Th. Rothstein

The Edinburgh Conference of the Labour Party

Source: The Communist International, Special Congress Number, 1922, pp.14-19, (5,732 words)
Transcribed: Ted Crawford,
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

THE Labour Party has taken its final plunge in the muddy waters of orthodox politics. Without the slightest warning, as if it were the most obvious thing on earth—like some axiom of Euclid, never doubted, never questioned—the National Executive’s report submitted to the Edinburgh Conference coolly declared “the principles and practice of the Labour Party to be, and to continue, a lawful association seeking lawful ends by lawful and constitutional means only.” In the spirit of this unexpected definition of what the party of the British working class is and shall be, the National Executive passed a resolution expressing “its abhorrence” of the assassination of Sir Henry Wilson (it has, of course, no room for similar sentiments in the case of the “lawful” assassination of revolutionists and trade unionists in Ireland, India and South Africa); and the conference itself, under its guidance, passed by overwhelming majorities a number of “lawful and constitutional” resolutions. It refused affiliation to the Communists as a party, and even denied them the right to act individually as delegates at Labour Party conferences, thus prescribing to the constituent bodies of the party, in a truly democratic manner, whom they may or may not elect as their representatives. It condemned “the harsh and unjust treatment of the Russian Social Revolutionary prisoners by the Government of Russia” (presumably because these “comrades” had pursued “lawful ends by lawful and constitutional means only” in killing Volodarsky and Uritsky and attempting the life of Lenin, and organising risings and supporting counter-revolutionary generals), and proclaimed in advance their execution “an outrage on the working class sense of justice” (there was no condemnatory mention of the execution of the two Irish revolutionists who killed Sir Henry Wilson). It approved of the declaration of the Right Hon. Arthur Henderson, ALP., that the Labour Party was not a republican party, endorsed the plea that it was quite compatible with the duties and responsibilities of a Labour leader to be a member of His Majesty’s Privy Council, and refused to consider the suggestion that, inasmuch as the economic situation of the country warranted (or, alternately, demanded) a reduction of wages and even of old-age pensions, the rate of interest payable on war loans should also be reduced. And, to cap all, the National Executive elected, as chairman of the party, Mr. Sidney Webb, once famous as the permeator of Liberalism by Socialism, who has now become a not less famous permeator of Socialism by Liberalism. No wonder that in view of all this the Times, that mighty pillar of progress and friend of labour, should write that “We have never doubted the essential sanity of the Labour movement in this country, and we are confirmed in our opinion by the course of events at the Party Conference at Edinburgh.”

Does anybody feel ashamed at this praise by the late Lord Northcliffe’s paper? Certainly not the Right Hon. Arthur Henderson and his brethren. To them there is no nobler ambition in life than to be patted on their backs by the master class. In particular, to appear in its eyes as “sane” is worth all the world to them, including the interests of the working class, which they are supposed to champion. It never occurs to them that the master class only regards as “sane” that which does not proceeds beyond the lines of action or thought laid down by itself, in accordance with its well-understood interests; consequently they do not see that the working class, so long as it remains “sane,” will not shift the capitalist yoke off its neck by one hair’s breadth. Perhaps they do not care; perhaps they do care—a little—but are too well off in the sunshine of their masters’ favour to quarrel with them over the workers’ interests. But, however that may be, they will not see in the compliments of the Times anything insulting or calling for reflection. It is different with the rank and file. They may be ignorant, and may succumb easily to their leaders’ specious arguments, but their class instinct is sound; and when they see their party praised by the capitalists they are sure to prick their ears and to ask: “What have we done to please our masters?” To them, then, not to their leaders, are addressed the following observations.


