless, warmed in interest to all 
kinds of lore, and he read choicely and was ever ready 
to sit at the feet of whomsoever had knowledge to impart. 
Always willing to listen, he was never ready to yield; 
loyal like a man, he was, nevertheless, persistent in his 
own way sometimes to a fault; humble in the councils of 
friends, he was proud in the world. Looking back at him 
now,. the memory of his waywardness only adds to 
affection and admiration. One sees how necessary it 
was for his work. 

There is one other inconsistency of greatness which 
he showed only to friends. He could stand alone, and 
yet he could not. “No one can ever know,” he once 
said to me, “what suffering a man has to endure by mis¬ 
representation.” He required a corner in the hearts of 
his people where he could rest and be soothed by regard. 
He therefore felt keenly every attack that was crudely 
cruel. For instance he was sorely struck by the brutally 
vile cartoon which “Punch” published of him when he 
was m India. (I knew of the letters which Lord Minto 


xxiy 


INTRODUCTION 


was sending home expressing pleasure at his conduct 
in India, and I cheered him by telling him of them.) 

But sorest of all was the wound which the war made 
upon him. Like every intelligent man who kept his head, 
he saw that the most worthless elements in the country 
would ride the whirlwind, that the people would be 
worked up into a state of mind that would not only defy 
every appeal- to reason, but would prolong the agony 
and settle it, as all wars have hitherto been settled, by 
crushing debts, ruined ideals and a peace which would 
only be a truce to give time for the sowing of new seeds 
of war. He knew that when the clash came it could 
not be ended until the conditions of a settlement arose, 
and he joined heartily with the small group in the 
country who took the view that those conditions were 
political and not military, and that, therefore, whilst the 
soldier was holding the trenches, the politician should be 
as busy as the munition worker creating the political 
weapons which were to bring peace. He also knew 
that, when the war comes, the safety of every country is 
endangered by its enemy and that adequate steps must be 
taken to protect it. But he saw that problem in its 
fulness and not with military blinkers limiting his vision 
to recruitment, guns and poison gas. He was quite 
well aware that the sky would speedily be darkened by 
black clouds of lies and misrepresentations, innocent and 
deliberate. That was in the day’s work, and he knew 
that in time the attitude of his colleagues and himself 
would first of all be understood and that, later on, people 
would wonder why it took them so long to see the same 
things. He saw the Treaty of Versailles before 1915 
was very far spent, and he was content to endure and 
wait. That is not how he was wounded. The 
deadly blow was given by the attitude of old colleagues. 
When he returned from his first meeting in his 


XXV 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


constituency on the outbreak of war, described by 
Mr. Stewart, he was a crushed man, and, sitting in the 
sun on the terrace of the House of Commons where I 
came across him, he seemed to be looking out on blank 
desolation. From that he never recovered. Then 
followed the complete mergence of the Labour Party 
in the war-lusty crowd. The Independent Labour 
Party kept as trusty as ever, but he felt that his work was 
over, that all he could do in his lifetime was to amount 
to no more than picking up some of the broken spars of 
the wreckage. As Bunyan puts it, “a post had come 
from the celestial city for him.” And so he died. 

The outlook has already changed. The floods are 
subsiding and his work stands. We are still too near 
to that work to see it in its detailed historical relations; the 
day and its events are too pressingly close and urgent to 
enable us to view the results of it in a lasting setting. Of 
this we are assured, however : in its great purposes and 
general achievements it is permanent. It is well with 
him and his memory. 

“I shall be satisfied when I awake.” 

J. Ramsay MacDonald. 


xxvi 


J. KEIR HARDIE 









J. KEIR HARDIE 


CHAPTER ONE 

THE MAKING OF AN AGITATOR 

J AMES KEIR HARDIE was born on August 15th, 
1856, in a one-roomed house at Legbrannock, near 
Holytown in Lanarkshire, amongst the miners, of 
whom he was to become one, and with whose interests 
he was to be closely identified all through life. 

His father, David Hardie, was not, however, a miner, 
nor of miner stock. He was a ship carpenter by trade, 
drawn into this district by the attractions of Mary Keir, 
a domestic servant, who became his wife and the mother 
of the future labour agitator. Both parents were 
endowed with strong individuality of character, of a kind 
not calculated to make life smooth for themselves or 
their offspring; but it was undoubtedly from the mother 
that the boy inherited that resourcefulness and power of 
endurance which enabled him, through a full half- 
century of unceasing strife, to develop and, in some 
measure, realise those ideals of working-class inde¬ 
pendence and organisation with which his name is 
associated 

Not much is known of Keir Hardie’s years of infancy, 
but that they were not overflowing with joy may be 
surmised from the fact that in his eighth year we find the 


1 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


family—increased in numbers—living in the ship¬ 
building district of Glasgow in very straightened 
circumstances even for working folk. 

Latterly, the father had been following his trade at 
sea, but was now trying to settle down to work in the 
shipyards, not an easy thing to do at a time when trade 
was dull and employment scarce. This may account for 
the fact that the home was, now on the Govan side, now 
on the Partick side, and never got itself really established 
as a steady going working-class household. A brief 
period of regular employment was broken by an accident 
which incapacitated the breadwinner for many weeks, 
during which there were no wages nor income of any 
kind, and as a consequence there was an accruing 
burden of debt. Those were not the days of Compensa¬ 
tion Acts and Workmen’s Insurance. 

At this period we get our first real glimpse of the boy 
Keir Hardie and of the conditions under which his 
character developed. Hardly had the father recovered 
from his illness and started to work when a strike took 
place in the shipbuilding trade. One of Hardie’s 
earliest recollections was of attending a trade union 
meeting with his father who advised against the strike on 
the ground of lack of funds and slackness of trade. 
During this dispute the family were compelled to sell 
most of their household goods, and what was worse, to 
enlist the boy of seven as one of the breadwinners. His 
first job was as a message boy to the Anchor Line Steam¬ 
ship Company, and as school attendance was now im¬ 
possible, the father and mother devoted much of their 
time in the evenings to his education, and were at least 
able to teach him to read, and to love reading, which is 
the basis of all education. 

. After a short time spent as a message boy, he was sent 
into a brass-finishing shop, the intention being to 


2 


THE MAKING OF AN AGITATOR 

apprentice him to that trade, but when it was learned that 
the first year must be without wages, brass finishing was 
abandoned, and his next place was in a lithographer’s in 
the Trongate at half-a-crown a week. That did not last 
long and we find him serving as a baker’s message boy 
at three shillings a week. From this he went to heating 
rivets in Thompson’s shipyard on a fifty per cent, rise 
in wages, four shillings and sixpence a week. He would 
probably have continued at this employment and Clyde¬ 
side would have had the nurturing of a great agitator, 
but a fatal accident to two boys in the shipyard frightened 
the mother, and once more he became a baker’s 
message boy. 

All this experience was crowded within the space of 
two years and while he was still but a child. Many other 
working-class children have had similar experiences. 
Several generations of them in fact, have been denied all 
knowledge of the natural joys of childhood in order that 
the present industrial system might be founded and run. 
Whether that tremendous historical fact finds any 
reflection in the mentality of the present day British 
working class need not be discussed here, but it is 
undoubted that these child-time experiences left an 
indelible mark on the character of Keir Hardie. It was 
a period of his life to which in after years he seldom 
referred, but always with bitterness. The manner of its 
ending forms the theme of one of the few autobiographical 
notes which he has left us, and for that reason, if for no 
other, his own description of it may be given. 

There had been a great lock-out of Clyde shipworkers 
lasting six weary months. The Union funds were soon 
exhausted. In the Hardie household everything that 
could be turned into food had been sold. The boy’s 
four shillings and sixpence a week was the only income. 
One child, next in age to Keir, took fever and died, and 


3 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


another child was about to be born. “The outlook was 
black/’ says Hardie, looking back upon it, “but there 
was worse to come, and the form it took made it not only 
a turning point in my life, but also in my outlook upon 
men and things. I had reached an age at which I under¬ 
stood the tragedy of poverty, and had a sense of responsi¬ 
bility to those at home far beyond my years. I knew that, 
despite the brave way in which my mother was facing 
the situation, she was feeling the burden almost too great 
for her to bear, and on more than one occasion I had 
caught her crying by herself. One winter morning I 
turned up late at the baker’s shop where I was employed 
and was told I had to, go upstairs to see the master. I 
was kept waiting outside the door of the dining-room 
while he said grace—he was noted for religious zeal— 
and, on being admitted, found the master and his family 
seated round a large table. He was serving out bacon and 
eggs while his wife was pouring coffee from a glass in¬ 
fuser which at once—shamefaced and terrified as I was— 
attracted my attention. I had never before seen such 
a beautiful room, nor such a table, loaded as it was with 
food and beautiful things. The master read me a lecture 
before the assembled family on the sin of slothfulness, 
and added that though he would forgive me for that 
once, if I sinned again by being late I should be 
instantly dismissed, and so sent me to begin work. 

“But the injustice of the thing was burning hot within 
me, all the more that I could not explain why I was late. 
The fact was that I had not yet tasted food. I had been 
up most of the night tending my ailing brother, and had 
risen betimes in the morning but had been made late by 
assisting my mother in various ways before starting. 
The work itself was heavy and lasted from seven in the 
morning till closing time. 

“Two mornings afterwards, a Friday, I was again a 


4 


THE MAKING OF AN AGITATOR 


few minutes late, from the same source, and was informed 
on arriving at the shop that I was discharged and my fort¬ 
night’s wages forfeited by way of punishment. The 
news stupefied me, and finally I burst out crying and 
begged the shopwoman to intercede with the master for 
me. The morning was wet and I had been drenched in 
getting to the shop and must have presented a pitiable 
sight as I stood at the counter in my we>t patched clothes. 
She spoke with the master through a speaking tube, 
presumably to the breakfast room I remembered so well, 
but he was obdurate, and finally she, out of the goodness 
of her heart, gave me a piece of bread and advised me to 
look for another place. For a time I wandered about 
the streets in the rain, ashamed to go home where there 
was neither food nor fire, and actually discussing whether 
the best thing was not to go and throw myself in the 
Clyde and be done with a life that had so little 
attractions. In the end I went to the shop and saw the 
master and explained why I had been late. But it was 
all in vain. The wages were ne^er paid. But the 
master continued to be a pillar of the Church and a 
leading light in the religious life of the city !” 

A poignant reminiscence for any human being to carry 
through life, and explanatory of the ready sympathy for 
desolate children characteristic of the man in after years; 
and also of his contempt for that kind of hypocrisy which 
covers up injustice under the cloak of religion. 

The upshot of it all was that the father in sheer despair 
went off again to sea, and the mother with her children, 
removed to Newarthill, where her own mother still lived, 
and quite close to the place where Keir was born. 

Thus there had arrived, as he himself has said, a 
turning point in his life, deciding that his lot should be 
cast with that of the mining community and determining 
some other things which, taken altogether, constituted a 


c 


5 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


somewhat complex environment and impulse for a 
receptive minded lad growing from boyhood to 
adolescence. 

Both parents had what is called in Scotland a strictly 
religious upbringing, and had encouraged the boy to 
attend regularly at Sunday School. The Glasgow 
experience had changed all that. They were persons of 
strong individuality. The mother especially had a 
downright way of looking at life, and had no use for the 
forms of a religion which sanctioned the kind of treat¬ 
ment which she and those she loved had passed through. 
Henceforward the Hardie household was a free-thinking 
household, uninfluenced by “kirk-gaun” conventional? 
ties or mere traditional beliefs. Priest and Presbyter 
were not kept outside the door, but there was free 
entrance also for books critical of orthodoxy or secular in 
interest, and on the same shelf with the Bible and the 
Pilgrim’s Progress might be found Paine’s “Age of 
Reason” and works by Ingersoll, together with Wilson’s 
“Tales of the Borders” and the poems of Burns. All 
the members of the family grew up with the healthy habit 
of thinking for themselves and not along lines prescribed 
by custom. 

Almost immediately on coming to Newarthill the boy, 
now ten years of age, went down the pit as trapper to a 
kindly old miner, who before leaving him for the first 
time at his lonely post, wrapped his jacket round him to 
keep him warm. The work of a trapper was to open and 
close a door which kept the air supply for the men in a 
given direction. It was an eerie job, all alone for ten 
long hours, with the underground silence only disturbed 
by the sighing and whistling of the air as it sought to 
escape through the joints of the door. A child’s rnind is 
full of vision under ordinary surroundings, but with the 
dancing flame of the lamps giving life to the shadows, 

6 


THE MAKING OF AN AGITATOR 


only a vivid imagination can conceive what the vision 
must have been to this lad. 

At this time he began to attend Fraser’s night school 
at Holytown. The teacher was genuinely interested in 
his pupils and did all he could for them with his limita¬ 
tions of time and equipment. There was no light 
provided in the school and the pupils had to bring their 
own candles. Learning had now a kind of fascination 
for the boy. He was very fond of reading, and a book, 
“The Races of the World,” presented to him by his 
parents, doubtless awakened in his mind an interest in 
things far beyond the coal mines of Lanarkshire. His 
mother gave him every encouragement. She had a 
wonderful memory. “Chevy Chase” and all the well- 
known ballads and folk-lore tales were recited and 
rehearsed round the winter fire. In this manner and 
under these diverse influences did the future Labour 
leader pass his boyhood, absorbing ideas and impressions 
which remained with him ever afterwards. 

The father returned from sea and found work on the 
railway then being made between Edinburgh and 
Glasgow. When this was finished, the family removed 
to the village of Quarter in the Hamilton district, where 
Keir started as pit pony driver, passing from that through 
other grades to coal hewing, and by the time he was 
twenty had become a skilled practical miner, and had 
also gained two years’ experience above ground working 
in the quarries. 

He was in the way however of becoming something 
more than a miner. At the instigation of his mother he 
had studied and become proficient in shorthand writing, 
and through the same guidance had joined the Good 
Templar movement which was then establishing itself in 
most of the Scottish villages. He became an enthusiastic 
propagandist in the Temperance cause, and it was in 

7 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

this sphere that he really began to take a part in public 
work. His habit of independent thinking too, had led 
him, not to reject religion but only its forms and shams 
and doctrinal accretions, and he was associating himself 
with what seemed to him the simplest organised 
expression of Christianity, namely the Evangelical 
Union. He was, in fact, like many another earnest soul 
at his time of life seeking outlets for his spiritual vitality. 
Because of the part he was now playing in local public 
affairs his brother miners pushed him into the chair at 
meetings for the ventilating of their grievances, and 
appointed him on deputations to the colliery managers, 
posts which he accepted, not without warning from some 
of his friends in the Temperance movement as to the 
dangers of taking part in the agitations going on in the 
district warnings which, to a youth of his temperament, 
were more likely to stimulate forward than to hold back. 
Without knowing it, almost involuntarily, he had 
become a labour agitator, a man obnoxious to authority, 
and regarded as dangerous by colliery managers and 
gaffers. 

The crisis came for him one morning when descending 
No. 4 Quarter pit. Half-way down the shaft, the cage 
stopped and then ascended. On reaching the surface 
he was met by the stormy-faced manager who told him to 
get off the Company’s grounds and that his tools would 
be sent home. “We’ll hae nae damned Hardies in this 
pit,” he said, and he was as good as his word, for the 
two younger brothers were also excommunicated. The 
Hardie family was having its first taste of the boycott. 
Keir now realised that he was evidently a person of some 
importance in the struggle between masters and men, 
and a comprehension of that fact was perhaps the one 
thing needed to give settled direction to his propagandist 
energies, hitherto spent somewhat diffusely in move- 

8 



THE MAKING OF AN AGITATOR 


ments which afforded no opportunity of getting at close 
quarters with an enemy. By depriving him of his means 
of livelihood, the enemy itself had come to close quarters 
with him. He had been labelled an agitator and he 
accepted the label. 

The mining industry was at this time in a deplorable 
condition from the men’s point of view. The few years 
of prosperity and comparatively high wages during the 
Franco-Prussian War had been followed by severe 
depression, which, as usual, pressed more acutely upon 
wages than upon dividends. The West of Scotland 
miners, perhaps through lack of the right kind of leader¬ 
ship, had not taken advantage of the prosperous years to 
perfect their organisation, and when the slump came 
were completely at the mercy of the employers. In the 
attempt to resist reductions the Lanarkshire County 
Union, after some desultory and disastrous strikes, had 
collapsed. A chaotic state of matters existed through¬ 
out Lanarkshire. There was no cohesion or co-ordina¬ 
tion, each district fighting for its own hand. During these 
black years the miners were crushed down to 2s. per day 
in the Quarter district where Hardie was now boycotted, 
and to is. 8d. and is. gd. in the Airdrie district. 

Here then was Hardie in the reawakening of the need 
amongst the miners to reorganise for self-preservation. 
A large-scale strike was impossible. Limitation of out¬ 
put was the only alternative, and that meant a still further 
reduction of the weekly wage already at starvation point. 
Yet men and women, disorganised as they were, made 
the sacrifice all over Lanarkshire. The miners, always 
good fighters, were beginning to lift their heads again. 
What was wanted was leadership. By driving Hardie 
from one district to another the employers themselves 
made him a leader of the men. The family moved to 
Low Waters, near the Cadzow collieries; and here 


9 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Hardie began to show that resourcefulness which in 
future years was to carry him through many a difficult 
situation. He opened a tobacconist’s and stationer’s 
shop, while his mother set up a small grocery business. 
His painfully acquired shorthand proficiency now also 
came into play, and he became correspondent to the 
“Glasgow Weekly Mail,” for the Coatbridge and 
Airdrie district, thus modestly making his first entrance 
into the world of journalism, a sphere in which he might 
easily have made great progress but for the insistent call 
of the labour movement. The appointment at least 
gave him greater freedom to carry on his work among 
the miners. 

In the month of May, 1879, the masters had intimated 
another reduction of wages. This had the effect of 
quickening the agitation. Huge meetings were held 
every week in the Old Quarry at Hamilton, and at one of 
these meetings on July 3rd, 1879, Hardie was appointed 
Corresponding Secretary. This gave him a new outlet 
and enabled him to get in touch with representative 
miners all over Lanarkshire. On July 24th, three weeks 
after his appointment, he submitted to a mass meeting 
rules for the guidance of the organisation. These were 
adopted, and at the same meeting he was chosen as? 
delegate to attend a National Conference of Miners to 
be held in Glasgow the week following. Speaking at a 
meeting of miners at Shieldmuir in August of this year, 
he declared that over-production had been the ruin of the 
miners, and said that he held in his hand a letter from 
Alexander Macdonald, M.P., reminding the Lanark¬ 
shire miners that they were in the same position as in 
1844 when, by united action, wages were raised from 3s. 
to 5s. per day. The following week, at a mass meeting, 
he was appointed Miners’ Agent, with a majority of 875 
over the highest vote cast for other candidates. He was 


10 


THE MAKING OF AN AGITATOR 


now twenty-three years of age and he had found his 
vocation. He was to be a labour agitator. 

Probably he himself did not realise how uphill and 
thorny was the path he had entered upon, nor how far 
it would lead him. Almost immediately a curious and 
well-nigh unbelievable incident brought home to him 
some of the difficulties of his task.' On September 4th, 
a huge demonstration was held at Low Waters at which 
Alexander Macdonald was the chief speaker. Hardie 
moved the resolution of welcome to the veteran agitator, 
and in a somewhat rhetorical passage, excusable in an 
immature platform orator, he spoke of Macdonald as an 
“unparalleled benefactor of the mining community,” 
and compared his work for the miners to that of “Luther 
at the rise of Protestantism.” He had said just exactly 
the wrong thing to an audience, two-thirds of whom were 
Irish Roman Catholics, to whom the name of Luther was 
anathema, and Protestantism more obnoxious than 
low wages. There were loud murmurs of disapproba¬ 
tion, and Hardie had actually to be protected from 
assault. How often has this tale to be told in the struggle 
of labour for justice and liberty! These sectarian 
quarrels have now partially died out in Lanarkshire, but 
for many years they w,ere of the greatest service to the 

employing class. 

At another National Conference held at Dunfermline, 
on October 16th of the same year, Hardie was made 
National Secretary, an appointment which denoted, not 
the existence of a national organisation, but the need for 
it The Scottish Miners’ Federation was not formed till 
some years later. Hardie’s selection at least indicates 
how far he had already advanced in the confidence of his 
fellow workers. 

As a result of all this agitation, sporadic strikes took 
place early in 1880 at several collieries in Lanarkshire, 

II 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

the most memorable of these being at Eddlewood, where 
there were conflicts with the police and subsequent trials 
of pickets for alleged intimidation. In connection with 
this strike Hardie made his first visit into Ayrshire to 
warn the miners there against coming to Lanarkshire. 
The hunger of the women and children drove the men 
back to work, but deepened the discontent, and in 
August, against the advice of Hardie, another strike, 
general over the whole of Lanarkshire, took place and 
lasted for six weeks. How it was carried through with¬ 
out Union funds it is difficult to imagine. Public sub¬ 
scriptions were raised. The colliery village bands went 
far afield throughout Scotland and even across the 
border, appealing for help. No strike money was paid 
out but only food was given. Hardie with the other 
agents got local merchants to supply goods, themselves 
becoming responsible for payment. At his home a soup 
kitchen was kept running, and all had a share of what 
was going until further credit became impossible. In 
the end there was a sum unpaid, but the merchants, some 
of themselves originally from the miner class, did not 
press their claims too hard and freed the agents from their 
bond. The strike was lost, but the Union, though 
shaken, remained, and Hardie, having fought his first 
big labour battle, emerged from what seemed defeat 
and disaster, stronger and more determined than ever to 
stand by his class. He accepted a call from Ayrshire to 
organise the miners there, and, as will be shown, made 
good use of the experience gained in Lanarkshire. 

At this time, he also added to his responsibilities in 
another direction. He became a married man. His 
agitation activities had not prevented him from taking 
part in the social life of the countryside, nor from forming 
the associations which come naturally to all healthy 
human beings m the springtime of life. He was not 


12 


THE MAKING OF AN AGITATOR 


then, nor at any time, the austere Puritanical person he 
has sometimes been represented to be. A Puritan he 
was in all matters of absolute right or wrong, and could 
not be made to budge from what seemed to him to be the 
straight path. But with that limitation he was one of 
the most companionable of men. He could sing a good 
song, and dance and be merry with great abandon. He 
had his youthful friendships and love affairs, more than 
one, culminating as usual, in a supreme affection for one 
lass above all the others; and so it came about that, just 
before migrating into Ayrshire, he was married to Miss 
Lillie Wilson, whose acquaintance he had made during 
his work in the Temperance movement. The two young 
folk settled down in Cumnock to make a home for them¬ 
selves, neither of them probably having any idea that in 
days to come the male partner would have to spend so 
much of his life outside of that home, returning to. it 
periodically—as a sailor from his voyaging or a warrior 
from his campaigning—to find rest and quiet and renewal 
of strength for the storms and battles of a political career. 

The labour movement owes much to its fighting men, 
and to the women also, who have stepped into the furies 
of the fray, but not less does it owe to the home-keeping 
women folk whose devotion has made it possible for the 
others to do this work. Such was the service rendered 
by Mrs. Keir Hardie in the quietude of Old Cumnock. 
The home was at first an ordinary room and kitchen 
house, and later a six roomed cottage and garden known 
to all members of the I.L.P. as “Lochnorris.” 

Hardie had come to Cumnock nominally as the Ayr¬ 
shire Miners’ Secretary, but there was really no Ayrshire 
Miners’ Union. To get that into being was his task. 
The conditions were similar to those in Lanarkshire. 
At most of the collieries there were a few rebel spirits, 
keeping the flame of discontent alive and ready to form 

13 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


themselves into Union committees if given the right 
stimulus and support. It was from these the invitation 
to Hardie had come, and it was through co-ordinating 
these that a move could be made for general organisation. 
The first skirmishes are always won by the few pioneers 
who have the stout hearts and the burning vision. 

It took nearly a year to get the organisation together, 
and by the beginning of August, 1881, a demand was 
formulated, on behalf of the whole of the miners of Ayr¬ 
shire, for a ten per cent, increase of wages. The demand 
was refused. There was no alternative but to strike or 
go on working at the masters’ terms. In the latter case, 
the Union would be destroyed before it had begun to 
exist. The question was, could the men all over the 
county be got to strike? Would they risk a stoppage, 
knowing that there could be no strike pay? Mass 
meetings were summoned in various parts of the county 
to be addressed by Hardie and other speakers to decide 
the question . Strike or no strike ’ ? but the question 
settled itself almost intuitively. 

The present writer has heard old miners, who were 
young men then, describe what happened. It is 
interesting as a comparison with present day 
methods of calling a strike. On the Saturday, at the 
end of the rows and on the quoiting grounds, the talk 
was : '‘Would there be a strike?” Nobody knew. On 
the Sunday coming home from the kirk the crack was 
the same . Would there be a strike?” On Sunday 
night they laid out their pit clothes as usual, ready 
for work next morning, but for ten long weeks they 
had no use for pit clothes. On Monday, long before 
dawn, there was a stir on the Ayrshire roads. 

At two in the morning the Annbank brass band came 
playing through Trabboch village and every miner 
young and old, jumped out of bed and fell in behind’ 

H 


THE MAKING OF AN AGITATOR 


Away up towards Auchinleck they went marching, 
their numbers increasing with every mile of the 
road. On through Darnconner, and Cronberry and 
Lugar and Muirkirk, right on to Glenbuck by Aird’s 
Moss where the Covenanter Martyrs sleep, then down 
into Cumnock, at least five thousand strong. Never did 
magic muster such an army of the morning. It was as 
though the fairies had come down amongst men to 
summon them to a tryst. Over in the Kilmarnock district 
similar scenes were being enacted. The bands went 
marching from colliery to colliery and 

“The rising" sun oiwer Galston Muirl, 

Wi’ glorious light was glintin’’ 

upon processions of colliers on all the roads round about 
Galston village and Hurlford and Crookedholm and 
Riccarton, making, as by one common impulse, towards 
Craigie Hill which had not witnessed such a mustering 
of determined men since the days of William Wallace. 

Ere nightfall a miracle had been accomplished. For 
the first time in its history, there was a stoppage nearly 
complete in the Ayrshire mining industry. At last the 
Ayrshire miners were united and, win or lose, they would 
stand or fall together. The fields were ripening to 
harvest when the men “lifted their graith.” Eire they 
went back to work the Cumnock hills were white with 
snow, and by that time Keir Hardie was at once the most 
hated and the best respected man in Ayrshire. _ It was 
the Lanarkshire experience over again an experience of 
sacrifice and endurance. The bands went out collecting 
money. The women folk and the children went “tattie 
howkin’ 55 and harvesting. Thrifty miners’ families who 
had saved a little during the prosperous years of the 
early ’seventies, threw their all into the common stock. 
The farmers, many of them, gave meal and potatoes to 
keep the children from starving. Here and there was an 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


occasional break away, and the pickets were out, and the 
police and the military, and there were skirmishes and 
arrests and imprisonments. Hardie toiled night and day 
directing the relief committees, restraining the wild 
spirits from violence, advocating the men’s claims 
temperately and persuasively in the local press, 
addressing mass meetings all over the county and 
keeping the men in good heart. “God’s on our side, 
men,” he declared. “Look at the weather He’s giein’ 
us! And it seemed true. It was the finest fall of the 
year in Ayrshire within the memory of man, and, but for 
the pinch of hunger, was like a glimpse of Heaven to men 
accustomed to sweat ten hours a day in underground 
darkness. Whoever wants to know why it is so easy 
to get the miners to take an idle day, let him try a few 
hours “howkin’ coal” and he will understand. 

So the fight went on from week to week, till at last 
the winter came as the ally of the coalowners. Boots 
and clothes and food were needed for the bairns, and for 
the sake of the bairns the men went back to work. But 
they went back as they came out, altogether, maintaining 
their solidarity even in defeat. Nor were they wholly 
defeated. Within a month the coalowners discovered 
that trade had improved, and, without being asked, they 
advanced wages, a thing unprecedented in the coal 
trade. I hat ten weeks stoppage had put a wholesome 
fear into the hearts of the coalowners, and they had also 
learned that a leader of men had come into Ayrshire. 
Here ended the second lesson for Keir Hardie the 
agitator. In the impoverished condition of the miners, 
the formation of the Union was for the present impractic¬ 
able, and, recognising this, he settled himself down 
quietly as a citizen of Cumnock, and bided his time. 


16 


CHAPTER TWO 


JOURNALIST AND LABOUR ORGANISER-“THE MINER 5 ’ 

I T is not clear what Hardie’s sources of income 
were in those early days in Ayrshire. He had 
determined to work no more underground for any 
employer. No colliery manager would have the chance 
a second time to drive him out. There was no miners’ 
organisation to pay him a wage, though he ceased not 
from doing organising work. The likelihood is that he 
had kept up his press connections formed while in Lan¬ 
arkshire, and that there was some little income from that 
quarter. He wrote occasional verses, amateurish, but of 
the kind acceptable in the “Poet’s Corner” of provincial 
papers, and there would be an odd seven and sixpence for 
these. He was never a spendthrift, and probably both he 
and his lass had a small “nest egg” laid by before they 
joined partnership, and with this were prepared to go 
on for a month or two until the man could make good. 
He had great faith in himself, and she had great faith in 
him, and what more could any newly-married couple 
want for starting out in life ? 

Before long the financial question was solved. The 
pastor of the Evangelical Union church which Hardie 
joined had eked out a somewhat scanty stipend by writ¬ 
ing notes for the local “Cumnock News.” The pastor, 
in bad health, went off for a holiday, and asked Hardie 
to write his notes while he was away. He nsver 
returned, and Hardie found himself writing the notes 
practically as a member of the staff, and as he, with his 

1 7 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


knowledge of the miners’ conditions and a decidedly 
literary turn of the pen, was just the kind of man wanted 
for such a paper, he was, by and by to all intents and 
purposes, acting as editor. 

The “Cumnock News,” it should be said, was an off¬ 
shoot of the “Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald,” which 
then was, and still is, one of the most ably conducted of 
Scottish provincial papers. Its editor and proprietor, 
Mr. Arthur Guthrie, was a man with literary and 
artistic tastes, and in politics a staunch Liberal, a fact 
which, however we may regard Liberalism now, was of 
some democratic value in those days, in a shire largely 
dominated by the county families. It required some 
fortitude to stand up against the Bute, the Eglinton and 
the Dundonald interests, not to speak of the coal-owning 
magnates of whom the Baird family was the most 
powerful. 

It will thus be seen that Hardie’s first editorial experi¬ 
ence was on the side of the Liberal Party. There is no 
evidence that he took much interest in politics before he 
came into Ayrshire, but he could not help doing so 
now, nor could any active-minded working man. The 
political question of the hour was the extension of house¬ 
hold franchise to the counties, and as it was to the 
Liberal Party that the workers looked for that boon, it 
was natural that the earnest and thoughtful sections'of 
them should be Liberals. Hardie became a member of 
the Liberal Association, and, naturally, being the kind 
of man he was, was an active and prominent member. 
He was, however, a very complex personality, this new¬ 
comer into the social and political life of Ayrshire-, and 
neither the Liberal Association nor the “Cumnock 
News ’’could absorb more than a small part of his 
energies. He was still active in temperance work, and, 
as a matter of course, became Grand Worthy Chief of 

18 


JOURNALIST 


the local Good Templars’ Lodge. He took his share of 
the church work and filled the pulpit on occasions when 
the absence of the appointed minister made that neces¬ 
sary, and frequently his voice was to be heard at the 
street corners in Cumnock and in some of the neigh¬ 
bouring villages, preaching the Gospel of Christ as he 
understood it. He formed an evening class two nights 
a week for the teaching of shorthand writing, himself 
acting as teacher without fee or reward, and he gathered 
round him a group of students, who, we may be sure, 
learnt more things than shorthand. 

At this time his reading of books became more com¬ 
prehensive if not more systematic. That latter could 
hardly be with his mode of life. He then read Carlyle’s 

Sartor Resartus ” for the first time and became 
acquainted with some of the writings of Ruskin and of 
Emerson. Fiction does not seem to have attracted 
him much, except in the form of ballads and folk-lore, 
though, strange to say, he himself wrote one or two 
stories when later he had control of a paper of his own. 
With Robert Burns he had of course been familiar since 
childhood. “ I owe more to Robert Burns than to any 
man, alive or dead,” he once wrote. As a hoy it was 
the tender humanitarianism of the Scottish peasant poet 
to which his nature responded, and he has told how the 
“Lines on Seeing a wounded Hare” thrilled him with 
pity and anger. He was gaining in mental power and 
self reliance during these years, though with no settled 
purpose as to the use he would make of the knowledge 
and strength he was acquiring, except that all the time 
he had one fixed immediate object in view : the forma¬ 
tion of an Ayrshire Miners’ Union. 

This event took place in August, 1886. The exact 
date is not known nor the place of nativity, early records 
having apparently been lost. James Neil, of Cumnock, 


19 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


who took an active part in the early work of the Union, 
has recollections of a delegate meeting in Mauchline, 
at which Andrew Fisher, of Crosshouse, (afterwards 
Prime Minister of Australia) was present, and he thinks 
this may have been the initial meeting, which is not 
unlikely, Fisher, like Neil himself, being one of the 
original delegates. Whether that was so or not, one 
thing is certain. The Union was formed in 1886, and 
Hardie was appointed its Organising Secretary. 
Henceforth, the coal magnates of Ayrshire had a new 
force to reckon with. Hardie’s allowance—it could 
hardly be called a salary—was ,£75 a year, but as he 
was earning his living in other ways, he devoted the 
money to the starting of a monthly paper, and in the 
beginning of the following year produced “The Miner,” 
of which we shall have something to say in due course. 

This same year the Scottish Miners’ Federation was 
formed, and to this also Hardie was appointed Secre¬ 
tary, perhaps on the principle that the willing horse gets 
the heaviest burden. That he was willing there can be 
no doubt. Since the days of the Lanarkshire strike, 
seven years before, he had realised the need for the 
Scottish miners being united in one organisation, and 
he was ready to take his share in the work. 

There was also being borne in upon him and others 
a belief that the time had come for organised Labour 
to consider what use could be made of the new political 
opportunities which had been presented to it. The 
passing of the 1884 Franchise Act, which extended 
household franchise to the counties, brought great hopes 
to the workers, though it found them, for the moment, 
unable to take advantage of it. It gave political power 
to practically all the adult miners in the country, and the 
leaders of the miners began to take thought as to how it 
could be utilised. 


20 


LABOUR ORGANISER 


For the most part they held to the belief that in the 
Liberal Party organisation lay the medium by which the 
representatives of Labour could reach Parliament. 
Liberalism, simply because it was traditionally opposed 
to Toryism, was accepted as embodying the progressive 
spirit of the nation. The leader of the Liberal Party was 
W. E. Gladstone, then in the heyday of his popularity. 
The workers generally were willing to trust Gladstone, 
but amongst them were a considerable number who, 
having begun to imbibe Socialist ideas, had doubts 
as to the genuineness of the Liberal Party’s professions 
of goodwill to labour. They knew that although it 
might be true that the Tory Party was dominated by 
the landed interests, there were not a few territorial 
magnates in the councils of Liberalism. They also 
knew that the Liberal Party policy was directed largely 
on behoof of the manufacturing and commercial interests, 
and they felt that, as in the very nature of things these 
interests must collide with those of the workers, to 
strengthen the Liberal Party might be like making a 
stick for labour’s back. Yet, on the whole, they were 
willing to give it a trial, induced by the knowledge that 
there were in the Liberal Party a few honest, sincere 
and able men, friendly to labour—men such as Cun- 
ninghame Graham, the Radical Member for North- 
West Lanark, Conybeare, Stephen Mason, Dr. G. B. 
Clark, and a few others, who, with Burt and Fenwick 
and Abraham already representing the miners, were 
expected to force the pace inside the Liberal Party. In 
Cunninghame Graham especially, great hopes were cen¬ 
tred. He had won North-West Lanarkshire as a Glad- 
stonian Liberal in the 1886 election. In his election 
campaign Graham had thoroughly familiarised himself 
with the needs and aspirations of the miners, had whole¬ 
heartedly adopted their programme of reforms, and had 


D 


21 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


advocated the passing of an Eight Hours’ Bill, the estab¬ 
lishment of a wage court, and the nationalisation of 
minerals; he had, moreover, made it quite clear that he 
supported such measures only as necessary transitional 
steps towards Socialism. Two years later he was to 
prove his sincerity by introducing the Miners’ Eight 
Hours’ Day Bill into Parliament, and by going to prison 
in defence of free speech. He had already, by his 
originality of utterance, caught the attention of the 
House of Commons, and the fact that he came of aristo¬ 
cratic lineage added piquancy to his sometimes savage 
sarcasms against the ruling classes. Altogether, he 
was a picturesque and dashing Parliamentary figure; 
and that this man, holding views that were little short 
of revolutionary, should still be a recognised member of 
the Liberal Party, helped to sustain working-class faith 
in Liberalism and probably helped to delay, until the 
psychological moment was past, the formation of a clear- 
cut, working-class party. The right moment was at the 
passing of the Franchise Act. 

Keir Hardie, though himself a member of the Liberal 
Party, was amongst the doubters, and he, for one, 
resolved to put the matter to the test at the earliest 
opportunity, and in his capacity as Secretary of the 
Ayrshire Miners’ Union, made preparations accordingly. 
In May, 1887, at demonstrations of the Ayrshire miners 
held on Irvine Moor and on Cragie Hill, the following 
resolution was adopted: “That in the opinion of this 
meeting, the time has come for the formation of a Labour 
Party in the House of Commons, and we hereby agree 
to assist in returning one or more members to represent 
the miners of Scotland at the first available opportunity.” 

Shortly afterwards Hardie was adopted as the miners’ 
candidate for North Ayrshire, and immediately there 
developed a situation which has been repeated hundreds 


22 


LABOUR ORGANISER 


of times since all over the country, and which can best 
be shown by quotations from a speech delivered by 
Hardie at Irvine in October of that same year. It is 
his first recorded political utterance, and defines very 
clearly his attitude at that stage of his development. It 
shows that he was not yet prepared to fight on a full 
Socialist programme, and also that he was not unwilling 
to work through the Liberal Party, provided its methods 
were honestly democratic. He was, in fact, putting 
Liberalism to the test of allegiance to its own avowed 
principles. He said, “The Liberals and Conservatives 
have, through their organisations, selected candidates. 
They are both, as far as I know, good men. The point 
I wish to emphasise, however, is this : that these men 
have been selected without the mass of the people being 
consulted. Your betters have chosen the men, and 
they now send them down to you to have them returned. 
What would you think if the Miners’ Executive Council 
were to meet in Kilmarnock and appoint a secretary to 
the miners of Ayrshire in that way? Your candidate 
ought to be selected by the voice and vote of the mass of 
the people. We are told that Sir William Wedderburn 
is a good Radical and that he is sound on the Liberal 
programme. It may be all true, but we do not know 
whether it is or not. Will he, for example, support an 
Eight Hour Bill? Nobody has asked him, and nobody 
cares except ourselves. Will he support the abolition 
of private property in royalties? Well, he is a landlord 
and not likely to be too extreme in that respect. Is he 
prepared to establish a wage court that would secure to 
the workman a just reward for his labour? Nobody 
knows whether he is or not. Is he prepared to support 
the extension of the Employers’ Liability Act, which 
presently limits the compensation for loss of life, how¬ 
ever culpable the employers may be, to three years’ 


23 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


wages? Nobody knows. I am not surprised at the 
action of the Liberal Association in opposing me. This 
is what has been done in nearly every case where a 
Labour candidate has been brought forward. I have 
been asked what course I intend to take, and my reply is, 
the same as formerly. I will endeavour to have a Labour 
Electoral Association formed in every town and village 
in the constituency. When the time comes for an elec¬ 
tion I will judge how far circumstances justify me in 
going forward. If the working men are true to them¬ 
selves, I will insist on a plebiscite being taken between 
myself and the Liberal candidate, and then let the man 
who gets most support go to the poll. If the Liberal 
Association refuses to take this course, working men 
will then see how much their professions of friendship 
are worth. I am not specially anxious to go to Parlia¬ 
ment, but I am anxious and determined that the wants 
and wishes of the working classes shall be made known 
and attended to there. Meantime, I recommend my 
friends not to pledge themselves to either of the candi¬ 
dates now before them till they see what the future 
may bring forth.” 

There was nothing revolutionary in all this; Social¬ 
ism was not even hinted at; Liberalism was not con¬ 
demned; it was to be put upon its trial, and the test 
of its sincerity was to be its willingness within its own 
organisation to provide a fair field for labour. The one 
thing that does emerge from this utterance and others 
during this period is Hardie’s class feeling, inherent in 
his very nature, derived from and intensified by his own 
life experience, and avowed at a time when he had pro¬ 
bably made no acquaintance with Marxian philosophy. 

“I am anxious and determined that the wants and 
wishes of the working classes shall be made known and 
attended to in Parliament.” From that fundamental 


24 


LABOUR ORGANISER 


political creed he never deviated during the whole of his 
life. It was his basic article of faith, the impregnable 
rock upon which he stood immovable and incorruptible : 
Loyalty to the working class. The party politicians 
never could understand this, and therefore they never 
understood Keir Hardie. The simple straightforward¬ 
ness and steadfastness 1 of the man were baffling to them, 
and afterwards, in the House of Commons, when he kept 
at arm’s length all Parliamentary intriguers and even 
held aloof from some who may have desired from quite 
friendly motives to be on terms of social fellowship with 
him, it was ascribed to boorishness on his part. It was 
nothing of the sort, as those who were on terms of 
intimacy with him well knew. It was the expression at 
once of his own individuality and of his class loyalty. 
He was a man who could not be patronised, and he was 
jealous for the independence of the working people, of 
whom he believed himself to be representative. When, 
many years afterwards, George Bernard Shaw charac¬ 
terised him as “the damndest natural aristocrat in the 
House of Commons,” there was more truth in the 
description than Shaw himself realised. If to be an 
aristocrat is to have pride of caste, Keir Hardie was an 
aristocrat. He possessed pride of class in the superla¬ 
tive degree, in a much greater degree than the average 
working man himself has ever possessed it. Hardie 
was willing at all times to associate with members of the 
other classes for the furtherance of the objects he had in 
view—with Fabian middle class people, with clergy¬ 
men, and artists, and litterateurs, but always on terms of 
equality. At the first hint of patronage, either on the 
ground of class or cultural superiority, he drew back and 
went his own way, alone if need be. 

Unforeseen events decided that his first parliamentary 
contest should be elsewhere than in North Ayrshire, but 


25 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

it was here, in the year 1887, that he first threw down his 
challenge to Liberalism to prove its sincerity, and called 
upon his fellow workers to prepare to make use of their 
political opportunities self-reliantly and with a sense of 
the dignity of their class. ‘ ‘ So long as men are content to 
believe that Providence has sent into the world one class 
of men saddled and bridled, and another class booted 
and spurred to ride them, so long will they be ridden; but 
the moment the masses come to feel and act as if they 
were men, that moment the inequality ceases.” Thus 
he wrote in “The Miner” at this time. He himself had 
reached that stage very early in life and in his ownj 
personality he typified his conception of what the working 
class ought to be. 

The year 1887 was a very busy one for Keir Hardie. 
He had already acquired that capacity for work which in 
future years frequently astonished his colleagues of the 
Independent Labour Party. As already recorded, the 
Scottish Miners’ Federation had been formed in the 
autumn of 1886 and he had accepted the position of 
Secretary. A personal paragraph in the first Annual 
Report gives only a partial indication of his activities. 
“Conscious,” he says, “of many defects in the per¬ 
formance of my duties, I have yet tried to do my best. It 
has been hard sometimes to bear the blame of unreason¬ 
able men, though this has been more than compensated 
for by the tolerance of the great mass. There is scarcely 
a district in Scotland where my voice has not been heard, 
with what effect it is for others to say. I find, leaving out 
the deputations to London and the big conferences, that 
I have attended on behalf of the Federation 77 meetings 
37 of which have been public, and 40 Executive and 
conference meetings, involving 6,000 miles of railway 
travelling. I have sent out over 1,500 letters and circu¬ 
lars, and over 60,000 printed leaflets. This has involved 


26 


LABOUR ORGANISER 


a very considerable amount of work, but I am persuaded 
it has not been labour in vain.” A reference to the 
balance sheet shows under the heading of “Salaries” : 
“J. K. Hardie, £3 15s.”—a remuneration certainly not 
commensurate to the work done, but probably bearing 
some proportion to the earnings of the miners themselves, 
for in this same report it is recorded that “wages still 
continue very low, ranging from 2s. 6d. to 4s. per day, 
the average being about 3s. 3d. Work is, however, very 
unsteady, and thus the earnings of the men cannot be 
more than 12s. per week.” Those were hard times for 
underground workers, and not unduly prosperous ones 
for their leaders. Another interesting item in the financial 
statement runs : “Donation from meeting in Edinburgh 
(Socialist), £11 8s. 6d.”—probably some public gather¬ 
ing under the auspices of the newly-formed Socialist 
League, willing thus early to help forward the work of 
industrial organisation. The concluding exordium is in 
the genuine Keir Hardie vein familiar to all who ever 
had the good fortune to work along with him. ‘‘May the 
experience of the past not be lost on us in the future. 
There are a number of young and ardent spirits in our 
ranks who, if they can be laid hold of, will ensure the 
success of our movement in years to come. Ours is no 
old-fashioned sixpence-a-day agitation. We aim at the 
complete emancipation of the worker from the thraldom 
of wagedom. Co-operative production, under State 
management, should be our goal, as, never till this has 
been obtained, can we hope for better times for working 
people.” Thus spake the optimist. 

He was himself prevented from being present at this 
first annual meeting of the Federation. The death of 
his second-born child, Sarah, two years of age,, had 
naturally affected him very keenly, and made it impos¬ 
sible for him at the time to be interested in anything else 


27 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


than this first domestic affliction which came upon him. 
Two other children were left, James, born in 1881, and 
Agnes, born in 1885, but as usually happens, the one that 
was taken had no peer in the minds of the bereaved 
parents. Another boy, Duncan, born this same year, 
1887, helped to fill the gap thus made in the little family 
circle. 

The visits to London mentioned in the report were 
to interview the Home Secretary in favour of improve¬ 
ments in the Government’s Mines Bill, and of 
Donald Crawford’s Bill to abolish the truck system, 
introduced and passed during the Parliamentary session 
of that year. The miners sought to have an eight-hours 
clause for boys, together with one making it penal for 
an employer to keep men in the pit when they desired to 
get out. Hardie’s deputation colleagues were R. Chis¬ 
holm Robertson of Stirlingshire, John Weir of Fife- 
shire, and Robert Brown of the Lothians, all at that 
time active in promoting organisation in their various 
districts. They also, on this occasion, did some lobby¬ 
ing of Members to support their proposals, and in the 
course of this Keir Hardie doubtless got ample confirma¬ 
tion of the need for direct Labour representation, and 
was strengthened in his growing belief that such repre¬ 
sentation should be independent of existing political 
parties. We can also see the effect which the subse¬ 
quent result, when the Eight Hours Amendment was 
defeated actually owing to the action of the Liberal- 
Labour members from mining districts, Burt, Fenwick 
and Abraham, had upon his attitude to certain of the 
older Trade Union leaders and both their industrial and 
political policy. 

One notable amendment of the Bill, secured very 
largely through pressure by Hardie and other outside 
agitators, was the prohibition of the employment of boys 

28 


“THE MINER’ 5 


under twelve. ‘TVhat a difference,” he commented in 
“The Miner,” “from the time when children were taken 
into the pit almost as soon as they were out of the cradle. ’ 5 
What a difference, he might have said, from the time 
when he himself went down the pit at ten years of age! 
What a difference, we might say, from the present time, 
when fourteen is the minimum school-leaving age. 
Verily, the agitators have not laboured in vain. 

Reference is made above to “The Miner,” a monthly 
journal of which he was the founder and editor, and to 
which, as a matter of fact, he contributed about one-third 
of the letterpress. Its first number appeared in January, 
1887, and it was published for two years, being discon¬ 
tinued at the end of 1888, partly because of the usual 
lack of support from which all purely Labour journals 
have suffered, but chiefly because by that time Hardie 
himself was becoming too deeply involved in political 
propagandist agitation to be able to give the necessary 
time to the work of supervision. It was a very remarkable 
paper, and to those who are fortunate enough to possess 
the two volumes, it mirrors in a very realistic way the 
social conditions of the collier folk of that time, and also 
throws considerable light on the many phases and 
aspects of the general Labour movement in the days 
when it was gropingly feeling its way through many 
experiments and experiences towards political self- 
reliance and self-knowledge. 

The journal is peculiarly valuable to us in that it 
reveals Hardie himself as a man growing and develop¬ 
ing, and becoming more and more self-assertive. It 
began as “The Miner: a Journal for Underground 
Workers.” When it had reached the second year it had 
become “The Miner: an Advanced Political Journal. 
Edited by J. K. Hardie,” thus definitely proclaiming 
the aim of its controller—if not yet of the workers whose 


29 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

interests it advocated. It was at once the germ and 
the precursor of the “Labour Leader,” which was to be 
for many years almost the personal organ of Keir 
Hardie, and is now the firmly established and influential 
exponent of the Independent Labour Party, of which he 
was the founder. In its pages you can discern him, 
tentatively, but ever more boldly, finding expression for 
his Socialist convictions, and from being a miners 5 
leader, steadily aspiring towards becoming a people’s 
leader. He was quite sure of himself, and of his pur¬ 
pose, but not quite sure of the approval of his readers. 

The miners of Britain,” he said in his first leading 
article, “stand sorely in need of an organ to ventilate 
their grievances, and tecich them the duty they owe to 
themselves. The paper, while dealing primarily with 
purely mining affairs, will advocate reform in every 
direction which promises to bring relief to the toiling 
millions,’’ and throughout the career of the paper he is 
found giving a platform to the pioneers and protagonists 
of schemes of working-class betterment, no matter what 
their label might be. Land Nationalises, Socialists, 
Anarchists, Trade Unionists, are all given room to 
state and argue their case, and ever and anon he lets it be 
known where he himself stands and where he is going. 

“The capitalist has done good service in the past by 
developing trade and commerce. His day is now nearly 
past. He has played his part in the economy of the 
industrial system, and must now give way for a more 
perfect order of things wherein the labourer shall be 
rewarded in proportion to his work.” That is not 
exactly Socialism, but the idea of evolution in industry 
towards Socialism has seldom been more tersely stated; 
nor, indeed, has the general purpose of Socialism been 
more accurately defined. And again, “The world to¬ 
day is sick and weary at heart. Even our clergy are for 


30 


“THE MINER” 


the most part dumb dogs who dare not bark. So it was 
in the days of Christ. They who proclaimed a God- 
given gospel to the world were the poor and the com¬ 
paratively unlettered. We need to-day a return to the 
principles of that Gospel which, by proclaiming all men 
sons of God and brethren one with another, makes it 
impossible for one, Shylock-like, to insist on his rights 
at the expense of another.” 

There was no lack of idealism in the journalistic fare 
served up to the working miners who turned to their 
trade journal for news of the daily conflicts with em¬ 
ployers and managers, and found that in plenty, along 
with the idealism. We have here the manifestations of 
what I might call the spiritual consistency which formed 
the fibre of Hardie’s character, and was in large measure 
the secret of his power to win the allegiance even of 
those whose belief in Socialism had a more materialistic 
foundation. 

His energy at this time seems to have been inex¬ 
haustible. Besides this editorial and journalistic work, 
he was a member of Auchinleck School Board, and, in 
addition to his secretarial duties for the Scottish Miners’ 
Federation, he was still acting as secretary of the 
Ayrshire Miners’ Union, and in that capacity displaying 
an amount of vigour surprising to his associates and 
disconcerting to colliery managers and officials with 
whom he was perforce in continual conflict. Con¬ 
ducting what are known as “partial” strikes, bringing 
the men out, now in one corner of Ayrshire, now in 
another, on questions of wages, on questions of illegal 
deductions of weight, on questions of victimisation; 
holding mass meetings, and calling idle days here, there, 
and everywhere, with a view to enforcing the policy of 
restriction of output which at this time was the only 
alternative policy to a general strike in resistance to 


3i 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


wage reductions; and in one way and another keeping 
the whole Ayrshire area in that condition of unrest 
which was the only possible means of giving active 
expression to the discontent seething throughout the 
entire mining community of Scotland. There was 
indeed very ample justification for this agitation. 
“With coal selling in Glasgow at is. per cwt., and 
public works stopped for want of fuel; with mounted 
policemen riding down inoffensive children nearly to 
death, and felling quiet old men with a blow from a 
baton; with the wives and children of thirty thousand 
men not on the verge but in the very throes of starva¬ 
tion; with all this, and much more that might be named, 
a condition of things is being fostered which can only 
end in riot, as unhappily has been in Lanarkshire.” 
This is his picture of the condition of the miners at that 
time, a picture the truth of which can easily be verified 
from the columns of the contemporary newspapers. He 
was in favour of a general strike throughout England, 
Scotland and Wales, but the unity of organisation which 
could bring that to pass was yet far away, and guerilla 
fighting was the only possible tactics. “If the miners 
were Highland crofters,” he said, “or African slaves, 
or Bulgarians, people would be found on every 
hand getting up indignation meetings to protest 
against the wrongs inflicted upon them by the capit¬ 
alists, but because they are only miners nobody 
heeds them.” 

The miners have now found means of making every¬ 
body heed them, and Hardie and his colleagues had 
already begun the forging of the weapons for that 
achievement. It was on a motion from Scotland that, 
at a Conference in Manchester in April, 1887, it was 
agreed that “The Federations be admitted to the Miners’ 
National Union on payment of one farthing per member 

32 


“THE MINER” 


quarterly, this money to be spent in furthering legislative 
work and in holding conferences for the consideration of 
the state of trade and wages, such conferences to have 
power to issue such recommendations as may seem 
necessary for the improvement of the same.” Thus 
was laid the basis of the now powerful Miners’ Federa¬ 
tion of Great Britain. 

Any account of this period of Hardie’s life would be 
incomplete without a reference to the colliery disaster 
at Udston, in Lanarkshire, which took place on the 
28th May, 1887, and by which eighty-five lives were 
lost. He, immediately on getting the news, hurried 
through from Ayrshire and joined with the other agents 
in the relief work and in comforting the bereaved 
relatives. Many of the men who had been killed were 
his own personal friends, lads he had worked with under¬ 
ground or companioned in play and sport and sociality 
when he and they were growing into manhood. He was 
able to visualise the conditions under which they had 
met their death in the fiery mine with never a chance to 
escape, and he believed that it was only the parsimony 
of the mineowners that prevented the methods being 
used which would make such accidents impossible. 

This belief deepened his conviction that there would 
never be proper protection for the miners except through 
compulsory legislation in the framing of which the 
miners themselves should have a voice. Yet in after 
years one of his chief difficulties was to convince the 
miners themselves of that fact, and that they should 
trust only in themselves for the passing of protective 
laws. On this occasion, in “The Miner,” he im¬ 
peached both the colliery management and the Govern¬ 
ment inspectors for gross neglect of their duties. But 
of course “The Miner” was read only by miners, and 
only by a small number of them. 

33 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


The end of 1887 brought his severance—voluntarily 
on his part—from the two Ayrshire papers, the “Ardros- 
san Herald’ 5 and “Cumnock News,” with which he had 
been connected since 1882. 

During that time in addition to supplying the news of 
the ^district, he had contributed under the nom de plume 
°f. <£ The Trapper,” a weekly article, headed “Black 
Diamonds, or Mining Notes Worth Minding.” His 
farewell words to the readers were indicative alike of the 
character of his work on these local papers and of his 
aspirations for the future in the wider field upon which 
he was now entering :— 

“I have tried to practice what I preached by showing, 
so far as I knew how, that manhood was preferable to 
money. Nor have I the least intention of changing. Cir¬ 
cumstances have for the time being directed my course 
a certain way; for how long I cannot tell, but these make 
it all but impossible for me to continue writing ‘Black 
Diamonds.’ . . . I feel like giving up an old friend 
in thus taking leave, but that the great tide of human 
progress may keep flowing steadily shoreward till it 
washes away all the wrong and the sin and the shame 
and the misery which now exist, is now, and for ever will 
be, the sincere prayer of your friend ‘The Tranoer ’ 
Good Bye.” * i F ' 


34 


CHAPTER THREE 


MID-LANARK-THE SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY 

I N the spring of 1888 came the opportunity for which 
he had been waiting and preparing, but it arose, not, 
as he had hoped, in Ayrshire, but in Lanarkshire. 
The resignation of Mr. Stephen Mason from the 
representation of Mid-Lanark made a by-election 
necessary. 

The constituency was pre-eminently mining and there 
was a natural expectation that the Liberal Party would 
give preference to a miner as candidate. Almost as a 
matter of course Hardie’s name was suggested and a 
requisition numerously, signed by electors in the 
Division was presented to him, requesting him to stand 
as Labour candidate. In “The Miner” he made known 
his attitude. “For the first time, so far as Scotland is 
concerned, a serious attempt is to be made to run 
a genuine Labour candidate for the constituency, and 
my own name has been put forward in that connection. 
I desire to define my position clearly. I earnestly 
desire to see Labour represented in Parliament by 
working men. Should the choice of the electors fall on 
me, I am prepared to fight their battle. Should another 
be selected by them, I will give that other as hearty and 
ungrudging support as one man can give another. The 
constituency is essentially one for returning a Labour 
candidate. Much depends on the position taken up by 
the Liberal Association. It may or may not select a 
Labour candidate. In either case my advice would be 


35 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


that the Labour candidate should be put forward. 
Better split the party now, if there is to be a split, than 
at a general election, and if the Labour Party only make 
their power felt now, terms will not be wanting when 
the general election comes.” 

The prospect of the contest aroused widespread 
interest. It was recognised that, not only the 
Liberal professions in favour of Labour representation, 
but the workers themselves, were to be tested, and that, 
in the result, it would be shown whether in a typical 
working-class constituency the workers were yet ready 
to use their newly-acquired political power in the 
interest of their own class and irrespective of old party 
traditions. The press immediately got busy. The 
Scottish Liberal papers, “The Glasgow Daily Mail” 
and the “Scottish Leader,” began to confuse the issues, 
to put forward the names of various middle-class 
candidates, to besmirch and misrepresent Hardie, and 
to talk about “Tory gold.” On the other hand the 
London “Star” wrote as follows:—“Mr. Hardie is 
certainly the best man for the constituency. One or 
two of his stamp are greatly needed to look after Scottish 
Labour interests in Parliament, especially as those 
interests are about to lose the advocacy of Mr. Stephen 
Mason.” 

The Tory “Ayrshire Post” said: “Among the 
candidates brought forward for the expected vacancy in 
Mid-Lanark, through the retirement of Mr. Stephen 
Mason, is Mr. J. Keir Hardie, Cumnock. A corre¬ 
spondent interested in the election asks us whether there 
is any truth in the rumour that Mr. Hardie was a 
Unionist in 1886. The rumour is an absurd one. Mr. 
Hardie has been a consistent and pronounced Home 
Ruler since the beginning of the controversy. What¬ 
ever faults he may have, sitting on the hedge is not one 

36 


MID-LANARK 


of them. Right or wrong, you know what he means.” 
So began the campaign of lies and innuendo of which 
he was to have a plentiful experience in future years, 
and the very fact that the Tory press was inclined to 
speak of him respectfully was adduced as proof that he 
was in league with the Tories. 

Hardie pursued his way steadily, unmoved by any 
calumny. On the 15th March he offered himself as a 
candidate for selection by the Mid-Lanark Liberal 
Association. On the 21st of the same month he with¬ 
drew his name from the official list for the following 
reasons. “The Executive of the Association, without 
giving the electors a chance of deciding on the merits 
of the respective candidates, have already, at the 
instance of outsiders, and without regard to fitness, 
decided who the candidate is to be.” The Liberal 
candidate finally adopted was Mr. J. W. Phillips, a 
young Welsh lawyer, who ultimately made his way to 
the House of Lords as Lord St. Davids. The Tory 
candidate was Mr. W. R. Bousfield. Hardie stood 
therefore as an Independent Labour candidate, 
the first of the kind in British politics; and for 
that reason, if for no other, this Mid-Lanark election 
is historical. As a Labour candidate but, be it noted, 
not yet as a Socialist, did he stand. In his letter to the 
Liberal Association, he claimed that he had all his life 
been a Radical of a somewhat advanced type, and from 
the first had supported Mr. Gladstone’s Home Rule 
proposals. In his election address he said, “I adopt in 
its entirety the Liberal programme agreed to at 
Nottingham, which includes Adult Suffrage; Reform of 
Registration Laws; Allotments for Labourers; County 
Government; London Municipal Government; Free 
Education; Disestablishment. On questions of general 
politics I would vote with the Liberal Party, to which I 


E 


37 


J. KEIR HARDiE 


have all my life belonged.” His proposals for Labour 
and Land legislation, though going far beyond the 
Liberal programme, were not at all comprehensively 
Socialistic. An Eight Hours’ Day for Miners, an 
Insurance and Superannuation Fund supported from 
Royalties, Arbitration Courts, and the creation of a 
Ministry of Mines were his mining proposals; the 
reimposition of the four shillings in the pound Land 
Rent, payable by the landlord to the State, the estab¬ 
lishment of a Land Court, compulsory cultivation of 
waste lands, taxation of land values and nationalisation 
of royalties were his land programme. On the 
question of Home Rule he said, “I will support the 
Irish Party in winning justice for Ireland, and in the 
event of a difference between them and the Liberal 
Party, would vote with the Irish”; and to this he added, 
“I am also strongly in favour of Home Rule for Scot¬ 
land, being convinced that until we have a Parliament 
of our own, we cannot obtain the many and great 
reforms on which I believe the people of Scotland have 
set their hearts.” 

His chief appeal however for differentiation as 
between himself and the other candidates was on the 
ground of class representation. He submitted an 
analysis of all the interests represented in Parliament, 
showing that out of the 72 members sent from Scotland! 
not one represented the working people. “Why is it,” 
he asked, “that in the richest nation in the world those 
who produce the wealth should alone be poor? What 
help can you expect from those who believe they can 
only be kept rich in proportion as you are kept poor? 

‘Few save the poor feel for the poor, the rich know not how 
hard, 

It is to be of needful food and needful rest debarred.’ 

38 


MID-LANARK 


“I ask you therefore to return to Parliament a man of 
yourselves, who being poor, can feel for the poor, and 
whose whole interest lies in the direction of securing for 
you a better and a happier lot?” 

Encouragement came from many quarters. 

The recently formed Labour Electoral Association, 
which during this election assumed the title of National 
Labour Party, sent through its treasurer, Edward 
Harford, ^400 with the assurance: “You can have 
more if needed. 

-This body subsequently proved itself unable to stand 
the strain of divided allegiance to Liberalism and 
Labour. The secretary, T. R. Threlfall, wrote declaring 
the election to be “particularly a test question as to how 
far the professed love of the Liberal Party for Labour 
representation is a reality.” 

The Scottish Home Rule Association, both through 
its Edinburgh and its London Committees, adopted him 
as its candidate, the Metropolitan section passing the 
following resolution, “That this meeting hails with 
gratitude the appearance of Mr. J. K. Hardie, the tried 
and trusted champion of the rights of the Scottish 
Miners, as a Labour candidate for Mid-Lanark, and 
trusts that the working men in that constituency will 
rally round him and do themselves the honour of 
returning the first genuine Labour representative for 
Scotland.” In transmitting the resolution, the Sec¬ 
retary, J. Ramsay MacDonald, sent the follow¬ 
ing letter, the terms of which he himself has 
probably long ago forgotten. As this was the first 
correspondence between two men who were later to be 
^ in close comradeship, it is set down here for preserva¬ 
tion. It shows, amongst other things, that Mac¬ 
Donald, like Hardie, had not yet lost hope in the 
Liberal Party. 


■39 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


“Scottish Elome Rule Association. 

“23 Kelly Street, Kentish Town, London. 

“Mr. J. Keir Hardie, 

“Dear Mr. Hardie,—I cannot refrain from wishing you 
God-speed in your election contest. Had I been able 
to have gone to Mid-Lanark to help you—to do so both 
by ‘word and deed’—would have given very great 
pleasure indeed. The powers of darkness—Scottish 
newspapers with English editors (as the ‘Leader’), 
partisan wire-pullers, and the other etceteras of political 
squabbles—are leagued against us. 

“But let the consequences be what they may, do not 
withdraw. The cause of Labour and of Scottish 
Nationality will suffer much thereby. Your defeat will 
awaken Scotland, and your victory will re-construct 
Scottish Liberalism. All success be yours, and the 
National cause you champion. There is no miner— 
and no other one for that matter—who is a Scotsman 
and not ashamed of it, who will vote against you in 
favour of an obscure English barrister, absolutely 
ignorant of Scotland and of Scottish affairs, and who 
only wants to get to Parliament in order that he may 
have the tail of M.P. to his name in the law courts. 

I am, Dear Sir, 

Yours very truly, 

“J. Ramsay MacDonald, 

“Hon. Secretary, S.H.R.A.” 

