John Maclean Justice 1908

Socialist Unity

Source: Letter, Justice, 29 February 1908, p.9-10;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

J. MACLEAN writes at some length on this subject. He says he does not “hold that the continued separation of the two large Socialist Parties in Britain is due to spleen and jealousy on the part of a few leaders in either party.” The fundamental difference in the outlook and methods of each organisation naturally takes the form of personal conflict between the leaders in the national arena.

“But,” he says, “the same divergence exists amongst the rank and file where branches of both exist side by side. The I.L.P. are loving brothers when they wish S.D.P. members to aid in open-air summer propaganda. They work separately when the indoor season begins, and when the selection of constituencies and candidates arrives they carefully avoid taking the S.D.P. into consideration until the candidate has been put in the field; and then again they become anxious for Socialist unity to return their man. ... The success of the Socialist-Labour Party the I.L.P. claim, and hence they will go on dumping down candidates – through the Socialist-Labour Party of course – in every possible constituency where there Might the possibility of of the S.D.P. stepping in.

“Under these circumstances the rank and file will carry on a bitter struggle in the immediate future for constituencies until the difficulty is swept away by the establishment of a single Socialist Party. Those who dream of the accomplishment of this desired end by a kindly feeling being fostered between the leaders, etc:, are Utopians ignorant of history, ignorant of men, and ignorant of the material forces that compel unity for any purpose....

“We S.D P. members are accused by the I.L.P. members of being doctrinaire, stubborn, etc., but their persistent existence as a separate party proves conclusively they must be just as doctrinaire, stubborn, etc.

“These, in my opinion, are commendable features, and should assist both parties in carrying on a right good, stout-hearted contest for supremacy inside and outside the Labour Party”