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50 Years Ago: the General Election

After five years of Labour Government the workers have shown what effect that experience has had on them by reducing almost to vanishing point the very large majority that the Labour Party had in the old Parliament. The Government may, for a period, continue a precarious existence, but it will do so representing a body of electors substantially smaller than the combined votes of Tories and Liberals.

The Labour Government is now in effect a minority government. In the past the professional politicians of the Liberal and Tory parties were used to the pendulum swing that put first one and then the other into office; but for the Labour Party the event is of vastly greater significance. For them it is the ominous writing on the wall, the visible proof of the sterility of their foundation policy. They believed that they could inspire more and more enthusiasm among the workers by the success with which they would—while retaining capitalism—tackle one by one the evils of the system. They believed that once they had become a majority government they would never look back. In their innocence they thought that Labour Governments live for ever. This election has proved the correctness of the S.P.G.B. case, that a Labour Government is powerless to make capitalism acceptable, let alone inspiring, to the workers. Labour reformism has done its utmost and has failed.

(From editorial, Socialist Standard, March 1950)