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J. R. Clynes

A Diary of Labour Government

 Here in Great Britain, about twenty-seven years ago, there was a sharp difference of opinion. There were those who held that there was but one cause of working-class poverty, and one only, and but one way to end it. These formed the Socialist Party of Great Britain, with the aim and object of capturing political power and achieving Socialism. There were others who denounced this as a dream, too far removed from present needs to be practicable. What was wanted, they said, was something now, something tangible, something realisable, something which we could see in our time. These supported immediate reforms, palliatives, and the Labour Party. They have been wonderfully fortunate. In a mere twenty-five years they have achieved their practical object and seated a Labour Government in Parliament.

Trade Unions—Sick Benefit Clubs

 Clyne's Confession

    Mr. J. R. Clynes, speaking at Southport on Saturday in support of the benevolent fund established by the local branch of the National Union of General Municipal Workers, said he thought the trade union was the proper organisation through which the spirit of benevolence that was in most of them should work. Many people were under the impression that trade unions existed only for making mischief, that they were always trying to stir up discontent. There could be no greater delusion than that. If trade unions did not exist we would have a condition of mob law.

A Socialist Survey

 We were taught at school that England is a free country. On reaching maturer years, however, we discover this to be a distortion of the truth. It all depends upon a person’s economic status, if he is rich he is free — comparatively. He is free to sweat and grind his poorer “brethren,” to maim and murder them in mines and pits, to butcher them in shunting yards, to drown them in over-burdened ships, to torture and burn them in rubber forests, to run them down and leave them mangled on the highways, and to starve and outrage and seduce them at will, within very wide limits and at a very low price. If he is poor, however, he possesses no freedom in any sense of the word. He is not free to work; he is not free to starve; he is not free to beg; he is not free to steal. He is even “pinched” if he tries to get off the earth.

The General Strike: A Weapon of Class War

On the 90th anniversary of the 1926 General Strike we look again at its lessons and at the uses and limitations of this class struggle tactic.

The General Strike lasted from 3 to 12 May in an attempt to defend the miners. It has been claimed that a significant proportion of the union leadership actually feared victory. ‘I am not in fear of the capitalist class. The only class I fear is my own,’ said J.R. Cleynes of the General and Municipal Workers Union. Trade union leaders were not going to challenge the state even though as the strike continued, more and more control over the day-to-day functioning of society passed into the hands of the strikers. The TUC General Council betrayed every resolution upon which the strike call was issued and without a single concession being gained. The miners were left to fight the mine-owners, backed by the government, on their own.

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