Editorial: The Breaking Up of the I.L.P.
At its special Conference at Bradford on July 30th, the I.L.P. decided by 241 votes to 142 to leave the Labour Party. It was also decided to run I.L.P. candidates for election to Parliament and local councils, to expel members or branches which remain affiliated with the Labour Party, and to instruct members of trade unions not to pay political levy to the Labour Party. The affiliationist group, which claims to have the bulk of the Scottish membership behind it, is busy organising an affiliationist party. So we now have the exhilarating spectacle of two I.L.P.’s instead of one.
Mr. Dollan, who is leading the affiliationists, states that the total membership of the party before the split was down to 16,000, their funds were depleted and they were in debt. Mr. Brockway claims for the disaffiliationists that new members are being enrolled by the hundred, but they have failed to hold more than a very small minority of the I.L.P. candidates on local councils in Glasgow, Bradford, Manchester and elsewhere,
Mr. Brailsford, and the other three men who drafted the programme of the I.L.P. known as the Living Income Policy, have all joined the affiliationists. Mr. Brailsford, in a disrespectful letter, describes his ex-comrades as behaving with “conspicuous silliness.”
Already, at the Bradford Conference, the disaffiliationists had developed a left wing—the Revolutionary Policy Group—inside which, according to John Paton, there were already differences of opinion, foreshadowing a left-left-wing. (New Leader, 5th August.)
It is easy to see that the new I.L.P. consists of the same confusion-mongers as the old. While some of its leaders claim that the new policy is essentially the same as the old policy, others say that it is fundamentally different. While Mr. Campbell Stephen, at the LL.P. Summer School on August 8th, was promising that “the present economic crisis was going to put them in the trenches in the revolutionary war” (Manchester Guardian, 9th August), Mr. Fenner Brockway told Reynolds’s Illustrated News (the Co-operative Sunday paper) that the most revolutionary work of all is that of the co-operatives! (Reynolds’s, 31st July.)
Mr. Campbell Stephen foreshadows the possibility of the I.L.P. coming out of the Unions, as it has come out of the Labour Party. Mr. R. C. Wallhead, M.P., on the other hand, while supporting disaffiliation, warned the Conference delegates not to widen the breach too much because “after doing their utmost to mould the workers’ minds, they would have to come to some form of unity.” (New Leader, 5th August.)
The I.L.P. Still Accepts the Labour Party Programme.
And, after all this, what is the new I.L.P.’s programme but a rehash of the old, and as E. F. Wise said, just like the Labour Party’s programme, except that it is “full of revolutionary phrases.”
Among the “immediate demands” in the new I.L.P. programme are the following (New Leader, 22nd July, 1932) : —
“Immediate and progressive expansion of working class purchasing power” (this is the Living Wage policy over again); “holidays with pay”; “adequate housing and reduced rents”; “unemployed maintenance to be a national charge” ; “a ‘full life’ for the unemployed”; “individual and collective resistance to all war preparations and tendencies”; and “disarmament by example.” These are a selection from the new reformist programme adopted , at the Bradford Conference.
Mr. Fenner Brockway, the Chairman of the I.L.P., clinches the matter in his reiterated assertion that the I.L.P., while differing from the Labour Party, as to “method” and “policy,” accepts the Labour Party’s objective and programme. He writes (New Leader, 5th August): —
I think it may be useful to say that the I.L.P. accepts the objective of the Labour Party—Socialism—and, in general, its programme. There are isolated issues upon which we differ in that programme. But on the major issues we accept it.
As Maxton has repeatedly admitted, the Labour Party’s programme and object is nothing but State capitalism and State controlled capitalism. The Party which can accept that objective has not begun to understand and accept the socialist case.