To what the so-called practical politics of the Labour Party and I.L.P. lead is plainly demonstrated by the recent Stockport election.
It will be remembered that a vacancy occurred in the Stockport constituency through the death of Mr. Spencer Leigh Hughes. Immediately following upon this the Labour member for Stockport (Mr. Wardle), who held one of the “bait” posts which the Government allots to Labourites who serve them well, resigned on account of “ill health” (a term which covers a multitude of political sins). No doubt the two items are connected in many ways by various people, but the S.P.G.B. sums up the affair in two words—
In a review of the election result “The Lobby Correspondent” writes in the “Daily News” of April 12th:
“The retention of Stockport was made possible by a deal between the Coalition parties in the constituency. This involved the resignation of Mr. Wardle, a minister, on the ground of ill- health.”
Obviously Mr. Wardle’s seat had been gained at the previous election by means of a deal between the Labour and the Coalition parties, and he was compelled to resign because of a new arrangement between the Coalition Liberals and the Unionists to split their vote.
Time after time these “deals” have been exposed in the Official Organ of our party ; also it has been shown how gratifying they have proved to the Liberal Party. Now, however, when capitalist groups have been re-shuffled in the course of development to suit variations in sectional interests, and Mr. Asquith is attempting to lead an
“INDEPENDENT POLITICAL FORCE” TO SUPREMACY,
the tone of his particular group has changed somewhat. Speaking at the National Liberal Club Mr. Featherstone Asquith said “There was an experiment made at Stockport, one of the most ingenious feats that I remember of political legerdemain.” (How Mr. Asquith must revel in memories of similar exploits !) He continues, “You cannot always get a sitting member so accommodating . . . as to convert a single into a double vacancy.” (“Daily News ” 15.4.20.)
True, Herbert, but he who pays the piper calls the tune, and the “practical politics,” the double-dealing and trickery which leads to pelf and place for labour leaders, allows for such
And what of the great Sir Leo. C. Money, who, after being defeated at Tottenham, was
rushed to do the “big man” stunt at Stockport. Commenting on the defeat of himself and Mr. Perry (Lab. Co-op.) he said:
“There has been no real Labour fight before in Stockport. For many years contests have been in the character of sham fights where in double-barrelled constituencies progressives were invited to divide their votes between the Liberal and Labour Parties.” (“Daily News,” 12.4.20. Italics mine.”)
We confirm Sir Leo’s statement but add that there has been no fight made by the Labour Party in any constituency in the true interest of the working class. More of that anon.
As an illustration of how an opportunist can take advantage of a compulsory lapse from previous opportunism to
AFFIRM HIS STRAIGHTNESS
the foregoing quotation serves very well, while the following from the Printers’ Register for 6.2.19 is an interesting sidelight on Sir Leo. Money’s past:
“The ‘Labour Leader’ announces that Sir Leo has consented to become a regular contributor to its pages.
“This announcement recalls Sir Leo’s description of the ‘Labour Leader’ in the House of Commons, when he wanted the Government to deal drastically with that paper. He said ‘The “Labour Leader” ever since the war began deliberately pursued week by week a policy of misrepresenting the present and past motives of the British Government, of . . suggesting that war was provoked by British Diplomacy and aggression, of publishing an article charging the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary with deliberately deceiving the House of Commons, and in various other ways seeking to make it difficult for the United Kingdom to prosecute the war with success. During the past eleven month’s the “Labour Leader” has published repeated discouragments to its readers to support the national cause or take part in the war.’ “
The noodle-headed but sincere members of the I.L.P. will be interested in this slice of Sir Leo’s history. It may even lead them to critically analyse the sayings and actions of the “practical” politicians and refer to S.P.G.B. literature for more irrefragable facts of their leaders’ charlatanism.
Why this sudden conversion to the ranks of Labour ? Why this new-found interest on the part of Sir Leo, Lord Haldane, and others of their kind in the ability of Labour to govern ?
Methinks the wind has shifted slightly and sails are being trimmed accordingly. The Labour Party is attracting lords, knights, etc., to add to the fakirs already within its ranks. Bat adding remnants of the feudal aristocracy, disgruntled officers, petit-bourgeois, budding capitalist and pseudo-Socialist politicians to its membership—embodying schemes for nationalisation of this or that industry, better goals for the workers, etc., to its programme—does not help the workers forward one iota in the accomplishment of their historic mission.
And so we address ourselves to the working class : —The machines and tools with which you produce vast quantities of wealth—themselves the product of labour—are owned by the master class. You are compelled to sell the only commodity you possess — the power to labour—to the owners of those tools for a miserable pittance varying but little from the actual cost of subistance, while they, the minority in society, take to themselves the fruits of your labour.
YOU ARE EXPLOITED !
You lose one master, but are compelled to find another, and because of your non-ownership of the means of producing the necessaries of life you are enslaved to the possessing class —the capitalists. Constantly you are confronted with the fear of unemployment, and conditions do not improve—they are getting worse.
Gulled by the cant and hypocrisy of Press, pulpit, and capitalist political agents (Tory, Liberal, and Labour), you have in the past voted back into political power, because of promises, the representatives of the class which is interested in governing you and keeping you in subjection. Your interests are opposed to those of the exploiters, and you will be exploited and oppressed by them until you realise your true position, and organise as a class into a political party with the object of capturing the
and overthrowing the present system of contradictions of wealth and poverty, and the conversion of the means of wealth production from instruments of profit-grinding into common property to be administered for the well being of all.
The remedy is in your own hands—the working class are the majority in society, and the majority must be brought to an understanding and acceptance of the principles of the S.P.G.B. as printed in this and every issue of this journal.
Line up! There is no hope for the working class except in the establishment of Socialism.
(Socialist Standard, May 1920)