The Parliamentary Committee of the Highland Land 
League, through its Chairman, J. Calloway Weir, also 
endorsed the candidature. The Glasgow Trades 
Council did likewise, and the Executive Council of the 
British Steel Smelters’ Association. Lady Florence 
Dixie wrote : “If the miners put you in they will know 

40 


MID-LANARK 


that, at least, they have a representative who will be the 
slave of no Party, but who will speak fearlessly for Scot¬ 
land and her people’s interests.” Cunninghame Graham 
sent a characteristic epistle in which he expressed the 
hope that all Scotsmen would see the importance of not 
returning an Englishman, and concluded, “a good coat 
is useful enough against the weather, but why poor men 
should bow down and worship one, knowing that it will 
not warm their backs passes my comprehension.” 

Hardie resisted all inducements to retire, including 
an offer from the Liberal Party, the nature of which had 
best be disclosed in his own words many years after¬ 
wards. 

“In 1888 I came out as the Labour candidate for the 
Mid-Division of Lanarkshire. The whole story of that 
campaign will be told some day—Bob Smillie could tell 
it — but for the moment I confine myself to one little 
incident. Mr. T. R. Threlfall, Secretary to the Labour 
Electoral Association, came North to take part in the 
contest. One evening Threlfall did not turn up at 
the meeting for which he was advertised, and shortly 
after I got back from my round he turned up at the hotel 
bubbling over with excitement. ‘Eve settled it,’ he 
cried excitedly. T’ve been in conference with them all 
the evening, and it’s all fixed up.’ ‘In conference 
with whom, and settled what? I asked. In con¬ 
ference with the Liberals, he replied, at the George 
Hotel, and you’ve to retire.’ I don’t quite know what 
happened then, but I remember rising to my feet and 
Threlfall ceased speaking. Next morning he returned 
home to Southport. On the day of his depaiture 
Mr. Schnadhorst, the then chief Caucusmonger of the 
Liberals, invited me to meet him at the George Hotel. 
I replied that I was quite prepared to receive in writing 
anything he had to say. The following day, Mi. 

4i 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


C. A. V. Conybeare, then M.P. for the Camborne 
Division of Cornwall, induced me to pay a visit to 
Sir George Trevelyan, also at the George Hotel. Sir 
George was very polite, and explained the unwisdom 
of Liberals and Labour fighing each other. They 
wanted more working men in Parliament, and if only I 
would stand down in Mid-Lanark he would give me an 
assurance that at the General Election I would be 
adopted somewhere, the party paying my expenses, 
and guaranteeing me a yearly salary—three hundred 
pounds was the sum hinted at—as they were doing 
for others (he gave me names). I explained as well as 
I could why his proposal was offensive, and though 
he was obviously surprised, he was too much of a 
gentleman to be anything but courteous. And so the 
fight went on.” / 

The contest was fought with great bitterness, 
especially on the part of the Liberals, who did not 
scruple to introduce sectarian and religious animosities, 
and who were able to make great play with the Irish 
Home Rule question in a constituency where the Irish 
electorate bulked largely. The United Irish League 
seems to have believed implicitly at that time in the 
willingness and ability of Mr. Gladstone to carry the 
Liberal Party with him in establishing Home Rule, and 
although Hardie had the support of Mr. John Ferguson, 
the leading champion of the Irish cause in the West of 
Scotland, and himself on the Council of the Liberal 
Party, the official mandate went against Hardie. Lie 
had thus to fight both the Liberal machine and the 
Nationalist machine, and had only an impromptu 
organisation wherewith to counter them. When the end 
came, he got 617 votes, and the Liberal went to the 
House of Commons—and m due course higher up. 
Looking back over the years and the events which 




42 


SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY 

separate us from this historical contest, how tragic is 
“the might-have-been.” 

But the election had cleared the air, and had settled 
one thing for ever, the impossibility of a Labour Party 
within the Liberal Party. That gives it its permanent 
place in the history of the Labour movement. From that 
day onward, the coming of the Independent Laboui 
Party was a certainty, and that it should be a Socialist 
Party was equally certain from the very nature of the 
political developments arising out of the competitive 
commercialist system and the growing demands of the 
workers for a higher standard of life, which it was quite 
evident could not be realised merely through the indus¬ 
trial organisations then existing. 

The capitalist and the landowning classes both relied 
upon political force for the maintenance of their privi¬ 
leges. To combat these, Labour political force was 
necessary. Only a minority of the working class 
leaders were able to diagnose the disease and apply the 
remedy. Amongst that minority was the defeated 
Labour candidate for Mid-Lanark. Henceforth there 
was to be no temporising so far as he was concerned 
no accommodating other interests. The issues and the 
policy were to be alike clear. A new chapter in Labour 
politics was opened. 

The next step was quickly taken. On May 19th, 
twenty-seven men met in Glasgow. Mr. John Mur¬ 
doch, a man well known in connection with the High¬ 
land Crofters’ agitation, sturdy in frame as in opinions, 
presided, and Hardie explained the object for which 
the meeting had been called, viz., the formation of a 
bona fide Labour Party for Scotland. A Committee 
was formed to arrange for a conference to be held with¬ 
out delay to form such a Party. The members of the 
Committee were Duncan Macpherson, Keir Hardie, 


43 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Charles Kennedy, George Mitchell and Robert 
Hutchison. Two of these at least, Mitchell and 
Hutchison, were avowed Socialists, the latter an 
exceedingly able open-air speaker, who, with Bruce 
Glasier, carried the Socialist message into many far 
distant corners of Scotland. These two were, in fact, 
the voices in the wilderness heralding the coming of 
the gieat aimy of propagandists that was to follow. 
Three months later, on August 25th, the Conference 
was held in the Waterloo Rooms, Glasgow, and the 
Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party was duly formed 
and office-bearers elected. The Hon. President was 
R. B. Cunninghame Graham; Hon. Vice-Presidents, 
Dr. Clark, M.P., and John Ferguson. The Chair¬ 
man of Executive was J. Shaw Maxwell, who after¬ 
wards became first secretary of the national Independent 
Labour Party. Keir Hardie was Secretary, and George 
Mitchell, Treasurer. Thus one more office of responsi¬ 
bly was added to Hardie’s already numerous duties. 
He was now Secretary of the Ayrshire Miners’ Union^ 
of the Scottish Miners’ Federation, of the Scottish 
Parliamentary Labour Party, and editor of “The 
Miner. In the creation of all these enterprises on 
behalf of labour his was the active mind, and it cannot 
be said that he shirked in any way his share of the toil 
which their promotion involved. 

. Amon g s t those who took part in this memorable meet¬ 
ing was a delegate from Larkhall named Robert Smillie 
who has been heard of in the world since then. Hardie 
and he were already fairly close friends and fellow 
woikers in the common cause, and remained so till death 
broke the bond of comradeship. Smillie, though still 

W °j le P*J S .’ was J at the period of this meeting al¬ 

ready busy organising the Lanarkshire miners and serving 
them m a representative capacity on the Larkhall School 

44 


SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY 


Board. In such probationary ways and through such 
manifold experiences do working class leaders evolve. 
This is the kind of service for which the qualifying 
degrees do not emanate from any university, though the 
university might be helpful if it were available. 

1 he newly formed party discussed and adopted a 
lengthy and detailed programme which need not be 
reproduced here. The most far-reaching of the pro¬ 
posals, such as the “State acquisition of railways, and 
all other means of transit,” “A National Banking Sys¬ 
tem and the Issue of State Money only,” remain yet 
unfulfilled, though now well within the range of practical 
politics. The formulation of these demands thirty 
years ago indicates how far these men were in advance 
of their time, and in what manner they were feeling 
their way towards a statement of Socalist aims which, 
by its very practicality, would be acceptable to their 
fellow workmen. They were not dreamers by any 
means. They were out for realities. They related the 
hard road at their feet with the justice they saw on the 
horizon. 

Following close upon this memorable meeting at 
Glasgow, came the annual Trades Union Congress 
held that year at Bradford. Hardie was a delegate and 
much in evidence in the debates, being practically lead¬ 
ing spokesman for the advanced section, who made use 
of the Congress as a propaganda platform in favour of 
Parliamentary Labour Representation and the Legal 
Eight Hours’ Day. He also presided at an outsidd 
fraternising meeting of French and British delegates 
for. the purpose of mutual enlightenment on the progress 
of the working-class movement in both countries. 
Already he was beginning to be recognised by Euro¬ 
pean working-class leaders as representative of the most 
progressive and the most fearless elements in the British 


45 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Labour movement, and for his part, he was eager to 
know and understand the conditions under which they 
had to carry on the struggle against the forces of capital¬ 
ism; he was also, perhaps, desirous of, to some extent, 
taking the measure of the personalities who were in the 
forefront of that battle. He had an opportunity of 
extending his knowledge at an International Confer¬ 
ence which took place in London the following Novem¬ 
ber. This was Hardie’s first International, and for that 
reason it is of importance for this memoir, but also for 
other reasons. It was not a fully representative Confer¬ 
ence, the German Social Democrats having decided not 
to take part through some misunderstanding, which need 
not be discussed now after all these years, but which 
called for an explanatory circular from the “Socialist 
members of the German Reichstag’’ addressed to “Our 
Socialist comrades, and the workers of all countries,” 
and including amongst its signatures the names of two 
men who take rank amongst the great ones of the 
wide-world Socialist movement, William Liebknecht 
and August Rebel. The Conference was called by the 
Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Con¬ 
gress, and was really a Trade Union, rather than a 
Socialist, International. Naturally, the British dele¬ 
gates were largely in the majority, being seventy-nine 
in number as compared with eighteen from France which 
sent the next largest number. Llolland sent thirteen, 
Belgium ten, Denmark two, Italy one. 

There does not appear to have been any representa¬ 
tion from Austria, or Hungary, or Switzerland, or any of 
the Balkan countries. Hardie’s observations, compar¬ 
ing the British with the foreigners may be quoted, if 
for no other purpose than to illustrate his opinions con¬ 
cerning the British Trade Union movement of that 
time. Describing the reception in Westminster Palace 

46 


SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY 


Hotel, he says: “How different we are after all from 
our neighbours. They are gay, light, volatile, ever 
ready to flare up into a passion at a moment’s notice; 
we, stolid (stupid, someone called it), heavy, dullish, 
slow to anger (the chairman excepted), and not at all 
like men in earnest. Certainly these foreigners know 
what they are about. They have made up their minds 
as to what they want, and mean to have it. They are 
Socialists to a man, and have the fiery zeal which always 
characterises earnest men who are fighting for a princi¬ 
ple. Probably some of the earlier trade unionists of 
this country exhibited the same characteristics, but now 
that the leader of a Trade Union is the holder of a fat, 
snug office, concerned only in maintaining the respecta¬ 
bility of the cause, all is changed. Theirs (the 
foreigners) may be a madness without method, ours is 
a method without life. A fusion of the two would be 
beneficial all round.” 

Then he goes on to characterise the notables present 
at the Congress, his reference to some of the home-made 
ones being rather more caustic than was necessary, but 
interesting, nevertheless, in view of their subsequent 
careers. 

“The Chairman, Mr. George Shipton, of the London 
Trades Council, has much to do to keep things in order; 
next him Mr. Broadhurst, Secretary. On the floor, Mr. 
Burt, philosophic and gentle-looking as ever, taking no 
part in the proceedings, but, like the sailor’s parrot, 
thinking a lot; Mr. Fenwick, too, growing visibly larger, 
much to his regret; Mr. Abraham, 5ft. by 4ft., correct 
measurement, so that he is not so broad as he is long, 
though I should say he soon will be; his voice is scarcely 
so clear as it once was, but he himself is bright, cheerful 
and full of bonho?nie as ever. There too, was Miss 
Edith Simcox, with her strong, sympathetic face. 

47 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

(‘Done more for the unskilled workers than all the Par¬ 
liamentary Committee put together, 5 is the remark of one 
who knows.) Mrs. Besant attends as frequently as she 
can. She is not tall, and has a slight stoop, probably 
the result of a too close application at her desk; wears 
her hair short, and has on a red Tam-o’-Shanter; silver 
streaks are not.wanting among her tresses. Miss Chap¬ 
man sits wearily through several sittings, wondering 
what it is all about. She is president of the Match Girls’ 
Union, and is a tall, good-looking lassie, with dark and 
clear-cut features, despite Bryant & May and their 
twenty-two per cent. John Burns keeps running about 
and appears to know everybody. He is an Ayrshire 
Scotchman of the third generation. A thick-set, black 
tyke he is, with a voice of slightly modulated thunder and 
a nature as buoyant as a schoolboy’s. Among the 
foreigners is Anseele of Belgium, probably their best 
man. He has ‘done’ his six months in jail for siding with 
the workers, but that has not daunted him any. His power 
of speech is amazing, and, as he closes his lips with a snap 
at the end of each sentence, he seems to say, ‘There ! I 
have spoken and I mean it.’ He is young, vigorous, 
and talented, and destined to make his mark. Next in 
importance is Hoppenheimer of Paris. Tall and good- 
looking, with a head of hair like a divot. He has seen 
much life and is greatly trusted by his fellows. Christi- 
son is a typical Dane with a bullet head and more given 
to action than talking. Mr. Adolph Smith made a 
capital interpreter. Lazzari the Italian is easily known. 
He wears leather leggings, a black cloak thrown over 
his shoulders and a slouch hat. He has only recently 
come out of prison, and is quite prepared to be sent back 
on his return home. His face is long and sallow; his 
eyes dark and bright, and as he stalks about with a 
swinging gait, or lounges against a pillar smoking a 

48 


SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY 


cigarette, I call to mind the stories of long ago in which 
just such a picture figured in my mind’s eye as the cruel 
brigand. Many others might be mentioned, but space 
is limited.” 

The foregoing appeared in “The Miner,” and it 
justifies the belief that if Hardie had not been so absorbed 
in the cause of Labour, he might have been a prince of 
journalists. 

Hardie was very much to the front at this Conference, 
which for a whole day discussed “the best means for 
removing the obstacles to free combination amongst the 
workers in continental countries,” and the following 
morning on Hardie’s recommendation carried the fol¬ 
lowing resolution : “The Labour parties in the different 
countries are requested to put on their programme, and 
work for, by agitation, the abolition of all laws pro¬ 
hibiting or hampering the free right of association 
and combination, national and international, of the 
workers.” 

On the question of methods he put forward the follow¬ 
ing proposals, a perusal of which by our modern indus¬ 
trial unionists may indicate to them that the idea under¬ 
lying their policy is not so very novel after all. 

“First. That all unions of one trade in one country 
combine in electing an Executive Central body 
for that trade in that country. 

“Second. That the Central bodies of the various 
trades in the different countries elect a General 
Council for all trades. 

“Third. That the Central bodies of the various trades 
in the different countries shall meet in Confer¬ 
ence annually and an International Conference 
shall be held at intervals of not less than three 
years.” 


49 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

There was here the conception of an international 
industrial power capable of being called into action at 
any given moment of great crisis, which, if it could have 
materialised in the form, say, of a general strike, might 
long ago have completely shattered militarism and made 
impossible the 1914 European calamity, while it would 
also have undermined the very foundations of capital¬ 
ism. That it did not materialise is no fault of Keir 
Hardie. That he was capable of formulating it is 
proof of his greatness of vision, even if it implied 
a faith in organised mass intelligence for which 
working-class environment and tradition gave little 
justification. To have dreamed the dream was worth 
while, even if the realisation thereof may be for 
other generations. 

Hardie’s resolutions were not carried, but in their 
stead a long resolution from the foreigners, to which 
Hardie had no objections and which, according to his 
summary of it, ‘‘provided for the organisation of all 
workers, the appointment of National Committees, the 
formation of a distinct political Labour Party, and the 
holding, if possible, of a yearly International Congress, 
the next one to meet in Paris the following year.” The 
Conference also decided in favour of a maximum eight 
hours’ day, and, on the motion of Mr. Burt, it resolved : 

That arbitration should be substituted for war in the 
settlement of disputes between nations.” Hardie’s con¬ 
cluding comments are noteworthy. “The Conference 
is over. We know each other better. Socialism is in 
the ascendant and everybody knows it. The marching 
order has been given, and it is ‘Forward !’ Henceforth 
there can be no alienation between British and Con¬ 
tinental workers. The Broadhurst school have now Hob¬ 
son’s choice facing them—accept the new gospel or o- 0 
down before those who will.” 


50 


SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY 


Thus ended the activities of the year 1888 with a 
declaration of Socialism. It had been a tremendous 
year for Hardie. Packed full of striving from beginning 
to end, and marking the beginnings of new endeavours 
which were to engross him henceforth all the days of 
his life. He had fought his first parliamentary contest. 
He had thrown down the gauntlet to the existing political 
parties, and to those working-class leaders who adhered 
to them. He had joined hands with the overseas fighters 
for freedom. He had become international. He had 
embraced Socialism. He had raised up against him in 
his own country hosts of enemies, but he had also secured 
troops of friends. The battle was drawn and he took 
joy in it. Let us have a square look at him, as he 
appeared at this time to one who was fairly closely 
associated with him in some of these public events. 
Mr. Cunninghame Graham, shortly after Keir Hardie’s 
death, and for the purpose of this memoir, supplied the 
following vivid impression :— 

“I first met Keir Hardie about the year 1887 or 1888. 
He was at that time, in conjunction with Chisholm 
Robertson, one of the chief miners’ leaders in the West 
of Scotland. I first saw him at his home in Cumnock. 
I spoke to him for the first time in the office of a paper 
he was connected with, I think ‘The Miner’ or ‘Cum¬ 
nock News.’ He was then about thirty years of age, 
I should judge, but old for his age. His hair was al¬ 
ready becoming thin at the top of the head, and receding 
from the temples. His eyes were not very strong. 
At first sight he struck you as a remarkable man. There 
was an air of great benevolence about him, but his face 
showed the kind of appearance of one who has worked 
hard and suffered, possibly from inadequate nourishment 
in his youth. He was active and alert, though not 
athletic. Still, he appeared to be full of energy, and 

5i 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

as subsequent events proved, he had an enormous power 
of resistance against long, hard and continual work. I 
should judge him to have been of a very nervous and 
high-strung temperament. At that time, and I believe 
up to the end of his life, he was an almost ceaseless 
smoker, what is called in the United States a chain 
smoker.’ He was a very strict teetotaller and remained 
so to the end, but he was not a bigot on the subject and 
was tolerant of faults in the weaker brethren. Nothing 
in his address or speech showed his want of education 
in his youth. His accent was of Ayrshire. I think he 
took pride in it in his ordinary conversation. He could, 
however, to a great extent throw this accent aside, but 
not entirely. When roused or excited in public or 
private speech it was always perceptible. His voice was 
high-pitched but sonorous and very far-carrying at that 
time. He never used notes at that time, and I think 
never prepared a speech, leaving all to the inspiration 
of the moment. This suited his natural, unforced 
method of speaking admirably. He had all the charm 
and some of the defects of his system. Thus, though 
he rose higher than I think it is possible to rise when 
a speech is prepared or committed to memory, he was 
also subject to very flat passages when he was not, so 
to speak, inspired. His chief merits as a speaker were, 
in my opinion, his homeliness, directness and sincerity; 
and his demerits were a tendency to redundancy and 
length, and a total lack of humour, very rare in an Ayr¬ 
shire Scot. This was to me curious, as he had a con¬ 
siderable vein of pathos. He always opened his speeches 
in those days with ‘Men,’ and finished with ‘Now, 
men.’ This habit, which he also followed in his private 
speech—when two or three were gathered together— 
used to give great offence to numbers of paternal capital¬ 
ists, baillies, councillors, and other worthy men who 




52 


SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY 


had not much mental culture and failed to detect 
Hardie’s sincerity, and took the familiar ‘men’ as 
something too familiar for their conversing. Hardie’s 
dress at this time was almost always a navy blue serge 
suit with a hard bowler hat. His hair was never worn 
long and his beard was well-trimmed and curly. Later 
on, to the regret of the ‘judicious,’ he affected a different 
style of dressing entirely foreign to his custom when a 
little-known man. He was then, and I believe always, 
an extremely abstemious eater, and in the long peregrin¬ 
ations about the mining villages of Lanarkshire and 
Ayrshire, when I was a young, unknown M.P. and he 
an equally unknown miners’ leader, in rain and wind, 
and now and then in snow, an oatcake, a scone, a bit 
of a kebbuck of cheese always contented him. He 
would then sit down by the fireside in the cottage in the 
mining row, and light up his corn-cob pipe and talk of 
the future of the Labour Party, which in those days 
seemed to the miners a mere fairy tale. Now and then 
I have seen him take the baby from the miner’s wife, 
and dandle it on his knee whilst she prepared tea. 

“He had the faculty of attracting children to him, 
and most certainly he ‘forbade them not.’ They would 
come round him in the miners’ cottages and lean against 
him for the first few minutes. One felt he was a ‘family 
man’ and so, I suppose, did the children.” 

Allowing for one or two inaccuracies such as that 
he was an Ayrshire Scot and “totally lacking in 
humour,” the foregoing may be taken as a tolerably 
faithful pen-portrait of Keir Hardie in his prime, and 
presents characteristic features recognisable by his later 
associates, though deepened and strengthened by the 
stress of conflict in the wider field upon which he was 
now entering. It is the portrait of a very earnest, sincere 
man; resolute and strong, yet tender and kindly, and 


F 


53 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


making the most of his opportunities and his gifts in the 
interest of his “ain folk,” the working class. It would 
be helpful if some graphic pen could re-envisage for us 
the wider environment, beyond Lanarkshire and Ayr¬ 
shire, which together with these local conditions and 
these local struggles, was moulding the character and 
determining the purpose of Hardie and many other 
ardent spirits at that time. 

It is curious to note how unobservant of the potential 
significance of these Labour movements were the con¬ 
temporary publicists and historians. Justin McCarthy’s 
“History of Our Own Times,” for example, though it 
comes down to 1897, makes only the most casual five- 
word reference in recording the death of Cardinal 
Manning to the London Dock Strike, and makes no 
mention of the sympathetic strikes all over the country 
which followed it. It does not record the imprisonment 
of Cunninghame Graham and John Burns in mainten¬ 
ance of the right of free speech. It says nothing 
about the “new Unionism” movement which signalised 
the entrance into organised industrialism, and thereby 
into the political field, of the great mass of unskilled 
workers. It does not chronicle the formation of the 
Social Democratic Federation, or of the Fabian 
Society, or of the I.L.P. It passes all these events by 
unnoticed as if they had nothing whatever to do with 
the history of our own times, and fails to perceive that 
they were the beginners of the new social and political 
forces which were bound, in the very nature of things, 
to challenge the permanency of the existing order, and 
become the source of whatever has to be told in the 
history of the times after our own. 

It was a time of turmoil and strife, but also of hope 
for labouring people, whose most thoughtful representa¬ 
tives were testing and experimenting with new mediums 


54 


SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY 


for giving expression and effect to the aspirations of 
their class. New organisations were born and lived a 
little while and then died,, but always left behind them 
some foundations and corner stones for future builders. 
Labour Electoral Associations, National Labour 
Parties, Sons of Labour—modelled on the American 
Knights of Labour—Hardie was willing to try them all, 
and also ready to associate with the pioneers and pro¬ 
pagandists whom these organisations called into 
activity. Very remarkable personalities some of them 
indeed were, though not all with horny hands or toil- 
furrowed faces. Keen, intellectual, purposeful, they 
carried their message alike to the street corners of the 
great cities and the village greens of remote country 
districts. They brought Socialism into the market 
place. They elbowed their way into Radical Associa¬ 
tions and into Tory Clubs, nor disdained the rostrum of 
the Y.M.C.A. or the Mutual Improvement Society. 
Their purpose was to break through the old habits of 
thought, to (mdermine stereotyped party formulas, to 
prepare the way for the new times. 

Greatly varied in origin, in temperament, in charac¬ 
ter, in talents, were these men of the advanced guard of 
the modern British Socialist movement—H. H. Cham¬ 
pion, ex-army officer, in appearance, patrician to the 
finger tips, cool as an iceberg, yet emitting red-hot 
revolution in the placid accents of clubland; Tom 
Mann, a working engineer, fresh from the “tanner-an- 
hour” dock strike, with all its honours full upon him, 
vigorous, eloquent, strong-lunged, rich-toned, speaking 
as easily in an amphitheatre as Champion could do in 
a drawing room, the very embodiment, it seemed, of the 
common people; Bruce Glasier, a designer and architect, 
somewhat angular in physical outline, pale of face, 
yet withal picturesquely attractive at a street corner with 

55 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


the breeze dishevelling his hair and carrying his high- 
pitched, musical tones to the far end of the 'street, his 
artistic fusing of poetry, economics and politics com¬ 
pelling even the Philistines to stand and listen; James 
Connolly, a labourer from the Edinburgh Cleansing 
Department a most un-Celtic-like personality, slow and 
difficult of utterance, yet undeterred by any disability 
either of physique or training from delivering his mes¬ 
sage, a very encyclopaedia of statistical facts and figures 
and of Marxian economics, a victimised industrial martyr 
even then, but with nothing either in his demeanour or in 
his political views foreshadowing his tragic and heroic end 
at the head of an Irish rebellion. And with these some¬ 
times, and sometimes alone, there was a burly, thick-set 
figure of a man, in blue sailor-like garb, yet withal 
countrified in appearance, a ruddy-complexioned 
lion-headed man, William Morris, poet, artist, 
pre-Raphaelite—and because he was all these and 
humanitarian to boot, a Socialist. There were others 
too, rough and uncultured, or refined and bookish, men 
from the mine and from the factory, and the workshops 
and the dockyard and the smelting furnace, working 
men with active brains and great hearts, artists, dons, 
professional men. Harry Quelch, Pete Curran, Bob 
Hutcheson, Sandy Haddow, Bob Smillie and many 

others like unto them crowded into this service. These 

* 

were the men who, with Keir Hardie, were making 
Socialism in the ’eighties of the last century. He was 
with them but not yet entirely of them. He was at close 
grips with that form of capitalism under whose domin¬ 
ation his lot had been cast. Fighting the coalowners and 
stiffening the men, smoking his pipe in the colliery 
rows and fondling the bairns, yet all the time, assimilat¬ 
ing inspiration from the turmoil beyond, and gradually 
merging himself in that turmoil. Idealist and en- 

56 


SCOTTISH LABOUR PARTY 

thusiast, yet looking ever to the practical side of things 
and retaining always his own individuality. The friend¬ 
less, forlorn errand boy of Glasgow streets has come 
far in these twenty-two years. He has still much farther 
to go in the new world of service that is opening out 
ahead of him. 


57 


V 


CHAPTER FOUR 


THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL—WEST HAM-THE I.L.P.- 

THE HOUSE OF COMMONS 

A ■ A HE year 1889 is notable in Socialist history 
[■■; as the year in which what is known as the 
-*■ Second International was founded. Its pre¬ 
decessor, formed in' 1864, under the style of the 
International Workingmen’s Association by Karl Marx 
in co-operation with George Odger, George Howell, 
Robert Applegarth, and other leading British trade 
unionists, together with representatives from the 
Continental countries, was rent asunder by disputes 
between Bakuninists and Marxists, and finally ceased to 
exist in 1876. But the principles and the purpose which 
inspired it could not, and cannot, be destroyed. Inter¬ 
national war, the Franco-Prussian, had, for the time 
being, defeated international working-class solidarity, 
as it has once again—may we hope for the last time— 
in these recent terrible years. The idea of co-ordinated 
international class effort based upon communion of 
interests is one of those ideas which, once enunciated, 
are indestructible except through the disappearance of 
class. The slogan of the Communist Manifesto, 
“Workers of the world unite,” sounded by Marx twenty 
years before the first International was formed, may be 
temporarily overwhelmed by militarist and nationalist 
war cries, but it re-asserts itself, and must do so until 
it becomes the ascendant, dominant note in humanity’s 
marching tune. 


58 



THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL 


The call for international working-class unity was 
making itself heard once more, and this 1889 Confer¬ 
ence in Paris was the answer to the call. Naturally, 
Keir Hardie was there ^amongst the others. There were, 
in fact, two Congresses held simultaneously, one of 
purely trade union origin, arising out of the decisions 
of the Conference held in London the previous year, and 
the other arising out of the decisions of the German 
Working-Class Party in 1886. But for misunder¬ 
standings, unavoidable perhaps in the early stages of 
so great a thing as an international movement, there 
need only have been one Congress, for both passed 
the same resolutions and manifested the same 
purpose, though one was labelled Possibilist, and 
the other Marxist. 

What is to be noted is, that Hardie attended the 
avowedly Marxist Congress, thus early affirming his 
allegiance to the Socialist conception of internation¬ 
alism. Hvndman, the exponent and standard bearer in 
Britain of Marxian philosophy pure and undefiled, 
attended the Possibilist gathering as delegate from the 
Social Democratic Federation. With him were repre¬ 
sentatives from the Fabian Society, the Trades Union 
Congress and the Trade Union movement generally, 
amongst his colleagues being John Burns, Herbert Bur¬ 
rows, Mrs. Besant, Thomas Burt, M.P., and Charles 
Fenwick, M.P. Hardie, who at the other Congress 
represented the Scottish Labour Party, had for com¬ 
panions Cunninghame Graham from the same Party, 
and William Morris from the Socialist League. T hus>, 
before any political Labour Party had been formed for 
Great Britain, a Scottish Labour Party was represented 
in the international movement, due undoubtedly to the 
influence of its Secretary, Keir Hardie. At this Con¬ 
gress he found himself in the company of many famous 


59 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


leaders from other lands, including Wilhelm Lieb- 
knecht, Jules Guesde, Bebel, Vollmar, Dr. Adler and 
Anseele, and, wo may be sure, gained education and 
inspiration thereby. Both Congresses passed resolu¬ 
tions in favour of an Eight Hours’ Day, a Minimum 
Wage, prohibition of child labour and unhealthy 
occupations, and the abolition of standing armies; 
not by any means a revolutionary programme, but one 
postulating the demands upon which the organised 
workers of all countries might be expected to agree. 
The virtue and strength of the International was not in 
its programme, but in the mere fact of its existence. 
Therein lay incalculable potentialities. The Workers’ 
International is the adaptation of labour force to meet 
the world conditions created by modern capitalism. 
It challenges, not any particular form of government 
here or there, in this country or in that, but the 
capitalist system, which is one and the same in all 
countries. 

Moreover, the International differentiated itself 
from other rebel movements in that it placed no reliance 
on underground methods. It came out into the open. 
It assumed that labour was now strong enough to stand 
upright. It recognised that methods of secrecy made 
national working-class co-operation impossible, and that 
only by open declaration of ideals and purposes could the 
people in the various countries understand and have 
confidence in each other. The International was, and 
is, an historic phenomenon, vastly more important than 
the English Magna Charta, the American Declaration 
of Independence, or the Fall of the Bastille. It is the 
summation of these and other efforts towards liberty 
seeking not merely to proclaim, but to establish the 
Rights of Man. Three times it has suffered eclipse, 
ihe Communist League hardly survived its birth-hour 

60 




THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL 


amid the storms and revolutionary turmoil of 1848. The 
First International—so-called—went down through the 
blood and fire of the Franco-Prussian War. The 
Second, of which we are now speaking, was submerged 
in the frenzies of a world war. Already it emerges 
once again, the deathless International, and who shall 
say that it will not this time accomplish its purpose ? 

They were strong, courageous spirits who conceived 
the Workers’ International and gave it form and stimu¬ 
lus, and lifted it ever and anon out of the very jaws 
of death. Amongst these Keir Hardie has a foremost 
place. 

The consciousness of having assisted in an event of 
unparalleled importance to the working class could not 
but have an expanding effect upon a mind already deeply 
impressed with a sense of the greatness of the Labour 
movement, and it is unfortunate that we have no per¬ 
sonal record of his impressions at this time. He was 
not much in the habit of revealing his thoughts in his 
private correspondence, and his paper, “The Miner,” 
having ceased to exist, we have no printed account of 
the Paris Congress such as that which he gave of the 
London one the previous year. It would have been 
deeply interesting for us to know, not only his thoughts 
about the personalities whom he met, but also how the 
great city of Paris looked to the miner from Ayrshire. 
That this experience constituted another stage in the 
development of his character cannot be doubted, and the 
equanimity with which in future years he was able to meet 
the rebuffs, vexations and scurrilities which assailed 
him in the course of his work for Socialism, derived itself 
in large measure from his sense of the magnitude of the 
cause to which his life was now consecrated. 

At home, the chief task of Hardie and other advanced 
workers was to combat the conservative elements in the 


61 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Labour movement itself, as exemplified in the reluctance 
of the big Trade Unions to adapt themselves to the 
changing economic and political conditions of the time. 
After a long heroic struggle the old repressive combin¬ 
ation laws had broken down. Trade Unionism had been 
legalised, an achievement in itself marking a big step in 
the advance towards liberty, but still only a step. The right 
to combine, implying the right to strike, was still for large 
sections of the workers only a right theoretically, as was 
shown by the failure of Joseph Arch to organise the agri¬ 
cultural labourers, and by the difficuty of incorporating in 
the general Trade Union movement the immense mass of 
unskilled labour, male and female, whose low standard 
of wages continually imperilled the higher standard of 
the organised sections. This very year another big 
strike of London Dock labourers had taken place, and 
there was seen amongst this class of workers much the 
same sequence of events which Hardie had witnessed 
amongst the miners of Lanarkshire and Ayrshire, namely, 
that the strike was a necessary prelude to the Trade 
Union. First organise and then strike, seems logical, 
but in the early stages of revolt against economic sub¬ 
jection, necessity, not logic, is the determining factor, 
and the process is first strike then organise. The strike, 
resorted to in many cases in sheer desperation by 
unorganised workers who have been driven to the con¬ 
clusion that it is better to go idle and starve than to 
work and starve, emphasises (whether it be partially 
successful or a complete failure) the need for organisa¬ 
tion, and later there comes the conviction that if only 
the organisation can be made effective enough there will 
be no need for strikes. “The strike epidemic,” as the 
pressmen called it, of those years, amongst dockers, gas- 
workers, general labourers, seamen, match girls and 
other seemingly helpless sections of the community, laid 

62 


THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL 


the foundations for the powerful unions of the unskilled 
—so called—which now play an equally effective part 
with the craftsmen’s associations in determining con¬ 
ditions of employment. But in its immediate economic 
effects the strike movement of those times did something 
more than that. It demonstrated the inter-dependence 
of all sections of labour, and consequently the mutuality 
of the interests of all. A stoppage of labour in the dock¬ 
yards, or on the railways, or in the coal mines throughout 
the country, affected the productive capacity of engineers 
and textile workers and the distributive capacity of shop¬ 
keepers and warehousemen. It played havoc with the 
idea of an aristocracy of labour. It tended to break 
down class divisions within the working class. It gave 
birth to the idea that the Labour cause is one and 
indivisible. 

Synchronising with all this industrial unrest was the 
fact that the workers now possessed a large measure of 
political power, and the growing feeling that some 
means must be found of giving effect to it. In all their 
disputes, the workers found the Government, whether 
Tory or Liberal, throwing its weight on the side of the 
employers. They found that in these disputes they had 
to fight both Tory and Liberal employers, that directors 
and shareholders of industrial companies knew no party 
politics; they even found, as in the caste of the strike 
of the shamefully underpaid women at the Manningham 
Mills in Yorkshire, a Liberal Cabinet Minister amongst 
the sweaters. They found further, that Parliament, 
though elected by the votes of the wofkers, made not 
the slightest attempt to deal with the problem of 
unemployment, but left the employers free to use 
that problem with its surplusage of labour as a 
weapon against the workers; and thus there began 
to evolve, almost without propaganda, a belief in 

63 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

the need for a political Labour Party—an Independent 
Labour Party. 

Towards the formation of such a party Hardie now 
devoted all his activities. Not only on the propaganda 
platform and in the Miners’ Trade Union Councils, but 
year by year at the annual Trades Union Congress he 
had come to be regarded as the chief spokesman of the 
new idea of political independence, and was the mark 
for all the antagonism which that idea evoked, not only 
from the capitalists and landlords, but from the working 
classes themselves, and especially from those working- 
class leaders who, while believing in political action, 
had all their lives and with perfect sincerity been looking 
towards Liberalism as the way out. These men 
naturally resented any action which tended to weaken 
the Liberal Party as being either treason or stupidity. 
F assions were aroused and some life-long friendships 
broken during this protracted struggle between the 
light and left wings of the Labour movement. But 
the work went on, and when the General Election of 
1892 came along, sufficient progress had been made to 
justify the Independents in at least a partial and tenta¬ 
tive trial of strength at the polls, as the outcome of 
which Keir Hardie found himself in Parliament. 

That fact gives some measure alike of the growth of 
the labour sentiment towards political independence 
and of the extent to which Hardie was now recognised 
as repiesentative not merely of a trade or section or 
distiict, but of the Labour movement nationally. 

In 1888, he had claimed the suffrages of the Lanark¬ 
shire electors on the grounds that as a miner he was 
specially qualified to deal with the interests of the miners 
and that as a Scotsman he was specially qualified to deal 
with Scottish affairs. Now, four years later, he was 
returned to Parliament by a constituency in which there 

64 


WEST HAM 


was not a single miner and very few Scots. That the 
miner from Scotland should have been able to appeal 
successfully to a London community is indicative also of 
a certain intellectual adaptability on his part, a capacity 
for identifying himself with the mental and social out¬ 
look of people whose environment and habits of thought 
were very much different from those in which he himself 
had been reared. 

The success of John Bums at Battersea is not so diffi¬ 
cult to understand. He was on his native streets, 
amongst his own people, and spoke in their idioms— 
a Londoner of the Londoners. Hardie was an incomer, 
a foreigner almost; and his quick success in this new 
field of adventure cannot be wholly accounted for, either 
by the strength of the local Labour organisation, which 
was only in its incipient stage, or by the intervention of 
certain accidental circumstances which will be referred 
to later. Hardie’s personality had much to do with his 
success at West Ham, and especially his power of merg¬ 
ing himself without losing himself in the actual life of 
the people whom he wished to serve. 

His presence in West Ham was largely the outcome 
of the Mid-Lanark contest, which had attracted the 
attention of advanced politicians all over the country, 
and amongst them certain democrats in this industrial 
district of London who were dissatisfied with the Liberal 
Party policy and were up in arms against the local 
party caucus. The I.L.P. had not yet been founded, 
but there was a very influential branch of the Land 
Restoration League as the result of Henry George’s 
visit to this country some years previously, with groups 
of Socialists and Radicals anxious to try conclusions 
with the orthodox parties. From a committee formed 
of these, Hardie received the invitation to contest the 
constituency. 


65 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


The rejection of financial help from Mr. Andrew 
Carnegie, and the manner of the rejection, emphasised 
the fact that he was, above all things, a Labour candi¬ 
date who was not to touch pitch, however offered. Mr. 
Carnegie, who was by way of being an uncompromising 
Republican, was also, as the whole world knew, a big 
employer of labour in America, and as his employees at 
Pittsburg were at that very time on strike and were up 
against Mr. Carnegie’s “live wires” and hired gunmen, 
the West Ham share of the donations went to help the 
strikers. 

7 he election of Hardie and Burns was the first prac¬ 
tical indication to the orthodox politicians that there 
were new elements in society with which they would have 
to reckon. Even yet they hardly realised the significance 
of what had taken place. They were being kept too 
busy with other matters to be able to take serious note 
of the new movement. Not without reason, they were 
concerned with the malcontents of Ireland more than 
with the malcontents of Labour. Their last Franchise 
Act had created a formidable British-Irish electorate, 
able to decide the fate of governments—or at least so it 
seemed for a time—and the rival competitors for parlia¬ 
mentary power were busy on the one hand placating the 
Irishmen, and on the other stirring up and rallying all 
the possible reserves of British prejudice against the 
Irish. They were, in fact, endeavouring to keep the 
British voters divided, no longer merely as Liberals and 
Conservatives, but as Home Rulers and Unionists. In 
this they were only too successful, but were too engrossed 
in the congenial political manoeuvring in which British 
statecraft seems to live and move and have its being, 
to realise the significance of the entry into Parliament 
of a man like Hardie. They were to have it fully 
brought home to them within the next three years. 


66 


WEST HAM 


That Hardie was on this occasion favoured by a cer¬ 
tain element of luck must be admitted. The local 
Liberal Party were taken at a disadvantage through the 
sudden death of their selected candidate, and, with little 
time to look for another and the knowledge that Hardie 
had already secured a strong following, they made a 
virtue of necessity, and, though never officially recog¬ 
nising him, joined forces with the forward section. They 
even persuaded themselves that Hardie could be 
regarded as a Liberal Member and be subject to official 
party discipline. 

They had no grounds for such a belief in any utter¬ 
ances of the Labour candidate. On the contrary, he had 
made explicit declarations of his independence of party 
control. “I desire,” he said in his election address, “to 
be perfectly frank with the body of electors, as I have 
been with my more immediate friends and supporters in 
the constituency. I have all my life given an independ¬ 
ent support to the Liberal Party, but my first concern is 
the moral and material welfare of the working classes, 
and if returned, I will in every case place the claims of 
labour above those of party. Generally speaking, I 
am in agreement with the present programme of the 
Liberal Party so far as it goes, but I reserve to myself the 
absolute and unconditional right to take such action, 
irrespective of the exigencies of party welfare, as may to 
me seem needful in the interests of the workers.” At a 
Conference of Trade Unions, Temperance Societies, 
Associations and Clubs, asked if he would follow Glad¬ 
stone, he answered : “So long as he was engaged in good 
democratic work, but if he opposed Labour questions he 
would oppose him or anybody else.” ‘ Would he join 
the Liberal and Radical Party?” In reply, he said 
“he expected to form an Independent Labour Party.” 

On these conditions he entered the House of Commons 

67 


j. KEIR HARDIE 


untrammelled and unpledged—except to his own con¬ 
science—perhaps the only free man in that assembly. 

He had hardly taken his seat, and the new Govern¬ 
ment had not even been formed, when he began to be 
troublesome to the House of Commons’ authorities. On 
August 18th, we find him interrogating the Speaker as 
to procedure, and as this was his first Parliamentary 
utterance and foreshadows fairly well his subsequent 
policy, the question may be given in full. “Mr. 
Speaker,” he said, “I rise to put a question of which I 
have given you private notice. Perhaps you will allow 
me to offer one word of explanation as to why I put the 
question. On Thursday, last week, I gave notice of an 
amendment to the Address, but when the amendment 
then before the House was disposed of there was so much 
noise and confusion that I did not hear the mam question 
put, and I anticipated that to-day there would be an 
opportunity of discussing the point embodied in my 
amendment. I find that under the ordinary rules of the 
House there will be no such opportunity. The question 
which I desire to put now, Sir, is whether, in view of the 
interest which has been awakened on the question c/f hold¬ 
ing an autumn session for the consideration of measures 
designed to improve the condition of the people, there is 
any way by which the sense of the Plouse can now be 
taken for the guidance of the ministry now in process of 
formation ?” The Speaker, as was to be expected, ruled 
that the question could not be raised until a Government 
had been formed. And as no autumn session was held, 
it was February of next year before Hardie could begin 
his Paihamentary work on behalf of the unemployed. 

An incident which occurred at this time illustrates 
in a very vivid way his determination to keep himself 
clear of all entanglements which might in any way inter¬ 
fere with his personal and political independence. It 

68 


WEST HAM 


had best be described by himself, especially as his man¬ 
ner of telling the story brings out some of those 
characteristics which governed his actions all through life. 

“ I was elected in July, and on getting home was told 
that two quaintly dressed old ladies had spent a week 
in the village making very exhaustive inquiries about 
my life and character. Later in the year, we were 
spending a few days with my wife’s mother, in Hamilton, 
and learned they had been there also and had visited 
my wife’s mother. They told her frankly their errand. 
They knew that, as a working man, I would be none 
too flush of money, and they were anxious to help in 
this respect, provided they were satisfied that I was 
dependable. Their inquiries into my public character 
were assuring, but—was I a good husband ? A mother- 
in-law was the best authority on that. 

“ The upshot was that I received, through an inter¬ 
mediary, an invitation to call upon them in Edinburgh, 
which I did. They explained that from the time of the 
Parnell split they had been helping to finance the 
Parnellite section of the Irish' Party, but that they also 
wanted to help Socialism, and believed that Nationalism 
and Socialism would one day be working together. 
They therefore proposed to give me a written agree¬ 
ment to pay me ,£300 a year so long as I remained in 
Parliament, and to make provision for it being con¬ 
tinued after they had gone. To a man without a shilling, 
and the prospect of having to earn his living somehow, 
the offer had its practical advantages, and I promised 
to think it over. A few days later I wrote declining the 
proposal, but suggesting as an alternative that they 
should give the money to the Scottish Labour Party, 
the I.L.P. not yet having been formed. 

“ But this gave mighty offence. They had all their 
lives been accustomed to having things done in their 

G 69 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


own way, and, as I learned subsequently, their attach¬ 
ment was to persons rather than causes. For my part, 
I was probably a bit quixotic and had made up my mind 
to ‘gang my ain gait’ without shackle or trammel of any 
sort or kind. Besides, I knew that they had made a 
charge against a leading member of the Land Restoration 
League of having appropriated to his own use money 
intended for other purposes, and I was taking no risks.” 

And thus it came about that for the second time Keir 
Hardie had refused an income of £300 a year. The 
two elderly ladies were the Misses Kippen of Edin¬ 
burgh, and, as will appear, they did not allow this rebuff 
to destroy their interest in Hardie’s career, nor in the 
cause with which he was identified. 

The following year, during the Parliamentary session, 
an experience of another kind provided him with an 
amusing indication of the insidious methods which 
might be used to influence his Parliamentary conduct. 
He was invited to a seance in an artist’s studio, the 
special inducement being the prospect of a talk with 
Robert Burns. He took with him a number of friends, 
Bruce Wallace, Frank Smith, S. G. Hobson and others 
well known in the Labour movement of that time. The 
medium delivered messages from Parnell, Bradlaugh, 
Bright and other distinguished persons resident in the 
spirit world, including Robert Burns, and they all 
with one accord advised Hardie to vote against the 
Irish Home Rule Bill! As Hardie supported Home 
Rule on every possible occasion, we must suppose that 
these eminent shades were duly disgusted. Hardie 
never learned who were responsible for the seance, but 
they must have taken him to be a very simple-minded 
person—either that, or they were so themselves. 

In the interval between his election and the opening 
of his Parliamentary career, an event of even greater 

70 


I.L.P. 


importance than his election to Parliament had taken 
place. The Independent Labour Party had been 
formed, and when he returned to Westminster it was 
with the knowledge that there was an organised body of 
support outside. Even in these first few weeks, how¬ 
ever, he had, partly by accident and partly by design, 
managed to become a conspicuous Parliamentary figure, 
and to inaugurate a sartorial revolution in that highly 
conventional assembly. The intrusion of the cloth cap 
and tweed jacket amongst the silk hats and dress suits 
was most disturbing and seemed to herald the near 
approach of the time when the House of Commons 
would ceas'e to be the gentlemen of England’s most 
exclusive club-room. It conveyed an ominous sense of 
impending change, not at all modified by the fact that 
the cloth cap had arrived in a two-horse brake with a 
trumpeter on the box. Hardie’s participation in these 
shocks to the House of Commons’ sense of decency was 
quite involuntary. He wore the clothes which were to 
him most comfortable. 

The charabanc was the outcome of the enthusiasm 
of a few of his working-class constituents who desired 
to convey their Member to St. Stephen’s in style, and 
being a natural gentleman always, he accepted their 
company and their equipage in the spirit in which it 
was proferred. In the result, the vulgar sarcasms of 
the press made him the most widely advertised Member 
of the new Parliament and even for a time overshadowed 
the discussion as to whether Rosebery or Harcourt 
would succeed Gladstone in the premiership. 

Meantime, while the press humorists were making 
merry, the Independent Labour Party was getting itself 
formed. 

Following upon the formation of the Scottish Parlia¬ 
mentary Labour Party, in 1888, similar organisations 

71 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

had sprung up in various districts of England, notably 
in Yorkshire and Lancashire and on the North-East 
coast. All these bodies had the same object, namely, the 
return to Parliament of Labour Members who would be 
independent of the Liberal and Tory parties. 

A most notable factor in bringing those organisations 
into being was “The Workman’s Times,” founded in 
1890, under the vigorous editorship (and latterly pro¬ 
prietorship) of Mr. Joseph Burgess, who in due course 
became a prominent personality in the Independent 
Labour Party, in the formation of which he took an 
active part. Though published in London, the paper, 
through its localised editions, had a considerable 
circulation throughout Lancashire and Yorkshire, 
especially amongst the textile workers. 

It consistently and ably advocated independent 
Labour representation, with Socialism as the objective. 
It ceased to exist in 1894, but by that time it had done 
its pioneering work and helped to make an Independent 
Labour Party not only possible, but inevitable. 

There was also the Social Democratic Federation 
operating chiefly in London, but with branches scattered 
here and there throughout the country, and having the 
same political objective as the others. Between all these 
bodies, however, there was no organised cohesion, except 
to some extent in Scotland, where the Scottish Labour 
Party had brought into existence some thirty branches, 
all affiliated to a Central Executive, of which 
Hardie was Secretary. The time had now arrived for 
unifying all these bodies into one National Party. With 
two independent Labour Members now in Parliament 
(for it was fully believed that Burns, whose Socialist 
declarations had been even more militant than Hardie’s, 
would be sturdily independent) it was felt that a strong 
organisation was needed in the country to sustain and 

Z 2 


I.L.P. 


reinforce these Parliamentary representatives and to 
formulate a policy which would define clearly the 
Socialist aspirations of the new movement. In Septem¬ 
ber, the annual meeting of the Trades Union Congress 
was held at Glasgow. By a greatly increased majority, 
the resolution in favour of independent Labour repre¬ 
sentation, which had been passed at three previous 
meetings of the Congress, was reaffirmed, but unlike 
what had happened on previous, occasions it was not 
allowed to fall into complete neglect. That same 
day, an informal meeting of delegates favourable to the 
formation of a Party in conformity with the resolution 
was held, and it was decided that a conference of 
advanced bodies willing to assist in promoting that 
object should be called. 

On January 13th and 14th, 1893, the conference was 
held in the Labour Institute, Bradford. Delegates to 
the number of one hundred and twenty-one mustered 
from all parts of England and Scotland. All manner 
of Labour and Socialist societies were represented, the 
chief however being Labour clubs, branches of the 
Social Democratic Federation and the Fabian Society, 
the Scottish Labour Party, and several trade organisa¬ 
tions. Keir Hardie was elected Chairman, and despite 
many forebodings of dissension and failure, the gather¬ 
ing set itself to the task of formulating a constitution 
in a thoroughly earnest and harmonious spirit. The 
name “Independent Labour Party,” which had already 
become a common appellation of the new movement and 
had been assumed by many of the local clubs, was 
adopted almost unanimously in preference to that of the 
“Socialist Labour Party.” 

Without hesitation, however, the Conference declared 
the primary object of the Party to be the “collective 
ownership and control of the means of production, dis- 

73 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


tribution, and exchange.” Thus, though rejecting the 
word Socialist from its title, the Party became an 
avowedly Socialist or Social Democratic organisation. 
Among the delegates present at this historic Conference 
were Bernard Shaw, Robert Blatchford, Pete Curran, 
Robert Smillie, Katherine St. John Conway (afterwards 
Mrs. Bruce Glasier), F. W. Jowett, Joseph Burgess, 
James Sexton, Ben Tillett, Russell Smart, and many 
other notable workers for Socialism. 

Mr. Shaw Maxwell, well known in Glasgow Labour 
circles, but at that time resident in London, was appointed 
Secretary, and Mr. John Lister, of Halifax, Treasurer. 
The National Administrative Council consisted of dele¬ 
gates representing the London District, the Midland 
Counties, the Northern Counties, and Scotland, their 
names being : Katherine St. John Conway, Dr. Aveling, 
son-in-law of Karl Marx, Pete Curran, Joseph Burgess, 
Alfred Settle, William Johnson, W. H. Drew, J. C. 
Kennedy, George S. Christie, A. Field, A. W. Buttery, 
William Small, George Carson and R. Chisholm 
Robertson. 

Not all of those who took part in these memorable 
proceedings were able to continue their allegiance 
through the years of storm and trouble which followed. 
Robert Blatchford, failing to get the constitution made 
as watertight against compromise as he desired, in due 
course seceded. Others fell away for exactly the 
opposite reason, because the constitution, from their 
point of view, lacked elasticity. On the whole, however, 
the defectionists were comparatively few, and even 
they could not undo the work they had helped to accom¬ 
plish in those two eventful days in Bradford. They had 
founded one of the most remarkable organisations that 
has ever existed in this or any other country—a political 
party and something more—a great social fellowship, 

74 


I.L.P. 


joining together in bonds of friendship all its adherents 
in every part of the land and forming a communion 
comparable to that of some religious fraternity whose 
members have taken vows of devotion to a common 
cause. 

This fraternal spirit was the outcome of the nature and 
method of the propaganda carried on by the new Party 
and of the character of the propagandists, who were 
mostly of the rank and file; and also of the character of 
the Party newspaper, which made its appearance almost 
simultaneously with the Party itself. The “Labour 
Leader,” promoted by the Scottish Labour Party on the 
initiative of Hardie, and edited by him, came out as a 
monthly periodical devoted to the interests of the I.L.P. 

On entering Parliament, he had quickly realised that 
if he were to be able to stand there alone, ostracised as 
he was sure to be by all the other parties, and subject 
to the misrepresentations of the entire political press, 
he would require at least one newspaper which would 
keep him right with his own people. Its most valuable 
feature for promoting a sense of unity and fellowship 
amongst the readers consisted in the brief reports of the 
doings of the branches in the various districts, whereby 
they were brought together, so to speak, all the year 
round. Men and women who had never met face to face, 
nevertheless got to feel an intimate comradeship the one 
with the other. 

During the first year, the “Labour Leader” was pro¬ 
duced monthly, and afterwards weekly. It had, as we 
shall see, amongst its contributors writers and artists of 
great ability, some of them perhaps with a greater literary 
gift than Hardie himself, but throughout it continued to 
be mainly the expression of Hardie’s personality. It 
came to be spoken of by friends and enemies alike as 
“Keir Hardie’s paper.” 


75 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


At this period he had good reason to be satisfied with 
the way things were going. He had gained a footing in 
Parliament, and had sufficient confidence in himself to 
believe that from that position he could command the 
attention of the nation to the questions in which he was 
interested. The political party for which he had 
laboured incessantly during five strenuous years, had 
now come into existence and promised to become a 
power in the land. And he had control of a newspaper 
which, though limited in size and circulation, yet enabled 
him to reach that section of the community whose support 
he most valued. All this meant more and ever more 
work, but he was not afraid of work. It was the kind 
of work he loved, for the people he loved. It was the 
work for which he believed himself fitted and destined. 
And in this frame of mind he prepared to resume his 
Parliamentary duties. 

Hardie had no illusions as to the kind of environment 
into which he was now entering and certainly had no 
expectations that the new Government would willingly 
provide him with opportunities for realising his avowed 
purpose of forming a new party in the House. The 
Tory opposition was simply the usual Tory opposition 
with only one immediate object in view, to defeat the 
Government and step into its place. On both sides all 
the vested interests of capital and land were strongly 
represented. There were fifteen avowed Labour Mem¬ 
bers in the House, but of these only three had been 
returned independent of party—John Burns, J. Have¬ 
lock Wilson and Hardie himself. The others had long 
ago proved themselves to be very plastic political 
material. It was hoped that the three Independents 

would hold together, but that had yet to be proved_or 

disproved. Hardie was not disposed to wait too loner 
for developments. The unemployed were demon- 

76 


HOUSE OF COMMONS 


strating daily on the Embankment and he had pledged 
himself to raise the question of unemployment. What¬ 
ever the others might do, he was going to keep his word. 
The Government, playing for time to produce its 
Home Rule measure, had in the Queen’s Speech out¬ 
lined a colourless legislative programme which, while 
referring vaguely to agricultural depression, quite 
ignored the industrial distress. Upon this omission 
Hardie based his initial appeal to the House of 
Commons. 

On February 7th, 1893, he made his first speech in the 
House of Commons in moving the following amend¬ 
ment to the Address : “To add, ‘And further, we humbly 
desire to express our regret that Your Majesty has not 
been advised when dealing with agricultural depression 
to refer also to the industrial depression now prevailing 
and the widespread misery due to large numbers of the 
working class being unable to find employment, and 
direct Parliament to legislate promptly and effectively 
in the interests of the unemployed.’ ” There was a 
large attendance of members curious to see how this 
reputed firebrand would comport himself in the legislative 
chamber. If there were any there who expected, and 
perhaps hoped, to hear a noisy, declamatory utterance 
in consonance with their conception of working-class 
agitational oratory, they were disappointed. He spoke 
quietly and argumentatively, but with an earnestness 
which held the attention of the House. 

“It is a remarkable fact,” he began, “that the speech 
of Her Majesty should refer to one section of industrial 
distress and leave the other altogether unnoticed, and 
there are some of us who think that, if the interests of 
the landlords were not bound up so closely with the 
agricultural depression, the reference even to the agricul¬ 
tural labourers would not have appeared in the Queen’s 


77 


]. KEIR HARDIE 


speech.” He went on to justify his action in moving 
the amendment by referring to his election pledges to 
raise the question of unemployment in Parliament. He 
spoke of the extent of the evil and quoted the trade 
union returns to show that 1,300,000 workers were in 
receipt of out-of-work pay, and he based upon these and 
Poor Law statistics, the statement that not less than 
4,000,000 people were without visible means of support. 
His amendment had been objected to, he said, because 
it contained no specific proposal for dealing with the evil. 
Had it done so it would have been objected to still more, 
because every one who wanted to find an excuse for not 
voting for the amendment would have discovered it 
in whatever proposals he might have made. The 
House would agree that he had high authority 
in this House for “not disclosing the details of 
our proposals until we are in a position to give effect to 
them”—which was not quite in his power yet. Mean¬ 
time, the Government, being a large employer of labour, 
might do something for the immediate relief of the dis¬ 
tress then prevailing. It could abolish overtime, about 
which he had heard complaints. It could increase the 
minimum wage of labourers in the dockyards and arsenals 
to sixpence per hour, and it could enact a forty-eight 
hour week for all Government employees. It had been 
estimated that, were the hours of railway servants reduced 
to eight per day, employment would be found for 150,000 
extra workingmen. The Government might also establish 
what is known as home colonies on the idle lands about 
which they heard so much discussion in that House. 
One of the most harrowing features connected with the 
problem of the unemployed was not the poverty or the 
hardship they had to endure, but the fearful moral degrad¬ 
ation that followed in the train of enforced idleness. In 
every season of the year and in every condition of trade, 

78 


HOUSE OF COMMONS 


men were unemployed. The pressure under which) 
industry was carried on to-day necessitated that the young 
and the strong and the able should have preference in 
obtaining employment, and if the young, the strong and 
the able were to have the preference, then the middle- 
aged and the aged must, of necessity, be thrown on the 
street. They were now discussing an address of thanks 
to Her Majesty for her speech. He wanted to ask the 
Government, what have the unemployed to thank Her 
Majesty for in the speech which had been submitted 
to the House? Their case was overlooked and ignored. 
They were left out as if they did not exist. 

This amendment was seconded by Colonel Howard 
Vincent, a Tory Member, and in the division he had the 
support of many Tories who were, doubtless, more 
anxious to weaken the Government than to help the 
unemployed, Sir John Gorst being probably the only 
member of that Party who was sincere in his approval 
of Hardie’s action. John Burns did not take part in the 
debate, while Cremer, a Liberal-Labour Member and 
actually one of the founders of the International, spoke 
against the amendment and explained that he had 
already put himself “right with his constituents”; so 
that, literally, Hardie stood alone as an Independent 
Labour representative voicing the claims of the 
unemployed worker in his first challenge to capital¬ 
ism upon the floor of the House of Commons. 
One hundred and nine Members voted with Hardie, 
276 against him. The division was mainly on 
party lines. He had proved that honesty is the 
best tactics and had successfully exploited the 
party system for his own purpose. The spectacle of 
the Liberals voting against the unemployed, and the 
Ayrshire miner leading the Tory rank and file into the 
revolutionary lobby was not calculated to enhance the 


79 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


credit of either of these official parties. The Liberals 
never forgave him for having compelled them to make 
exposure of their own inherent reactionism. 

The approval or disapproval of either of the official 
parties did not affect Hardie in the slightest degree, and 
he continued to seize every opportunity which the Rules 
of the House allowed to give publicity to the grievances 
of all classes of workers. A mere list of the questions 
which he asked during his first Parliamentary session 
almost forms an index to the social conditions of the 
country at that time. On the same day on which he 
moved his unemployment amendment, we find him 
asking the Postmaster-General to state why certain Post 
Office officials had been refused leave to attend a meeting 
of the Fawcett Association. On March 7th, he was 
inquiring as to the dismissal, without reason assigned, 
of certain prison warders. On the 9th, he was back again 
at the unemployment question, demanding from & the 
Local Government Board information as to the number 
of unemployed in the various industries, and what steps 
local authorities were taking to deal with the matter. 
On the 10th, he wanted to know why men on strike had 
been prosecuted for playing musical instruments and 
collecting money, while organ-grinders and others were 
not interfered with for doing the same thing. On the 
13th, he inquired whether it was intended to submit a 
measure that Session to enable local authorities to deal 
effectively with the severe distress prevailing all over the 
country, and followed this up with another question 
indicating how this could be done. This question is still 
so relevant to present-day problems that it may be given 
in full : “I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer 
whether he contemplates, in connection with the Budget 
proposals for next year, such a rearrangement of the 
system of taxation as is known as a graduated Income 

80 


HOUSE OF COMMONS 


Tax, by means of which the contribution to the revenue, 
local and imperial, would bear a relative proportion to 
income; also whether he will make such provision in the 
Budget estimates for next year as would enable the Local 
Government Board to make grants to any Board of 
Guardians, Town and County Councils, or committees 
of responsible citizens willing to acquire land or other 
property and to undertake the responsibility of organising 
the unemployed in home colonies and affording them 
the opportunity of providing the accessories of life for 
themselves and those dependent on them.” The same day 
he was inquisitive as to the pay of House of Commons’ 
policemen. On April 13th, he raised the question of the 
inadequacy of the staff of Factory Inspectors, and wanted 
to know whether it was proposed to appoint sub¬ 
inspectors from the ranks of duly qualified men and 
women who had themselves worked in the factories and 
workshops. 

On this day also, he put the first of a series of questions 
which continued daily, like the chapters in a serial story, 
for the following five weeks, and gave conspicuous illus¬ 
tration of the alliance of the Government with the employ¬ 
ing classes against the workers. What is known 
in the history of industrial revolt as the Hull Dock 
Strike had broken out, and the Government had, with 
great alacrity, sent soldiers and gunboats to the scene 
of the dispute. Day after day Hardie attacked the 
Government in the only way available, with questions, 
some of which were ruled out of order, but many of 
which had to be answered, either evasively or with a 
direct negative, but, either way, revealing the Govern¬ 
ment bias. “Had the shipowners refused all efforts at 
a compromise or towards conciliation?” “In these cir¬ 
cumstances, would the Government order the withdrawal 
of the military forces?” “By whose authority were the 

81 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


military and naval forces of the State sent to Hull to aid 
the shipowners in breaking up a Trade Union registered 
under an Act of Parliament?” The answers not being 
satisfactory, he moved the adjournment of the House in 
order to get the whole question of military interference 
discussed, but less than forty Members rose, and, says 
“Hansard,” “business proceeded.” Nothing daunted, 
he returned to the attack, and asked the Secretary of 
State for War whether he was aware that soldiers were 
being used at Hull in loading and unloading ships. He 
asked Asquith whether a lady journalist who had taken 
part in a meeting of locked-out dockers had been refused 
access to the docks by police? He asked particulars 
regarding the number of magistrates at Hull; how many 
were shipowners or dock directors, and how many were 
working men, and elicited the following illuminative 
reply 

“Thirty-nine magistrates, of whom there are four 
shipowners, nineteen shareholders in ships. Dock 
directors (no information). No working men.” 

He followed this up with the question : “Was a Bench 
composed exclusively of shipowners and dock directors 
capable of giving an unbiassed opinion on the question 
of the means desirable to be taken for the protection of 
their own property? Was it true that additional forces 
had been requisitioned, and were they to be sent?” The 
answer was : “Yes.” “Was the chief obstacle to a settle¬ 
ment of the dispute a Member of this House and a sup¬ 
porter of the Government (the reference being to Wilson, 
of the Shipping Federation)?” but this was ruled out of 
order by the Speaker as being a matter “ not under the 
cognisance and control of the Government.” 

