..ORGANISATION THE WEAK SPOT.I|1914-01-31|Llais Llafur - Welsh Newspapers Online
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..ORGANISATION THE WEAK SPOT.I

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ORGANISATION THE WEAK SPOT. The Labour Party conference that has just concluded its deliberations at Glasgow is in point of numbers and interest, one of the best yet held. An acute observer of the international working-class movement once observed that whereas Continental, conferences liscuss live and human issues, British conferences seem to be machined and Organised out of existence. However true that criticism may be of past con- forenc-es it certainly does not apply to the one just concluded. The discussion at the opening meeting of the Women's Labour League; Tuesday's debate on Parliamentary policy which served a good purpose if only to give the more Atrabilious critics of the party the opportunity to "let off steam" the brisk, vehement discussion on the bar- barous and illegal action of Botha; the struggle over proportional repre- sentation and other features of the conference—all invested the delibera- tions of Labour's Parliament with ex- ceptional interest. If there was one thing more notable than another about the conference it was the absolute frankness with which the affairs of the party were discussed. The concluding paragraph of the report to the delegates touched vital issue. The real weakness of the party, de- clared the report, is in its number, and that fault lies largely with the con- stituency. Mr. Tom Fox, the chair- man, in his able survey of the present position made a remark of similar pur- he sai d port. "In my judgment, he said, "the primary cause of the failure of the British workers to make industrial and social progress commen- surate with the effort and sacrifice they have used is the deplorable inefficiency of our- methods and organisation." There is nothing new in this view, but it is one that' must be emphasised again and again until the weakness is eradicated. No Labour man can con- template the results of .the by-ejections of recent years without- feeling very keenly the fact that our successive humiliations have been due to the utter lack of efficient electoral machinery. Time after time this lesson has been. brought home to us, but the officials and rank-and-file alike have gone on trusting in the bad old mad old policy of muddling through. The history of the Labour. party's electoral work in the last few years is a striking illustration of how things s&hould not be done. Contrast our record in this respect with that of the German Social Democrats! Under the guidance of the late Herr Singer our comrades in GArmanv constructed the most perfect electoral machinery that the world has known. It would bp idle •• to hope that similar machinery would produce similar results in this country, or that our machinery could be built in a similar manner, any move than j that our party's method of work should be on parallel lines to tlia;, of many. But at least we can copy their thoroughness.. If we look at the organisation of the Liberal and Tory parties in this country we see afresh how much leeway there is to make uP. Where is there a Labour area as well organised as the Tory vote in Liverpool has been organised by Alderman Savage? Where is there a Labour constituency organised in the I same way as Swansea is organised in the Liberal interest? There is of course, a great disparity between the money at the command of Labour and that (de- rived in the Liberal case largely from the sale of honours) at the disposal of the historic parties. An idea of this may be gained from the fact that the Glasgow conference was recommended to appoint two additional organisers for the beggarly sum of C550 or there- abouts, a year. At least ten times this expenditure is called for, but with the party still reeling from the blow of the Osborne Judgment there is a great gap between what should be and what is practicable. Nor are limited funds the only handi- cap. Unlike the average Liberal and Tory M.P., the Labour member cannot give his whole time to political work, or give attention to charitable work, sports, etc., as the ordinary capitalist representative does. Nine-tenths of electioneering is sheer advertising, or at least a use of the advertising method in exploiting the sub-conscious mind of the electorate. The manner in which South Glamorgan is being worked by the Hon. Roland Phillips at present, and the way in which the Liberal news- papers .are giving publicity to his Boy Scout work, his speeches for religious causes and charitable institutions, are good evidences of how the ordinary politician curries favour with the elec- torate. In this matter the Labour candidates are as children. A very notable instance of how we are out- manoeuvred by the Liberals in this re- spect is provided by the North-West Durham by-election. Every newspaper picture of Mr. Aneurin Williams has depicted him in the centre of a smiling, cheering, confident crowd of supporters, with the portrait of the alleged oldest elector (a Liberal voter, of course) inset at the side. The pictures of Mr. Stuart have been absolutely unin- spired, and in one case he was depicted in company with Mr. Keir Hardie, whose picturesque appearance made Mr. Stuart appear by comparison a mediocre person of little consequence. A small matter this? Certainly; but there is'not a publicity expert in the kingdom who will not say that this kind of subconscious suggestion influences votes. And an accumulation of small things like this spells the difference between defeat and victory, for it is the marginal vote, a few hundreds one way or the other, that really matters. We do not think that the Labour party should slavishly copy the elec- tioneering methods of the historic parties. Better utter and final defeat. than that we should climb to power by the intrigue and bribery which are the distinguishing features of Liberal elec- tioneering in Wales. There are other ways of setting to work, and ways, we are confident, which the Labour party, despite the disabilities under which it labour, can adopt. Between the forces behind Liberalism and Toryism on the one part, and Labour on the other, there is a great gulf fixed. The historic parties have only interests to defend; we have a faith and an ideal. Where they depend on bought services, we can look for the loyal and infinitely more valuable work of the enthusiast. It is for us, and for our leaders, to find a means of guiding this enthusiasm into effective channels. If the right methods were adopted we could make Gower, for instance, a Labour seat so strong that we could snap our fingers at a combination of Liberals and Tories. And the possibilities of Gower are the possibilities of scores and scores *of in- dustrial constituencies up and down the, country. If it were feasible to call a close time on mutual criticistn in the Labour movement, and the energies now dissipated in that way were direct- ed to strengthening our cause and at- tacking the enemy.

THE MORAL OF SENGIIEN YDD..…

THE PONTARDAWE FIRE. I

II DULAIS VALLEY CHAT. ! )

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