Victor Grayson

Victor Grayson

Albert Victor Grayson, the seventh son of a carpenter, was born in Liverpool on 5th September, 1881. He was educated at St Mathew's Church of England School on Scotland Road. As a child he suffered from a stammer and was teased about it at school. At the age of fourteen he ran away from home and attempted to stow away on board a ship bound for Australia. After four days at sea he was discovered and returned to his parents.

In 1899 Grayson started work as an apprentice engineer in Bootle, Lancashire. He joined the union and over the next couple of years became very interested in the emerging socialist movement. Grayson learnt about politics by reading The Clarion, Justice and The Labour Leader. He also attended meetings of the Socialist Debating Society at the Liverpool Mission Hall and later joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP).

Grayson also became a member of the Unitarian Church in Liverpool. The local minister recognised Grayson's potential and helped him to get a place at Owen's College, Manchester as a divinity student. The long-term plan was for Grayson to become a Unitarian minister. His biographer, David Howell, has pointed out: "Unemployment was high in Manchester during 1905 and Grayson emerged as a popular and effective speaker at demonstrations. His passion for socialism replaced his religious commitment, and in July 1906 he withdrew from his course."

In Liverpool Grayson developed a reputation as a superb orator. Most days he could be found standing on his soap box giving lectures on socialism. The university authorities became concerned about Grayson neglecting his studies and asked one of the ILP leaders, Philip Snowden, to speak to him. Snowden was unable to persuade Grayson to continue his studies. Grayson told Snowden that the university was a "make-believe refuge" and he intended to work in the real world. Over the next couple of years Grayson toured the industrial districts giving lectures on socialism. His reputation grew and he was seen as a future leader of the newly formed Labour Party.

In January 1907, the Independent Labour Party in Colne Valley selected Victor Grayson as their parliamentary candidate. In the past, there had been an arrangement where the labour movement supported the Liberal Party candidate in Colne Valley in return for help in winning other seats for ILP candidates. The executive of the Labour Party therefore decided not to endorse Grayson as their candidate. Colne Valley ILP refused to back down and in the by-election held in July, 1907, Grayson stood as an Independent Socialist candidate. The leadership of the Labour movement were angry by the unwillingness of the ILP in Colne Valley to follow the orders of the National Executive. Convinced that the Liberal Party would win the seat, very few of the national figures in the ILP helped Grayson during his campaign.

Although the Independent Labour Party was committed to the parliamentary road to socialism, during the election, Grayson advocated revolution. In his election address Grayson wrote "I do not believe that we are divinely destined to be drudges. We must break the rules of the rich and take our destinies into our own hands." Grayson used his skills as an orator to create a wave of emotion in Colne Valley and this is reflected by the fact that 88% of the electorate voted. Sensationally, Grayson obtained 153 more votes than the Liberal Party candidate and won the election.

In his maiden speech in the House of Commons Grayson criticised the recent decision to grant the diplomat, Evelyn Baring, the 1st Earl of Cromer, £50,000 for his services in Egypt. He attacked the government for rewarding a man for "consolidating Imperialism". Grayson added that Cromer had already been well-paid "while outside the four walls of this House people are dying of starvation". Pointing to the government front-bench he said he was looking forward to the day when those seats "will be occupied by socialists, sent there by an indignant people".

His biographer, David Howell, has argued: "Often charming, and attractive to both men and women, his politics lacked depth. For his sympathizers he represented the hope of a better world that owed more to moral conversion than to legislation; for his detractors he represented the irrational, the destabilizing, and the potentially violent both as pre-war socialist and as wartime patriot. From one standpoint he is the flawed socialist hero; but his distinctive trajectory also illuminates specific and important themes within the Edwardian left. A character in a morality play, he was nevertheless very much a man of his time and place."

Edward Carpenter got to know him during this period: "Victor Grayson was a most humorous creature. His fund of anecdotes was inexhaustible, and rarely could a supper party of which he was a member got to bed before three in the morning. On the platform for detailed or constructive argument he was no good, but for criticism of the enemy he was inimitable - the shafts of his wit played like lightening round him, and with his big mouth and flexible upper lip he seemed to be simply browsing off his opponents and eating them up."

