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COMPULSION CONGRESS. j CO1PULSION CONGI<ESS. LABOUR DELEGATES' FEARS OF CONSCRIPTION J 0 0 -—— —— SCENES AT A HISTORIC MEETING. SPECIAL TO THE "LABOUR VOICE" Londoners are strangely indifferent to what is going on in their midst, but some of them who passed the Wesleyan Hall at Westminster when the delegates were assembling for the afternoon session of the great Labour conference on conscription, betrayed an eager if ephemeral curiosity. Under the portico of the Westminster Hospit- al, hard by, sat a wounded soldier, a boy of seventeen with an amputated leg, and a flicker of interest lit up his pale face as the Labour delegates passed. Little groups of them thronged the sidewalk outside the entrance to the Wesleyan Hall. Mr Tom Mann was there, tingling with vitality, bandying jests with old friends, and slapping them on the shoulder. Mr Matt Giles, of Swansea, quietly smoking a pipe, was engaged in conversation with a friend. Mr John Hodge engaged in grave colloquy with a delegate. Some press photographers besought Mr Will Crocks to pose for the camera. Mr G. H. Roberts, M.P., dressed with the ostentatious neatness of a shopwalker, came striding briskly up. Mr James My lies, the London organiser of the I.L.P., was the centre of an animated knot of I.L.P.-ers. Some Rhondda. Valley miners moved about asking for the gallery entrance. Inside the hall the delegates were rapidly filling the seats of the vast auditorium. Some of the men wore khaki armless, but the greater num- ber were beyond the military age, and the greybeards—Labour's elder states- men were not. few. There was just a sprinkling of women delegates, about a dozen in all. Up in the gallery, were Mr James Winstone and Mr Vernon Hartshorn. A sharp rap of Mr Gosling's majlet on the table put an end to the rustling of agenda papers and the hum of con- versation, and in a moment the silver- haired chairman was reading out the amendments that were to be discussed. As soon as this ended Mr Henderson rose. MR ARTHUR HENDERSON He was in a dour mood, and the flow of .his words was more than re- miniscent of the Wesleyan local preacher. Alluding, apparently, to Mr W. C. Anderson and Mr J. H. Thomas, he said that speakers at the morning session had appealed to passions, he said he would avoid that. But a moment later he was vigorously re- buking some persons who had insulted Mr John Hodge. "I am going to show that I have not lost my own soul," he said. "You haven't got one," shouted an impetu- ous person in the area. There was a. swelling murmur of pro- tests, followed by loud demands for a withdrawal. Mr Henderson waited calmly for the uproar to subside. "I quite understand all that, he resumed, "I have been educated in this movement. There are those in this audience who are interrupting me and who have been interrupting other speakers, who have not raised their little finger-Cloud cheers),—who are against the war, and who, I believe, are not prepared to say that they would like'to see us win the war. Yet the Conference cannot have its resolu- tion moved without the active chair- man of the Labour party being in- terrupted and insulted by one of these anti-war men." There was a roar of cheering from Mr Henderson's supporters. Then he plunged into a reasoned de- fence of his position. Lord Kitchener wanted 30,000 men a week until the ■Spf'^ig in order to bring the present divison up to strength, then he wanted 30,000 a week until the end of the year 1JO ftt the reserves. The men had to he obtained. If the pledge had not been given he w-.s fully of opinion that to-day they would have been in the posit.on of having a measure of con- scription fuller, wider, and more per- manent submitted to the country and to the House of Commons. If the conference decided that the Coalition was to be broken, he would resign from the Cabinet. If they ordered him to oppose the Bill as a private member, he would refuse, apply for the Chiltern Hundreds, and seek the support of his constituents. "I do not min d he added, ( ( ''I do not mind," he added, "ex- tending to those who have indulged in bravado about 'purifying the Labour Ipaxty,' an invitation to follow me to Ithe constituencies. I MR SNOW I) EN EXCITED. There were angry cries, indicating that the shaft had found its mark. Mr Snowden sprang excitedly to his feet. "I will accept that challenge. That was all which the general body of delegates could hear, for the I.L.P-ers around Mr Snowden raised such vociferous cheering that the re- mainder of his words were lost. Mr Bruce Glasier's face lit up with a happy smile; Mr Walter Ayles stood up and waved his handerchief; Mr Wallhead gave his stentor voice full scope, Mr Henderoon complained that Mr Snowden's interruption was irrelevant, Mr Snowden was not among the morn- ing's speakers, nor had he (Mr Hinder- son) referred specineially to Black- j burn. A scornful, mocking laugh came j from the I.L.P. delegates. After some further interruptions and dissensions, Mr Henderson resumed his seat. He had delivered a speech, which, although perhaps in parts need- lessly provocative, will rank as among the best and strongest in his not un- distinguished career. Mr Snowden and Mr Ramsay Mac- donald rose simultaneously, but the chairman called on Mr Macdonald. A remarkable scene followed. For over a minute the delegates cheered and cla-ppe-d and waved handkerchiefs and agenda papers. Underneath the vast volume of cheering there was a current of faint booing. Up to that moment the greater number of delegates remained impas- sive. Gusts of passion had swept across the hall, now stirring one of the strong pacifists, now moving the pro-conscriptionists: but the great in- termediate body gave no indication of their leanings. Thev all joined in the reception to Mr Ramsay Macdonald, and a great greeting it was. He began by pouring oil on the troubled waters. The challenges pass- ing between Mr Snowden and Mr Henderson were regrettable, and were the product of ephemeral passion, j Then in the manner of a univei-sitv, professor lecturing to students, Mr. Macdonald latirclicci liat-o a vindication of the representative," as against the delegate, theory of democracy. "TAUNTING" THE I.L.P. 1 "There is nothing," he said, "more i terrible in its consequences than to drift into a bad system so that at no moment are you facing the devil fa.ir and square, and fighting him clear and above board. "The moment. you put a bill on the Statute-book to say to an individual, single or married, 'it is part of your ordinary civic duties to join the army,' that moment vou have declared for a method which will have to be carried out to its fullest extent, because there is no half-way house possible for the nation after it has taken that step." A moment later he embarked upon a passionate vindication of the I.L.P. It was unfair, he declared to taunt them with having done nothing to make the voluntary system a success. They had to get men to the trenches, but they had to get them from there, and to get them from there in such a way that it would be unnecessary in future years to send men to the trenches. He and his friends of the I.L.P. had chosen the latter function as their own. They had to recognise that on this matter, as in industry, the principle of the sub-division of labour was opera- tive. Mr Bellamy, of the Railwaymen's Union then moved a resolution deelar- ing opposition to the Bill, and recom- mending the Labour Party to oppose it. In a quiet speech, delivered with- out vehemence or violent gesture, he declared that his organisation was un- alterably opposed to compulsory mili- tary service, whatever the Derby figures might be. He wa.rned the Government that if they put the Bill on the Statute Book they would arouse passions which before now Kings and Governments ha, d not been able to stand against. i THE TOTE. Aftèr Mr Egerton Wake had seconded, the vote was taken, and the result was announced: I For the amendment 1,715,000 Against. 934,000 A tornado of applause broke forth. The delegates cheered, and wavM hats and hankerchiefs. Mr Philip Snowden stood to his feet, and waved his arms ecstatically, and the other I.L.P re- ■ presentatives gave evidences of their delight. While this demonstration was going on Mr Sexton was noticed to be ad- I (Conftnued at bottom of next column)

Without Parallel in War History.




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