The I.L.P. and the Election
In the “New Leader” (26th April, 1929) the Chairman of the I.L.P., Mr. James Maxton, M.P., issues a special appeal for funds in order that the I.L.P. may play its part “in the achievement of Socialism.” Surrounding the appeal are the photographs of some of the I.L.P. candidates, one of them being Miss Jennie Lee, who was recently elected as Labour M.P. for North Lanark. She was the I.L.P. nominee, and was financed by the I.L.P. It is interesting, therefore, to notice that she played her part “in the achievement of Socialism,” by standing for election on a Programme which contains no reference, direct or indirect, to Socialism. It does not mention the word Socialism, and does not contain any reference to the I.L.P.’s latest programme—“Socialism in our Time.” It does not mention the I.L.P. nor Miss Lee’s membership of that body, and this in spite of the fact that they financed her and were responsible for her candidature. Like every other member of the I.L.P. who succeeds in getting into Parliament, as Labour M.P. Miss Lee was prevented by the Labour Party from running as a Socialist candidate, even if she wished to do so. She was compelled to stand as Labour candidate on a programme of reforms acceptable to the Labour Party, a party of which Mr. Maxton wrote only last year that its programme “must be regarded not as a Socialist programme but an enlightened Liberal programme.” (See one case by A. J. Cook and J. Maxton, M.P. Page 11). Mr. Maxton added:—
If every measure in the Labour Party Programme was carried, then we would not have Socialism, but rationalised capitalism. (Ibid, p. 17).
Thus does the I.L.P. win illusory “victories” for “Socialism.”
The reason is obvious, and was frankly admitted by Dr. Alfred Salter, member of the I.L.P. and Labour M.P. for Bermondsey, in a letter to the “New Leader” (12th October, 1928). He said:—
There is not a single constituency in the country where there is a majority of convinced Socialist electors. We have plenty of districts, such as Bermondsey, where there is an overwhelming Labour majority, but it is a sheer delusion to think that the greater number of these people understand what we mean by Socialism. They nether understand it nor want it.
The only way to secure the return of Socialist candidates on a Socialist programme is to win the working class over to Socialism. Instead of doing this the I.L.P. devotes its resources to the preaching of reforms and deludes itself that it is “achieving Socialism” by securing the return of Labour M.P.’s on the votes of non-Socialists. Only the Socialist Party devotes its energies to the propagation of Socialist principles, and refrains from securing Parliamentary seats under false pretences.