Friday, May 18, 2018

Kier Hardie - Republican and Socialist

The Independent Labour Party, formed in 1893, a democratic socialist body, was initially republican in sympathies. Its founder, Keir Hardie, was always so. His speech of April 1894 in the Commons, at the time of the birth of a royal grandchild (the future King Edward VIII), condemning the House for finding time to celebrate a royal baby at a time when 251 Welsh miners had been killed in a terrible mining accident at Cilfynydd in South Wales, created a sensation.

"From his childhood onward this boy will be surrounded by sycophants and flatterers by the score—[Cries of ‘Oh, oh!’]—and will be taught to believe himself as of a superior creation. [Cries of ‘Oh, oh!’] A line will be drawn between him and the people whom he is to be called upon some day to reign over. In due course, following the precedent which has already been set, he will be sent on a tour round the world, and probably rumours of a morganatic alliance will follow—[Loud cries of ‘Oh, oh!’ and ‘Order!’]—and the end of it all will be that the country will be called upon to pay the bill. [Cries of Divide!]"[

Hardie had written in his newspaper, the Labour Leader, that “the life of one Welsh miner is of greater commercial and moral value to the British nation than the whole Royal crowd put together, from the Royal Great-Grand- Mama to this puling Royal Great-Grandchild” (Morgan, Keir Hardie 72-3; Labour Leader, 30 June 1894). 

During the Boer War, Hardie used the crisis further to attack the monarchy, to claim that King Edward VII had financial links with Cecil Rhodes’s mining enterprises in South Africa—“it is no secret that his Majesty has been all along a party to the war gang in South Africa.” He went on to allege that, at the royal funeral in 1901, militarists and their clerical allies had “used the Queen’s dead body as a recruiting sergeant” (Labour Leader, 11 July 190l). 

In 1907 Hardie and other Labour MPs were denounced for condemning Edward VII’s visit to meet the hated Czar of Russia by sailing up the Baltic in the royal yacht . Hardie said that it meant that the King virtually condoned the atrocities of the Czarist regime in Russia. He continued to attack the King’s privileged and debauched life-style. 


Wikepdia on Kier Hardie and Extract from Ken Morgan on Labour Party and British Republicanism

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