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PUBLIC ADDRESS., Otago Daily Times, Issue 14107, 10 January 1908
AN ENTHUSIASTIC RECEPTION. In the evening Mr Keir Hardic addressed a very largo audience in the Alhambra Theatre. Tim 'chair was taken by Mr H. Westwood, president of the Trades and Labour Council.. On the stage there were the Hon. J. T. Paul, M.L.C., Mr J. F. Arnold, M.P., and half a dozen other gentlemen. The Chairman said that tliey ha<i asked the Mayor to preside and take an official part, but he had refused to do so—(Groans) —consequently he, as president of the Trades and Labour Council, had had to take the chair in place of the Mayor. . He had always understood the Mayor's position was that he could take part in the proceedings of, any representative body.— (Applause.) He understood they paid him nbqut £400 to defray his expenses. Well, that was pretty good. He had not. done' much for it yet, and ,b.e ■ (tho speaker) had
been disappointed when he refused to take tho chair. It was a slap in tho face for the Labour party in Dunedin. It was left to work out its own 6alva.tion. Several cablegrams bad been published which had been proved to be untrue, and theso wore the cause of the Mayor not being present. Ho called upon tliora to give a welcome to Mr Hardie.—(Loud and continued applause.)
Mr J. W. Munro, president o£ thfc Political Labour league, welcomed Mr Keir Hardie, whose motto, he said, had alwavs been, "Whnt can I do for the Labour party, not what tho Labour party can do for me.
Mr Keir Hardie met with a very warm reception, and it was some moments before he was permitted to speak. He prefaced by onoringius congratulations on the appearance of the city. He had walked through the streets of most of our cities and had sought out the working-class quarters and had endeavoured to see the actual con ditions of labour and the life of the working people in this new dominion, and he very smcerety congratulated the working men of New Zealand on their lot being cast m such pleasant places.-lApplause * It was true there was poverty-!" Hear sisted of individual cases. As many of the,, knew, ,„ the Old Country there was -a Henry Campbell-Bannerman, before thr k go i^^ ction - stated that ther.«'orß 13000,000 of people at Home who ivero either under or on the poverty line- ( bnanie )-and the poverty line meant that he whole of the family's' earnings whon hilly employed would not produce the sam.standard. of comfort in fye borne as wa obtained m the,prison or tho poorhouso. lney had over 30 per cent, of the people *t Home who, with full employment, were worse off than they would be if they'wart' paupers m the poorhouse or criminals in ttuvgaol, while thoy had nothing'of thai kind here, and he hoped they never would have-( 'Hear, .hear ") ;-if they aver had -ii would be entirely their own fault. In n country 60 bountifully endowed by Nature it would-be nothing short of criminal to allov tho conditions that.obtained at Home U '■ grow up here. Reference had been madeto the action of the mayor in refusing tr accord him an officiahwelcome. , Might ho be allowed t<s repeat here what ho' had said elsewhere when the mayor had made a eimilar refusal. He had bad receptions in ™ official personages, who disagreed with almost every item of his programme and lus principles, had been forced to saf pleasant things about him out of courtesy and he, feeling very uncomfortable, had been forced, for the same reason, to tallstate platitudes, and he was always grate fuLto the official who refused to put himself m .a false position.—("Hear, hear." For another reason-ho was not sorry for thr mayor s absence. It might teach the work ing people of this part of the Dominioi that, if they wanted official welcomes fo> labour members, they must return Labeiu mayors.-("Hear, hear," and applause.) a ™, the Labour movement'in the' Old Country as his topic, because many of them wore from the Old Country, and all of them had ties more or less binding with those remaining behind at Home! Moreover, the movement in- the Old Country was not an isolated factor, but part of a great world-wide movement which was rapidly becoming the despair of the oppressor of men's labour an* of the worbin people. Until quite recently it was thought' lo bo presumption 1 on tho part of tho working people to aspire to any office, and he \vas just old enough to remember the last big franchise agitation at Homo, which culminated in 1884, when the franchise was extended to the counties. He-remembered ho arguments used against extending the franchise. Tho same arguments had been "i in , 1e66: that-the common people—the