1930s >> 1931 >> no-320-april-1931

Editorial: A Red Herring

The recent election in St. George’s raises a few interesting questions.

In the first place, there seems little doubt that Tory, Labour and Liberals were allied in supporting the Conservative candidate against the Rothermere-Beaverbrook nominee. But the first question that strikes one is, Why all the bother and mud-slinging? What is behind the Rothermere-Beaverbrook attempt to run the Conservative Party? And, further, why the comparative unanimity between Conservatives, Liberals and Labour on the Indian Question? Is it all a game of bluff?

That Rothermere and Beaverbrook desire to wield the balance of power in the Conservative Party, and that Winston Churchill (who up to the present seems always to have changed his political colours too late) desires the position of Prime Minister, may all be true, but yet not the main object behind the trouble.

Ireland was for decades a useful blind to keep the English workers from taking too close an interest in their own political circumstances. After Ireland had passed out of the picture, Russia stepped in, and now India is in the limelight. But in the meantime Liberal, Tory and Labour have been drawing closer together and the Labour Party have given ample evidence of their ability to steer accurately in the interests of capital. There is a danger of the workers getting restive and dissatisfied with the Labour Party’s meek acceptance of capitalist conditions. What better method then of heading off dangerous restiveness than by putting up a sham fight with a new brand of capitalist political parties. The hazier and more indefinite the object and programme, the larger the number of people likely to be attracted.

The way Gandhi has been manoeuvred into such a position that many of his followers are now repudiating him, suggests the nature of the bluff.

The Daily Mail and the Evening News have been publishing furious articles about the surrender to Gandhi, but Gandhi has now discovered that there are certain reservations relating to safeguards in the British Government’s agreement that were (purposely?) not made clear to him at the time of signing.

In the meantime, mass protest meetings are being held in India by Hindus who threaten to withdraw their support from Gandhi if he agrees to certain demands of the Moslems. It looks very like the old game of “divide and conquer.”

To the worker the issues raised at St. George’s were of no concern, as the interests engaged were capitalist interests. Self-government for India, like self-government for Ireland, is only a question of which group of capitalists will rule. The dinners to Gandhi given by the rich Bombay mill-owners are suggestive of the meaning of Indian self-government to the mass of the population of India.

For over a century the population of India has been exploited for the benefit of European capitalists who broke up the old communal village system of production that had flourished there for ages. In the meantime, native capitalists have amassed wealth and own much of the recently developed instruments of modern production. The latter now want political domination in order to secure a greater share of the fruits of the labour of the Indian workers—hence the movement for self-government.

Indian working men and women are exploited in mills, mines and on the land, like their English brethren, and, like them also, their only salvation lies in the international movement for Socialism. In this movement no help is to be expected from Indian mill-owners nor from the parties in this country that are united in demanding the continuance of present conditions, whether they fly the colours of Tory, Liberal, Labour or United Empire Parties.