An Appeal to the British Working Class

Historical Date: 

31 Jul 1914

On 31 July 1914 Keir Hardie and Arthur Henderson - both members of Btitain's Independent Labour Party (ILP) - signed an ‘Appeal to the British Working Class’ on behalf of the British section of the International Socialist Bureau.

Manifesto by British Section of the International Socialist Bureau

The long-threatened European war is now upon us. For more than a hundred years no such danger has confronted civilisation. It is for you to take full account of the desperate situation and to act promptly and vigorously in the interests of peace.

You have never been consulted about the war. Whatever may be the rights and the wrongs of the sudden crushing attack made by the Militarist Empire of Austria upon Servia, it is certain that the workers of all countries likely to be drawn into the conflict must strain every nerve to prevent their Governments from committing them to war.

Everywhere Socialists and the organised forces of Labour are taking this course. Everywhere vehement protests are made against the greed and intrigues of militarists and armament-mongers.

We call upon you to do the same here in Great Britain upon an even more impressive scale. Hold vast demonstrations in London and in every industrial centre. Compel those of the governing class and their press, who are eager to commit you'to co-operate with Russian despotism, to keep silence and respect the decision of the overwhelming majority of the people, who will have neither part not lot in such infamy. The success of Russia at the present day would be a curse to the world.

There is no time to lose. Already, by secret agreements and understandings of which the democracies of the civilised world know only by rumour, steps are being taken which may fling us all into the fray. Workers, stand together therefore for peace. Combine and conquer the militarist enemy and the self-seeking Imperialists to-day once and for all.

Men and women of Britain, you have now an unexampled opportunity of showing your power, rendering a magnificent service to humanity and to the world. Proclaim that for you the days of plunder and butchery have gone by. Send messages of peace and fraternity to your fellows who have less liberty than you.

Down with class rule ! Down with the rule of brute force ! Down with war ! Up with the peaceful rule of the people!

Signed on behalf of- the British Section of the International Socialist Bureau,

J. Keir Hardie (Chairman).
Arthur Henderson (Secretary)