An audience of over 500 listened to a public debate on Sunday evening, June 14th, at the Stratford Town Hall, between the New (Mosley) Party and the Socialist Party of Great Britain, on the question which of the two parties should be supported by the working class.
Mr. Stuart Barr (who spoke second) represented the New Party. He said it was not his business to defend the capitalist system or to enter into academic discussion on Socialism, capitalism, or any other "ism." He believed that affairs in this country and all over the world had reached a stage of crisis when it was the soundest realism to enter into the New Party's immediate policy to do something now to give the workers, not Socialism, which everyone admits they do not want, but work, wages, and economic security. Disaster could be avoided only by all classes sinking their immediate differences and pulling together to organise national resources in such a way that no one section had undue power over any other.
First, Parliament must be converted from a talk-shop into a workshop, one section to deal with social and political matters, and the other exclusively with economic matters. This section would establish Import Boards to decide what tariffs were necessary to enable British industries to compete with all the other countries by tariff walls, to put the manufacturer on his feet, and so enable the workers' standard of living to be raised.
The workers should support the New Party because it has a policy which can be applied now, immediately. All sections must co-operate to control the economic forces of capitalism and to guide the ship of State away from imminent disaster.
The case for the Socialist Party, presented by Comrade E. Hardy, was based on the irreconcilable conflict of interests between the working class, who produce all wealth, and the capitalist class, who own the instruments of production and the wealth produced. It was shown in 1904 by Mr. Leo Money, M.P. (now Sir Leo Money) that nearly one-half of the national income was enjoyed by but one-ninth of the population. In other words, out of every £1 of wealth produced by the workers, one capitalist keeps nearly 10s., and 8 workers divide the remaining 10s. between them, receiving just about enough to maintain them as efficient workers. Professor Henry Clay in 1925 showed a like inequality still in being.
The problem of the capitalists was to sell their goods in limited markets. Competition among them led to the adoption of labour-saving machinery (and unemployment), to periodical over-production crises, and to recurrent danger of war.
All the will-o'-the-wisp reforms of the other political parties tried out during the last 100 years were futile to deal with the evils rooted in a profit-making social system based on the exploitation of one class by another. The only remedy was for society to own and democratically control the means of production, to produce for use and not for profit.
The New Party's talk about the "national resources" and about improving trade does not touch the problems of the workers. The so-called "national resources" are the private property of the capitalist class. It would be the capitalists who would reap the benefit of any improvement of trade. In Germany, while trade was booming last year, wages were being reduced still further.
Nor was capitalism a "sinking ship." The figures given in the Economist showed that profits had not suffered appreciably during the "depression." Depressions and crises come and go, but capitalism will remain just so long as the workers continue to send back to Parliament the agents of the master class. Leaders of the New Party openly declared they did not oppose capitalism, but aimed to put the industrial capitalists "on their feet." This means opposing' the interests of the working class.
The Socialist Party of Great Britain alone of all Parties had consistently maintained, amidst the confusion of capitalist parties old and " new," that the only hope of the workers is Socialism.
The collection of £3 12s. more than covered expenses, and literature to the value of 32s. was sold.