Let us start at the beginning. What has the Labour Party been up till now? It will be remembered that the Labour Party was established some twenty-one years ago to further the interests of the working class by independent Parliamentary action. It used to be argued that just as the interests of the bankers, the railway directors, the mine owners, the shipbuilding employers, etc., were represented in the House of Commons, so ought the interests of Labour to have special representation there. But that was not a good argument, because the Parliamentary representatives of the bankers, the railway directors, the mine owners and the shipbuilding employers did not form separate parties in the House, but were merely groups within one or the other of the capitalist parties, whereas Labour was to form a party of its own, quite independent of the Liberals or the Conservatives. Obviously, Labour was not a mere group like these others, but a class having interests which did not agree at all with those of the other classes (as represented by Liberals and Conservatives), and sometimes might even clash with them. No one attempted to define how wide and how deep the difference between the interests of Labour and those of the other classes might be supposed to be. Indeed, when the then Social Democratic Federation pressed for a definition of that difference, in order to lay down a suitable programme of action, even the I.L.P., which believed the difference to be fundamental and unbridgable, deprecated the idea of saying so, lest it should frighten off the orthodox-minded among the working class. Separate and independent, that is, under its own Whips—that was the representation desired, without further ado; and the result was that a Parliamentary party was built up of elements the majority of which, though supposed t represent Labour as a class, were of a mind that differed in no way from the Liberal or Conservative mind of the capitalist class. Men like Mr. Arthur Henderson, a local Liberal agent, and a Methodist preacher into the bargain, were put into the House of Commons to act on behalf of Labour as a party, independently of the Liberals or Conservatives—as if a party could really be independent whose views were exactly attuned to those of the others, the capitalist parties! At best, such a party could differ from the others on some particular questions, not affecting the vital interests of capitalist society, just as any of the above-mentioned group of interests might; with this difference, that not being bound by the same Whips it might cast its vote against the Government. But, generally, its agreement with the other parties—more particularly with the Liberals—was so complete that it voted (“independently”) in the same lobby with them. This was strikingly illustrated during the preposterous fight over the 1909 Budget, when the Labour Party practically constituted itself the left wing of the Liberal Party, and during the war, when the party placed itself at the disposal of the capitalist class in order to drive the working class into the trenches, and a slight manifestation of independence on the part of Mr. Henderson was punished by his instant dismissal from the Cabinet—an event which did not lead to the slightest effort at revolt on the part of the party whose programme the unfortunate ex-Methodist preacher had attempted to carry out. All that the Labour Party ever did, during its long Parliamentary career, was to make critical speeches of a highly academic character, and introduce tiny bills or tiny amendments to bills which sometimes were, and more often were not, accepted by the House, leaving the world as safe for capitalism as ever the Liberals or the Conservatives could wish. It is true that the party succeeded in getting pernicious judgments of the courts, affecting the trade unions, set aside by Parliament; but no one who knows the circumstances could seriously contend that this success was due to the efforts of the Labour Party. It was rather due to the fear of the capitalists lest, if they did not give in, something more serious might happen than the rise of a Parliamentary Labour Party. In 1874 only two Labour men, Alexander Macdonald and Thomas Burt, were returned to Parliament, but even this modest debut of Labour on the floor of the House sufficed to curb the insolence of the capitalist class, and to bring about the legal recognition of the trade unions as demanded by the workers. It was just the same in our time. Not the Labour Party as such, but the Labour Party as a warning, as an alarming symptom of the workers’ discontent which might lead, if Parliamentary action failed, to revolutionary development—it was that, not the Parliamentary speeches and the lobby diplomacy of the Labour group, which was responsible for the reversal of the Taff Vale and the Osborne judgments. Apart from this achievement without merit, the Labour Party offered to the world the sorry spectacle of a group of men who did nothing, cared for nothing, made speeches which led to nothing, and, generally, made themselves out to be important—on the Terrace and in the lobbies of the House of Commons—just over nothing. The workers cannot point to a single thing they did of which it is possible to say: “Here our party wedged in with the force of a sledge hammer; here it put up a stubborn fight for our interests; here it put the master class to rout.”

Smug, respectable, without temperament, without courage, without a single original thought, the Labour men carried on a tedious, uneventful life within the precincts of the Westminster Palace, like a lot of flies on a window pane, in order—in order to cast off finally at Edinburgh the last pretence of being anything but the upholders of the present “cannibal system,” as it used to be called by the old Chartists, those mighty forerunners of a pigmy progeny.


The Labour Party, it is pompously declared, is a “lawful association seeking lawful ends by lawful and constitutional means.” What a piece of reactionary rubbish this is! What is a “lawful association”? If the words intend to imply mere “legality,” then the Communist Party, against which the declaration is directed, is also legal, since it is not prescribed by law. If, on the other hand, the words mean “authorised by law”—the Trade Union Act of 1913 to wit, then it is a small boast, indeed. It means that Labour is proud to have a party which exists only by special permission of the capitalist parties forming the majority in the House. Should by any chance the Trade Unions Act (Amendment) Bill now before Parliament become law, apparently the Labour Party would humbly dissolve. Or would it not? What do the workers think? If not, what is to become of the solemn protestation that the Labour Party “is and continues to be a lawful association”? Then as to its lawful ends. There is a section in the constitution of the party which defines its objects inter alia as follows:—

“To secure for the producers by hand and by brain the full fruits of their industry, and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible, upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.”