Theodore Rothstein was a Marxist but had good things to say about Victor Grayson: "Grayson is still quite a young man, about 27 years old, gifted, full of temperament, a born agitator, but without any sort of theoretical knowledge, no Marxist – more inclined to be an opponent of Marxism – in short, a sentimental Socialist at an age when the wine is not yet fermented. Like all Socialists of this type – and the type is a historical one, dating far back beyond our period – he represents more the tribune of the people than the modern party man, and without being an anarchist or syndicalist, he has a great horror of parliamentarism and of the planned political struggle, which he looks upon as dirty jobbery. This horror seems to be very wide-spread in England, in spite of the prevalent fetish-worship of Parliament, and is caused by the lying and deceitful tactics of the bourgeois parties."

Grayson was angry that the national leadership had been unwilling to support his campaign in Colne Valley and refused to join the Labour Party group in the House of Commons. In fact, Grayson rarely attended Parliament, preferring to tour the country making speeches in favour of revolutionary socialism. Of over 300 debates that took place in the Commons while he was the Colne Valley MP, Grayson only voted in 32. Grayson behaviour in Parliament was also becoming more erratic and it became clear that he had a serious drink problem.

In November 1908 Grayson attended a debate on a proposed new Licensing Bill. Grayson interrupted the debate by standing up and shouting "I wish to move the adjournment of the House so that it can deal with the unemployment question. People are starving in the streets." When Grayson refused to sit down the Speaker ordered the Serjeant-at-Arms to remove him from the House of Commons. Grayson turned to the leaders of the Labour Party and shouted: "I will gladly leave! You are traitors to your class."

After this incident Grayson rarely visited the House of Commons. At first the people of Colne Valley were pleased that they had an MP that spoke up for the unemployed. However, they were less impressed by stories his luxurious life-style and his heavy drinking. In the 1910 General Election Grayson was easily defeated by the Liberal Party candidate.

Fred Jowett, one of the leaders of the Independent Labour Party, commented: "We must recognise that the man who can make a crowd shout is not necessarily an organizer of men. The gift of platform oratory, skill in making striking phrases, is a dangerous one. It is the man behind that matters. If his skill is employed in setting, not class against class, but men of the same class against their kith and kin, sewing seeds of distrust and hatred where the love of a common cause should produce the fellowship of kindred spirits, it were better if he had no such skill."

Without a seat in the House of Commons, Victor Grayson attempted to make a living from lecture tours. Still drinking heavily, his health began to deteriorate and in 1913 had a mental breakdown. Grayson gave up alcohol and went on a sea-cruise and for a while his health began to recover. He was now strong enough to start a lecture tour in America. This went well until he started drinking again. Grayson returned to Britain but he was now an alcoholic and at public meetings in Bradford and Glasgow he was to drunk to speak and had to be carried off the stage.

Grayson shocked his radical friends by supporting the First World War. He gave recruiting speeches and wrote articles urging young men to join the armed forces. In 1915 Grayson travelled to New Zealand where he had been offered work as an actor. However, this was not a success and he joined the New Zealand Army. He was sent to the Western Front and on 12th October 1917 was badly wounded.

After the war Victor Grayson returned to England where he hoped to revive his political career. Without the backing of any of the major political parties, Grayson found it impossible to become a parliamentary candidate. Grayson took a keen interest in Irish politics and made several secret trips to Ireland where he had talks with Michael Collins.

In early 1918 Basil Thomson, head of the Special Branch, asked one of his agents, Arthur Maundy Gregory to spy on Grayson, who he described as a "dangerous communist revolutionary". Gregory was told: "We believe this man may have friends among the Irish rebels. Whatever it is, Grayson always spells trouble. He can't keep out of it... he will either link up with the Sinn Feiners or the Reds." Gregory became friendly with Grayson. David Howell writes that "Grayson subsequently lived in apparent affluence - a contrast with his recent poverty - in a West End flat. His associates included Maundy Gregory... The significance of this relationship and the source of Grayson's income remain unknown."

