What the Parties Say about the War
Below are extracts from the official statements on the war made by various Parties.
The Labour Party.
(Extract from the Manifesto issued by the National Executive of the Labour Party, published in the Daily Herald, September 2nd, 1939.)
“It will, now that the die is cast, use all its influence and authority to secure a Peace, the basis of which is in accord with the faith it holds.
It will resist any attempt to use the present conflict for ends that sow the seeds of further war. So long as its principles animate those whom Herr Hitler has driven to resistance against his aggression, so long they can count on the support of British Labour. None know better than the Labour Movement the tragic folly of war; but a stage has been reached in the development of Europe where War has been chosen by Herr Hitler as a deliberate instrument of national policy.
It is impossible for Labour to acquiesce in claims
supported, or conquests achieved, by this method. T do so would be an indefensible betrayal of its owi vital faith.
The British Labour Movement, therefore, call upon all its members to stand solidly behind it i: resistance to aggression.
Until those who have been willing to resort t its use have been overthrown it sees no prospect o an enduring Peace. The Movement must summon al its energy and devotion to the task of defeating th aggressor.
British Labour has taken this stand with calmnes and without passion.
It will hold itself free to define in its own wa the conditions of a just settlement at a later stage.
It will use all its authority to build a Peace c justice which removes the cause out of which we comes. With the defeat of the aggressors, thei emerges the prospect of building a better world fro] which the roots of economic and political grievance have been removed.
The British Labour Movement will give all its strength to making the foundations of that world a secure defence of Peace and Justice.”
The Communist Party of Great Britain.
(Extract from Manifesto issued by Central Committee, September 2nd, 1939.)
“You are now being called upon to take part in the most cruel war in the history of the world.
One that need never have taken, place. One that could have been avoided even in the very last days of the crisis, had we had a People’s Government in Britain.
Now that the war has come, we have no hesitation in stating the policy of the Communist Party.
We are in support of all necessary measures to secure the victory of democracy over Fascism.
But Fascism will not be defeated by the Chamberlain Government.
The first and most vital step to victory is a new Government in which the key positions are in the hands of a trusted representatives of the people who have neither imperialist aims, nor latent sympathies with Fascism.
This is absolutely vital for any success in a war against Fascism abroad and the friends of Fascism in Britain.”
Then, one month later, the Communist Party thought it had supported the war long enough and announced :—
“We are against the continuance of the war. We demand that negotiations be immediately opened for the establishment of peace in Europe.”— (Daily Worker, 4th October).
The Social Democratic Party of Germany.
(Extract from Manifesto issued by the exiled Executive of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.)
“To the German people,
With Hitler’s criminal attack war has begun. In this historic moment the executive of the German Social Democratic party appeals to the German people and to the whole world. It is the last body which was elected by the Social Democratic mass organisations in Germany itself. It speaks for the party, and beyond the party, for that section of the German people which hates war and dictatorship and whose aim is to live in peace and freedom.
The whole weight of guilt for this monstrous crime against peace and humanity rests on Hitler and his system. The destruction of freedom and the disturbance of world peace was from the outset the sum and substance of National Socialist policy. The fall of Hitler is therefore the aim for which we shall fight, together with all the democratic forces in Europe.
Hitler and the new German militarism are one. The defeat and final overthrow of this militarism are the prerequisites for the peace and reorganisation of Europe. As a force allied with all the opponents of Hitler who are fighting for freedom and civilisation in Europe, our efforts in the war will be directed to this end. We are waging this war for the German people’ and for the great goal of safeguarding liberty, peace, and democracy in Europe.
We appeal to the German people. Fight for your freedom. Get rid of Hitler. The overthrow of the system will shorten the war, preserve millions of lives, and save the nation. Hitler’s policy is not the fulfilment of national needs. It is a relapse into the superstition that the future and well-being of people depend on the conquest of territory.”—(Published in Manchester Guardian, September 5th, 1939.)
In the introduction to a ” Socialist Programme During the War,” the I.E.P. made the following declaration (New Leader, September 8th.)
“The I.L.P. will remain true to the principles of International Socialism in this war as it did in the war of 1914-18.
At this dark moment it holds out hands of solidarity across the frontiers to the workers of other countries, and over the roar of guns, greets those heroic Socialists who in German territory maintain their opposition to the Fascist regime and to war.
During the war the I.L.P. will do all that it can to retain the spirit, organisation and action of International Socialism. …”
The programme itself consists of such demands as recruitment of Trade-Unionists, the maintenance of contact with working-class organisations abroad, increased old age pensions, a national living wage with family allowances, etc., etc.)
The British Union (Mosley-Fascists).
(Extract from a statement published in Action, September 16th, 1939.)