Is this end “lawful” As far as we know, the present capitalist system is not based on the common ownership of the means of production, and does not by any means allow the producers the full fruits of their labour. It is a system which rests not only on fact, but also on law, as any one who tries to touch the landlord’s land or the capitalist’s factory, or demands the “full” fruits of his industry, can see for himself. How can an end be “lawful” which is against the existing law, and is not and could never have been authorised by the law? If it be said that under English law anything may be aimed at, provided the means chosen for its attainment are lawful and constitutional, the reply is that this is simply not true; the choice of lawful and constitutional means may induce the law to tolerate an unlawful aim, but it can and will never make it lawful. Or take the resolution unanimously adopted by the Conference, which urges the Socialists and Labour Parties of all nations “to oppose any war entered upon by any Government, whatever the ostensible objects of the war.” We know by experience that the value of this resolution is just nil. Much stronger and more solemn resolutions were accepted be the Labour Party before the war at national al international conferences, but no sooner did the war break out than the leaders rushed into it with the utmost enthusiasm, and even became Privy Councillors. But supposing the Labour Party and its leaders were in earnest about war now; how could such an “end” be lawful in a situation like that which occurred on August 4, 1914, when Parliament by an overwhelming majority decided in favour of war, and the decision became the law of the land? One of two things: either the authors of the term “lawful, and constitutional” did not, while penning it, fully grasp its meaning, or they do not really attach any importance to the “aim” of the party, or to its resolutions, but regard them merely as ornamental. And the latter guess seems to be the true one, seeing that the withers of the capitalists (who know the Labour leaders much better than do their own followers) are left absolutely unwrung by these official party objects and party resolutions.


Lastly, there come the “lawful and constitutional” means. Here lies the centre of gravity of the National Executive’s pronouncement, because as long as the Labour Party confines itself to “lawful and constitutional,” means, anything else matters very little, and the capitalists may sleep quietly in their beds. It was not, of course, always so. A couple of years ago all or nearly all the leaders of Labour supported or took part in the Council of Action, which threatened a general strike in case the Government should renew the war against Soviet Russia. Again, on the question of the nationalisation of the Mines we had at least the miners’ leaders, including Mr. Frank Hodges—who at the Conference violently protested that “we are a Parliamentary political democracy,” and that “our constitution is based on the democratic theory that our national institutions must be so modelled as to give always the best expression to the will of every member of the nation”—we had all these men advocating a general strike in order to impose their reform on the “nation.” No doubt a general strike is not in itself an unlawful means, but it is certainly a highly unconstitutional method of obtaining a public reform, since it implies that Parliament is not willing to grant that reform by legislation, that “the will of every member of the nation” does not lie that way, and that a new national institution is going to be modelled by compulsion on the part of only one section of the nation. Since that time, however, the capitalists have raised such an outcry over these matters that the brave leaders of Labour (who never hesitate to challenge their own constituents when they are accused by them of some wrong action, knowing well that if the worst comes to the worst they can always fall back upon some Government post) quaked and began openly to repudiate the weapon of the general strike, even in economic warfare. “More and more,” said Mr. Cramp, another ex-revolutionist, at the recent N.U.R: Conference at Bradford, “was the industrial merging into the political”; hence, “they—the trade unions—could not solve every problem by the old-fashioned method of downing tools.” Now they have decided that never, never again will they employ any but “lawful and constitutional” means in their political warfare as a party. The capitalists are delighted, and call them “sane” men, protesting that they never doubted their essential sanity. The capitalists know well that so long as the Labour Party employs such means, its objects, be they lawful or unlawful, will never be achieved. For the capitalists know, if the workers do not, that the constitution which they have moulded (and in moulding it they, for their part, never hesitated to employ, if need be, any number of unlawful and unconstitutional means) affords them such protection that if Labour really confines its efforts within its four corners, as its leaders enjoin, their position, humanly speaking, will be safe for all time. For the constitution provides any number of checks and balances (more checks than balances) in the shape of entirely unrepresentative and irresponsible factors, survivals of an absolutist and feudal age, like the Crown and the House of Lords, which can be manipulated so as to frustrate any desire of the Labour Party employing “lawful and constitutional means only.” And this is not all; the British constitution also possesses the wonderful power of turning itself inside out, of making the unlawful lawful, of suspending itself in the air, as the famous Baron Munchausen did by the aid of his own pigtail, for any length of time—even of abolishing its palladium, Parliament itself. And the Labour Party, in the face of these strange properties of the constitution—properties by which it turns from a tame rabbit into a wild cat, and from an unwritten piece of paper into a sledge-hammer—entertains the ambition of achieving, by “lawful and constitutional means,” a social revolution; i.e., the dispossession of the capitalists and landlords. How much did the Irish obtain by the “lawful and constitutional means” of Parnell and Redmond? How much could the middle classes themselves have obtained, in the days of the Reform Bill, without—not the “run for gold,” that is a piece of picturesque rubbish invented by Fabian historians—but without the “hundred thousand pikes” that were being manufactured in Birmingham?


