Dora Montefiore May 1910
Source: Anon, taken from the New York Call of 9 May, “Mrs Montefiore in New York,” Justice, p.5, 28 May 1910;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.
The New York Call of May 9 records:
“The women’s committee of the Socialist Party of New York gave a reception to Mrs. Dora B. Montefiore, the well-known English Socialist and suffragist, one of the halls of the Labour Temple last night. A large crowd attended.
“Carrie W. Allen acted as chairman; and introduced Mrs. Montefiore as one of the leading and uncompromising Socialist women of England
“Mrs. Montefiore began by saying that it was a pleasant thing to find Socialists, which means comrades and friends, wherever one goes to-day. She then went on to point out the principal reasons why the Social-Democratic Party of England is opposed to the Labour Party.
The speaker’s view of the situation there from the Socialist point of view is somewhat discouraging. She stated that regardless of the fact that there are members of the Labour Party in Parliament in England, the revolutionary Socialist movement is not represented in the House of Parliament to-day.
“She said the action of the Labour Party, is deplorable. In fact, she does not look upon the Labour Party as representing Labour. She prefers to call them Liberal parties, for, she says, they work in with the Liberals to the detriment of the working class.
Speaking of the well-known fight on the Budget, she claimed that there was nothing Socialistic about it. She says there will be no taxes under Socialism, therefore it is absurd to talk about its so-called ‘Socialistic’ features. The Budget fight, she said, was simply a manifestation of the efforts of both the Tory and the Liberal parties to shift the burden of taxation, all of which does not concern the workers. When a real vital question which concerns the workers is up they are together, and the most powerful thing about the Budget fight was the fact that the leaders of the Labour Party sided with the Liberals.
“Mrs. Montefiore says the move of the Liberals to cripple the House of Lords is not a sincere move. She says only a strong movement carried on by the Social-Democratic Party, and based on the soundest of Socialist teachings, will be able to do anything revolutionary. No measure worth passing can be passed now, she said, because the veto power of the Lords is always ready in the last analysis to put its foot down. The veto power of the House of Lords must be abolished or greatly restricted before anything effective can be done in Parliament, she claims.
“The speaker said the Labour Party takes the position that more can be gained through quiet, peaceful, and harmonious methods and so it does not oppose the Liberals on vital issues.
“This was shown, she said, in the attitude of the Labour Party towards the ‘Right to Work’ Bill, when they backed down completely for fear of stimulating the hostility of the Liberals.
“So far as changing the present system is concerned, she said, there is no difference between the Tory and Liberal Parties. They have been fighting a sham fight all the way through.
“Mrs. Montefiore spoke of Keir Hardie with much regret. She said before he went to Parliament he made some good speeches, and even outside Parliament he often makes a speech worth something. But when he takes his place in that body he become a pitiable compromiser.
“Many good men have been lost to the revolutionary movement by going to Parliament, she said. Unfortunately, about all Parliament has done for the representatives of Labour sent there, she stated, was to make them deathly conservative. She even intimated that the influence brought to bear upon members from the ranks of Labour seemed almost unavoidable. They seem to lose all vital interest in the real struggles of the workers.
“Mrs. Montefiore put much emphasis upon the Right to Work Bill. She said it is the basis of the Social-Democratic Party’s political programme to-day. ‘The right to work and that work should be supplied,’ is the great demand of the revolution in its political campaigns in England.
“And she went on to show why this was so. She said there are 13,000,000 living in poverty the year round in England. At night the bridges and alleys are filled with helpless, hopeless men, women, and children, and the benches in the parks and the free lodging houses are pathetic at night.
“She said unemployment is becoming more and more pronounced. The trade unions are draining their treasuries to support their ‘out of work’ members until they, too, are beginning to break down.
“In the midst of all this, she says, the mission of the Social-Democratic Labour Party is clear. While compromise and cheap, meaningless reform are being advocated by the Liberal and Labour Party and the workers are being fooled and betrayed, the Social-Democratic Party is carrying on its work of educating the workers to Socialism and the necessity of overthrowing the capitalist system ,and establishing the collective ownership of the instruments of production and distribution. A crisis is coming rapidly in England, she says, and the Social-Democratic Party is alone alive to it in England to-day.
“Mrs. Montefiore after she finished speaking was applauded vigorously. Many expressed their satisfaction to her for the clear and pointed explanation of the British situation.
“After refreshments were served, three well-known revolutionary songs were sung, ‘The Red Flag’, the ‘Marseillaise,’ and the ‘International.’ While the gathering sang, a huge red flag fluttered over the heads of the singers gathered around the English guest of the New York Socialists.