During the summer of 1919 Grayson became aware that Gregory was spying on him. He told a friend: "Just as he spied on me, so now I'm spying on him. One day I shall have enough evidence to nail him, but it's not going to be easy." It is not known how he obtained the information but at a public meeting in Liverpool he accused David Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, of corruption. Grayson claimed that Lloyd George was selling political honours for between £10,000 and £40,000. Grayson declared: "This sale of honours is a national scandal. It can be traced right down to 10 Downing Street, and to a monocled dandy with offices in Whitehall. I know this man, and one day I will name him." The monocled dandy was Arthur Maundy Gregory, who had indeed been selling honours on behalf of Lloyd George.

At the beginning of September 1920, Victor Grayson was beaten up in the Strand. This was probably an attempt to frighten Grayson but he continued to make speeches about the selling of honours and threatening to name the man behind this corrupt system. On the 28th September Grayson was drinking with friends when he received a telephone message. Grayson told his friends that the had to go to Queen's Hotel in Leicester Square and would be back shortly.

Later that night, George Jackson Flemwell was painting a picture of the Thames, when he saw Grayson entering a house on the river bank. Flemwell knew Grayson as he had painted his portrait before the war. Flemwell did not realize the significance of this as the time because Grayson was not reported missing until several months later. An investigation carried out in the 1960s revealed that the house that Grayson entered was owned by Arthur Maundy Gregory.

Grayson was never seen alive again. It is believed he was murdered but his body was never found. After Grayson's death Arthur Maundy Gregory continued to sell honours for the next twelve years. Gregory was involved in arranging for the forged Zinoviev Letter to be published that helped to defeat the Labour Party in the 1924 General Election.

In 1932 Gregory attempted to sell a knighthood to Lieutenant Commander Edward Billyard-Leake. He pretended he was interested and then reported the matter of Scotland Yard. Gregory was arrested but he turned it to his advantage as he was now able to blackmail famous people into paying him money in return for not naming them in court. Gregory pleased guilty and therefore did not give evidence of his activities in court. Arthur Maundy Gregory was sentenced to two months' imprisonment and a fine of £50. On leaving prison Gregory was persuaded to live in Paris where he was paid a pension of £2,000 a year by the Conservative Party.

Primary Sources

(1) W. F. Black, The Labour Leader (1906)

Victor Grayson has a deep rich voice, just made for the open-air and he gave his audience plain, strong, and richly-defined Socialism. Nothing petty or mean, no appeal to unworthy motives, or even the misery of things, but an uplifting, elevating, manly propaganda speech, addressed to the crowd as men. In Victor Grayson, student and orator, the Manchester men have found a prize indeed, and Socialism has gained another valuable asset.

(2) Fred Jowett, The Clarion (2nd October, 1908)

Men are now described as traitors by Victor Grayson who undertook the task of founding a Socialist Movement at a time when the chilling frost of almost universal indifference was far harder to bear than are the violent alternations between the excitement of hostility and the enthusiasm of fellowship in which Victor Grayson now lives and moves.

We must recognise that the man who can make a crowd shout is not necessarily an organizer of men. The gift of platform oratory, skill in making striking phrases, is a dangerous one. It is the man behind that matters. If his skill is employed in setting, not class against class, but men of the same class against their kith and kin, sewing seeds of distrust and hatred where the love of a common cause should produce the fellowship of kindred spirits, it were better if he had no such skill.

(3) Edward Carpenter, My Days and Dreams (1916)

Victor Grayson was a most humorous creature. His fund of anecdotes was inexhaustible, and rarely could a supper party of which he was a member got to bed before three in the morning. On the platform for detailed or constructive argument he was no good, but for criticism of the enemy he was inimitable - the shafts of his wit played like lightening round him, and with his big mouth and flexible upper lip he seemed to be simply browsing off his opponents and eating them up. His disappearance from public life has been quite a loss.