“Ah I but we are going to get a majority in Parliament, and then we shall manipulate the constitution,” say the Labour leaders. Will you, and when? In fifteen years’ time, or in fifty? Mr. Henderson has expressed the hope that a Labour Government might yet be formed in the lifetime of the present King, who would make them all Privy Councillors; but when we are told that the National Executive reckons to return about 150 Labour men at the next election, we realise that at this rate we shall have to wait at least fifteen years still before Parliament is captured by Labour. And is it supposed that during all this time not only the workers, but the capitalists too, will have the patience to wait and look on quietly, watching how the Labour group was growing and thriving? What an idyllic theory in these wild times! One may, perhaps, accept it as far as the workers are concerned, though heaven knows whether even the patient British workers will stand conditions such as prevail at present for much longer; but as for the capitalists, “fair and honourable” though they are (according to Mr. Cramp at the above-mentioned N.U.R. Conference), we doubt if their patience, as they watched the growing number of Labour members returned to Parliament, would last long. And even supposing they did reveal an angelic modesty and reserve, would a Labour Government be able to put its party programme, including the “Socialist” object, into practice? Would not the capitalists and landlords entrench themselves behind the Crown, the House of Lords, and the Bench, and offer such a strenuous opposition to the Labour Government as to frustrate all its efforts? Would they not, provided it had no recourse to “extra-constitutional” means, make its very existence impossible? But as a matter of fact a Labour Government would know the insuperable difficulties bound up with a strict adherence to “lawful and constitutional” means, and probably would not make any serious attempt to carry out its programme. It would find a thousand excuses, such as, for example, that after all it represented a minority of the nation; has not Mr. Hodges insisted upon “the will of every member of the nation being represented”? Like its German friends the Majority Socialists, it would abandon all its grand schemes, and confine itself to petty legislation and administrative tinkering. The masses, disgusted and disappointed at the failure of their leaders, might by that time begin to cross over to the Communists. And it is more than likely that the Labour Government, if it occurs, will—again like its German prototype—find itself fully occupied with fighting the “Red Peril” (as already foreshadowed by that budding Noske, Mr. Frank Hodges) in alliance with the capitalist parties—for whom, in due course, it will make room in the Cabinet in order to form a Coalition for the defence of “our glorious Constitution.” This is what the formula “lawful and constitutional” will inevitably lead to if it is loyally applied. Are the workers in favour of such a development? Are these the results they had in their minds when they endorsed the declaration of their National Executive?