Day after day, and week after week, he persisted with 
his damaging catechism. Burns and Havelock Wilson 
joined him from time to time, until at last a day 

82 


was 


HOUSE OF COMMONS 


granted to the latter to move a resolution on the question, 
he, as secretary of the Trade Union most deeply 
involved, being recognised as specially representative of 
the men on strike. A big debate ensued in which Front 
Bench men took part, and during which Hardie delivered 
an impassioned speech of considerable length. Burns, 
Cremer and Hardie all urged Havelock Wilson to divide 
the House on the question, but that gentleman, for 
reasons which he doubtless thought satisfactory, with¬ 
drew the resolution. Finally, the strike ended, like 
many others before and since, as a drawn battle in which 
the workers were the chief sufferers. Never before had 
any Labour dispute occupied so much of the time of the 
House of Commons—a fact due to the presence there 
of one man whose sense of duty to his class was too 
strong to be overborne by regard for Parliamentary 
etiquette or party exigencies. He was pursuing, in the 
interests of labour, the same tactics which the Parnellites 
had, up to a point, pursued so effectively in the interests 
of Nationalism, and, had it been possible to have 
gathered round him at that time a group of a dozen men 
prepared resolutely to adhere to that policy, the sub¬ 
sequent history of Labour in Parliament would have been 
much different from what it has been. The dozen 
men were there, but they were bound by party ties, 
and lacked both the courage and the vision of Hardie. 
As it was, he had redeemed his promise, to form an 
Independent Labour Party in the House. He had 
formed a Party of one. And before that Parliament 
came to an end, both Liberals and Tories had to bear 
witness to its vitality and effectiveness. 

Meantime the I.L.P. outside was growing, thanks not 
a little to the advertisement it was getting from West¬ 
minster. The first Annual Conference at Manchester, 
in January, 1894, found it with two hundred and eighty 

83 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


affiliated branches. At the Conference, Hardie was 
elected Chairman; Tom Mann, then an enthusiastic 
recruit, undertook the secretaryship. Ben Tillett—with 
a growing reputation as an agitator, and strange though 
it may seem, something of a Puritan in social habits— 
joined the National Council. Reports from the districts 
showed that the Party would be well represented in the 
Municipal elections during the next November, and 
would thus have an opportunity of testing in some 
degree its electoral support throughout the country. 
The I.L.P. was an established factor in the political 
life of the nation. 


84 


CHAPTER FIVE 

STANDING ALONE'-THE MEMBER FOR THE UNEMPLOYED 

H ARDIE was as indefatigable outside of Parlia¬ 
ment as inside, addressing propaganda meetings 
all over the country, writing encouraging letters 
to branch secretaries, and editing the “Labour 
Leader,” which on March 31st, 1894, became a 

weekly, and for the financing and management of 
which he made himself wholly responsible. The 
wages bill of the paper, exclusive of printing, he 
estimated at £750 a year, which he hoped would be 
covered by income from sales and advertisements, an 
optimistic miscalculation which involved him in con¬ 
siderable worry later on, when he found it necessary to 
dispense with much of the paid service and rely to some 
extent upon voluntary work by enthusiasts in the cause, 
who, it should be said here, seldom failed him. The 
first weekly number contained Robert Smillie’s election 
address as Labour Candidate for Mid-Lanark, where 
a by-election in which Hardie took an active part was 
again being fought. In the “Leader,” Hardie had an 
article on the election, a leading article on Lord Rose¬ 
bery as prospective Premier, and a page of intimate 
chat with his readers under the heading of “ Entre Nous,” 
afterwards changed to the plain English of " Between 
Ourselves,” and this quantity of journalistic output he 
continued for years, while shirking none of the other 
work that came to him as an agitator and public man. 
This number contained also an article by Cunninghame 

85 


H 


J. ICEIR HARDIE 

Graham, the I.L.P. Monthly Report by Tom Mann, 
“News of the Movement at Home and Abroad,” besides 
literary sketches and verses by various contributors. The 
paper was edited from London, but printed in Glasgow 
and distributed from there. There was a working staff 
at both ends. Of the London experiences, Councillor 
Ben Gardner of West Ham could doubtless give some 
interesting reminiscences, while George D. Hardie, 
Keir’s younger brother, could do the same for Glasgow. 
At the end of the first six months, David Lowe, a young 
enthusiast from Dundee, with literary tastes and 
Socialist beliefs, came in as sub-editor and to an 
appreciable extent relieved Hardie of some of the 
management worries, besides adding somewhat to the 
literary flavour of the paper. 

With the re-assembling of Parliament, Hardie re¬ 
sumed his efforts to focus attention on the unemployment 
question, but on bringing forward his resolution, found 
himself up against a dead wall in the shape of a count¬ 
out. By this time, also, his harassing of the Government 
had raised the ire of West Ham Liberals who had not 
bargained for quite so much militancy on the part of 
their representative. From them he received numerous 
letters of protest with threats of opposition at the next 
election. To these he made a reply which defined most 
explicitly at once his own personal attitude and the 
Parliamentary policy of the I.L.P. 

“The I.L.P.,” he said, “starts from the assumption 
that the worker should be as free industrially and 
economically as he is supposed to be politically, that the 
land and the instruments of production should be owned 
by the community and should be used in producing the 
requisites to maintain a healthy and happy existence. 
The men who are to achieve these reforms must be under 
no obligation whatever to either the landlord or the 

86 


STANDING ALONE 


capitalist, or to any party or organisation representing 
these interests. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that 
twenty members would be returned to Parliament who 
were nominally Labour Members but who owed their 
election to a compromise with the Liberals, what would 
the effect be upon their action in the House of Com¬ 
mons ? .When questions affecting the interest of property 
were at stake, or when they desired to take action to 
compel social legislation of a drastic character, the 
threat would be always hanging over them that unless 
they were obedient to the party Whip and maintained 
party discipline they would be opposed. In my own 
case, this threat has been held out so often that it is 
beginning to lose its effect. I have no desire to hold 
the seat on sufferance and at the mercy of those who are 
not in agreement with me, and am quite prepared to be 
defeated when the election comes round. But I cannot 
agree to compromise my independence of action in even 
the slightest degree.” 1 his plain speaking was not 
relished by his Liberal critics, and at one of his meetings 
in the constituency there was some rowdyism. 

In the first month of this particular session, he had 
the satisfaction of speaking in support of the Miners’ 
Eight Hours’ Day Bill, which he himself had helped to 
draft years before, and of seeing the Second Reading 
carried by a majority of 81. This result did not, of 
course, ensure its immediately becoming law, for the 
obstructive resources of capitalism in Parliament and 
the opposition of two sections of the miners were 
strong enough to prevent that for many years to come. 

At this time^ we also find him addressing meetings 
in South Wales, as a result of which the I.L.P. got a 
footing in the Principality which it has held ever since. 
He had probably no premonition of how close would 
yet be his own connection with Wales and the Welsh 

87 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


people. But he had made a good beginning towards 
winning their gratitude, for it was doubtless as the 
natural sequel to his Welsh visit that in June he blocked 
the Cardiff Dock Bill and forced thereby the withdrawal 
of a clause which imposed a tariff of twopence on each 
passenger landed at Cardiff and a charge for luggage. 

And now, certain events happened in the world which 
produced for Hardie a more trying parliamentary ordeal 
than he had yet faced, and tested his moral courage to 
the full. Let us look at these events in the sequence in 
which they presented themselves to Hardie, and we shall 
be the better able to understand the feelings and motives 
which impelled him to act as he did. 

On June 23rd a terrible explosion occurred at the 
Albion Colliery, Cilfynydd, South Wales, by which two 
hundred and sixty men and boys lost their lives. On 
the same day a child was born to the Duchess of York. 
On the following day, June 24th, M. Carnot, the Presi¬ 
dent of the French Republic, was assassinated. On 
June 26th, 70,000 Scottish miners came out on strike 
against a reduction of wages. 

Now turn to the House of Commons. On June 25th, 
Sir William Harcourt moved a vote of condolence with 
the French people. On June 28th, the same Cabinet 
Minister moved an address of congratulation to the 
Queen on the birth of the aforesaid royal infant. Never 
a word of sympathy for the relatives of the miners who 
had been killed : never a word of reference to the serious 
state of affairs in the Scottish coalfield. Only one man 
protested. That man was Keir Hardie. 

The House of Commons’ situation developed in 
the following manner. When Harcourt gave notice 
of his intention to move the vote of condolence with 
the French people, Hardie inquired whether a vote of 
sympathy would also be moved to the relatives of the 

88 


STANDING ALONE 

two hundred and sixty victims of the Welsh colliery 
disaster. “ Oh, no,” said Sir William, <£ I can dispose 
of that now by saying that the House does sympathise 
with these poor people.” Hardie put down a notice of 
an addition to the motion, in which the Queen was to be 
also asked to express sympathy with the Welsh miners’ 
friends, and the House to be asked to express its detesta¬ 
tion of the system which made the periodic sacrifices 
of miners’ lives inevitable. His amendment was ruled 
out of order, but when the congratulatory motion came 
on he exercised his right to speak against it, as, he said, 
“in the interests of the dignity of the House, and in 
protest against the Leader of the House of Commons 
declining to take official cognisance of the terrible col¬ 
liery accident in South Wales.” He stood alone, 
deserted by every other Member, including Labour’s 
representatives, and faced a scene of well-nigh un¬ 
exampled intolerance. A writer in the “West Ham 
Herald,” describing it,, wrote : “I’ve been in a wild beast 
show at feeding time. I’ve been at a football match 
when a referee gave a wrong decision. I’ve been at 
rowdy meetings of the Shoreditch vestry and the West 
Ham Corporation, but in all my natural life I have never 
witnessed a scene like this. They howled and yelled 
and screamed, but he stood his ground.” Outside, 
sections of the press acted in much the same way as 
the House of Commons’ hooligans, and tried to represent 
his action as a vulgar attack on Royalty. It was, 
primarily, not an attack on Royalty. He was certainly 
a Republican, but like most Socialists he regarded the 
Monarchy as simply an appanage of the political and 
social system, which would disappear as' a matter of 
course when the system disappeared, and had it not 
been that the juxtaposition of events threw up in such 
glaring contrast the sycophancy of society where Royalty 

89 



J. KEIR HARDIE 


was concerned, and its heartlessness where the common 
people were concerned, he would probably have allowed 
the vote of congratulation to go through without inter¬ 
vention from him. But he was in fact deeply stirred in 
a way which these people could not understand. He 
had brought with him into Parliament a humanism which 
was greater than ceremony and deeper than formality. 
Ele was a miner, and to him the unnecessary death of 
one miner was of more concern than the birth of any 
number of royal princes. He regarded these two hun¬ 
dred and sixty deaths as two hundred and sixty murders. 
He knew that this colliery had long before been reported 
on as specially dangerous, and that no preventive 
measures had been taken. Ele understood, only too 
well, the grief and desolation of the bereaved women 
and children. He had been through it all in his early 
Lanarkshire days, and he was righteously and passion¬ 
ately indignant. The jeers and hootings from Members 
of Parliament and abuse from the press did not matter 
to him at all. He took his stand because it was the only 
thing he could do, and the receipt of nearly a thousand 
letters of approval from people in all social grades con¬ 
vinced him that besides satisfying his own impulses, he 
had voiced a deep sentiment in the country. 

Hardie was now nearly thirty-eight years of age, and 
a recognised outstanding figure in British political life. 
An unusual man, amenable neither to flatteries nor to 
threatenings—one who could not be ignored. An 
impression of him, contributed to the “Weekly Times 
and Echo” by John K. Kenworthy in this same month 
of June, 1894, is worth reproducing. 

“Above all things a spiritual, and yet a simply 
practical man. Not tall, squarely built, hard-headed, 
well bodied, and well set up, he is obviously a bo?ia 
fide working man. His head is of the ‘high moral 5 type, 


90 


STANDING ALONE 


with a finely developed forehead, denoting perception 
and reason of the kind called common sense. His brown 
hair is worn long and curling somewhat like the ‘glory’ 
round the head of a saint in a painted window, and he 
£oes unshaved. However, most readers will have seen 
him for themselves on some platform or another, though 
one needs to be near him to perceive the particularly 
deep, straight and steady gaze of the clear hazel eyes, 
which is notable. Altogether, one judges him, by 
appearances only, to be a close-knit, kindly and resolute 
man, all which his performance in life bears out.” 

A by-election at Attercliffe in July calls for mention 
if for no other reason than that it signalises J. Ramsay 
MacDonald’s entrance into the Independent Labour 
Party. The circumstances of the contest confirmed the 
I.L.P. belief that the interests behind Liberalism would 
not concede willingly a single inch to the claims of 
labour for representation. The local 1 rades Council 
had nominated their President, Mr. Charles Hobson, 
with the tacit understanding that he would be allowed a 
clear field to fight the Tory. Hobson was not what was 
called an extremist. He would probably have been 
obedient in Parliament to the Liberal Whip, but the 
Liberals were taking no risks, and Mr. Batty Langley, 
a local employer and ex-mayor, who had, as a matter 
of fact, promised to support Hobson, was nominated as 
Liberal candidate. After some shilly-shallying Hobson 
withdrew, and the I.L.P., with little time for organisa¬ 
tion, determined to fight with Mr. Frank Smith as their 
candidate. He was defeated, of course, but secuied 
1,249 votes as against 7,984 for the two reactionary 
candidates, a good enough foundation for the victoiy 
which was to come later. The immediate result achieved 
was the clear exposure of Liberalism’s hostility to 

labour. 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


The following letter from MacDonald is of historical 
interest to the members of the I.L.P., and is to some 
extent illustrative of the mental attitude of both the 
sender and the recipient:— 

“20 Duncan Buildings, 

“Baldwin Gardens, E.C. 

My dear Hardie,—I am now making personal 
application for membership of the I.L.P. I have stuck 
to the Liberals up to now, hoping that they might do 
something to justify the trust that we had put in & them. 
Attercliffe came as a rude awakening, and I felt during 
that contest that it was quite impossible for me to maim 
tain my position as a Liberal any longer. Calmer con¬ 
sideration has but strengthened that conviction, and if 
you now care to accept me amongst you I shall do what I 
can to support the I.L.P. 

v ‘Between you and me there never was any dispute as 
to objects. What I could not quite accept was your 
methods. I have changed my opinion. Liberalism, and 
more particularly local Liberal Associations, have 
definitely declared against Labour, and so I must accept 
the facts of the situation and candidly admit that the 
prophecies of the I.L.P. relating to Liberalism have 
been amply justified. The time for conciliation has 
gone by and those of us who are earnest in our profes¬ 
sions must definitely declare ourselves. I may say that 
m the event of elections, I shall place part of my spare 
time at the disposal of the Party, to do what work may 
seem good to you. 

“ Yours very sincerely, 

“J. R. MacDonald.” 

In this manner came into the I.L.P. one whom Llardie 
afterwards characterised as its “greatest intellectual 


92 


STANDING ALONE 


asset,” and whose influence on national and international 
politics has been very great and still continues. 

Meanwhile, the industrial phase of the Labour con¬ 
flict absorbed Hardie’s attention even more than the 
political. The great strike of Scottish miners continued 
for sixteen weeks, entailing much suffering throughout 
the mining community and ending in virtual defeat for 
the men. Still, though this was foreseen almost from 
the beginning, it was necessary that the stand should be 
made for the safeguarding of the sense of unity which 
had now evolved in Scotland. The strike was in some 
measure a consummation of Hardie’s early efforts on 
behalf of a national organisation. It was not a sectional 
strike, but national, embracing the whole of the Scottish 
mining industry, and in that respect constituted a notable 
step towards that all-British combination which to-day 
enables the miners from Scotland to Cornwall to present 
a united front for the advancement of their common 
interests. The West of Scotland leadership was now 
in the capable hands of Robert Smillie, but, naturally, 
when at home during the Parliamentary recess, Hardie 
gave all possible assistance and addressed many meet¬ 
ings of the men in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire, besides 
giving what counsel and support he could through the 
“ Labour Leader.” 

When it was all over he drove home the Socialist 
lesson in an article which, by reason of its date, October 
20th, 1894, is a complete answer to those who now regard 
the claim for the nationalisation of the mines as a new 
revolutionary demand. Revolutionary it may be, but 
it is not new. 

“Now, why,” he asked, “were the masters, the 
Government, the press and the pulpit all arrayed 
against you ? 

“There is but one answer. All these are controlled by 

93 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


the rich and you are the poor. Take the miners. The 
minerals are owned by the landlords, and they insist 
on having a royalty of from eightpence to one shilling 
per ton of coal brought to the surface. The pits are 
owned by the mineowners, and they and the landlords 
have the power to say that not one ton of coal shall 
be dug except on the terms they are willing to grant. 
Here are the people of Scotland—over four million 
of them, wanting coal to burn, and willing to pay for it. 
Here are you, the miners of Scotland, seventy thousand 
of you, willing to dig the coal in exchange for a living 
wage. But between you and the public stand the land¬ 
lords and the mineowners, who say : ‘The coal is ours 
and we won’t allow the miners to work nor the public 
to be supplied unless on our terms.’ So long as the 
landlords and the mineowners own the mines they 
are within their rights when they act as they have been 
doing, and the cure lies not in cursing the mine- 
owners nor in striking, but in making the mines 'public 
property .” 

It should be noted that it was only before or after 
a strike, not while it was taking place, that Hardie asked 
the men to listen to counsel of this kind. He knew that 
in the light for wages, a strike, or the threat of a strike, 
was the only available weapon, and in the use of it he 
was with them every time. He knew that they must fight 
for wages, but he wanted them to have something bigger 
than wages to fight for, and a different weapon than 
the strike. 

In September the Trades Union Congress was held 
at Norwich, and Hardie attended practically for the last 
time as a delegate. He had some time previously relin¬ 
quished all official positions in the Miners’ Association 
and was therefore disqualified by the new standing 
order passed this year which declared that a delegate 

94 


STANDING ALONE 


must be either workingl at his trade or be a paid official 
of a Trade Union. And so passed from the Trades 
Union Congress three men who had taken a prominent 
part in its deliberations—Keir Hardie, John Burns and 
Henry Broadhurst. Hardie especially had left his 
‘mark on the Congress. His connection with the Con¬ 
gress had only existed over a period of eight years, 
beginning in 1887, when the formation of the Ayrshire 
Miners’ Union gave him a standing as a delegate. 
In that time the outlook of the Congress towards the 
principle of Independent Labour Representation, and 
also towards Socialism, had almost completely changed. 
That Hardie’s personality had much to do with that 
change is beyond doubt. 

As far back as 1869 the Congress had declared in 
favour of Labour Representation and had reaffirmed 
the principle on several subsequent occasions. But no 
steps had ever been taken to give practical effect to the 
logical electoral policy implied by such resolutions— 
unless the return of a few working men to Parliament 
as adherents of the Liberal Party could be so regarded. 
Most of the men who had been so returned were mem¬ 
bers of the Congress. Mr. Broadhurst, the Secretary 
of the Parliamentary Committee, had indeed accepted 
office in the Government as Under-Secretary of the 
Home Office, and he has himself stated in his auto¬ 
biography that the Parliamentary Committee functioned 
as the Radical wing of the Liberal Party.. He had 
voted in Parliament against the Miners’ Eight Hours’ 
Day Bill, and in all election campaigns he was . the 
Liberal Party’s chief platform asset wherever working- 
class votes required to be influenced. Naturally, he 
and his Liberal-Labour colleagues resented vigorously 
the new r policy of absolute political independence, of 
which Hardie made himself the spokesman. Doubtless 

95 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


they represented quite faithfully the general Trade 
Union attitude on the question. To change that atti¬ 
tude was the purpose of Hardie and the new men who 
were pushing their way into the Labour movement. 

At first Hardie’s position was that of almost complete 
isolation, as the votes of the Congress testify. At the 
1888 Congress, his motion impeaching Broadhurst for 
having “in the name of the Congress” voted against 
the Miners’ Eight Hours’ Day Bill received only 15 
votes against 80, while the following year at Dundee, 
when he made a frontal attack and moved that Broad¬ 
hurst was not a fit and proper person to hold the office 
of Secretary and accused him of supporting employers 
of labour and holding shares in sweating companies (a 
charge which was not denied), he was defeated by 
177 to 11. 

The Congress and the Trade Union movement were 
evidently overwhelmingly against him. A weaker man 
would have accepted defeat of this kind as final. It 
only made Hardie more stubborn and stimulated him 
to greater effort. Hardie’s Congress record is some¬ 
thing of a paradox. He was being defeated all the time, 
and all the time he was winning. Even in 1891, when 
he got only eleven supporters to his proposal ’ for a 
Trade Union Parliamentary Fund for securing Parlia¬ 
mentary representation that was a move forward, being 
an attempt to give practical effect to the decision which 
the Congress had just previously arrived at calling for 
a “strong and vigorous Labour Party” in Parliament. 
Hardie’s amendment was as follows : “and would sug¬ 
gest to the organised trades of this country so to alter 
their rules as to admit of their subscribing to a Parlia¬ 
mentary Fund to be placed at the disposal of the 
Congress to secure Labour Representation based upon 
the decision of this Congress.” We have here the germ 

96 


STANDING ALONE 


of present day Labour Party finance. Yet, in 1891, it 
had only eleven supporters in the Trades Union Con¬ 
gress. Similarly, when, In 1892, on the motion of 
Ben Tillett, it was decided to recommend the formation 
of a Parliamentary Fund, and also to give no support 
to any candidates but those who stood for the “collective 
ownership of the means of production, distribution and 
exchange,” Hardie was again to the fore with an amend¬ 
ment which placed him once more in the minority. His 
proposal was for the formation of an Independent 
Parliamentary group, but it was defeated by 119 votes to 
96. Hardie’s minorities were always the heralds of 
future victory. 

At that same Congress he had gathered together the 
elements out of which in the following year was evolved 
the Independent Labour Party, and now, this year, with 
the I.L.P. in being, and himself in Parliament as its 
representative, he could take leave of the Trades Union 
Congress assured that his eight years of struggle and 
pioneering had not been in vain. 

It was probably on the occasion of this visit to 
Norwich that an incident occurred revealing to his Trade 
Union friends another aspect of his nature than that 
to which they were accustomed in the stress of industrial 
and political strife. The incident is related by Mr. S. 
G. Hobson. “Of my various pleasant memories of 
Norwich,” says Mr. Hobson, “perhaps the sweetest was 
one evening in the Cathedral grounds under an old 
Norman arch where we stood and watched the sun go 
down and darkness creep silently upon us. The green¬ 
sward—smoothed by careful hands for centuries back— 
seemed to gradually recede from our view. By and by 
the lights twinkled from many windows, and we knew 
that worshippers were there to chant the evening service 
and sing their vesper hymns. Suddenly the voice of 

97 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


old Hardie rose through the stillness, giving vocal 
expression to the Twenty-third Psalm, and we all 
joined—Christians and agnostics—blending our voices, 
not so much in any devotional spirit as out of deference 
to the influence of the place.” 

This inherent spiritual emotionalism—if it may be so 
called—was continually manifesting itself in various 
ways all through life, whether, as in the early Ayrshire 
days, in evangelising on the Ayrshire highways and by¬ 
ways, or, as in later days, preaching in Methodist pulpits 
or on Brotherhood platforms, or in association with the 
votaries of spiritualism and theosophy. He was 
imbued with an imaginative catholicity of spirit which 
rendered him responsive to every expression of religious 
feeling which seemed to him sincere. There is no need 
to try to explain it. It was involuntary, a part of his 
nature, and it never hindered, but rather intensified and 
idealised, his work for Socialism. His spiritual 
enthusiasm never led him out of touch with reality. In 
a very literal sense, “the poor he had always with him.” 
He was one of them. And to him their cause was a 
cause of the devotional spirit. 

just about this time he was penning his letter to the 
Scottish miners which was afterwards circulated in 
pamphlet form under the title of “Collier Laddies.” We 
find him also addressing propaganda meetings as far 
north as Arbroath, and across the channel speaking in 
Waterford and in the Rotunda at Dublin and reporting 
upon the Labour movement in Ireland with an optimism 
which can hardly have been based upon an accurate 
estimate of the all-absorbent character of the Nationalist 
movement in that country. 

Towards the end of this year, the I.L.P. had an acces¬ 
sion of a kind more valuable than it could then know. 
Philip Snowden, a man quite unknown to public life, 

98 


STANDING ALONE 


joined the I.L.P. He had been living quietly in a remote 
village amongst the Yorkshire hills, recovering from a 
very serious, illness, and in the period of convalescence 
had given his mind to a study of social problems, which 
ended in his becoming a convinced Socialist. The 
I.L.P. was steadily becoming equipped with capable 
leadership, and with men of experience in administrative 
work. Keir Hardie, Ramsay MacDonald, Philip Snow¬ 
den, Bruce Glasier, Fred Jowett, to name no others, 
constituted a group which for all-round ability on the 
platform or in the council chamber could not be sur¬ 
passed by any of the other political parties. 

In the Liberal camp there were evident signs of alarm 
at the activities of the new party. In July, following 
close upon the Attercliffe election, Joseph Burgess had 
polled a substantial vote in a by-election at Leicester, 
and all over the country the I.L.P. was busy selecting 
its candidates and choosing the constituencies in which 
it would fight, many of these being places where the 
Liberal hold was already somewhat precarious. Lord 
Rosebery, now Prime Minister, found it expedient to 
address a meeting in Hardie’s constituency at which he 
demonstrated to his own satisfaction that a united 
democracy was only possible through the Liberal Party. 
Hardie, characteristically, replied both by speech and 
pen, thereby focussing more than ever, national atten¬ 
tion on himself as a political personality, and an article 
which he contributed to the January, 1895, “Nineteenth 
Century” explaining and vindicating the I.L.P. policy 
and tactics, attracted much attention. 

Nor did his practical work in the House of Commons 
go entirely without recognition. On January 19th, 
for example, he was the guest of the Fawcett Associa¬ 
tion, at that time the one body ventilating the grievances 
of postal servants, and was presented with an illuminated 


99 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


address, “for the valuable services you have rendered 
us in the House of Commons on every occasion when 
you have found it possible to effectually advocate our 
cause.” The address concluded : “We thank you for 
your resolute adherence to the cause of truth and justice, 
and esteem you as a man whose promise may be relied 
on.” An extremely comforting assurance to a man who 
was at that very time being more virulently assailed by 
the party politicians than any other public man in the 
country. 

Hardie was now preparing for his third Parliamentary 
session and was determined to go to Westminster this 
time fortified by an outside agitation which would com¬ 
pel the Government to act on behalf of the unemployed, 
or to resign, a formidable objective for an apparently 
solitary and friendless commoner. The distress 
throughout the country, instead of lessening, was 
becoming more acute and widespread. Well-intentioned 
local distress committees and soup kitchens only 
emphasised, without materially alleviating, the misery, 
and although the contending politicians might make 
platform play with Armenian atrocities and with their 
rival plans for pacifying Ireland, it was not possible to 
get hungry British electors to concentrate on either of 
these questions as an election issue. The difficulty 
was—and is—to get them to concentrate upon anything. 
That, in fact, is the trouble with which the Labour 
Party is still faced. 

In the first week of January, he appealed through the 
Labour Leader for a small fund with which to begin 
a national unemployed agitation, and by the time Parlia¬ 
ment met in February, with a comparatively trifling 
expenditure of money, big demonstrations had been held 
in many of the great industrial centres, Hardie himself 
taking a leading part in most of them. Many of the 


too 



Copyright 


J. Keir Hardie, J893 










THE UNEMPLOYED 


Liberal Members, with a general election impending, 
were compelled to make promises to their constituents 
which it was necessary they should make at least some 
pretence of redeeming. It was, therefore, with some 
tremors that the Government faced the House of Com¬ 
mons, notwithstanding Harcourt’s jocular attempt to 
make light of the Opposition forces. “There was no 
‘true blue 5 now. They had instead the faded yellow of 
Birmingham, a little dash of green from Waterford, and 
a little splotch of red from West Ham.” Thus—deliber¬ 
ately or not—reckoning the solitary Keir Hardie as of 
equal importance with the great Unionist Party. “A 
splotch of red” said one of the clever rhymers of the 
“Labour Leader” :— 

“A splotch of red, Sir William V., 

Only a little splotch of red. 

Your friends sit back and broadly smile 
As you the weary hours beguile 
With little jokes—but time will be 
When you’ll not treat so jeistinlgly 
That tiny little splotch of red. 

A hearty, healthy little splotch 
And growing fast; full firmly bent 
On turning out the fools that sport 
With simple men and women’s woes, 

Your office is your only thought, 

Your friends but on their seats intent. 

Think you it can be ever so? 

Sir William V., we tell you, no; 

And all your mocking Parliament.” 

Hardie’s amendment to the address was in exactly 
the same terms as the one he had moved two years before 
on first taking his seat, but the circumstances were differ¬ 
ent. The unemployed agitation had assumed big pro¬ 
portions, the pressure from the constituencies was having 
considerable effect upon many of the Government sup¬ 
porters who would be compelled to vote with Hardie 


I 


IOI 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


unless their own leaders could provide them with a 
plausible alternative; and there was the Tory opposition, 
willing to use the unemployed question, or any other 
question, as a means of bringing about a Government 
defeat. 

Mr. T. P. O’Connor, himself an experienced wire 
puller, described in the “Weekly Sun” the manoeuver- 
ings which took place. “Some shrewd friends of the 
Government knew what was in store for them if they 
were to receive the motion of Mr. Keir Hardie with a 
blank negative. The Government accordingly con¬ 
sidered the situation, with the result that they went care¬ 
fully through the suggestions that were made to them for 
meeting with this terrible difficulty which comes periodic¬ 
ally athwart the opulence and comfort of this mighty 
nation and this vast city. The information was conveyed 
to the friends of the Government that they saw their way 
to propose a committee which would get a very practical 
bit of work to do, and which would be obliged to go into 
the question of the unemployed promptly as well as 
seriously. Friends of the Government, having con¬ 
sidered the terms of what it was proposed to do, were 
able to announce in turn to the Government that in their 
opinion this was as much as could be expected, and so all 
danger of defections from the Liberal ranks disappeared. 
Whatever happened on other amendments, Ministers 
were safe on the amendment of Mr. Keir Hardie”— 
safe, but considerably shaken. Hardie had proved 
himself a good parliamentary strategist; but he was 
more than a strategist. He was, in a good cause, perhaps 
the most stubborn man alive. He persisted with his 
motion notwithstanding the promised concession, in the 
value of which he had no faith at all. The scene which 
ensued was thus described by a Press correspondent:— 

“As soon as it was known he was up, Members poured 


102 


THE UNEMPLOYED 

ir l A r ? m every P art ’ until every bench had its full quota 
of Members, whilst a crowd stood below the bar and 
another crowd behind the Speaker’s chair. Both front 
benches were crowded with Ministers and ex-Ministers 
and the attention of the House was kept unbroken from 
start to finish. 

The speech was not of the fighting order; the con¬ 
cession just offered by the Government of a special com¬ 
mittee having made that impossible, but the interest 
never flagged for a moment and the chorus of cheers 
from all parts at the close showed that a responsive chord 
had been struck. Sir Charles Dilke followed and con¬ 
gratulated Mr. Hardie on having gained the point which 
for two and a half years he had been constantly fighting 
for. He quoted Mr. Gladstone’s reply to a question 
put by the Member for West Ham in 1893, in which the 
Prime Minister refused to agree to the appointment of 
a committee because it was not the business of the 
Government to deal with such questions.” 

Another contemporary impression, contributed to a 
Northern paper, preserves for us with remarkable vivid¬ 
ness the nature of the ordeal through which Hardie had 
to pass when opposing the Government motion :— 

“When the Member for West Ham moved his second 
amendment, Sir William Harcourt appealed to him to 
withdraw it, an appeal which was backed by Sir John 
Gorst, Mr. J. W. Benn, and Sir Albert Rollit, whilst 
a number of Members tried their influence privately. 
Tf the Government can find the committee and make 
an interim report, I will withdraw my amendment’; and 
the knit brow and the firm mouth showed that the words 
meant what they said. It was a strange and significant 
scene as the representatives of rank and titles tried to 
bend the shaggy pitman to their will. In the end he 
conquered, and the cheers with which Sir William Har- 


103 


J. KEIR HARD IE 


court’s capitulation was received were really a tribute 
to Keir Hardie’s firmness. It was a little incident, but 
of great significance.” 

The “splotch of red” had made an indelible mark. 
He got the assurance that the committee would get to 
work immediately and bring in an interim report with all 
possible speed. He, for his own part, having little faith 
in a committee appointed reluctantly to save the Govern¬ 
ment from immediate downfall, refused to associate 
himself with it. 

And now, finally, to complete the picture, take this 
other contemporary comment from the London “Echo.” 

“Possibly the new Parliament may see nothing of 
Keir Hardie, but the chronologist will at least do him 
the justice of recording how he threw the Government 
of the day into a blue funk, forced their hand, and then 
haughtily left the Chamber, disdaining with almost a 
refinement of cynicism to support their tardy concession, 
and at the same time deftly eluding the grasp of the 
clever intriguers who hoped to jockey into a follower the 
free lance whom their caste pride would not permit to 
lead them. Verily, the game of party politics is a 
truculent business, and the fact has never been more 
poignantly illustrated than in the incidents of a week in 
which, shocking as it is, the almost houseless poor have 
been the sport of the strategists in ‘high places.’ ” 

In this fashion did Keir Hardie earn the title of “Mem¬ 
ber for the Unemployed,” 


104 


CHAPTER SIX 


A GENERAL ELECTION-AMERICA—INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 

HE 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 un¬ 
desirable 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 


io5 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Newcastle Conference therefore confirmed the title under 
which, through good report and evil, British Socialism 
has sought to utilise the political power of British 
demociacy. 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 EL.P. members “to support and vote 
only for LL.P. and S.E).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 
B latch ford left the I.L.P. Under this proposal the 
large majority of I.L.P. adherents would have exer¬ 
cised no vote at all at the oncoming General Election. 
Some twenty-one candidates had already 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 LL.P. sympathisers within these movements 
could not be expected, where possible gain to Trade 
Unionism or Co-operation was obtainable, to exercise 

106 


GENERAL ELECTION 


such a self-denying political ordinance. To issue a man¬ 
date 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 per¬ 
manent policy having regard, not to the present only, 
but to the ultimate triumph for which they were working 
in the future. 5 ’ 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 Parlia¬ 
mentary 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 Con¬ 
ference recommended the “Fourth Clause” line of 
action and inaction. 

The opportunity came in July. The Liberal Govern¬ 
ment 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 

107 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


of working men to Parliament, but the entire reorgan¬ 
isation 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 
t°_ 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 Partv has decided at a special 
conference of delegates from all parts of the countrv 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 constitu¬ 
encies where there were no Labour candidates did not 
act upon this advice. Thev exercised the franchise and 
voted against the Liberal Partv, which, through a long 
period of deep distress, had proved itself callous to the 
claims of the unemploved. The Liberal Partv was 
baHlv routed. Some of its leading men. such as Mr. 
lohn Morlev and Sir William Vernon Harcourt, were 
cast out. chieflv through the intervention of I.L.P. can¬ 
didates ; 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 Partv 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 

iq8 


GENERAL ELECTION 


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 i ,592 votes per 
candidate. They believed that a proportionate support 
was waiting for them in most of the other constituencies 
where thev had b^en unable to put up candidates, and 
they knew that with these votes they could win Local 
Government seats in everv part of the countrv. 

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 mv 
friends for the zeal with which they worked. The 
triumph of our movement has not been delaved; 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 

109 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 move¬ 
ment 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 uncomplain- 
ingly in the past, sank herself once more.” He regarded 
the American expedition as part of a much bigger pro¬ 
ject. “Next year,” he said, “I hope to visit Australia 
or New Zealand and thus get the entire advanced 


i io 


AMERICA 


Labour movement into active speaking contact,” a plan 
which he ultimately fulfilled, though not in the chrono¬ 
logical 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 him¬ 
self”—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 chim¬ 
ney.” “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 this 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-extending 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 pro¬ 
cession to the quayside, chartered a tug on board of 


111 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 passen¬ 
ger 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 ban¬ 
ners 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 pro¬ 
fessors 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 
ail in the name of the law and by the means of com¬ 
petition, 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 
1 am known to possess, I declined to alter my time. 
By keeping to the Cumnock time I could always tell 


112 


AMERICA 


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 tw r o companions contributed to the “Labour 
Leader” at the time a series of intensely interesting 
descriptive articles, which even now might bear repro¬ 
duction 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 differ¬ 
ences 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 enthusi¬ 
ast. Seen in the editor’s den at 184 Market Street, he 
recalls the pictures one has seen of the French Com¬ 
munists 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 antag¬ 
onism between the various sections of the Labour and 
Socialist movement, but was gratified to find their 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


antagonisms fade away, at least temporarily, in the com¬ 
mon desire to show him respect and give him a “good 
time. 5 ’ The travellers were nearly a week in New York 
More starting West. They spent daylight hours in 
the Bowery,” and night-time hours in China Town. 
1 hey 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 under¬ 
world, 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 5 ’ picture 
of him may not come amiss : 

“As a representative of the great class he is undoubt¬ 
edly 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 non¬ 
sense 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 \gnor- 


AMERICA 


amus who will try to teach him about American institu¬ 
tions. 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 surveil¬ 
lance. 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 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 

116 


AMERICA 

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 High¬ 
land 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 condi- 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


tions. 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 im¬ 
pressions, 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 soli¬ 
darity. 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. here 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, especi¬ 
ally 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 occu¬ 
pations. 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 

118 


INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 


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 re¬ 
double 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 jour¬ 
ney 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 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

this statement that the EL.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 attiact 
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 satisfac¬ 
tory 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 com- 


120 


INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 


rade 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 great¬ 
est 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 representa¬ 
tives 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 associ¬ 
ates 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 he joined immediately, and between him and 


12 I 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 par¬ 
liamentary 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 suffer¬ 
ing, 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 pur¬ 
pose, 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 call¬ 
ing 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 con- 


122 


INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 


quer 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 “stand¬ 
ing 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 suppoited 
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 Con¬ 
gress proceedings, were united in refusing admission to 
the non-parliamentarians. In the end, Anarchist dele¬ 
gates were excluded, though many of the prominent 
Anarchists found entrance as trade unionists. Funda¬ 
mentally, 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 


123 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


should be bound rigidly along a certain fixed pre¬ 
conceived 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 resolu¬ 
tion 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 Con¬ 
gress. 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. Through¬ 
out his American tour he had been impressed by the 
backwardness of 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 light¬ 
ning 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 


124 


FREE SPEECH 


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 move¬ 
ment would force the hands of the international diplomat¬ 
ists, 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 move- 


125 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


ment 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, wmnt 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. Lhat finished it. There were no more 
prosecutions. By-laws were framed which enabled the 


126 


FREE SPEECH 


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 con¬ 
firm the British right of public meeting and freedom 
of speech, a right which not even the exceptional war¬ 
time 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 exer¬ 
tions 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 main¬ 
tained 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 airest 
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 prin¬ 
ciple, and so I go. We will make a fight of it, and the 
I.L.P. has never yet had occasion to regret its by- 
election contests, neither will it East Bradford. 


J. KEIR HARD IE 

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 m Bradford, for it is clear that two 
thousand electors are ready to support a Labour candi¬ 
date m 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 

128 


INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 

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 Liberal¬ 
ism’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 estab¬ 
lished 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 equip¬ 
ment 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 

129 



J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 declara¬ 
tion 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 cross¬ 
fire 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 durino- 
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 dis¬ 
pute, m 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, 
t e consumer s demand for the commodity, and the 
State s overlordship. It would have to tell of the great 

130 


INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 


Hamburg dock strike, of the help given by the workers 
of this country and the strengthening of the Inter¬ 
national 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 indigna¬ 
tion 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” cor¬ 
respondent, from France, and it would have to note ihe 
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 emphasis¬ 
ing 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 some¬ 
thing more to do than propound theories about value 
and economic rent, and the people were in no mood 



J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 RIardie was not in Parliament during 
those years. 

His 1897 Christmas message in the “Labour Leader’ 5 
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 
oi 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 to¬ 
night 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 con¬ 
comitant 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 


132 


INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 


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 por¬ 
tents, 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 com¬ 
puted 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 
K 133 



]. KEIR HARDIE 


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 member¬ 
ship, 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 per¬ 
sistence 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. 


134 


INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 


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 3^ 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 n. 

>» 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 

135 



J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 mini¬ 
mum 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, stimu¬ 
late the men, and through the columns of the “Labour 
Leader” make known to the Socialist movement through¬ 
out 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, 

136 


INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 


Mr. Thomas Lipton—now Sir Thomas—sent a sub¬ 
stantial 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 sup¬ 
pliant on their behalf. Nor did he consider his free¬ 
dom 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 sol¬ 
diers 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. 1 he 
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 


137 



J. KEIR HARDIE 


presence of the soldiers in Wales, and who, in his 
opinion, had utterly failed to make use of their parlia¬ 
mentary 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 

138 


INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 


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 tranches 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 co¬ 
operation 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 cam¬ 
paign 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 num¬ 
ber of constituencies and make the General Election 
a national propaganda campaign for Socialism, or to 

139 



J. KEIR HARDIE 


contest a small number of carefully-chosen constitu¬ 
encies with the definite purpose of getting a few EL.P. 
members into Parliament. The N.A.C. favoured the 
latter policy and recommended to the Annual Confer¬ 
ence 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 the 
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 inten¬ 
tion 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 Glas¬ 
gow. 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, 

140 


INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 


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 esti¬ 
mated 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 cir¬ 
culation 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 

141 


J. KEIR HARD IE 


week with the Overtoun article included. An inter¬ 
dict 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 
cf 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 in¬ 
side 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. 


142 


CHAPTER SEVEN 


THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR'—MERTHYR TYDVIL 

T HE history of the South African War has been 
written officially from the standpoint of the British 
Government and also unofficially by various 
writers who do not all agree in their ascriptions of causes 
and motives. What we are concerned about here is the 
attitude of the I. L. P. towards the war and the part played 
by Keir Hardie during that time. Happily it is possible to 
set forth the I.L.P. attitude quite clearly without much 
traversing of ground which is covered by the historians. 

On September gth, 1899, five weeks before the out¬ 
break of war, the National Administrative Council of 
the I.L.P. met at Blackburn and adopted the following 
resolution, equivalent to a manifesto, for circulation 
amongst its branches and for general publication :— 
“The National Administrative Council of the I.L.P. 
protests against the manner in which the Government, 
by the tenor of their dispatches and their warlike pre¬ 
parations, have made a peaceful settlement difficult with 
the Transvaal Republic. 

“The policy of the Government can be explained only 
on the supposition that their intention has been to pro¬ 
voke a war of conquest to secure complete control in 
the interests of unscrupulous exploiters. 

“A war of aggression is, under any circumstances, an 
outrage on the moral sense of a civilised community and 
in the present instance particularly so, considering the 
sordid character of the real objects aimed at. 


143 



J. KEIR HARDIE 


4 c It is especially humiliating to the democratic instincts 
of this country that an ulterior and unworthy motive 
should be hidden under pretence of broadening the 
political liberties of the Uitlanders. Even if the admitted 
grievances of the Uitlanders were the real reason of the 
threatened hostilities, war would be an extreme course 
quite uncalled for. 

“We also protest against the action of the press and 
the bulk of the leading politicians in strengthening the 
criminal conduct of the Government by misleading the 
public and rousing the passion for war, and we express 
the hope that it may not yet be too late for the manhood 
of the nation to prevent this outrage upon the conscience 
of our common humanity.” 

This, let it be repeated, was five weeks before the 
outbreak of war. The members present were J. Keir 
Hardie (in the chair), France Littlewood, J. Bruce 
Glasier, Philip Snowden, H. Russell Smart, j. Ramsay 
MacDonald, James Parker, Joseph Burgess and John 
Penny (Secretary). In thus definitely and uncompro¬ 
misingly setting forth the I.L.P. conception of the causes 
of the war and the Party’s policy towards ft, the N.A.C. 
took a step which decided, amongst other things, that 
for several years to come the I.L.P. would be the most 
unpopular Party and its adherents and leaders the most 
bitterly abused persons in the country. The Liberal 
Party escaped this odium by reason of the fact that having 
no alternative policy, it virtually acquiesced in the war, 
while criticising the diplomacy which had brought it 
about. Some few men there were in both of the orthodox 
parties who rose above party and even above class 
interests. Sir Edward Clarke, Q.C., one of the ablest 
of Tories, and destined in the ordinary course of events 
to reach the Woolsack, openly opposed the Government 
policy and sacrificed the remainder of his political life 

144 


SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 


rather than be a consenting party to what he described 
as an absolutely unnecessary war caused by diplomatic 
blundering, the real responsibility for which, he declared, 
“rested upon Mr. Chamberlain and Sir Alfred Milner.” 
On the Liberal side, Sir Robert Reid (now Lord Lore- 
burn), Mr. James Bryce, Mr. John Morley, Mr. Lloyd 
George and Mr. John Burns spoke out strongly, but 
their utterances were more than counterbalanced by the 
Imperialistic declarations of Lord Rosebery, Sir Edward 
Grey and Mr. Asquith, the real mouthpieces of official 
Liberalism. Sir William Harcourt and Sir Henry 
Campbell-Bannerman at the beginning blew neither hot 
nor cold. Inside the House of Commons, the only defin¬ 
ite opposition came from the Irish Party. Outside in the 
country, the only British political parties opposing the 
war policy were the I. L. P. and the S. D. F., parties with¬ 
out a single representative in Parliament. The press, 
with the exception of the “Morning Leader, the Man¬ 
chester Guardian,” the “Edinburgh Evening News,” 
and Mr. Stead’s monthly, “Review of Reviews,” was 
wholly with the Government, and soon succeeded making 
the war thoroughly popular with the masses and in creat¬ 
ing an environment of intolerance in which free speech 
was well-nigh impossible. Po Hardie and the other 
I.L.P. leaders it was a source of satisfaction to find that 
they had the support of the rank and file membership. 
Indeed, it is not too much to say that the membership of 
the I.L.P. constituted the only section of the community 
that was well informed concerning the questions at 
issue. South African affairs had received special atten¬ 
tion in the “Labour Leader,” and latterly, a series of 
articles signed “Kopje,” which was the nom de -plume 
of an exceedingly capable South African journalist, pro¬ 
vided the readers of Hardie’s paper with an account of 
the doings of the Chartered Company’s agents and 

145 



J. KEIR HARDIE 


officials as viewed through other glasses than those of the 
Imperialist or the gold seeker, and described the develop¬ 
ment of the Cecil Rhodes’ policy as it affected the 
natives, the Boer farmers and the Chartered Company’s 
white employees, otherwise known as Uitlanders. Other 
writers in the same paper had turned a somewhat 
piercing searchlight upon the share lists of the Chartered 
Company and De Beers Ltd., and upon the manner in 
which influential members of these companies with high 
social status in this country were in a position to influence 
the colonial policy of the Government, itself well 
impregnated with Imperialist tendencies. I.L.P. 
members were therefore quite able to distinguish between 
the ostensible and the real causes of the war. They did 
not believe that it was a war to right the wrongs of the 
Uitlanders. They did not believe that the military 
power of Great Britain was being used merely to estab¬ 
lish franchise rights in the Transvaal which had been 
refused to the people at home for half a century and were 
still withheld from womenfolk in this country. They did 
believe that already the process of fusion between the 
Dutch settlers and the British incomers had begun, and 
would, in course of time quite measurable, complete 
itself through intermarriage, social intercourse and 
mutual interest. They knew something about the 
diamond mines and the gold mines, the De Beers’ com¬ 
pounds and the forced native labour, and they believed 
with their National Executive that the war was a “war 
of conquest to secure complete control of the Transvaal 
m the interests of unscrupulous exploiters.” When 
Hardie, Glasier, MacDonald, Snowden and the other 
leaders declared wholeheartedly against the war it was 
with the knowledge that they had their people’behind 

them, few m numbers comparatively, but dependable 
and stout of heart.. 


146 


SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 


To the I.L.P., however, the struggle raised a 
question much greater than whether Boer or Briton 
would rule in South Africa. It involved matters 
materially affecting the process of world development 
towards Socialism. Hardie expressed this view with 
much clearness. “In the transition stage,” he said, 
“from commercialism to Socialism, there must needs be 
much suffering. All new births are the outcome of pain 
and sorrow. It was so when England passed from the 
pastoral into the commercial stage. So, too, when the 
machines began to displace the hand, and the factory 
the cottage forms of industry. For two generations 
there were want and woe in the land. So, too, must 
it be when the change from production for profit to pro¬ 
duction for use is made. A great and extended Empire 
lengthens the period required for the change and thus 
prolongs the misery, and it follows that the loss of 
Empire would hasten the advent of Socialism. The 
greater the Empire the greater the military expenditure 
and the harder the lot of the workers. Modern 
imperialism is, in fact, to the Socialist, simply capital- 
ism in its most predatory and militant phase.” 

Such reasoning was incomprehensible to a populace 
whose mentality seemed to be well expressed by Lord 
Carrington, when he said : “We must all stop thinking 
till the war is over,” a condition of mind certainly very 
essential to the maintenance of the war spirit. The 
British nation, however, was not allowed to stop thinking 
for long. This war, like all other wars, did not go 
according to plan. It began in October. By Christmas 
Day Methuen had been defeated at Modderfontein. An 
entire British regiment had laid down its arms. General 
White was besieged in Ladysmith. Cecil Rhodes, in 
whom was personified the capitalist interests at stake, 
was in danger of capture at Kimberley, and General 

147 



J. KEIR HARDIE 


Roberts was on order for the seat of war (with Kitchener 
soon to follow), and ever more troops were being 
drafted out. 

In face of these realities the jingo fever temporarily 
cooled down, and in the slightly saner atmosphere other 
people than the Socialists began to consider whether a 
movement for peace could not now be started. On 
Christmas Eve, Silas Hocking, the novelist, writing 
from the National Liberal Club, sent out the following 
letter to the press :— 

“Sir,—There are many people who think, with my¬ 
self, that the time has come when some organised 
attempt should be made by those who believe in the 
New Testament to put a stop to the inhuman slaughter 
that is going on in South Africa—a slaughter that is not 
only a disgrace to civilisation, but which brings our 
Christianity into utter contempt. Surely sufficient blood 
has been shed. No one can any longer doubt the 
courage or the skill of either of the combatants, but 
why prolong the strife? Cannot we in the name of 
the Prince of Peace cry ‘Halt!’ and seek some peaceful 
settlement of the questions in dispute ? As the greater, 
and as we think the more Christian, nation we should 
cover ourselves with honour in asking for an armistice 
and seeking a settlement by peaceful means. We can 
win no honour by fighting, whatever the issues may be. 
In order to test the extent of the feeling to which I have 
given expression and with a view to holding a confer¬ 
ence in London at an early date, I shall be willing to 
receive the names of any who may be willing to co¬ 
operate.” 

Canon Scott Holland, preaching in St. Paul’s Cathe¬ 
dral, sounded an even higher note. “We should 
humiliate ourselves for the blundering recklessness with 
which we entered on the war, and the insolence and 

148 


SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 


arrogance which blinded us so utterly. Let there be 
no more vain-glory, no more braggart tongues, and let 
us at the beginning of the New Year find our true under¬ 
standing.” As an immediate result of these appeals 
and the conference which followed, the “National Stop- 
the-War Committee” was brought into existence. This, 
with its auxiliary committees throughout the country, 
organised huge peace demonstrations in most of the big 
centres of industry during the winter. In nearly every 
case these demonstrations had to fight against organised 
hooliganism stimulated by the jingo press and the 
jingo music halls, and inflamed to delirious passion as 
the tide of war began to turn and the news of British 
victories came across the wires. 

The I.L.P. naturally associated itself prominently 
with this Stop-the-War movement, and its leaders, 
especially Hardie as the recognised “head and front of 
the offending,” had directed against them, not only the 
virulence of the war press, but frequently the unre¬ 
strained violence of the mob—unrestrained, at least, by, 
the official maintainers of Law and Order, though 
voluntary bodyguards were soon forthcoming, and the 
physical force patriots learned, some of them to their 
cost—as they were taught again some years later—that 
the advocates of peace were, on occasion, capable of 
meeting force with force. In spite of all the brawling 
intimidation of the war party, many successful demon¬ 
strations were held. At Leeds, Manchester, York, 
Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh and various other 
places, the advocates for a peaceful settlement on 
honourable terms were able to get a hearing, and the 
very violence of the opposition secured for them some 
press attention, which, though mostly derisive, adver¬ 
tised the purposes of the movement. The Glasgow 
meeting was probably typical of the others. It was 


L 


149 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


organised by a local committee of which David 
Lowe, of the “Labour Leader,” was secretary. The 
chairman was Baillie John Ferguson, of the Liberal 
Association. The speakers were Mr. Cronwright 
Schreiner, of the Cape Parliament, Mr. Lloyd 
George, and Mr. K. J. Wilson. 

Keir Hardie, Robert Smillie, Joseph Burgess, W. M. 
Haddow and prominent local I.L.P. men were present, 
not as speakers, but as directors of the defending 
forces. The preparations were as for a pitched battle. 
Before the doors were opened to the public, the hall was 
nearly filled with assured supporters. Outside there 
was an expectant mob of many thousands, conspicuous 
amongst them being University students and habitues 
of Glasgow Clubland, and when at last the doors were 
opened there was a mad rush as of stampeded wild 
cattle. Only a limited number got through the defences, 
and many heads were broken in the attempt. Inside 
the hall, the meeting went on. In the stairways and 
corridors, and at the back of the area, the battle raged. 
The police, whose headquarters were next door, held 
aloof with a serene impartiality equivalent to an encour¬ 
agement to riot, until towards the end, by orders of the 
Sheriff, and to save the hall property from being 
wrecked, they were compelled to come into action. The 
meeting, however, was held. Lloyd George escaped 
unscathed, thanks to Socialist protection, and, as history 
tells, lived to become the War Spirit’s most blind and 
excellent instrument. The following week at Dundee 
and Edinburgh similar scenes were enacted, and 
Hardie, who was the principal speaker, was only saved 
from maltreatment by a Glasgow bodyguard that 
attended him at these places. It was a fine, exhilarating 
fighting time. 

But Hardie at this time was doing better work than 


SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 


at peace demonstrations. He was wielding his pen with 
a skill and prowess such as he had never exhibited 
before, and with the possession of which he has not even 
yet been credited, so much has it been the habit to regard 
him either as a mob orator or as a parliamentary 
extremist. A perusal of the files of the “Labour 
Leader for this period will reveal Hardie as a writer, 
the reverse of declamatory and devoid of those florid 
superficialities common to controversial journalism. 

An article under the heading of “A Capitalist War,” 
which he contributed to “L’Humanite Nouvelle,” and 
which was reproduced in the “Leader,” is perhaps as 
fine an example of compressed but accurate historical 
writing as is to be found anywhere. It traces, step by 
step, the development of South Africa from the first 
Dutch settlement down through the successive treks, 
the founding of the Dutch Republics, the discovery of 
the gold fields, and the consequent incursion of the 
speculators and exploiters, involving the British Govern¬ 
ment in their adventures, and steadily as fate driving 
the Boers into a corner in which they must either fight, 
or surrender their national existence. He verifies all 
his statements, produces his facts and authorities, 
draws comparisons between ancient and modern 
imperialism, and sums up his argument with a literary 
skill all the more effective because it is unaffected and 
does not pretend to be literary. This was his con¬ 
clusion : “The war is a capitalist war. The British 
merchant hopes to secure markets for his goods, the 
investor an outlet for his capital, the speculator more 
fools out of whom to make money, and the mining com¬ 
panies cheaper labour and increased dividends. We 
are told it is to spread freedom and to extend the rights 
and liberties of the common people. When we find a 
Conservative Government expending the blood and 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


treasure of the nation to extend the rights and liberties 
of the common people, we may well pause and begin 
to think.” The latent unforced sarcasm of that last 
sentence is characteristic of a literary style which is not 
dependent upon expletives or invective for its strength. 

At this high level he kept writing all through the war, 
reviewing Bryce’s “Impressions of South Africa” or 
J. A. Hobson’s “The War in South Africa,” criticising 
the supineness of the Liberal Party, examining the 
Government’s defence of its- policy and exposing its 
evasions, and commenting upon the incidents of the war 
with a wealth of argument, illustration and appeal, 
directed always to the one conclusion, that the w r ar must 
be stopped. The pity of it was, that all this fine work 
was limited in its effect, and never reached the people 
who could have most profited by it. 

The “Labour Leader,” of course, shared in the 
unpopularity of its editor and its party, and the circula¬ 
tion declined, thereby circumscribing the scope of its 
influence. The lack of a newspaper press capable of 
competing with the lavishly financed journalism of the 
vested interests has always been the chief handicap of 
the Socialist movement. Had Hardie been possessed 
of a publicity organisation such as has always been at 
the service of the leaders of other political parties, his 
worth w T ould have been recognised much earlier, his 
influence in his lifetime would have been greater, and 
some more important person than the present writer 
would be at wnrk on his biography. It was the same 
lack of a publicity medium that made it necessary for 
the I.L.P. to have its anti-war manifesto placarded on 
walls throughout the country. There w r as no other 
method of proclaiming its views on a national scale, and 
even this was not very effective, as in many places the 
bills w r ere torn down almost as soon as they were posted. 


1 5 2 


LABOUR PARTY 


Amid all this war controversy and tumult, the politi¬ 
cal education and organisation of labour moved quietly 
forward. This year was formed the Labour Representa¬ 
tion Committee, which became the Labour Party of the 
present day, and now challenges the other political 
parties for control of the government of the nation. 

The first step was taken in Scotland. On Saturday, 
January 6th, 1900, what was described as “the 
most important Labour Conference ever held in 
Scotland.” met in the Free Gardeners’ Hall, Picardy 
Place, Edinburgh, when two hundred and twenty-six 
delegates came together for the purpose of agreeing upon 
a common ground of political action and of formulating 
a programme of social measures upon which all sections 
of the workers might unite. Robert Smillie was in the 
chair, and amongst those on the platform were Keir 
Hardie of Cumnock, Joseph Burgess and Martin Haddow 
of Glasgow, Robert Allan of Edinburgh, John Carnegie 
of Dundee, John Keir of Aberdeen, with John Penny, 
Bruce Glasier and Russell Smart holding a watching 
brief for the I.L.P. National Council. As this meeting 
is, in a sense, historical, it may be well to place on record 
its composition. Trade Unions sent one hundred and 
sixteen delegates. Trades Councils twenty-nine, Co¬ 
operative organisations twenty-eight, Independent 
Labour Party branches thirty-four, Social Democratic 
Federation branches nineteen. The acting Secretary 
was George Carson of Glasgow, whose activities 
in the formation of the Scottish Trades Union Con¬ 
gress, in 1897, had brought him in close touch with every 
section of organised labour in Scotland, and this 
connection he now utilised in getting the present Con¬ 
ference together. Smillie, in his brief remarks as 
Chairman, went as usual straight to the root of the 
matter. “They had had enough of party trimming and 

153 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


sham fighting, and were determined to be done with that 
once for all and have Independent Labour representa¬ 
tion. ’ The following resolution was adopted : “Recog¬ 
nising that no real progress has been made with those 
important measures of social and industrial reform that 
are necessary for the comfort and well-being of the work¬ 
ing classes, and further recognising that neither of the 
two parties can or will effect these reforms, this Confer¬ 
ence is of the opinion that the only means by which such 
reforms can be obtained is by having direct independent 
working-class representation in the House of Commons 
and on local administrative bodies, and hereby pledges 
itself to secure that end as a logical sequence to the 
possession of political power by the working classes.” 

An amendment to strike out the word “independent” 
was defeated by a large majority, as was also another 
amendment to define the object of the Conference as 
being “to secure the nationalisation of the means of 
production, distribution and exchange.” The Confer¬ 
ence, it will thus be seen, while breaking completely with 
the political traditions of the past, refrained from identi¬ 
fying itself with Socialism. It was a Labour Representa¬ 
tion Conference, that, and nothing more. There is no 
need to detail the other proceedings of the Conference, 
as its decisions and the organising machinery which it 
outlined were, for the most part, incorporated in the 
programme and constitution of the larger national Con¬ 
ference which was held in London in the following 
month, but it will be agreed that an account of the 
Labour Party movement would be incomplete, if it 
failed to take note of this rather notable Scottish 
gathering. 

The date of the British Conference was February 27th, 
1900, the place of meeting the Memorial Hall, London! 
It was the outcome of a resolution passed by the Trades 

154 


LABOUR PARTY 


Congress the previous year, which itself was the culmin¬ 
ating sequel to the many debates initiated by Hardie on 
the floor of the Congress in bygone years. On this 
occasion, however, the Congress, instead of remitting 
the matter to the Parliamentary Committee, had 
instructed that Committee to co-operate with the Inde¬ 
pendent Labour Party and other Socialist bodies. This 
joint Committee was duly appointed, and requested 
J. Ramsay MacDonald to draft a constitution for the new 
Party—a wise proceeding which enabled the Conference, 
with the minimum amount of friction, to achieve the 
purpose for which it had been called. 

The proceedings of this memorable meeting are chroni¬ 
cled in the official report and also in A. W. Humphrey’s 
admirable “History of Labour Representation.” What 
we are concerned with here is the part which Hardie 
played in the Conference. He was perhaps more deeply 
interested in its success than any delegate present. It 
was for this, the political consolidation of organised 
labour, that he had given the greater part of his life, 
and although he knew well that this was not the end, 
but only the essential means to the end, namely, labour s 
conquest of political power, for that very reason he was 
keenly alive to the possibility of failure at this particular 
juncture. Against any such mischance he was watchfully 
on guard. The danger of a breakdown lay in the 
different, almost antagonistic, conceptions of what should 
be the composition and function of a Parliamentary 
Labour Party held by certain Trade Union sections and 
by certain Socialist sections. The question of the forma¬ 
tion of a Labour group in Parliament was the danger 
point. Against a proposal by James Macdonald of the 
S.D.F. that Socialism be adopted as a test for Labour 
candidates, an amendment by Wilkie of the Shipwrights 
making a selected programme the basis and leaving the 

155 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


members free outside the items which it contained, had 
been carried after a somewhat acrimonious debate. 

This was altogther too loose and indefinite, and Hardie 
intervened with a resolution in favour of establishing 
a distinct Labour group in Parliament, which should 
have its own whips and agree upon a policy embracing 
a readiness to co-operate with any party which, for the 
time being, might be engaged in promoting legislation 
in the distinct interest of Labour, and, conversely, 
to associate itself with any party in opposing 
measures having an opposite tendency; and further, 
no member of the Labour group should oppose a 
candidate whose candidature was promoted by anv 
organisation coming within the scope of Resolution 
No. i. Wilkie withdrew his proposal and Hardie’s resolu¬ 
tion became the finding of the Conference. Its virtue 
lay in the fact that it committed the delegates, Socialist 
and Trade Unionist alike, to the formation of an Inde¬ 
pendent Parliamentary Labour group, and also provided 
that temporary alliances with other parties should be 
determined, not by the individual members, but by the 
group itself acting as a unit. Probably these disciplinary 
implications were not fully grasped by some of the Trade 
Unionists, but that was not Hardie s fault. He never 
at any time wilfully left his meaning in doubt, either to 
the one section or the other. He was a Socialist, but 
this was not a Socialist Conference, and even if it had 
been possible by a majority vote to make it so, that would 
have been an unfair departure from the purpose for 
which it was called. The one thing to do at that moment 
was to make Labour Representation a fact. “The object 
of the Conference,” he said, referring to the S.D.F. 
resolution, was not to discuss first principles, but to 
ascertain whether organisations representing different 
ideals could find an immediate and common ground of 

156 


LABOUR PARTY 


action, leaving each organisation free to maintain and 
propagate its own theory in its own way; the object of 
the Conference was to secure a united Labour vote 
in support of Labour candidates and co-operation 
amongst them on Labour questions when returned.” 
In this way, and on that basis, the L.R.C., as it was 
familiarly called, came into being. 

The first Chairman was F. W. Rogers, of the Vellum 
Binders’ Union, who will be chiefly remembered for his 
persistent pioneering of the Old Age Pension move¬ 
ment. The first Treasurer was Richard Bell, of the 
Railway Servants. The I.L.P. delegates on the first 
Executive were Keir Hardie and James Parker. The 
S.D.F. were represented by Harry Quelch and James 
Macdonald, and the Fabian Society by E. R. Pease. 
Thus all the Socialist sections had a place in the 
councils of the new Party, though the S.D.F. seceded 
later. The Secretaryship was placed in the capable 
hands of J. R. MacDonald, to whose appointment was 
undoubtedly due the immediate recognition of the 
L.R.C. as a new vital force in British political life. 

