Working-Class Politics and the “Labour Daily.”
The question of a Labour daily newspaper has been so much to the front at odd times within the past few years that we cannot be surprised that one has appeared. It is an independent journal so far as organisations are concerned, although it has a backing among many prominent trade-unionists and quasi-Socialists. Its first editorial article was quite promising. It said: “However much we may deplore the antagonism of class interests, we cannot escape its consequences. The conflict is going on all the time,” but subsequent announcements, sad to say, have more than nullified this. To take its leading articles as representing its own opinions, we have had the most contradictory positions advocated in successive issues.
In No. 1 we were told that “Bound to no particular section of the movement, the ‘Daily Herald‘ is the mouthpiece of all phases of industrial, political and social activity. While giving general support to the policy and programme of the Labour Party in the House of Commons, we do not claim identity with them.”
In No. 3 we were told of the futility of political action of any kind, and the theory of Anarchist “direct action” was advocated, as will be clear from the following extracts:
“And they all know, as we know, that the centre of politics has shifted; they all know, as we know, that the question whether or no a capitalist parliament sits in Dublin is of no account beside the question whether or no the Irish railwaymen are coming out on strike. They know the game is up. There is no need to insist on an obvious fact, but we may he forgiven for expressing a certain amount of mild jubilation. The real problems of the day, the fate of an industrial system, the task of remodelling it before it falls in ruins about our heads, are pushing the old peddling political problems of the day off the stage . . . The fight for freedom is to take place in the workshop and the street, and not on the floor of the House of Commons. Parliament sits in its cave, like the giant of Bunyan’s fable, snarling through its toothless gums. What the democracy is considering is how the worker can organise himself for co-operative production without the aid of Parliament, even with the forces of the governing clique arrayed against them.”
In No. 4, on the occasion of the East Nottingham bye-election, its readers were advised to keep the Tory out by voting Liberal. The exact words had better be reproduced. Here they are:
“Mr. Dobson has done nothing, within our recollection, to entitle him to this amount of consideration at our hands. But there it is. The Labour electors have to choose between two evils, and our advice to them is choose the lesser by voting for Mr. Dobson.”
In No. 5 we get back to the Anarchist position, and the advocacy of the general strike. “Combination can abolish the whole miserable picture, and substitute a united army which would, without doubt, sweep everything before it.” “ A sectional strike might possibly bring about a few minor reforms, but it would be more likely to end in disaster. It could not for a moment be expected to solve the really vital problems with which we are confronted. But imagine for one moment the effect of complete consolidation.”
In No. 8, on the occasion of the bye-election in the Forest of Dean, the Liberal is taboo, and we are invited to turn him out. On the former occasion the reason for voting Liberal was to keep the Tory out, therefore it obviously follows that in order to turn the Liberal out of the Forest of Dean it is necessary to vote Tory. “At present the Forest of Dean is unrepresented—or rather it is represented by an echo of Mr. Asquith and the party caucus. We invite the Dean miners to turn the echo out.”
It can be seen from the above that within the compass of eight days the new Labour daily has put up a record for boxing tbe political compass. The quotations given show how in so many words it has flitted from supporting the Labour Party to non-political economic “direct action.” From that to supporting the Liberal candidate, while its next advice it to support the Tory candidate. Inconsistency has never gone further.
The fact is the “Daily Herald” has no politics and no policy. It wants to make the paper a financial success; that is its first and only consideration. Its educative effect upon the working class is altogether a secondary consideration. The opinions of the workers are indefinite—ergo, the opinions of a paper to be acceptable to all must be similarly indefinite. The working-class position politically has not so far been stated, although on occasions it has been glimpsed. The political game is up, we are told, and the fight must be in the street. The political movement of the workers organised on the basis of their class position has never been tried, and what is the use of the completest industrial amalgamation in the street when the trained armed forces of society are controlled by the enemy? Are we to assume that because our opponents use the power of society, organised and controlled through the Parliamentary machine, for their class purposes in that struggle recognised in the “Daily Herald‘s” first leader, the same power is to be left in their bands without our making an effort to capture it? Because labour hacks sell out is that to say working-class representation is impossible? Because the political machinery has been corrupted by its long abuse by capitalism. is it to follow we can afford to ignore it in a struggle in which it must occupy the central position?
Let the “Daily Herald” expound the truth, and urge the organisation of the working-class politically for the capture of the machinery of government in order to overthrow the capitalist system; let it emphasise the necessity for an organisation for that purpose, and the insufficiency of all the parties that have been tried. If it follows that line it will arrive at the position of the Socialist Party. It may lose customers, but it will have gained truth.
R. H. Kent