John MacLean Internet Archive                                                    From the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement

Why a Labour Party? Come out!

by John Maclean

From Forward, 30 July 1910

First published: Forward, 30 July 1910
Transcription\HTML Markup: Revolutionary Communist Group, 1998 and David Walters in 2003
Copyleft: John MacLean Internet Archive (, 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Mr Thomas Johnston in his article “Why a Labour Party?” says the present British Labour Party “is the heir of the marxian tradition, for it is the wage-earners party, paid for by the wage earners, controlled by the wage-earners, expressing the political and economic sentiments of the wage-earners.”

To this I beg to take exception. The Labour Party is a miserable caricature of marxism. Before January 1906, it stood, or its exponents stood, for political independence, but not for socialism, nor for the socialist palliatives. Marxism, in the eyes of the world’s professed marxists, stands for the revolutionary transformation of society. In fact, socialism established implies surely the overthrow of capitalism, and that is revolution…

The Labour Party in Parliament does not seem to be controlled by the wage-earners. It brings in a miserable Women’s Franchise Bill, whereas the trade unions alone are in favour of the vote for all women. Its representative men are anxious to flatter Liberal ministers, Liberal measures and Liberal policy, and to keep the Liberals in power.

In doing so, it proves that it is controlled by the Liberals, and, if controlled by them, it is really fighting against - not on behalf of - the interests of the working class…

The remedy now lies in the amalgamation of the SDP and the ILP. The energy of the two bodies today is more or less frittered away, and the progress that we should naturally expect is not visible. The rank-and-file hold the same ideas and the same principles as the rank-and-file of the SDP, and are only kept separate from their comrades by the grossest misrepresentation of the theoretical principles enunciated by the SDP.

We are said to be dogmatic. We are dogmatic in so far as we hold ideas that make us strive to end capitalism. We are dogmatic because we talk about surplus value, another expression for rent, interest, dividend, etc. We are dogmatic because we preach the class war, another way of asking the workers to cut adrift from the capitalist parties and form one for themselves in opposition to them. But surely that is the very dogmatism of the ILP too. If not, what does the ILP really exist for?

It is said that the SDP is too extreme. We fight for nothing short socialism, because we believe that nothing short of that will save the workers. That, I understand, is the position of the ILP as well. If so, then it is apparent that the ILP are as extreme as we.

And, after all, extremity is a virtue. The international trustification of today is capitalism carried to an extreme. We, as socialists, hail that extreme development. Why? Because we know that it hastens the approach of socialism. Mild men are obstacles to progress because they are unscientific.

It is said that the SDP are unpractical. Dear me! He must be an ignoramus, indeed, who does not know the practical and economic programme of the SDP and of the marxist movement the world over…

Examine whatever lie against the SDP you may, and after candid analysis you will find that it has been propagated for the purpose of keeping the two bodies separate…

A United Socialist Party is the only way out of the political quagmire we have been led into by the supremely sagacious Labour MPs.