Easter week brought the Eighth Annual Conference 
of the Independent Labour Party (held this year in 
Glasgow), an event which has its chief biographical 
interest in that it marked Hardie’s retirement from the 
Chairmanship which he had held uninterruptedly since 
the formation of the Party. The delegates seized the 
opportunity to mark their high esteem and deep affec¬ 
tion for the man whom all recognised as their leader. 
During the session the business was suspended in order 
to present him with an address wherein it was sought 
to express “with gratitude and pride our recognition of 
the great services he has rendered the Independent 
Labour Party and the national cause of Labour and 
Socialism.” J. Bruce Glasier, his successor in the 

157 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Chairmanship, in moving the resolution, made a speech 
which is here reproduced because in some measure it 
reflects characteristics common to both men, and also 
because it indicates, in a manner which no amount of 
biographical detail can equal, the character of the work 
which had gained for Hardie so abiding a place in the 
hearts of the rank and file of the Party. (1 1 have claimed 
of my comrades of the N.A.C.,” said Glasier "he 
privilege of moving this address as one of Keir Hardie’s 
oldest personal friends and colleagues in the Socialist 
movement, and also as a fellow-Scotsman. It is with 
some emotion that I look back on, the early days of my 
association with him, and consider how much has hap¬ 
pened since then to forward the Socialist cause in our 
country. In those early days many of us doubted the 
wisdom of his political policy as we have not infrequently 
since had occasion to differ from him, but in most 
instances events have shown that his wisdom was greater 
than any of ours. In connection with the political issues 
before our Party and the country, Keir Hardie has dis¬ 
played a truly marvellous insight, I would almost venture 
to say second-sight, for indeed I do not doubt that Keir 
Hardie is gifted with at least a touch of that miraculous 
and peculiarly Scottish endowment. In the House of Com¬ 
mons and in the country he has established a tradition 
of leadership which is one of the greatest possessions 
of the Socialist and Labour movement in Britain. His 
rocklike steadfastness, his unceasing toil, his persistincr 
and absolute faith in the policy of his party, are qualities 
in which he is unexcelled by any political leader of our 
time. He has never failed us. Many have come and 
gone, but he is with us to-day as certainly as in the day 
when the I.L.P. was formed. By day and by night, 
often weary and often wet, he has trudged from town 
to city in every corner of the land bearing witness to the 

158 


LABOUR PARTY 


cause of Socialism and sturdily vindicating the cause of 
Independent Labour Representation. He has not stood 
aloof from his comrades, buf has constantly been in touch 
with the working men and women of our movement as 
an every-day friend and fellow-worker. He has dwelt 
in their houses and chatted by their firesides, and has 
warmed many a heart by the glow of his sympathy and 
companionship. The wear and tear of these many years 
of propaganda have told somewhat on the strength of 
our comrade, but he has never complained of his task 
nor has he grown fretful with the people or their cause. 
On the N.A.C. his colleagues are deeply attached to him. 
He is always most amenable to discussion with them. 
They do not always agree with his views, but they have 
been taught by experience to doubt their own judgment 
not once, but twice and thrice, when it came into 
conflict with his. But I must not detain you with this 
ineffectual effort to express what I feel. I shall venture 
only one word more. Hardly in modern times has a 
man arisen from the people, who, unattracted by the 
enticements of wealth or pleasure and unbent either by 
praise or abuse, has remained so faithful to the class 
to which he belongs. His career is a promise and a sign 
of the uprising of an intensely earnest, capable and self- 
reliant democracy. He is a man of the people and a 
leader of the people.’’ 

These words, be it remembered, were spoken when 
the I.L.P. was passing through its darkest hours, when 
its teachings were unpopular and its adherents marked 
down as political Ishmaelites, and when militarism was 
rampant in the country; and their utterance at such a 
time indicates that not only Keir Hardie, but his col¬ 
leagues and followers, were endowed with great faith 
and great courage, and explains how it is that the I.L.P. 
has survived through all the succeeding years. Hardie, 

159 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


of course, remained on the National Council, and his 
personality continued to reflect itself in every phase and 
aspect of the movement. 

This Conference, which was the first since the out¬ 
break of war, confirmed and reaffirmed absolutely the 
anti-imperialist policy of the National Council, already 
spontaneously approved and supported by the branches. 
The Conference also issued a strong protest against all 
forms of conscription, and expressed “deep sorrow at 
the terrible famine that had fallen upon the toiling 
people of India,” which, it declared, was to a great 
extent the result of the heavy taxation placed upon the 
people and the expropriation of their slender resources 
by the existing Government and capitalistic occupation 
of India. 

To focus public attention upon this latter question 
was indeed impossible. The people of this country 
were so preoccupied by affairs in South Africa as to be 
incapable of realising the calamitious condition of India. 
The I.L.P. protest was like a very still small voice, yet 
some people heard it in that far away oppressed land, 
and appeals came to Hardie and MacDonald asking 
them to come and see for themselves how India was 
governed—appeals which, though they could not be 
responded to then, did not go unheeded. 

A general election was now near at hand. The finish 
of the war, though still distant, was thought to be within 
sight. The trained British forces, two hundred and 
fifty thousand strong, were gradually overmastering the 
small volunteer armies of the Republics, and & the 
tactical question for the Government was whether it 
would wait for, or anticipate, the final victory before 
going to the country. For the opponents of the war 
policy it did not matter which. They had little hope of 
coming out on top in existing circumstances, whilst the 

i6q 


MERTHYR TYDVIL 


Liberal Party, as Laodicean in its attitude on the terms 
of settlement as it had been towards the war itself, had 
no lead to give the people. Whether the election came 
soon or late the return of the Salisbury-Chamberlain 
Government was a foregone conclusion. 

In an open letter to John Morley, Hardie made a 
strong appeal to that statesman to cut himself adrift 
from the Rosebery-Grey-Asquith section of Liberalism 
and give a lead to democracy. “A section of very 
earnest Liberals are thoroughly ashamed of modern 
Liberalism and anxious to put themselves right with 
their own consciences. Working-class movements are 
coming together in a manner, for a parallel to which 
we require to go back to the early days of the Radical 
movement. Already, two hundred and twelve thousand 
have paid affiliation fees to the Labour Representa¬ 
tion Committee. What is wanted to fuse these elements 
is a man with the brain to dare, the hand to do, and the 
heart to inspire. Will you be that man?” Mr. Morley 
did not respond. Probably Hardie did not expect him 
to do so. But the nature of the appeal indicates the 
existence of possibilities which might have considerably 
changed the course of parliamentary history in this 
country, and of Britain’s international policy. 

Hardie was specially desirous that in the forthcoming 
election all the anti-imperialist forces should work in 
unison with each other, and, in the “Labour Leader, 
he invited opinions as to whether or not the I.L.P. 
should issue a white list of candidates other than Labour 
Party nominees, who, because of their consistent opposi¬ 
tion to the war policy, should receive the support of 
I.L.P. electors. He declared himself strongly in favour 
of such a course, and specially mentioned such unbend¬ 
ing individualists as John Morley and Leonard Court¬ 
ney,” together with some Socialists like Dr. Clark and 

161 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Lloyd George. The latter name classified as Socialist, 
sounds strange to-day, but was certainly justified by 
some of the Welsh politician’s utterances, publicly and 
privately, on social questions at that time. 

The election came before the Party had made any 
decision regarding the suggestion, but there can be no 
doubt that it was acted upon, and that the anti-war 
candidates got the Labour vote. 

The Special Election Conference held at Bradford 
on September 29th, decided : “That the full political 
support of the Party be given to the candidates of the 
S.D.F. now in the field, also to the Labour and Socialist 
candidates promoted by local branches of the I.L.P. in 
conjunction with other bodies, and to all candidates 
approved by the Labour Representation Committee; 
and that in all other constituencies, each branch be left 
to decide for itself what action to take, if any, so as 
best to promote the interests of Labour and Socialism.” 

Hardie was not present at this Conference, having 
already entered upon a fight in two separate consti¬ 
tuencies, Preston and Merthyr. John Penny, the 
General Secretary, was also absent, acting as election 
agent at Preston. So rapidly did events move that the 
same issue of the “Labour Leader” which reported the 
Conference gave the result of the Preston election, 
Hardie being at the bottom of the poll with 4,834 votes 
as against nearly 9,000 given for each of the two Tory 
candidates. 

It was a tremendous task Hardie had undertaken in 
contesting simultaneously these two seats, so far apart 
from each other, not only geographically, but indus¬ 
trially and politically. Yet the double contest somehow 
typified Hardie’s personal attitude towards both politi¬ 
cal parties. Preston was a double constituency repre¬ 
sented by two Tories. Merthyr was a similar constituency 

162 


MERTHYR TYDVIL 


represented by two Liberals. It was as if they had been 
specially selected to exemplify his hostility to both 
parties, yet, when the dissolution of Parliament came, he 
had. been selected for neither, and his course of action 
was undecided. 

For months previously his colleagues on the N.A.C., 
desirous that, whatever happened to the other candi¬ 
dates, he should get back to Parliament, were on the 
look-out for a seat which would give him a reasonable 
chance of success—a seemingly hopeless quest in the 
feverishly patriotic state of the public mind. Merthyr, 
in view of his work amongst the miners, seemed the 
most promising. As early as March 21st, we find John 
Penny writing to Francis, who has been mentioned 
already, and who was now secretary of the Penydarren 
I.L.P., asking for an accurate and exhaustive report 
upon the advisability of running an I.L.P. candidate for 
Merthyr. The answer seems to have been indecisive 
yet encouraging, and, on July 25th, Bruce Glasier wrote 
the following letter, which is illustrative alike of the 
N.A.C.’s anxieties in the matter and of Hardie’s personal 
disinterestedness where the welfare of the movement 
was concerned :— 

“Chapel-en-le-F rith, 

“via Stockport. 

“Dear Francis,—Kind remembrance and hearty 
greetings to you. The N.A.C. meets on Monday at 
Derby, when we shall have to take the Parliamentary 
situation into most careful consideration. Among the 
most important things that we shall have to come to 
some conclusions upon, is the constituency which Keir 
Hardie ought to be advised to contest. We all feel 
that Hardie has a claim to the best constituency that 
we can offer him, and we also feel that it is of the utmost 

163 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


importance to the Party that he should be returned. 
Hardie himself does not view his being returned to 
Parliament as a matter of much moment, and he is only 
anxious that at least he should fight where a worthy vote 
could be obtained. But I am sure you will agree with 
us that if any single man is to be returned, that man 
should be Hardie. I am therefore going to ask you to 
kindly inform me as frankly as possible what you think 
would be Hardie’s chances were he to contest Merthyr, 
and especially what you think would be the attitude of 
the Trade Unionists and miners’ leaders. Hardie has 
himself a warm heart towards a South Wales seat—or 
rather, if you will, contest—but I am anxious that there 
should be at least a reasonable hope of a very large 
vote, if not actual success, before we consent to his 
standing. I am sure, therefore, you will give me your 
sincere opinion upon the matter. You might let me 
have a reply c/o Tom Taylor, 104 Slack Lane, Derby, 
not later than Monday morning.” 

Francis, upon whose judgment much reliance was 
placed, must have replied favourably, so far as the 
I.L.P. was concerned, but doubtfully with regard to 
the official Trade Union attitude, and raising questions 
as to financing the candidate, for the following week, 
on August 2nd, Glasier again wrote, explaining that “a 
strong election fund committee had been nominated, 
but that in most cases the local branches held themselves 
responsible for the expenses.” In the case of Merthyr, 
if Hardie were adopted by the Trades Council, and 
the N.A.C. finally approved the candidature, the N.A.C. 
would, he was sure, contribute towards his expenses. If 
the Trades Council declined to be responsible for his 
candidature, and the I.L.P. agreed to run him with the 
approval of the Trades Council, the N.A.C. might con- 

164 


MERTHYR TYDVIL 


stitutionally take the entire responsibility (with, of 
course, the utmost local help) of running him. “Hardie, 
if returned, would support himself by his pen and by 
lecturing, as he did when formerly in the House. There 
would be no difficulties on that score.” The following 
passage is noteworthy for various reasons : “The elec¬ 
tion fund will be an entirely above-board affair. The 
money will be collected publicly, and we expect that 
many well-known advanced Radicals will subscribe. 
A. E. Fletcher, Ed. Cadbury, A. M. Thomson 
(“Dangle”), Arthur Priestman, etc., will probably be 
on the committee.” 

Still the negotiations proceeded leisurely and inde¬ 
cisively, due doubtless to the difficulty of bringing the 
official Trade Unionists into line, and probably also 
to the belief that the election could not come till the 
spring of next year. As late as September 19th, we find 
C. B. Stanton, miners’ agent—whose strong support 
of Hardie at this time stands out in strange contrast 
to his violent jingoism fourteen years later—urging 
Francis, Lawrence, Davies and others, to attend a 
conference at Abernant on the following Saturday, to 
deal with the question of a Labour candidature; and on 
September 21st, John Penny wrote from Cardiff to 
Francis as follows : “This morning’s London ‘Standard’ 
reports that at the conclusion of the meeting at Preston, 
Hardie promised to give his final decision on Monday 
next. Let me know if you expect him in Merthyr, and 
if he comes through Cardiff, you might let me know the 
time of his arrival so that I could meet him at the 
station and have a talk. I see that he is booked up to 
be at the Paris Conference next week. So, if he goes, 
there will not be much time for fighting. It is now 
honestly, Preston or Merthyr. My advice is go in and 
win. Saturday’s conference must invite Hardie and so 

M 165 


j. KEIR HARDIE 


leave the onus of decision with him.” And, finally, on 
the same date, Hardie himself wrote this note, also to 
Francis :— 

“Dear Comrade,—Many thanks for your letter. I 
have decided to accept Preston. It is not likely now 
that Merthyr will succeed in putting forward a Labour 
candidate. Your wisest policy would be to defeat 
Pritchard Morgan, and thus leave the way open for a 
good Labour man at the next election. He is one of 
the most dangerous types the House of Commons 
contains.—Yours faithfully, 

“J. Keir Hardie'.” 

Merthyr seemed now completely out of the running, 
but the following day, September 22nd, the Abernant 
Conference adopted him and decided to go on, no 
matter what happened at Preston. Hardie, of course, 
did not go to the Paris International Congress. He 
addressed huge meetings at Preston, and immediately 
after the vote counting (the result of which has already 
been given) passed into Wales just one day before the 
polling, to emerge triumphantly as the junior Member 
for Merthyr, to the great bewilderment of the newspaper¬ 
reading British public, who had already seen his name 
in the lists of the vanquished. 

The victory was practically won before he arrived on 
the scene, so enthusiastically did the local men throw 
themselves into the contest. The N.A.C. despatched 
Joseph Burgess to act asi election agent, with S. D. 
Shallard as his assistant. Both of these worked with a 
will in systematising and co-ordinating the committees 
in the various districts and in addressing public meet¬ 
ings, but it was the people on the spot who had been 
looking forward to and preparing for this day during 
many months, and who by the most Herculean efforts 

166 


MERTHYR TYDVIL 


brought every available Labour voter to the polling 
booths. It was they who won the victory. Their ener¬ 
gies were directed wholly against Pritchard Morgan, 
characterised by Hardie as a “dangerous type.” They 
did not expect, and, indeed, did not desire, to defeat 
D. A. Thomas, the senior member (known in later years 
as Lord Rhondda), who was one of the few Liberals 
definitely opposed to the war, and had thereby preserved 
the pacifist tradition of the constituency whose greatest 
glory was that it had sent to Parliament Henry Richard 
of fragrant memory, known as the Apostle of Peace 
and pioneer of arbitration in international disputes. Of 
Pritchard Morgan nothing need be said here, except 
that he was by profession a company promoter, and 
doubtless regarded a seat in Parliament as a valuable 
aid to his speculative activities. 

Hardie only spoke three times in the constituency; 
once in the open-air at Mountain Ash, once at Aberdare, 
and once in Merthyr (indoors), and all on the same day. 
If there were any doubts as to the result, his appearance 
in the constituency at once dispelled them. Yet, coming 
on the back of his Preston exertions, the one day’s 
labour amongst the Welsh hills in an atmosphere of 
intense excitement must have strained his powers of 
endurance to the utmost. Writing reminiscently when 
it was all over, he says : “I have dim notions of weary 
hours in a train, great enthusiastic open-air crowds in 
the streets of Preston, and thereafter, oblivion. Jack 
Penny tells me that my opening performance in one after¬ 
noon included almost continuous speaking from three 
o’clock till eight, with a break of an hour for tea.” Yet 
he was defeated at Preston and victorious at Merthyr, 
though he only spent eleven waking hours in the latter 
constituency previous to the opening of the poll—eleven 
hours of “glorious life,” with victory cheering him on. 

-167 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


And then that last tense experience as the votes were 
being counted. “The Drill Hall; the general presiding 
officer; the anxious faces of the watchers at the tables 
as the voting urns were emptied and their contents 
assorted. Joe Burgess, confident from the start; St. 
Francis, strained to a tension which threatened rupture; 
Di D avies, drawn ’twixt hope and fear; the brothers 
Parker, moved to the cavernous depths of their being. 
Di Davies looked up and nodded, whilst the shadow of 
a smile twinkled in his eyes. At length came the figures, 
and Di found vent for his feelings. St. Francis was not 
so fortunate. Who can measure the intensity of feeling 
bottled up in the unpolluted Celt? A great cheering 
crowd. A march to a weird song whilst perched on 
the shoulders of some stalwart colliers, I trying vainly 
not to look undignified. A chair helped considerably. 
That night, from the hotel window, in response to 
cries loud and long-continued, I witnessed a sight 
I had never hoped to see this side of the pearly 
gate. My wife was making a speech to the delighted 
crowd.” 

The desire to be near her husband at this time of crisis; 
perhaps even an intuition of victory, had drawn the hame- 
loving Scots guidwife all the way from quiet Cumnock 
to this scene of excitement, and probably here, for the 
first time, came to her some real revelation of the insistent 
call which kept her man so much away from his ain 
fireside. It was certainly a great gratification to Hardie 
to have his wife sharing in his triumph; a pleasure 
equalled only by his sense of the thrill of pride with 
which the great news would be welcomed by his old 
mother in Lanarkshire, from whom he had inherited the 
combative spirit that had kept him fighting from boy¬ 
hood right up. To her was sent the first telegram 
announcing the result. 


168 


MERTHYR TYDVIL 


The election figures were :— 


D. A. Thomas ... 

8,508 

J. Keir Hardie ... 

5 Y 45 

W. Pritchard Morgan ... 

4,004 

Majority for Hardie ... 

L 74 1 


He took no rest, but passed immediately into the 
Gower constituency to assist in the candidature of John 
Hodge, of the Steel Smelters, and it was not until the 
General Election was completed that he got home into 
Ayrshire to meet the eager, almost boisterous, greetings 
of his old associates. 

Very happy weeks these undoubtedly were for Hardie. 
A natural man always, he made no secret of the pleasure 
he derived from the congratulations that were showered 
upon him at this time; but most of all he took satisfaction 
from the expressions of delight on the part of those who 
had been associated with him in his early struggles on 
behalf of a political Labour movement. At Cumnock, 
where he was feted in the Town Hall, he found himself 
surrounded by the men who had shared with him the 
rough spade-work of twenty years before. James Neil, 
who had led many a picketing expedition, was in the 
chair. George Dryburgh was also there, and William 
Scanlon of Dreghorn, and many other veterans of the 
Ayrshire miners’ movement. A speech by Alex. Barrow- 
man so comprises almost in a single paragraph the whole 
philosophy of Hardie’s career up to that time, that a 
reproduction of it is more valuable than whole chapters 
of minute biographical detail would be. 

“Their townsman,” he said, “had he cared to turn his 
talents to personal advantage, might to-day have been 
a wealthy man. Liberalism or Conservatism would 
have paid a big price for his services had they been for 
sale, whilst he might have found an easy life as a writer 

169 



J. KEIR HARDIE 


for the ordinary press. Rut he was not built that way. 
He had all his life been creating agencies through which 
the spirit of democracy might find expression, and had 
been content to sow that others might reap. Twenty 
years ago he might have found a snug berth as secretary 
to some old-established Union, instead of which, he 
came to Ayrshire where the men were not organised, and 
established a union that had now nine thousand mem¬ 
bers. Not finding any newspaper representative of his 
opinions, he had started one, and the ‘Labour Leader’ 
was now a recognised power. Seeing through what he 
conceived to be the hollowness of political parties, he 
set to found a Party of his own, and had succeeded, 
for the Labour Party was now a reality. Shallow people 
might say it was Mr. Hardie’s perversity and masterful¬ 
ness that made him do these things. In reality, they 
were the outcome of his intense earnestness, combined 
with his extraordinary energy and ability.” 

In truth, an admirable summing of Hardie’s work 
and its impelling motives, and, accustomed as he was 
to misrepresentation, it was a joy to know that he was 
understood and appreciated by those who knew him best. 

A poem addressed to him by an anonymous local 
poet, exemplifies, whatever may be its poetic merit, how 
far from being merely materialist was the appeal which 
his life had made to his comrades in Ayrshire. 

“Brave Saul I From early morn till darksome nigiht, 

For ever leading in the fitful fight. 

Come for an hour into our social room 

And, heark’ning to our cheers, let fall the gloom 

From off thy wearied face. Lay off your sword, 

And laugh and sing- with us around the board. 

And when the night is done, your armour don, 

And face again your fierce foes all alone— 

Strong in the faith that Right at last will be 
The mightiest factor in Society.” 


170 


MERTHYR TYDVIL 


The Glasgow movement also organised a big con¬ 
gratulatory demonstration in the City Hall, where only 
ei'ght months before he had been in some danger of 
physical assault. 

The chairman of the Glasgow District Council of the 
I.L.P., W. Martin Haddow, presided, and on the plat¬ 
form, in the balconies, and in the area of the hall, 
Socialists, Trade Unionists, Co-operators, Irish 
Nationalists, besides men and women of every shade 
and section of advanced political thought, joined, as 
one press writer said, “to do honour to the man in whose 
triumph they seemed to see the foreshadowing of ulti¬ 
mate political victory for that democratic principle which 
concentrated the aims of them all.” Ihe Merthyr 
victory was indeed one of the great events of his life, 
bringing to him a sense of real personal achievement, 
and it was recognised as such by the people for whose 
appreciation he most cared. He enjoyed it thoroughly 
and made no attempt to disguise his pleasure. The 
following Sunday he spoke at a meeting similar to that 
at Glasgow in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester. 
During the next week he was banqueted by the London 
City Socialist Circle, and made a run into Wales for 
what proved to be a triumphal tour through his constitu¬ 
ency, and then back into Ayrshire for a few weeks’ 
much-needed rest and quietude in the companionship of 
his own household. 

The children were now grown up and of an age to 
understand and take some pride in the work in which 
their father was engaged. The eldest boy, James, had 
just finished his apprenticeship as an engineer, the 
youngest, Duncan, was making a start at the same tiade, 
and the daughter, Agnes—known familiarly as Nan- 
had also left school, and was assisting her mother in 
the housekeeping duties. Doubtless as they gathered 

171 


J. KEIR HARD IE 


round the fireside they found much to interest them in 
the tales their father had to tell of the big world in 
which he had travelled so much; of what he had seen 
in the American Wild West; of his visits to France, 
and of the varied contrasting scenes of life in London 
Town, and of the House of Commons and the strange 
animals that frequented that place, to which he was now 
going back again. He was a good story-teller, given 
the right kind of audience, and what better company 
could there be than his own young folk amongst whom 
to fight his battles and live his life over again during 
these few weeks of restfulness? And for them, too, 
there was some compensation for having such an absentee 
father. December saw him back at Westminster 
taking his stand once again as a “one-man Party.” 


I 


172 


CHAPTER EIGHT 

PARLIAMENT ONCE MORE-“THE WHITE HERALD”- 

SERIOUS ILLNESS 

W HEN the new Parliament met, Hardie was the 
only one of the six hundred and seventy 
Members who put in an appearance without 
being summoned to attend. All the others had, accord¬ 
ing to usage, been summoned by their respective party 
leaders, Conservative, Liberal and Nationalist. The 
Liberals even claimed Richard Bell, the other L.R.C. 
representative. Hardie had no leader, and only 
nominally had he a colleague. Yet he was not unwilling 
to have one, as the following utterance shows : “I am 
told there is a publication called the ‘Gazette’ in which 
notices concerning Parliament appear, but never having 
seen the publication I cannot vouch for the truth of the 
statement. Leaders of parties, it seems, send out 
notices to their followers concerning when Parliament 
is to meet, and the fact that John Burns has not yet 
taken to fulfilling this part of his duties accounts for my 
having been unsummoned. It may be further noticed 
that as the Labour Party has not yet appointed its Whip, 
I am an unwhipped Member of Parliament. Does the 
House contain another?” 

There is here more than a hint that he would have 
been willing to recognise John Burns as his leader, and 
also a suggestion that the time was opportune for the 
Trade Union Members of Parliament to cut them¬ 
selves adrift from the Liberal Party and form a distinct 


173 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Labour group. The hint was not taken, and all 
through his second Parliament, as in his first, Hardie 
was condemned to “plough a lonely furrow.” He did, 
indeed, continue for some months hoping that the 
working-class members would group themselves to¬ 
gether at least for the purpose of taking common action 
on industrial questions, and it was certainly no blame of 
his that this did not take place. Again and again, at 
this time, he went out of his way to make public his 
appreciation of Burns’s high debating powers, and his 
belief in the possibility of forming a parliamentary 
party under his leadership. But the hour had not come, 
and even if it had come, John Burns was not the man. 
Hardie himself was the man, but he had to await 
the hour—and the followers. In this House of Com¬ 
mons he was still an Ishmael. It was well for him that, 
in addition to his faith in the movement, he possessed 
what many persons did not credit him with, a lively 
sense of humour. The whimsicality of the whole situa¬ 
tion gave him food for much quiet laughter. 

A general election had just been held. The whole 
public life of the nation had been convulsed, and the 
result was a House of Commons in which the only new 
feature was Keir Hardie. The Salisbury-Chamberlain 
Government was in power as before. The Liberal 
Party was in opposition, and, ^s before, impotent and 
practically leaderless. The Nationalists were, as before, 
at the tail of the Liberal Party. It seemed as if the 
general election had been held for the sole and express 
purpose of getting Hardie back into Parliament. That, 
at least, was all it had achieved. In his present mood, 
Parliament and all its appurtenances seemed to him 
like a grotesque joke. Reference has already been 
made to his faculty for literary expression. If ever, as 
a supplement to this memoir, there should be pub- 

174 


IN PARLIAMENT 


lished a selection of his fugitive writings, there will 
surely be included his impression of the opening of 
this Parliament. It is replete with genial, yet caustic 
sarcasm, of which a mere extract cannot possibly convey 
the full flavour. After explaining the preliminary mum¬ 
meries and their Cromwellian origin, he says, “new 
members in the lobby are astonished at the procession 
they now behold approaching. First comes a police 
official, a fine, burly, competent-looking man; behind 
him follows a most melancholy-looking old gentleman 
who would make the fortune of an undertaker by going 
out as a mute to funerals. He wears black cotton gloves, 
his hands are crossed in front of his paunch, and he 
moves sadly and solemnly behind the police officer. It 
might be a procession to the scaffold so serious does 
everyone look. Behind the mute comes ‘Black Rod.’ 
He is gorgeously arrayed, not exactly in ‘purple and 
fine linen,’ but in scarlet and gold lace. He moves for 
all the world like an automaton worked by some 
machinery which is out of gear. If ever you have seen 
a cat, daintily picking its way across a roadway on a 
wet day, you have some idea how General Sir M. Bid- 
dulph approaches the House of Commons.” And so 
on, through all the proceedings down to the final exit 
of the Lord Chancellor from the House of Lords, “a 
squat little man, with a pug nose, trying to look digni¬ 
fied.” Finally, we have Hardie’s serious comment on 
the whole ridiculous tomfoolery, which, as he sees it, 
is “quaint without being impressive.” “Times and cir¬ 
cumstances have changed during the last thousand 
years, but the forms of these institutions remain 
practically as they then were, which is typical of rmich 
that goes on inside these walls.” 

A week or two later he was writing in a very different 
mood, describing the naval and military pageantry, 


175 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


attendant upon the funeral of Queen Victoria. The 
Queen died on January 21st, and it is significant that in 
the “Labour Leader” the following week, his reference 
was not to that event, but to the death of another—a com¬ 
paratively obscure woman—Mrs. Edwards, of Liver¬ 
pool, the wife of John Edwards, the founder of the 
“Reformers’ Year Book.” She had been one of the 
many intimate friends he had made during his travelling 
to and fro among the comrades. Of her he wrote : 
“She was the most kindly and unselfish creature that ever 
trod the earth. Her tact and her cleverness, her ener¬ 
getic spirit, and, above all else, the great soul, big 
enough, noble enough to forgive and sweep aside the 
faults of everybody and search out the kernel of good¬ 
ness that is so often hidden by the hard covering of 
one’s defects.” Yet the omission of any reference to 
Queen Victoria’s death was probably not deliberate. 
He was at the time in the North of Scotland, addressing 
anti-war meetings in Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness, 
and in the midst of this work the news of the passing of 
his friend would affect him more nearly than the passing 
of the monarch. 

Next week, he paid his tribute to the departed Queen. 
“It is as the pattern wife and mother, the embodiment 
of the virtues upon which the middle-class matron bases 
her claim to be considered the prop and mainstay of the 
race, that Queen Victoria was known and respecced. 
The pomps and ceremonies of her station do not seem 
to have had any charm for her, whilst her manner of 
dressing was plain, almost to dowdiness. The quiet 
retreat of Balmoral, far removed from the turmoil and 
intrigue of fashionable society, had for her a charm 
which few can appreciate. The pomp and panoply of 
martial life was as far removed from such a life as any¬ 
thing well could be. 


176 


IN PARLIAMENT 


“There are tens of thousands of loyal British subjects 
who loved to honour the Queen, who in their hearts 
resent the association of her memory with the military 
life of the nation, and in their name, as well as in my 
own, I enter my protest against the barbarous display of 
the bloodthirsty implements of war, amidst which the 
remains of a peace-loving woman will to-day be laid 
to rest.” 

The “barbarous display” took place in due course, 
and Hardie, in a very powerful description of it, which 
cannot be reproduced here, laid bare what seemed to 
him to be the sinister meaning and purport of it all; 
the militarisation of the very spirit of the nation, and 
the subordination of the true idea of citizenship. “In a 
constitutionally governed country, Parliament, not the 
monarch, is the real seat of authority. The soldier is 
the servant of the State. On this occasion the soldier 
was everything, the civilian nothing. The Members of 
Parliament, the chosen of the people, the real rulers of 
the nation—they came not to take part in the funeral, 
but stood upon the purple cloth-covered seats, and 
gazed like so many school-children upon the military 
thirty yards away. The administrative councils of the 
nation were totally ignored. The cadets of the Duke of 
York’s Military Training College had a stand'; the ser¬ 
vants at Buckingham Palace had one; but there was 
no room in all the streets of London, nor in the public 
parks through which the procession passed, for a stand 
for the members of the London County Council. 

“As for the seats of learning, the Christian Church, 
Science, Art and Commerce—they were all ignored. 
Having joyfully placed their necks under the heel of 
the soldier, they are each receiving their meet reward.” 

Thus, bitterly and prophetically did Hardie read 
the lesson of Queen Victoria’s military funeral, the pre- 

177 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


cursor of many a similar pageant, deliberately planned, 
as he believed, to overrule the naturally peaceful ten¬ 
dencies of the common people. Hardie was a Republican, 
but never obtrusively so, and on this occasion it was 
not so much the monarchy that was the object of his 
attack, as the aggressive militarism which sought to 
pervert the national respect for the departed monarch 
to its own sinister ends. 

A few months later his views on the monarchical insti¬ 
tution itself found an opportunity for expression when 
the revised Civil List, consequent upon the succession 
of King Edward to the throne, came up for discussion 
in Parliament. He had previously, on the King’s 
Speech, endeavoured to add an amendment, which after 
thanking the King for his speech, expressed regret that 
the monarchy had not been abolished, which the Speaker 
had gravely, and without any apparent perception of 
the covert humour of the proposal, ruled out of order. 
He had also intervened in the debate on the 
expenses of the late Queen’s funeral in a manner not 
pleasing to some of the Tory members whose unman¬ 
nerly interruptions drew from him the remark that 
“honourable members sitting opposite are evidently not 
in a condition to behave themselves,” a reference to 
the after-dinner boisterousness of the said honourable 
Members which the Speaker declared to be “offensive.” 

On the question of the Civil List he was not to be 
turned aside. Under the new proposals the provision 
for the Royal Family was increased from £553,000 to 
£620,000, but although, as a matter of course, Hardie 
objected to this increase and challenged, every detail, it 
was on the ground of his “objections to monarchical 
principles” that he opposed the entire Civil List and 
divided the House, taking fifty-eight members into the 
Lobby along with him, John Burns acting as his fellow- 

178 


IN PARLIAMENT 


teller in the division. Of the fifty-eight, only four were 
working-class Members. The other fifty-four were of 
the Irish Party. The “Leeds Mercury’s” description of 
Hardie’s deportment on this occasion may be quoted as 
an aid to our general conception of the kind of man 
he was, and also as a corrective to the widespread 
misrepresentation of him as a mere self-advertising 
demagogue. “Mr. Keir Hardie,” said the “Mercury,” 
“delivered a speech on frankly Republican lines. He 
drew cheers from the Tories by admitting that the work¬ 
ing class were now favourable to Royalty, and provoked 
their laughter by adding that this was because the 
working man did not know what Royalty meant. But 
he quietly stuck to his point. The hereditary principle 
whether in the Legislature or on the Throne, was, he 
maintained, degrading to the manhood of the nation, 
and it was the clear duty of men like himself to try to 
get the nation to recognise the fact. This, and many 
other things, he uttered in smooth, dispassionate, fault¬ 
lessly fashioned phraseology. He is, in fact, one of the 
most cultured speakers the present House of Commons 
can boast. His doctrines are anathematised by some, 
contemptuously laughed at by others, but he has a 
Parliamentary style and diction that may put the bulk 
of our legislators to shame.” 

These events and discussions extended over several 
months, with much else in between, but are here grouped 
consecutively, as the most effective means of setting 
forth Hardie’s views and attitude towards Royalty. He 
never at any time went out of his way to attack the 
Monarchy, but simply availed himself of the opportuni¬ 
ties to do so, as they arose. His aim, of which he never 
lost sight, was the building up of a Labour Party for the 
realisation of Socialism. To this purpose, all other 
questions were subsidiary or contributory. He recog- 

179 


J. KEIR HARD IE 


nised very clearly that in his present situation, without 
the support of an organised party in the House, the 
only use he could make of Parliament was as a propa¬ 
ganda platform, and even that was determined, to some 
extent, by his power of arresting the attention of the 
capitalist press. And this he certainly succeeded in 
doing. The British people were never allowed to 
forget that there was a man in Parliament called Keir 
Hardie, or that he belonged to the dangerous fraternity 
of Socialists. 

Right in the middle of this discussion about Royalty 
he found an opportunity for putting Socialism in the 
centre of the stage, so to speak, though only for a brief 
moment. April 23rd, 1901, is an historic date for the 
British Socialist movement. Hardie, in the private 
members’ ballot, had been lucky enough to secure a 
place for that particular date, but unlucky enough to be 
last on the list. He put down the following resolution, 
which, as it is the first complete Socialist declaration 
ever made in the British House of Commons, must 
have a place in this account of the life of its author : 
“That considering the increasing burden which the 
private ownership of land and capital is imposing upon 
the industrious and useful classes of the community, the 
poverty and destitution and general moral and physical 
deterioration resulting from a competitive system of 
wealth production which aims primarily at profit-making, 
the alarming growth of trusts and syndicates, able by 
reason of their great wealth to influence governments and 
plunge peaceful nations into war to serve their own 
interests, this House is of opinion that such a state of 
matters is a menace to the well-being of the Realm and 
calls for legislation designed to remedy the same by 
inaugurating a Socialist Commonwealth founded upon 
the common ownership of land and capital, production 

180 


IN PARLIAMENT 


for use and not for profit, and equality of opportunity 
for every citizen.” 

His presentation of this resolution was certainly a 
most remarkable parliamentary performance. It was 
half - pfast eleven before the preceding business 
was disposed of. At twelve o’clock the House 
must stand adjourned. At twenty-five minutes to twelve 
Hardie rose to put the case for Socialism to an audience 
mostly comprised of its enemies. Arthur Balfour was 
there, drawn, as one writer said, “by the metaphysical 
curiosity of the Scot, to amuse himself hearing what a 
brother Scot had to say on Socialism.” John Morley was 
there, the parliamentary embodiment of individualist 
philosophy. The young Tory bloods were there, their 
hostility, for the moment, submerged in their curiosity. 
The Liberal commercialists were there, interested, but 
critical and incredulous. The Irish members were there, 
sympathetic and encouraging in their demeanour. 

How skilfully Hardie performed his difficult task, let 
the capitalist press again bear witness. Said the parlia¬ 
mentary writer for the “Daily News” : “ Mr. Keir Hardie 
had about twenty minutes in which to sketch the out¬ 
lines of a co-operative commonwealth. He seemed to 
me to perform this record feat of constructive idealism 
with remarkable skill, and indeed it would be difficult 
to imagine a creation of human fancy that would produce 
more deplorable results than the society from which Mr. 
Hardie in his vivid way deduced the China Expedition, 
the South African War, and the London slums. Mr. 
Balfour, coming back from dinner, smiled pleasantly on 
the speaker, doubtless calculating that things as they 
were would last his time.” 

The closing sentences of Hardie’s speech are worth 
preserving because of the prophetic note in them, which 
indeed was seldom absent from any of his utterances. 

181 


N 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

“Socialism, by placing the land and the instruments of 
production in the hands of the community, will eliminate 
only the idle and useless classes at both ends of the 
scale. ,The millions of toilers and of business men do 
not benefit from the present system. We are called 
upon to decide the question propounded in the Sermon 
on the Mount, as to whether we will worship God or 
Mammon. The last has not been heard of this move¬ 
ment either in the House or in the country, for as 
surely as Radicalism democratised the system of govern¬ 
ment politically in the last century, so will Socialism 
democratise the industrialism of the country in the 
coming century.” 

And as he said, so it is coming to pass. The new 
century to which he pointed is still young, but the 
democratising of industry proceeds apace. Shop 
stewards, workshop committees, Industrial Councils, 
Socialist Guilds, and in Russia, the Soviet system as a 
method of government, are all re-creating society on 
Socialist models. Many of the elements making towards 
the democratic control and direction of industry are now 
in operation, and so Hardie’s prediction is in course 
of being fulfilled. Truly, it was not without reason 
that many of his associates ascribed to him the qualities 
of a seer. 

Meantime, outside Parliament, the movement con¬ 
tinued to move. The Labour Representation Committee 
had held its first Annual Conference, and was able to 
report an affiliated membership of 470,000 workers. All 
the Socialist bodies, I.L.P., S.D.F., and Fabian Society, 
were represented, and although the Conference rejected 
a resolution moved by Bruce Glasier on behalf of the 
I.L.P. declaring for an “Industrial Commonwealth 
founded upon the common ownership of land and 
capital,” it adopted one brought forward by the Dockers, 

182 


IN PARLIAMENT 


demanding “the passing of such laws as will put an end to 
a system under which the producer of wealth has to bear 
an enormous burden in the shape of rents and profits, 
which go to the non-producers.” 

The I.L.P. also, at its Annual Conference, held this 
year at Leicester, was able to report considerable pro¬ 
gress, but naturally found its chief cause for self-con¬ 
gratulation in the fact that Hardie was once more in 
Parliament, his election being, in the opinion of the 
Executive, “a signal of battle, not only for the I.L.P., 
but for the entire Labour and Socialist movement of the 
nation.” A proposal by the N.A.C. for the establish¬ 
ment of a “Payment of Members’ Fund,” having for its 
object to pay him ^150 a year as “a compensation for 
the extra expenses and loss of time entailed upon him 
as a working Member of Parliament,” was endorsed by 
acclamation, and on this modest allowance, raised by 
voluntary subscription, Hardie became, for the first time, 
a paid Member of Parliament. It is very doubtful if this 
sum ever covered his expenses. It certainly made pro¬ 
vision for no more than very “plain living” to which 
happily he was well inured. 

In the industrial world, also, events were shaping 
in a way calculated to impress even the most conserva¬ 
tive sections of the workers with a sense of the need for 
parliamentary action. ,The Taff Vale decision, which 
rendered trade unions legally responsible for the actions 
of their least responsible officials, together with other 
decisions making peaceful picketing a criminal offence 
while leaving employers free to organise blackleg 
labour under police protection, struck at the very life of 
the industrial labour movement and converted to the 
policy of the I.L.P. thousands who could not be reached 
by street corner or platform agitation. Naturally, 
Hardie, MacDonald, Snowden, and the other Labour 

183 


J. KEIR EIARDIE 

Party advocates did not fail to exploit the situation to 
the advantage of their cause. 

In the midst of all this work he contributed to the 
Co-operative Annual for 1901 an article, informative 
and suggestive, on Municipal Socialism, in which he 
summarised comprehensively the results achieved up 
to that time. The facts and figures have, of course, 
been superseded by new facts and figures, but his argu¬ 
ment, based alike upon historical continuity and upon 
common sense, has not been superseded. 

. “The battle now being waged around Municipal trad¬ 
ing is but the renewal of a struggle carried on for two 
hundred years against king, cleric, and lordling ere yet 
there was a Parliament in being. The issues remain the 
same, however much the methods may have changed. 
As the burghers triumphed then, so will they now. 
Already property of the estimated value of £500,000,000 
has passed from private to public ownership. The 
citizens of our time are beginning to realise the benefits 
which follow in the train of common ownership. On 
every side can be seen the dawning of the idea that were 
the means of producing the fundamental necessaries of 
life—food, clothing, shelter—owned communally, as 
many of the conveniences already are, the problem of 
poverty would be solved.” 

In this way he sought to make it plain that Municipal 
Socialism was simply through Local Government admin¬ 
istration an application of the co-operative principle. 

About this time, and in all the following years, he was 
much in request as a lecturer by the Co-operative Educa¬ 
tional Committees which were being formed throughout 
the country, largely as the result of permeation work by 
Socialist members of the various societies. To these 
requests he responded as often as his other duties would 
allow. His name invariably drew audiences composed 

184 


IN PARLIAMENT 


not of co-operators only, but of the general public, 
brought by curiosity to see and hear the notorious 
agitator under non-political and therefore non-committal 
auspices. On these occasions he usually put party 
politics aside and devoted himself to co-operative 
propaganda. 

Frequently, in illustration of the practical value of 
co-operative effort, he recalled how, in the early days of 
the Miners 5 Trade Union movement the establishment 
of the Co-operative shop in a district had enabled the 
miners to free themselves from the grip of the “Com¬ 
pany’s Stores,” and had thereby given that self-reliance 
upon which their fight for better working conditions 
depended; a practical illustration which was easily 
understood, and paved the way for an exposition of the 
more far-reaching possibilities of co-operation. 

He believed that the co-operative movement must in 
course of time, and of necessity, join hands with the 
Trade Union movement for the attainment of political 
power, but refrained from urging this too strenuously, 
lest premature action should be hurtful rather than bene¬ 
ficial to both movements. The co-operative movement 
has seldom had a more judicious or a more sincere advo¬ 
cate than Keir Hardie. 

In July of this year, while Parliament was still in 
session, Hardie had his first touch of illness, and had to 
remain in bed for upwards of a week, a new experience 
to which he did not take at all kindly. The surprising 
thing to his friends was that he had not broken down 
sooner. He had, as one of them said, “been doing the 
work of several ordinary mortals.” His correspondence 
itself was enormous, and he had no private secretary. 
Plis advice was sought by all sections of the Labour 
movement. Every day brought its committees, depu¬ 
tations, interviews and visitors from far and near; while 

185 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


every week-end found him on the propaganda platform 
in some part of the country, sometimes far distant from 
London. This entailed long, wearying train journeys. 
He recovered quickly, but it might have been better if 
he had taken warning from this first indication that his 
powers of endurance were being overstrained. He was 
immediately as busy as ever, both inside and outside 
of Parliament, but especially outside amongst the I.L.P. 
branches and trade unions, stimulating them to get ready 
with their candidates and organisation for the next 
general election which he was convinced would see a 
Labour Party very strongly entrenched at Westminster. 

It must be said, however, that such opportunities as 
occurred for testing the grounds for this optimism did 
not give much encouragement. A three-cornered by- 
election contest in North-East Lanark found Robert 
Smillie once more at the bottom of the poll, and at Wake¬ 
field, in the spring of the following year, Philip Snowden 
was defeated by the Conservative candidate in a straight 
fight. Yet these seeming rebuffs notwithstanding, pre¬ 
parations for the election went on steadily, and the 
movement continued to grow in strength. These by- 
elections were regarded as merely experimental skir¬ 
mishes, and not symptomatic of the probable results in 
a general election fight. 

Speaking at Clifford’s Inn under the auspices of the 
Metropolitan Council of the I.L.P., Hardie said, 
“There were subtle causes at work which were hasten¬ 
ing the movement, and amongst them might be instanced 
such decisions as that recently given by the House of 
Lords in the Taff Vale case. The power of the trade 
unions through the strike had been immense, but their 
power through the ballot-box was immensely greater, 
and it was only necessary for their members to learn to 
vote as they had learned to strike, to secure their victory. 

186 


“THE WHITE HERALD” 


There was reason for looking forward with absolute con¬ 
fidence to the future.” 

In the midst of all this public activity Hardie was not 
free from the casual and inevitable cares and difficulties 
of family life which in some circumstances may be miti¬ 
gated, but in none can be evaded. In January, 1902, 
his daughter Agnes, now verging into early womanhood, 
was taken dangerously ill, and for several weeks hovered 
between life and death. For the whole of that period 
the father was absent from Parliament and from the 
public platform. He was in Cumnock by the bed of 
sickness, nursing the girl, comforting the mother and 
hiding his own fears as best he could. In the first week 
in February, he was able, in the “Labour Leader,” to 
assure enquiring sympathisers that the invalid was 
making fair progress towards recovery. “She is still 
weak, but with care that will pass.” As a matter of fact, 
this trouble left effects behind from which she could 
never entirely shake herself free, and caused him to be 
always more tenderly solicitous for her than for 
the two boys who had inherited his own sturdy 
constitution. 

In the last week of the following April came another 
trial, more inevitable, but none the less wrenching 
because it was inevitable. “On the night when Mr. 
Balfour gagged discussions regarding the Bread Tax, I 
found Hardie,” wrote one of his friends, “in the inner 
lobby watching for a telegram. ‘If I get a wire,’ said 
he, ‘I must leave for Scotland by the midnight train, 
and at the time when the House was dividing he was 
going northward.” He had been summoned to the 
deathbed of his mother and father. 1 he two old people 
passed away within an hour of each other, and it could 
be said of them literally that “in death they were not 
divided.” The now famous son, of whom they were so 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


proud, was in time to bid them good-bye. A strange 
parting that must have been. 

“Fear of death,’’ wrote Hardie afterwards, “must 
have been an invention of priestcraft. He is the grim 
king for those who are left to mourn, but I have not yet 
seen a deathbed, and I have seen many, where the White 
Herald has not been welcomed as a friend and deliverer. 
These two talked about death as if it were an every day 
incident in their lives. They did so without emotion, or 
excitement, or interest of any kind. They were dying 
together, whereat they were glad. Had it been a visit 
to Glasgow, three miles distant, they could not have 
been more unconcerned. In fact, such a journey would 
have been a much greater annoyance to father. They 
never even referred to any question of the Beyond. As 
Socialists they had lived for at least twenty-five years, 
and as such they died and were buried. They had 
fought life’s battles' together, fought them nobly and 
well, and it was meet that they should enter the 
void together.” 

At their cremation a few days later, Hardie himself, 
amidst a gathering of mournful friends and relations, 
spoke the last parting words in the building where 
thirteen years later he himself was to be carried. Out¬ 
wardly he was calm, inwardly he was deeply moved. 
“Henceforth,” he wrote, “praise or blame will be even 
less than ever an element in my lifework. Closed for 
ever are the grey eyes which blazed resentment or shed 
scalding tears when hard, untrue things were spoken 
or written about me or my doings. Silent is the tongue 
which well knew how to hurl bitter invectives against 
those who spoke with the tongue of slander, and stilled 
are the beatings of the warm, impulsive heart which 
throbbed with pride and joy unspeakable when any little 
success came her laddie’s gait.” And with this sense of 

188 


J 


NEVILL’S COURT 

an irreparable void in his life, he turned to work once 
more. 

When he returned to London he found it necessary to 
make another change in his way of living. The friendly 
household wherein he had been accustomed to sojourn 
during the Parliamentary session, had been broken up, 
also thrQugh death’s visitation, and he had to look for 
a new home in London—a home which, in point of 
rental, would not be too expensive. He found it, after 
some weeks’ house-hunting all over London, in Nevill’s 
Court, Fetter Lane, off Fleet Street, at 6s. 6d. a week. 
Within a stone’s throw of the “Labour Leader” 
London office, and twenty minutes’ walk of Westmin¬ 
ster, it was certainly quite near his daily work, and yet 
as remote from the bustle and turmoil of modern city 
life as if it were a survival of mediaeval times round 
which the new world had built itself—indeed, it was 
such a retreat. It was a tumble-down structure of the 
fifteenth or sixteenth century, built of timber and plaster, 
and of a most uninviting exterior. Inside, it was better. 
The floor of the room had been kept clean by honest 
scrubbing, and a match-board partition had been put up 
so as to convert the large room into a sitting-room, bed¬ 
room and kitchen. There was a garden, “thirty inches 
wide and fifteen feet long,” wherein he could grow, 
and actually did grow, Welsh leeks, and primroses 
and gowans transplanted from Cumnock. In a short 
time, artist and craftsman friends having come to his aid, 
“the gnomes were driven out and the fairies took posses¬ 
sion and transformed this corner of slumland into a very 
palace of beauty.” “I would not,” he said quaintly, 
“exchange residences with his most gracious majesty 
Edward VII, nor deign to call the King my cousin”; 
and here he settled down for that part of the remainder of 
his life which had to be spent in London. Hither, from 

189 


J. KEIR EIARDIE 


all parts of the country, aye, from all parts of the world, 
came those special and intimate friends who were of the 
Keir Hardie fellowship. Collier folk from Wales and 
from Scotland up to see the sights of London; poets and 
painters; sculptors and literary folk; exiles from 
Russia; home-returning travellers from Australia or 
America, came. An Indian prince at one time, a High¬ 
land crofter at another, and, of course, his colleagues of 
the I.L.P. Council and his own family folk from Cum¬ 
nock and Cambuslang. Never was any notoriety-hunter 
or newspaper gossip-monger able to break into this sanc¬ 
tuary reserved for himself and his intimates, and some¬ 
times for himself alone. For it was for him one of the 
attractions of this retreat that he could, when he chose, 
be alone with himself and his own thoughts. “More 
than irksome, it is demoralising to live always under the 
necessity of having to speak and be spoken to, to smile 
and look pleasant. Companionship is good, but soli¬ 
tude is best. 3 ’ In this abode, right in the heart of the 
hurly-burly, he could find solitude. 

There are readers of this book who will be grateful 
for the following picture of Hardie in his London retreat 
as limned by himself on one of his nights of solitariness 
when he had it all to himself. Incidentally, also, it is 
somewhat self-revealing. “These jottings are made 
this week” (“Labour Leader,” June 21st, 1902) “in 
the silence and solitude of my London mansion, which is 
the envy of all who have seen it. Outside, the barking 
of a dog is the only sound which disturbs the clammy 
night air. Despite an eighth of an acre of sloping roof, 
the Toms and Tabbies keep a respectful silence. 
Within, a fire burns cheerily, and the kettle sings on the 
hob. The flickering candlelight throws on to the walls 
quavering shadows from the tall, white-edged and 
yellow-breasted marguerites (horse gowans), the red 


NEVILL’S COURT 


seeding stalks of the common sorrel, the drooping yellow 
buttercups and the graceful long grasses which fill two 
graceful gilt measures and a brown mottoed beer jug. 
Here and there big purple bells and ruby roses lend a 
touch of needed colour. From the top of the tea caddy 
in the middle shelf within the deep recesses of the ingle 
nook, the dual face of Ralph Waldo Emerson, fashioned 
by the skilful hands of Sydney H. Morse, farmer, 
philosopher, sculptor, Socialist, looks sternly philoso¬ 
phic from his right eye across at Walt Whitman—a 
plaque containing a perfect replica of whose features 
from the same master-hand hangs opposite—whilst with 
his left eye the genial philosopher winks roguishly at 
Robert Burns in his solitary corner near the window. 
Florence Grove lives in the two pictures which adorn the 
wall, as does Caroline Martyn in the transparency for 
which I was long ago indebted to our energetic com¬ 
rade, Swift, of Leeds, whilst big, warm-hearted Larner 
Sugden’s presence can be felt in the little oak table with 
its quaint carvings. Yes, my mansion is perfect. The 
spirits of the living and the dead whom I revere are 
here. Let the scoffers and the Dyke Lashmars sneer 
(referring, of course, to the character of that name in 
Gissing’s book). To me it is as much a fact that this 
room was built for me hundreds of years ago as if 
Robert Williams had drawn the plans to my orders, 
and A. J. Penty superintended the erection of the build¬ 
ing. From which it will be inferred that the primitive 
instincts of the race are still strong in me. And now, 
as Big Ben has tolled one, and the dog has ceased to 
bark, I will smoke one pipe more, and then to bed.” 

The beginning of June brought the end of the South 
African War, which had lasted nearly three years 
instead of the two or three months which it was expected 
would be sufficient for the subjugation of the Boers. 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Elardie, and with him the I.L.P., had never swerved 
in opposing the British policy, and week by week, both 
by speech and pen, he had supported the Boers in their 
resistance to the superior military power of Great 
Britain. He regarded such resistance not only as 
patriotic from the Burghers’ point of view, but as a 
service to humanity in its necessary struggle against 
capitalist Imperialism, and he was fain to discern in the 
terms of settlement some guarantee for the development 
of a united democracy in South Africa. Whether or not 
his hopes have been justified, or will yet be justified, 
does not lie within the province of this book to say. That 
chapter of history is not closed even yet. 

With the end of the war there came a marked abate¬ 
ment in the jingo-fostered prejudice which had pre¬ 
vented Hardie and his colleagues from getting, even 
amongst the working classes, a fair hearing for their 
advocacy of the principle of Labour representation. 
They were not now so frequently assailed with the epi¬ 
thet “pro-Boer,” and even that epithet, when applied, 
had come to have a less malignant interpretation in the 
minds of men who were beginning to perceive that under 
the new regime South Africa was not likely to become 
the paradise for British labour which had been promised. 
The importation of cheap Central African native labour, 
and the whisperings already heard of the possible intro¬ 
duction of even cheaper and more servile Chinese 
labour, helped to confirm the contentions so persistently 
urged by Hardie and his colleagues on hundreds of 
platforms, that the war was a capitalists’ war, fought in 
the interests of mineowners and financiers. 

There was, for a time, a decided falling away of 
patnotic fervoui on the part of the working classes 
accelerated by a steady increase in the number of un¬ 
employed, accompanied, as usual, by an equally steady 

192 


A CAPITALISTS’ WAR 


decrease in wages. To many it seemed as if the 
employing classes had utilised the war distractions 
to consolidate and strengthen their own position. 
New combinations of employers had been formed, alike 
in the coal trade, the steel trade and the textile trade, 
which, taken together with the law-court attacks upon 
the workers’ right of combination, had all the appearance 
of deliberate and well-conceiv.ed class war. In this 
atmosphere of chronic discontent the argument for the 
attainment of political power became more and more 
acceptable to organised labour, while the indifference of 
both the Liberal and the Tory Parties convinced many 
that such power could only be achieved through the Inde¬ 
pendent Labour Party. The unopposed return of David 
Shackleton, of the textile workers, at the by-election at 
Clitheroe was the first electoral expression of a change 
of outlook on the part of trade unionists, the textile 
workers having been hitherto amongst the most con¬ 
servative sections of the workers. Shackleton was not 
a Socialist, but he stood definitely as an independent 
L.R.C. candidate, and there was significance in the fact 
that the only opponent whom the Liberals could even 
venture to suggest was Mr. Philip Stanhope, who had 
been an out and out opponent of the war. There was 
good reason for regarding this election, not only as a 
victory for Labour, but as symptomatic of a reaction 
from Imperialism. 

Hardie continued to be active both with speech and 
pen, and did not seem to reckon with the effects of the 
emotional and mental strain which recent events had 
imposed upon him. Probably economic considerations 
as much as anything else prevented him from taking 
the rest which was now due, for the “Labour Leader,” 
though again increasing in circulation, was not prosper¬ 
ing financially, and he had difficulties in making ends 


193 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

meet which were not revealed except to very close con¬ 
fidants whose lips were sealed on these matters. A 
prize drawing, originated by some friends to aid the 
funds of the paper, was not very successful, and only 
served to show that all was not well. 

In September, with Mrs. Hardie, he took a short 
holiday in the West Highlands, the rest-value of which 
he spoilt by addressing a meeting at Ballachulish, where 
a long drawn out dispute between the quarrymen and 
their employers was in progress, the details of which 
had been written up in the “Labour Leader” by the 
present writer. In November he was medically advised 
that the only alternative to a serious breakdown was 
that he should go away for a complete rest. He went 
for a week or two to the Continent, where he had some 
experiences which were anything but restful. He was 
present at a duel in Paris in which M. Gerault Richard, 
Socialist deputy and editor of “La Petite Republique,” 
was one of the principals. He found excitement in the 
ferociously elaborate preparations, and much amusement 
in the innocuous outcome thereof. He was persuaded 
to visit the opera, and, to satisfy Parisian etiquette, bor¬ 
rowed a friend’s dress suit, probably his first and last 
appearance in such apparel. In Brussels, he was arrested 
on suspicion of being an Anarchist and detained for 
several hours until he could show that he was a Member 
of the British Parliament and in no way connected with 
the underworld individual who had recently exploded 
some blank cartridges in the vicinity of the King of the 
Belgians. It was a good holiday with plenty of change 
of air, scenery and circumstance, but decidedly not 
restful. 

He got back to London just before the Christmas 
rising of the House, and signalised his return by 
endeavouring to have the question of the unemployed 


194 


THE UNEMPLOYED 


discussed on the motion for adjournment. He was 
prevented, however, from doing so by the Speaker’s 
ruling, a decision which he characterised as an infringe¬ 
ment of ‘‘the unquestioned right of members of the 
House of Commons from time immemorial.” Before 
going to bed he wrote a long letter to the press which 
appeared in “The Times” and several other London 
papers the next morning. In this he demonstrated from 
Board of Trade statistics and trade union returns that 
the number of unemployed workers in the country was 
not less than half-a-million, and that the consequent 
wide-spread distress called for immediate remedial 
measures by Parliament. And so ended a year which, 
for him, had been full of stress and distress, but not 
without hope and encouragement for the cause he had 
at heart. 

With the opening of the New Year there came a change 
in the staff of the “Labour Leader” which must be 
noted. David Lowe ceased to be assistant editor, a 
position which he had held almost ever since the paper 
was started as a weekly. Hardie said, in a farewell note : 
“His graceful writings and his business capacity have 
done much to win for the ‘Leader’ such measure of suc¬ 
cess as it has attained.” David Lowe, alike by his 
distinctive quality as a writer and his close connection 
with the “Leader” in its early years of struggle, has his 
rank among the personalities of the British Socialist 
movement. His place on the “Leader” was filled by 
another Dundee man, Mr. W. F. Black, a journalist of 
experience, who, having become a convinced Socialist, 
found it impossible to continue as sub-editor of the 
Liberal “Dundee Advertiser,” the more especially as 
he had been recently selected as Labour candidate for 
Dundee. 

As the weeks passed, the unemployed problem 

195 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


assumed more serious dimensions, the discharged soldiers 
from South Africa helping to swell the already formidable 
army of workless folk. On Friday and Saturday, Feb¬ 
ruary 22nd and 23rd, an Unemployed Conference was 
held at the Guildhall, London, attended by 587 delegates 
from town councils, corporations and Labour organisa¬ 
tions, testifying to the nation-wide concern created by 
the existing distress. At the various sessions of the Con¬ 
ference the chairmen were Sir Albert Rollit, M.P., Mr. 
Wilson, Lord Mayor of Sheffield, and Keir Hardie, no 
longer standing isolated and alone, as in bygone years. 
At this Conference, Sir John Gorst first mooted the idea 
of local labour employment bureaux, with a central clear¬ 
ing house, now so familiar as a part of our administrative 
mechanism. It should be said, however, that Sir John 
suggested these only as palliatives, and declared that 
“though the symptoms of social disorder were periodic, 
the disorder itself was chronic”—which was equivalent 
to saying that it was inherent in the capitalist system. 

Hardie, as was his custom when there was a chance 
of getting some practical work done, refrained from much 
speaking. He moved “that the responsibility for finding 
work for the unemployed should be undertaken jointly by 
the Local Authorities and by the Central Government, 
and that such legislation should be introduced as would 
empower both central and local authorities to deal 
adequately with the problem.” Other resolutions along 
the same line were adopted, including one by George N. 
Barnes, which, if it had effectively materialised, might 
have given the Conference some real and lasting value. 
“That a permanent national organisation be formed to 
give effect to the decisions of the Conference, and that 
the Provisional Committee be re-appointed with power 
to add to its number”—so it ran. 

This Conference was important chiefly as a symptom— 

196 





J. Keir Hardie in his Room at Nevill’s Court, London 

The Union Jack flag was captured from the Jingo mob which attacked his meeting at Johannesburg 















THE UNEMPLOYED 


a sign that the “condition of the people” question was 
at last troubling society. Parliament remained wholly 
unresponsive, and this period of distress, like so many of 
its predecessors, had to find its only amelioration in soup 
kitchens, stoneyards, and local relief works, which, as 
hitherto, provided a minimum of useless work at pauper 
wages. Such bodies as the Salvation Army and the 
Church Army found a vocation in distributing charity. 

Even in this work Hardie took a hand, and he has 
related pathetically and with a kind of sad humour, some 
of his experiences delivering Salvation Army tickets in 
Fleet Street and on the Embankment. Not infrequently 
he spent his two hours beyond midnight, after the House 
had risen, assisting at one or other of the Salvation Army 
shelters, thus repeating, under more heart-breaking con¬ 
ditions, the kind of work he had performed in his own 
Lanarkshire village, twenty-four years earlier. The 
worst thing about it was the fatalistic patience of the 
sufferers. In Lanarkshire, the men and women were at 
least fighting. These crowds of helpless atoms had no 
fight in them. 

All this time he was toiling like a galley-slave on the 
propaganda platform. Thus, on one Friday in March, 
we find him speaking in Browning Hall, London, on 
Saturday attending a National Council meeting in Man¬ 
chester, the same night addressing a Labour Church 
social meeting in Bolton, on the Sunday speaking in 
the open air at Farnworth (in March, remember) and at 
night in the Exchange Hall at Blackburn. On the Mon¬ 
day he was present at a joint committee in Westminster 
on the new Trade Union Bill, and, in the evening, he 
addressed a meeting in Willesden. And he was not in 
good health. He was literally giving his life for the 
cause. Besides, in the “Labour Leader” he was writ¬ 
ing more than ever before. 


o 


197 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


At the I.L.P. conference, held at York, several 
changes occurred in the National Council. J. Bruce 
Glasier retired from the chairmanship, having held the 
position for three years, and Philip Snowden was 
unanimously elected in his place. Isabella O. Ford 
found a place on the Council, the Party thus expressing 
in a practical way its belief in sex equality. John Penny, 
who was entering into business on his own account, 
retired from the secretaryship, having given invaluable 
services to the Party through an exceedingly critical 
period of its history. His place was filled subsequently 
by the present secretary, Francis Johnson. 

It may be well to note the complete personnel of 
the N.A.C. at this juncture: Chairman, Philip Snow¬ 
den; Treasurer, T. D. Benson; members of Council, J. 
Ramsay MacDonald, J. Keir Hardie, J. Bruce Glasier, 
James Parker, Isabella O. Ford, and Fred Jowett. All, 
save Hardie and Glasier, are still, at the time of 
writing, alive, and all except Parker have remained 
loyal to the I.L.P. T. D. Benson retired from the 
treasurership only last year. It was due largely to his 
wise counsel and business-like handling of the Party’s 
finances that it was able with such limited resources to 
do so much effective work in the political field. He 
guided the Party more than once through a veritable sea 
of financial troubles. The friendship between him and 
Hardie was something more than a mere political com¬ 
radeship and seemed to be the outcome of a natural 
affinity between the two men. 

Though Parliament did not respond legislatively to 
the claims of the unemployed, it would not be true to 
say that these claims found no reflection in the political 
world. In March, Will Crooks was returned for Wool¬ 
wich, and in July, Arthur Henderson was elected for 
Barnard Castle, and in both contests the unemployed 

198 


I 


FREE TRADE 


problem was a prominent, if not a determining, factor. 
Both candidates had signed the L.R.C. declaration, and 
their success, in the one case against a Tory and in the 
other against both a Liberal and a Tory, was decidedly 
disconcerting to the orthodox party politicians, who, 
with a general election once more in view, had to find 
some kind of a political programme applicable or adapt¬ 
able to the social conditions. 

