1900s >> 1904 >> no-2-october-1904

Party News: Socialism and Labour Politics

We reprint the following from the Ilford Guardian:—

  Speaking under the auspices of the Romford Division of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, at the usual Monday evening open-air meeting held at the corner of Roden Street, Ilford Lane, Mr. John Kent said that there were many misconceptions with regard to Socialism, and with one of them, namely, that what were usually called “Labour Politics” were the politics of the Socialist Party, he wished to deal. The politics of Labour, as an expression, referred to the political views of the workmen organised into Trades Unions. They had, therefore, only to consider the various resolutions passed by and the attitude adopted at the Trade Union Congress of the previous week to recognise the very essential differences between them and the sound representatives of Socialism in this country—The Socialist Party of Great Britain. Let them take the views expressed by the Congress President, Mr. R. Bell, M.P., who was endeavouring to square the circle by taking the money of Organised Labour and at the same time doing the work of Organised Capital, by supporting Capitalist candidates and members of Parliament. In his opening address he had urged Labour to take a leaf out of the book of the brewers and the publicans, who, he declared, had held a loaded revolver at the head of the Government, with the threat that if the Government did not do as they wished, they would turn them out. Let Labour, said Mr. Bell, present a loaded revolver at the Government, and state that if those conditions which Labour considered fair and reasonable were not granted, then Labour would turn out the Government.

  But, said Mr. Kent, let us carry this to its logical conclusion. If a Government, whether of the Tory or Liberal section of the master class, would give Labour these things, then Labour must keep that Government in office. And what were these things? They were mere unimportant (to the capitalist class) sops which Government could give without sacrificing anything of a fundamental character. Thus, the Congress, on the motion of Mr. W. Steadman, declared in favour of a pension of 5s. a week to workmen reaching the age of sixty. What was the use of this? How many workmen could work up to sixty? The Polytechnic Labour Bureau stated in its circulars that the employers rarely asked for men over 35 years of age.

  But supposing a workman was unfortunate enough to live to be sixty, of what use was 5s. a week to him? The Socialist Party of Great Britain would not waste time upon such petty proposals. If the wealth producer was entitled, as they claimed he was, to anything at all, he had a right to full maintenance whenever he became unfit for work. But he would never secure his rights by appealing to the Capitalist Government. He must organise to take them for himself. The speaker dealt similarly with other resolutions passed at the Trade Union Congress, and declared in conclusion that the true interests of the people lay in allying themselves with the Socialist Party of Great Britain.