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The Political Situation. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
page: 95


One of the first and most essential conditions for orga- organising page: 96 nising a party is the possession of a leader; we will not say of an Oliver Cromwell, but at least of a progressive J. H. Hofmeyr; of a man profoundly in sympathy with the movement, with a gift for organisation, and a willingness to sink his own personal interests to a large extent in that of his work. It is such a man the Progressive Element in this country looks for. We have not found him yet. We have more than one public man of undoubted ability; and we have at least one man who carries with him the confidence and affection of every Progressive in the country; but either from some page: 97 peculiarity of nature, from absence of leisure, or other circumstances, none of these men stand forward, devoting time and energy to the formation of such a party throughout the country. We have not a man to whom the Progressive can turn and say: “Organise and lead us; we will follow!” The necessity is therefore imposed upon us of organising ourselves. Nor do I know that this is wholly a calamity.

The most vital and worldwide movements of the present day, such as those of labour and woman, have not been organised or led by one command- commanding page: 98 ing intellect. They have sprung up spontaneously, as it were, in a thousand centres, and then slowly interorganised. It is a healthy indication of a profound necessity when men at independent centres organise themselves, guided by a common impulse without any coercing leadership.

This is exactly what we see taking place in the Colony to-day. The imposition of the bread and meat tax and the appointment of Sir Hercules Robinson have drawn together small knots of Progressive men to protest against these things; and in such towns as Port Elizabeth and in Cape Town, page: 99 under the presidency of Mr. J. Rose-Innes, powerful Progressive Associations have been started.

And the time is, I believe, now ripe for drawing together all the scattered Progressive Elements of the country, and uniting them as a wide and non-parochial whole. One, and not the least, of the great advantages of such union would be its tendency to prevent the growth in the Progressive Party of that spirit of localism which seems to rest as an incubus upon all Colonial endeavours, and which would be entirely at variance with the true spirit of a Progressive Organisation.

page: 100

To place at the head of the united branches no man could be found more admirably suited than Mr. J. Rose-Innes, the president of the South African Political Association of Cape Town, if he were found willing to accept the post.