Miners and Leaders
The Socialist Party of Great Britain wishes to express its deepest sympathy with our miner fellow-workers. By the time this article appears, the struggle in South Wales will no doubt have been “settled.” Even in the extremely improbable granting of the strikers’ full demands, the miner will remain one of the worst victims of capitalism. We speak as worker to worker. All of us in varying degrees have tasted the bitter pill of poverty and been under the harrow of callous employers.
We rejoice that the miner has not been driven so low as to be indifferent to the taste of the dirt of life offered by his masters, and explained away by his pastors.
The Daily Herald has offered you advice. It bids you “Go back to work; Trust your Leaders .”
The S.P.G.B. begs its comrades of the pit to review their history, especially in the light of this advice.
We appeal especially to those who are old enough to remember that staggering upper-cut delivered to the worker generally, and the miner in particular, in 1926 by Baldwin and “our beloved Prime Minister.” Never was the rottenness of the “Trust” advice more vividly shown up than by the General Strike.
J. H. Thomas and others on the General Council were only too glad to seize on the previous “Samuel Report” (as useful as the “Porter Award”) to sound a retreat. Your own Arthur Horner (now slavishly toeing the line to the Government) wrote at the time, “The General Council betrayed the miners.
Six hundred years ago a youthful king promised an insurgent mob of peasants that he “would be their leader”; the history books your children read at school seldom mention the array of gallows which succeeded this promise.
Roman history relates how an aristocratic and privileged class bade the underdog of that time “trust their leaders,” though it was shown that the people’s leaders were all too ready to act as the tools of the governing clique.
Consider the case of Ramsay MacDonald; fulsome adulation was accorded him by “Labour.” The S.P.G.B. alone saw the hollowness of the idol; it would be an unfortunate piece of history if there is likely to be a repetition to-day of something in the same line. Herbert Morrison (one of MacDonald’s former supporters) is exhibiting the same vagueness of phrasing as characterised MacDonald—an astuter man than MacDonald, he may prove a real menace to the working class.
The News Chronicle has a cartoon (9/3/44). “Underground” workers are depicted listening in; one exclaims, “So the Comrades in Wales are letting us down?” We hear precious little about the owners who are “letting us down.” There is a clear way out to end the trouble. Accede to the strikers’ terms. It is safe to say that the diminution of profits to owners would still leave that class sufficient to continue to live at a scale which would not entail the deprivation of a fur coat for the women folk. It outrages decency to know that the pitiably small increase to the miner would still be a matter of real relief to the heroic miner’s wife. Colliery companies are doing well. “Labour Research” (February, 1944) states that out of 32 colliery companies chosen at random, 27 paid higher dividends in the last five years than in the period 1934-38. Yet the Government, as it admits, is concerned to prevent miners’ wages and all wages from rising, on the specious plea of preventing inflation.
When the rank and file of the Unions cease to be gulled by the “leader” who too frequently is seeking to round his own life into a success, when a secretary becomes a servant and not a boss, the Trade Unions will be a big factor in assisting at the birth of SOCIALISM.
Fellow-workers of the pit: In Socialism alone can your degradation be liquidated. Don’t be misled as to what constitutes “Socialism?” Study the eight points of our “Declaration of Principles,” and be assured that our “Object” is no pious expression of impossible attainment. In the politically instructed worker lies the future hope of all mankind.