mob, tho working class—was a great, wild.' dangerous wild beast, Lot thorn remember he was using the exact-figure of speech used in the Music Hall in -Edinburgh in 18S3. The great wild beast whioh had to be kept down had developed out of sight. That Was tho argument used and the' opinio) if once . rnin g the working ''people, but the franchise was extended, and for over 20 yean the collier, the farm laboW, the artisan -had found himself in a position of political power for the first time,'but went on returning the same class of man to the House of Commons as had been there before the franohise was extended. But' recently a change had come over She spirit, of-tho working class in the Old Country, and the men and women who made up the working class were beginning to realise that so long as they were content to acknowledge themselves an inferior class by sending the rioh man to' make the laws for them they could not expeot justice to Be done to them.—(Loud applause.) It, was in consequence of that feeling and for other reason? they had. tho growth of the Labour party. The foundation upon which the Labour party was built was trades unionism, and so long as the system obtained of the award of labour.. being fixed up in the market trades unions would remain a necessity. That was tho foundation upon which the whole superstructure of the working classes' emancipation must be built up. when the worker learned solidarity in the trades union movement ho soon learned to carry that same solidarity into politics, and when he had reached that stage he was near that point at whioh he would enter into his own. All that the trade union movement did was to give the best possible conditions under existing oircumstauces, but the trades' unions had no control over those circumstances. Inthis .connection the speaker cited the NowYork- financial orisis, brought • about .by Stock Exchange gambling,, altogether out-] side the influence of the'workers, but-whioh had .been'- the 'cause .'of. 125,000 'vyorkmeri bemg thrown out of employment. ' In'the. fihip-building trade in Great Britain between 30,000 and ;40,000 skilled artisans had • been. thrown, out Of employment becauso tho output of ships had exceeded the demand—a circumstance as much beyond the control of tho workers'as wats the' Wall 1 street gambling in New York.' Therefore,-, whilst he strongly advocated' trades unionism, he did not end there:-' Trades unionism, was a.beginning, but only a beginning, 'and the workers at Home were' now. beginning to realise, that, and''at the last oleotion'sent 31-members to the House of Commons, separate'and distinct from either the .Tory or< ; che Liberal: parties.— (Applause.) The Labour party sat, in the Houso of Commons in opposition to allGovernments, po matter "how composed," and the Labour/ party would continue to sit in that- position until the time came- - as it would come, and soonor thati their' opponents wished—when they would be af majority of the Houso and would be able, to cross the floor and form a, Labour Government.—(Loud applause.) Speaking; of Labour representation, Mr Hardie said it was no use 'eleoting-a working man'as a metiibor of .the Houso merely because' ho was a working man. Unless thero svas some '- distinctive reason for' eleoting a;
working man, they might as well save their money and keep that man at home. In New Zealand it was comparatively easy to return a working man. Hero we ■ had payment of election expenses, adult suffrage, and payment of members; but in England thoy had none of these things, and thcrO| in the first nlaco an ejection cost' from £500 to £1000." Ho was in no hurry to see payment of members introduced, becauso when tho ,workors thornselves paid their parliamentary representatives they had'irioro interost in the men they eont to tho House of Commons and more control oyer their actions. When the Taff Vale .decision was announced making the funds of unions liable for damages for every illegal or alleged illegal act committed during a strike, the Labour party in 1 the House decided to hive the law altered in that respect, and succeeded in ca.rrying.it3 bill against the previouslyexpressed opposition, of tho fjovcrnment, who had introduced a bill Which it announced was the furthest.-. it was prepared to go. Had tho Labour party been 35 units of the Government party, instead of being a. separate party by itself, with hyo million voters behind it in,the country, it Could not. possibly have achieved the carrying of that bill:~(Applause.) One strong reason for tho political independence of the workers was that it compelled the working class to recognise itself as a factor in, politics. He ventured to say that had, the Labour party oome into existence- 10 years earlier' than it did that orime known as the Boer war.in South Africa, would never have, happened.