Dora Montefiore June 1917

What Happened at Leeds

The following short speech by Dora Montefiore was given at the Leeds Convention of the 3 June, 1917 whose proceedings were published in the Daily Herald, by the Council of Workers and Soldiers Delegates, under the title “What Happened at Leeds.” The Leeds Convention has been described by Ralph Miliband as ‘perhaps the most remarkable gathering of the period.’ Montefiore was chosen to be the main speaker for the BSP, the main British Marxists tendency, seconding Ramsay Macdonald of the ILP. That may give an idea of her importance. Note by transcriber Ted Crawford.

I am proud to be able to second this resolution of greeting to our Russian comrades in their successful Revolution against imperialism and against all the evil forces that bound their nation. “Russia is in the act of creating a new world” -- I am quoting from a capitalist paper of yesterday, which added that it did not think the moment was propitious for this act of creation. (Laughter.) I read yesterday a letter from a young officer in the trenches: “One of the greatest tragedies of the war is to see the idealist laying down his life for a peace that is to be arranged by the materialist.” Our soldiers are thinking furiously. Our part is to see that peace is not made by materialists. (“Hear, hear.”) This meeting I hold to be a consecration of ourselves. Every resolution on the programme to-day asks for action. The democratic power that can end this war and bring in peace can also bring in the Co-operative Commonwealth. (Cheers.) Are you prepared to mobilise for the great fight at the end to do away with wage slavery? (Cheers.) You are then from to-day each consecrated and mobilised in that army. Each one going away can get your five, ten, twenty, one hundred followers.