“The policy of British Union was, is, and will be, Britain first.
We mean by Britain first: (1) If any nation attacks, or threatens, the life of Britain or her Empire, we fight for Britain; (2) with us the life and interest of the British people come first, and, therefore, the lives of British people are more important than any foreign quarrel. That is why we have said, and now say, “Mind Britain’s Business.”
Our Peace policy is the same as ever, and by this policy Peace can still be won.
(1) We have no interest in the East of Europe, which is no concern of British Empire ; therefore, we should cease to intervene in any Eastern European quarrel.
(2) We are determined at all times to defend and to maintain British Empire, but we have no interest in “Mandated Territories,” which do not belong to British Empire.
(3) Britain can and must be strong enough to defend herself from any attack by any nation in the world, but should never intervene in foreign quarrels which do not concern Britain or the Empire.
(4) We desire a permanent peace and understand ing among the great nations of the West of Europe.
The practical test of our Peace Policy is this: Can the British people make a peace that secures the integrity .of British Empire and the peace of Western Europe? Which of our opponents can deny that this can be done?
Their only argument is that they do not trust the word of a Foreign Government. Then why not trust the strong arm of Britain instead? In the strength of British Union we should have nothing to fear from any attack even if we stood alone. So we should have no need to wage war in case we were attacked at some future flate.
Therefore before, and after, tha outbreak of war the Peace Policy of British Union remains exactly the same.
The German Communists
According to the Daily Worker (September 8th, 1939) the German Communist Party have issued a call to the German people to overthrow the Hitler regime. The Worker says : “It supports the Soviet Union arid the peace policy of Stalin, which resulted in a split of the Powers supporting aggression.”
Among the points in the declaration are the following: —
“In this hour, when Hitler attacks the Polish people, we call all German workers, and the whole German people, to fight for the saving of the peace of the world in this last
“In case of war we must fight the Nazi regime and for the downfall of Hitler.”
Manifesto of a group of Labour M.P.s, Candidates and others.
Twenty years after the “war to end war,” Capitalism has again plunged the peoples of the world into mutual slaughter.
Once again the ideals of liberty and democracy are invoked by Governments which deny liberty in their own colonies and social justice at home.
We share with countless working men and women in Germany the desire to end the barbarities of Nazism and the Hitler Government.
But it is tragic that the Labour Movement of Britain has forgotten all it owes to the teachings of Keir Hardie and the other pioneers, and repeats its blunder of 1914, lining up with Capitalism in the waging of a war to defend Imperial interests.
Large numbers of Labour Party, Trade Union and Co-operative members are deeply distressed by a war which will inflict endless suffering on the peoples whilst making enormous fortunes foi profiteers.
The workers must preserve and strengthen their organisations on an independent basis. Let them hold fast to their right to organise, to meet together, to speak freely, so that they may keep their power to influence events and to work for Socialism and Peace.
Alfred Salter (Labour M.P. for West Bermondsey). Cecil H. Wilson (Labour M.P. for Attercliffe). Fred Longden (Labour Candidate for Deritend). Jack Gibson (Labour Candidate for Lanark). Gordon Stott (Labour Candidate for W. Edinburgh). Reg. Groves (Labour Candidate for Aylesbury). W. T. Colyer (Labour Candidate for Chislehurst). Donald Fraser (Labour Candidate for North Norfolk). W. H. Morris (Labour Candidate for Hampstead). Wilfred Wellock (Labour Candidate for Stourbridge). David Freeman (Labour Candidate for N.W. Hull). Jim Simmons (Labour Candidate for W. Wolvehampton). Rose Simpson (General Secretary, Women’s Co-operative Guild). Mrs. M. Pavitt (Treasurer of the Women’s Co-operative Guild). M. G. Grindley (Women’s Co-operative Guild). Charles A. Smith (Chairman of the I.L.P.). Fenner Brockway (Political Secretary of the I.L.P.). John McNair (General Secretary of the I.L.P.). John Aplin (Chairman of London I.L.P.). Will Ballantine (Member of N.U.R. Executive). Alexander Kelley (General Secretary of the Scottish Bankers’ Association). John Goldie (Scottish Bankers’ Association). P. Cowan (Scottish Bankers’ Association). Stewart Purkis (Ex-Member R.C.A. Executive). B. Porter (Baillie, Glasgow Corporation). J. A. W. Douglas (Labour Councillor, Bermondsey). James Ross (Chairman, W. Edinburgh Labour Party). James H. Hudson (Ex-Labour M.P., Huddersfield). G. F. Dutch (Vice-President, London Co-operative Society). J. Allen Skinner (Chairman, Pacifist Research Bureau).