resolve to get combined intimidation legalized and to practise it while it is still illegal.

It is a significant fact that the deliberate recognition of violence by the Trade Union Congress in one week is followed by a strike of unexampled violence in the next, for the mere purpose of getting unionism recognized. I do not for a moment suggest that the resolutions of the congress are the sole cause of the violence of the strike at Southampton, which is perhaps rather a manifestation of the same animus. But the violent strikers at Southampton must feel immensely strengthened by the knowledge that the congress unanimously passed resolutions to procure subscriptions in aid of a similar strike in Australia, to press the repeal of the law against criminal conspiracies of workmen, and to practise the illegal intimidation of the boycott. The trade unionists as a body have rashly incurred a grave responsibility for this and for all future violent strikes. One cannot preach violence and expect men not to put it into practice.

A kind of fatalism seems to have seized this country. Many who condemn the use of violence nevertheless believe that it is positively necessary to develop the trade unions into larger organizations until all labour is organized. They had better have said disorganized. This method, in present circumstances, is a consecration of violence, which should be contemplated only in the very last resort. Really, it is quite unnecessary, and for a very simple reason. The number of workmen in unions are, according to Mr. John Burns himself, in a very great minority. Speaking on the eight-hours day at the congress, said that the unionists are one million and a half, while the non-unionist workmen are seven millions. It is true that one million and a half unionists are a great temptation to the politician, and especially to the very rich man, who can afford to exchange a


good deal of commercial for an equivalent in political capital. But, in the name of common sense, why is it necessary for England to submit to the violence of one million and a half workmen in the hope that, when the other seven millions are organized, the so-called war of labour against capital will end in peace? The truth is the word labour is as misleading as the word the people. As the people' often means a few in a noisy crowd, so 'labour' is usurped to mean that minority of the labourers which is organized in unions. This minority is at war with capital, but it is equally at war with the great majority of labourers. There is no war between capital and labour as a whole.

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It is true, however, that organization is wanted. It is the organization of the State. Is it to be said. that the colonial Governments of Australia can be summoned to grapple with a violent strike of trade unionists, and that the Imperial Government of Great Britain is powerless? Section 7 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act is so clear that there can be no difficulty in giving the police a general direction to act upon it. If this is insufficient, England can imitate Australia at this moment by organizing special constables. But it is not merely the administration of law which needs more effective working. Statesmen should remember that there is a larger question than Home Rule, on the solution of which, indeed, this smaller question mainly depends. That larger question is the maintenance of freedom against force. But, again, the administration of law and the measures of statesmanship require the loyalty of citizens. Who can doubt, however, that now, if ever, is the moment when the liberty of the subject from unjust violence would command the vast majority in these islands? The capitalists, and especially the shareholders of companies, who are not as a class wealthy, are in

danger of losing their profits. Skilled workmen are in danger of having their wages levelled down to those of the unskilled. The majority of workmen are in danger of being left out of close unions, and the unemployed are to be thrown on the rates. All, as consumers, are threatened with high prices, and, as citizens, with acts of violence. The real method of stopping the attack, not of labour against capital, but of a minority of labourers against the majority of labourers as well as capitalists, is a patriotic alliance of all, in every class, who love justice and legality, to maintain freedom against force, within the organization of the State. September 10.



The Trade Union Congress met on September 7, 1891, at Newcastle under the chairmanship of Thomas Burt, Member of Parliament for Morpeth. Burt was the first Labour Member of Parliament in 1874. In 1892 he entered the Liberal Ministry as Parliamentary Secretary for the Board of Trade. He died in 1922.

FROM The Times, SEPTEMBER 24, 1891.

On September 15 last year you did me the honour of publishing a letter, in which I argued that the real point of the Trade Union Congress at Liverpool was its animosity to the Conspiracy Act, which, so far as it protects workmen from the combined violence, intimidation, and persecution of trade unions, may be fitly called the charter of free labour. This year I submit that the self-same animosity to the Conspiracy Act was the real point of the Trade Union Congress at Newcastle. The report of the Parliamentary Committee, read on the first day of the congress, devoted more attention to this than to any other subject, favouring a Conspiracy Law Amendment Bill to enact that, in all except a few cases, no combination be punishable as conspiracy

unless it is used for an object criminal in itself, and that intimidation be defined so as to limit it to threats of violence (The Times, September 5). After adopting this report at its second sitting, the congress went beyond it, and concluded its final meeting with the following unopposed resolution:

'That the Parliamentary Committee be instructed to draft 'such amendments to the Conspiracy and Property Act as 'will clearly define "intimidation " to mean only where 'threats of violence are used; shall abolish the penalty of ' imprisonment for a first offence where no violence is used; and will provide that workmen shall be tried by juries of ""their peers" (The Times, September 11).

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If these recommendations should become law, any combination of trade unionists would no longer be liable to a charge of ordinary conspiracy, such as that on which two men were convicted in the Glasgow Sheriff Court on March 30, for conspiring to deprive a non-unionist of his livelihood by threatening to withdraw all trade unionists from the same employment, and would be able to expel any nonunionists from employment in the same concern as themselves by threatening to withdraw all unionists, not only from that concern, but also from concerns dealing with it. A combination would also be able, and with impunity so long as no threats of violence were used, to terrify, as multitudes of men on strike can terrify, anybody who dared to apply for employment in place of the strikers. Moreover, each trade unionist could be used in succession to threaten violence without being imprisoned for a first offence. Finally, even if they used violence they would be tried by juries of their peers'; but would they be convicted?

The result of such privileges would be that the Conspiracy Law would be too weak to protect the freedom of labour. Nobody outside the combination would dare to apply for employment, or, if he did, no employer would dare to engage him. At

present the influence of such other persons, to use the words of the Parliamentary Committee of the Trade Union Congress, is often the sole or principal reason why unionists are unable to raise their wages or alter the conditions of their employment. But if the Conspiracy Law could only be weakened, if trade unionists could combine to injure without criminally conspiring, terrify without intimidating, each intimidate in succession so as to escape imprisonment for the first offence, and at the worst be tried by their peers', then they could neutralize the influence of such other persons by deterring them from competing with them for employment. Each particular combination of trade unionists would then obtain a monopoly of employment in each concern; and the whole body of trade unionists would obtain a monopoly of employment in all concerns which employ them, or deal with concerns in which they are employed, on pain of the boycott. Now, 1,302,855 trade unionists were represented at the congress, according to Mr. Judge, of its Standing Orders Committee; while, according to Mr. Ben Tillett, 9,000,000 workmen are at present unorganized (The Times, September 10). In this case a minority would have a monopoly of employment against a large majority of workmen, at the expense of the whole population of Great Britain. Yet Mr. Burt, M.P., said that special privileges, monopolies, and sinecures would have to be swept away; when he was actually presiding over an attempt to establish the most stupendous monopoly hitherto contemplated.

We may illustrate the further consequences of a monopoly of employment under a weak Conspiracy Law by its bearing on the burning question of shortening the hours of labour. So long as the Conspiracy Law is effectual enough to protect the freedom of employment, the mere shortening of

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