Jean Longuet 1902

Dewsbury Election

Source: Justice, 15th February, 1902, p.3.;;
CopyLeft: this text is free of copyright restrictions;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

The two following extracts from the Vorawaerts and the Petite repugblique were written before the election had taken place, but were crowded out of our columns last week: —

Writing from London on January 25. the correspondent of Vorawaerts did not expect that the result of the Dewsbury election would be favourable ; he did not think that Quelch would get more than 1,000 votes. “This,” he says, “will be the maximum. And yet in any other country of Europe with a Parliament Quelch would have long been in Parliament. He began as an unskilled labourer, he has educated himself, has a good knowledge of political economy, knows French and German, and has translated Marx’s ‘Misery of Philosophy’ from French into English, and it is a very good translation. He has also written a Socialist Catechism with Bax. He edits JUSTICE, he is a good, humorous speaker, and an energetic business organiser. But he will be, I fear, defeated, for he speaks and writes against the war, and, above all, he is a revolutionary Social-Democrat. But one thing is certain — the votes he gets will be those of good Socialists.”

The economic struggles between landowners and leaders of industry, the political struggles between Liberals and Conservatives, often cause profound differences of opinion amongst the bourgeoisie. but, as soon as Socialists appear on the scene, the unity of capitalism returns, however violent the previous hatred was.

England shows us at the present time a striking example of this law, which has often been noticed in countries where the Social-Democracy has organised the proletariat against capitalist oppression.

We have often called attention to the struggles which the Liberals who are true to their principles are maintaining against a nefarious imperialism. We have much admired the courage of Liberals like John Morley, Lloyd George, Labouchere, and of papers like the Daily News, which have waged a good fight against militarism and jingoism, and have not minded being called pro-Boers, or have spoken well of those who are fighting with heroism in South Africa against Englishmen. But these men remain what they were, they are quite hostile to our ideas, and in the main they prefer Imperialism to Socialism.

The election which has taken place at Dewsbury proves this. Our comrade H. Quelch has two opponents, one a Tory, Mr. Haley, a manufacturer, the other Mr. Runciman, an Imperialist who supports Mr. Asquith and Lord Rosebery, though claiming to be a Liberal. True Liberals both in their speeches and in the Daily News, have said over and over again that Liberal Imperialism is every whit as bad as the policy of Mr. Chamberlain himself.

Yet the Daily News prefers Mr. Runciman, an Imperialist, to Quelch, who is a pro-Boer and a mortal enemy of Imperialism. For it said some time ago that Quelch was an impossible candidate, as he was in favour of doing away with private property. It is easy to say that he is an “impossible” candidate, yet a few months ago the same Daily News had no objection to the friends of this “impossible” candidate defending the right of free speech in Queen’s Hall, where the Socialists prevented the bourgeoisie from being bludgeoned.

The same is true of the Irish. The Irish Nationalists are, after all, a “bourgeois” party, and our comrades’ organ, the Workers’ Republic, is quite right in attacking them. In the present case the Irish leaders have actually recommended the Irish at Dewsbury to vote for a sworn enemy of their party, for Mr. Runciman who is a follower of Lord Rosebery, rather than for Quelch, who is a Home Ruler. But Mr. Davitt, in a noble letter, to JUSTICE, has refused to endorse this opinion, and looks upon it as a betrayal of Ireland.

But we are not surprised. It is not the first time that the bourgeoisie have acted in this manner.

Jean Longuet in La Petite Republique.