Hide Articles List

6 articles on this Page

I Conference Flash-Lights.…


I Conference Flash-Lights. I SOME PERSONAL IMPRESSIONS. I LEEDS, Wednesday Morning. The Conference is at an end. The delegates have dispersed North, South, East and West, and those few left behind are hurrying to the station. No one wants to stop after an I.L.P. Conference is over—to do so is anti-climax after all the fellowship of the week. Hotels are bonnie places when crowded to the doors with the dele- gates and their friends, but they are apt to be very cold and unfriendly when you are left by yourself on the morning afterwards. So here's to the comrades who have chosen the better part and are HOW at home telling their friends of all we saw and heard and said at Leeds. An I.L.P. Conference is a thing of beauty and a joy for ever. The comrades who have missed the glad experience have something yet to live for. No. gatherings are like these—they are un- forgetable, in their sincerity, their light-hearted gaiety—their sheer wild abandon, in a thousand varied moods they crowd into a moment of life the traditions and the fellowship of the I.L.P. ever since it saw the light. There is nothing so conservative as an I.L.P. Conference on its social side. No one wants new things. Dick Wallhead must recite "Eli," Ivor Thomas must sing Land of My Fathers," Joe Duncan must tell us of the wee Scotch Shoppie, and so on and so on. There is a good taste about these old things and they are handed down from year to year. Oh! the good time in these provincial hotels when long past the witching hour the songs and the tales go reund. The Soots are always the centre of the fun. Where the tradition springs from that the Scot is dour and sour, and needs a surgical operation to see a joke heaven only knows! A dose of I.L.P. Conference will cure anyone who harbours such an illusion. Watch the Scotch benches at the Conference! There sit the Scots, together, keen, ready to spring at any minute to their feet, but not over talkative, except when it i-eal y matters. A body of men who act together better than any other part of the Oonferenee. There appears to be more coherence, more com- mon understanding on these benches than else- where. The movement in Scotland, in fact, has become co-ordinated. There is often a fierce look on these benches, but it is only the counterpart of the infectious challenging laughter that rings out when the joke is either ior or against them. May-be the gaiety of the Scot is due to the large number of Irish who leaven the ranks. We had several treats from the Irish-Scots, or the Sootto-Irish, as the case may be. Regan, of Glasgow, delivered on the Bermondsey resolu- tion the speech of the Conference. It stands out as an almost perfect expression of speech. It will not soon be forgotten, indeed, some of its phrases ought to become historic in the Labour Movement. No property is as precious as life "T(jhn Hodge has not lost his hold on politics, but he has lost everything else." The speech was cheered to the echo and deserved to be. A speech entirely different from Regan's was the one- that followed it. J.R.M. is not always equal, but there is no man whom the Conference sits down to listen to like him. His speeches are generally criticised in the lobby after the ball is over," but that is their greatest merit. Every sentence is a controversy in itself. Every word telle. Macdonald said he agreed with nine-tenth's of Dr. Salter's speech and ten- tenth's of Regans, and settled down to examine the tenth part. Offensive and defensive wars were the children cI. the same parent. Why did the Bermondsey resolution make even a nominal distinction between the two ? The re- solution only became operative when war broke out. We must have a policy for now. It was no use expecting the peoples to make good when war has been declared. The only sensible course is to prevent the declaration of war. Macdonald was in a minority, which is rather a new thing for the practical politician and the idealist, but that is not a true statement of the case. James Ramsay Macdonald cannot be de- fined within the terms of political expediency. The man who on that fatal night in August stfood almost alone in the Mother of Parliaments and courageously spoke of peace is no mere slave of expediency. But for the then Leader of the Labour Party history may have been written differently. No, the problem of Macdonald is more ooplex than that. His mind sees diffi- culties and dangers that do not seem to matter to the ordinary member of the rank and file. Macdonald is inclined to be impatient whan the rank and file cannot see with his eye, and often the rank and file is quite as impatient when Macdonald does not see with their eyes. But the angle of vision is so different, and if we are to have Parliamentarians it does mean that we should as far as we can make the atmospheric conditions such that our men shall do their work better in the House of Commons. The speech which opened the debate on the Bermondsey resolution was quite a different one to all the others of which I have spoken. There were no subtleties about it. Dr. Salter is no orator as Brutus was. He is a "plain, blunt man that speaks straight on," and yet like that other plain blunt man he rouses his audience to very warm enthusiasm. It was an admirable statement in every way. The present policy was not International. It was separated and indi- vidual. Once agree that National Defence is justifiable and all is lost. Governments cannot go to war unless their people are behind them. But they can always feed the people on lies. They can tell them tt Your very existence is at stake" and there you are! The only way to end war is to get rid of the bogey of National Defence. The case was put clearly and dispas- sionately and one felt instinctively that the Doctor's reputation, already high, was higher than ever. My readers might think from the above that Dr. Salter is a very serious kind of person, but business once over, he is as jolly as a sand boy. On Saturday a party headed by the Doctor set out for Adel