(4) Brian Marriner, What Happened to Victor Grayson? (1984)

As well as blackmail, Arthur Maundy Gregory kept himself in lucrative work by giving the authorities the sort of reports they wanted about communist subversion. The end of the war saw many strikes and Bolshevik plots were held to be behind them all. The Special Branch and M15 competed to provide evidence to support these claims. In the context of the times, this kind of paranoia is easy to understand. The Russian Revolution of 1917 inflamed the British working classes. There were military riots at Folkestone. Thousands of British troops at Calais mutinied, and two divisions had to be recalled from Germany to surround Calais with machine-guns. Leaflets from secret presses were circulated, urging workers to sabotage the war effort. In London even the police were threatening to strike - and those in Liverpool did, in August 1918. When riots and looting broke out in Birkenhead and Liverpool a battleship and two destroyers steamed up the Mersey, playing searchlights on both banks.

By the end of 1918 Gregory had a solid reputation as a "Mr Fixit" with powerful connections. He had already begun his most lucrative business: selling honours for Lloyd George, so that he could gain funds to fight the next election. Lloyd George's Political Fund was to reach some £3,000,000. It is claimed by some that Gregory even suggested the introduction of the new order of the OBE in order to coin more income - even from OBEs he got £20 commission a time. He usually made a point of hinting to prospective buyers that the money was to be used to enable the government to "fight Bolshevism and revolution".

Gregory had an office in Whitehall at 38 Parliament Street, which had a rear entrance in Cannon Row (he was always one to leave himself an escape route). Like all confidence tricksters, he was assiduous in keeping up a good front: he wore silk shirts, expensive suits and shoes, and much personal jewellery. His office was lavishly furnished, with scrambler telephones on the desk and signed photographs of royalty.

He kept a cab-driver on permanent hire, ready to drive him anywhere at a moment's notice, summoned from Cannon Row by an ingenious system of coloured lights in the office window. Gregory liked to flash a gold, inscribed cigarette-case at visitors, which had been presented to him by the Duke of York, later King George VI, for his work for the King George V Fund for Sailors. His staff were required to refer to him at all times as "The Chief", and his hints at powerful connections, many of which were lies, were always backed up by an obsessive attention to detail. For example, he used to excuse himself to visitors by saying he had an important telephone call from "number 10", but this really referred to 10 Hyde Park Terrace, Bayswater Road, which he leased. Frequent visitors to his office were Sir Basil Thomson of the Special Branch and Sir Vernon Kell of M15.

Early in 1918, Gregory was asked by the Special Branch to keep his eyes open for the return to Britain of a "dangerous communist revolutionary", which was an unlikely description of Victor Grayson at the time. Superintendent Quinn of Scotland Yard instructed him: "We believe this man may have friends among the Irish rebels. Whatever it is, Grayson always spells trouble. He can't keep out of it... he will either link up with the Sinn Feiners [Irish nationalists] or the Reds." Gregory promptly made a point of calling on Grayson's wife, posing as a theatrical producer seeking to cast a new play and asking her if she was interested in a part. Until Ruth Grayson died later in the year, Gregory used her to check on Grayson's movements.

Grayson had no sympathy for the Russian revolutionaries, but he did have links with and sympathies for the IRA. On his return he made several secret trips to Ireland, where he had talks with Michael Collins, who was later one of the leaders of the Irish Free State, founded by the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921, until his assassination in 1922. Grayson soon discovered that Gregory was spying on him, and he became determined to expose him - not only as an honours tout but, what was perhaps even more scandalous, as the possible forger of the infamous Casement diaries. To this end, he made the speech in Liverpool threatening to name Gregory and also began to collect signed statements about his activities as an honours tout. Gregory became extremely alarmed. Grayson was a dangerous enemy who was threatening his source of income. As a journalist, Grayson could easily conduct a campaign to discredit Gregory in a number of publications, always providing he took care not to breach the libel laws.

