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4-320 (Original)

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author,male,The Australian Workman,un addressee
Newspaper Article
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Public Written
Newspapers & Broadsides
Clark, 1975
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It seems probable that at length the feuds of Labor Electoral Leagues and Trades Unions will be ended by the unity of the Political Labor League. Ever since the historical splitting up of the Parliamentary Labor party in the last Parliament on the issue as to whether Mr. Dibbs was entitled to the same degree of solid support as had been accorded to Sir Henry Parkes, the Labor political party has been sundered into two hostile camps. During almost the full period of the Parliament before the one at present sitting, the representatives of Labor took opposing sides on the graver issues of politics, and accordingly to a very large extent neutralised one another's efforts. The last general election was similarly fought with divided forces and differing aims. In the present Parliament the division remains; true, up to the present, it has worked no grave harm. Nevertheless, it has its great potentiality of mischief, for at any crisis of grave moment the workers might find the votes of their "solidarity representatives" cast in opposition to those of their unattached members, and the one section thus helping to neutralise the vote of the other. It is indeed time that we had unity; four years of internecine quarrelling should be enough for the most contentious of mortals.
And the strengthening of the Labor political movement could not be more opportune than at present. One of the daily papers recently expressed the opinion that Mr. Reid and his party "have swallowed the Labor party bones and all." [596] The statement is not absolutely untrue; it is only absurdly exaggerated. The present Premier has stolen so many of the planks of the Labor platform to keep his own political raft afloat, that the feeling is slowly gaining ground amongst the workers that a separate Labor party is no longer necessary, and that all the reforms necessary for the wellbeing of the colony can be obtained from a democratized Free-trade party, or an advanced Protectionist organisation. No idea could he more mischievous. The Freetrade party in the present Assembly is not so much progressive because its leaders believe in progress, but because the presence of Labor members in the Assembly makes progression the only alternative to political annihilation. Were the Labor party to be abolished tomorrow, Mr. Reid and his immediate following would at once lose their zeal for democratic finance, and a State Bank, and relief for the unemployed. They would relapse into the groove of the good old ancient days when Parkes was consul, and when party leaders could see so little in the State needing reformation, that they were very chary of attempting to accomplish even a fragment of that little, lest in short time Parliament should have absolutely no work to do, and then occupation should be gone.
The Labor party, and the Labor party alone, is responsible for every reform measure passed by the last and present Parliament; it is alone responsible for the fact that so many conservative politicians have executed a "volte-face," discarded their eye-glasses and become democrats; it alone can he devoutly blessed because Sir Henry Parkes is now impotent and unimportant. Every stride of the past few years can be traced to the influence of the Labor members of '91 and of '94 and to the fear of the Labor members of '97. Remove the Labor party and the fear of it from the old politicians, and not another inch further will they budge towards reform; their whole energies will be devoted to scudding back on the paths of progress traversed by the past and present legislature.
Seeing, then, the large importance of strengthening in every possible way the Labor party movement at the present juncture, it is matter for congratulation that some prospect of union can be seen ahead. And certainly the proposals of the Political Labor League as so far announced seem reasonable. The objectionable pledge imposed by the raw inexperience, the misguided enthusiasm or the crafty selfishness of various Labour League representatives at the '94 conference, is to be largely modified, and the movement generally given a saner and a less Don Quixotic tone. More important still, organised trades-unionism will in future take its proper place in the control of the political movement. The trades-unionist we have always hooked upon as the very backbone of the Labor agitation, and the best and safest material for the social-reformer to work upon. The trades-unionist is no will-o'-the-wisp enthusiast. [597] He does not come with his sympathy for Labor at election time and depart with it at Assembling of Parliament time. He is a man, who from custom, self-interest, and settled thought has staked his all on the advancement of Labor, and who is therefore most likely to give it loyal service. When the political movement is more trades-unionistic and the trades-union movement more political, Labor will be the better advanced.