James Connolly


Socialist Electioneering

(February 1901)

From The Workers’ Republic, February 1901.
Republished in Red Banner, No.21.
Transcribed by Aindrias Ó Cathasaigh.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Since the appearance of our last issue the Dublin branch of the Irish Socialist Republican Party has been engaged in its third municipal campaign. It is therefore fitting that we should place before our readers a brief resume of the results of that election, as well as of the principal lessons to be drawn therefrom.

On this occasion we were fortunate in having as our candidate a comrade who held a high position in his trade union, and was also on the executive of the Dublin Trades’ and Labour Council, as well as being a true and tried Socialist. Thus our comrade McLoughlin received the endorsement of his fellow-tradesmen and trade unionists – undoubtedly the first time in Ireland on which either a trade union or a Trades’ Council publicly identified themselves with the electoral campaign of a Socialist party. This fact was both an element of strength and a source of distraction. It was an element of strength, because it disarmed the prejudices of the trade unionists among the electors, and made them more susceptible to the teachings of Socialism; it was a source of distraction, because it temporarily admitted to our counsels many who, not seeing farther than the success or failure of the moment, were ever pressing upon the party and its candidate the supposed necessity of temporising with the middle class in order to snatch an electoral success. Needless to say such advice was promptly rejected. The following remarks of Mr Connolly, when acting as chairman of the great meeting in the Trades’ Hall, defined exactly the position of the party and its candidate towards such proposals:–

It has been said that the uncompromising working class position taken up by Mr McLoughlin, in conformity with his Socialist principles, will alienate many middle class voters, and so endanger his chances. But those who use this argument do not understand Mr McLoughlin’s position. He does not wish to crawl into the Corporation (applause); he does not wish to creep in there; he does not wish to smuggle himself in there under false pretences. He wishes to go in standing erect on his own feet as a man should; compromising no principle, yielding no point of his programme; proud, conscientious and upright as a representative of the working class should be, and if he cannot enter the Corporation in that manner he is content to remain outside.

This language was new to the Dublin Trade Unionists; the enthusiasm with which it was received, and the endorsement it received at the polls, was proof enough of its soundness. Be it remembered that the Socialist candidate was opposing the nominee of the “great Nationalist organisation” the United Irish League; that the said nominee was supported at his public meeting by three members of Parliament, viz., Tim Harrington, Pat O’Brien and P. White; that one of them stood all day canvassing voters at the polling booth; that the Labour Electoral Association supported the middle class candidate; that our enemies had hired corps of paid canvassers and agents, whereas the Socialist candidate had none but unpaid volunteer canvassers; that our enemies had the funds of the capitalist class in the Ward to aid their candidature, and the Socialist nothing but the coppers of poorly paid workers; that all the prejudices of religion were played upon against us; when all this is remembered, who can say that the poll of the Socialist Republican – defeating the Loyalist, and coming within 97 votes of ousting the Home Ruler – is not a result to be proud of and full of promise for the future?


Last updated on 14.7.2005