From: South Africa's Radical Tradition, a documentary history, Volume One 1907 - 1950, by Allison Drew

Document 3 - Letter from F. A. W. Lucas7 to James Ramsay MacDonald, 15 October 1915

                                                                                                                                  15 October 1915

                                                                                                                                  Vestry Road




Dear Macdonald,

I find that the situation in South Africa is slightly different in regard to the expulsion from the Party of certain members from what I told you yesterday afternoon. At a Special Conference of the S. A. Labour Party held in Johannesburg on August 22nd it was decided to adopt Mr. Creswell's "see it through" policy in regard to the war." Ever since the beginning of the war the Party had been working on a basis adopted last December by the Annual Conference of the Party, namely, that each member should be free to follow the dictates of his own reason and conscience. At that Annual Conference the Executive Committee of the Party, consisting of fifteen members, was elected, eleven holding anti-war views. The "see it through policy" has resulted in those eleven resigning in a body. They consisted of some of the most prominent and respected members of the party and included W. H. Andrews9, the Chairman, a vice-chairman, the treasurer and the secretary.

Andrews, who is a member of the A. S. E., was one of the founders of the S.A.L.P. He has never wavered in his efforts for the workers. This man, who refused to support the newly adopted war policy, was with other workers threatened with expulsion from the party if he stood for Parliament without pledging himself to support that policy. He had prior to the Conference of August 22nd signed the party pledge to abide by the decisions of the parliamentary caucus in matters affecting the aims and objects of the party. After the decision of that conference he asked for the return of his pledge. Instead of being returned to him it was dramatically torn up by the Chairman at the meeting. The members of the Conference who were opposed to the war, together with their supporting branches, formed the International Socialist League of the S.A.L.P.'" Andrews and one or two others decided that it was necessary to give the electorate who held anti-war views an opportunity of recording those views even at the risk of expulsion from the party which would follow naturally from their standing in opposition to official candidates of the party. Andrews with the support of the Georgetown branch of the S.A.L.P. is standing for his old constituency Georgetown and dark for Langlaagte which he represents in the Provincial Council. To anticipate expulsion from the party for supporting Andrews + dark the League has definitely seceded from the party, the secession being followed by a formal vote of expulsion by the S.A.L.P, Administrative Council.

Mr. Creswell is the prime mover in obtaining the adoption of the "see it through" policy. Of his own personal integrity there cannot be the slightest doubt but the same cannot be said of many of his supporters who have climbed into office over the unpopularity of the views of those who were forced to resign.

The position now is that Andrews, all the prominent Labour members of the Provincial Council, and nearly all the most active and self sacrificing members of the party have been expelled from the body they helped to create while there places have in most cases been filled by "new chums" who after the success at the Provincial Council elections joined the party.

I shall not be sailing before the 23rd. If there is anything you would care to ask me about I shall be glad to come and see you.

Yours sincerely

F. A. W. Lucas