Skip to Content

Franchise Questions

We have received the following questions from Mr. John Drysdale. Our reply is appended.

(1) Would you kindly let me know your attitude toward Adult Suffrage?

(2) Do you think the working class have a majority at the ballot box with the franchise they have now?

(3) Do you think the working class should use the franchise they have got in their own interests before the Socialist Party should fight for more?

 

(1) Our attitude towards Adult Suffrage is as follows :

While Adult Suffrage would be a useful measure for the working class, to enable them to more quickly and completely take control of political power when they understand how to use their votes, yet as the working class have a franchise wide enough for the initial steps of their emancipation, it is not the business of a Socialist Party to spend time and energy in advocating the extension of that franchise, but to educate the workers in how to use the voting power which they already possess; hence the business of a Socialist Party is to advocate Socialism only.

(2) The working class are overwhelmingly in the majority at the ballot box, as is shown by the following figures :

According to "White Paper" No. 478 on " Parliamentary Constituencies (electors)" for 1913, there are 8,058,025 voters on the Register. Of these 4,895,840 are in the Counties and 3,111,062 in the Boroughs, while the remaining 51,123 are University electors.

In the Counties the Owners number 637,608, the Occupiers 4,086,829, and the Lodgers 171,402.

In the Boroughs the Freeholders and Freemen number 54,854, Occupiers 2,824,923, and Lodgers 231,285.

It may be accepted that the Owners, Freeholders, and University electors are members of the capitalist class. They number 743,585.

The Lodgers may be taken as members of the working class, the few exceptions to the contrary .n this case being probably balanced by the few very small property owners in the first case, and ;hey number 402,687.

We have left, the Occupiers, who number 5,911,752. Who are the Occupiers? An answer is found by looking at the rent of private houses is given in the In. Rev. Report. Of the 1,473,214 houses that come under their survey only 1,088,631 are of the yearly rental of £25 and upwards. It is a poor capitalist whose house is not estimated at more than £25 per annum, while plenty of slum property is rented above his amount. In addition, many houses that are let out in tenements are returning a total rental of £60 or £70 a year. Still others are Occupiers under the Service Franchise who are servants.

We will, however, suppose that all the occupiers of Houses of £25 and upwards are members of the capitalist class, even then we get:

Total Electorate ...... 8,058,025

Owners, Freeholders, University Electors and Capitalist Occupiers 1,832,216

Working-class Occupiers & Lodgers 6,225,809 Or more than 3 to 1.

(3) Certainly. In whose interest should they se it if not in their own ? It would be absurd to urge them to use it in anyone else's interest.