From this ultra-reactionary conception, foreshadowing the future treachery of the leaders, flowed all the other decisions endorsed by the unthinking mass of delegates at the Conference. In the first place, the Communists have to be kept away from the Labour Party, and even from its Conferences—Mr. Hodges went so far as practically to declare a “holy war” upon them—lest their activities and their mere presence should impede the smooth course of treachery. It matters not that the united working-class front is broken by this decision—though in the past it was ostensibly the main task of the Labour Party to organise this unity, and in the old days the Labour Party used to quarrel violently with the Social Democratic Federation because the latter refused to join it. It matters not that the Communists have expressed their willingness to subscribe to the Constitution of the party, claiming only the same liberty of criticism and of action, and the same opportunities to influence the policy of the party as are allowed to the I.L.P. The I.L.P. belongs to the Vienna International, while the Labour Party belongs to the Second International; the I.L.P. does not hesitate, through the mouth of Mr. Jowett, sitting in the presidential chair at the Conference, to declare that “gradual ameliorative reform cannot remove the evils of to-day,” practically plumping for an immediate revolution. The Communists only demand the same liberty that is allowed to the I.L.P., or to the Fabian Society, whose leader, Mr. Sidney Webb (now elected chairman of the Labour Party), has publically advocated an alliance with the Liberals now or after the election—the same liberty that is allowed to individuals like Colonel Wedgwood, whose social position and Liberal outlook are sapping the very foundations of the party. And finally it does not matter to the Labour Party Executive that the Communist Party has never yet rejected “lawful and constitutional means” that can be used for the purposes of agitation or organisation, or even for obtaining concessions from the capitalist class, provided that their essential limitations are recognised, and no Utopias are chased after. To the leaders of the party, anxious to qualify for the approval of the capitalist class, and for membership of the Privy Council—not to mention the return at the next election of Labour candidates to Parliament with the help of middle-class votes—this reservation by the Communists was sufficient to disqualify them for affiliation. We warn the I.L.P. that if they do not abandon their pernicious doctrines about a “new” order being needed to prevent the degradation of Labour, as proclaimed by Mr. Jowett, their turn will come next. Has not the Times, voicing the views of the capitalist class whose favour is so much sought after by the Labour leaders, already plainly hinted that “it has been the curse of the Labour Party hitherto that it has been misrepresented in Parliament and on the platform by wreckers of the type of Mr. Jowett”?


To strengthen their case against the Communists the Labour leaders preferred yet another charge against them—they are not masters in their own house, but are, as Mr. Ramsay Macdonald put it, signed, sealed and delivered in mind, body and soul to accept whatever instructions are sent from Moscow.” The Communists, in fact, to use Mr. Hodges’ expression, “are the intellectual slaves of Moscow, thinking and unhesitatingly accepting without criticism or comment the decrees and decisions of the Asiatic mind, taking the judgments of the middle-class intellectuals of Russia, who are the residue of the old regime.” This is an attempt to apply the old “no Popery” argument to the adherents of the Third International, who, unlike the members of the Second and Two-and-Half Internationals, take the decisions of their Congresses and Executives seriously. For what is Moscow? Moscow is the seat of the Executive of the Third International, consisting, unlike the similar bodies of the other Internationals, not merely of a Secretariat, but of delegates from all parties affiliated to it, sitting, as it were, in permanence, keeping in closest touch with the Communist Parties of all countries. The Executive of the Third International carries out the decisions of the International Congresses, which have to meet in Moscow because they may not meet elsewhere. The gentlemen of the Second and Two-and-Half Internationals are accustomed to assemble from time to time to discuss matters and pass watery resolutions, with no more intention to respect or to carry these resolutions out than if they had been passed at the proverbial court of mandarins in China. The respect they paid to the resolutions of the old International Congresses of Stuttgart and Basle, on the subject of war, is a glaring illustration of the point. But because the Russian Bolsheviks, alone of all the so-called Socialist Parties of the world, did respect them, and because the parties affiliated to the Third International also make a serious business of their organisation and carry out the decisions arrived at by its Congresses and their Executive Committees, on which each is fully represented, and on which, it need scarcely be said, the Russians form but a small minority, the Macdonalds and the Hodges cry out “Shame!” accusing the British Communists of being the “intellectual slaves of Moscow.” The British Communists may well laugh at this outburst of feeling on the part of men who are the intellectual slaves of the master class; they know well that this is a case of the prostitute reproving the honest woman for being a slave to her virtue! And it is curious that the same gentlemen talk of the rule of “middle-class intellectuals” in Russia at a time when their minds are ruled by middle-class ideas and intellectuals of the type of Mr. Sidney Webb—and when the Russian Communist Party, the ruler of Russia, is a proletarian party to the extent of 80 per cent., exercising its control over its leaders in a much more effective fashion than is the case in Britain or elsewhere! In fact, Mr. Sidney Webb, in seconding the resolution on the subject of the trial of the Socialist Revolutionaries, justifies it on the ground that the “Russian Government is particularly susceptible to the expression of working-class opinion in other countries”—even in other countries!