Having been commissioned to keep an eye on Grayson anyway, Gregory now had a double reason to do so. He made it his business to fabricate reports discrediting Grayson, telling his Special Branch and M15 contacts that Grayson was in touch with both Bolshevik agents and the Sinn Fein movement. But if Gregory was observing Grayson closely, he would have realised that the former MP posed no security threat. Politically, he was finished - and his heavy drinking would have made him an unreliable conspirator in any plots to overthrow the government. Gregory would also have known that there was no Russian connection, only an Irish one. But truth was no impediment to Gregory's urgent need to eliminate the man who was a personal threat to him. If Grayson could not be ruined by fabricated reports, then there were other alternatives. One way or another, Victor Grayson had simply got to disappear.

There is some confusion over the last few weeks of Grayson's public life. It is known that he was the victim of a mysterious attack in London in September 1920. He was beaten up in the Strand, and booked into a hotel with stitches in a head wound and a broken arm in a sling. The police confirm the attack: Grayson was taken to Charing Cross Hospital for treatment. Yet the witnesses who saw him walk out of the Georgian Restaurant and vanish did not notice these wounds. He had visited his mother in Liverpool briefly early that same month, but she too saw no wounds. He told her he could not stay long, as he was due to give a speech in Hull. There is no record of any such speech having been made, nor indeed of any hall in Hull having been booked for the purpose, though Grayson may have gone to Hull in order to see someone. It is almost certain that he took the train from Hull straight back to London, where he must have been attacked.

Then comes the climactic scene in the Georgian Restaurant, when Grayson was told his luggage had been delivered in error to the Queen's Hotel, Leicester Square. This has sinister overtones: Gregory, it will be remembered, had his secret headquarters there, at which he used to interview people in connection with his counter-espionage work. There are variations to the last scene, one of which has a well-dressed woman beckoning Grayson out of the restaurant. But the fact remains that Grayson was not seen again after this evening - or rather, not officially.

(5) Theodore Rothstein, The Social Democrat (August, 1909)

At the present time a great confusion exists in the ranks of the Independent Labour Party (I.L.P.). The four most important members of its National Council – Keir Hardie, MacDonald, Snowden and Bruce Glasier (editor of the party organ, the “Labour Leader”) – have, in consequence of the criticism of their policy as leaders of the Party which was expressed at the Easter Conference, demonstratively retired from office. In an open letter addressed to the members of the Party they point out that confusion has existed for some time, caused by the formation within their ranks of a group who do not know what they want, who to-day applaud the Labour Party, and to-morrow demand the formation of a new Socialist Party, who upset the minds of the comrades and undermine their confidence in the leaders by their criticisms and ugly allusions and erroneous statements. How could the business of the Party be carried on under such circumstances? It is indeed not a question of the tactics of the Party – these were laid down once for all when it was founded – but only as to whether the Party is desirous of carrying out these tactics, of insisting upon loyalty to the latter, and of rejecting any actions or methods not in agreement with them. But it is exactly on this point that the Conference has in some instances not supported the Council, thus leaving them, the writers of the letter, no choice but to resign the mandates given by the Party.

Horrible! What can have happened? What is this mysterious group which is confusing the spirits of the Party, and has driven the four most respected leaders and founders of the Party out of the “responsible” posts of the Party Ministry? The proclamation of the four – the quartette, as it is now called in I.L.P. circles – does not mention any names, but all the world knows that the allusion is to the Grayson group. Now, who is Grayson? Who constitute his group? Wherein consists their disruptive activity?

