Hammersmith Socialist Record, Number 17, February 1893

[Untitled] Notes on the Government


The present Government has not had as yet any great opportunity for disappointing those who expected much from it; but on one side it has done worse than a reasonable expectation might have led one to believe: to wit in its foreign, or rather foreign-market side. Affairs with Uganda might have been settled in a way which would have commended itself, we will not say to a Socialist, but at least to a non-Jingo Radical: we need not have made a parade of our Khedive-baiting business, and given a little business to enterprising alarmist newspapers. But the truth is, any approach to Jingoism however feeble, is certain to be popular with the whole mass of non-political people, i.e., about 999 out of the 1,000: who though non-political do nevertheless vote on occasion. And perhaps the majority of the Cabinet were not sorry to be coerced by Lord Roseberry, who is well known to aspire to the reputation of a end-of-the-Century Palmerston, and to be prepared to hold a (metaphorical) pistol to the heads of his colleagues if they interfere with the career of British bluster, which he proposes for himself.

For the rest the fulfilment of the promises of the Queen's speech, if that end is reached, ought to satisfy Radicals, and it need scarcely be said that no Socialist could expect to be satisfied with the performance of any Government that could possibly be in office; and on the other hand, any Government that engaged to take up labour-questions would certainly break those engagements. So that if the present does really deal with its programme sincerely, it is probably the least thing that it can do. The ground will at least be cleared by the pushing through of any part of the Radical programme. As to the Irish question no Socialist should go back from the ground taken by Socialists some few years ago when the Irish party was in the heyday of its hopes. An approach to federation is good in itself; and better still is anything that tends to the extinction of the blatant folly of national jealousy and competitive patriotism: so that Home Rule in any reasonable form should still have our best wishes: although the progress of the last five years, and the intensifying expressions of the consciousness of the labour war has made it of so much less importance in politics than it was before that time.

Once again through all these chances and changes the thing we have above all things to see to is making the workers understand their position, and to see clearly how wide is the difference between our aims and the mere perfecting of the so-called democratic machinery for the election of Members of Parliament to a body whose thus far and no further is so clearly marked; a body which until it receives its mandate from the people to melt into an organizing Committee for bringing the ship over the bar into the harbour of the Society of Equality, must remain a Committee of the Governing Classes charged with the office of defending privilege, sometimes by direct opposition, sometimes by such compromises ad furtherances as it may deem safe to yield to the growing discontent and aspirations of the disinherited—the useful classes.