Marx-Engels Correspondence 1868

Engels to Marx
In London


Written: Manchester November 18, 1868;
Source: Marx and Engels Correspondence;
Publisher: International Publishers (1968);
First Published: Gestamtausgabe;
Translated: Donna Torr;
Transcribed: Sally Ryan in 1999;
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.

What do you say to the elections in the factory districts? Once again the proletariat has discredited itself terribly. Manchester and Salford return three Tories to two Liberals, including moreover the milk-and-water Bayley. Bolton, Preston, Blackburn, etc., practically nothing but Tories. In Ashton it looks as if M[ilner] Gibson would go to the wall. Ernest Jones nowhere, despite the cheering. Everywhere the proletariat are the tag, rag and bobtail of the official parties, and if any party has gained additional strength from the new voters, it is the Tories. The small towns, the half rotten boroughs are the salvation of bourgeois liberalism and the roles will be reversed: the Tories will now be in favour of more members for the big towns and the Liberals for unequal representation.

Here the electors have increased from 24,000 to not quite 48,000, while the Tories have increased their voters from 6,000 to 14,000--15,000. The Liberals threw away a lot and Mr. Henry did a lot of harm, but it cannot be denied that the increase of working-class voters has brought the Tories more than their mere additional percentage and has improved their relative position. On the whole this is to the good. It looks at present as if Gladstone will get a narrow majority and so be compelled to keep the ball rolling and reform the Reform Act; with a big majority he would have left it all to God as usual.

But it remains a hopeless certificate of destitution for the English proletariat, all the same. The parson has shown unexpected power and so has the cringing to respectability. Not a single working-class candidate had a ghost of a chance, but my Lord Tomnoddy or any parvenu snob could have the workers' votes with pleasure.