File No. 763.72/11050
The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page) to the Secretary of State
[Received 11.48 p.m.]
1232. The announcement last Wednesday that Mr. Samuel Gompers was coming to this country and would attend the Inter-Allied Labor and Socialist Conference to be held here on September 17 to 19 has been widely welcomed in the press, and by Mr. Bowerman, Secretary to the Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress, in a long statement published in the Daily News of August 15. Mr. Bowerman stated orally to a member of my staff that his committee and the Labor Party would be particularly glad to confer with Mr. Gompers because, as he said, the nine American delegates who visited this country three months ago were bound down by their instructions, and were for this reason unable fully to discuss questions of labor policy.[Page 299]
Mr. Gompers’ visit is hailed with special joy by the Northcliffe and Conservative press as an antidote to pacifism in the British Labor Party. There is, therefore, some possible danger lest the exploiting of his visit by elements particularly hostile to that party should annoy their rank and file, and thus accelerate their political movement to the Left which has been a marked feature in the development of British Labor policy during the past year. Havelock Wilson of the Seamen’s Union, strongly supported by the Daily Mail, is appealing in a large advertisement to members of the trades union congress which meets at Derby on Monday, September 2, to form a purely trade union antipacifist organization, and Will Thorne at the first conference of the new pro-war National Socialist Party denounced the Labor Party and its present leaders. It seems clear, however, that Henderson and Bowerman have at their back the majority of Labor votes, and Mr. Gompers will require all his diplomatic skill to avoid antagonizing the majority represented by those leaders, while at the same time co-operating with the minority led by Appleton and Thorne who are bitterly hostile to Henderson and Bowerman.
On the question of the advisability of an international conference to be held in a neutral country at which representatives of enemy powers would be present, there is not, according to a recent private statement of Sidney Webb, the remotest chance of the settled policy of the British Labor Party in favor of such a conference being altered by Mr. Gompers and his associates. Webb stated, at the same time, that Mr. Gompers will be welcomed and listened to with the greatest respect by all British Socialists and Labor men.
On the 16th instant Representative Sherley of Kentucky had a long interview with Bowerman in which he explained the present policy of the United States; he failed to see Webb and Henderson who are out of town. I learn that Mr. Barnes, the Labor member of the War Cabinet, is forming a representative committee of labor representatives to entertain Mr. Gompers.
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