— : (Loud" applause.) . Politicians,, the presd, and the'pulpit, whero they were not Bilenc, .ill spoke with one voice: that patriotism demanded that the war should be,fought. To-day they, knew that patriotism : bad' a rellow- skin and wore a pigtail.—(Laughter and renewed applause.) The object of the war.in South Africa Was not the Empire, but cheap labour for : the mines, -(Applause.) But merely to have a Labour party to formulate working-olass opinion was- not of iteelf sufficient. ' Tho working class at.Home was, as a body, more helpless than were .the shackled slaves of America before emancipation. Ho had 1 read that in the old days in America where dangerous work was to bo performed paid white labour was employed, and for'the reason that if the paid white employer was killed there was the end of it, but if a slave was killed another had to be • bought to take hV place.-(Laughter.) The worker at Home at the present time was absolutely at the meroy of forces over, which, he had no control. He was,idlQJ2s per cent/ of his time, and the average inoome of the working class of .Great Britain worked out at 21s 6d per week, and .out of that allowance had ,to be made for broken time for illness, aooidont, and .dull trade. Under these conditions, could <they wonder that a feeling of revolt was growing up in the Old Country .whioh, whilst it gladdened, the hearts of some of them, was carrying dismay the ranks of , the privileged classes. . Jf ithe .was poor the workers would bear/their share of: the poverty, without grumbling, and do their share -of 'the work and take their share of 'the'' sacrifice; but so far from that being tho ca6e, thev were -told year after year that the wealth of, the country was increasing at tho rate of £200,000,000 per annum. - In - the/midst. of this r the condition of the' workers, instead of improving, was steadily deteriorating.; The working class and a very large section of the oducated middle olasa were no longer content to accept 1 that state.of things 'as'if it was ordained - by Providence.—(Applause.) Tho working class movement.at Home wasvery broad and very comprehensive.' 'It was not merely men , and women who plied the shovel or the pick, or worked with the needle. It took in all members of the community who were dependent upon wages ■ for a. livelihood, and who had a common Cause with the working mail in seeking to'win better conditions for themselves and their desoendents. . What did this 'mean? It meant 'Socialism,T~(Ap-. plauae;) The foundation in the life of tho Labour movement was trades unionism, ; and the inspiration and driving power wss' Socialism. The private ownership of' land and capital, was the direct cause of the 1 poverty that obtained; and so longTas ; land and capital were privately, owned and ware used for;, tho exploitation of, the toiler there oould bo no permanent im-i provement in his condition. . The i Conservative party at Home •had just' discovered a ; cure for poverty;' and:-'they called it preferential trade.-. Outvhere ; they had. Wages Boards and .Arbitration Courts,, and in Australia, they bad now. excise duty, one of > the most hopeful experiments he had yet -heard about, but their experience' here, like.that at Home,, would teach thorn that neither Protection nor Wages Boards, nor Arbitration Courts were a permanent oure for the poverty of the working'classes.' He wished them to remember he was not saying a Word against Wages, Boards or Arbitration Court*. Wherever methods could possibly 'be employed to settle disputes, by all means let them be employed, but they, must not mistake temporary expedients for tiding over ' a crisis to bo a permanent euro of tho oau6e?, that produced the crisis. • What \ was meant by. Socialism? Reading some ' of _ the articles written by their able, editors—or some of them,—or reproduced from the press at Home, one would imagine Socialists were a set of very stupid people whose one ohief ambition • was to glorify the unfit and punish the tyranny of capital. That that was so he referred them to something givon in the evening paper in Dunedih. which justified what he said. He could understand and.make allowance for the working man living ih the backwoods not understanding Socialism,, or other working, men who .did not read much, not understanding it, but he could mako no allowahcp whatever for ignorance on the part of the newspaper editor.