The great fiscal controversy re-emerged out of the 
discontents of the people and the opportunism of the 
statesmen. Mr. Chamberlain produced his scheme of 
colonial preference, and in doing so provided .both his 
own party and the Liberals with a cause of quarrel cal¬ 
culated to distract the attention of the electorate from 
the new Labour Party organisation, and re-establish the 
old party lines of division. Before the end of the year 
there had developed a raging, tearing platform war be¬ 
tween Liberals and Unionists on the old “Protection 
versus Free Trade” issue, by means of which both 
parties hoped to rally the workers, behind them. Mr. 
Chamberlain urged—we must believe with all sin¬ 
cerity—that in his proposals lay the guarantee against 
that foreign competition which was supposed to be the 
main cause of dull trade and therefore of unemploy¬ 
ment, and that with this security of employment would 
come good wages. He suggested further that the Tariff 
imposts would provide funds for Old Age Pensions. 
On a question of this kind, the new Labour Party could 
not by reason alike of its economic principles and of its 
hopes for international goodwill, avoid taking the Free 
Trade side, and the danger was that by doing so it 
would lose its identity and become merged in the Liberal 
Party. Hardie was quick to descry both the Chamber- 
lain fallacy, and the Free Trade tactical pitfalls. “I 
am no fetish worshipper of Free Trade in the abstract,” 


199 


J. KEIR HARD IE 


he said, “but I know enough of economics and of his¬ 
tory to convince me that the only outcome of Chamber¬ 
lain’s proposals would be to add enormously to the cost 
of living, without any prospect whatever of wages 
getting correspondingly advanced. The dislocation of 
trade that would follow any attempt to set up a Zoll- 
verein would throw large masses of men out of employ¬ 
ment, which again would react in the lowering of wages. 
Protection may protect rent and interest, but for the 
worker, under a competitive system, there is no protec¬ 
tion save that which the law gives him. It is to be 
hoped, all the same, that organised Labour will not be 
led into a mere Free Trade campaign at the heels of 
the Cobden Club. A constructive industrial policy is 
demanded, and the opportunity is one that should not 
be wasted of proving that Labour can be creative in 
legislation as well as destructive in criticism.” 

Naturally, it was left to the I.L.P. to formulate and 
give publicity to Labour’s alternative constructive 
policy, which, as was to be expected, took the form of 
a series of definitely Socialist proposals of a practical 
kind. An extensive platform campaign was arranged 
and successful demonstrations held in all the large 
towns and industrial centres, at which were emphasised 
the failure of protection in other countries to relieve or 
extenuate tfie poverty of the workers, and the equal 
failure of Free Trade in this country to give security of 
employment or improve social conditions. The workers 
were asked “to assist in returning Labour Members to 
Parliament for the purpose of promoting legislation to 
nationalise the mines, railways, and other industrial 
monopolies, in order that the wealth created may be 
shared by the community, and not be for the advantage 
of the rich and idle classes.” 

MacDonald (who had written for the Party a book 


200 


ILLNESS 


critically examining the Chamberlain proposals for an 
Imperial Zollverein) Snowden, Jowett, Barnes, Glasier, 
and most of the leading men and women of the I.L.P. 
took part in these meetings, but, alas, Hardie was not 
amongst them. By the time the campaign commenced 
he was out of the firing-line. Whilst in Wales ampngst 
his constituents, he was taken dangerously ill. The 
long-threatened, long-evaded collapse had come, and he 
had to give in. 

The trouble was diagnosed as appendicitis, and the 
doctors decided that an operation was necessary if his 
life was to be saved. He himself well knew that loss of 
life might be one of the consequences of the operation, 
and though he took it quite calmly, the same know¬ 
ledge sent fear into the hearts of all his friends and 
right throughout the Socialist movement in this country 
and in other lands. The highest surgical and medical 
skill was secured, and there was something like a sigh 
of relief when it was made known that the operation 
had been successful. Nor was the expression of 
sympathy confined to the Socialist movement. People 
of every shade of political opinion, and in every grade 
of society, found ways and means of showing their good¬ 
will. The messages of sympathy included one from 
Major Banes, his former opponent at West Ham, and 
one from King Edward, who had recently undergone a 
similar ordeal. For the time being political enmities 
were—with some few vulgar exceptions—forgotten, and 
it was generally recognised that this Labour leader was 
in some respects a national possession whose character 
and work reflected credit, not only upon the class from 
which he had sprung, but upon the nation of which he was 
a citizen. A prominent Liberal official wrote, on the eve 
of the operation : £ £ Forgive me if I seem to be impertinent 
in forcing myself upon your notice at a time when you 


201 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


have more than enough of vastly more important matters 
to fill your mind and time. But I am sincerely anxious 
that all will go well with you to-morrow. Never was 
there a moment in the recent history of our country when 
your great powers were more needed in the field of active 
strife than now. I heartily pray that the operation may 
be in every way successful.” John Burns’s letter was 
characteristic :—- 

“Dear Hardie, 

“I am pleased to hear you have come through the 
operation successfully. This illness ought to be a warn¬ 
ing to you, and to others similarly engaged who do not 
realise the wear and tear of such a life as ours. Get 
well, take a rest, and when recovered ‘tak a thocht and 
mend.’ With best wishes for your speedy recovery, the 
forcible expropriation of your pipe, a freedom from 
articles, and an immunity from ‘Marxian’ for three 
months. 

“Yours sincerely, 

“John Burns.” 

The process of recovery was very slow, and was not 
accelerated by his own haste to get on his legs again. 
He spent several seemingly convalescent weeks in a 
nursing home at Falmouth, and managed to get home 
to Cumnock for the New Year. “Marxian,” of the 
“Labour Leader,” who met him in London on Christ¬ 
mas Eve, wrote : “All Keir’s genuine friends should still 
insist that he should continue his rest from active work 
until at least the return of spring. He ought really to 
be banished to the Mediterranean till July next. As it 
is, he is going on to Scotland and he talks of doing some 
platforming before the end of January. Anyone who is 
aiding and abetting this sort of thing might be more 
eligibly employed stopping rat holes.” 


202 


ILLNESS 


His Christmas message in the “Labour Leader” was 
of the nature of an official iarewell as editor and pro¬ 
prietor. In the first week of the New Year the paper 
passed into the control of the I.L.P. and became the 
official Party organ, thus fulfilling the original intention 
of its founder, though the date of the transference was 
doubtless determined by his illness. “From the first,” 
he wrote, “it has been my intention that the paper should 
one day become the property of the Independent Labour 
Party. That, however, I thought would be when I was 
no more. The thought of parting with it is like consent¬ 
ing to the loss of a dearly loved child. But circum¬ 
stances are always bigger than personal feelings. I have 
no longer the spring and elasticity of a few years ago, 
and that means that the pressure of work and worry 
must be somewhat relaxed. But, and this is really the 
deciding factor, the interests of the Party require that it 
should possess its own paper. The events of the past 
twelve months have borne this fact in upon me with irre¬ 
sistible force. And so, subject to the fixing of a few 
unimportant details, the Labour Leader will pass with 
this issue into the ownership and control of the I.L.P. 
Time was when this would have been a risky experiment. 
Now, with the Party organised and consolidated as it is, 
the risk is reduced to a minimum. For the I.L.P. is no 
longer a mixed assortment of job lots. It is an organisa¬ 
tion in the truest sense of that much misused worci. 

Running through this good-bye note there is a discern- 
able a note of regret that the good-bye should have been 
necessary. The “Labour Leader” was one of his tangi¬ 
ble achievements. Something concrete, something he 
could lay his hands upon and say,' this is of my creation. 
He had put the stamp of his own character upon it, and 
his whole soul into it. “What it has cost me to keep 
it going no one will ever know, and few be able even to 


203 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


remotely guess. But it has kept going, and now the 
Party takes it over as a self-supporting, going concern. 
I am proud of the fact.” He paid full tribute to those 
who had helped. So numerous were they that only a 
few could be singled out—“Marxian,” “who has never 
quailed, and even now would like to see the thing go 
on on personal lines”; W. F. Black, “who, before he 
joined the staff, gave much valuable voluntary help, and 
came on to the paper at considerable pecuniary sacrifice” ; 
his brother David, “who has been literally a pillar and a 
mainstay. Had he not been there, the main actors would 
long ago have had to succumb”; David Lowe, “whose 
services and talents were freely given at a time 
when they were much needed”; William Stewart 
(Gavroche), “who has made his sign manual a passport 
to the close attention of every thoughtful reader.” 

_ Of course, the change did not, by any means, involve 
his complete severance from the direction of the affairs 
of the paper. As a member of the N.A.C., he had his 
share with the others in the control of its policy, and his 
counsel had, naturally, much weight. He still continued 
to be its most valued contributor, and through all his 
remaining years he found in the “Labour Leader” his 
chief medium for the expression of his convictions on all 
public questions. At this particular juncture, relief from 
editorial and financial responsibility was the best thing 
for him that could have happened. His recovery was 
slow and rest was imperative. During the early months 
of 1904, he spent most of his time at home in Cumnock, 
with occasional visits to Glasgow and Edinburgh. On 
these occasions he was to be found either amongst the 
second-hand bookshops adding to his collection of Scot¬ 
tish Ballad literature, or in companionship with congenial 
friends whose doors and whose hearts were always open 
to him. William Martin Haddow and Alexander Gil- 


204 


ILLNESS 


christ in Glasgow, the Rev. John Glasse and Mr. John 
Young in Edinburgh, and many others besides, had 
each their fireside corner ready for “Keir,” and he, on 
his part, had never any difficulty in making himself as 
one of the family. 

At home in Cumnock he had his family around him 
as 1 he and they had never been before. He had his 
books, and his garden, and his dog, and, of couise, his 
pipe, and when the weather favoured his strolls through 
the collier “raws,” he could fight the early battles over 
again amongst old comrades. Occasionally there was a 
day’s tramp across the moors towards Glenbuck, or over 
the hills towards Dalmellington. But, withal, he rallied 
back to health very, very slowly. He had been too near 
death’s door, and the winter weather in Scotland is not 
favourable to convalescence. 

So, as the spring advanced, he, with some reluctance, 
agreed that a complete change of air and scene was 
essential. Thus it came about that early in March he 
was en route for the Riviera, via F ranee and Switzer¬ 
land, with J. R. MacDonald as his companion on the 
first stages of his journey. 

It was his first holiday free from political or 
propagandist objective, and he enjoyed it thoroughly, 
especially the last month, spent entirely at Bordighera, 
which he described as “the most charming spot in the 
Riviera,” an impression due perhaps in some degree to 
the human companionship which he found there. 

“At Bordighera I was met by the Gentle Prince of 
the Golden Locks, and conducted to his marble- 
pillared palace, with its beautiful arched and vaulted 
ceilings and tiled floors. There I met the Boy Corsair 
of the Kaurie Hand—a stalwart viking, a true son of 
the sea—and the Bold Brigand of the Mountains, to all 
of whom I owe much. In plain language, they are 

205 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


two young artists and a poet, all striving after the real 
and true in life and living. There also came Africanus 
Brown, the Good Physician, who literally brought 
healing in his presence. The memory of Bordighera 
and its warm hearts will long remain fresh and green 
with me.” 

Week by week during these three months he contri¬ 
buted to the “Labour Leader” descriptive sketches of 
his experiences and impressions which, of course, can¬ 
not even be summarised here. They would still bear 
reproduction in book form. There are “men of letters” 
whose literary fame is built upon foundations almost as 
slender. 

At Mentone he had an interview with the exiled 
ex-President Kruger and “was impressed with the 
stately dignity of the man, an exile from the land he 
loves so well and from the people whom he has welded 
into a nation.” 

June had begun when he returned home, much 
the better for his holiday, but even then not fully 
restored to health. “Keir Hardie,” one parliamentary 
correspondent wrote, on June 24th, “is back again this 
week, but though he looks well, we are all sorry to hear 
that he is not so well as he looks.” 

Nevertheless, he had come back to work, though for 
the next two years more outside of the House than 
inside. 

For the first time since the I.L.P. was formed, he 
was absent from its annual conference, held this year 
at Cardiff. There was universal and sincere regret for 
his absence, but also general agreement that in the 
circumstances the Riviera was a better place for hi'm 
than South Wales. He was, as a matter of course, re¬ 
elected to the N.A.C. Mrs. Pankhurst was also amongst 
the successful candidates, thus adding one more force- 

206 


ILLNESS 


ful personality to a body already fairly well equipped 
with such. Mrs. Pankhurst, who had been a member 
of the Party since its formation, was now beginning her 
special activities in the Women’s Suffrage movement 
and made no secret of her intention to subordinate all 
other aims to its furtherance. Subsequent develop¬ 
ments make it necessary to note this fact. 


20 7 


CHAPTER NIJ^E 

THE CLASS WAR IN THEORY AND PRACTICE 

B EFORE many months were over, Hardie was 
back again on the Continent, not this time in 
search of health, but to play his part in the Inter¬ 
national Congress at Amsterdam. It was said at the 
time that the Amsterdam Congress would be historical 
because of the great debate on international Socialist 
tactics. That is true, but not in the sense anticipated. 
Probably, the real historical interest in the Amsterdam 
Congress lies in the fact that it revealed deep schisms 
within the “International” itself which rendered that 
body wholly impotent when the supreme testing time 
came ten years later. These divisions were most evident 
amongst the delegates from France and Germany, the 
two countries where Socialism had been most successful 
in its efforts for Parliamentary representation. 

In France, one section, led by Jaures, on the ground 
that the Republic was in danger and that clericalism 
was an ever-active menace to democracy, had been sup¬ 
porting the Anti-Clerical Ministry, though Jaures him¬ 
self never took office. Another section, led by Jules 
Guesde, was opposed to any appearance of alliance with 
the Government. In Germany, the critical examination 
of Marx by Bernstein had been causing trouble, and the 
German Party at its annual conference in Dresden the 
previous year, had by an overwhelming vote condemned 
what it called Revisionist tendencies. At the 
Amsterdam Congress the German Party and the French 

208 


THE CLASS WAR 


Guesdists joined forces to make the German resolu¬ 
tion international and applicable to Socialists in all 
countries without regard apparently to differing circum¬ 
stances, political, economic, or historical. In reality 
the resolution was aimed at Jaures and his section. It 
declared the class war to be ever increasing in virulence 
and condemned Revisionist tendencies and Jaures 
tactics. Bebel, Kautsky, Jaures, Adler, Vandervelde, 
MacDonald, all took part in this debate. It was a 
veritable battle of giants, and for that reason, memor¬ 
able to those who were present. We are only concerned, 
however, with the attitude of Hardie and the I.L.P. 
towards this question of Socialist tactics. The I.L.P. 
was, in its own tactics, as much opposed as the Germans 
and the Guesdists to Socialist participation in capi¬ 
talist governments, but it had neVer affirmed that such 
tactics should be universally applicable nor, even in 
any one country, unalterable. In the case under debate, 
its delegates to the Congress held that the Socialist 
movement in each country must decide what its tactics 
should be, that any attempt by the International Con¬ 
gress to prescribe a given line of action would settle 
nothing, and that, indeed, in any country where 
Socialists themselves were strongly divided on the 
matter, such an attempt would only tend to deepen 
the division. . As a matter of fact, there was a strong 
desire amongst the rank and file of the French Socialists 
for unity, and Jaures having been defeated by but the 
smallest majority, no resentment was caused by the 
debate and vote. The immediate result was to unite 
the French Party and make possible for it those years 
of political success with which the name of Jaures will 
be for ever associated. The result in Germany was nil. 
The controversy between the orthodox Marxian and the 
Revisionist continued and produced barrenness. 


209 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Moreover, the I.L.P. had never accepted the class 
war as an essential dogma of Socialist faith, and its 
delegates could not support a resolution embodying 
that dogma. In the British section, which comprised 
delegates from the I.L.P., the L.R.C., the S.D.F. and 
the Fabians, and over which Hardie presided, all this 
had to be debated with a view to deciding on which 
side the votes of the section would be cast, and there 
were stormy scenes within the section as well as in the 
Congress. In the end, there was some kind of com¬ 
promise, and the vote of the section was given in favour 
of an amendment by Vandervelde, of Belgium, and 
Adler, of Austria, which, whilst affirming the whole 
doctrine of Socialism and accepting the Kautsky reso¬ 
lutions as determining the tactics of the movement, left 
out those portions which condemned revision. This 
amendment was defeated, but, as was afterwards pointed 
out, by the votes of nations which either had no par¬ 
liamentary system, or no strong Labour Party in 
Parliament. The only European nations having 
parliamentary institutions which voted against it were 
Germany and Italy. “This,” said Hardie, “is a fact of 
the first significance and indicates clearly what the future 
has in store for the movement. 5 ’ Some part of that future 
has already disclosed itself. The attempt to find a com¬ 
mon measure of tactics for countries so widely separated 
in industrial and political development as Russia and 
Germany, or Russia and Great Britain, is doomed to 
failure. Tactics must be determined by circumstances 
and events. 

There were two incidents in connection with this Con¬ 
ference of perhaps even greater significance than the 
debate on tactics. One was the public handshaking of the 
delegates from Japan and Russia, whose countries were at 
that time at war. The other was the appearance for the 


210 


THE CLASS WAR 


first time at an international congress of a representative 
from India, in the person of Naoroji, who delivered a 
strong indictment of British methods of government in 
India. 

A sequel to the Congress was the necessity which it 
imposed upon Hardie of stating more clearly than ever 
before his views on the question of political tactics, and 
also on the question of the Class War. On the former, 
it will be best to give his own words. The following 
quotation from an article which he contributed to 
the “Nineteenth Century” will serve the purpose : “The 
situation, as revealed by the voting at Amsterdam is this. 
Wherever free Parliamentary institutions exist, and 
where Socialism has attained the status of being recog¬ 
nised as a Party, dogmatic absolutism is giving way 
before the advent of a more practical set of working 
principles. The schoolman is being displaced by the 
statesman. No hard and fast rule can be laid down for 
the application of the new methods, but generally speak¬ 
ing, where the Socialist propaganda has so far succeeded 
as to have built up a strong party in the state, and where 
the ties which kept the older parties together have so 
far been dissolved that there is no longer an effective 
Reform Party remaining, there the Socialists may be 
expected to lend their aid in erecting a new combination 
of such progressive forces as give an intellectual assent 
to Socialism, and are prepared to co-operate in waging 
war against reaction and in rallying the forces of demo¬ 
cracy. When this can be done so as in no way to impair 
the freedom of action of a Socialist party, or to blur the 
vision of the Socialist ideal, it would appear as if the 
movement had really no option but to accept its share 
of the responsibility of guiding the State. Then, just 
in proportion as Socialism grows, so will the influence of 
the representatives in the national councils increase, and 


2 11 


y* 

▼ * 

]. KEIR HARD 1 E 

the world may wake up some morning to find that 
Socialism has come.” 

Complementary to the foregoing statement must be 
taken his almost simultaneous declaration in the “Labour 
Leader,” that he could not conceive of any set of circum¬ 
stances as likely to arise in his lifetime which would lead 
him to agree to an alliance with any Party then existing. 
“In Great Britain, for the present, there is no alternative 
to a rigid independence.” 

This declaration occurred in “An Indictment of the 
Class War,” which extended through two articles in the 
“Leader.” In this “indictment” he maintained that to 
claim for the Socialist movement that'it is a “class war” 
dependent upon its success upon the the “class con¬ 
sciousness” of one section of the community, was doing 
Socialism an injustice and indefinitely postponing its 
triumph. It was, he said, in fact, lowering it to the level 
of a faction fight. He objected to the principle of 
Socialism being overlaid by dogmatic interpretation. He 
agreed, of course, that there was a conflict of interests 
between those who own property and those who work 
for wages, but contended that it was the object of 
Socialism to remove the causes which produced this 
antagonism. “Socialism,” he said, “makes war upon 
a system, not upon a class,” and one of the dangers of 
magnifying the class war dogma was that it led men’s 
minds away from the true nature of the struggle. “The 
working class,” he said, “is not a class. It is a nation”; 
and, “it is a degradation of the Socialist movement to 
drag it down to the level of a mere struggle for supremacy 
between two contending factions.” He quoted Belfort Bax 
as saying that “mere class instinct which is anti-social, 
can never give us Socialism,” and he referred to Jaures 
as declaring that out of 49,000,000 people in France, 
not 200,000 were class-conscious Socialists, and to Lieb- 


213 


THE CLASS WAR 


knecht as saying the same thing about Germany, and he 
queried, “When are the proletarians to become class 
conscious?” He deduced from these facts, and from 
the philosophic arguments of Bax and Morris, that 
“Socialism would come, not by a war of classes, but by 
economic circumstances forcing the workers into a revolt 
which will absorb the middle class and thus wipe out 
classes altogether.” 

Speaking of the “Communist Manifesto,” upon which 
the class war dogma is said to be based, he quoted the 
statement of Engels, one of its authors, that “the prac¬ 
tical application of the principles of the manifesto will 
depend on the historical conditions for the time being 
existing,” and he recalled that the famous document was 
written in 1847, “when Europe was a seething mass of 
revolutionary enthusiasm.” 

Of the manifesto itself, he contended that, however 
correct it might be as a form of words, it was lacking 
in feeling and could not now be defended as being 
scientifically correct, inasmuch as the materialist theory 
therein expounded made no allowance for the law of 
growth or development. He agreed that the emancipa¬ 
tion of the working class must be the act of the working 
class itself, but contended that in this country the 
workers had already politically the power to free them¬ 
selves, and that it was the ignorance of the workers which 
hindered the spread of Socialism. That ignor¬ 
ance we were now called upon to attack with every 
weapon at our command, and it was because the class 
war dogma led the workers to look outside themselves 
for the causes which perpetuated their misery that he 
opposed its being made a leading feature ifi Socialist 
propaganda. That Socialism was revolutionary was 
indisputable, but he maintained that reformative im¬ 
provements in the workers’ conditions did not necessarily 


P, 


213 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


weaken the revolutionary purpose of Socialism. He 
denied that revolution required the violent overthrow 
of the bourgeoisie by open war. “No revolution can 
succeed which has not public opinion behind it, and 
when that opinion ripens, it, as we have seen over and 
over again, breaks down even the walls of self-interest.” 

Naturally, this “indictment” provoked a storm of 
controversy within the movement. In this controversy 
Hardie did not again intervene. He had defined his 
attitude towards the class war theory, and he left it at 
that. Theoretical disputation amongst Socialists was 
distasteful to him. He was always more in his element 
fighting the avowed enemies of Socialism than in 
quarrelling with its friends. Even in fighting its enemies 
his desire was, if it were possible, to make friends of 
them, and in this he was not always; unsuccessful. 

There was no lack of problems, political and social, 
calling for immediate attention—problems the equitable 
solution of which meant the removal of obstacles in the 
path towards Socialism. Amongst these, the question 
of political sex-equality was one of the most important, 
and was now nearing the stage when Parliament could 
not neglect it much longer. This question illustrated, 
though he never used it in that way, Hardie’s conten¬ 
tions concerning the class war. The vote was demanded, 
not for working women only, but for all women, 
irrespective of class. It is true that a strong argument 
in its favour was the large place now occupied by 
women in the industrial field, their share in the staple 
trade of Lancashire being specially cited as proof of 
their right to the vote, but sex equality was and has 
always been the basis of the demand for women’s suf¬ 
frage. Political equality with men had been demanded 
not on the grounds of special industrial or social 
service, but as a common citizen right. Yet in the very 


214 


THE CLASS WAR 


fact of agreement on this fundamental principle, there 
lay the germs of a disagreement out of which arose much 
confusion and friction within the suffragist movement 
itself. Political equality with men, but how? By 
pressing for “adult suffrage,” which, of course, included 
both sexes, or by demanding the franchise for women 
on the existing basis for men, namely, household 
franchise. 

The I.L.P., of course, favoured both, political 
equality being inherent in its conception of social 
equality, and the National Council, with a view T to 
securing legislation which would not only enfranchise 
women as householders, but alsb entitle them to 
equality with men in any future extension of the 
franchise, had drafted a Women’s Enfranchisement 
Bill to be introduced by Hardie at the first opportunity. 
As this is a matter of historical interest the text of the 
Bill may be given. It was as follows :— 

“In all Acts relating to the qualification and registra¬ 
tion of persons entitled to vote for the election of 
Members of Parliament, whatever words occur which 
import the masculine gender, shall be held to include 
women for all purposes connected with and having 
reference to the right to be registered as voters, and to 
vote in such election any law or usage to the contrary 
notwithstanding.” 

There was division of opinion as to the wisdom of 
this line of advance both within the women’s movement 
and within the I.L.P. The Women’s Social and Politi¬ 
cal Union, in which Mrs. Pankhurst was the dominant 
force, favoured the policy embodied in the above Bill, 
which came to be known as the Limited Suffrage Bill. 
The Adult Suffrage League, which included amongst 
its leading members Margaret Bondfieid and Mary 
Macarthur, stood, as its name implies, for nothing short 

215 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


of adult suffrage. Hardie, knowing well that neither 
proposal would be carried without great opposition, 
favoured the “limited” proposal, chiefly for agitational 
purposes. “If,” he said, “the women have a Bill of 
their own, short, simple, and easily understood, and they 
concentrate upon that, even though it should never be 
discussed in Parliament until the general Adult Suffrage 
Bill is reached, they would, by their agitation, have 
created the necessary volume of public opinion to make 
it impossible for politicians to overlook their claims.” 
In the main this was the view held by the Party, and 
adhered to throughout the subsequent stormy period of 
agitation for women’s rights. This storm, however, was 
as yet only brewing. 

More immediate were the threatenings of trouble 
from the growing hosts of unemployed workers. In 
September, Hardie, in Parliament, had called the 
attention of the Government to the fact that the unem¬ 
ployed problem could not be much longer ignored, and 
had, as usual, been assured by Mr. Balfour that “there 
was no evidence of exceptional distress.” Almost imme¬ 
diately, as if in answer to this assertion, the unemployed 
themselves contradicted it with a degree of violence 
reminiscent of the times of the Chartist movement. 
In Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Glas¬ 
gow and most of the big towns, not only were there 
large processions of workless people demanding that 
the civic authorities should take action for their relief, 
but also daily gatherings of these people in public 
places. At Leeds, during one procession, windows 
were broken all along the line of march. On the whole, 
however, the demonstrations were orderly, and, thanks 
largely to the local I.L.P. organisations, which usually 
took control, the unemployed agitation began to assume 
an organised and cohesive character such as had been 

216 


THE UNEMPLOYED 


lacking in previous periods of trade depression. Hardie 
was much in evidence both in the outside agitation and 
in Parliament, and it looked as if the very imminence of 
trouble and the call for leadership had restored him to 
full health and vigour. He declared—referring to the 
trouble at Leeds—that “if Parliament deliberately rules 
these men as being outside its ken, they are justified in 
refusing to be bound by laws made for the protection of 
well-to-do people.” 

By the middle of October, the Government had 
slightly changed its tune, and Mr. Long, the President 
of the Local Government Board, had called a confer¬ 
ence of the Guardians and Borough Councillors of the 
Metropolitan area to consider the situation. This was 
immediately followed up by Hardie with a memorial 
signed by fourteen Members of Parliament asking for 
a special session, and with a pamphlet in which he dealt 
comprehensively with the unemployed problem, detailed 
the powers already possessed by local authorities and 
Boards of Guardians, and made suggestions for their 
immediate utilisation. He. also considered the larger 
question of what the Government itself could do if it 
were willing, and proposed the creation of a new State 
Department with a Minister of Industry, and a new set 
of administrative councils, to initiate work and take 
in charge lands and foreshores, afforestation, building 
harbours of refuge, making new roads, and so on in 
fact, a practical programme of remedies, just falling 
short of Socialism but leading inevitably towards it, and 
proving that he was no dreamer but simply a very 
practical man far in advance of his time. Upon 
this programme the November Municipal Elections 
were fought, and resulted in a considerable increase in 
the number of Labour representatives on Town Coun¬ 
cils throughout the country, a result which was taken 

21 7i 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

as foreshadowing what was likely to happen at the first 
Parliamentary general election. 

All through the winter the agitation continued, and 
contrary to the usual experience, did not slacken off in 
the spring. In April, the Government produced its 
Unemployed Workmen Bill,” and in so doing con¬ 
ceded for the first time the principle for which Hardie 
had fought ever since 1893, the principle of State res¬ 
ponsibility for the unemployment problem. As was to 
be expected, the measure was not of a very drastic 
character. It followed the lines of Mr. Long 5 s sugges¬ 
tions of six months previously, and authorised local 
Councils to set up Distress Committees and Relief 
Committees to be financed by voluntary subscriptions 
and by a local rate not to exceed one penny in the pound 
of assessed rental. Unsatisfactory as the Bill was, 
Hardie recommended that it should be accepted, and 
as far as possible improved m Committee. He knew well 
that its very shortcomings would give rise to further 
discontent and intensify rather than allay the outside 
agitation upon which he mainly relied for forcing the 
local authorities to do something practical, and for ex¬ 
posing the insincerity of the Government. The Liberals, 
when m power, he constantly reminded his audiences, 
had been quite as futile as the Tories in their dealings 
with unemployment. Hardie was undoubtedly, before 
everything else, an agitator, and in this respect was a 
continual puzzle to the Continental Socialists, who 
found difficulty in reconciling his professed rejection of 
the class war theory with what seemed to them his ever 
militant application of it, and when m the autumn the 
Government threatened to withdraw the Unemployment 
Bill, and Hardie made such an uproar in the House as 
compelled them to go on with it, and arrested the atten¬ 
tion of the whole country, the Continental Socialist 

218 




THE UNEMPLOYED 


press was unstinted in its praise of his courage and of 
his tactics,, albeit somewhat mystified by the apparent 
inconsistency of his parliamentary practice with his 
congress professions. He was, in fact, doing as he had 
always done, facing the immediate issue and utilising 
the circumstances of the moment for the purpose of 
far reaching propaganda. 

Agitation with Hardie was almost a fine art, and 
always led on to more agitation, with an objective ever 
beyond. In the present case the objective w r as the 
coming general election. It was to this end that he 
created scenes in the House of Commons over the 
Unemployed Bill and the bludgeoning of unemployed 
demonstrations, rousing to anger the jeering back¬ 
bench Tories by describing them to their faces as “well 
fed beasts.” It was to this end that he, with the I.L.P., 
projected a great series of demonstrations in support of 
the Bill to be held simultaneously all over the country. 
“Public opinion,” he said, “is a manufactured article, 
and represents that amount of agitation and education 
which any given cause has been able to exert upon the 
community.” The devoted and tireless members of the 
I.L.P. had been supplying the agitation and education 
for years. He believed that public opinion was now in 
existence which would establish a substantial Party in 
Parliament at the first opportunity, and he was looking 
forward hopefully to that event. Already he had a 
glimpse of what might be possible with such a Party. 
In these latter months he was no longer fighting single- 
handed and lonely. The new Labour Members, Hen¬ 
derson, Crooks, and Shackleton had been co-operating 
with him loyally and steadily, and his parliamentary 
work had been more congenial than ever before. His 
hopes were high, and he radiated optimism throughout 
the movement. 


219 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

The Unemployment Bill passed, but was rendered 
practically ineffective by the accompanying “Regula¬ 
tions and by the reluctance of local authorities to put 
it into operation, and, as Hardie anticipated, the general 
working-class discontent was intensified. 


220 


CHAPTER TEN 


THE PARLIAMENTARY LABOUR PARTY-PHYSICAL BREAK¬ 
DOWN-ROUND THE WORLD 

HE end of the year brought the opportunity for 



which he and his colleagues had been waiting and 


working. The Government resigned in Decem¬ 
ber, 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 
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-works. 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 


221 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 dash¬ 
ing, 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 interpre¬ 
tation 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 Govern¬ 
ment to press forward either land nationalisation or the 
taxation of land values.” “Labour folks,” he said, 
“will note without enthusiasm that there are seventeen 


222 


THE LABOUR PARTY 


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 neces¬ 
sary, 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 some¬ 
times in crowded halls and stifling schoolrooms, some¬ 
times 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, semed to be making rapid progress. As at pre¬ 
vious elections, however, the local stalwarts, Francis, 
Davies, Morris, Barr—an Ayrshire man settled in 


223 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

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 m the country 
finished their efforts. The election figures were :— 

Thomas (Liberal) ... 12 071 

Hardie IO % 

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 realisa¬ 
tion 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 mem¬ 
bership 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 Lib¬ 
eralism; 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 through¬ 
out the country, he had anticipated the return of these 


224 



THE LABOUR PARTY 


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 uplift¬ 
ing of his class. The presence of that class now in Par¬ 
liament 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 meet¬ 
ings 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 con¬ 
ditions 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 

225 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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, 5 '’ he said, 

Fenianism adapted to modern conditions. It is anti¬ 
political 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 organisa¬ 
tion. 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 col¬ 
leagues with whom to consult. In the last year of the 
previous Parliament, it is true, the co-operation of Hen- 
derspn, Crooks and Shackleton had somewhat lessened 

226 


THE LABOUR PARTY 


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 contin¬ 
uous pressing for the right to work, ultimately compel¬ 
ling the Liberal Party to look for a way out through 
Unemployment Insurance; the forcing of Old Age Pen¬ 
sions—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 Hardie’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 organisa- 

227 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


tion, 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 
tpeople , and declaring for a general international under¬ 
standing 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 Cor diale , 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 thought¬ 
ful, peace-loving people, who could not help connecting 
the new militarist plans of the War Office with the schem- 
ings 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 £C a nation 
m aims, 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 
m 1^ 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 

228 


THE LABOUR PARTY 


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 broaden¬ 
ing 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 fotet 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 differ¬ 
ence 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 mainten¬ 
ance 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.” 

229 


Q 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

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 arma¬ 
ments, 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 pre¬ 
pare 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 misunder¬ 
standing 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 legisla¬ 
tion, 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 pro¬ 
duct of a few enthusiastic cranks, and that there was 
really no demand for the vote by any numerous section 


230 


WOMEN’S AGITATION 


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 suffra¬ 
gists, 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 occa¬ 
sion 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 Mem¬ 
bers 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 man¬ 
date 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 Parlia¬ 
mentary Franchise.” Hardie, knowing that time was 


231 


J. KEIR HARD IE 


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 resolu¬ 
tion was talked out, or it might be more accurate to say, 
screamed out. Llardie 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 character¬ 
istically 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 elec¬ 
tion 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 over- 


232 


JUBILEE 


flowing with men and women representative of every 
phase and section of the Labour and Socialist move¬ 
ment, desirous of celebrating, as one Welshman with a 
fine spiritual perception put it, “Keir Hardie’s fifty 
years on earth.” There were telegrams of congratula¬ 
tion 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 good¬ 
will 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 speak¬ 
ing 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 veiy 
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. Lie did not possess his treasure long, 
nor was he able to hand it on as an heirloom. At the by- 


233 


I KEIR HARDIE 


election 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 vener¬ 
ableness, 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 fri'ends, 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 cer- 


234 


SUFFRAGE CONTROVERSY 

tainly have been personally reminiscent and biographi¬ 
cal, 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 dis¬ 
posal 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 pro¬ 
paganda activity throughout the whole of the I.L.P. 
movement. It was disclosed afterwards that the Edin¬ 
burgh ladies already referred to had 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 m 
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 Kear 
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. 

235 



J KEIR HARDIE 

The amendment, which was earned 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 them¬ 
selves had helped to bring about that result by pre¬ 
judicing the delegates against them. 

Only a few days before there had appeared in the 
P re ^ s ^ at 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 there¬ 
fore 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 prin¬ 
ciple and its advocates,” he said, and the adverse vote 
of the Conference came to him as a kind of challeno- e 
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 

236 


SUFFRAGE CONTROVERSY 


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, C ‘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 Con¬ 
ference 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 
left free to support a Woman’s Franchise Bill 

237 


were 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 Commit¬ 
tee 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 martyr¬ 
dom. 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 sup- 

238 


SUFFRAGE CONTROVERSY 


port 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 obtain¬ 
ing 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 agita¬ 
tion 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, 


239 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 state¬ 
ments 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 Com¬ 
munism 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 termin- 
ology 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 


240 


SOCIALISM 


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 modi¬ 
fied. 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 in an increasing degree in the 
direction of transforming the State from a property¬ 
preserving to a life-preserving institution. The funda¬ 
mental 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 contra¬ 
diction. 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 concern¬ 
ing 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 

241 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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,” 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 Ulster¬ 
men 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 rem¬ 
nants 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, how¬ 
ever, he slipped out, and has not been heard of politi¬ 
cally since. 

In February of this year, Hardie had the experience 
of being “ragged” at Cambridge, whither he had gone 


242 


THE LABOUR PARTY 


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 Embank¬ 
ment, 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 ignor¬ 
ance 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 thor'ough. Upon the 


243 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 search¬ 
ing 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 


244 


ILLNESS 


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 


R 


245 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 Hydro¬ 
pathic 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 w ? as 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.” 

246 


ROUND THE WORLD 


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 Gray¬ 
son 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 earn¬ 
ing 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 informa¬ 
tion 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 entangle¬ 
ments 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 


247 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 pro¬ 
spective 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 con¬ 
sole 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 pre¬ 
vailing in the Dominion and of the state of Labour and 
Socialist organisation. Here, as everywhere during his 

248 


INDIA 


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 under¬ 
mining 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 Flaraie 
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 


249 



J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 dis¬ 
torted 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. 

' I he 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 

2 50 


INDIA 


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 con¬ 
veying to the Indian people the strongest expression of 
the sympathy and support of British Socialists in then 
struggle against social and political oppression. 

Robert Blatchford, in the “Clarion,” appealed to the 
British press for fair play. Mr. CunninghameGraham’s 
utterance was characteristic and at the same time repre¬ 
sentative of general Socialist opinion in the country. 
Declaring that he honoured and respected Keir Llardie 
for all he had endeavoured to do in Calcutta and British 
India, he said, “There were many millions of popula¬ 
tion in the country, the discreetest millions of the dis- 

25 1 



J. KEIR HARDIE 


creetest population the world had ever known, but there 
were few Keir Hardies—there were few men w T ho, 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 utter¬ 
ances of Iveir Elardie 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 iionclad 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 thouglit- 
ful. 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. Com¬ 
placent 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 news¬ 
papers 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 : Impres¬ 
sions 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. F 


252 


INDIA 


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 pro¬ 
bably 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 him¬ 
self 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 him¬ 
self, and he was yearning to be free to face his critics. 

253 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


His experiences in the Australian colonies were, in 
the nature of things, in strong contrast with his experi¬ 
ences 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 self- 
government, 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 recep¬ 
tions 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 New¬ 
castle—at all these places talking, as was his wont, as 
a miner to his fellow craftsmen. He renewed his friend¬ 
ship 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 


AUSTRALASIA 


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 Aus¬ 
tralian 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 Wel¬ 
lington, 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 expenences 
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 ife 
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 ser¬ 
vice he wrote : “Now, I who hate militarism and every¬ 
thing 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 

255 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


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 sol 
dier 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 foot¬ 
hold in the Commonwealth. The Japanese bogey, 
when it is not a fraud, is the concoction of a frenzied 
bram, 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 pao- es 
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,’ 

256 


SOUTH AFRICA 


where murder was feared. At Ladysmith, the win¬ 
dows 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 
£y ,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 get¬ 
ting 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 


25 7 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


question he regarded as South Africa’s greatest pro¬ 
blem, 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 pre¬ 
dicted, “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 move¬ 
ment 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,” 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-o’-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 ‘tea breakfast’ on Sundays.” 

Among the first news he received on landing was that 
the Socialist students of Glasgow University had 

258 


HOME 


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. 


CHAPTER ELEVEN 

FOREIGN POLICY-THE KING’S GARDEN PARTY-ATTACKS 

FROM WITHIN AND WITHOUT 

LMOST immediately on his arrival, Hardie 



found himself deeply immersed in work, and 


A. A. seemed bent on squandering somewhat freely the 
energy he had gained during his travels. 

The period, indeed, is so crowded with events in 
which he was involved that it is well-nigh impossible to 
present a sequential account of his sayings and doings. 
There was the usual round of welcoming demonstrations 
which were calculated not only to show the esteem in 
which he was held by the Labour movement, but also 
to act as a stimulus to that movement. The meeting in 
the Albert Hall, London, was remarkable for size and 
enthusiasm, and the recipient of so much adulation 
might have been pardoned if he had succumbed, if only 
temporarily, to the disease known as “swelled head” —a 
failing not unknown amongst popular politicians. 
Hardie was not without his share of self-esteem, but he 
never allowed it to magnify into a grotesque proportion 
his place in the movement. These demonstrations 
he accepted as his due, but he valued them chiefly as 
Labour’s answer to the misrepresentations and abuse 
that had been so lavishly showered upon him. If his 

own people believed in him, he cared not who was 
against him. 


He had also to make a tour of his constituency, where 
his reception was such as to assure him that the attacks 


260 


FOREIGN POLICY 


made upon him had not weakened, but had rather 
strengthened, the fidelity of his supporters. South 
Wales had now become a kind of second home to him, 
where he was as much at his ease, and had friendships 
as intimate, as in Ayrshire or Glasgow. 

Following quickly upon these platform appearances 
came the I.L.P. Conference at Huddersfield, at which 
there were some signs of division over the Party’s 
connection with the Labour Party. The trouble centred 
round Victor Grayson, who had been elected for the 
Colne Valley division in the previous year, under con¬ 
ditions which did not strictly conform to Labour Party 
rules, and which had prevented his official endorsement 
either by the N.A.C. or by the Labour Party Executive. 
The former body, however, made itself responsible for 
paying him his share of the Parliamentary Maintenance 
Fund, from which the I.L.P. helped its Parliamentary 
representatives. The Conference sustained the N.A.C. 
attitude by a large majority. Thereafter, a resolution 
to which Grayson agreed—was passed, declaring that 
“during the remainder of Parliament his relations to the 
Labour Party should be the same as that of all the other 
I.L.P. members, except in the case of his being placed 
upon the Parliamentary Fund.” This dispute, through¬ 
out which Hardie played the part of peacemaker, seems 
in perspective somewhat trivial, but at the time it looked 
to be very serious, and there were not wanting those 
who hoped to see it result either in the break up of the 
I.L.P. or in its severance from the Labour Party. 

This Conference, however, was chiefly remarkable for 
its pronouncements on foreign affairs, and especially 
upon the agreement with the Russian Government, 
which it declared was equivalent to “giving an informal 
sanction to the course of infamous tyranny which has 
suppressed every semblance of representation and has 

261 


s 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

condemned great numbers of our Russian comrades to 
imprisonment, torture and death.” A resolution was 
also passed protesting against the “shameless exploita¬ 
tion of the Congo by the Government of King Leopold, 
and calling upon the British Government to take such 
action as may compel a more humane treatment of the 
natives of the Congo.” This was followed by a resolu¬ 
tion, moved by Hardie and seconded by Joseph Burgess, 
demanding “that the people of India should be given 
more effective control over their own affairs.” In the 
course of his speech, Hardie cited the native States of 
Baroda, Mysore and Travancore as proof of the fitness 
of the Indian people for self-government. In one or 
other of these States, he affirmed, he had found parish 
councils established, he had found the caste system dis¬ 
appearing, and he had found compulsory free education, 
and in one of them there was a popularly elected Annual 
Parliament meeting and discussing national affairs. 
“The whole of the administration, from the humblest 
office right up to the chief, was filled by natives and the 
administration of the affairs of those States was a model 
to the rest of India.” In face of the momentous issues 
raised by these resolutions, the Grayson incident 
dwindled into insignificance, and the somewhat ran¬ 
corous feelings which it had evoked melted away in the 
general recognition of the great purposes for which the 
I.L.P. existed. 

Three keenly contested by-elections occurring almost 
simultaneously, at Dewsbury, Dundee and Montrose 
Burghs, in all of which the Labour candidates were 
defeated, afforded opportunity for big scale propaganda 
in which, as a matter of course, Hardie played a pro¬ 
minent part, evidently quite forgetful of the fact that 
only a year before he had been almost at death’s door. 

At the same time, Parliamentary affairs developed in 

262 


FOREIGN POLICY 


such a way as to throw him once more very prominently 
into the limelight. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 
had retired from the Premiership and was succeeded 
by Mr. Asquith, a decided change for the worse from 
the democratic standpoint, and almost of sinister import 
having regard to the new Premier’s imperialistic tenden¬ 
cies and the international alliances which were in process 
of being formed. Notwithstanding the repeated in¬ 
quiries of MacDonald and other Labour Members for 
information concerning the agreements which had been 
come to with tLe Czar’s Government, no satisfactory or 
informative statement had been vouchsafed, and there 
were strong reasons for the suspicion that these agree¬ 
ments were of such a character as to involve this country 
in grave and unavoidable responsibility in the event of 
an outbreak of war in Europe. When, therefore, the 
announcement was made that King Edward was to pay 
an official visit to the Czar at Reval, these suspicions 
seemed to find confirmation, and it became the duty of 
all friends of international peace to protest. The fact 
that it was a Liberal Government which was pursuing 
a policy quite in line with the designs of the Tory Party 
threw the onus of opposition upon Labour, and against 
the combined forces of the two imperialist parties, 
Labour was in a hopeless minority and could do little 
more than make its protest in such a way as to arrest 
the attention of the nations. 

Labour was opposed to the ostentatious recognition 
of the Czar’s Government, not only because of the dan¬ 
gerous international commitments which it implied, but 
also because of the flagrantly despotic character of that 
Government which at that very time was engaged in 
suppressing with calculated savagery every semblance 
of constitutional rule. On every I.L.P. platform 
throughout the country the King’s visit to the Czar was 

263 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

strongly condemned, Hardie, of course, being in the 
very forefront of the attack. Under the title, ‘ Consort¬ 
ing with Murderers,” he cpntributed a powerful article 
to the “Labour Leader,” detailing the crimes of Czar- 
dom during the previous three years since the formation 
of the first Duma, which he contended had only been 
conceded for the purpose of giving confidence to 
European financiers so as to induce them to advance 
money to the Czar’s Government, a contention which 
had found confirmation in the fact that immediately on 
the successful flotation of a loan of £90,000,000 the 
newly-formed Duma had been forcibly disbanded, and 
one hundred and sixty-nine of its members arrested and 
imprisoned on the flimsiest charge, while seventy-four 
members of the second Duma had shared the same fate. 
The article gave the official figures of persons butchered 
by the Black Hundred under Czarist auspices as 19,000 
in two years, and the number of political prisoners 
executed during the same time as 3,205; and it stated 
that, during two months of the current year, 1,587 
persons had been condemned to death or penal servitude 
for no other reason than for being Radicals or Socialists. 
“The Czar and his Government have been singled out 
for honour by a Liberal Government. What is the 
explanation?” The article went on to show that Rus¬ 
sian finances were again in a bankrupt condition. The 
Budget for the year showed a deficit of £20,000,000. 
The Russian debt was £665,000,000, and there were 
projects for a new navy and a new military railway at 
a cost of £70,000,000. A new loan was necessary. 
“Financial reasons, therefore,” continued the article, 
“probably explain why King Edward has been advised 
by his responsible advisers to pay this official visit to 
a monarch reeking with the blood of his slaughtered 
subjects. The Stock Exchange hook needed to be 

264 


FOREIGN POLICY 


baited. Two years ago the bait was a popularly elected 
Duma; this time it is a Royal crown. Truly kings have 
their uses.” 

Language of this kind was not calculated to raise 
its author in the esteem either of royalty or of the 
financiers, nor was the persistence which the Labour 
Party showed in bringing the question into the House 
of Commons likely to be viewed with favour by the two 
other parties, who were at one on the question of 
Russian policy. 

On June 3rd, Hardie came into conflict with the 
Speaker over the rejection of a question which he had 
put down as to the persecution of political prisoners 
in Russia—particulars’ of which he detailed—asking 
whether the British Government meant to make any 
protest or to continue relations with the Czar’s Govern¬ 
ment. The question was disallowed as reflecting upon 
“a friendly Power” ! Notwithstanding its rejection, he 
managed to gain full publicity for it, which was all 
he would probably have got even if he had been allowed 
to put it. With all his directness, he was an astute 
parliamentarian. 

The following day, in committee on the Foreign 
Office vote, Mr. James O’Grady, speaking for the 
Labour Party, in an exceedingly effective speech, moved 
that the salary of the Secretary of State be reduced, in 
order that he might raise the question of the King s 
visit to Russia. In the subsequent debate, Hardie 
again incurred the censure of the chairman, who objected 
to the use of the word “atrocities as applied to a 
friendly Power, and on Hardie replying that he knew 
no other word in the English language to express his 
meaning, a scene ensued, which provided the press with 
many columns of sensational “copy.” The chairman 
insisted on the word “atrocities,” which had only been 

265 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


used once, being withdrawn. Hardie declined to with¬ 
draw it, and continued on his feet, debating the chair¬ 
man’s ruling, and incidentally impeaching the Russian 
Government. Other members intervened, mostly in 
support of Hardie’s position, until at last the chairman 
threatened to name Hardie, with a view to his suspension. 
His continued refusal brought the Prime Minister to his 
feet with a dexterous definition of Parliamentary law, 
and a direct appeal to Hardie to accept the chairman’s 
ruling. After a very evident mental conflict, he 
reluctantly agreed to withdraw the term of offence, in 
order, as he said, “to secure a division.” This was 
certainly a mistake in tactics, and was one of the very 
few errors of judgment made by him during the whole of 
his Parliamentary career. It was at least a refutation of 
the charge often made against him of being a seeker after 
notoriety. Suspension would have been his best card 
if notoriety had been his object, but it would also have 
been the most effective way of bringing home the nature 
of the controversy to the public mind, and for that 
reason it would have been better if he had held his 
ground. 

The most unfortunate feature of this debate was the 
manner of its ending, Arthur Henderson moving the 
closure just as Victor Grayson rose to continue the de¬ 
bate. It was afterwards explained that an arrangement 
had been come to between the leaders of the three 
parties that the debate should close at a certain hour 
and be followed by a division, which Grayson’s inter¬ 
vention would have prevented, but the fact that it was 
the Labour Party leader who intervened gave some 
colour to the accusation made in some quarters, that 
Grayson was being ostracised, and it certainly helped to 
roughen the already existing friction. 

On this occasion it is noteworthy that more than one- 

266 


FOREIGN POLICY 


half of the Liberal Party abstained from voting, while 
the Tories voted solidly with the Liberal Government, 
thus confirming Hardie’sf oft-repeated declaration that 
on questions of foreign policy, the Asquith-Grey- 
Haldane administration was in reality a Tory Imperialist 
Government. 

There was a remarkable sequel to this debate, an 
account of which may be left to one of the persons 
directly involved, all the more as it provides us with 
another of those contemporary pen-portraits of Hardie 
which have genuine biographical value. The witness is 
Arthur Ponsonby, who had recently entered the House 
as the successor to Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 
in the representation of Stirling Burghs. Says Mr. 
Ponsonby: “I first met Keir Hardie at a luncheon 
party in the House of Commons before I myself was in 
the "blouse. Amongst others, another highly placed, 
successful, and prominent Labour leader was present. 
I remember contrasting the two, and I was immensely 
struck by Keir Hardie’s reticence and his occasional 
incisive remarks, which were very different from his 
colleague’s voluble assurance. 1 decided inwardly 
that K.H. was the genuine article. My upbringing and 
the fact that I was a Liberal connected more or less 
at the time with officialism, I thought might give him a 
prejudice against me, but, on the contrary, he regaided 
me approvingly and I felt sympathy in his extra¬ 
ordinarily kindly smile. But I had only a nodding 
acquaintance with him till 1908, when we were thrown 
together in very peculiar circumstances. I had on y 
been a fortnight in the House when a debate came on 
in which the Government defended the advice they ha 
given King Edward to visit the Czar at Reval. This 
explanation appeared to me entirely inadequate. The 
people of Russia were long oppressed and persecuted 

267 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


in an abominable way, and I thought it morally and 
practically wrong that this compliment should be paid 
to the oppressor by a country which should always be 
on the side of the oppressed. Without any hesitation I 
voted with a small minority of Labour men and 
Radicals against the Government. Keir Hardie was 
among the number. Shortly afterwards, King Edw r ard 
gave a garden party to which all Members of the House 
of Commons were invited. But four exceptions were 
made. One member whose financial reputation was not 
the best, Grayson, who had made one or two ineffective 
demonstrations in the House, Keir Hardie and myself. 
I did not pay much attention at first, thinking there was 
probably some error. But when I discovered it had 
been done very deliberately, and at the King’s orders, 
the incident assumed its honest proportions. It was no 
longer a private affair but an insult to my constituents 
and an attempt by the sovereign to influence votes of 
Members by social pressure. Keir Hardie also had 
been inclined to let the matter pass as an entirely 
unimportant incident. But when I put it to him that it 
was not a personal matter, but an official aspersion on 
our constituencies, he agreed, and he deliberated with 
his colleagues as to what course should be taken. The 
press took up the matter with embarrassing eagerness 
and the whole incident became embroidered out of all 
proportion. I need not follow the course of events so 
far as I personally was concerned, but Keir Hardie 
decided eventually to let the matter drop after explain¬ 
ing the position publicly in an interesting speech at 
Stockport in which he showed how throughout his career 
he had seen clearly that an attack on monarchy and the 
advocacy of republican principles was of very little 
consequence as compared with the attack on the economic 
system. 


268 


KING’S GARDEN PARTY 

“We had many a talk, and need I say a laugh, over 
a cup of tea while the ‘crisis’ lasted, and we sympathised 
with one another in our efforts to avoid the pressmen. 
As regards the constitutional aspect of the incident, it 
is interesting to recall that high officials in no way in 
sympathy with our views had no doubt that the royal 
disapproval ought never to have been expressed in this 
way. In the ‘Dictionary of National Biography’ the 
incident is referred to thus: ‘Unwisely the King took 
notice of the parliamentary criticism of his action, and 
cancelled the invitation to a royal garden party of three 
Members of Parliament. It was the only occasion 
during the reign on which the King invited any 
public suspicion of misinterpreting his constitutional 
position.’ 

“Subsequently, whenever I made a speech against the 
competition in armaments, or the policy of the balance 
of power, or on any subject on which I could only expect 
the support of a small minority, I invariably got a word 
of encouragement and approval from Hardie. 

<£r pjiere was always something in his uncompromising 
directness and complete indifference to the approval of 
the majority which attracted me. He was often blunder¬ 
ingly tactless and rough, and though he was strictly 
obedient to the forms of the House, he never indulged 
in the little complimentary politenesses which some 
Members find make life smoother. All this seemed to 
me part of the armour he wore deliberately against the 
insinuating influences of unaccustomed surroundings, 
and of the atmosphere of authority to which men brought 
up in a very different sphere of life not infrequently suc¬ 
cumb. He seemed determined to preserve the integrity 
of his opinions—dangerously extreme as they were 
thought in those days, and to the end he succeeded. 
His geniality, his kindliness, and his appreciation ot the 

269 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


gentler arts of life, came as a surprise to those who 
only knew him publicly.” 

Hardie s own references to the matter were character¬ 
istic. He had no use for Kings’ garden parties. He 
had never attended any of them, and would probably 
never have known that on this occasion the invitation 
haci not been sent had it not been that Ponsonby and 
Grayson were also implicated. “But,” said he, “I am 
not going to allow either my position as a member of 
the Labour Party, or my Socialism, or my views con¬ 
cerning King Edward’s visit to Russia, to control my 
principles as a Member of the House of Commons. I 
don’t receive these invitations because I am Keir Hardie, 
but because I am a Member of the House of Commons, 
and if I am fit to represent the working classes of 
Merthyr, I am fit to attend the garden party at Windsor. ” 
His views concerning the monarchy had been defined on 
several previous occasions and it was hardly necessary 
for him to reiterate his opinion that it was a wholly super¬ 
fluous institution, only tolerable as long as it did not 
actively interfere in the administration of the nation’s 
affairs or m directing its foreign policy. That it was being 
so used in Russian (and, as we now know, m other) 
affairs, there could not be any doubt, and it showed its 
pettiness by this paltry ostracism. The Labour Party 
at once took up the matter. If a king could take cog¬ 
nisance of one Parliamentary act, then the constitutional 
theory of Parliamentary independence was gone. That 
week it therefore passed the following resolution and 
sent it to those concerned :— 

. “ That the action of Mr. Hardie regarding the King’s 
visit to the Czar, which incurred the displeasure of His 
Majesty and led to Mr. Hardie’s name being removed 
from the list of Members of Parliament recently invited 
to Windsor, having been taken by instructions of the 


270 


KING’S GARDEN PARTY 


Party, the Party desires to associate itself with Mr. 
Hardie, who, in its opinion, exercised his constitutional 
right on the occasion of the Foreign Office debate, and 
it therefore requests that, until his name is restored to 
such official lists, the names of all its members shall 
be removed from them.” 

As a result, assurances were officially given that a 
mistake had been made, and the matter was allowed to 

d Following close upon the Government’s open declara¬ 
tion of friendliness to the Czar’s regime, came a raging, 
tearing anti-German press campaign, and it was possible 
to discern in the propinquity of the two manifestations 
something more than accidental coincidence. Its 
tendency was undoubtedly to stimulate animosity 
between the people of Britain and Germany and render 
it difficult for peace lovers in both countries to make 
headway against their respective militarist elements. 
The British press campaign, naturally, had its reflection 
in the German press, which found in our Dreadnought 
programmes, our alliance with Japan, our Persian policy, 
and our highly demonstrative entente with France and 
Russia, the evidence of a policy designed completely to 

encompass and isolate Germany. 

The obvious duty of Socialists in both countries was 
to give effect to the Marxian call, “Wage-workers of all 
countries unite,” and the most serious feature of the 
British war scare was that the scaremongers included 
two leading Socialists, Blatchford of the ‘ Clarion, and 
H. M. Hyndman of the Social Democratic Federation 
Blatchford visualised an immediate German invasion of 
Britain and told hair-raising stories of embarkation 
rehearsals on the other side of the North ~ea. 
man inveighed against all things German, and advo¬ 
cated, as he had always done, the formation of a citizen 

271 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


army, not primarily to resist capitalism, but to resist, if 
not to attack, Germany. Even Lord Fisher, who was 
getting his Dreadnoughts built, was constrained to 
characterise the scare as silly. “The truth is,” said he, 
referring to the embarkation story, “that one solitary 
regiment was embarked for manoeuvres. That is the 
truth. I have no doubt that equally silly stories are 
current in Germany.” Unfortunately, in this country 
the silly stories” had the endorsement of two promin¬ 
ent Socialists, one of whom was believed in Germany 
to be representative of British working-class opinion. 
During the course of this scare there were sneering 
references from Blatchford to the Labour Party as the 
Baa-Lamb School who believe that we ought not to 
defend ourselves if attacked,” as the “Ostrich School 
who, because they want peace, refuse to see any danger 
of war”; as the “Gilpin School, who had a frugal mind 
and wanted peace at the lowest possible price.” There 
were also references to Hardie which approached the 
verge of insult. Thus the capitalist-militarist game was 
played and an international Socialist movement, which 
alone could then have averted war, was weakened. 

Hardie retorted with a strong article, the very com¬ 
prehensiveness of which renders it difficult to summarise. 
After showing that Germany had nothing to gain from 
war with Britain and that there were interests in both 
countries seeking profit out of the increasing expendi¬ 
ture on armaments, he deprecated the fomenting of 
antagonisms by avowed Socialists. He accused Hynd- 
man of having ransacked the columns of the gutter 
press for inuendoes and insults levelled against the 
representatives of the German Empire, and of dishing 
them up with all the assurance with which he was accus- 
t0 predict the date of the Social Revolution. 
Blatchford and Hyndman,” he said, “seem to have set 


272 


FOREIGN POLICY 

themselves the task of producing that very feeling of 
inevitableness than which nothing could more strengthen 
the hands of the warmongers on both shores of the 
German Ocean, now known, I believe, as the North 
Sea. Is that work worthy of the traditions of Socialism ? 

I assure our German Socialist and Trade Union com¬ 
rades that Blatchford and Hyndman speak for them¬ 
selves alone, and that their attitude on this question 
would be repudiated with practical unanimity by the 
Trade Union movement could it be put to the vote. 
The Labour Party stands for peace. We are prepared 
to co-operate with our German friends in thwarting the 
malignant designs of the small group of interested scare¬ 
mongers, who in both countries would like to see war 
break out.” 

There was an immediate response to this closing 
appeal. Bernstein wrote emphasising the danger of 
stabilising the feeling of “inevitableness” as to war and 
did not minimise the fact that it had already taken deep 
root amongst sections of the German people. He de¬ 
clared it to be “the duty of Socialists to lift their voice 
against the mad race in armaments which makes 
civilised humanity, to its shame, the slave of conditions 
which it ought to master.” Bebel wrote prophetically. 
“A war between England and Germany would lead to a 
European—that is to a world—conflagration such as 
has never before taken place. The German Social 
Democratic Party will do its utmost to prevent such, 
but should it happen in spite of all their efforts, those 
who light this fire would also have to bear the conse¬ 
quences that await them. The vast majority of Germans 
are not thinking of war with England, and indeed do 
not do so for very sober, selfish reasons. We have 

nothing to gain, but much to lose.” 

This war scare temporarily died down, but its evil 

273 


]. KEIR HARDIE 


effects remained. The rival governments went on 
unrestrainedly building navies and increasing armies 
against each other, and from this year, 1908, onward, it 
became more and more difficult to contend against the 
fatalistic expectations of war which had been created, 
alike by the jingoism of the press and by the European 
alliances entered into by Great Britain on the one hand 
and Germany on the other. We drifted into war. Few 
saw the tendency, and fewer strove to stop it. When 
it came, the scaremongers who made it hurried 
round and said with the air of prophets : “We told 
you so.” 

Meantime, Hardie was once more on the high seas, 
bound for Canada, having been invited by the leaders 
of the Dominion Trade Union movement to attend the 
Congress in Nova Scotia, on September 21st. On this 
occasion he was accompanied by Mrs. Hardie and 
Agnes, their daughter. He had also for ship companion 
Mr. Eels of America, the millionaire disciple of Henry 
George, with whom he had long been on friendly terms, 
and would fain have persuaded to accept the complete 
Socialist conception of an ideal society. There is nothing 
of much note to record concerning this Transatlantic 
trip. He took part in the Congress as an honoured 
guest, and endeavoured to convince the Canadians of 
the value of Labour representation as a means of 
reconciling elements which in Canada at that time were 
irreconcilable. He augmented his stock of knowledge 
regarding the industrial conditions of the Dominion, 
and crossed over into the United States, where he 
gathered impressions of the Presidential election then 
taking place, the Socialist candidate being Eugene 
Debs, who, for a wonder, was not in prison. But, on 
the whole, it was more of a pleasure trip than was usual 
with him, the companionship of his wife and daughter 

274 


FOREIGN POLICY 


tending to save him from the propaganda traps lying in 
wait for him everywhere. He arrived back in Glasgow 
on October nth, and, after a few days spent at Cum¬ 
nock, was in London in time to take part in the welcome 
to Kautsky and Ledebour of Germany who had come 
on the invitation of the British section of the Inter¬ 
national Bureau. At the public meeting which took 
place in the St. James’s Hall, both German delegates 
deprecated energetically the idea of war between the two 
nations. Kautsky especially, in language which to-day 
reads at once futile and prophetic, declared that capi¬ 
talists themselves would be opposed to war. “Capitalism 
feared war to-day because it knew that after war there 
would be revolution. It was the certainty of revolu¬ 
tion that would deter the exploiting capitalists of 
Europe from entering upon a struggle which would be 
death to capitalism itself.” One can only say, alas ! 
alas ! We now know that though the war was followed 
by revolution, the fear of revolution had no deterrent 
effect upon capitalism. 

Hardie’s contribution to the speech-making was an 
impassioned appeal to organised labour to place no 
faith in armies, “whether citizen or by whatever name 
they might be called”—an exhortation which imme¬ 
diately roused the ire of the chairman, Mr. Hyndman, 
who, as we know, was a strong supporter of the citizen 
army idea. The fact that there were these divisions 
among British Socialists themselves, detracted largely 
from the value of this meeting as an influence for inter¬ 
national peace. 

Whilst this darkening shadow of impending inter¬ 
national war was slowly gathering and filling the minds 
of serious men with ominous forebodings, there was 
serious enough trouble in the industrial world at home. 
A period of trade depression had again come round— 

275 


J. KETR HARDIE 


had indeed hardly been absent for several years—and 
month by month the records of unemployment went on 
increasing, accompanied by even stronger manifestations 
of discontent than on previous occasions. There had 
been disturbances in most of the big towns. At Glas¬ 
gow a great crowd of workless men, led by members of 
the I.L.P., themselves unemployed, had stormed the 
City Council Chambers demanding work, and from 
thence had marched threateningly into the West End. 
At Manchester there had been similar scenes and 
violent conflicts with the police, resulting in arrests, and 
in several persons being sentenced to long terms of 
imprisonment. All through the summer, the Parlia¬ 
mentary Labour Party had been pressing the Govern¬ 
ment to give the financial aid which alone could make 
the Unemployment Act really serviceable, and to make 
the Distress Committee powers compulsory instead of 
permissive, and it had at last secured the promise of a 
statement from the Government as to its intentions. 

On the day following that on which this promise was 
made, Mr. Victor Grayson created a scene in the House 
by moving the adjournment, his expressed desire being 
“that it should consider a matter of urgent importance 
—the question of unemployment.” and on being told by 
the Speaker that, under the rules of the House, he 
could not move the adjournment at that juncture, he 
declared that he refused to be bound by the rules. 
After a somewhat lengthy altercation with the Speaker 
and many interjections from the members, he withdrew 
from the House, but not before he had stigmatised the 
Labour Members as traitors to their class, who refuse 
to stand by their class.” The following day, while the 
House was in Committee on the Licensing Bill, a 
similar scene ensued, which ended in Grayson being 
suspended. 