Grayson is still quite a young man, about 27 years old, gifted, full of temperament, a born agitator, but without any sort of theoretical knowledge, no Marxist – more inclined to be an opponent of Marxism – in short, a sentimental Socialist at an age when the wine is not yet fermented. Like all Socialists of this type – and the type is a historical one, dating far back beyond our period – he represents more the tribune of the people than the modern party man, and without being an anarchist or syndicalist, he has a great horror of parliamentarism and of the planned political struggle, which he looks upon as dirty jobbery. This horror seems to be very wide-spread in England, in spite of the prevalent fetish-worship of Parliament, and is caused by the lying and deceitful tactics of the bourgeois parties. It is more to be ascribed to this horror than to firmness of principle, that Grayson, when put up as candidate at a bye-election in the summer of 1907 by the workers of Colne Valley, a Yorkshire constituency, fought for the mandate as a declared Socialist upon an openly Socialist programme, and rejected the compromise proposed by his National Council to appear before the public as a mere “Labour candidate” according to the arrangement of the Labour Party bloc. In spite of his being boycotted by the administration of his own party, as well as that of the Labour Party, and having candidates of both the bourgeois parties opposed to him, he was elected and came into Parliament, the first representative of the workers to get in on a Socialist ticket; thus proving that the hushing-up policy of the National Council of the I.L.P. and their trade unionist colleagues of the bloc of the Labour Party is not a necessity, and occasioning great joy in the S.D.P., as well as among the Socialist elements in the I.L.P., but at least equally great annoyance among the National Council of the latter.

Since that time Grayson has come to be in permanent opposition of the heads of his party, as well as the Labour Party group in general. As he did not join the latter, it boycotted him, and on the few occasions when he spoke in the House (as a Parliamentarian he was chiefly remarkable by his absence) he always came into collision with it. As, for instance, when the English King’s visit to Reval was discussed. The Labour fraction, encouraged by the Radicals, had decided on an interpellation, and as polite people (unlike the Irish who always force their questions upon the “Honourable House”) they entered into negotiations with the Government as to when and under what conditions they would allow this interpellation to be discussed. The Government said they would be glad to meet the wishes of the Labour fraction; only the debate must be closured at a certain hour by the leader of the Labour Party himself, and besides, the speakers must observe a respectful tone towards the King. The group joyfully accepted the conditions, and during some hours made their speeches, which were a curious mixture of attacks upon the Anglo-Russian friendship, and loyal songs of praise to King Edward. The time for adjourning the debate had already passed, but two Liberals spoke in succession, and the leader of the Labour Group, Henderson, showed no signs of interrupting them, Suddenly there arose from his seat, the “enfant terrible,” Grayson, who might well be expected to adopt a sharp tone against the King. Immediately at a sign from the Government, Henderson rose and closured the debate. Grayson protested, but was not allowed to speak.

Grayson came into collision a second time with the Labour Party on the question of unemployment. The Labour Party had neglected this question very much, while it had supported with great enthusiasm the Government’s Licensing Bill. The protests against this outside the House were becoming more frequent and violent, and one fine day when the whole House was deep in discussing a paragraph of the Licensing Bill, Grayson appeared upon the scene and announced to the House an obstruction according to the Irish pattern if it would not occupy itself, instead of with trivialities, with the unemployment question. Grayson’s appearance was unexpected, and one could justly reproach him that he, who never appeared in Parliament and had let pass earlier and much more suitable occasions for a protest, had no right to dictate to his colleagues as to what they should occupy themselves with. Still, this formal reason could only be sufficient to prevent the Labour Party supporting him in his unasked-for and unforeseen protest. But these gentlemen went further, and when the leader of the House, the Prime Minister Asquith, moved Grayson’s suspension, none of them uttered a syllable of protest, some refrained from voting, and the others voted for the proposition.

This, then, is Grayson. No extraordinary hero, as you see; no pioneer; though, on the other hand, not quite an ordinary human being. Whence, then, comes his popularity? How did he manage to create a state of mind in his party by which the most respected leaders have been defeated? The answer is, he has created no state of mind; he has only given expression to that state of mind which was already present; and that is why he has become popular. Perhaps the same state of mind could have been expressed much better and more worthily by a different person. As a matter of fact, the manner in which he gives expression to it is too theatrical, sometimes bordering on caricature. Still, he it was who distinctly voiced the state of mind, and he is made much of by those who agree with him – as a symbol, a standard. Nothing could be more mistaken than to see in him the leader of an opposition. He is no leader, neither can he become one. He is but a point of crystallisation, round which those elements group themselves who have something they wish to express.