Grange, the home of the Misses Ford, who have done so much for the I.L.P. That tramp is as funny as anything in Three Men on a Boat." The Doctor procured an ordi- nance map, a long screed of written instructions which he made us repeat like a catechism, and then having assumed leadership took us out and lost us! He sighed for open moorland, but dis- covered disgrunted looking fields, stone hedges, ditches and main roads. Eventually he was de- posed and we reached our destination. Adel Grange is a delightful old home and despite all the wanderings and windings it was worth the while. But I shall forget the Conference altogether unless I get back to the Albert Hall. The I.L.P. met this Easter-time not a dispirited or defeated body of men and women. Adversity has not disquieted the I.L.P. Being in the right with two or three has not destroyed its morale. It is q?dte philosophic about present ? popularity. In size and volume the Oo.feremt has been a great advance on Newcastle. D"? spite all the I.L.P. grows. Despite all the I.L_?- goes proudly on its way. Yesterday and ?'" may shout their insults but why fret if To- morrow the Party is ooming into its own aoaaJll. At an early stage we were reminded of all:: I.L.P. stands for and of its glorious record wa.?'sB Mr. Harold Clay, who welcomed us on b?" of the Leeds Labour Party told the del"ga that it is the work of the I.L.P. that ?O made the Labour Part? possible." Leeds Wo not provide any satisfaction to those in the LO- bour Movement who would dispense with tl* I.L.P. The tame robins of the Lab?- Party who hop about the Government beneB need not build fake hopes upon any weakens of the Party. ? <! ? ? Mr. Jowett's presidential speech will be .£°:= elsewhere, and it need only be said that it ?- a brave and courageous deliverance and <?* shadows of coming events in the While boldly challenging the present war stated quite categorically that he was not If advocate of non-resistance." The speech 8()1tr mendably brief and admirably delivered eluded on the note Liberty, Equality, Fra?, nity," and was cheered to the echo. '?" Jowett has steered our ship through three p? lous years. Honest through and through fll'i genial withal-you should hear him BI "Cockles and Mussels "—Fred has been a trust* skipper, and the I.L.P. owes him much in the8* days. The new chairman is quite a different perPO- ality. But, there, it would be presumptious Of me to talk about Philip to a Pioneer a ence. He comes baok to the chair to guide tiw I.L.P. through the most trying three years its existence. He is perhaps one of the loved and best hated people in Great Britain. his great task he will have the devoted support of those who know and love him. It was a dr»" matic moment when Jowett left the chair 8.vd installed Philip Snowden into that Snowden told the Conference of how he occup1 the chair during those dark days of the BDIO War and how he had the satisfaction of seeigg the steady and gradual growth of the its present position. He hoped that the near future will hold for us the same good fort. And so say aH of us! Many delegates—very prou d of the new Cfeatf^ man—still rather wistfully wished that "Dick Wallhead had been in the chair for the next few, years. It was a very difficult choice betweeD Snowden and Wallhead, and in the end many wavering branohes veted for Philip because his immense national reputation and crert ability, but at the same time longed in tlioir heart of hearts that Dick had been in Parlia- ment and seated on the dizzy pinnacle of so that they would do him honour. What a ma. is our Dick! He is the em bodiment of the I.L.P. spirit. Throughout the country frolo Land's End to John o' Groats throughout the year he takes the fiery cross. In our clulr rooms and homes he tells his tales and keeps oB* spirits up. On the platform he robs Dora of last shred of character, and in season and out be,, keeps us oheery and faithful. Good old DICk. Little do we realise even now all that you mea* to the I.L.P. When the day comes that the I.L.P. puts y@u in its chair it will do itself so mean homour. It was a graceful thought that led to the prO- seiatatio-ii to Dick that was made on tk* closing day of the Conference. He ooIebr' the anniversary of the silver wedding dUTlng. Conference Week, and on behalf of the delega Mr. Macdonald presented him and his wife wtb witb' a wallet containing "a few train fares,"Dicfe all the kind love of his comrades.. When .øIck à returned thanks we cheered him again aD again. There are many others of whom I could spak, but time and tide wait for no man, and) editors would not evem wait for the Angel Gabriel, so 1 must hurry on my way. There was Jimmy Maxton back, after his experiences in g&/?l, looking thinner but still as bright and mis- chievous as ever. The Conference rose at hUll when he "rose." At the Scotch night he sang for us "Henry Dubb," and at 12.80 a.m. gravely dismissed us by saying We must close now as I want to be fresh in the morning as I have f make a great speech on the Esperanto amend- ment." (Roars of laughter.) The amendment was as follows; "Delete 'Esperanto is' and substitute Fs pe-ranto (simplified and purged ef. its unnecessary infiexious) would be, etc.' Then there were Casey and Dolly; Walto* Newbold, the discoverer of the "metallurgical conception of history P. J. Dollan, of Glaa. gow, whose concluding speech en the wonders of Scotland was inimitable; Willie Stewart, who says little at conferences, but does things wh,039 conferences are over; the crowd of people await- ing arrest who shall be nameless; C. H. Norman, straight from Dartmoor, the delegates who get up and make long speeches about the other dele- gates who are wasting time, and oh! a host of others. It was a glorious time! We all go back better than we came. We go back to spread the truth- To tell the people the good news. The confer- ence has renewed our faith and cheered up the doubting Thomases. The curtain rises on the New Year. Forward, the dawn is breaking." "Are we downhearted? NO." ERNEST E. HUNTEB.



Merthyr Mystery. I


l he Lesson of Leeds.