276 


INTERNAL STRIFE 


Hardie’s view of the matter had best be given in his 
own words : “Grayson came to the House of Commons 
on Thursday, but spoke to no one of his intentions, 
consulted no one and did not even intimate that he 
meant to make a scene. That may be his idea of comrade¬ 
ship; it is not mine. Nor is it what the I.L.P. will 
tolerate from one of its members. If the Labour Party, 
or if the I.L.P. members, had been invited to take part 
in a protest and had refused, then Grayson’s action 
might have been justifiable, but acting as he did, no 
other result could be expected than that which 
happened. If a protest is to be made, it must be done 
unitedly, and in a manner to command respect.” 

Hardie, as we know, had no reverential regard for 
the rules of the House—though he had known how to 
make use of them for his own purposes, but he had very 
great regard for the prestige of the Labour Party in the 
House and in the country. He, of all men, could not 
be accused of indifference to the claims of the unem¬ 
ployed. What legislation on their behalf did exist was 
mainly the outcome of his efforts at a time when he 
stood alone. But now that there was a Labour Party 
in the House, he held that upon that Party rested the 
responsibility of forcing the hands of the Government, 
and that isolated action by one individual could only 
have a disruptive effect upon the Socialist movement 
without being helpful to the unemployed. 

There was, moreover, some reason to believe that the 
Grayson histrionics were deliberately intended to pro¬ 
duce the disruption deprecated by Hardie, and an 
incident which occurred outside the House, almost 
immediately after, seemed to verify that belief. Grayson 
and Hyndman refused to appear on the same platform 
as Hardie at a public meeting under the auspices of 
the Clarion Van Committee, a body existing for the 


T 


2 77 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

purpose of promoting the Clarion Van propaganda 
carried on in connection with Blatchford’s paper. 
Hardie, Hyndman and Grayson had been invited by the 
Committee to speak at demonstrations in the Holborn 
and Finsbury Town Halls. Hardie had agreed to do 
so and was much surprised to receive a letter from the 
secretary on the day previous to the meetings, request¬ 
ing him to “refrain from attending the meetings,” the 
reason given being that Hyndman and Grayson were 
unable to join with him as speakers. 

That this extraordinary and insulting attitude towards 
the greatest of all working-class agitators was the out¬ 
come of something more than mere personal pettiness 
was evidenced by the fact that the “Clarion” was at 
this time devoting its columns to the promulgation of a 
new Socialist Party, with the Clarion Scouts and the 
Clarion Fellowship as the nucleus, and dissentient 
I.L.P. members as potential recruits; whilst Hyndman 
justified his action by reference to Hardie’s anti-war 
scare article, and to his attack on a citizen army at the 
reception to the German delegation. The best comment 
upon this disgraceful episode was supplied by an un¬ 
solicited letter to the “Labour Leader” from M. Beer, 
London correspondent of “Vorwarts,” whose recently 
published “History of British Socialism” is recognised 
as the standard authority on the subject. Beer had 
dissented strongly from Hardie’s views at the time of 
the class-war discussion, and his support of Hardie 
now was therefore all the more valuable. The letter 
has both biographical and historical interest, and is 
therefore reproduced here intact. As an exposition of 
the practical philosophy of the British Labour Party 
movement from the point of view of a Marxian dis¬ 
ciple it is worth considering at the present time. The 
letter was as follows :— 


278 


INTERNAL STRIFE 


“To the Editor of the ‘Labour Leader.’ 

“Comrade,—Kindly permit me to express, first of all, 
my sincere and respectful sympathy for Keir Hardie 
with regard to the deplorable Holborn Town Hall inci¬ 
dent. As a close observer of the British Labour move¬ 
ment, I regard the work of Keir Hardie to be of much 
more permanent value than that of Hyndman, Shaw, 
Blatchford, Wells, let alone Grayson. Of all British 
Socialists none, in my judgment, has grasped the essence 
of modern Socialism—aye, of Marxism—better than 
Hardie. Moreover, none has done in practice better 
work than Hardie. His silent, clear-headed and con¬ 
sistent efforts in the first years of the L.R.C. on behalf 
of the unity and independence of organised Labour, 
would alone be sufficient to raise him to the front rank 
of Socialist statesmanship. For what is the essence of 
modern Socialism as Marx taught it?—The political 
independence of Labour. And what is the foremost 
duty of a Socialist in the class struggle?—To divorce 
Labour from the parties of the possessing class. All 
that Keir Hardie has done, more by virtue of a practi¬ 
cally unerring proletarian instinct than by theorising 
and speculating about revolution and so-called con¬ 
structive Socialism. Socialism is not made, but it is 
growing out of the needs and struggles of organised 
Labour. The most simple Labour organisation, fighting 
for high wages, shorter hours and better Labour laws, 
does more for Socialism than all the Utopian books of 
Wells, all the Swiftean wit of Shaw, all the revolution¬ 
ary speeches of Hyndman, and all the sentimental 
harangues of Grayson. I have been saying that for 
years in the ‘Vorwarts,’ in the ‘Neue Zeit,’ and some¬ 
times in ‘Justice.’ And now let me make a confession. 
Soon after the election of Grayson, my editor asked 
me whether I did not think it advisable to interview 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Grayson for the ‘Vorwarts.’ I replied it would be 
better to wait; the British Socialists, with their wonted 
hero-worship, were already spoiling him; there would 
be a meeting at the Caxton Hall (in September, 1907), 
when Grayson was to speak. I should then have an 
opportunity of arriving at some judgment about him. 
The meeting took place, MacDonald being the chair¬ 
man, Curran and Grayson the chief speakers. After that 
meeting, of which I gave a report in the ‘Vorwarts,’ I 
wrote about Grayson. ‘He is very self-conscious; his 
Socialism consists of commiseration with the poor; in 
his speech he didn’t mention the Labour movement at 
all. Now, modern Socialism has very little to do with 
poor men stories but a great deal with organised Labour. 
Grayson has still much to learn about Socialism and he 
may learn it if he remains in close touch with the Labour 
Party.’ (‘Vorwarts,’ September, 1907.) In approving 
wholeheartedly of the policy of Hardie, I also approve 
of the general policy of J. R. MacDonald. At the pub¬ 
lication of his ‘Socialism and Society’ he had no severer 
critic than myself, because I suspected him of attempt¬ 
ing to weaken the independence of the Labour Party. I 
still consider him what the Germans call a ‘Revisionist,’ 
but at the same time I cannot help perceiving that his 
general policy is at present thoroughly in conformity 
with the mental condition of the British Labour move¬ 
ment. Any other policy might at the present juncture 
spell disruption. We can’t force movements of 
oppressed classes. We must allow them to develop and 
to ripen. ‘Ripeness is all.’—Fraternally yours, 

“M. Beer, 

“London, November 22nd, 1908.” 

It should be said that this letter was followed by 
one from H. G. Wells protesting against being “lumped 

280 


INTERNAL STRIFE 


with Hynaman, Shaw, Blatchford and Grayson, as 
being opposed to the work of Hardie,” and viewing with 
infinite disgust the deplorable attacks upon the I.L.P. 
leaders.” These attacks upon Hardie had the usual 
effect of strengthening the loyalty of the I.L.P. rank 
and file who, through their branch secretaries, literally 
bombarded him with assurances of esteem and 
confidence. 

Amid it all, he went on with his work, and in the same 
issue of the “Leader” in which Beer’s appreciation 
appeared, he had an appeal to the local education 
authorities to give effect to the Provision of Meals for 
Children Act and reminded them that they possessed 
powers to supply each scholar in every public school 
with two or three substantial meals each day. “I have 
frequently,” he said, “had occasion to point out that if 
in this and other respects the existing law were put into 
operation the hardships and suffering due to unemploy¬ 
ment would be mitigated.” 

There never was a more practical idealist than J. Keir 
Hardie. By blocking a North British Railway Bill, he 
compelled that company to withdraw its dismissal of a 
number of its employees who had been elected as Town 
Councillors, and in December he introduced an “Emer¬ 
gency Unemployment Bill” to enable Distress Commit¬ 
tees to use the penny rate levy for the payment of wages, 
and to provide for special Committees where no Dis¬ 
tress Committee was in existence. His object was to 
make the present Act workable during the winter, 
pending the promised Government measure. He also 
protested strongly against the mutilation by the House 
of Lords of the Miners’ Eight Hours’ Day Bill, but as 
the Miners’ Federation had agreed to accept the amend¬ 
ments rather than lose the Bill altogether, he had to waive 
his objections. Every hour of his waking time seemed 

281 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


to be filled with work. “I envy the editor of the 
‘Clarion/ ” he wrote, “the quiet day at home in which 
to write his article on the political situation. Some of 
us are nomads and vagrants all the time, and have to 
write as odd moments offer, in the midst of many other 
and divers duties.” 

In proof of this, he appended his week’s diary of 
work, which included attendance and speech-making in 
the House of Commons, six hours’ sitting on the 
“Coal Mines Eight Hours’ Bill Committee,” a “Right 
to Work Executive” meeting, a “Labour Party” meet¬ 
ing, a conference with French workmen delegates, an 
I.L.P. Parliamentary Committee meeting, a week¬ 
end public meeting at Halifax, besides correspondence 
entailing over a hundred replies to personal letters. 
Hardie did not really envy Blatchford his life of leisured 
journalism, but he resented strongly the habitual 
assumption of pontifical authority on working-class 
questions by one who had no practical connection with 
the working class, who did not participate in any of the 
drudgery inseparable from the work of labour organisa¬ 
tion, who was not in a position to understand working- 
class psychology, and who held himself safely aloof 
from all official responsibility. Hardie was amongst 
the workers every day. He knew every phase of work- 
ing-class life, not only that of the toiling underground 
collier, but of the skilled artisan, the sweated labourer, 
the under-paid woman. His life purpose was to make 
the working class united and powerful, and conscious 
of its power; and he believed he knew better than 
Hyndman and Blatchford the methods whereby that 
purpose could be achieved. It had been no easy task 
to call the Labour Party into being, and he was cer¬ 
tainly not going to allow it to be destroyed by the 
subversive and divisive tactics which were now being 

282 


INTERNAL STRIFE 


used. New parties might be formed bearing all manner 
of names, but the Labour Party would remain and 
be moulded towards Socialism by the I.L.P. as long as 
the breath of life remained in the founder of both 


organisations. 

The climax came at the 1909 Conference of the I.L.P. 
held at Edinburgh. At this Conference, a proposal 
that the I.L.P. should sever itself from the Labour 
Party found only eight supporters against three hundred 
and seventy-eight in favour of “maintaining unimpaired 
the alliance of Labour and Socialism as affording the 
best means for the expression of Socialism to-day. 5 A 
further resolution declaring that “no salary be paid to 
Members of Parliament unless such Members sign the 
Labour Party constitution” was adopted by 352 votes 
to 64. Thus was reaffirmed with emphasis the fun a- 
mental principles of the Labour Party alliance. t was 
otherwise when the same principle reappeared in a ioim 
involving the discussion of Grayson’s conduct outside 


the House of Commons. 

A paragraph in the N.A.C. report explained the 
reasons why that body had ceased to arrange meetings 
for Grayson. They were that he had failed to fulfil 
engagements already made, and that his refusal t0 
appear with Hardie on the Holborn Town Hall plat¬ 
form made it useless to fix up meetings for him 
through the Head Office. On the motion of Grayson 
himself, this paragraph was “referred back that is 
say, deleted from the Report-by 217 to 194 votes. 
This could only be interpreted as an approval of Gray¬ 
son’s action, and of the motives which had actuated it. 
Hardie, Glasier, Snowden and MacDonald so inter¬ 
preted it, and resigned from the N.A.C. to which they 
had just been re-elected by large majorities, Hardie 
as usual, being at the top of the poll—a paradoxical 


283 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


state of matters which evinced considerable mental 
confusion on the part of the delegates. The resigna¬ 
tions were announced by MacDonald, who was chair¬ 
man, in a firm speech in which he declared that he and 
his three colleagues declined to associate themselves 
with the growth of what seemed to them an impossiblist 
movement within the Party, with its spirit of irresponsi¬ 
bility, its modes of expression, and its methods of 
bringing Socialism; and he affirmed that it was not the 
mere reference back of the paragraph wffiich made them 
take that action, but the source and antecedents of that 
event. The Conference, thus brought to face the impli¬ 
cations of its censuring decision, quickly realised its 
mistake, and with only ten dissentients, passed the 
following resolution, which was, of course, equivalent 
to a lescinding of the Grayson motion : “That this 
Conference hears with regret the statement made on 
behalf of the outgoing National Administrative Council, 
and desires to express its emphatic endorsement of 
their past policy, and its emphatic confidence, personal 
and political, in Messrs. MacDonald, Keir Hardie, 
Bruce Glasier, and Snowden, and most earnestly 
requests them to withdraw their resignation ” This 
the four members declined to do; Hardie, who spoke 
with strong feeling, declaring that they had been 
regarded as limpets clinging to office, and that 
members present and a section of the Socialist press 
had put forward that statement. The trouble with 
Grayson was that success had come to him too easily, 
and he was surrounded by malign influences that would 
ruin his career—a prediction that was unfortunately 
amply fufilled. Grayson, Hyndman and Blatchford 
had refused to appear on the same platform with him 
and it had gone abroad that he had lost the confidence 
of the movement. Self-respect demanded that a stand 

284 


INTERNAL STRIFE 


should be made. He valued the opinion expressed by 
the Conference. He would like it sent down to the 
branches, especially to those where there was that small, 
snarling, semi-disruptive element. They must fight 
that down, and if need be fight it out. With his col¬ 
leagues he was going to test the question whether the 
I.L.P. was to stand for the consolidation of the working- 
class movement, or whether, departing from the lines 
of sanity, they should follow some chimera called 
Socialism and Unity spoken of by men who did not 
understand Socialism and were alien to its very 
spirit. 

Thus, in the sixteenth year of the I.L.P., its founder 
ceased to be a member of its executive, and with him 
the three men most representative to the public mind of 
the spirit and policy of the Party. Of the four, Glasier 
was the only one who was not a Member of Parliament, 
but he was editor of the “Labour Leader,” which 
expressed the policy of the Party. During his four-and- 
a-half years of editorship, the circulation had increased 
from 13,000 to 40,000, but, nevertheless, his editorial 
conduct had been severely and unfairly criticised 
during this Conference from the same sources which 
had promoted the disruptive tactics, and in addition to 
resigning from the N.A.C. he announced his intention 
of ceasing to be editor as soon as another could be found 
to take his place. 

Superficially, it seemed as if the designs of the 
enemies of the I.L.P. had been accomplished, and that 
the Party had been rent in twain. Those who thought 
so knew little of the I.L.P. or of the men who had 
resigned from office in order to meet disaffection in the 
branches. The influence of the four retiring men had 
increased rather than diminished. The work of the 
I.L.P. lay, where it has always been, in the country, and 

285 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


the branches continued to do the work with an energy 
that this internal strife only stimulated. 

Eight months later came the General Election, with 
the I.L.P. and Labour Party candidates in the field 
working together, and the membership unitedly behind 
them, fighting for Socialism and for working-class 
political power. The efforts to disintegrate the Labour 
movement had failed. 

In the months prior to the General Election there 
occurred opportunities of a kind to test the moral 
courage of the Parliamentary Labour Party and demon¬ 
strate the need for the existence of such a Party. The 
most outstanding of these was the visit of the Czar to 
this country and his official reception by the Government 
at Cowes. The significance of this would have passed 
almost unnoticed but for the protest of the Labour 
Party, so much at one were the Liberals and Tories on 
the question of foreign policy. On July 22nd, on the 
Civil Service vote, Arthur Henderson, as leader of the 
Labour Party, delivered a strong speech denunciatory 
of the Government’s action as being in effect a condone- 
ment of the crimes of the Czar and his Government 
against the common people of Russia. His recital of 
those crimes drew from Sir Edward Grey the memorable 
and immoral declaration that “it is not our business 
even to know what passes in the internal affairs of 
other countries where we have no treaty rights,” an 
avowal which Hardie, who followed, had no difficulty 
in proving to be without either historical or political 
vindication, by recalling the action of Mr. Gladstone 
with regard to the internal affairs of Naples and the 
tyranny of King Bomba, and also the more recent 
interventions in the matter of the Congo and of Armenia. 
This was one of the finest utterances Hardie ever made 
in the House of Commons. In his closing words he 

286 


FOREIGN POLICY 


appealed for a clear vote of the House on this subject 
of the Czar, as apart from the general discussion which 
had included other topics. “It was because he belonged 
to a Party whose whole sympathies were with the people 
of Russia in the great fight which they were making, 
and because he knew that every section of the advanced 
movement in Russia, from the extreme Socialist to the 
mildest Liberal, regarded the visit of the Czar to this 
country as, to some extent, throwing back their cause 
by giving him the official recognition of a great demo¬ 
cratic .State, that he, and those with him, opposed the 
visit.” 

This protest, which was re-echoed from every Labour 
platform in the country, had its effect. Not only did it 
wash the hands of British organised labour from the 
blood-guiltiness involved in the Russian alliance and 
left the Party free to oppose the development of the 
policy which that alliance implied, but, as a result, the 
Czar remained on board his yacht at Cowes and did not 
set foot on English soil. It is true to say that at the 
forging of every link which bound Britain to Imperialist 
Russia in a common policy, the Labour Party made an 
effort to prevent the chain from being completed; and 
it is also true to say that this was mainly due to the 
influence of the I.L.P. within the Labour Party, seeking 
thereby to perform its duty as a part of the International 
Socialist movement. 

And not only with regard to Russia did the Labour 
Party maintain this attitude of sympathy with the 
oppressed, but with regard to every land whose affairs 
came in any way under the cognisance of the British 
Parliament. It championed the claims of the South 
African natives during the passage of the Draft Con¬ 
stitution of the South African Union; it protested by 
speech and vote against the suppression of civil liberty 

287 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


and the right of free speech in India; it supported the 
Irish Nationalists in their claims for Home Rule and 
joined hands with the Egyptian people in their demands 
for the establishment of their long withheld national 
independence. On foreign and colonial policy the 
Labour Party was, in fact, at this time, the only Parlia¬ 
mentary Opposition, and the only source from which 
emanated any virile criticism. 

In all this work Hardie was bearing a very large 
share, not only in Parliament, but in the country and in 
the world. Thus, for example, we find him with George 
N. Barnes, representing the Labour Party at the Annual 
Conference of the Young Egyptian Party at Geneva, 
and hailed there as a valued friend and counsellor. 
One passage of his speech on that occasion should be 
preserved, if for no other reason than that it is in direct 
contrast to the conception of him prevalent in some 
quarters as an irresponsible firebrand and mischief 
maker. “Beware,” he said, “of secret organisation and 
of all thoughts of an armed rising for the overthrow of 
British authority. Every patriotic movement which 
indulges in secret forms of organisation places itself in 
the power of the Government. Such organisations are 
sure to be honeycombed by spies and traitors. The 
experience of Ireland in former times, and of Russia at 
present, is all the proof needed on this score. Work 
openly and in the light of day for the creation of public 
opinion in Egypt and Great Britain, and have no fear 
of the result.” 

With this wide outlook upon the progress of demo¬ 
cracy throughout the world, it is not surprising that 
abstract contentions about Socialist dogma sometimes 
seemed to him irrelevant and trivial, and the intrigues 
within the Labour and Socialist movement, petty and 
vexatious. 


288 


WOMEN 


Nor must it be forgotten that all this time the Women’s 
Suffrage movement was becoming more violently militant 
in its tactics, breaking up meetings of friends and foes 
alike, and acting generally on the principle that every 
other cause must stand still until the women’s claims 
had been conceded. The women themselves were con¬ 
sistent and courageous in carrying through this policy, 
and nearly all the time there were numbers of them 
suffering imprisonment. To Hardie and Snowden 
they looked chiefly to champion their cause in Parlia¬ 
ment and exploit their martyrdoms for propaganda 
purposes, and it is to be feared that they did not reflect 
that while harassing the Government they were also 
harassing their best friends and putting a serious strain 
upon physiques already overwrought. Nor was this all. 
Miss Mary Macarthur, of the Federation of Women 
Workers, has told us how, in the midst of her work of 
organising the underpaid and sorely sweated women of 
East London, Hardie was the one Labour Member 
upon whom she could always rely to come down and 
speak words of sympathy and encouragement to those 
victims of commercialism. 

He responded to every call, and never counted the 
cost to himself, and when occasionally he ran off for a 
brief spell of rest it was an extremely wearied, though 
undaunted man, whom his friends among the Welsh 
hills welcomed to their firesides. 


289 


CHAPTER -TWELVE 

TWO GENERAL ELECTIONS-INDUSTRIAL TURMOIL-THE 

BRINK OF WAR 

I N the two general elections of 1910, the man in the 
limelight was Mr. Lloyd George who has managed 
to retain that position fairly continuously ever since, 
though he has long ago made friends of his whilom 
enemies, and has thrust aside the semi-revolutionary 
ladder by which he rose to fame and power. The agita¬ 
tions over the land taxation budget and House of Lords’ 
reforms seem now very remote, and in view of recent 
jugglings with national finance extremely futile. But 
at the time I have now reached, it was an exceedingly 
noisy agitation and apparently sincere. Mr. George, 
with his lurid hen-roost oratory, and the peers, with 
their die-in-the-last-ditch constitutionalism, had, be¬ 
tween them, created a decidely class-war atmosphere, 
and there were timid people who actually believed that 
the nation was on the eve of great events foreshadowing, 
in the words of Lord Rosebery, the “end of all things.” 

The Labour Party in Parliament had naturally 
supported the land taxation proposals and also those for 
a super-tax on incomes, but only as initial concessions to 
the Socialist claim that all unearned increment should 
belong to the nation. Philip Snowden, now the recog¬ 
nised exponent of Socialist finance, made this unmis¬ 
takably clear in a series of brilliant speeches at various 
stages of the Finance Bill. On the question of the 
House of Lords, the Labour Party stood for the 


290 


GENERAL ELECTION 


abolition of that institution, but, as a matter of practical 
politics supported any proposal having for its object the 
immediate limitation of the power of the second Cham¬ 
ber. The Labour and the Liberal Parties were thus, 
though in principle far apart as the poles, in apparent 
accord on electoral policy—a state of matters not to the 
advantage of Labour. The strategical weakness of the 
Liberals lay in the fact that they had not, and could not 
have, any policy on unemployment to counter the 
attractive and strongly boomed Tariff Reform proposals 
of the Unionists. 

In the election which took place in January, 1910, the 
Liberals lost one hundred seats and the Labour Party 
lost five. All the leading Labour men, however, held 
their seats, Hardie keeping his by a greatly increased 
majority, though on this occasion he had a second 
Liberal opponent, in the person of Pritchard Morgan, 
whom he had defeated in 1900, and who now, as if 
determined on revenge, conducted the usual campaign 
of scurrilous abuse and misrepresentation. One very 
special lie circulated assiduously and insidiously, though 
not in print, represented Hardie as being a man of 
wealth, who owned an estate in Scotland and had sold 
the “Labour Leader” to the I.L.P. for ,£20,000. Up to 
the last there were credulous people who believed these 
stupid stories and pestered him for subscriptions to 
various kinds of ostensibly charitable objects. He, as 
a matter of fact, had refused to subscribe to local insti¬ 
tutions such as football clubs and bowling clubs, for the 
sufficient reason that over and above his objections on 
principle, he had hardly enough income to meet the 
frugal requirements of his own household. The elec¬ 
tion campaign on this occasion was more prolonged and 
even more strenuous than the two previous ones, but 
need not be described here. The result seemed to carry 


291 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

with it the assurance that his position in Merthyr was 
absolutely impregnable. He had polled 13,841 votes 
as compared with 10,187 in 1906, and his majority had 
increased from 2,411 to 9,105. 

An extract from his election address may be given 
as showing with what skill he raised the contest above 
merely temporary or local controversies. “ There are 
issues that go deeper than any of those raised by the 
traditional parties in this contest. Mr. Balfour has said 
that he wants this election fought on the issues of 
Socialism and Tariff Reform. I accept Mr. Balfour’s 
challenge, and put my Socialism against his Tariff 
Reform. He wants to use the State for the benefit of 
the rich. I want to use it for the benefit of all. Socialism 
is the one system whereby man may escape from the 
dreary labyrinth of poverty, vice and beggarliness in 
life in which the race is now aimlessly wandering.” 

He himself attributed his electoral success to the fact 
that Socialism had been made the supreme issue, and the 
following February, in his closing words as chairman 
of the Labour Party Conference, he affirmed adherence 
to that principle to be a necessary condition of success 
for the entire Labour Party. “Whether we like it or 
not, in every contest we wage, our opponents will see 
to it that Socialism is kept well to the front. Our can¬ 
didates and workers will therefore do well to equip 
themselves for that line of attack. Socialism has no 
terrors for honest people. The caricatures and vile mis¬ 
representation of Socialism fail entirely when the case 
for Socialism is put lucidly before the people. We do 
not want to see any vain beating of the air as is too 
often done in the name of Socialism, but it is imperative 
that every man who is put forward as a candidate under 
Labour auspices should be able to defend and expound 
Socialism when it is attacked by the enemies of Labour.” 


292 


FOREIGN AFFAIRS 


It must be confessed that there have been, and still are, 
many Labour candidates whose qualifications do not 
conform to the standard set up by the founder of the 
Labour Party. 

In passing, it should be noted that this year the 
British Miners’ Federation became affiliated to the 
Labour Party, and thus another decisive step was taken 
in the political consolidation of the working class. 

All through the year the great constitutional contro¬ 
versy continued, and the people became so deeply 
engrossed shouting for or against Lloyd George that 
they forgot all about Sir Edward Grey, a much more 
fateful statesman if they had only known it. 

The rival partisans debated hotly as to whether the 
House of Lords should be ended or mended, as to how 
many new peers it would be necessary to create to 
render that House impotent, or as to how many times 
a reformed Second Chamber should be allowed to throw 
out a Bill before it became law; and while this political 
comedy of “much ado about next to nothing” was pro¬ 
ceeding, the diplomats and the Imperialists were not idle. 

Lord Roberts continued his propaganda for compul¬ 
sory military service, the introduction of which the War 
Office partially anticipated by encouraging railway com¬ 
panies and large employers of labour to make service 
in the Territorial forces a condition of employment. 
Mr. Haldane’s “nation in arms” was materialising in 
spite of protests from Hardie and his colleagues. The 
Admiralty was getting its Dreadnoughts built. Germany 
was adding to its fleet. France was raising the peace¬ 
time strength of its army, and, more fateful than all, 
British and French financiers were investing their 
millions in Russia, and staking out concessions of 
industrially exploitable territory in that unhappy Czar- 
ridden country. In the midst of the evolution of a policy 

293 


U 


]. KEIR HARDIE 

in which he took special interest and played a prominent 
part, King Edward died. His successor was enthroned. 
Liberals and Tories called a temporary truce. They 
mingled their tears for the dead monarch, combined 
their cheers for the living one, and then went on with 
the farce, “The Peers versus the People.” 

One tragic interlude there was, turning public atten¬ 
tion for a few brief hours to the realities of industrial 
life. This was the Whitehaven disaster. Following close 
upon the death of King Edward came the death of one 
hundred and thirty working miners under appalling and, 
as many people believed, preventable circumstances; 
repeated recommendations by special scientific investi¬ 
gators for the minimising of risks of explosions in mines 
having been ignored alike by the Home Office and by 
the mineowners chiefly because of the expense. The 
feeling raised amongst the mining community by the 
Whitehaven disaster was, if anything, intensified by 
what many of them regarded as the too hasty closing 
up of the mine before all possible efforts at rescue had 
been exhausted. Hardie, ever sensitive where the lives 
of miners were concerned, gave public expression to his 
opinion that when the mine was bricked up the men 
were probably still alive; an opinion which Mr. 
Churchill, the Home Secretary, described as “cruel and 
disgraceful.” Hardie, of course, was not the man to rest 
under such an aspersion. He repeated his statement in 
Parliament, and in an interview replied directly to 
.Churchill’s accusation, and raised the whole question of 
safety in mines. “Mr. Winston Churchill’s comment,” 
he said, “is characterised by righteousness which could 
only proceed from a total ignorance of what I said and 
of the facts of the case. In the course of the speech to 
which Mr. Churchill refers I gave it as my opinion, 
based upon my practical experience as a miner, that at 


294 


WHITEHAVEN DISASTER 


the time it was decided to wall up the mine the miners 
were in all probability still alive. I adhere to that 
opinion. I further stated that had the spirit of the Mines’ 
Regulation Act been carried out in connection with the 
working of the mine, the disaster would not have 
occurred. The fire which imprisoned the miners took 
place in what was known as the bottle-neck, and appar¬ 
ently this was the only means of egress from the work¬ 
ings beyond. The bottle-neck workings branch off in 
five main levels, and it would have been an easy matter 
to have had a safety road laid from this to the pit shaft, 
so that in the event of the main haulage road between 
the shaft and the bottle-neck getting blocked up, the 
other would have been available for the men to escape 
by. I suggested that these were matters which would 
require to be investigated, and it is this suggestion which 
the Home Secretary characterises as cruel and disgrace¬ 
ful. Working miners of the country will have a different 
opinion. I hope Mr. Churchill is not more concerned 
about shielding the mineowner than he is about finding 
out the truth.” Whether Hardie was right as to the men 
being alive when the order to close up the mines was 
given, cannot now be proved, but his opinion had the 
support of men deeply interested in the matter, the 
rescue party having to be forcibly restrained from 
removing the brickwork and going on with their efforts 
to save life, even though told they would be throwing 
their own lives away. 

This catastrophe occurred now eleven years ago. 
The mining community know best what improvements, 
if any, have taken place since then, and they also are 
best able to judge whether the kind of protests made by 
Keir Hardie were necessary or not. He never forgot 
that he was a miner, and a representative of miners. 

In the endeavour to preserve some continuity in this 

295 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

story of Hardie’s life, the writer has up to the present 
found it difficult to bring - into view one aspect of his 
nature which is, nevertheless, essential to form a complete 
estimate of the man. His love for and understanding 
of children was only equalled by the love of children 
for him. It was a case of “like draws to like.” Young 
folk were drawn to him as he to them, instinctively. He 
has spoken of himself as the man who never was a child, 
and that was true so far as his own literal experience 
was concerned. Yet it might be even truer to say that 
he was all his life a child. Perhaps, even, it was his 
childlike directness and straightforwardness that 
rendered him immune from all kinds of sophistry and 
double-dealing and made him a perpetual puzzle to 
men of the world playing the game of politics. Be that 
as it may, it was certainly true that even in the midst 
of the most serious work he could lift himself out of 
the hurly-burly and become as a little child. In the 
many households which he entered during his goings to 
and fro, the presence of children always put him at his 
ease and made him feel at home. There are many 
grown-up men and women in the Socialist movement 
who cherish as one of the unforgettable things of their 
bairntime the occasion when Keir Hardie took them 
upon his knee, or hoisted them on to his shoulders and 
made chums of them. He could tell them stories, 
wonderful stories—stories sometimes of the wise pit 
ponies that were his own chums in the days of his 
boyhood, or of the ongoings of “Roy,” the wise collie 
waiting to welcome him home far away in Cumnock, or 
of the Red Indians he had met in America, or, as often 
happened, a fairy tale made up “out of his own head”— 
that very head amongst whose grizzled locks the hands 
of the delighted youngsters were at that moment playing. 

This love and understanding of children did not in 

296 


CHILDREN 


any way interfere with or hinder his work for Socialism. 
It became part and parcel of it. In the 1910 volume 
of the “Young Socialist”—this very year when he 
and his colleagues were beset by so much political 
perplexity—there is a short story entitled “Jim” written 
by him. A story of a forlorn London slum laddie and 
of two equally forlorn London slum dogs—the only 
dogs in fiction I think that ever entered Heaven. It is 
a simply told tale blended of fantasy and realism, of 
humour and pathos, and of tender deep compassion. 
The literary world, of course, never heard of this child 
story by Keir Hardie, nor of others of the same kind 
which he wrote from time to time. They were not 
written to gain money, or reputation. They were written 
for the children of the Socialist movement. In the 
early years of the “Labour Leader” he, under the nom 
de -plume of “Daddy Time,” conducted a children’s 
column and from week to week held homely converse 
with the bairns. Around this weekly talk there grew a 
kind of young folk’s fellowship, which called itself 
“The Crusaders,” and out of this again there came the 
Socialist Sunday School movement, the mere sound 
and rumour of which has made the hairs of so many 
pious but ignorant people stand on end. Good men and 
women gave their time and love to the building of it. 
Miss Lizzie Glasier, the sister of Bruce Glasier, 
Archibald McArthur (known as “Uncle Archie”), Clarice 
McNab, now Mrs. B. H. Shaw, Alfred Russell, Robert 
Donaldson, Fred Coates, Alex. Gossip, John Burns (of 
Glasgow), and a host of others, but all deriving their 
inspiration from Hardie, who, to them, was literally the 
“Great Exemplar.” Thousands of young folks have 
passed through the schools and into the fighting and 
teaching ranks of the general Socialist advance. And 
so, in the words of William Morris, “the cause goes 


2 9 7 . 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

marching on,” and with it the name and the memory of 
Keir Hardie. 

September brought the International Socialist Con¬ 
gress once more, this time at Copenhagen. This 
Congress is memorable chiefly for the proposal by the 
I.L.P., with the approval of the British section, that 
the General Strike should be considered as a means 
of preventing war. This proposal took the form of an 
amendment to the resolution brought forward by the 
Commission on Anti-Militarism. Hardie had endeav¬ 
oured to get his proposal incorporated in the resolutions, 
and, failing in that, now moved it as an amendment. In 
view of all that has happened since, and of what is 
happening still in the efforts to reconstitute a satisfactory 
Socialist International, it will be wise to reproduce these 
resolutions here, with the “General Strike” amendment. 

“The Congress, reiterating the oft-repeated duty of 
Socialist representatives in the Parliaments to combat 
militarism with all the means at their command and to 
refuse the means of armaments, requires from its 
representatives :— 

“(a) The constant reiteration of the demand that 
international arbitration be made compulsory in all inter¬ 
national disputes; 

“(b) Persistent and repeated proposals in the direction 
of ultimate disarmament, and, above all, as a first step, 
the conclusion of a general treaty limiting naval arma¬ 
ments and abrogating the right of privateering; 

“(c) The demand for the abolition of secret diplomacy 
and the publication of all existing and future agreements 
between the Governments; 

“(d) The guarantee of the independence of all nations 
and their protection from military attacks and violent 
suppression. 

“ 1 he International Socialist Bureau will support all 

298 


MILITARISM 


Socialist organisations in this fight against militarism by 
furnishing them with the necessary data and information, 
and will, when the occasion arises, endeavour to bring 
about united action. In case of warlike complications 
this Congress re-affirms the resolution of the Stuttgart 

Congress, which reads :— 

“ ‘In case of war being imminent, the working classes 
and their Parliamentary representatives in the countries 
concerned shall be bound, with the assistance of the 
International Socialist Bureau, to do all they can to 
prevent the breaking out of the war, using for this pur¬ 
pose the means which appear to them to be most effica¬ 
cious, and which must naturally vary according to the 
acuteness of the struggle of classes and to the general 
political conditions. 

“ ‘In case war should break out notwithstanding, they 
shall be bound to intervene, that it may be brought to 
a speedy end, and to employ all their forces for utilising 
the economical and political crisis created by the war, 
in order to rouse the masses of the people and to hasten 
the downfall of the predominance of the capitalist class. 

“ ‘For the proper execution of these measures the 
Congress directs the Bureau, in the event of a war 
menace, to take immediate steps to bring about an im¬ 
mediate agreement among the Labour parties of the 
countries affected for united action to prevent the 

threatened war.’ ” . 

It is easy now to make comment upon the inherent 

ineffectiveness of these proposals. They were, however, 
the outcome of years of deliberation by men of various 
nationalities who were sincerely desirous of two things, 
the abolition of war and the establishment of Socialism, 
and the real secret of their inutility may, perhaps, be 
found in the fatalism expressed in the preamble, which 
declared that “war will only cease with the disappear- 


299 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


ance of capitalist production.” A belief in the inevit¬ 
ability of war is not a good foundation upon which to 
build measures of prevention. These proposals relied 
upon Parliamentary action to prevent war, and pre¬ 
supposed a much greater possession of political power 
on the part of Labour than has ever existed; and they 
certainly did not contemplate a world Conflagration 
involving nations that had no parliamentary institutions 
whatever. 

The I.L.P. amendment proposed extra-parliamentary 
action; direct action in fact, on an international scale. 
It was as follows : “This Congress recommends the 
affiliated Parties and Labour organisations to consider 
the advisability and feasability of the general strike, 
especially in industries that supply war material, as one 
of the methods of preventing war, and that action be 
taken on the subject at the next Congress.” 

The next Congress would be in 1913, and we can 
now see that if in the intervening years, the preparatory 
steps for enforcing this proposal had been taken, there 
would yet have been time for putting its efficacy to the 
test in August, 1914. In moving this amendment, the 
British section believed they were making a thoroughly 
practical proposal for the preservation of international 
peace. Somewhere there may be in existence a verbatim 
report of Hardie’s speech. A very brief summary, 
mainly taken from the descriptive account of the Con¬ 
gress by Bruce Glasier in the “Labour Leader,” will 
suffice here. Hardie began by stating that he desired 
that the position of the Socialist and Labour movement 
in Britain should be understood by their foreign com¬ 
rades. It had been much misrepresented. The British 
Labour Party took a very definite stand against war. 
They were not only anti-war but anti-military, which was 
not quite the same thing. A standing army was an indi- 

300 


MILITARISM 


cation that the State was founded on force. Militarism 
and freedom could not exist side by side. It was a 
source of great pleasure to him to find that the Socialists 
of Denmark and Norway were not only against large 
expenditure in armaments, but were opposed to arma¬ 
ments altogether and had moved for their complete 
abolition. There was, he declared, a big place in history 
for the nation which has the courage and faith to disarm 
itself. No country, not even despotic Russia, would 
dare to attack an unarmed nation. Dealing with the 
argument used in the capitalist press for a large navy, 
he said that the refusal of the Hague Conference, in 
obedience to the British Government, to abolish the 
capture of merchandise at sea, did much to excuse, 
though it might not justify, that argument. He dis¬ 
sociated the British movement from the articles by 
Blatchford and Hyndman in the capitalist press, and in 
“Justice” and the “Clarion.” He believed that the 
S.D.P. delegates would endorse his statement that on 
this question these men spoke only for themselves, and 
that every section of the Socialist movement in Britain 
disapproved of their utterances and their conduct in 
taking sides with the capitalist press. Ledebour, without 
knowing the difference between the German and the 
British Budget, had attacked the British Labour Party 
for voting for taxation, and Hardie replied. To vote 
for the rejection of the entire Budget, would be 
to vote against the provision of money for Old 
Age Pensions, against the payment of wages for 
the servants of the State, and against every social 
undertaking of the State. The I.L.P. in Britain 
were arranging for a great campaign against war. 
Jaur£s and Vandervelde were coming to speak, and he 
hoped that Ledebour himself or some other German 
comrade would come also. Turning to his own amend- 


]. KEIR HARDIE 

ment, he offered to Ledebour (the mover of the 
official resolution) to withdraw the addition, provided 
he would agree to the Bureau circulating a paragraph 
embodying the amendment. The French, American and 
South German delegates on the Commission agreed to 
support that, but Ledebour, on behalf of the Germans, 
declined. It was true that a general strike against war 
could only come by the international agreement of the 
workers. But did they not know that the miners at their 
recent International Conference had actually agreed 
that this very question should be referred to their 
Executive in order that it might be considered at their 
next Conference. The miners alone could prevent war 
by withholding supplies. We must give the workers a 
great lead. He did not expect that the workers were at 
present ready to strike against war. But they never 
would be ready to do so unless we helped to educate 
them by pointing out to them their duty. 

The value, for us, of this utterance, even abbreviated, 
lies in the fact that it is illuminative. It throws light on 
the mental attitudes on both sides in the discussion, and 
we are forced to the conclusion that all these men were 
actuated by the highest motives and were sincerely 
striving to find a solution for the problems confronting 
humanity. The Germans would not mislead the Con¬ 
gress by voting for a resolution which they thought 
impracticable. Their Marxian theories of economic deter¬ 
minism made it easy for the Imperialist and Militarist 
forces to pursue their policy. They were like the rabbit 
paralysed by the serpent, but they honourably told the 
Congress that if a war came they did not believe that 
a general strike could be made to stop it. The “Time 
Forces” were against the International leaders. 
Capitalism and Imperialism were developing faster 
than International Socialism and proletarian power. 


302 


CHRISTIANITY 


On this question it was not found necessary to divide 
the Congress. The resolution was carried on the 
understanding that the amendment should be considered 
by the International Socialist Bureau, the German 
section agreeing to this. 

This was not Hardie’s only visit to the Continent 
during this year. In May, he had been to Lille, in France, 
as chief speaker in a propaganda crusade organised by 
the National Council of the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon 
and the Brotherhood movements of Great Britain. To 
some scoffers the idea of British Nonconformists teaching 
continental workers how to spend pleasant Sunday after¬ 
noons was not without its humour; but that aspect did 
not appeal to Hardie. T o him it was another oppor¬ 
tunity for preaching Socialism and international 
goodwill, and he made full use of it. His name and 
fame brought together a great assemblage of working 
folk, and besides speaking in the great hall of L’Union 
de Lille, he had to address an overflow meeting of some 
six thousand in the Square, delivering an oration which, 
by its religious fervour and idealism, made him more 
than ever a man of mystery to the scientific Socialists 
who found in the materialist conception of history the 
only key to the explanation of every problem. What 
kind of a Socialist could he be who said, Behind nature 
there is a Power, unseen but felt. Beyond death there 
is a Something, else were life on earth a mere wastage, 
and who declared, “I myself have found in the Christian¬ 
ity of Christ the inspiration which first of all, drove me 
into the movement and has carried me on in it. Yet this 
man was an advocate of the general strike. They could 
not understand him. Nor could the commercialised pro¬ 
fessors of Christianity. To both he was an enigma. 

There was nothing enigmatical, however, about his 
action a few weeks later, when, in the House of Com- 


303 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


mons, he was attacking the Home Secretary and the War 
Minister for having sent police and military into Wales 
during a miners’ strike. This dispute had originated in 
the Rhondda Valley, where 11,000 miners had come 
out on strike, demanding an equalisation of wages with 
other collieries—demanding, in fact, a minimum wage. 
There had been some disturbance at Tonypandy, due, 
as Hardie alleged, to the importation of police from out¬ 
side the district. In addition to the imported police, 
military had been sent into the district, and also 
to Aberaman, which was in Hardie’s constituency, 
where he maintained there had not been even a 
semblance of riot or disturbance. In the strike 
district the police had interfered to prevent picketing, 
which he contended was still lawful, and, in fact, 
he charged Mr. Haldane and Mr. Churchill with 
using the forces at their disposal to protect blacklegs 
and help the masters against the men. In proof of his 
assertion that the rioting was due to outside influence, 
he pointed out that at Pen-y-craig, where there were no 
imported police, there had been no rioting, though there 
had been picketing and demonstrations of the kind com¬ 
mon to a labour dispute. There was not even a window 
broken in this district. In raising this matter in the 
House, Hardie was, of course, supported by the Parlia¬ 
mentary Labour Party, and also by his Liberal colleague 
in the representation of Merthyr, Mr. Edgar Jones. A 
debate ensued, followed by a division, the only effect 
of which was to emphasise the fact that, in a quarrel 
between labour and capital, Liberals and dories were 
united on the side of capital. From Hardie’s point of 
view this was worth while. Every time this was demon¬ 
strated, the need for Labour representation was also 
demonstrated, d his might not be the class war according 
to the Marxists, nor brotherly love according to 

304 


GENERAL ELECTION 


the churches; but it was one of the roads to Socialism 
according to Hardie. He might, with some truth, have 
claimed that he was a better Marxist and a better 
Christian than either of them. 

About this time he produced a scheme for the starting 
of a Socialist daily newspaper, the need for which had 
long been recognised, and had so far proceeded with his 
plans as to justify him in the hope that the first number 
would appear on May ist of the following year. Another 
General Election, however, intervened, absorbing all 
the energy and spare cash of the Party, and later there 
emerged from the Labour Party a more ambitious, though 
not, in the opinion of the present writer, a more useful, 
scheme. The “Daily Citizen 5 ’ was the outcome. 

Night after night in Parliament he continued question¬ 
ing and compelling discussion on the state of matters in 
South Wales, always producing fresh evidence in proof 
of the barbarous methods of the police authorities, and 
demanding an impartial inquiry into the whole circum¬ 
stances of the dispute, until in the first week in December 
there came the General Election, and the transference 
of his activities to the actual scene of industrial strife. 
The strike was still proceeding. There was much dis¬ 
tress in the Rhondda and in parts of the Merthyr con¬ 
stituency, and, in view of the action of the Government 
in the dispute, the Liberals did not dare to put up a 
candidate against him. There was a Unionist candidate, 
but without even a hope of success, and for Hardie the 
result was never in doubt. He polled 11,507 votes, and 
his majority was 6,230. It was the end. He did not 
know, nor could he nor anyone know, that he had fought 
his last election contest, and that that night he had heard 
for the last time the crowds hail him victor. His death 
was to cause the next Merthyr fight. And by that time 
Merthyr had changed; the whole world had changed. 

305 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

The calamity which he dreaded, and which he fought so 
hard to avert, had come to pass. It was at least in 
keeping with his life that his last political campaign 
amongst the Merthyr miners should have had for its 
first and immediate issue the well-being of his class 
and craft. 

In the outcome of this election the Labour Party more 
than regained its position. It went back to Parliament 
forty-two in number. Of these, eight were I.L.P. 
nominees, the most outstanding amongst the newcomers 
being George Lansbury and Tom Richardson; the 
latter’s return as an I.L.P. nominee being a significant 
sign of the advance towards Socialism on the part of the 
North of England miners. 

The Liberal and Tory Parties had exactly two hundred 
and seventy-two members each. The Liberal Govern¬ 
ment was therefore dependent for its continuance in 
office upon the Irish Party and the Labour Party. In 
these circumstances, had it not been that Liberal and 
Tory were alike Imperialist, there might have been no 
war in 1914. 

It is strange to reflect that during the whole of this 
General Election the subject of war was never men¬ 
tioned. Foreign policy was never mentioned. Arma¬ 
ments were never mentioned. Yet a Government was 
elected that took this country into the most terrible war 
the world has ever seen. As a decoy-duck Lloyd George 
was a success. He attracted the fire that should have 
been directed against Grey and Haldane and the British 
war-lords. Only the Socialists were alive to the impend¬ 
ing danger. During November, the I.L.P. had carried 
through a strenuous anti-militarist campaign, holding 
big meetings in all the large centres of population, and 
in December, right in the middle of the election, and 
without any pre-arranged connection therewith, there 

306 



J. Keir Hardie, 1910 





INTERNATIONALISM 


took place in the Albert Hall, London, the great Inter¬ 
national Socialist Demonstration organised by the 
I.L.P. with the view of strengthening the solidarity of 
Labour in all countries against war. At this meeting 
Hardie was in the chair. France was represented by 
Jaures; Germany by Molkenbuhr; Belgium by Vander- 
velde; Great Britain by MacDonald and Anderson; 
America by Walter T. Mills. The talk was all of peace 
and goodwill, and of the power of organised labour to 
preserve Europe from the scourge of war. Jaures, the 
greatest of Socialist orators, spoke like one inspired— 
Jaures, marked out as one of the war’s earliest victims; 
yet happier was he than Hardie, for he was to 
fall quickly and suddenly and to be spared from behold¬ 
ing the full international collapse and the betrayals 
that followed it. 

At least, they were there, the Socialists of France, 
Germany, Belgium, Britain, the nations that were, even 
then, being drawn into the whirlpool of blood; they were 
there, these Socialists, doing what could be done to 
prevent the catastrophe. But the people never heard 
them. The people were singing the “Land Song.” 
They were listening to Lloyd George and “waiting and 
seeing,” or rather, waiting and not seeing, what Mr. 
Asquith was going to give them; and the second General 
Election of 1910 ended like the first, in the achievement 
of nothing, except the blindfolding of the British 
people and the election of a House of Commons with 
neither political principle nor foresight. 

Hardly had the election cries subsided, when theie 
came the news in the last week of the year of 
another great mining disaster, this time in Lancashire 
at the Hulton collieries, known as the Pretoria Pit 
disaster. Hardie’s last task for the year was to 
write an article for the “Labour Leader,” similar to so 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


many he had written in the course of his life, protesting 
against the callous indifference of the Government and 
all in authority to the continued needless sacrifice 
of the lives of the miners. Only those in close 
daily intercourse with him knew how these recurring 
calamities filled him with wrath almost to blasphemy. 
There was the usual coroner’s inquest, inculpating 
nobody. There was the usual inquiry, followed by recom¬ 
mendations six months later, but valueless without Home 
Office compulsory powers. We do not require to remind 
ourselves that Parliament was dominated by the vested 
interests. 

During all this time the Rhondda strike continued 
and the distress amongst the miners and their dependents 
increased. 1911, it will be remembered, was a year of 
industrial upheaval almost unprecedented in its univer¬ 
sality. In nearly every industry the workers were at 
one time or other in revolt, but the outstanding disputes 
were those which produced the great railway strike, and 
prolonged this heartbreaking struggle in the Rhondda. 
In both of these, Hardie, by sheer force of circumstances, 
could not help becoming a prominent figure. His pro¬ 
test against the intervention of the police and the military 
in the Welsh dispute has already been recorded. It was 
the same cause, more tragically emphasised, which 
compelled the Labour Party to raise the matter of the 
railway strike in Parliament. The full story of the dis¬ 
pute need not be retold. The fundamental cause of the 
quarrel was the refusal of the railway companies to 
recognise the Railwaymen’s Union, a refusal in which 
the companies had the encouragemnt of the Govern¬ 
ment. Even before the outbreak of hostilities, and 
while negotiations were proceeding out of which a 
peaceful settlement was possible, the Home Office, with 
the concurrence of the War Office, two departments of 

308 


INDUSTRIAL STRIFE 


which Mr. Churchill and Mr. Haldane were the chiefs, 
had guaranteed to the companies the use of the forces 
of the Crown, and did actually implement their promise 
to such an extent that at one time it was estimated that 
every available soldier on home service was held ready 
for action. The result was what might have been 
expected. The railway directors stiffened their backs. 
The strike took place. Non-union blacklegs were given 
military protection. Men were shot down, one fatally 
at Liverpool, two fatally at Llanelly in Wales. In both 
cases the victims were wholly unconnected with the 
dispute. 

The fact of the Government’s preliminary guarantee 
to the companies was well established in the course of 
the parliamentary discussions, and the manner of their 
interpretation of their powers by the military was clearly 
illustrated by the evidence at the Llanelly inquest given 
by Major Stewart, who repudiated the suggestion that 
blank cartridges were fired, and declared that he had 
instructions from the War Office, empowering him to 
fire without orders from the magistrates: a state of 
matters which meant in effect, that a condition of martial 
law had been established without the sanction of 
Parliament, but with the sanction of a Liberal Govern¬ 
ment, or, in any event, of a Liberal War Minister. 

The strike was settled ultimately by the full recog¬ 
nition of the Union and the appointment of a Royal 
Commission to inquire into the railwaymen’s grievances. 
In the course of the discussion on the settlement, Mr. 
Lloyd George made a violent attack on Hardie for 
having stated that the Government had, while granting 
the aid of the military, made no attempt to bring pressure 
upon the directors to meet the men. Hardie had made 
this statement, referring to a declaration of the Prime 
Minister previous to the strike, but Mr. George, with 


v 


309 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

his customary slim dishonesty, sought to make it appear 
as if Hardie’s remark applied to a subsequent stage, 
when the Government had belatedly endeavoured to 
bring the parties together. Hardie, of course, held to 
his original statement, the truthfulness of which was 
testified to by the following resolution passed by the 
Railwaymen’s Joint Executive : “This Joint Executive 
body repudiates the unwarrantable attack by the Chan¬ 
cellor of the Exchequer upon Mr. Keir Elardie for using 
arguments which each of the forty representatives 
present at the Board of Trade feels were quite justi¬ 
fiable after the language and attitude of the Prime 
Minister. We further extend the best thanks of the Joint 
Executive, representing all railway workers, to Mr. Keir 
Hardie and the Labour Party for their splendid service 
in helping, both to bring the men out, and get them back 
again when the truce was called.” 

Another Labour dispute in which Hardie was very 
directly interested, and in which he rendered invaluable 
service to the workers concerned, was that which occurred 
at the Dowlais Ironworks in his own constituency. This 
dispute had features in common both with that of the 
Rhondda miners and the railwaymen. It was a demand 
to have the rates of pay equalised with those paid by 
other firms in the same industry, and it was also a demand 
for recognition of Trade Unionism. On both points the 
men won after a protracted struggle, but not before 
Hardie in Parliament had brought such pressure to bear 
upon the Government for the enforcement of the Fair 
Wages’ Clause in Government contracts that the firm, 
Guest, Keen and Nettlefold, Ltd., were compelled to 
concede the demands rather than lose their contracts 
with the Government of India and with other Depart¬ 
ments. This was the kind of object lesson in the value 
of Labour representation which even the most non- 


310 


THE BRINK OF WAR 


political worker could appreciate, and the part played 
by Hardie enhanced his already very great popularity 
with his working-class constituents. Incidentally also 
it illustrated Hardie’s remarkable capacity for assimil¬ 
ating knowledge in connection with other forms of 
industry than that in which he was himself expert. He 
showed himself able to discuss details and technicalities 
in connection with the steel and iron trade as familiarly 
as if he had been bred to the forge instead of the coal¬ 
face. This adaptability applies to every other branch 
of industry in connection with which he had a case to 
uphold or defend. He was very thorough, and always 
made sure of his facts. 

It will be perceived that during the whole of this 
session his time was spent alternating between the 
House of Commons and South Wales, and, as we shall 
see, in the former place there were other things than 
industrial strikes demanding attention. Meantirpe it 
should be noted that he was writing assiduously, and, in 
addition to occasional articles in the “Labour Leader” 
and other papers, was supplying two or three coliimns 
weekly to the “Merthyr Pioneer,” a weekly paper which 
the local I.L.P. brought into existence in March of this 
year. In this journal he found once again the medium 
for the expression not merely of his opinions, but of 
his personality which had been the chief characteristic 
of the “Labour Leader” in its early days. Almost 
till the day of his death he made use of the “Pioneer” 
in this way. 

With all this industrial strife and turmoil, and with 
an Insurance Bill and a House of Lords’ Veto Bill to 
talk about, it is not surprising that the general body of 
the people had neither eyes nor ears for foreign affairs, 
and were not aware that the nation had been brought 
almost to the brink of war, though there were whispers 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


that the possibility of the troops being required 
for service abroad had hastened the railway strike 
settlement. 

The crisis over Morocco arising out of the rival inter¬ 
ests of French and German financiers in that country, 
in which the influence of the British Government 
was manifested on the side of France, took place in 
June, but it was the end of November before, on the 
Foreign Office vote, a parliamentary statement could 
be extracted from Sir Edward Grey on a question which 
had so nearly involved the country in war. In the debate 
which followed, Ramsay MacDonald pointed out that it 
was the Socialist Party in the German Reichstag whose 
influence had prevailed upon the German Government 
to refrain from an immediate retort to Lloyd George’s 
provocative Mansion House speech, and had thereby in 
all probability preserved the peace of Europe. Mac¬ 
Donald rejoiced that he belonged to a Party which was 
in this country the equivalent of the German Social 
Democratic Party in its efforts to avert international war. 

Hardie, in the same debate, spoke with grave sarcasm 
of the self-confessed puerility of high State officials. 
“He did not know how the rest of the House felt, but 
when the Foreign Secretary was telling them how on 
one occasion the German Ambassador called upon him, 
and Sir Edward Grey asked for some explanation about 
the presence of the German warships at Agadir, the Ger¬ 
man Ambassador replied, ‘I shall not tell anything 
about Agadir until you have explained Lloyd George’s 
speech,’ and the Foreign Secretary replied, T shall 
not explain Lloyd George’s speech until you have told 
us about the pres'ence of the warship at Agadir’—he 
could not help feeling that two statesmen of international 
repute were behaving like school children. Yet those 
were the men whom the two countries concerned were 


312 


THE BRINK OF WAR 


asked to trust implicitly with the control of foreign 
affairs.” 

In this same speech he went to the root of the matter. 
“Let them take the whole of the agreements concluded 
during the last five or six years between this country and 
other countries, about Egypt, about Morocco, and about 
Persia, and they would see what we were concerned with 
was not the promotion of the liberties of the peoples of 
those countries, was not the protection of the honour of 
the people of this country, but the protection of profits 
and dividends.” 

The situation, both in Morocco and Egypt, as it 
appeared to the I.L.P. leaders, and to other thoughtful, 
peace-loving people was fraught with peril, not only to 
this country, but to the whole of Europe. 

We may well regret that this debate was not allowed 
in June instead of in November. That it was not, shows 
that the Foreign Office had definitely made up its mind 
to conceal events from Parliament and hoodwink it 
should a crisis arise. 

These casual extracts from the many utterances of 
MacDonald and Hardie, however, are placed here to 
show that for the ultimate catastrophe, they, and those 
for whom they spoke, were free from responsibility. 
That in the midst of all their other work, in Parliament 
and in the country, they should have been so vigilantly 
watchful in a sphere of politics to which the people in 
general were indifferent, was due, of course, to that belief 
in the international unity of interests which is inherent in 
the very spirit of the Socialist movement. They also 
knew far more than most Members of Parliament, and 
were better able to see what was coming and how to 
avert it. 

MacDonald, at this very time, was himself passing 
through the Vale of Sorrow, the death of Mrs. Mac- 

3*3 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Donald in the previous September having bereft him of 
a companionship which could never be replaced, and 
which had been invaluable to the Socialist movement. 

These last years of Keir Hardie’s life—for we are 
now nearing the end—are very difficult to describe in 
such a way as to make vivid the environment, political, 
social and intellectual, which encompassed him. These 
years are so near to us in time and so unripened as to 
their harvest, that it seems like writing about current 
events, and yet they are separated from us by an inter¬ 
vening history so immeasurable in its effects, that they 
appear to belong to almost another epoch than ours. To 
recover the social and political atmosphere, to recon¬ 
struct the conditions, to appreciate the motives by which 
people were actuated in those days seem well nigh 
impossible. Yet that is what we must do if we are to 
have any conception of what those closing years were 
to Keir Hardie. We must see the world as it appeared 
to him in those days. How many of us, for example, 
can recollect or revisualise what was happening in 1912, 
much less recall what we were thinking about at that 
time. 

In 1912, it will be remembered, occurred the great 
national miners’ strike, which resulted in legalising, for 
the first time, the principle of a minimum wage for 
miners. 1912 was the year of the bitterly fought London 
dock strike, in which the workers were defeated, 
humiliated and actually starved into submission, with 
Mr. Tillett, the dockers’ leader, praying theatrically on 
Tower Hill that God might strike Lord Devonport 
dead; the same Lord Devonport with whom, and with 
whose class, Mr. Tillett was in enthusiastic accord only 
two years later. 1912 was the year in which Tom Mann, 
Fred Crowley and Guy Bowman were imprisoned for 
advising soldiers not to shoot their fellow-workers on 


3*4 


THE BRINK OF WAR 


strike, little thinking; how near was the time when 
workers would be shooting workers on a scale unimagin¬ 
able to those courageous protesters against working- 
class fratricide. 1912 was the year when there were 
hundreds of women in prison, hunger-striking and 
enduring the tortures of forcible feeding and unable, of 
course, to foresee how soon political right, withheld from 
them when claimed on grounds of justice, would be 
thrown to them as a bribe, or as a reward for war ser¬ 
vice—the very kind of service for which they were said 
to be unfit. 1912 was the year of the Irish Home Rule 
Act which never became operative. It was also the year 
in which Cabinet Ministers encouraged, and to some 
extent organised, rebellion in the North of Ireland, and 
when Mr. Bonar Law declared, blind to the possibility 
that South of Ireland rebels' would hearken to those 
brave words and act upon them, “I can imagine no 
length of resistance to which Ulster will go which I 
shall not be ready to support.” It was thus the memor¬ 
able year when the leaders of the Unionist Party 
declared, and carried their Party with them in making 
their declaration, that a class which finds itself outvoted 
in Parliament may resort to arms and revolution to undo 
what was done through the ballot box. This was the 
year of the Unemployment Insurance Bill giving legis¬ 
lative recognition to the State’s liability for the condi¬ 
tion of the people. 1912 was the year in which the I.L.P. 
and the Fabians joined forces in a great “War against 
Poverty” campaign demanding the establishment of a 
minimum standard of life, and submitting proposals for 
the achievement of that purpose. 

We have only to mention these movements and events 
to understand what would be the attitude of Keir Hardie 
towards each and all of them. His principles were 
fixed, his record was open. By his past conduct you 

3i5 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


could always tell what his present or future conduct 
would be in any given set of circumstances. In much 
that was happening in the industrial world he could see 
the outcome of his own past labours. The national 
strike of miners: what was it but the outward and 
visible sign of that unity in the coal industry which he 
had advocated as far back as 1886 when he became the 
first Secretary of the Scottish Miners’ Federation? The 
Insurance Bill . what was it but one of the fruits of his 
long years of agitation in and out of Parliament on 
behalf of the unemployed? It was not what he wanted. 
It was not the “right to work.” He described it as a 
slipshod measure and sarcastically commented that its 
beneficialles would still have plenty of opportunity for 
the cultivation of habits of thrift; but makeshift though 
it was, it was better than nothing. In essence, its second 
part was an admission of the workless man’s right to 

live, and it would not have been there but for Keir 
Hardie. 

For British Socialists the time was one of high hopes 
alternating with almost paralysing fears. The hopes lay 
m the evidences of the growing solidarity of organised 
labour, the fears had their source in the ever-present 
dangei of an outbreak of war in Europe which would 
overwhelm all plans for human betterment. In Hardie’s 
-mind, on the whole, the hopes overbalanced the fears. 
In the-case of the Morocco crisis, war had been arrested. 
It might be so again and again until the sheer stupidity 
of having recourse to such a method of settling disputes 
would become universally recognised and the means 
of preventing it by international action would be 
-strengthened. He was naturally an optimist and fain 
to persuade himself that the power of international 
Socialism and the common sense of humanity would be 
Stronger than the Imperialist and capitalist forces 


THE BRINK OF WAR 

making for war. It was well for him at this time to be 
able to cherish, even doubtfully, such a faith. Other¬ 
wise he would have had little zest in life during these 
remaining years. Unlike some other Socialists, he could 
find no compensating comfort in the theory that a 
European war, with all its evils, would at least precipi¬ 
tate revolution. For him, the possible fruits of a revo¬ 
lution were not worth the terrible price that would have 
to be paid for them. He had always believed, and still 
believed, that Socialism could be ushered in without 
violent and bloody revolution. That was why he was in 
Parliament. That was why he favoured the general 
strike. That was why he strove to destroy the militarist 
idea in association with the Socialist movement and 
opposed resolutely all “citizen army” proposals. For 
him, a war-engendered revolution was no gateway to any 
promised land. Though he knew well what kind of war 
the Great War would be, if it came, he refused to admit 
that it was inevitable, and in this frame of mind he went 
on with his work. 

This year, much to the satisfaction of Hardie and his 
South Wales supporters, the I.L.P. Annual Conference 
was held at Merthyr, the object being to mark the 
general movement’s appreciation of the stalwarts who, 
in the darkest hour of the Independent Labour Party had 
sent its leader to Parliament and had steadfastly stood 
by him ever since. The chief subject of debate at the 
Conference was Parliamentary policy, involving the 
vexed question which had troubled the movement ever 
since the formation of the Parliamentary Labour Party, 
as to whether that Party, and especially the I.L.P. mem¬ 
bers of it, should vote on every question on its merits, 
ox should be guided by th<g general political exigencies 
which the Party had to face from time to time. The 
fetter policy was endorsed by the Conference, Hardie 

317 

i* 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


speaking in support of it; but as' a matter of fact, on 
this occasion the Conference itself was a secondary 
function, compared with the public manifestations of 
Socialist feeling in the constituency and personal 
attachment to Hardie. The local comrades were proud 
of their Member, and he was proud of them. Francis, 
Davies, Morris, Barr, Stonelake, and all the others who 
had done the spade-work and the fighting, took pride— 
as they were well entitled to do—in their past achieve¬ 
ments, and were full of confidence for the future. He 
would have taken great risks who would have suggested 
that anything could ever happen to dim the popularity 
of their hero in Merthyr Tydvil. To their credit and 
honour these men all stood firm when the hour of trial 
came. They came through the fire like fine gold. At 
that moment such a trial seemed so far off as to be 
impossible. Yet it was near at hand. 