What is that state of mind? Who are these elements? The state of mind is: Discontent with the tactics adopted and carried on during the last few years by the I.L.P. leaders towards the Labour Party. Here we reach a much discussed topic, which was also raised in the “Neue Zeit” a short time ago. How should a Socialist Party behave towards a Labour Party like that in England? As Marxists we all indeed know that Socialism can only succeed as a labour movement, that Socialists do not constitute a special organisation opposed to the other labour parties, and that the Socialist idea and the organised proletariat united into a class party must go together, like – to use the striking expression of Comrade Kautsky – the connection between the final goal and the movement. In all Continental countries we have acted upon these principles, but not in England, where their application met with a hindrance in the form of the peculiar historic facts. For while in other countries it was the Socialists themselves who for the first time organised and mobilised the hitherto chaotic, or, to be quite correct, amorphous mass, the proletariat in England had already been organised and actively engaged in the political struggle for decades before the modern Socialists appeared in the historic arena. Therefore Socialism on the Continent was never for a moment separate from the general labour movement, but stood, on the contrary, in its midst as its central force, while in England it arose as something different – even something opposed. What were the English Marxists to do under these circumstances? Should they merge themselves in the Labour Party? But there was no such thing at the beginning of English Marxism, for the few trade unions which engaged in political action did not at that time constitute a special party, but only provided from among their ranks members and candidates for the Liberal Party. All then that the Socialists could do was to seek to win over the masses to themselves; and that they did. Were they successful? No. Marx himself did not succeed when he tried to unite the English labouring masses to the International. As long as the English trade unions were fighting for the suffrage, as a means of securing their right of coalition, it seemed as though Marx’s attempt were destined to succeed. But no sooner was the suffrage – and what a meagre suffrage! – won, and the right of coalition secured, than the unions left the International, and the whole movement was at .an end – the International was dissolved. This precedent cannot be too sharply emphasised in face of the widespread opinion that the S.D.F.’s want of success is to be attributed to its own mistakes. Ah! what Party has not made mistakes? Marx was surely free from great tactical errors, and did he fare any better? Engels, too, discontented with the S.D.F., made, after Marx’s death, several attempts with the Avelings and others, to set on foot a new Socialist movement, and to mobilise the masses for an independent political struggle. How did he fare? Any better than the S.D.F.? No; a thousand times worse. Not only did all the organisations and movements die down after fluttering a little while, but the leaders, the Avelings, Bax, Morris and others, were forced to make their peace with the S.D.F. The difficulty of the S.D.F.’s task lay, not in that body and its methods, but in the historically created state of mind of the English working class, who were unreceptive to Socialist propaganda. Therefore it is out of place to speak of mistakes on the part of the S.D.F. Kautsky, who knows English conditions much better than most critics of the S.D.F., admits this fact, but yet is of the opinion that the S.D.F. did itself a great deal of harm by its irreconcilable criticism of the trade unions. I cannot share this opinion either. In the first place it was not the trade unions that the S.D.F. criticised, but the trade union cretinism, which at that time was so wide-spread, and of which Germany has not been free from samples. The faith in trade union action, and especially trade union diplomacy, as the one means of salvation, was the principal obstacle to the political action of the masses, and how could the S.D.F. not fight against it? In the second place, if these tactics brought the S.D.F. the enmity of the trade unions, thereby injuring the former, how was it with the I.L.P., which was much more gentle in its attitude towards trade union cretinism? Was it any more successful in winning the sympathies of the unions for itself, and for Socialism? It is true that at first Engels had great hopes of this, but the hopes were not realised. The I.L.P. remained for years quite as small a group as the S.D.F., and the unions gave it quite as little attention. Therefore the alleged bitter tone adopted by the S.D.F. towards the trade unions was not a factor in the want of success of this Party’s agitation among the masses.