Editorial: The Labour Party’s Liberal Programme
The Executive of the Labour Party are submitting to the Liverpool Conference of that Party a policy of “National Reconstruction and Reform” which they claim will secure for all workers “the reward and security to which their activities rightly entitle them.”
This so-called Labour policy declares for closer contact between the Home Government and the Colonial Governments; “a scientific redistribution of land within the British Commonwealth”; special information offices for emigrants and preliminary training before going overseas; Government purchase of Colonial produce; and financial assistance to British farmers.
On the question of unemployment the Programme states that “it is an inevitable accompaniment of capitalist production” and can only be prevented by Socialism. But the Labour Party goes on to demand the appointment of a National Employment Board whose duty shall be “To inquire into the nature of and remedies for unemployment ”! This Board is also to prepare schemes of national development.
On the land question the Labour Programme demands the old Liberal policy of the Taxation of Land Values. In agriculture the Labour Programme is for a minimum wage of 1s. per hour for a 48-hour week.
This 1925 Programme of the Labour Party is, in reality, a policy that every capitalist can support. It offers all the nostrums for perpetuating the capitalist system, and advocates the reactionary schemes of so-called reformers, from Emigration to Taxation of Land Values. After an admission that unemployment is caused by capitalism and can only be cured by Socialism, these Labour politicians want a Board to enquire into unemployment and its remedy.
The Programme is in no sense a working-class programme; it deals with effects, and deals with them in such a way as to preserve the interests of property and its owners. It is one of the clearest capitalist programmes that the mis-called Labour Party has ever drawn up, and it shows that between Labourism and Liberalism there is a close contact in “ideas” as well as persons.
Even the Editor of the New Leader has to make this confession about the “Labour Programme” (New Leader, Sept. 25, 1925) :—
It is not the programme of a party which asks for power because it has the will to re-shape our disordered society. There are no guiding lines in it, no inspiring ideas. It is a collection of proposals for reform, most of them salutary and some of them important. Yet no one reading it. even with close attention, would say, “Here is the ground plan of a Socialist Society.” One jolts along from one proposal to another, assenting, indeed, to most of them, but never catching a glimpse of the real purpose in view. What is it? To redistribute the wealth of the community? To make an end of the tributes of rent and profit and interest? To win for the whole working community the power to order its daily life? No Socialist strategy is apparent. One does not feel that the authors of this compilation ever asked themselves the question: What are the urgent things which we must do to win Socialism? Which are the roads to economic power? The Conference may alter and amplify and amend, but no process of amendment will ever make this a good programme. It will not inspire the Socialist thinker, nor will it fire the enthusiasm of the simple worker and his wife.