During the parliamentary session he took his full 
share of the work, and with George Lansbury was 
specially active in protesting against the vindictive 
treatment of the suffragist women in prison, whilst as 
usual he was also very much in evidence on the propa¬ 
ganda platform, and in various ways showed himself to 
be full of life and vigour. In the early autumn, 
preparatory to going to America for an eight weeks’ 
tour in support of Eugene Debs’s candidature for the 
Presidency, he spent a short holiday in Arran with his 
wife and daughter. 

A rhyming note which he sent from there in reply to 
some birthday congratulation in verse reveals him as 
being in good health and spirits. 

“Dear Comrade, if you flatter so, 

You’ll make an old man vaunty : 

I’m- six and fifty years, ’tis true, 

And much have; had to daunt me. 

318 


AMERICA 


“But what of that? My life’s been blest, 

With health and faith abiding-; 

I’ve never sought the rich man’s smife, 

I’ve never shirked a hiding. 

“I’ve tried to do my duty to 
My conscience and my neighbour, 

Regardless of the gain or loss 
Involved in the endeavour. 

“A happy home, a laving wife, 

An I.L.P. fu’ healthy; 

I wadna’ swap my lot in life 
Wi’ any o’ the wealthy.’’ 

“—Keir. Arran, Aug. 15th, 1912.’’ 

Mere holiday jingle, of course, and meant only for 
Tom Mackley of Woolwich, who had sent the birthday 
epistle, but indicating that the agitator “off the chain” 
was enjoying himself. 

The American tour, like Debs’s candidature itself, 
was simply Socialist propaganda. He addressed forty- 
four meetings,_ including four in Canada, He was well 
received everywhere, and well reported by the American 
press. The enthusiasm which he aroused in such places 
as Chicago, Pittsburg and Indianapolis must be taken 
as a tribute to his personality, for he was no platform 
“spell-binder” such as American audiences are said to 
be fond of. He had never aspired to the reputation of 
being an orator. At Chicago he reminded his audience 
of this. “Those who know me best are aware that I am 
never much of an orator. If I have any reputation at 
all it is not that of a talker, but it is rather this : that 
during the thirty odd years that I have been out in the 
open for the class to which I belong, whether in Parlia¬ 
ment or out of Parliament, I have stood by that class 
through good report and ill.” 

A good deal depends on what is meant by oratory. 

3 1 9 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Hardie could 'not play upon the emotions of an audience 
by means of voice modulations and inflections and 
dramatic gestures, but he could, nevertheless, sometimes 
set the heart of his hearers beating in perfect tune with 
that of his own. He was guided by no rules of elocution 
except that which enjoins clear enunciation. His sen¬ 
tences^ nearly always ended on a rising note, which in 
an insincere speaker would have sounded like querul¬ 
ousness, but from his had the effect of intense earnest¬ 
ness. When closing a speech on a note of passionate 
appeal the last word of the last sentence would ring out 
like the sound of a trumpet, and call his auditors 
involuntarily to their feet; they knew not why except that 
they had to get up and cheer. For lucidity in definition 
and explanation of principles in oral speech he was 
unrivalled. He was never obscure. You always knew 
what he meant. Take, for example, the following 
reference to the State in this same Chicago speech : “The 
syndicalist starts from the assumption that the State is 
a capitalist institution. The State, however, is nothing 
of the sort. At the present time every State in the world, 
and every kingdom in the world, is capitalist. Why 
is that so? Because the workers elect the capitalist 
class to govern the State. The State itself is neither 
capitalist nor anti-capitalist. The State is simply a good 
old donkey that goes the way its driver wants it to go. 
When the capitalists rule, of course, the State serves 
the capitalists. When the workers get sense enough to 
stop sending capitalists, and send Socialists drawn from 
their own ranks, to represent them, then the State 
becomes your servant and not the servant of the 
capitalists.” 

He sent home, as was his custom, a series of articles 
descriptive of industrial and social conditions in 
America, veiy valuable at the time, but not so interesting 

£3 


320 


AMERICA 


for us now as the accounts of his meetings with old 
friends from the home country. At every stage of his 
journeyings they seemed to have gathered round him. 
His tour took him through many of the coal-mining dis¬ 
tricts, and we hear of social evenings with comrades of 
his youth now, like himself, growing grey, but fain to 
shake hands and be merry with him for auld lang syne. 
We hear of “Hardie singing ‘Bonnie Mary o’ Argyle’ 
and ‘Robin Tamson’s Smiddy,’” and of “big Bob Mac¬ 
beth in ‘The Battle of Stirling Brig,’ ” and of “Barney 
Reilly dancing an Irish jig with as clean and light a step 
as he did thirty years ago in the ‘Quarter.’” 

This was Keir Hardie as the party politicians and 
press interviewers never knew him, but as he was known 
in hundreds of I.L.P. households throughout Great 
Britain and also to the delegates at I.L.P. conferences 
in the social hours when the day’s work was done and the 
controversies forgotten. On such occasion, to look upon 
Keir Hardie and Bruce Glasier letting themselves go 
in a foursome reel was, as the Scotch phrase has it, “a 
sicht for sair een.” This, his last American trip, seems 
to have given him very great pleasure, a fact the know¬ 
ledge of which has a measure of consolation for some 
of us who know what time and fate had in store 
for him. 

Hardly had he arrived home when the Party was 
called upon to face the troubles for international 
Socialism created by the war in the Balkans. A special 
international Congress had been summoned to meet at 
Basle. The separate Balkan States had united against 
Turkey, and there was very great danger that the war 
would not be confined to the Near East and that the 
much dreaded European conflagration would break out. 
So imminent was this possibility that the International 
Socialist Bureau had already cancelled the arrange- 


321 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


ments for the 1913 Congress due to take place in Vienna. 
The contiguity of Austria to the theatre of war, and the 
ambitions of its rulers and diplomats and its interests in 
the balance of power in the Balkans, made it seem certain 
that, if the struggle were prolonged, Austria would 
speedily be involved and would drag the others in also. 
Europe was again on the edge of the precipice. So, 
when the Congress had to be postponed till 1914, it 
was decided to call immediately an emergency Congress 
in Switzerland. We know what happened in 1914, and 
why it came about that this at Basle was the very last 
Congress before the break-up of the International. It 
should be noted that the British members of the Inter¬ 
national Socialist Bureau were strongly opposed to the 
postponement of the 1913 Congress and were alone in 
this opposition. Who can tell but that if it had met, it 
might have been able to radiate sufficient moral force 
to prevent the calamity of the following year? To be 
wise after the event is, of course, easy, and these post¬ 
war conjectures may seem futile; yet it is natural for us 
to regret what seems a lost opportunity for a last great 
effort for the prevention of the world-war. 

At the Basle Congress, twenty-three countries were 
represented by five hundred and fifty-five delegates, 
Great Britain sending thirteen. By the time the Con¬ 
gress met, the Balkan States had effectually defeated 
Turkey and an armistice had been declared with the 
Balkan League holding the mastery of the situation. 
This had not lessened the danger of war in Central 
Europe. Not only was there the likelihood that in the 
settlement the Great Powers would intervene and come 
into collision with each other, but there was also the 
danger, which realised itself only too speedily, that the 
victorious Balkan States would turn and rend each 
other. The actors on the Balkan stage were too much 


322 


THE BASLE CONGRESS 


puppets controlled by the rival Powers who plotted, 
bribed and egged on from behind the scenes. 

The Basle Congress was a magnificently impressive 
International Socialist demonstration against war; but 
that was all it could be. It drafted and issued a mani¬ 
festo to the Socialists of all the countries represented, 
defining what measures they might take for the preserva¬ 
tion of peace. This manifesto, the last issued by any 
authoritative International Congress, might well be 
republished. It sets forth in vivid detail the conditions 
and international relationships out of which the .Great 
War eventuated, conditions and relationships which, if 
re-established, whatever the grouping of the different 
interests may be, must produce the same evil results. 

There was deep seriousness at this Congress, and, 
at the great peace demonstration in the Cathedral, high 
and noble utterances by Bebel, Jaur&s, Adler, Hardie 
and other international representative men. It was an 
historic Congress, in a sense of which none who partici¬ 
pated could have any knowledge. None of them could 
know that this was the last. Nor could Bebel and Hardie 
know that this was their final meeting. But so it was, 
Bebel, now in his seventy-third year, had only a few 
more months of life, and happily did not see his beloved 
German Social Democratic Party first voting war credits 
and then torn to pieces. Hardie looked almost as 
venerable as Bebel, but had greater vigour. Basle 
wound up an old generation, ended an old chapter, was 
the close of many hopes. 

The Rev. James Wallace of Glasgow, who was one 
of the British delegates, has preserved for us a very 
pleasant glimpse of Hardie in the streets of Basle. 
“After the excitement of the public meeting,” says Mr. 
Wallace, “I accompanied the tribune of the people on a 
tour to see the ‘uncos’ of Basle, and, as in Bunyan’s 


'323 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ Hopeful had to fall back on 
Christian to translate the writing on a pillar ‘for he was 
learned,’ so I proved of service to Keir Hardie in the 
case of French or German sentences and specially by 
enabling him with some ease to make a purchase of a 
keepsake for Mrs. Hardie in a small jeweller’s shop. 
Blessing on the honest Swiss saleswoman whose shop 
seemed so fragrant with honesty that we both felt com¬ 
pletely at home, and the desire for gain or profit was 
simply nowhere with her compared with the full play of 
human kindliness and good feeling. Whether she recol¬ 
lects the two Scotsmen or no, I cannot tell, but to the 
two Scotsmen her shop with its fragrant honesty was a 
green spot in our memory. As we passed along the 
pavements we admired the noble street architecture of 
the old city, but Keir Hardie was also much interested 
in all the different kinds of dogs, large or small, that 
crossed our paths. The most contemptible ‘tykes’ 
attracted the great man’s notice. During the whole 
course of our peregrinations working men broke into 
smiles at the sight of Keir Hardie, and kept him very 
busy pulling off his cap in reply to their salutations, 
while an Egyptian, with a profile exactly reproducing 
the features of his ancestors on the monuments of Luxor 
four thousand years ago, approached us with all eager¬ 
ness to complain of the high-handed acts of British 
officials in the land of the Pharaohs. Keir Hardie 
listened to him very sympathetically and offered to air 
his complaint in Parliament; but so far as I could judge 
there was a want of definiteness about his statements, as 
if they were rather the expression of a general restive¬ 
ness of his country under the regime of Britain, and 
might even be fomented by German intrigue. Very 
naturally our footsteps gravitated towards the Art 
Gallery of Basle. ‘There’s Jaurbs,’ said Keir Hardie, 


324 


THE BASLE CONGRESS 


and went forward to shake the great Frenchman’s hand. 
A man more unlike the typical Frenchman as depicted 
in our comic papers it would be impossible to find. 
Indeed, take a shrewd farmer from the Ayr or Lanark 
market, and there you have a Jaures. It was the last 
meeting of these two great men on earth. What sphere 
have they now for the exercise of their beautiful ener¬ 
gies? ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made of. 5 55 Mr. 
Wallace was wrong. Hardie and Jaures were to meet 
again before the end. 

And so the year 1912 drew towards its close, with 
the war-clouds hanging dark and threatening over the 
nations, and the minds of all Socialists full of fore¬ 
boding. “The moment is critical, 55 wrote Hardie, “and 
European war will almost certainly lead to European 
revolution, the end of which no man can foresee”; yet 
was he still an optimist. “It was a great gathering,” he 
summed up, speaking of the Basle Congress, “and full 
of significance for the future of our race. For those 
gathered there represented not so many nationalities, 
but the disinherited of all lands. These have now no 
country : they are the mob, the proletariat, the oppressed. 
These are the ties that bind them. The International 
is uniting them in their fight against bondage.” He was 
great of heart, and he needed to be. 


w 


325 


CHAPTER THIRTEEN 


SOUTH AFRICA AND IRELAND-COMING OF AGE 

CONFERENCE-THE WORLD CONFLICT 

I T is not easy to describe Keir Hardie’s activities 
during the succeeding eighteen months of turmoil. 
So many different events, political, industrial and 
international, were happening concurrently, in all of 
which he was interested and implicated. Perhaps the 
simplest way will be to take the more outstanding of 
these events in their chronological order. 

At the I.L.P. Annual Conference held at Manchester, 
in March, he accepted once more the position of Chair¬ 
man of the Party, the chief reason for his election being 
that he, as founder of the I.L.P., might preside at the 
“Coming of Age” Conference and celebrations to take 
place the following year at Bradford. His remarks in 
accepting the honour were brief and characteristic. 
“Twenty years ago I was elected to the Chairmanship. 
I then said I accepted the office reluctantly. I say the 
same thing to-day. Nature never intended me to be a 
leader. I find myself happier among the rank and file. 
But one thing let us determine. During the next twelve 
months we are all going to be young men in a hurry.” 

In Parliament a fortnight later, Hardie found himself 
almost in the position which he had occupied at the 
beginning of his parliamentary career. He stood alone, 
or nearly so. The occasion was the introduction of what 
was known as the Government’s “Cat and Mouse” Bill 
the object of which was to enable the Home Secretary 

326 


WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE 


to release suffragist hunger strikers when they were at 
the point of death, and, when they had recovered in 
health, to reimprison them without trial. Hardie moved 
the rejection of the Bill and got only seven other 
members to follow him into the lobby. There was 
magnanimity as well as courage in his lonely champion¬ 
ship of the militants. 

Only a few days before, these same women had not 
only shouted him down, but had actually assaulted him. 
Hardly by a word did he blame them. Nor did he look 
for gratitude from them. He opposed the Bill because 
it was the right thing to do, and he opposed it with so 
much vigour and persuasiveness that in the final division 
before it became law, his seven supporters had increased 
to fifty, a proof that he had stirred some of the parlia¬ 
mentary guardians of liberty to a perception of the 
danger of vesting such arbitrary power in the hands of 
a Secretary of a Government department. So far as the 
militant suffragists were concerned, he appreciated their 
fighting spirit, though he deplored their lack of judgment 
in the conduct of their campaign. The leaders, Mrs. 
Pankhurst and Mrs. Pethick Lawrence, both of whom 
had suffered imprisonment, were, or had been, his per¬ 
sonal friends. Mrs. Pankhurst had declared war on the 
Labour Party because it had declined to adopt the 
policy of voting against every Government measure 
until the women’s demands had been conceded, and, of 
course, Hardie, as a member of the Labour Party, had 
been included in that declaration of war, and treated, 
or rather maltreated, as if he were a foe to the suffrage 
movement instead of its strongest advocate. 

Recent developments had added exasperation to the 
sense of injustice in the minds of the women. The 
Government had introduced a Reform Bill which made 
no provision for votes for women, but had tacitly agreed 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


that if amendments embodying such a provision were 
carried, they would be included in the Bill. There was 
a practical certainty that such amendments, proposed 
by the Labour Party, would be carried; but the hopes 
thus raised had been frustrated by the Speaker’s ruling 
that such amendments would constitute an entirely new 
Bill, which would require to be introduced anew, 
and the Government had thereupon abandoned 
the measure altogether. The militant section, violent 
in their methods before, were more violent now, and 
seemed more wrathful even against the Labour Party 
than against the Government, notwithstanding that the 
I.L.P. Conference had pledged itself to oppose every 
franchise measure which did not include women. That 
very Conference the militant women had tried to wreck, 
and mobbed and hustled Hardie and Snowden. He 
did not blame the women. He blamed the Government 
which denied them the rights of citizenship, much in 
the same way as he had held that unemployed workmen 
could not be expected to conform to a system of laws 
which did not guarantee to them the right ta work. In 
tactics the militant suffragists were wrong : in principle 
they were right. It should be said that the tactics of 
violence had never been endorsed by the National 
Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies under which the 
majority of the women were organised and which 
had supported the Labour Party throughout in its 
methods. 

Early in the month of April, Sir Edward Grey dis¬ 
closed that a European war had again nearly broken out 
over a quarrel between Montenegro and Albania—a part 
of the aftermath of the previous year’s fighting in the 
Balkans. Only the most meagre information was vouch¬ 
safed and no opportunity was provided for public dis¬ 
cussion. “I suppose,” commented Hardie, in his gravely 

328 


THE COMING WAR 


satirical way—“I suppose we shall be allowed to say a 
word or two before war begins.” Put in the past tense, 
these words are an accurate description of what actually 
took place sixteen months later. Parliament was 
allowed “to say a few words” before the Great War 
began. Responsible Socialist leaders had certainly at 
this time other matters than the franchise question to 
engross their attention. 

In June, he travelled further across Europe than he 
had yet been, to Budapest, to attend the Annual Con¬ 
gress of the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance, 
not as a delegate, but as a guest. This fact emphasises 
how widely he was recognised as a friend of the cause, 
some of whose advocates in his own country were throw¬ 
ing stones at him. He found the Hungarian capital to 
be a beautiful city, but a city in which democracy could 
hardly draw breath. Trade Unions were tolerated as 
long as they were harmless to the employers, there was a 
franchise which excluded the workers from any share in 
legislation or administration, and military law was 
dominant over all. Reading his description, we can 
realise how helpless the Socialist elements would be to 
rally any anti-war force, and how the whole populace 
would be rushed automatically into war when the crisis 
came. Side by side with the autocratic power, he found 
a certain amount of wisdom in the municipal manage¬ 
ment which made life tolerable, and there is no indica¬ 
tion of any premonition of the terrible ordeal which 
awaited this fair city on the Danube fated to be scourged 
by war, pestilence, and famine, and, later on, by the 
infamous White Terror. He visited Vienna, where he 
found much the same conditions, and conferred with 
Dr. Adler and other Socialist leaders, and in Brussels, 
on the way home, with Huysmans, the subject of talk 
between all these representative Socialists being, we 


329 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


may be sure, the ever darkening war-cloud and the 
possibility of dispelling it. 

He does not seem to have derived much benefit in 
health from this Continental trip, as, almost immediately 
after his return, he had a temporary but rather alarming 
breakdown. On the last Friday in July, Mr. and Mrs. 
W. C. Anderson, on their way to an I.L.P. summer 
conference at Keswick, found their leader in a railway 
carriage at Euston in a state of acute exhaustion. He 
was due to speak at Whitehaven that evening, but 
finding his condition so serious, Mr. Anderson sent him 
home in a cab, and himself took his place at Whitehaven. 
Hardie turned up two days later at Keswick looking 
very pale and shaken, but assuring his friends that he 
was all right. As a matter of fact he had very frequent 
attacks of this kind, known only to the friends with 
whom he happened to be staying. Seldom did he 
allow them to prevent the fulfilment of his public 
engagements. 

In Parliament the following week he was, with Mr. 
Outhwaite, demanding an inquiry into the industrial 
trouble which had broken out in South Africa, and 
incidentally providing the British public with the finest 
reliable information as to the nature and cause of that 
trouble. The Rand miners had at last realised that the 
conquest of South Africa had not been undertaken 
primarily in their interests, and when in order to better 
their working conditions they had begun to organise and 
to hold public meetings, they found that the very law 
which, when passed by the Boer Government, was 
declared to be one of the justifications for British 
aggression, was now used to prevent British labour in 
South Africa from organising itself. A public meeting 
m the Square at Johannesburg had been suppressed by 
armed force and twenty men killed and one hundred 


330 


BEBEL’S FUNERAL 


and fifty wounded. The Governor-General, Lord 
Gladstone, had allowed himself to be made the tool of 
the mineowners, had given the sanction of his authority 
to the outrage, and had thereby brought dishonour on 
British rule in South Africa. Such, with many addi¬ 
tional particulars of the evil conditions prevailing in 
the mines, was the impeachment put forward by Outh- 
waite and Hardie. The Government had practically 
no defence, and an inquiry was granted, the subsequent 
outcome of which is no part of this narrative. What is 
noteworthy is how instinctively labour in revolt, whether 
in South Africa or elsewhere, looked to Hardie for 
championship. He could always be relied upon. It 
almost seemed as if in this resolute, unswerving man 
the working-class struggle the world over had become 
personified. 

In August, Hardie, with Socialist representatives 
from many lands, was called to Zurich to the funeral 
of Bebel, v/hose place in the German Socialist move¬ 
ment was very similar to that of Hardie himself in this 
country. Jaures was absent through ill-health. The 
public mourning for Bebel, as described by Hardie, 
must have been deeply impressive, but more impressive 
to us are Hardie’s simple words: “The end came 
sudden, which at seventy-three is meet and proper. In 
the evening he retired to rest, apparently in his usual 
health, and ere the morning he had entered upon the 
rest everlasting. What now remains is but the memory 
of the mighty life, and the calm, peaceful death. 

In the first week of September he was in Dublin at 
the invitation of the Irish Transport Workers Federa¬ 
tion investigating the cause of the serious disturbances 
in that city, the memory of which has been dimmed by 
the subsequent more terrible happenings with which 
we are all too familiar. Indeed, the events of that 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


time—outrageous though they were—seem now like a 
mere dress rehearsal for what was to follow. The city 
was given over to “Castle” rule, administered by the 
R.I.C. which was almost equivalent to being placed 
under military law. As at Johannesburg, public 
meetings were forcibly suppressed and lives lost in the 
course of the suppression. The organiser of the 
Transport Workers’ Union, Jim Larkin, was arrested 
on a charge of sedition, which, as Hardie pointed out, 
could, if upheld, be construed to apply to the whole 
of Trade Union activity. “There never was a meeting 
held in connection with a strike or a Labour dispute in 
which the same charge could not have held good.” This 
was not the “Irish Question” as the politicians under¬ 
stand it. It was not England versus Ireland. It was 
Capital versus Labour, and was in reality an attempt on 
the part of the employers, directed by W. M. Murphy, 
an Irish capitalist, to destroy organised labour in 
Ireland before it became too strong. In six years’ 
time, Larkin, a man of volcanic energy, had achieved 
something like a miracle. The Irish industrial workers 
were already nation-conscious. He had made them also 
class-conscious, and had brought into existence a force 
which, in the event of Home Rule being established, 
boded ill for capitalism in Ireland. Larkin was the 
leader, the inspirer, of the new movement; but there was 
another quieter, brainier, but equally determined man, 
James Connolly by name. These two were creating an 
organisation and a spirit which was at once Nationalist 
and Socialist, and a mutual instinct of self-preservation 
made Dublin Castle, the army in occupation, and 
Murphy, the capitalist Nationalist, join forces for the 
destruction of this new phenomenon. 

Hardie knew well how dangerous it was for any 
British-born agitator to obtrude in Irish affairs, but 

33 2 


IRELAND 


nevertheless declared it to be the duty of British Trade 
Unionists to take part in the resistance to what he 
described as “a conspiracy to destroy the Trade Union 
movement.'’ He protested against the Government 
taking sides with the employers, and pointed out that, 
at that very moment, Carson and F. E. Smith were 
fomenting rebellion in the North of Ireland with 
apparently the approval of Dublin Castle. From 
Dublin he passed to Belfast where he addressed a 
meeting under the auspices of the I.L.P. and sought to 
convince the Trade Unionists of the North that it was 
their duty to make common cause with their fellow Trade 
Unionists in the South and West. 

The week following he was at Jena as the fraternal 
delegate from the British Labour Party to the German 
Socialist Congress, his real object being as ever, to 
assist, if only by the weight of a single word, in con¬ 
solidating the International Socialist forces against 
war. In his greetings to the Congress he restated 
practically his whole Socialist and anti-militarist creed. 
“In these days of international commerce, finance, art, 
literature, and the increasing solidarity of the working- 
class movement of the world, the rulers and statesmen 
of Europe could, had they the will, abolish armies and 
navies in one generation. We could at least easily have 
the United States of Europe in that time, but they do not 
want to. Their rule is founded on the sword, and, were 
that to be abolished, the democracies of the world would 
soon abolish class rule. In the Socialist parties there is 
growing up a State within the State. The new State 
will not be based on force, but on economic equality and 
personal liberty.” 

He does not seem to have been much impressed with 
the proceedings at the German Congress, and was 
disappointed that the general strike idea had not yet 


333 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


been embodied in any practical proposal, while, in the 
friction between the Christian Unions and the Social 
Democratic Unions, he saw a fatal obstacle to unity at 
a time when unity was the one thing needful. He knew 
from experience not so far away as Germany the evil 
consequences of sectarian differences. Thus the weeks 
and months passed, every day full of strife and agitation, 
the year closing with a national I.L.P. campaign against 
Conscription, in which, as usual, Hardie took a leading 
part, and with another impressive international demon¬ 
stration in London with Adler, Vandervelde, Jaures, 
Hardie all delivering the same message, these four 
standing side by side almost for the last time. The year 
of the Great War was at hand. 

And yet it seemed as if the danger had receded. 
These distinguished foreigners were in London to 
attend the meetings of the International Socialist 
Bureau, the chief business of which was to arrange for 
the postponed International Congress, which it was, after 
all, decided could be held in Vienna. In the minds of 
these men the danger of European war had, for the time 
being, vanished, else they would not have been arranging 
for Vienna in August, 1914. When August came, Vienna 
was the scene of a congress of another kind—a congress 
of armed men. The conscripts were then mustering and 
were being marched out into Hell. 

While in London the Socialist Bureau lent its influence 
on behalf of the movement for Socialist unity in this 
country which seemed now at last on the point of being 
achieved. This, also, the war rendered impossible. 

The springtime of 1914 was a time of great satisfaction 
for Keir Hardie. It brought him a sense of achievement. 
The Independent Labour Party had existed for twenty- 
one years. It was now a power in the land. It had 
created a political Labour Party expressive of working- 

334 


“COMING OF AGE” 


class ideals, and its principles were accepted by the 
great Trade Union movement. In all this his own 
personal effort was manifest. His had been the guiding 
hand, not always visible, but always operating. The 
influence of the I.L.P. was apparent, not only in 
Parliament, but in every sphere and phase of local 
government. In Town Councils, County Councils, 
Parish Councils and School Boards, members of the 
Independent Labour Party were at work, and the effect 
of their presence was already beginning to humanise 
the administrative work of these bodies. Almost 
imperceptibly, a new collectivist spirit was permeating 
the public life of the country, and a consciousness of 
power was growing amongst the working class. In all 
this the Independent Labour Party had been the driving 
and the inspiring element. The very fact that it was 
the mark for special attack by the vested interests was 
the proof of this. Many times during those twenty-one 
years the capitalist press had exulted in the appearance 
of division, and had gloated over the coming disruption— 
which never came. It was now celebrating its “coming 
of age’ 5 as a political party, and the man who presided 
over it on the day of its birth was presiding over it now. 
Keir Hardie, like the Party, had survived through abuse, 
ridicule and misrepresentation. He was able, literally, 
to look upon his handiwork and find that it was good. 
To consolidate organised Labour and shape it into an 
invincible power for the realisation of Socialism. That 
was his purpose. Only a beginning had been made, but 
it was a good beginning. A path had been cleared 
along which others might follow. 

It was in something of this spirit that the I.L.P. met 
at Bradford, the place of its birth. Congratulations came 
from every Labour organisation in Britain and from 
every Socialist Party in the world. From many of these 

335 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

also came delegates in person. Camelinat, who had 
been a member of the First International and Treasurer 
to the Government of the Pans Commune, beaming over 
with kindliness, gave his blessing to the I.L.P. pioneers 
for liberty. Huysmans, of the Second International, 
told how the great fraternity of Socialist effort was 
growing in all lands, and paid tribute to the Independent 
Labour Party’s share in that work. Herman Muller, of 
Germany, spoke in the same hopeful strain. There was 
eloquent speech-making and brave and stirring music, 
including a Song of Liberty, specially composed for 
the occasion by Granville Bantock to words written by 
Mrs. Bantock. The early pioneers of the Party were 
much in evidence; Robert Smillie, Fred Jowett/M.P., 
Bruce Glasier, Mrs. Glasier, with many a rank-and-file 
delegate from the first-year branches of the Party, 
fighting their battles over again. The general feeling 
was one of confidence and optimism, and for the moment, 
at least, they had put out of their hearts and minds the 
fear of war. Even Hardie’s presidential address made 
no reference to the European spectre. He looked to 
the past and to the future, and if for that future he had 
any fears, he kept them to himself. “The past twenty- 
one years,” he said, “have been years of continuous 
progress, but we are only at the beginning. The 
emancipation of the worker has still to be achieved, and 
just as the I.L.P. in the past has given a good, straight 
lead, so shall the I.L.P. in the future, through good 
report and ill, pursue the even tenour of its way, until 
the sunshine of Socialism and human freedom breaks 
forth upon the land.” 

It was a rejoiceful time for the I.L.P. marred only 
slightly bv attempted outbreaks of violence from the mili¬ 
tant suffragists, and even they, could they have peered in¬ 
to the near future, would probably have held their hands. 

336 


“COMING OF AGE” 


Hardie’s closing words in vacating the chair constitute 
the most self-revealing public utterance he ever made, 
and as they have also a bearing on present—and 
probably future—developments within the I.L.P., it is 
well that they should be preserved. They are also 
biographical, in the truest sense of the word. “I think 
I have shown that I can be a pioneer, but I am not 
guided so much by a consideration of policy, or by 
thinking out a long sequence of events, as by intuition 
and inspiration. I know what I believe to be the right 
thing and I go and do it. If I had, twenty-one years 
ago, stopped to think about what the future would bring, 
I would not have dared to accept the responsibility of 
entering the House of Commons. During those first 
three years my wife kept my house going, kept my 
children decently and respectably clothed and fed on 
an income which did not even exceed twenty-five 
shillings a week. Comrades, you do well to honour her. 
Never, even in those days, did she offer one word of 
reproof. Many a bitter tear she shed, but one of the 
proud boasts of my life is to be able to say that if she 
has suffered much in health and in spirit, never has she 
reproached me for what I have done for the cause I love. 
I leave the chair, then, as I did at the end of the first 
Conference, to be a pioneer. I said the other day that 
those of us who are advanced in years may easily 
become cumberers of the ground. I am not going to 
die if I can help it, but there is a dead spirit which blocks 
the path of the young. I am not going to stand in their 
way. I shall die, as I have lived, a member of the I.L.P., 
but I want the Party to have freedom to grow, and I 
do not want young men and women to say, ‘We might 
have done this or that if it had not been for old Keir.’ 
I will accept no position which will give me standing 
over you. I will fight for what I think the right thing, 

337 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


but I will trust your judgment. While I have anything 
to give, it shall be given ungrudgingly to the child of 
my life—the I.L.PT 

This was Easter, 1914. The delegates returned to 
their districts to report the proceedings to their branches 
and to prepare for the usual summer propaganda work 
and for the coming general election which was expected 
before the end of the year. The possibility of war did 
not enter into their calculations. Indeed, it is a remark¬ 
able fact that the great upheaval, so long feared and 
dreaded and prophesied, came at the last unexpectedly, 
almost like a thief in the night, and gave the democracies 
of the various countries no time to organise any 
resistance, much less to collaborate internationally on a 
common policy. The people of this country were not 
dreaming of any European War in which they would 
possibly be involved. On the Saturday and Sunday— 
twenty-four hours before Sir Edward Grey made his 
fateful speech which brought the war spirit into the 
heart of the country—there could be seen on the London 
streets groups of men and women on their way to 
Germany to convey to the German workers the fraternal 
greetings of groups of British Adult Schools and of 
British citizens innocent of what had gone on behind the 
scenes. 

So far as politics were concerned, people were 
deeply interested in two subjects only. One was the 
increasingly outrageous lawlessness of the militant 
suffragists. The other was the threatened Ulster 
rebellion in resistance to the Home Rule Act due to 
be put in operation shortly. Shiploads of ammunition— 
said to have been imported from Germany—had been 
landed in Ireland for the arming of the Ulster Volun¬ 
teers. Certain officers of high rank, responsible for the 
control of the military forces in Ireland, had let it be 

338 


THE WORLD CONFLICT 


Known that they could not be relied upon to act against 
the Ulster rebels, and to the threat of rebellion there 
was thus added the threat of mutiny, and though these 
officers had somewhat modified their mutinous declara¬ 
tions, the utterances of such politicians as Sir Edward 
Carson, E. E. Smith and Bonar Law were the reverse of 
reassuring. The situation was regarded as serious. The 
people of this country were more concerned about the 
Curragh of Kildare than about the Market Square of 
Sarajevo. 

The Socialist movement, too, was, as has been 
indicated, for the time off guard. Philip Snowden, in 
rather poor health, went off with Mrs. Snowden on a 
world tour. If he had thought so great a crisis was immi¬ 
nent he would certainly have stayed at home. Even the 
assassination of the Austrian Grand Duke at Sarajevo 
did not awaken serious apprehension of a general Euro¬ 
pean war, though such a possibility was not absent from 
the minds of the I.L.P. leaders. That possibility was 
indicated in an article by W. C. Anderson in the “Labour 
Leader” of July 30th, but even at that late date he felt 
justified in writing : “Despite all signs to the contrary, 
there will, I believe, be no war; nothing, at any rate, 
in the nature of extended warfare.” And so was it with 
the international movement. 

On July 29th, the International Socialist Bureau 
met at Brussels, hurriedly summoned to consider the 
state of matters created by Austria’s declaration of war 
on oeivia. But, says Bruce Glasier who was present 
with Hardie and Dan Irving from Britain, “although 
the dread peril of a general eruption of war in Europe 
was the main subject of the deliberations, no one, not even 
the German representatives, seemed apprehensive of an 
actual rupture between the great Powers taking place 
until at least the full resources of diplomacy had been 


339 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

exhausted.” So little was a general European war 
expected that it was decided to go on with the Inter¬ 
national Congress, only changing the place of meeting 
from Vienna to Paris because of the state of war in 
Austria, and fixing the date for August 9th instead of 
the 23rd, the original date. By August 9th, neither Paris 
nor any capital in Europe could give hospitality to an 
International Socialist Congress. 

In the evening after this Bureau meeting in Brussels, 
a great anti-war meeting, attended by 7,000 people, was 
held in the Cirque. Vandervelde, of Belgium, presided. 
Haase, of Germany, Jaures, of France, Hardie, of 
Britain, all spoke movingly. Jaures, in this last speech he 
was ever to make, warmly thanked the German Social 
Democrats for their splendid demonstrations in favour 
of peace, and with impassioned eloquence invoked the 
workers to rescue once and for ever civilisation from the 
appalling disaster of war. 

Forty-eight hours later Jaures himself fell, not by 
the hand of a German, but of a fellow-countryman, 
inflamed, it was said, by war madness, though to this 
hour no serious attempt has been made to discover 
whether any other motive power directed the assassin’s 
arm. It was here then, in Brussels, that Hardie and 
Jaures met and parted for the last time. It was in 
Brussels that on this, the very eve of Armageddon, the 
citizens, men and women in their thousands, marched 
through the streets displaying their white cards with the 
strange device, “Guerre a la Guerre” (war against war). 
We know what happened to Brussels in the time that 
was near at hand. 

Yet, still there was hope, amounting almost to a 
belief, that the crisis would pass. Assuredly in Great 
Britain that was the prevalent conviction, and it was 
only when it was realised that Russia was mobilising 


340 


THE WORLD CONFLICT 


her troops, and massing them where, in time of peace, 
no Russian troops should be, and that German forces 
were threateningly near to the Belgian frontier, that the 
people of this country woke up to a real sense of peril, 
and it must be said that they did not wake up with any 
enthusiasm. The common people did not enter into 
war. They were dragged into it. That they could be 
dragged into it was due to the fact that they had been 
kept wholly ignorant of the doings of their diplomatists, 
and they had not believed the I.L.P. when it tried to 
inform them. The I.L.P. now, and up to the last 
possible moment, directed all its efforts towards keeping 
the nation out of the war. 

With a spontaneity which was a striking proof of how 
surely rooted in principle was the organisation, every 
section of it moved in the same way. The National 
Council, the Divisional Councils, the Federations, the 
branches—even the smallest and most isolated of these— 
acted as by a common impulse; and on Sunday, August 
2nd, in every city, town and village where there was a 
branch or group of the Independent Labour Party, 
a public protest against the nation being dragged into 
the war was made, and a demand that whatever might 
happen in Europe, this country should stand neutral 
and play the part of peacemaker. Hardie, if he had 
time to think of it—which he probably had not—had 
reason to be proud of his beloved I.L.P. that day. 

He himself was in Trafalgar Square taking part in 
a demonstration organised by the British Section of the 
International Socialist Bureau, of which he was Chair¬ 
man. The Bureau had already issued a Manifesto 
which is here reproduced for two reasons, first, because 
Hardie was one of the signatories, second, because it is 
important to preserve this documentary proof that 
organised labour in this country was unitedly opposed 

341 


x 


J. KEIR HARD IE 


to the war. Had it continued to be so after war was 
declared, history would to-day have had a different and 
better story to tell than it can now present to posterity. 
The Manifesto was as follows :— 

“AN APPEAL TO THE BRITISH 
WORKING CLASS. 

“(Manifesto by British Section of the International 

Socialist Bureau.) 

“The long-threatened European war is now upon us. 
For more than a hundred years no such danger has 
confronted civilisation. It is for you to take full account 
of the desperate situation and to act promptly and 
vigorously in the interests of peace. 

“You have never been consulted about the war. 
Whatever may be the rights and the wrongs of the sudden 
crushing attack made by the Militarist Empire of Austria 
upon Servia, it is certain that the workers of all countries 
likely to be drawn into the conflict must strain every 
nerve to prevent their Governments from committing 
them to war. 

Everywhere Socialists and the organised forces of 
Labour are taking this course. Everywhere vehement 
protests are made against the greed and intrigues of 
militarists and armament-mongers. 

“We call upon you to do the same here in Great 
Britain upon an even more impressive scale. Hold vast 
demonstrations in London and in every industrial centre. 
Compel those of the governing class and their press, 
who are eager to commit you to co-operate with Russian 
despotism, to keep silence and respect the decision of 
the overwhelming majority of the people, who will have 
neither part not lot m such infamy. The success of 
Russia at the present day would be a curse to the world. 

There is no time to lose. Already, by secret agree- 

342 


THE WORLD CONFLICT 


ments and understandings of which the democracies of 
the civilised world know only by rumour, steps are being 
taken which may fling us all into the fray. Workers, 
stand together therefore for peace. Combine and 
conquer the militarist enemy and the self-seeking 
Imperialists to-day once and for all. 

“Men and women of Britain, you have now an 
unexampled opportunity of showing your power, render¬ 
ing a magnificent service to humanity and to the world. 
Proclaim that for you the days of plunder and butchery 
have gone by. Send messages of peace and fraternity 
to your fellows who have less liberty than you. 

“Down with class rule ! Down with the rule of brute 
force ! Down with war ! Up with the peaceful rule of 
the people ! 

“Signed on behalf of the British Section of the 
International Socialist Bureau, 

“J. Keir HardTe (Chairman). 
“Arthur Henderson (Secretary).” 

There is a strange ring about that appeal now. It 
still seemed as if organised Labour would hold together 
for the preservation of peace, or for its speedy restoration 
if war should come. But it was too late. The country 
was in the rapids and was being rushed to the doom of 
the waterfall. Within twenty-four hours both temper and 
outlook had changed. The heavy blares of the war 
trumpets were beginning to perform their magic. 

The Trafalgar Square demonstration, which the 
“Manchester Guardian” described as “the biggest held for 
years,” was representative of all sections, as is shown by 
the list of speakers, which included Mr. J. Stokes, Chair¬ 
man of the London Trades Council; George Lansbuiy, 
now of the “Daily Herald”; Robert Williams, of 
the Transport Workers’ Federation; Will Thorne, M.P., 

343 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


of the General Labourers’ Union; Mary R. Macarthur, 
of the Federation of Women Workers; Margaret Bond- 
field, of the Shop Assistants’ Union; Dr. Marion Phillips, 
of the Women’s Labour League; Herbert Burrows, of 
the British Socialist Party; Keir Hardie, of the I.L.P.; 
Arthur Henderson, of the National Labour Party; Mrs. 
Despard and Mr. Cunninghame Graham. The latter 
gentleman’s speech was said to have made the most 
profound impression, and to have been “the best he had 
ever delivered,” which was saying a great deal. “Do 
not,’ he implored, “let us do this crime, or be parties to 
the misery of millions who have never done us harm.” 

In another part of the country Robert Smillie said 
that if it were yet possible to stop the war by a cessation 
of work all over Europe he would be glad to pledge the 
miners to such a course. On August 2nd, labour was 
against the war. 

On the following night interest was transferred to the 
House of Commons, and Parliament was “allowed to 
say a few words” before the war, already decided upon, 
really started officially. 

The few words, from the I.L.P. point of view, were 
spoken with unmistakable emphasis by MacDonald and 
Hardie. Never did speakers speak under difficulties 
like those men. The facts had not been disclosed; the 
crowded House was in a frenzy and wished to listen to 
no reason. “I think,” said MacDonald, “Sir Edward 
Grey is wrong. I think the Government which he 
represents and for which he speaks is wrong. I think 
the verdict of history will be that they are wrong. There 
has been no crime committed by statesmen of this 
character without these statesmen appealing to their 
nation’s honour. We fought the Crimean War because 
of our honour. We rushed to South Africa because of 
our honour. The right hon. gentleman is appealing to 


344 


THE WORLD CONFLICT 


us to-day because of our honour. So far as we are 
concerned, whatever may happen, whatever may be said 
about us, whatever attacks may be made upon us, we 
will say that this country ought to have remained neutral, 
because we believe in the deepest part of our hearts that 
is right, and that that alone is consistent with the honour 
of the country.” 

Hardie, some time later on in the debate, made a 
speech of extraordinary dignity and earnestness. 
Addressing himself in the first place to the consequences 
rather than the causes of the war, he impressed everyone 
with a sense of the extent of the distress that might be 
expected. Unemployment would spread and, lacking 
wages, the poor would be robbed by the manipulators of 
the various food rings. He darkened the picture of 
suffering as only one could who had seen it so frequently. 
“How,” he asked, “were the Government going to 
relieve it?” He pointed out that earlier in the sitting a 
Bill to help the bankers had been rushed through all its 
stages by the Government. Where was the Bill to help 
the workers? He passionately denied that the mass of 
the workers of the country were for war. “Had they 
been consulted, war would not have happened. Why 
were not they consulted?” 

Both MacDonald and Hardie knew only too well that 
their speeches and protestations were now in vain. They 
had made these protestations years before, when they 
ought not to have been in vain. What they were doing 
now was to clear themselves and their Party from 
responsibility for the crime, and, if possible, hold the 
Labour movement of this country true and faithful to the 
spirit and pledge of International Socialism. It was a 
tremendous ordeal for both, but especially for Hardie, 
who was the older man, and physically unwell, and only 
sustained against collapse by the intensity of the crisis, 

345 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


which made him forgetful of bodily infirmity. These 
had been two weeks of terrible strain. The critical 
Conference at Brussels; the emotional experience of 
that great public gathering there; the murder of Jaures, 
revealing, as by a flash from the fires of hell, the 
potential horrors opening out upon humanity; the I.L.P. 
Council deliberations; the Labour Party Executive 
meetings; the Socialist Bureau’s meetings and decisions; 
the Trafalgar Square demonstration; and now, this last 
solemn hour in the House of Commons. The wonder 
is that he was able to pass through it, and that he did 
not break down then instead of a year later. There are 
occasions for some men when the spirit triumphs over 
time and circumstance and fate itself. But for such men 
the penalty in pain is very great. 

Hardie had yet another ordeal to pass through, and 
he resolved to face it at once before going home to the 
quietness of Cumnock. He had to see his constituents. 
He knew well that the drums of war that were alreadv 
beating would, in proportion, as they roused national 
pride and prejudice, drown reason, and that if he was 
to get a chance to explain his position it would have to 
be immediately. On August 6th, he spoke in Aberdare. 
What happened there had best be described by one who 
was present. “As soon as the hall began to fill it was 
obvious that a large hostile element was present. There 
was no disturbance when Hardie, Richardson and the. 
Chairman, Councillor Stonelake, mounted on the plat¬ 
form. The Chairman spoke without interruption, but as 
soon as he called on Hardie the uproar commenced. A 
well organised body of men had taken up a strong 
position near the back of the hall, a huge dreary building, 
which was usually the local market. They were the 
members of the Conservative and the Liberal Clubs who 
had always hated Hardie. Their opportunity had come 

346 


THE WORLD CONFLICT 


at last. ‘God Save the King’ and ‘Rule Britannia’ 
were sung lustily, and the clang of a bell could be heard 
amongst the general pandemonium. The crowd in the 
front attempted to quell the disturbance. It soon became 
evident that Keir Hardie was not going to be heard 
that night. Hardie continued to speak for about half an 
hour utterly undaunted by the noise, but his voice could 
not be heard further than the front seats. Once or twice 
a few scraps of phrases could be heard amidst the din. 
He was heard to refer to the German workers as good, 


kind natured people and the noise drowned the rest. At 
last he sat down. Richardson met with a similar reception 
and soon gave it up. A Union Jack was displayed, but 
it soon disappeared. Evan Parker had seen to that (an 
incident which was to tell against him in a D.O.R.A. 
prosecution months after). A small body of the comrades 
closed round Hardie. There was, a rush near the door 
but the street was reached safely. The crowd surged 
down the side street, but in the main street it began to 
get less. But several hundred men followed us up the. 
main street singing their jingo songs. Hardie was 
unperturbed; he walked straight on with his head erect, 
not deigning to look either to the right or the left. 
He was staying with Matt Lewis, the school teacher, 
secretary of the local Labour Party. As we turned up 
the road the crowd became gradually less and, as the 
house was reached the sight of Mrs. Lewis with the baby 
in her arms dared the rest. Several of the comrades 
kept watch for some time. Hardie sat down m the arm¬ 
chair by the fire and lit his pipe. He was silent for a 
time staring into the fire. Then he joined m the 
conversation, but did not talk so much as usual. I had 
to catch the nine o’clock tram down the valley. He 
shook hands, and said, ‘I understand what Christ suffered 
in Gethsemane as well as any man living. 


347 


J. KEIR HARDIE 

A report of the meeting in the “Western Mail,” which 
had for its headings 

“Mr. Hardie Hooted. 


“Hostile Reception in his own Constituency. 


“Wild Scenes at Aberdare Meeting.” 

confirmed the foregoing account in every particular, but, 
m addition, credited him with having restrained his 
supporters from retaliating, thereby preventing outbursts 
of actual violence. From this report we learn also that 
amid a hurricance of booing Mr. Hardie said that the 
whole Liberal press stood for British neutrality until 
they heard Sir Edward Grey’s speech last Monday. 
The effect of that speech was that the Liberal Party 
found itself committed to war without having been 
consulted in any shape or form”; and that in his con¬ 
cluding words he declared that “he had won this seat 
as a pro-Boer, and he was going to oppose this war in 
the interests of civilisation and the class to which he 
belonged.” The other meetings were abandoned and 
he returned to London, where, broken in spirit for the 
time, he unbosomed himself to a friend. The result was 
that another meeting in Merthyr was arranged and 
MacDonald, Glasier and Hardie had a triumphant 
reception. 

Nor is it too much to believe that if he had lived till 
an election came round, he would have still held the seat 
for Labour. He spoke several times in the constituency 
during the ensuing twelve months without molestation, 
and continued his weekly criticism of the Government 
m t ^ ie Merthyr Pioneer.” There was evidence that his 
strong personality was beginning to prevail again over 
the temporary war prejudice. He had, however, received 

348 




THE WORLD CONFLICT 


a mortal blow, and that Aberdare meeting gave the fatal 
wound to the man who had lived his life for his fellows. 
He derived great comfort-from the knowledge that his 
Welsh I.L.P. comrades were staunch. Except “one who 
was numbered with us,” there were no deserters. Di 
Davies, Lewellyn Francis, John Barr, Evan Parker, 
Matt Lewis, Stonelake, Morris, the Hughes family, all 
the stalwarts who had fought and won with him, were 
now ready to fight and lose with him, and to stand by 
him, even unto death if need be. He had reason once 
again to be proud of his I.L.P. He did not hide from 
them nor from himself the seriousness of the outlook. 
“This war,” he told the Merthyr comrades, “means 
conscription,” and there were tears in his eyes as he said 
it. “My own boy may be taken, and I would rather see 
him. in his grave than compelled to fight against other 
workers.” 

He went home to Cumnock to see the boy, and the 
boy’s mother and sister, and to rest himself for a little 
while. It was more than time. 

Similar experiences to those of Hardie befell 
the other I.L.P. Members of Parliament. MacDonald 
at Leicester, Jowett at Bradford, Richardson at 
Whitehaven, Snowden—when he reached home—at 
Blackburn, had all to pass through the same ordeal of 
calumny and abuse, growing ever more bitter and 
unscrupulous as the years of war lengthened out, and 
constitutional methods of government were displaced by 
militarism and bureaucracy. Hardie did not live to see 
the evil thing at its very worst. For the others there 
is at least this consolation : they have lived to see their 
principles vindicated, and may yet live to see their 
cause triumphant and their position honoured. 


349 


CHAPTER FOURTEEN 


THE LAST YEAR 

H ARDIE’S rest-time at Cumnock did not last 
long. He was not in good health, and never 
was again; but while any capacity for work, 
mental or physical, remained, he could not lie idle, a 
mere onlooker at the new phases of the conflict in which 
he had spent his life, the conflict between war and peace, 
between Capitalism and Socialism. The forces of evil 
had triumphed and were in the ascendant. That was 
all the more reason for continuing to fight against them. 
He had fought with his back to the wall before. He 
would do so now, though it should prove to be the last 
fight of all. 

On August 27th, he had an article in the “Labour 
Leader” which showed no falling off in vigour of 
expression or lucidity of statement. It was in answer 
to the specious plea put forward on behalf of those 
Socialists who had become aggressively pro-British and 
needed some plausible justification for their lapse from 
the principles of Internationalism. Their plea was that 
this country was not at war with the German people 
but with the Kaiser, and that the overthrow of Kaiserdom 
would be in the interests of Socialism in Germany. The 
victory of the Allies, in fact, would be a victory for 
Socialism. Logically, though the apologists shrank 
from committing themselves to the statement in so many 
words, the war, from the British point of view, was a 
Socialist one. Hardie reminded the people who argued 

350 


THE LAST YEAR 


in this fashion that one of the Allies was the government 
of the Czar, and he wanted to know how Socialism would 
gain by the substitution of Czardom for Kaiserdom. If 
he had lived, he might have been able to show that it 
was only when Czardom ceased to be of any value as an 
ally that Socialism was able to make headway in Russia. 
As it was, he was able to show that it was this very fear 
of the supremacy of Czardom that had made some 
German Socialists also forget their Internationalism. 
One passage from this article should be quoted as it 
gives the point of view which largely determined 
Hardie’s -attitude towards the war both before its out¬ 
break and during its process in the remaining months 
in which he was to be a spectator. “Let anybody take a 
map of Europe and look at the position of Germany : on 
the one side Russia with her millions of trained soldiers 
and unlimited population to draw upon (its traditional 
policy for over a hundred years has been to reduce 
Prussia to impotence, so that the Slav may reign 
supreme), and on the other side Franee, smarting under 
her defeat and the loss of her two provinces, Alsace and 
Lorraine, in 1870. For a number of years past these 
two militarisms have had a close and cordial alliance. 
What was it that brought the Czardom of Russia into 
alliance with the free Republic of France? One object, 
and one alone, to crush Germany between them. German 
armaments and the German navy, were primarily 
intended to protect herself and her interests against 
these two open enemies. If this reasoning be correct, 
it follows that our being in the war is a matter of the free 
choice of our rulers who appear to prefer that Russia 
should become the domineering power of Europe. I 
do not write these words in order to say that we should 
now withdraw from the conflict. That is clearly an 
impossibility at present. But if we can get these facts 

351 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


instilled into the mind and brain of our own people, and 
of the working class generally, we shall be able to exert 
a much greater influence in bringing the war to a close 
much more speedily than the military element contem¬ 
plates at present.” 

In this same article he pointed out that Lord 
Kitchener’s new army scheme involved the raising and 
training of not merely one hundred thousand men, but 
of live hundred thousand, and that the final outcome 
thereof would be, and was intended to be, Conscription, 
a prediction which the Socialist patriots pooh-poohed as 
being the one thing from which their voluntary recruiting 
campaign was going to save the country! Hardie’s 
prediction, much to his own sorrow, was just on the verge 
of fulfilment when death took him away from it all. He 
was at least spared from seeing this humiliation and 
enslavement of his class, for whose independence he 
had fought all the days of his life. 

The article concluded: “Some British Socialists 
are unfortunately ranging themselves on the side of 
militarism, and we shall require to take the strongest 
possible action to make it clear to our comrades on the 
Continent that the hands of the I.L.P., at least, are 
clear, and that when the conflict is over, and we 
have once again to meet our German, French, Belgian 
and Russian comrades, no part of the responsibility for 
the crime that has been done in Europe can be laid 
at our door.” 

By this time it had become evident that the I.L.P. 
would be the only political party or section in this 
country refusing to accept any share of responsibility 
for the prosecution of the war. The Government started 
a great recruiting campaign and called upon all political 
and Labour organisations to assist. A majority of the 
Labour Party Executive accepted the invitation, as did 


352 


THE LAST YEAR 


also the Parliamentary Labour Party, and both placed 
their organising machinery at the service of the War 
Office. 

The I.L.P. representatives on the Labour Party 
Executive opposed this decision and reported to their 
own Head Office, while MacDonald had resigned from 
the position of Chairman of the Labour Party, actions 
which were endorsed by the National Council and by 
the entire I.L.P. movement. The reasons for this line 
of conduct must have been evident to all who had any 
knowledge of the origin and history of the Independent 
Labour Party. To have joined with the other parties 
would have been equivalent to ceasing to be an Inde¬ 
pendent Labour Party, and neither the leaders nor 
the rank and file were prepared to commit moral suicide 
in support of a war which they had for ten years back 
strenuously striven to obviate. The National Labour 
Party might, if it choose, merge itself with its bitterest 
opponents, but the I.L.P. could not do that. Even if 
Hardie and MacDonald had favoured such a policy- -an 
unimaginable supposition—they could not have carried 
the Party with them. Most of the Divisional and 
Federation and Branch officials would have resigned, 
and there would have been an end of the I.L.P., a 
consummation which would doubtless have gladdened 
the hearts of the orthodox party politicians. 

The National Council, in its recommendations to 
Branches, declared: “If advice has to be given to the 
workers, we hold it should come from our own platforms, 
preserving the character and traditions of our move¬ 
ment, and we refuse to take our stand by militarists and 
enemies of Labour with whose outlook and aims we aie 
in sharpest conflict, and who will assuredly seize this 
opportunity to justify the policy leading up to the war. 
Now that the country has been drawn into a deadly and 

353 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


desperate war, which may involve, in the end, our 
existence as a nation, it is not a matter for speech making, 
least of all from those who will not themselves be called 
upon to face the horrors of the trenches.” 

We can well understand that the spectacle of the 
Labour Party (in the creation and fostering of which he 
had given so much of his life) transforming itself into 
a War Office annexe was a mortifying and painful 
spectacle to Hardie. Even more poignant were the 
emotions evoked by the consequent estrangement 
between men who had been his intimate friends and 
comrades, some of whom owed whatever endowment 
of political prestige and opportunity they possessed to 
their association with himself. A violent onslaught in 
the press by H. G. Wells affected him not at all, but 
parting company with George Barnes and some others 
hurt him deeply and permanently. He was stricken not 
only by the world, but from within his own household. 

The steadfastness of the I.L.P. was the one sustaining 
fact proving that all was not lost, and giving to life still 
some zest and comfort. But even here there were 
individual defections that cut him to the heart. In the 
same week in which the already quoted article appeared, 
he, with James Maxton, Chairman of the Scottish I.L.P. 
Council, and the present writer, attended a district 
conference at Edinburgh to explain and discuss the 
Party’s policy. From Glasgow he telegraphed to a 
trusted Edinburgh friend to meet him at the station. 
This friend was one of those who had kept an open door 
for Hardie, who had pressed always to be nearest to 
him on public occasions : a most devoted follower. At 
the station the friend was not. Instead, there was a 
messenger to say that he had another engagement. 
Hardie understood. Another personal tie was broken 
never to be renewed. There were others. It was all 


354 


THE LAST YEAR 


part of the price. There were more war-wounds than 
those of the battlefield, and just as deadly. 

This conference at Edinburgh, and one the following 
day at Glasgow, endorsed fully the policy outlined by 
the National Council, which was indeed simply a 
reflection of the will of the Party in general. At both 
conferences Hardie spoke with vigour and clearness and 
seemed to be the same man he had always been, save 
for a slight tendency to irritability, most unusual with 
him, and probably indicating some nervous derangement 
due to his recent trying experiences. 

That his mental powers were unimpaired was shown 
in a strong and uncompromising reply to the critics of 
the I.L.P. in the “Labour Leader” of September 10th. 
Amongst these critics were included Mr. H. G. Wells, 
of whom and his friends in the controversy Hardie said 
they “must make up their own minds as to what they 
must do. That is their own affair. But one thing they 
must not do. They must not lie about those who differ 
from them. When Mr. Wells writes that I am ‘trying 
to misrepresent the negotiations which took place before 
the war,’ he writes an untruth. Mr. Wells is shouting 
with the multitude and it is unworthy of the man to 
speak of either Mr. Ramsay MacDonald or myself as 
having whined in our criticism of the policy of the 
Foreign Secretary. But, after all, Mr. Wells has a 
reputation, not only in newspaper articles, but in his 
books, of taking a mean advantage of those whom he 
does not like.” The manner of Mr. Wells’ retort proved 
that Hardie had not lost his old faculty for making his 
opponents very angry while he himself remained per¬ 
fectly cool. In this article, on the question of recruiting, 
he had a query for Trade Union leaders. ‘ It was in the 
year 1911 that the British army was last mobilised and 
two men were shot dead at Llanelly. Would any railway 


355 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


man have touted for recruits for the army then? And 
is not the enemy of the worker the same now as then? 
The most prominent of the South African exiles has 
been to Germany and comes back with the declaration 
that ‘the only attitude for the British Empire to adopt, 
I am convinced, is to fight with every available man until 
the Prussian military despotism is beaten. I am pleased 
to learn that South Africa is rising to the occasion.’ Now, 
is was not ‘Prussian military despotism’ that sent troops 
to massacre striking miners in Johannesburg, or that sent 
into exile, where they still are, the writer of that passage 
and his colleagues.” 

What was wrong with Hardie and the I.L.P. was that 
their memories were too retentive. They could not 
forget that there was a capitalist system and a capitalist 
class, or that there was a British policy which openly 
labelled itself “Imperialism,” nor could they forget 
history and its story of how all wars began—and how 
they ended. 

During the month of September, similar conferences 
to those at Edinburgh and Glasgow were held all over 
the country, those at Ipswich, Leeds, Liverpool, 
Manchester and Eccles being addressed by Hardie 
who continued to show the same energy which had 
characterised his propaganda work all through life, so 
that there seemed some justification for the belief 
amongst those who were 'not in close touch with him that 
his leadership would be available for many years to come, 
and that the end of the war, which it was hoped would 
come soon by means of negotiation, would find him still 
in the van of the progressive movement. 

In October, he was back in his own constituency where 
the reception given him (the meeting to which reference 
has already been made) was in striking contrast to the 
organised hooliganism at Aberdare in the first week of 

356 


THE LAST YEAR 


the war. With him were MacDonald and Glasier, and 
to an audience of three thousand in the skating rink at 
Merthyr the trio of the I.L.P. champions explained and 
defended the policy of the Party. They were well 
received and loudly cheered, and the indications were 
that Hardie had not lost his hold on the constituency, and 
that any defection there may have been was more than 
counterbalanced by new adherents won by his courage 
and straightforwardness. He also held meetings of the 
I.L.P. branches in the constituency, at Merthyr, Moun¬ 
tain Ash, Aberdare and Penrhiwceiber, receiving votes 
of confidence in each place. This was at a time when 
the war fever was mounting and the recruiting campaign 
was in full swing. He was still continuing his weekly 
articles in the “Merthyr Pioneer,” which circulated all 
through the constituency, and the people in the district 
were thoroughly familiar with his views and opinions on 
the war, his attitude towards recruiting and his general 
outlook. The fact that there were no manifestations of 
hostility during this visit might have been an indication 
of the existence of a spirit of fair play in the Merthyr 
community sadly lacking in mosit other districts, or it 
might have been due to the personal respect which his 
past services had won from them. Probably both 
influences were at work. 

In the “Labour Leader” of November 5th, Hardie 
had a review of Brailsford’s book, “The War of Steel 
and Gold,” written before the outbreak of war, but as 
readers of the book know, substantiating both by fact 
and argument the Socialist analysis of the causes which 
produced the war. As was to be expected, Hardie gave 
the book high praise. The opponents of the war, 
standing against overwhelming odds, with the entire 
British press against them and a Defence of the Realm 
Act already looking for sedition in every pacifist 

357 


Y 


J. KEIR HARD IE 


utterance, were naturally; glad to avail themselves of 
every intellectual contribution which might fortify them 
in the defence of their convictions. At the outset of 
the war the withdrawal from the Government of such 
men as Lord Morley, Lord Loreburn, Mr. John Burns, 
and Mr. C. P. Trevelyan was of itself a comforting 
though silent witnessing on their behalf, while the 
searching criticism of foreign policy by Bertrand 
Russell, Gilbert Cannan, E. D. Morel, and Arthur 
Ponsonby, M.P., none of whom could at that time be 
described as Socialists in their outlook, was also of 
great value. In the same category was Mr. Brailsford’s 
book, and it was eminently satisfactory to Hardie because 
it emphasised the sinister influence of Russia, upon 
which he had insisted so strongly in all his platform and 
press declarations. He urged that it should be widely 
circulated by all I.L.P. branches and propaganda 
agencies. 

George Bernard Shaw’s pamphlet, “Common Sense 
about the War,” which first appeared as an article in 
“The New Statesman,” and was the cause of much 
controversy and the subject of hostile criticism in “The 
Citizen, a paper originally promoted as the organ of 
the Labour movement, gave Hardie much satisfaction, 
chiefly because it tore to shreds that British self- 
righteousness which saw motes in the diplomatic German 
eye, but never a beam in that of the British or the Allies. 
He wrote the following letter to Shaw :— 

“House of Commons, 

“November 26th, 1914. 

“Dear Bernard Shaw, 

“As my disgust with the ‘Citizen’s’ attitude over the 
war is great, I have not even looked at it for some weeks. 
Thus it comes that I knew nothing about its attack on 

358 


THE LAST YEAR 


your ‘New Statesman’ article until someone told me of 
your letter in to-day’s issue. I am sending for the issue 
containing the attack and shall see what can be done 
to raise the Socialist and Labour unions to make protest. 
The paper is making rapidly for the void. The circu¬ 
lation, after going up to 70,000 [a great under-estimate] 
a day, is now less than it was before the war broke out. A 
big effort is now about to be made to raise more funds 
to keep it going, but nothing can save it so long as the 
present bumptious and reactionary cad is in the chair. 

“May I now say that which I failed to muster enough 
courage to say when first I felt the thrill of your article, 
that its inspiration is worth more to England than this 
war has yet cost her—in money I mean. When it gets 
circulated in popular form and is read, as it will be, by 
hundreds of thousands of our best people of all classes, 
it will produce an elevation of tone in the national life 
which will be felt for generations to come. In Scottish 
ploughman phrase, ‘God bless ye, and send ye speed.’ 

“I prohibit any reply to this, or even acknowledge¬ 
ment. It is the expression of a heart which now throbs 
towards you with almost feelings of devotion. 

“Sincerely, 

“J. KEIR HARDIE. 

£t P.S.—Only a Celt could have done it.” 

Shaw’s article did not produce “an elevation of tone 
in the national life.” All the angelic hosts could not 
have done that. It only added to the volume of 
damning. The tone-producers were Northcliffe, Hulton, 
Bottomley, and such-like, and their combined output 

was the reverse of elevating. 

The fervour of gratitude in the closing words of 
Llardie’s letter gives some indication of how much he 
feeling the need for sympathy and support. With 

359 


was 


J. KEIR HARD IE 


all his courageous facing of the situation on the plat¬ 
form and in the press, so far as it was available, the 
conditions growing up around him were such as to make 
life for a man of his temperament and principles, almost 
unbearable. He could hardly move without coming 
in contact with the things that were hateful to him. 
The very colour scheme of the streets had now militarist 
khaki for its dominant note. The noises in the streets 
were militarist noises, even the cries of the newsboys 
were “shouts of war.” The marching and drilling of 
men, the drum-beatings and bugle-calls, the open train¬ 
ing of young boys in bomb-throwing and in bayonet 
exercise with dummy figures to represent Germans, and 
with accompanying obscene expletives to stimulate 
hate and blood-lust, were rehearsals of the foul sport 
deliberately calculated to brutalise the public mind. 
The overbearing vulgar swagger of many of the officer 
class, the steady supersession of civic authority by 
military rule, the abdication of Parliament itself in favour 
of the militarists, and, added to all, the news and ever 
more news, of colossal bloody murder on the battlefield, 
made the world into an inferno for him. He could not 
get away from it. Wherever he turned it was there. In 
the House of Commons, in the House of God; in the 
streets, in the railway stations and the train compart¬ 
ments; amongst the hills and glens and valleys, on the 
open highway—everywhere omniscient and omni¬ 
present, ruthless in the lusty day of its power. The thing 
he had fought, Militarism, was triumphant. Perhaps 
worst of all, he saw in this the coarsening of the public 
mind, the swamping of its intelligence, and, in spite of 
fine words, the lowering of its ideals. If these things 
read hard, they must stand here as they were Hardie’s 
thoughts, and time has already begun to deliver its 
verdict upon them. 