—(Loud applause.) Tho claims of the editor eluded tho possibility of making any allowance for him. The editor of the morning paper. was- concerned -about his'- (the speaker's) reputation, but if he. was only possessed! of as, much knowledge as he pretended', to be ho would ' know that ho (Mr Keir Hardie) lost his repuMon 15 years ago, when he entered the House of Commons wearing. a cap! He had had neither respectability nor roputation to lose since that. Socialism was admittedly a. great moving. force in the. world.. Many arguments' were .brought forward against Socialism, and yet ho. had said a thousand times, and repeated it, that if there was no other argument extended for Socialism except the Sermon on the Mount they had it all there.—(Applause.) Socialism took no cognisance of man's religious opinions. It embodied a polioy concerning the pro-, teotion of life, and had' no more to do with religion than Liberalism 'or, Conservatism. As to the. charge of free Ipve levelled against Socialism,, when they saw the hundreds of thousands of women compelled to go out from their homes so that their oliidren might have bread, and know that in London 75,000 women were certified a3 -being prostitutes under- tho • present system, it lay ill upon tho lips of the upholders of that system-to charge Socialism with immorality. He was old fashioned enough to believe in the home life, and-lie wanted to bos conditions prevail that .would allpw of home life,—(Applause.) The Socialist desired that the land should- remain tho property of the nation for all time—('.'Hear, hear.")—and,should not be alienated to private individuals. \So,- too, with capital. The Socialist said that should be entirely ,the property of the people, and that should bo' carried' to provide lor the needs of the people. The Socialist' believed- in a commori ownership of land and capital. In Now Zealand, with its sunshine and its" magnificent rivers and its- fertile lands,': life might bo so easy,- but if they permitted their land and industries to grow up as private. concerns, the most that could be oxpooted for the workers was a bare subsistence. 'Socialism, (hey were told, was an impossibility. Nothing was impossible to those who had the courage to- go out and compel it. One of hie strong arguments wa<3 that . Socialism gave young people'something to work for. It. took them away from the racecourse, from the totalisator, from the drinking bars, and from everything whioh demoralised them. It gave them an ideal which required a sacrifice in striving for the ideal they were uplifted and ennobled. They were told that Imperialism supplied the ambition and'spur to deeds of derring do. Imperialism, he repeated, was one of the -.daggers the Labour movement hod to . battle with most incessantly. He did not believe in, nor would ho be a party to, -putting a barbed-wire fence round certain parts of the world and saying that all within should be .with them and all outside were their enemies. That was not the ideal of the Socialist movement.—(Applause.) Ho wanted to see the time coming, and ,-it was coming, when the working classes of the world, joining theft strength together, would unite in one groat effort to make the world a, pleasant place to live iu, and when, they would not waste their strength in murdering oaclr other on the field of battle or in tho fierce field bt international competition, but when thev should combine together, the Fast giving of its .sifts and tho West giving of its gifts, and the two combining to uplift the wholo on to a higher plane than they had lormerly oceu-pied.-lApplause.) That was the ideal of the Socialist movement, and lie hoped in tho very near future that these British
Dominions beyond tho seas would take their place as a fighting unit in the Socialist movoment of the world, whioh aimed at ■the abolition of povorty and the perfect equality of the human race.—(Loud applause and ehoors.) After a number of queetiops bearing on tho subject of the address had been' answered, The Hon. J. T. Paul, M.L.C., moved a lioarty vote of thanks to Mr Keir Hardie for his able address. He felt safe in s&v- • mg that tho Keir Hardie thoy had heard J l ™, '"8W .was a very different individual to tho Keir Hardie who'had been served' "P to them for so many months and so L-s3vnti,nyfT-l(->'plause-) Ho W *M *<> W that he did not regard the actionof KerFJardio, but ho took it personally and ' JtL i Am]d ' Mjp -« *««&» the mown, and warmly thanked the speaker!
and the meotmg concluded with tho cua tpmary compliment to the char
PUBLIC ADDRESS., Otago Daily Times, Issue 14107, 10 January 1908
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