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WORKMEN'S TOPICS. THE TRADE UNION CONGRESS AND THE LABOUR MEMBERS. I (By MABON, M.P.) The Trade Union Congress of this year can look back with satisfaction to the satisfactory result of the famous resolution that its prede- cessors at Plymouth passed to form a Labour party. And it is to be sincerely hoped that the one passed at Bath so recently will also achieve a thorough success in strengthening the forces which have so unmistakablv devel- oped during the last two years. In some ways the discussion of the question at Bath last week with regard to bringing together those members of Parliament who constitute the Labour party and those who represent directly the Trade Union, and called the Trade Union group, into closer touch was the greatest value of all the discussions of the congress. Nothing could have been much better than the pacific and conciliatory temper in which the debate was conducted. True, a few angry words and bitter epithets were thrown about, but, com- paratively speaking, they were as nothing to what we have had on other ques- tions and at other times. Moreover, there were very few echoes at Bath, and it was evident that the desire for peace and a good understanding was over- whelming. It is plain now that all that is wanted is a little tact and patience, which those in Parliameut will exercise till the unity of the parties is achieved, and those outside will make up their "minds to stop stirring the dying embers into flame again. I am quite certain in my own mind that the real Trade Unionist leaders in those two groups will ere long find a way to be reunited. A few men, in- tolerant on each side, will have to be repressed, or may perhaps see the impossibility of their remaining in their respective groups. One or two out-and-out Socialists in the one group may elect to become free lances in the House rather than become members of any party at all. And about the same number on the other side may c loose to be absorbed in the Liberal party than have any truck at all with men with whose extreme Socialistic tem- perament-and views they have little or no sympathy. As to the bulk of both parties, they will unite. I am positive, and without any great delay. Shackleton, Henderson, Gill, Edwards, Brace, and Mabon, with others on each side, will find a way-to bridge oer the present diffi- culties. Some tact and more patience have al- ready been exercised. A little more time, and all will be right. Conciliation within will avail if patience rules outside- More forbearance must be exercised on the part of some of those who profess a great anxiety for a united Labour party. It is extremely unfair to be always speaking of those members of the Trade Union group as if they were merely pawns on the Liberal party chess board. The facts will prove that the contrary is the case. The House of Commons does not contain men of more determined independence or of more sterling integrity of character. The division list will prove that those who belong to this group have never been afraid of voting in the Opposition lobby, and of criticising the Govern- ment which they would like to be able to sup- port. It is time now that it should be under- stood that because they accept the great ideas of Liberalism, as far as they go they work for those ideas. But over and over again when they find that the Government and its supporters do not come up to the full height of those ideas they leave the laggards behind and vote with those who go beyond. They form an invaluable element in the House of Commons, and their position must be respected and recognised in the discussion respecting the coming concordat. The con- gress at Bath clearly appreciated these facts, and recognised them in all the important speeches made there. The Labour party again claims equal con- sideration. It is extremely unjust to speak of the men composing this party as a lot of mis- chief makers orpolitical Ishmaelibes. Most of them I honestly believe have definite ideas. They pursue great public aims conscientiously and completely. And some of the leaders have shown considerable statesman- ship. Nothing could be more masterly than the way in which Mr Shackleton piloted the Trades Disputes Bill when he had it in hand, and doubtless, of all parties in the House of Commons they bring less sectarian spirit into the presentation of their work. If the par- tisans outside Parliament could be persuaded to be less boisterous in their declamations against others 90 per cent. of the Labour men in the House would soon find tbe way to come together, for they possess very fully the essen tials of all co-operation—respect for each other. And as far as I know, and feel, there is nothing personally in all those who would prevent these forces uniting into one party, for as things are at present they are united in action in nine cases out of ten on an Labour questions, such as the Trades Disputes Bill, Workmen's f Compensation Bill, the Feeding of Children, and the Unemployed, etc., etc., and they will f be found to be in agreement on old age pen- sions and all other questions having a direct bearing on Labour. It was thought, if not understood, in several quarters that it would stand for a limited and narrow demand of one class interest only, and would attack what was inadequate in current Liberal politics, and all these mis- givings have been falsified. Many persons dis- like the Labour party's creed and condemn its Ipolicy and fear its power. But now that it is known, very few indeed would dare assert that they have shut their sympathies within the narrow 1 imits of their own title. But the fact is, that most of the members of the Labour party have thrown themselves into all controversies of politics, and interest them- selves in the responsibilities of government. They interest themselves also in all the essen- tial ideas of Democracy, and no Liberal who is in earnest about his political creed can do less than rejoice in the strength of a party that is prepared to do so much for the people, and, when they like, can add to their powers in co-operating with others of similar creed and opinions. As the result of observations one finds that in the House of Commons are collected to- gether a great body of reformers, not all of one mind, it is true, not all of one party, but a body which will be of the greatest importance and value to any Parliament could they but be invited to carry out one by one the objects they have in general. Their strength in the House is greater than their strength in the Government. And I am constrained to believe that Conld they by some means or other be brought to unitedly use their power they would soon give effect to the real wishes of the electorate. Every true Democrat will wel- come the spirit displayed in the discussion of these matters at the Bath Trade Union Con- gress, for without interfering in any way with the independence of-either set of reformers, it provided for something like concentrated pressure from the members, who are in close touch with Trade Union opinion. And what Parliament stands in need of occar- sionaDy is a little more of this concentration in all the ranks of democratic element. The weakness of the present system is that no one seems to know or understand the real strength of the number of advanced men that could be brought together, and thus its real force or strength is lost and yet, without that strength be used, the driving fotces of Democracy are in danger of "being arrested by the more timid and less representative ele- ments of government. If the real strength of the present Democrats in the House of Com- mons could be concentrated they could make life intolerable to any Department that would take things too leisurely, and by so doing they could easily make the present Parliament a. more triumphant force for reform than it is now.



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