360 


THE LAST YEAR 


In the midst of all this, Shaw’s “Common Sense 
about the War,” even with its acceptance of the war as 
a fact which could not now be run away from, was to 
Hardie like a gleam of sunshine through the darkness— 
like a drop of water to a very thirsty man. 

In the last week of November, he went to Blackburn, 
Philip Snowden’s constituency, and spoke three times 
in the district. Snowden was at the time in New Zealand, 
but he had found means, by speech and interview, to 
let his constituents and the world in general know that 
he was at one with his I.L.P. colleagues at home in their 
policy on the war. It was necessary, in his absence, to 
have that policy made clear, and to give the fullest 
encouragement to his supporters. Hardie evidently 
succeeded in doing so, for the “Northern Daily 
Telegraph” declared that, “both at the Trades Hall and 
the I.L.P. Institute, Mr. Hardie was greeted in a most 
cordial manner, his reception possibly being warmer 
because of the way he has been attacked during recent 
weeks.” 

He had, however, for the time being at least, 
exceeded the* limit of his powers and had once more to 
turn his face homeward suffering from what appeared to 
his friends to be a very dangerous nervous breakdown. 
During the greater part of December he rested at home, 
but did not show much sign of improvement. It was 
this illness which gave rise to a rumour that he had been 
attacked by paralysis, a rumour which travelled far, as 
we shall see. The trouble was quite serious enough, 
and it would have been good for him if he could have 
been prevailed upon to continue resting. It was perhaps 
part of the trouble that he could not do so. He was 
restless and unsettled, and could not stay quietly as a 
looker-on at events. He had to be faithful in his storm- 
tossed world. 


361 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


On the first Saturday of the New Year, he was in 
Glasgow addressing the annual Scottish Divisional Con¬ 
ference of the I.L.P. Here an incident occurred of a 
kind not calculated to be helpful to a man suffering 
from nervous trouble. It was a conference of delegates 
to which the public had no right of admission, but it was 
found that four persons had obtained entrance to the 
ante-room of the hall without the necessary credentials 
and were known to be detectives. They were asked 
to withdraw, and did so. The Defence of the Realm 
Act was now in full operation, but the officers of the 
law had not yet fully realised the powers which it con¬ 
ferred upon them. Otherwise they might have insisted 
upon remaining, in which case there would probably 
have been serious trouble arising not out of any words 
spoken by Hardie, but out of the resentment of the 
delegates to the presence of spies. Hardie was not 
informed of the incident till after he had spoken, but 
it annoyed him and rankled in his mind. He was 
accustomed to open opposition and to press misrepre¬ 
sentation. But to be spied upon in his own country 
was a new experience, and too much akin to Russian 
and German methods. It troubled him greatly and 
preyed upon him. 

His speech was simply in the nature of advice to the 
delegates to hold fast to the I.L.P. organisation during 
the troublous times through which they were passing. 
He counselled them to continue their propaganda for 
Socialism, and to seek representation on Citizen Com¬ 
mittees and all other bodies through which it might be 
possible to safeguard the rights and interests of the 
common people without taking responsibility for the 
conduct of the war. He also advised them to associate 
with other agencies and movements working for the 
speedy restoration of peace. 

362 


THE LAST YEAR 


On the following night—Sunday—he spoke in Hamil¬ 
ton, making his last public appearance in the district 
where, thirty-five years before, he had started out as an 
agitator. There were men there who had worked in the 
pits with him, and who still worked in the pits. They 
were proud of the record of the comrade of their youth, 
but some of them perturbed and doubtful of the wisdom 
of his attitude on the war. His speech was a vindication 
of that attitude as being in conformity with the whole of 
his past career. He showed that the Liberal Party had 
held the same attitude as himself towards the war, but 
had changed in a single day. His own principles, as 
they knew, had never been of that flexible quality, and 
he held that because the Foreign Office secret alliance 
with Russia had involved the country in an unnecessary 
war, that was no reason why he, or the Party to which 
he belonged, should approve of the war, but rather the 
reverse. He spoke argumentatively and clearly, but 
without passion. Mrs. Hardie was with him on the 
platform, and few in the audience could have guessed 
that she had wished to keep him away from the meeting 
and that her one concern was that it should come to an 
end quickly that she might get him away safely to the 
place where he ought to be, in bed, and within call of 
medical attendance. 

After a week’s rest he began to regain strength, so 
much so, that by the end of January his colleagues 
of the N.A.C. sent him congratulations on his 
recovery. The re-assembling of Parliament drew him 
up again to London as by a magnet, to live again 
lonely in the Nevill’s Court lodgings and to attend to 

his Parliamentary work. _ . . 

On February 25th, he spoke in opposition to the 

proposal to relax the educational by-laws to enable 
children under twelve to be employed m agriculture 

363 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


work, the alleged reason being the shortage of men 
caused by the war. He contended that working-class 
children should not have their educational opportunities 
curtailed because of the war, and declared that the real 
object aimed at was to enable the farmers to obtain 
cheap labour. “The by-laws,’ 5 he said, “issued to 
protect our children are being practically swept out of 
existence. I think it can be demonstrated that they are 
being swept aside, not because of any special necessity 
for child labour, but very largely as a means of perpetu- 
ating uneducated sweated labour in the agricultural 
districts. He had a partial alternative, m the suggest¬ 
ing of which there came out some personal reminiscences 
of an interesting kind. “There is one proposal upon 
which I do not know whether my colleagues would be 
unanimous, but which I think might be used to great 
account in solving this problem during the war period. 

I refer to the employment of women. I can remember 
in Scotland, my own mother, who was a farm servant, 
often at work after she was married, with her family 
growing up. I have seen her employed in the fields at 
kinds of work which I would not like to see women 
employed at now : but there is much work about a farm 
which is perfectly respectable and clean, and which calls 
for a certain amount of intelligence, such as milking 
the handling of milk, the making of butter, and many 
other occupations which a woman can do with advantage 
to herself and to others. But the average woman brought 

up m the town has lost all instinct for, and all contact 
with, the life of the farm.” 

On this occasion, for the first time in his life, he claimed 
indulgence from his fellow Members of the House of 
Commons on the ground of ill-health, giving that as 
the reason for lack of energy in his treatment of the 
subject. It was fitting that his last recorded parlia- 

364 


THE LAST YEAR 


mentary utterance should have been on behalf of 
working-class children. 

About tn?s time it would be that he met by chance 
Lord Morley. His note on the incident in the “Merthyr 
Pioneer” has for us even a deeper pathos than it had 
then. Not Lord Morley, the octogenarian, was the first 
to pass from the scene, but Hardie the much younger 
man. “Passing along the Lobby the other day, I met a 
familiar figure, the outstanding figure of the trio who 
resigned from the Ministry rather than soil their 
consciences by the bloodshedding in which we are now 
engaged. He stopped and shook hands with me. 
‘You have been ill,’ he said; ‘what was the matter? Was 
it the war which so weighed upon your soul and spirit 
that it made your body sick?’ I had to smile a vague 
assent to the question. ‘The war,’ he said, ‘when will it 
end? If we lose, we shall pay an awful penalty; if we 
win, the penalty may be greater still.’ He sighed as he 
walked away with the weight of eighty years bending his 
shoulders. I stood and watched the retiring figure, and 
thought to myself, there goes the last of England's 
great statemen. To-day, it is not statesmanship or 
principle which actuates those who hold office. They 
are as completely under the power of the capitalist as 
any ordinary member of the Stock Exchange.” 

And thus these two sincere men, diametrically opposed 
to each other in political and philosophical outlook, met 
now on common moral ground. To both, the war was a 
crime, and Britain’s part in it wicked and foolish. And 
both were helpless to prevent it or to stop it. 

On March 25th, he had an article in the “Labour 
Leader,” the last he ever wrote for that paper, though, 
as we shall see, not his last press utterance. There was 
nothing valedictory about this article, nothing to indicate 
that he had come to the limit of his power or that he 

365 


J. KEIR HARD IE 


himself felt conscious that the end was near. The title 
of the article was “Patriotism Measured in Millions."’ 
Therein he traced the growth of the Imperialist idea in 
British foreign policy, synchronising with the growth 
of capital investments in the colonies and in foreign 
countries, and, in order to show to what this had led, he 
quoted Lloyd George’s reply to a question, on March 
13th. “The total British capital invested abroad amounts 
to four thousand million pounds (^4,000,000,000), and 
the income from interest on colonial and foreign invest¬ 
ments is two hundred million pounds (^200,000,000) a 
year.” 

The following passage from this article is well worth 
producing now. “Very many millions will be needed to 
finance our allies, and to induce some to join in the 
murderous melee who now stand aloof. When the war 
is over these will require large sums for the renewal of 
their navies, and the creation of new, and the repair of 
war-destroyed, railways and the like. There will also 
be unlimited scope for new companies to open out the 
great mineral, oil and other industries of Russia, Persia, 
and the Balkans, which are yet in their infancy, and the 
British investor will be the only man left with money to 
float them. France and Germany will alike be bankrupt, 
and only the United States will remain as a possible 
competitor with Lombard Street .” 

He did not foresee the Bolshevik intervention to spoil 
sport for the British financiers, but, had he lived, he 
would have had no difficulty in explaining the malignant 
attempts to prevent the Socialist regime from establishing 
itself in Russia. 

Withal his realistic vision of the dread consequences 
of the war, he had not lost hope in humanity, nor faith 
in Socialism. “When the war is only a stinking memory 
of a bloodstained nightmare, and we are again face to 

366 


THE LAST YEAR 


face with the real things of life, then surely there will be 
a great and mighty agitation for complete enfranchise¬ 
ment of democracy, man and woman alike, who will then 
be able to win control over both domestic and foreign 
policy, and break the rule of those to whom Imperialism 
and Militarism mean wealth and power, and to instal 
all the peoples of all lands in authority, and thus bring 
plenty, peace and concord to a long-suffering race.” 

This was his last “Labour Leader” article, but it 
might have been written in his prime, so vigorous was 
it, so clear in the marshalling of fact and argument, so 
dignified in diction. It was not to be wondered at that 
the movement was deceived into believing that the end of 
the war would find Keir Hardie still guiding and inspir¬ 
ing it, especially as during all this time he had, by an 
extraordinary exercise of will power, or else by sheer 
force of habit, been contributing almost without a break 
his weekly article to the “Merthyr Pioneer,” and did 
so up till as late as April 17th. 

Curiously enough, on the same date as this final 
“Labour Leader” article, March 25th, the “Merthyr 
Pioneer,” reproduced from an American paper, the 
“Boston Evening Transcript,” an obituary sketch of 
Keir Hardie’s career, the rumour of the attack of 
paralysis having evidently been accepted as true. The 
sub-heading of the sketch, “Another of England’s 
Picturesque Figures Passes from the Scene, though 
premature, was not inapt. Keir Hardie had not passed, 
but he was passing. He had made his last speech in 
Parliament; he had written his last article in the Labour 
Leader’’; and now he was going to attend his last I.L.P. 
Conference. 

It was held at Norwich under conditions unprecedented 
in British history. Great Britain was governed as if it 
were a beleaguered country. There had been night 

367 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


time Zeppelin raids on the Norfolk coast, and when, 
on Easter eve, the I.L.P. delegates, many of whom 
had been travelling for twelve hours in crowded trains, 
reached Norwich, they entered a city of dreadful night, 
and had to be piloted through utter darkness to their 
hotels and lodgings. When Easter morn came, and 
with it the blessed sunshine, it revealed a city full of 
soldiers, with officers billeted in all the hotels, and with 
bugle-calls and drum-beats mocking the peaceful message 
of the chiming Eastertide bells. An attempt had been 
made to prevent the I.L.P. Conference being held, 
through the cancelling of the halls engaged for the Con¬ 
ference and the public meeting. In the interests of 
free speech the Primitive Methodist Church placed its 
Schoolroom at the disposal of the Conference; and it 
has to be recorded—and remembered—-that two other 
religious organisations, the Scott Memorial Church and 
the Martineau Unitarian Church, had also offered the 
use of their meeting places. 

At the Conference, Hardie, who was looking very 
ill, spoke only once, and just at the close, in support 
of a special resolution protesting strongly against 
severe sentences passed upon fifty-three members of 
the Russian Seamen’s Union and on the five Socialist 
Members of the Duma, and asking the British Govern¬ 
ment to bring pressure to bear on the Russian 
Government with a view to their ultimate freedom. In 
his speech he declared that the fifty-three seamen were 
in prison for no offence except membership of a trade 
union. Their secretary was illegally arrested in Egypt, 
he was sent to Russia, and there sentenced to Siberia. 

Some of us tried in the House of Commons to get Sir 
Edward Grey to intervene, or at least to have him 
tried in Egypt. Grey then said that this country could 
not interfere with the political affairs of another country. 

368 


THE LAST YEAR 


One of the biggest risks we run is being allied to a 
nation whose past and present record is a disgrace to 
civilisation and progress. The alliance with Russia is 
not to help Belgium. It is to open up fresh fields 
for exploitation by capitalists. We register our protest 
against all the infamies of the bloody cruelty of Russia. ” 

These were the last words of Keir Hardie at a Con¬ 
ference of the Independent Labour Party. Never again 
would the delegates hear the voice or grasp the hand 
of the man who for twenty-two years had been their 
leader, comrade and friend. 

Yet he was not finished, nor his fighting quite done. 
His speech at the public meeting on the Saturday 
evening brought him once again into public conflict 
with authority. The circumstances are within memory, 
but Hardie’s own words which ruffled Mr. Lloyd George 
to anger, will best recall the situation. “In time of 
war, one would have thought the rich classes would 
grovel on their knees before the working classes, who 
are doing so much to pile up their wealth. Instead, 
the men who are working eighty-four hours a week are 
being libelled, maligned and insulted; and, on the 
authority of their employers, the lying word, accepted 
without inquiry by Lloyd George, went round the world 
that the working class were a set of drunken hooligans. 
That is the reward they got. The truth is, that the 
shifts could be arranged so as to overtake all the work 
in hand. Mr. John Hill, the Secretary of the Boiler¬ 
makers, has shown that if the shipbuilders would leduce 
their contracts ten per cent., the Government could 
get all their work done, but the shipbuilders will not do 
that because ships were being sold at two and threg 
times their value before the war. 

Popularity was then, as always, essential to Mr. Lloyd 
George; loss of it, a thing to be dreaded. At that 

369 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


moment especially it was needful for him to stand well 
in the opinion of the working classes. He hastened to 
essay the task of clearing himself from the charge 
involved in Hardie’s remarks. On Monday he sent a 
telegram to Hardie, quoting the offending passage, and 
concluding with a query for which the quotation afforded 
no basis whatever. “Would you kindly let me know 
where and when I am supposed to have uttered such 
words or anything that would justify so monstrous a 
deduction.” Hardie’s telegram in reply was as follows : 
“I pointed out that the employers, when before you, 
concerning output of armaments, etc., had put the whole 
blame on the drinking habits of the workers, and that 
you, by accepting this statement without challenge, had 
given world currency to the fiction that the workers were 
drunken wasters. I never said ‘bullies’ nor have I seen 
the report from which you quote.—Keir Hardie.” 

Mr. Lloyd George, notwithstanding this explanation, 
sent a denunciatory letter to the press accusing the 
I.L.P. leader of “reckless assertion,” “wild accusation,” 
“mischievous statement,” “excited prejudice,” but at the 
same time found it necessary to explain that he himself 
had referred only to a small section of the working 
classes, a qualifying excuse which would probably never 
have been given but for Hardie’s public protest on behalf 
of the reputation of his class. Lloyd George’s letter 
received the fullest prominence in the press. Llardie’s 
letter in reply was relegated to the back columns, and 
in some cases sub-edited to distortion. 

With this incident the public career of Keir Hardie 
came to a close. He ended, as he had begun, standing up 
for the working people. The British public heard no more 
of Keir Hardie until the closing days of September, when 
the newspapers announced his death. During the inter¬ 
vening months it was borne in upon his intimate friends 

370 


THE LAST YEAR 


and colleagues that the days of their leader were 
numbered. Indeed, early in May it seemed as if the end 
had come. The illness from which he had been suffering 
intermittently since the previous August reached an 
acute stage, producing what looked like complete 
collapse. He was in London at the time, and after a 
week, at the end of which it had become evident that the 
necessary care and attention was not possible in the 
Nevill’s Court lodgings, and that in his physical condi¬ 
tion travelling home to Scotland was also out of the 
question, he was removed to Caterham Sanatorium,where 
he had alike the benefit of skilled medical and nursing 
attendance, and the devoted service of personal friends, 
chief amongst these being the ever faithful Frank Smith 
and Tom Richardson, M.P. Mr. Smith took charge of 
his correspondence and warned all inquirers, of whom 
there were hundreds, against addressing any letters to 
Hardie himself, such letters being more disturbing than 
helpful. At the end of the first month he was still unfit 
for railway travelling, and Mrs. Hardie came up from 
Cumnock and remained with him until he was able to 
face the homeward journey four weeks later. During 
all this time there had been alternating periods of 
oblivion, acute physical suffering, and apparently normal 
alertness. It was during one of the normal intervals that 
he, with the consent of the medical advisers, determined 
to make for Cumnock. He broke the journey at 
Newcastle and stayed for a few days with Mr. and Mrs. 
Richardson, arriving home in Cumnock at the end of 
July, Frank Smith and Tom Richardson being his 
travelling companions. A week or two of rest in the 
home circle seemed to bring him some renewal of 
strength, and he ventured to cross over to Arran where 
his son Duncan was having a brief holiday the elder 
son, James, had been settled in America for some years 

37T 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


and was therefore unable to be with his father during 
these last weeks. From Arran, after a few days, he went 
on a visit to his brother George at Clarkston, Glasgow, 
where the utmost care and attention awaited him. Neither 
the breezes of Arran, nor the comforts of home, nor the 
solicitude of friends could now ward off the approach 
of that “White Herald” of whom he had once spoken 
as a welcome friend rather than a foe to be dreaded. 

On Wednesday, September 22nd, a change for the 
worse took place, and on the advice of the doctors, who 
still seemed to think that some partial recovery was 
possible, removal to a home for special treatment was 
decided upon. On the Saturday a great weakness 
overcame him, and in the evening pneumonia set in. 
On Sunday at noon, September 26th, he passed peace¬ 
fully away in the presence of his wife and daughter. 

Thus, in his sixtieth year, in the second month of the 
second year of the Great War, which he had tried to 
avert and of which he was unquestionably one of the 
victims, died Keir Hardie. Next morning, when the 
newspapers announced his death, they carried heartfelt 
sorrow into many thousands of British homes, sorrow, 
not alone for the loss of a great agitator and Labour 
leader, but for that of a dear personal friend. 
Probably never was any pubHc man so sincerely and 
deeply loved by so many people as was Keir Hardie. 

On the following Wednesday, a great concourse of 
mourners of all classes, but mostly of the working class, 
joined the funeral procession which followed his remains 
through the streets of Glasgow to the Crematorium at 
Maryhill, where eight years before he had said farewell 
to his father and mother. Some were there who had 
accompanied him through the greater part of his public 
life, Robert Smillie, Bruce Glasier, Sandy Haddow, 
George Carson, William M. Haddow, Alex. Gilchrist, 


372 


THE LAST YEAR 


James Neil, Cunninghame Graham, and others, recalling 
memories of the early days of struggle ere fame or even 
the promise of success had-come as a stimulus to labour 
and self-sacrifice. His colleagues of the I.L.P. National 
Council were, of course, there, as many as could attend, 
Ramsay MacDonald, T. D. Benson, W. C. Anderson, 
Fred Jowett and the others, serious and sad at this last 
parting with the comrade of so many years of ceaseless 
endeavour for the betterment of the common people. 
Delegates came all the way from Merthyr Tydvil, 
members of the election committee who had fought side 
by side with him in those never-to-be-forgotten political 
battles and who now realised sorrowfully that never 
again would Keir Hardie lead them to victory. 

At the funeral there were no delegates from foreign 
lands to lay wreaths upon the bier of the man who had 
striven so resolutely for international unity of purpose 
among Socialists, and who had refused to join in a 
struggle which he held to be fratricidal and unnatural. 
The war which had slain Jaures of France, and Franck 
of Germany, had now claimed Keir Hardie of Great 
Britain, and had made it impossible for any of the men 
and women with whom he had fraternised in the common 
efforts for international Socialist achievement to manifest 
in person their respect for him and his work. 

A simple burial service was conducted by the Rev. 
A. M. Forson, of London, whose associations with 
Hardie dated back to the early evangelising days. A few 
words from Bruce Glasier calling upon those present to 
honour the memory of their lost leader by preserving 
his ideals and continuing his work. A brief exhortation 
in a similar strain to the multitude outside from W. C. 
Anderson—both have since followed him into the 
unknown country of which Hardie used to speak as the 
“Beyond”—and the mourners dispersed. 

373 


z 


J. KEIR HARDIE 


Here ends the work of the present writer. He has 
tried to tell as fully as possible the story of Keir Hardie’s 
life, and leaves it to others to estimate the value of his 
work and example. Time itself will probably prove 
to be the truest commentator, and it is the firm belief 
of the writer that the passing of the years will 
establish Keir Hardie as one of the permanently historic 
figures in that great age-long progressive movement 
which must find its complete realisation in the establish¬ 
ment of human equality on a basis of mutual service 
by all members of the human family. An essential part 
of that process is the struggle of the working class in 
all countries for the abolition of class. In directing- that 
struggle Keir Hardie played an important part during 
an important period. In future years, whatever may be 
the prevailing form of society, men and women will 
have to turn their thoughts back to that period, and will 
find James Keir Hardie to have been one of its out¬ 
standing characters. Perhaps even this imperfect 
account of his life will help them to know the kind of 
man he was, and to visualise the environment amidst 
which he lived. That his worth and the nature of his 
rendered service is already beginning to be understood 
is apparent. The monument which the Ayrshire miners 
are erecting is only one of the signs of that recognition. 
The annual Keir Hardie celebrations held by the Inde¬ 
pendent Labour Party is another. These organisations 
themselves stand as a proof of his courage, foresight and 
resolute energy. But the time will come when miners’ 
unions and political Labour Parties will be unnecessary, 
and even then there may linger some dim memory— 
traditional it may be—of an incorruptible man of the 
common people, who, in his own person, symbolised the 
idea of independence, and in his message proclaimed 
the practicability of Brotherhood. 


374 


CHRONOLOGY 

AND 


INDEX 


CHRONOLOGY 


1856. 

J. Keir Hardie born (August 15th). 

1866. 

In the mine. Trapper. 

1879. 

Marries Miss Lillie Wilson (June 3rd). 
Appointed Corresponding Secretary, 
Hamilton Miners (July 3rd). 
Appointed Miners’ Agent (August). 

1880. 

Miners’ Strikes in Lanarkshire. 

1881. 

Ayrshire Miners’ Strike (October). 

1882. 

Joins staff of “Ardrossan Herald” and 
“Cumnock News.” 

1884. 

Franchise Act: Household and lodger 
franchise extended to the counties. 

1886. 

Ayrshire Miners’ Union formed. 

Appointed Organising Secretary. 
Scottish Miners’ Federation formed. 
Appointed Secretary. 

1887. 

No. 1 of “The Miner” issued (January). 
Ayrshire Miners declare for a Labour 
Party. 

Adopted as miners’ candidate for 
North Ayrshire. 

Udston Colliery Disaster (May). 

First attendance at Trades Union 
Congress, Swansea (September). 
Speech at Irvine (October). 


1888. 

Mid-Lanarkshire By-elaction (April 
27th). Result:— 

J. W. Phillips (L) . 3,847 

W. R. Bousfield (C) ... 2,917 
J. Keir Hardie (Lab) ... 617 

Declines Sir George Trevelyan’s offer 
of £300 a year from the Liberal 
Party. 

Scottish Parliamentary Labour Party 
formed (August 25th). 

Attends International Trades Union 
Congress, London (November). 

1889. 

Attends International Congress, Paris. 

First No. of the “Labour Leader” 
(monthly) issued (February). 

1892. 

General Election. Elected for West 
Ham (South). Result: 

J. Keir Hardie (I.L.P.) 5,268 
Maj. G. E. Banes (C) 4,036 

Refuses financial help from Mr. 
Andrew Carnegie. 

First question in Parliament (August 
18th). 

Declines ^300 a year offered by th« 
Misses Kippen. 

1893 - 

Presides at Conference at Bradford at 
which the Independent Labour 
Party is established (January 13th 
and 14th). 

First speech in Parliament (February 
7th). 

Hull Dock Strike. 


376 





CHRONOLOGY 


1894. 

Elected Chairman of I.L.P., Manches¬ 
ter Conference (February 2nd 
and 3rd). 

“Labour Leader” issued weekly 
from March 31st. 

Visits Ireland. 

1895. 

General Election, Defeated for West 
Ham (South). Result: 

Maj. G. E. Banes (C) 4,750 
J. Keir Hardie (I.L.P.) 3,975 
* First visit to America. 

Refuses offer of $100,000 to commit 
the I.L.P. to support of Bi¬ 
metallism. 

1896. 

Attends International Socialist Con¬ 
gress, London (July). 

Boggart Hole Clough Free Speech 
Agitation. 

Bradford East By-election (November 
10th). Result: 

Capt. Hon. R. H. F. 


Greville (C) . 4,921 

A. Billson (L) . 4,526 


J. Keir Hardie (I.L.P.) i ,953 

1898. 

South Wales Miners’ Strike. 

1899. 

War with the South African Re¬ 
publics. 

1900. 

Scottish Workers’ Representation 
Committee established, Free 

Gardeners’ Hall, Edinburgh 

(January 6th). 

Labour Representation Committee 
established, Memorial Hall, Lon¬ 
don (February 27th). 

Resigns Chairmanship of I.L.P. at 
Conference held at Glasgow (April 
16th and 17th). 

Contests Preston and Merthyr at 
General Election. Results: 

Preston— 

R. W. Hanbury (C) ... 8,944 

W. E. M. Tomlinson 

(C) 8,067 

J. Keir Hardie (I.L.P.) 4,834 


Merthyr— 

D. A. Thomas (L) . 8,598 

J. Keir Hardie (Lab)... 5,745 

W. Pritchard Morgan 

(L) 4,004 


1901. 

Moves Socialist resolution in House of 
Commons (April 23rd). 

Taff Vale judgment. 

1902. 

Death of father and mother (April). 

South African War ends (June). 

Holiday on the Continent after illness. 

I 9°3- 

Presides at Unemployed Conference at 
the Guildhall, London (February 
23rd). 

Undergoes operation for appendicitis. 

Gives up editorship of the “Labour 
Leader” and transfers paper to the 
I.L.P. (December). 

1904. 

Visits Continent to recuperate after 
illness. 

Attends International Socialist Con¬ 
gress at Amsterdam. 

1906. 


General Election. Re-elected for 
Merthyr. Result: 

D. A. Thomas (L) . 13,971 

J. Keir Hardie (L.R.C.) ... 10,187 

H. Radcliffe (L) . 7,776 


Visits Ireland. 

Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour 
Party. 

Fiftieth birthday celebration. Presenta¬ 
tion at Memorial Hall, London. 

1907. 

Re-elected Chairman of the Parlia¬ 
mentary Labour Party. 

Publishes “From Serfdom to 
Socialism.” 

Left Liverpool for tour round the 
world (July 12th). 

International Socialist Congress, 
Stuttgart. 


377 











CHRONOLOGY 


1908. 

Return from world tour. Welcome 
Home meeting at the Albert Hall, 
London (April 5th). 

Election for Lord Rectorship of Glas¬ 
gow University (October). Result : 

Lord Curzon _ 947 

Lloyd George ... 935 

Keir Hardie .... 122 

Omitted from invitation to the King’s 
Garden Party. 

Attends Dominion Trades Union Con¬ 
gress in Nova Scotia (September). 

1909. 

Chairman Labour Party. 

Publishes “India: Impressions and 
Suggestions.” 

Resigns from National Council I.L.P. 
(April). 

Attends Young Egyptian Party Con¬ 
gress, Geneva. 

Osborne Judgment. 


1910. 

General Election (January). Merthyr 
result : 

E. R. Jones (L) . 15,448 

J. Keir Hardie (Lab) 13,841 
A. C. Fox Davies (C) 4,756 

W. Pritchard Morgan 
( LL ) . 3.639 


Presides at Labour Party Conference, 
Newport (January). 

Visits France—speaks at Lille. 
Proposes establishment of Socialist 
Daily Paper. 

Attends International Socialist Con¬ 
gress, Copenhagen (September). 
General Election (December). Merfhyr 
result : 

E. R. Jones (L) •. 12,258 

J. Keir Hardie (Lab) 11,507 
J. H. Watts (C) . 5.277 

International Demonstration at the 
Albert Hall, London (December). 

1911. 

Re-elected to I.L.P. National Council. 
Railway Strike. 


1912. 

Visits America and Canada. 

Attends International Socialist Con¬ 
gress at Basle (November). 

Re-elected Chairman I.L.P., Man¬ 
chester Conference (March). 

Attends International Women’s Suf¬ 
frage Alliance Congress at 
Budapest (June). 

Attends funeral of Bebel at Zurich 
(August). 

Visits Dublin at invitation of Irish 
Transport Workers’ Federation 
(September). 

Attends Congress German Social 
Democratic Party at Jena 
(September). 

International Demonstration at the 
Kingsway Hall, London (Decem¬ 
ber). 

I 9 I 4- 

Presides at Coming-of-Age Conference 
of the I.L.P., Bradford (April). 

Attends meeting International Socialist 
Bureau, Brussels (July 29th). 

Assassination of Jaurbs (July 31st). 

Germany declares War on Russia 
(August 1st). 

Trafalgar Square Peace Demonstration 
(August 2nd). 

Speech in House of Commons (August 
3rd). 

War declared against Germany 
(August 4th). 

Plostile meeting at Aberdare (August 
6th). 

Responsive meetings in Merthyr and 
other towns (October), 

WS- 

Last speech in Parliament (February 

5 *). 

Passed peacefully away in presence of 
his wife and daughter (September 
26th). 

P uneral at Maryhill Crematorium 
(September 29th). 


378 







INDEX 


PAGE 

Aberdare . 346, 348, 349 

Aberdeen . 127 

Abraham, Wm. (“Mabon”) 

21, 28, 47, 136 

Adler, Victor 

60, 209, 210, 323, 329, 334 


Adult Suffrage League ...... 215 

Africa, South— see South Africa. 

“Age of Reason” . 6 

Albert Hall . 260, 307 

Albion Colliery Explosion . 88, 138 

Allan, Robert . 153 

Amendment to Address . 77, 101 

America, Hardie in no, 248,. 274, 319 
American Labour Day Committee no 

Amsterdam Congress . 208 

Anarchism . 122, 123 

Anarchists in Spain . 131 

Anderson, W. C. 330, 339 . 373 

Annbank brass band . 14 

Anseele, Eduard . 4^. 60 

Anti-militarism . 230 

Anti-War Strike, 50, 124, 298; 

German Socialists and . 302 

Applegarth, Robert . 5 s 

Arbroath .. 

Arch, Joseph . 62 

Ardrossan Herald . 18) 34 

Armenia .• ••• 286 

Army Bill . 243, 247 

Arran . 37 1 

Asquith, H. H. i 45 > 222 > 2 ^3 

Attercliffe ./. 9 1 

Auchinleck School Board . 31 

Australia, Visit to . 254, 255 

Aveling, Dr. 74 

Ayrshire . I2 > 22 > 26 

Ayrshire Miners’ Union 13, i 9 > 3 1 . 95 
Ayrshire Post . 36 

Bakunin . I2 3 

Balfour, Arthur'' 181, 187, 216, 292 

Balkan States .. 3 2I > 3 22 

Ballachulish . *94 

Banes, Major . 201 


PAGE 

Bantock, Granville . 336 

Bantock, Mrs. 336 

Barnard Castle . 198 

Barnes, G. N. 196, 225, 288, 354 

Barr, John . 223,318, 349 

Barrowman, A. 169 

Basle . 321 

Bax, Belfort . 212 

Bebel, August ... 46, 60, 209, 275, 323 

Beer, Max . 278 

Belfast . 235, 333 

Bell, R. 157 ) 173 

Bengal, Partition of . 249, 252 

Benn, J. W. 103 

Benson, T. D. 198, 373 

Bernstein, Eduard . 121, 208, 273 

Besant, Mrs. Annie . 48, 59 

Biddulph, Sir M. 175 

Bimetallism . n 5 > 116 

Birmingham . 133 ) 149 

Black, David . 204 

Black, W. F. 195 . 2 °4 

“Black Rod” . 175 

Blackburn . i 43 > 361 

Blatchford, Robert 

74, 106, 251, 271, 281, 282, 301 

Boer War . 143 ) * 9 2 

“Boggart Hole Clough” case ... 126 

Bomba, King . 286 

Bondfield, Margaret . 344 

Boston Evening Transcript . 367 

Bordighera . 20 5 

Bowman, Guy . 3*4 

Bradford . 45 . 73 . 162, 335 

Bradford East, Candidature at ... 127 

Bradlaugh, Charles . 7 ° 

Brailsford, H. N. 357 . 35 ^ 

Bright, John . 7 ° 

Broadhurst, H. 47 . 95 . 9 ^ 

Brocklehurst, Fred . 126 

Brown, Africanus . 206 

Brown, Robert . 2 ^ 

Brussels . 3 2 9 > 339 . 34 °. 34 ^ 

Bryan, W. J. JI 6 


Bryce, James (Lord Bryce) 145. * 5 2 


379 
















































































j. KEIR HARDIE 


PAGE 

Budapest . 329 

Burgess, Joseph . 72, 74, 

99, 144, 150, 153, 166, 168, 262 

Burns, John . 48, 54, 

59 . 65, 72, 76, 79, 82, 95, 
i2i, 1 45. J 73. 178, 202, 221, 358 

Burns, John (of Glasgow) . 297 

Burns, Robert . 6, 19, 70 

Burrows, H. 59, 121, 259, 344 

Burt, Thomas . 21, 28, 47, 50, 59 

Butte City, The Piper of . 117 

Buttery, A. W. 74 

Cadbury, Edward . 165 

Cadzotw Collieries . 9 

Camelinat . 336 

Campbell, Rev. R. J. 242, 259 

Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. 

145, 221, 263 

Canada, Hardie in . 248, 274, 319 

Cannan, Gilbert . 358 

Canovas, Assassination of . 131 

“Capitalist War, A” . 151 

Cardiff Dock Bill . 88 

Carnegie, Andrew . 66, 137 

Carnegie, John . 153 

Carnot, President . 88 

Carrington, Lord . 147 

Carson, Sir Edward . 322, 338 

p arson > G . 74, 105, 153, 372 

“Cat and Mouse” Bill . 326 

Chamberlain, Joseph . 199 

Champion, H. H. 53 

Chapman, Miss . 48 

Chartered Company of S. Africa 146 

Chicago . no, 115, 319 

Children, Meals for . 227, 281 

Chinese Labour in South Africa 192 

Christie, G. S. 74 

Churchill, Winston ... 231, 294, 304, 309 

Cilfynydd . 88 

City Socialist Circle . 171 

Civil List .. X78 

Clarion, The . 271, 278, 282 

Clark, Dr. G. B. 44, 161 

Clarke, Sir Edward . 144 

Clarke, William . 128 

Class War . 210, 212, 218 

Clitheroe by-election, 1902 . 193 

Coates, Fred . 297 

“Collier Laddies” . q8 

Colne Valley . 247 

Combination Laws . 62 

“Coming of Age” Conference, 

Bradford . 326, 335 

“Common Sense About the War” 358 


PAGE 

Communist League . 60 

Communist Manifesto . 58, 213 

Communists, Free . 123 

Compulsory Military Service 22S, 293 

Conference, Edinburgh, on 

Labour Representation . 153 

Conference, Guildhall, on Unem¬ 
ployment, 1903 . 196 


Conference, I.L.P., see Inde¬ 
pendent Labour Party. 
Conference, Memorial Hall, on 
labour representation, 154; on 


unemployment . 154 

Congested Districts Board . 225 

Congo, Belgian . 262, 286 


Congress, International, London, 

1223 Zurich, 122 ; Amsterdam, 

208; Copenhagen, 298; Basle 321 
Congress, Trades Union, see 


Trades Union Congress. 

Connolly, James . 56, 332 

Conscription . 228, 293 

Conway, Katherine St. John 

(Mrs. Bruce Glasier) . 74, 336 

Conybeare, C. A. V. 21, 42 

Co-operative Movement 27, 106, 184 

Copenhagen Congress . 298 

Courtney, Leonard . 161 

Cowes . 286 

Craigie Hill . I5) 22 

Crerner, W. R. yg 

Crewe, Lord . 322 

Crooks, Will . I9 8, 219, 226 

Crowley, Fred . 3x4 

Cumnock . 13, 15, 169, 197, 346 

Lumnock News . 17, 18, 34 

Curran, Pete . 56, 74, ’247 

Curzon, Lord . 259 

Czar, Visit to Cowes . 2 86 


Daily Citizen . 358 

Daily Herald . 343 

Davies, Di .... 139, 168, 223, 318, 349 

JJe Beers . ^5 

De Leon, Daniel .. X13 

Debs, Eugene V. 115, 274, 318 

Defence of the Realm Act . 362 

Derb y . 235, 238 

Despard, Mrs. ^44 

Devonport, Lord . 314 

Dewsbury . 262 

Dickinson, Mr. 238 

Dilke, Sir Charles . 103 

Disarmament, Labour Party and 228 

Dock Strike, Hull, 81 ; London, 

54, 62, 314 




















































































INDEX 


PAGE 

Dixie, Lady Florence . 40 

Donaldson, Robert . 397 

Dowlais Ironworks . 310 

Dresden Conference of German 

Party . 208 

Drew, W. H. 74 

Dryburgh, G. 169 

Dublin . 98, 331 

Duma, Socialist members of . 368 

Dundee . 96, 150, 195, 262 

Dundee Advertiser . 195 

Dunfermline) . 11 

Echo . 104 

Eddlewood . 12 

Edinburgh ...... 27, 149, 150, 153, 283 

Edinburgh Evening News . 145 

jEdwards, John . 176 

Egypt . 288, 313 

Eight Hours’ Bill, Miners 

21, 22, 28, 87, 96, 281 
Emergency Unemployment Bill... 281 

Engels, F. . 213 

Engineers' Lock-out . 131 

Entente Cordiale . 228 

Evangelical Union Church . 8, 17 

Fabian Society 59, 73, 157, 182, 210, 315 

Factory Inspectors . 8i 

Fair Wages Clause . 310 

Fawcett Association . 80, 99 

Fels, Mr. 274 

Fenwick, Charles . 21, 28, 47, 59 

Ferguson, John . 4 2 , 44 

Fisher, Andrew . 20, 254 

Fisher, Lord .•••• 271 

Fletcher, A. E.. 165 

Ford, Isabella 0 . 198 

Forson, Rev. A. M. 373 

Forward, The . 259 

“Fourth Clause, The” . 106, 108 

‘Franchise Act, 1884 . 20, 66 

Francis, LI. 138, 163, 168, 223, 318, 349 

Franck, Ludwig . 373 

(Free Speech . 22, 54, 125 

Free Trade, Hardie on . 200 

French Socialists attitude to 

International . 208, 209 

“From Serfdom to Socialism” ... 240 

Gardner, Councillor Ben . 86 

“Gavroche” . 204 


General Election, 1895, I0 5 > I0 9 > 

1900, 162, 174; 1906, 221; 

1910, 290 


PAGE 

General Strike, 32; Anti-War, 

50, 124, 298, 302 


Geneva . 228 

George, Henry . 65 

George, Lloyd 


145, 150, 162, 222, 259, 290, 309, 369 
German Socialists and the Inter¬ 
national, 208; anti-war strike, 

302; Morocco, 312; Hardie at 
Jena, Congress of, 333; and 

the War, 340 

Germany, Labour Party and, 228 ; 

press campaign against, 271 


Gilchrist, Alex. 204, 372 

Gladstone, W. E. 

21, 42, 67, 71, 103, 286 

Gladstone, Lord . 331 

Glasgow, 40, 73, 149, 157 . I 7 I > 259, 362 

Glasgow Daily Mail . 36 

Glasgow Weekly Mail . 10 

Glasier, J. Bruce .44, 55, 

99, 125, 126, 144, 146, 153, 157, 

163, 182, 198, 233, 238, 258, 283, 

321. 33 6 . 339 . 34 8 . 37 2 , 373 

jlasier, Mrs. Bruce . 74, 336 

Glasier, Miss Lizzie . 297 

Glasse, Rev. J. 205 

Good Templars . 7, 18 

Gorst, Sir John . 79, 103, 196 

Gossip, Alex . 297 

Government, Socialist participa¬ 
tion in . 208 

Graham, R. B. Cunninghame... 21, 

44 . 5 L 54 - 59 . 86 - 251. 259, 344, 373 

Grayson, Victor . 247, 259, 

261, 262, 266, 268, 276, 281, 283 
Grey, Sir Edward 

i45. 286, 312, 328, 344, 348, 368 

Guesde, Jules . 60, 208 

Guest, Keen & Nettlefold . 310 

Guildhall Conference on Unem¬ 
ployment (1903) . 196 

Guthrie, Arthur . 18 

Haase, H. 340 

Haddow, Sandy . 56, 372 

Haddow, W. M. 

150. 153. 1 7 1 > 204. 372 

Haggard, H. Rider . 133 

Haldane, Lord 

222, 228, 247, 293, 304, 309 

Hall, Leonard . 107 

Hamburg Dock Strike . 131 

Hamilton . 10, 363 

Harcourt, Sir William 

71, 88, 101, 103, 108, 145 




































































J. KEIR HARDIE 


PAGE 

Hardie, Agnes . 28, 187, 274 

Hardie, David . 1 

Hardie, Duncan . 28, 371 

Hardie, George D. 86, 372 

Hardie', James . 28, 271 

Hardie, Mrs. J. Keir 

13, 168, 274, 337, 371 
Hardie, James Keir— 

Boyhood . 1 

First Trade Union meeting ... 2 

Autobiographical Note . 3 

Trapper, pit pony driver, 

hewer . 5, 6, 7 

Joins Good Templars and 
Evangelical Union Church ... 7 

Dismissed as an agitator . 8 

Tobacconist and Stationer . 10 

Press correspondent . 10 

Lanarkshire Miners’ Union. 10 

Miners’ Agent . 10 

Marriage . 12 

Ayrshire Miners’ Union . 13, 31 

On Staff of Cumnock News, 17, 34 

Joins Liberal Association . 18 

Lay Preacher . 19 

Scottish Miners’ Federation. 20 

Speech at Irvine . 23 

Class loyalty . 24, 25 

Founds The Miner . 29 

Mid-Lanark by-election . 35 

Scottish Labour Party . 43 


Resolutions at International 

Conference, 1888 . 

Impression of, by Cunninghame 


Graham . 51 

At 1889 Congress (Second 

International) . 5g 

Elected for West Ham . 64 

Political independence . 64 

His Cloth Cap . 71 


Amendment to the Address ... 77, 101 
On Policy of the I.L.P., 1894 86 

Protest on congratulatory 
motion on birth of Duchess 


of York’s child . 89 

Views on Monarchy . 89 

At T.U. Congress . 94 


“Member for the Unemployed” 104 
Opposition to “Fourth Clause” 106 
Defeat at West Ham, 1895 108, io 9 


Visits America . no 

Bimetallist bribe offer . 116 

Financial relations with move¬ 
ment . 119, 183 

Tribute from Stepniak . 121 

East Bradford Election . 127 


PAGE 


Hardie, James Keir—(continued) 

As controversialist . 129, 130 

Christmas Message, 1897 . 132 

As propagandist . 134 

Retires from I.L.P. Chairman¬ 
ship . 157 

Tribute of Bruce Glasier . 158 

Elected for Merthyr . 166 

On Death of Queen Victoria ... 176 

Attitude to Monarchy ... 89, 178, 268 
Socialism, Resolution in Parlia¬ 
ment . 186 

Parents’ Death . 187 

At Nevill’s Court . 189 

In Paris . 194 

At Guildhall Conference on 

Unemployment . 196 

On Socialist tactics ... 209, 211, 212 
Distrust of Liberal Imperialists 228 
Resolution on Women’s Suffrage 231 
Reception at Memorial Hall ... 232 

Chairman Parliamentary Labour 

Party . 236 

“From Serfdom to Socialism” 240 

“Ragged” at Cambridge . 242 

Report on Army Bill . 243 

Breakdown in Health . 244 

Voyage round the world . 247 

“India : Impressions and Sug¬ 
gestions” . 252 

Lord Rectorship nomination ... 259 

At Albert Hall . 260 

In Nova Scotia . 274 

A week’s work . 282 

Resignation from N.A.C. 284 

On underground agitation . 288 

Chairman of Labour Party . 292 

His love for children . 296 

At Copenhagen Congress . 298 

At Lille . 303 

Rhondda Valley Strike . 304 

Merthyr Election, 1910 . 305 

Morocco Debate . 312 

Merthyr I.L.P. Conference _ 317 

Revisits America . 319 

At Basle Congress . 323 

Support of Women’s Movement 326 

In Ireland . 331 

At Jena Congress . 333 

Speech on Outbreak of War ... 344 

On Recruiting . 352 

Last Speech in Parliament . 363 


Henderson, Arthur 

198, 219, 226, 237, 266, 286, 343, 344 


382 











































































INDEX 


PAGE 

Highland LaAi League . 40 

Hill, John . 369 

“History of L^jpour Representa¬ 
tion” . 155 

“History of our own Times” ... 54 

Hobson, Charles . 91 

Hobson, J. A. ,. 152 

Hobson, S. G. 70, 97 

Hocking, Silas . 148 

Hodge, John ,. 169 

Holland, Canon Scott . 148 

Holytown . 7 

Home Colonies . 78 

Home Rule .. 36, 42, 242, 338 

Howell, George . 58 

Huddersfield . 261 

Hughes Family, The . 349 

Hull Dock Strike . 81 

Hulton Colliery Disaster .. 307 

Hutchison, Robert . 44, 56 

Huysmans, Camille . 329, 336 

Hyndman, H. M. 59 

230. 259, 271, 275, 277, 281, 282, 301 


Independent Labour Party ...43, 

67. 7i, 73, 97, I0 6, 139, '43, 161, 

182, 200, 223, 283 
I.L.P. Conferences, Bradford, 

1893, 731 Manchester, 1894, 83; 
Newcastle, 1895, I0 5! Birming¬ 
ham, 1898, 133; Leeds, 1899, 

140; Glasgow, 1900, 157; Brad¬ 
ford, 1900, 162 ; Leicester, 1901, 

183; Derby, 1907, 235, 238; 

Huddersfield, 1908, 261; Edin¬ 
burgh, 1909, 283; Merthyr, 1912, 

317; Manchester, 1913, 326; 

Bradford, 1914, 335; Norwich, 

191S, 367 

I.L.P., Hardie on Policy of . 86 

I.L.P., Title, proposed alteration 105 
Independent Parliamentary La¬ 
bour Group . 156 

India . 160, 248, 249, 262 

“India : Impressions and Sugges¬ 
tions” . 252 

“Indictment of the Class War”... 212 

Industrial Unionists . 49 

Insurance Bill . 316 

International, First . 61, 123 

International, Second . 61, 

208, 249, 342, 343 
International Conference, London, 

4 6 ; Paris, 59, 61 
International Socialist Bureau 

230, 334, 339, 34' 


PAGE 

International Socialist Congress : 
Zurich, 1892, 122; London, 1896, 

122 j Amsterdam, 1904, 208; 

Copenhagen, 1910, 298; Basle, 

1912, 321 

International Women’s Suffrage 


Alliance . 329 

International Working Men’s 

Association . 58 

Ireland .. 42,'66, 98, 108, 225, 331, 338 

Irish Party . 179, 181 

Irish Transport Workers’ Federa¬ 
tion . 331 

Irvine . 22, 23 

Irving, Dan . 339 

Japan . 210 

Jarrow . s- . 247 

Jaures, Jean . 208, 209, 212 

301, 307, 3 2 3- 324, 334, 34°, 373 

Je na . 333 

“Jim” short story . 297 

Johannesburg .. 256, 257, 330 

Johnson, Francis . 198 

Johnson, William . 74 

Johnston, Thomas . 259 

Jones, Edgar . 304 

Jowett, F. W. 74 

99, '98, 224, 336, 349, 373 
Justice . 129 

Kautsky, Karl . 209, 275 

Keir, John .. 153 

Keir, Mary . 1 

Kennedy, Charles . 44 

Kennedy, J. C.*. 74 

Kenney, Annie . 231 

Ken worthy, John K. 90 

King Edward...177, 201, 263, 269, 294 

King’s garden party . 268 

King’s Visit to Russia . 264 

Kippen, The Misses . 69, 70, 235 

Kitchener, Lord . 352 

Knights of Labour, U.S.A. 55 

“Kopje” . 145 

Kropotkin ... 121, 122 

Kruger, President . 206 


Labour Day Committee, American no 
Labour Electoral Association 

24, 39, 4 1 - 55 

Labour Exchanges ... 196 

Labour Institute, Bradford . 73 

Labour Leader . 30, 75, 85, 

93, 113, 119, 120, 131, 132, 135, 

136, 141, 203, 285, 350, 365 


383 


































































J. KEIR HARDIE 


PAGE 

Labour Members’ salaries . 283 

Labour Parliamentary Group, 

Hardie’s Resolution for . 156 

Labour Party 

22, 97, iS3. *7°. 224, 227, 22 8, 

235. 2 44. 282. 287, 292, 306, 330 

Labour Party for Scotland . 43 

‘‘Labour Representation, History 

of” . 155 

Labour Representation Committee 
153 . 157 . l6l > i62 > 173 . 182, 193, 

199, 210, 223, 235 

Ladysmith . 257 

Lanark, Mid. 35, 85 

Lanark, Mid, Election Address 37 

Lanark, N.E. 186 

Lanarkshire Miners’ Union . 9 

Land Restoration League . 65,70 

Langley, Batty . 91 

Lansbury, George . 306, 318, 343 

Larkhall . 44 

Larkin, Jim . 332 

Law, Bonar . 225, 315, 338 

Lawrence, Mrs. Pethick . 327 

L'dzzari . 48 

Ledebour, Georg . 275, 301 

Leeds .,. 140, 149, 216, 217 

Leeds Mercury . 179 

Leicester . 99, ^3 

Leon, Daniel de . 113 

Leopold, King . 262 

Lewis, Matt . 347, 349 

Liberal Imperialism . 228, 267 

Liberal-Labour Leaders . 95 

Liberal Party . 18, 

21, 23, 24, 26, 35, 64, 86, 87, 

91, 108, 152, 223, 228, 267, 348, 363 
Liberal Programme, Nottingham 37 

Liebknecht, William . 46, 60, 212 

Lille . 303 

Lipton, Sir T. 137 

Lister, John . 74 

L.ittlewood, France . 14^ 

Liverpool . m 

Llanelly . o 0 g 

uoyd, h. d. 1I0 

Lloyd George, see George. 

London City Socialist Circle . 171 

London Dock Strike . 62, 314 

Long, Walter . 2I7 

Loreburn, Lord . 145, 222, 35S 

Lowe, David 87, 141, 150, 195, 204 

“Mabon” . 21, 28, 47, 136 

McArthur, Archibald . 297 

Macarthur, Mary . 215, 289, 344 


PAGE 

McCarthy, Justin . 54 

MacDonald, Alex . 10, 11 

MacDonald, J. 155 

MacDonald, J. Ramsay .39, 

9 L 92, 99 . 144 . 146, 155 . I 57 > 

183, 198, 200, 205, 209, 224, 

244, 247, 263, 280, 283, 312, 

344 . 345 . 348, 349 . 353 . 357 . 373 

MacDonald, Margaret . 238, 313 

Mackley, Tom . 319 

McNab, Clarice . 297 

Macpherson, Duncan . 43 

Macpherson, Fenton . 131 

Malatesta, Enrico . 121 

Manchester . 32, 126, 135, 149 

Manchester Guardian . 145 

Mann, Tom . 84, 

86, 123, 125, 127, 131, 134, 314 

Manningham Mills . 62 

Martineau Unitarian Church _ 368 

Martyn, Caroline . 125 

Marx, Karl . 58, 123 

“Marxian” . 202, 204 

Marxians and Revisionists in 

Germany . 20S, 209 

Mason, Stephen . 21, 35 

Match Girls’ Union . 48 

Mpxton, James . 354 

Maxwell, J. Shaw . 44, 74 

Meals for Children . 227, 281 

Memorial Hall Conference on 
Labour Representation, 154; on 

Unemployment . 154 

Merthyr . 138, 162, 

167, 224, 292, 305, 317, 348, 357 

Merthyr Pioneer . 311, 348, 365 

Middle Class, Workers and . 213 

Mid-Lanark, see Lanark, Mid. 
Militarism, Hardieon, 177, 229, 293,317 
Militarism, Labour Party and ... 244 

Military in Strike Areas 

81 . J 37 > 304 . 3°9 

Mills, W. T. 307 

Milwaukee . 114 

Miner, The . 20, 26, 29, 33, 35 

Miners’ Association, Hardie and 94 
Miners’ Union, Ayrshirei 13, 19, 31, 95 
Miners’ Eight Hours Day Bill 

21, 22,, 28, 87, 96, 281 
Miners’ Federation of Great 

Britain . 33, 281, 293 

Miners’ National Union . 32 

Miners’, Scottish, Strike (1894) 88, 93 

Miners’, Welsh, Strikes . 136, 304 

Mines Bill . 28 

Mines, Nationalisation of . 93, 94 


384 















































































INDEX 


PAGE 

Mines, Safety in . 294 

Minimum Wage . 78 

Mitchell, Gqorge . 44 

Molkenbuhr . 3°7 

Monarchy, Hardie and ... 89, 178, 268 

Montrose Burghs . 262 

Morel, E. D. 358 


Morley, John (Lord Morley) 

108, 145, 161, 181, 322, 358, 365 

Morning Leader . 145 

Morning Post . 128 

Morocco . 312 

Morris, William 

56, 59 . tat, 223. 3i8, 349 

Morse, Sydney H. 191 

Mountain Ash . 357 

Muller, Herman . 336 

Municipal Socialism, Hardfe on 184 

Murdoch, John . 43 

Murphy, W. M. 332 

Naoroji, D. 211 

Nationalisation of Mines . 93. 94 

National Labour Party . 39 

“National Socialist Party” . 105 

National Stop-the-War Commit¬ 
tee (1900) . 149 

National Union of Women’s Suf¬ 
frage Societies . 328 

Nazarbeck . 121 

Neil, James . 19. 169. 373 

Nevill’s Court . 189 

N ewcastle . 105 

Newspaper, Daily, Scheme for ... 305 

New York . 112 

New York World . 114 

Nineteenth Century . 99, 211 

North British Railway Bill . 281 

Northern Daily Telegraph . 361 

Norwich . 94, 97, 3^7 

Nottingham Liberal Programme 37 
Nova Scotia . 274 

O’Connor, T. P. 102, 128 

Odger, George . 58 

O’Grady, James . 265 

Old Age Pensions . 157, 227 

Old Quarry . 10 

“Overtoun Exposure” . 140 

Overtoun, Lord . 141 

Outhwaite, R. L. 330 

Pankhurst, Adela . 231 

Pankhurst, Mrs. . .126, 206, 327 

Paris . 59 , 6l > 339 


PAGE 

Parker, Evan . 347, 349 

Parker, James . 144, 157, *98 

Parliament, Trade Unions and ... 96 

Parliamentary Committee of 

Trades Union Congress . 155 

Parnell, Charles Stewart . 69, 70 

Parnellite Tactics . 83 

“Patriotism Measured in Millions” 366 

Pease, E. R. 157 

Penny, John 

133, ! 44 > x 53 , l62 , 163, i6S, i6 7 , J 9 8 

Penrhiwceiber . 357 

Penrhyn Quarries . 130 

Penty, A. J. 191 

Penydarren . 138, 163 

Phillips, Dr. Marion . 344 

Phillips, J. W. 37 

Pioneer, Merthyr . 311, 348, 365 

Pittsburg . 66 

Ponsonby, Arthur. 267, 358 

Portsmouth, Lord . 222 

Postal Servants . 99 

Preston . 162, 167 

Pretoria Pit Disaster . 307 

Priestman, Arthur . 165 

Primitive Methodist Church . 368 

Progressive Review . 128 

Punch . 250 


Queen Victoria . 88, 176 

Quelch, Harry . 5 < 5 , 157 


“Races of the World” . 7 

Radcliffe, Mr. 223 

Railway Bill, North British . 281 

Railway Strike, 1911, Military in 

308, 309 

Rand Mines . 257 

Rebel Movement . 60 

Reform Bill . 327 

Reformers' Year Book . 176 

Reid, Sir R. (Lord Loreburn) 

145, 222, 358 

Resolution for Socialist Common¬ 
wealth (H. of C. 23.4.01) . 186 

Resolution on forming Labour 


Party, 22; on Labour repre¬ 
sentation, 154; on Parlia¬ 
mentary Labour Group, 156; 

on War and General Strike, 298 


Restriction of Output . 31 

Reval . 263 

Review of Reviews . 145 

Revisionists, German . 208, 209 

Rhondda, Lord . l( >7 


Rhondda Valley, Strike in ... 304, 308 


385 




















































































J. KEIR HARDIE 


PAGE 

Richard, Gerault . 194 

Richard, Henry . 167 

Richardson, Tom 

306, 346, 347, 349, 371 

“Rights of Man” . 60 

Right to Work .. 227 

Roberts, Lord . 229, 293 

Robertson, Chisholm . 28, 51, 74 

Rogers, E. W. 157 

Rollit, Sir Albert . 103, 196 

Rosebery, Lord . 71, 85, 99, 145 

Royalty, Hardie and, 88, 89, 178, 268 

Russell, Alfred . 297 

Russell, Bertrand . 338 

Russia . 210, 228, 

247, 261, 263, 267, 286, 293, 363, 368 

Russian Seamen’s Union . 368 

Rutherglen . 

St. Davids, Lord . 37 

Salaries of Labour Members ... 283 

Salvation Army . in, 197, 243 

Sambourne, Linley . 250 

Samuel, Herbert . 129 

Sanderson, Mrs. Cobden . 259 

San Francisco . n 6 

Sarajevo .. 

Scanlon, W. 169 

Schnadhorst, Mr. 4! 

School Children, Feeding of ... 227, 281 

Schreiner, Cronwright . 150 

Schreiner, Olive . 258 

Scott Memorial Church . 368 

Scottish Home Rule Association 39 
Scottish Labour Party ... 43, 59, 73 

Scottish Leader . 36 

Scottish Miners’ Strike . 88, 93 

Scottish Miners’ Federation 11, 20, 26 
Scottish Parliamentary Labour 

_ Part y . 44 , 71 

Second International, see Inter¬ 
national. 

Serbia . 33 g 

“Serfdom to Socialism, From” ... 240 

Settle, Alfred . 74 

Sex Equality, Political . 214 

Sexton, J. 74. 

Shackleton, David . 193, 219, 226 

Shallard, S. D... 125, 166 

Shaw, George Bernard 

s , , * 5 ’. 74 , 259, 281, 358 , 361 

Shawfield Chemical Works, Strike 

at . 140 

Shieldmuir . 10 

Shipton, George . 47 

Simcox, Miss Edith .. 47 


PAGE 

Sinn Fein ..... 225 

Sliding Scale, Miners’ . 137 

Small, W. 74 

Smart, H. Russell . 74, 144, 153 

Smillie, Robert.41, 44, 56, 

74, 85, 93, 150, 153, 186, 336, 344, 372 

Smith, Adolph . 48 

Smith, Frank, 70, 91, in, 116, 371 

Smith, F. E. 333, 338 

Snowden, Philip . 98, 99 

144, 146, 183, 186, 198, 224, 233 
244, 252, 283, 289, 290, 328, 349 

Snowden, Mrs... 339 

Social Democratic Federation 

59> 7L 73- I2 3> I2 9> 162, 182, 210, 233 
Socialism and the Labour Party 292 
Socialism, Continental, and Class 

War . 2 18 

Socialism, Hardie’s Attitude to 

doctrinaires . X30 

Socialism, Hardie’s Resolution 

for, in Parliament . 182 

Socialism, International, Albert 

Hall Demonstration . 307 

Socialism, Municipal, Hardie on 184 

Socialist League . 27, 59 

Socialist Sunday Schools . 297 

Socialist Tactics, Hardie on 

209, 211, 212 

Socialists, German, and Anti-War 

Strike . 302 

Socialists, German, and Morocco 312 

Sons of Labour . 

South Africa, Chartered Com¬ 
pany of . 1 4 6 

South Africa, Hardie in . 256 

South African War . 143, 192 

South Africa, Labour Party 

c . 28 7, 33° 

Spain, Anarchists in . 13X 

“Splotch of Red, A” . ioi 

Stacy, Enid . I2 cj 

Standard, The . . 

Stanton, C. B..’"i6c, 224 

Star, The . 3 g 

Steel Smelters’ Association . 40 

Stepniak . I20 

Stewart, Major . 3og 

Stewart, W. (“Gavroche”) 204 

Stockport . a 6g 

Stokes, J. 343 

Stonejake, Councillor, 224, 318, 346, 349 
Strike, General, Against War 

50, 124, 298, 302 


386 


< 
















































































INDEX 


PAGE 

Strikes, Military and, 81, 137, 304, 309 


Suffrage, Women’s 

214, 230, 235, 237, 289, 327 

Taff Vale Case . 183, 186 

Tariff Reform . 199 

Taylor, Tom . 164 

Territorial Army Bill . 243, 247 

Thomas, D. A. (Lord Rhondda) 167 

Thompson, A. M. . 165 

Thorne, W. 140, 343 

Threlfall, T. R. 39, 41 

Tillett, Ben ...,. 74, 84, 97, 314 

Times, The . 128 

Tonypandy . 304 

Tory Gold . 36 

Trades Disputes Act . 227 

Trades Union Parliamentary Fund 96 
Trade Unions and “Fourth 

Clause’’ . 106 

Trades Union Congress, 45, 59, 94, 154 

Trevelyan, C. P. 358 

Trevelyan, Sir G. 42 

Truck System . 28 


Udston Colliery Disaster . 33 

(Jitlanders . 144 

Ulster Volunteers . 338 

“Underground Russia’’ . 120 

Unemployed Workmen Bill ... 218, 220 
Unemployment, 63, 68, 77, 86, 

100, 118, 194, 216, 275, 281, 291 
Unemployment, Guildhall Con¬ 
ference, 1903 . 196 

Unemployment Insurance . 227 

Unified Socialist Party (France)... 209 
Union of South Africa, Draft 

Constitution . 287 

United Irish League . 42 

U.S.A. Electoral Methods . 115 

U.S.A., Hardie in . no, 274, 319 


Vandervelde, Emil 

209, 210, 301, 307, 334, 340 

Verses . 318, 319 

Vienna . 322, 329, 334, 339 

Vincent, Col. Howard . 79 

Volkhovsky . 121 

Vollmar . 60 


PAGE 

Vorwarts . 278 

Wakefield . 186 

Wallace, Dr. Alfred Russel . 259 

Wallace, Bruce . 70 

Wallace, Rev. James . 323 

“War, A Capitalist” . 151 

War Against Poverty Campaign 315 

War, Anglo-German Efforts to 

Stem . 272, 275 

War, the European . 334, 338 

War, Hardie on . 133 

“War of Steel and Gold, The” 

357 , 35 8 

War, South African . 143, 192 

Waterford . 98 

Wedderburn, Sir William . 23 

Weekly Sun . 102 

Weekly Times Echo . 90 

Weir, J. Galloway . 40 

Weir, John . 28 

Wells, H. G. 259, 280, 354, 355 

Welsh Miners’ Strikes . 136, 304 

Western Mail . 348 

West Ham .65, 86, 87, 108, 140 

West Ham, Hardie’s Election 

Address . 67 

Whitehaven Disaster . 294 

Wilkie (Shipwrights) . 155 

Williams, Robert . 343 

Williams, Robert, F.R.I.B.A....139, 191 

Wilson, J. Havelock . 76, 82 

Wilson, K. J. 150 

Wilson, Miss Lillie . 13 

Wilson, Rev. Stitt . 259 

Women’s Enfranchisement Bill... 215 
Women’s Social and Political 

Union . 231, 236, 238 

Women’s Suffrage 

214, 230, 235, 237, 289, 327 

Woolwich . 198 

Workman’s Times . 72 

Wright, Willie . 136, 139 

York . 149 

York, Duchess of . 89 

Young Egyptian Party . 288 

Young, John . 205 

Zurich . 122, 331 


















































































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TUN VERS TY 


164 0309721 9 


5393 .H3S7 1921b 

William 

Keir Hardie, a biography 


185148 


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