This resolution on the trial of the Socialist Revolutionaries was a particularly infamous appendix to the campaign against Communism waged by the leaders of the Labour Party at the Conference. If there is one party in the Second or Two-and-Half Internationals which is thoroughly middle-class, it is the party of the Socialist Revolutionaries, whose working-class members long ago abandoned it, and are now bearing witness at the trial against their former comrades. When in power the Socialist Revolutionaries allied themselves to capitalist and landlord parties, and headed straight for a monarchist restoration; on being thrown out of office by the anger of the workers, peasants, and soldiers, they took to terroristic reprisals against the leaders of the proletarian revolution, allied themselves to foreign Imperialists, egged them on and led them into an interventionist campaign, burned grain and stores, wrecked food trains, blew up bridges and telephone and telegraph stations, got up local risings, and massacred Communists, in every district where they succeeded for a short time in restoring their rule, by thousands and tens of thousands. Yet the Labour leaders who can find in their voluminous vocabulary not a single word of good for Dombal in Poland, for Kingissepp in Esthonia, for Marty in France, for Dunn and O’Sullivan in Ireland, for Kussinen in Finland, or for any other of the thousands and thousands of Communists or Revolutionists who are being massacred, tortured, and imprisoned in every corner of the world—these leaders who worship at the shrine of lawfulness and constitutionalism are suddenly seized with such profound sympathy for the criminal Social Revolutionaries as to go out of their way to attack the Soviet Government (for which they, in another resolution, hypocritically demand recognition). This is all very natural; for at the head of these gentlemen stands Mr. Sidney Webb, an advocate of a Labour-Liberal alliance, and one of those who approved of the Czecho-Slovak counter-revolutionary rising in 1918, which ushered in the era of foreign military intervention in Russia. Do they not see, in the accused at the Moscow trial, the living embodiment of their own past, present, and future, as traitors and assassins of the working-class?


Yes, traitors and assassins of the working-class—that is what the respectable Privy Councillors and leaders of Labour have qualified for, after a long preparatory course. The world is off its hinges, Capitalism is caught like a mouse in a trap by the crisis which it has brought about by the great massacre called the “Great War.” The oppressed classes and races are everywhere knocking mightily at the capitalist prison walls. A pull, a good pull, and a pull all together, and Capitalism is overthrown: Mankind is at last free. But no! In rush the Labour leaders shouting, “No, you shall not be free yet; you must still be gulled by us so that Capitalism may live! The Constitution? Why, what is the matter with the Constitution that enables a man to be a goods-worker one day and a member of Parliament the next, that enables an engine cleaner to be a Privy Councillor, and that, if you will it at the next general election, will enable you to return to the House of Commons a full representation of your class.” (Mr. Thomas, at the Conference at Bradford.) The Monarchy? We are proud of our King and of being his Right Trustworthy Privy Councillors, and we hope he may still be on the throne when we “kiss hands” on our appointment as Ministers. You complain of unemployment and of other evils which oppress you, while we, goods-workers, and engine cleaners, and Methodist preachers, become Members of Parliament, and even Ministers and Privy Councillors? Fools that you are “who make the mistake of assuming that you can get the moon…. We did not get our present conditions at one bite, and we shall have to take any number of bites at this,” says Thomas—the one who is firm in his faith. “The working-class to-day,” he teaches the simple-minded, “make a profound mistake in assuming that a change of Government and the substitution of a Labour Government for the present Administration would find all the evils of unemployment automatically cured.” Indeed, “it must not be supposed that the return of the Labour Party to power would immediately open the flood gates of trade.” There you are, you simple-minded folk who expect a Millennium after the gentlemen who lead you have obtained governmental power. You ought to be content with seeing your 150 trade union secretaries strutting in the Lobby of the House, as Members of Parliament, and perhaps one day you may see a dozen of them kissing the King’s hands on their appointment as Ministers; the rest—well, “we shall have to take any number of bites at this.” Unfortunately, Mr. Thomas the candid said all this, not at the Labour Conference itself, but at his own conference of the N.U.R.; otherwise the delegates who reverently listened to the “constitutional” talk of Mr. Arthur Henderson and his partners might have been startled.

But the Labour leaders may gull the workers for a time; they cannot gull them for ever. History cannot be deceived, and history nowadays is marching in seven-league boots. The Communists who have been, rejected might have imposed upon themselves some reserve if they had been inside the Party, but now they will see to it that the eyes of the workers are opened to the treachery of their leaders. They will dog their steps and mercilessly expose their deceitfulness and perfidy. And the workers will gradually recognise that they can have nothing in common with the flunkeys of the capitalist class, and will throw them overboard, as their Russian brethren have done, and as their German brethren are going to do, one of these days. Till then, let the Hendersons enjoy their Privy Councillorships, and the Webbs their places of power and honour. He laughs best who laughs last.