1930s >> 1935 >> no-376-december-1935

Election Brevities

There were the usual attempts to stampede electors with last-minute scares. One of them — the Conservative warning that Socialism means the end of the Building Societies — has a certain humour. The Labour Party proclaimed that its aim is Socialism, and those of the Labour leaders who know anything about Socialism know that under Socialism there will be no need for banks, building societies, pawnbrokers, and other organisations for borrowing and lending money. But the Labour Party wanted to have it both ways. They wanted to claim that they are Socialists, but that they do not intend to introduce Socialism. So they protested indignantly against this mean accusation!
 
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The Putney Ward of the Labour Party, which recently broke away and assured us that their aim is Socialism, not reformism, sent a telegram of support to the I.L.P. candidates, who were, of course, standing on a reform programme, as usual.
 
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A dishonest Conservative manoeuvre was to pretend that the Labour Party fought the election in alliance with the Communists, although the Conservative speakers nowhere appear to have had any evidence that such pact had been entered into. Labour Party headquarters flatly rejected the proposal.
 
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The Labour Party was unlucky in respect of its various splinter parties. It lost the fairly considerable I.L.P. vote in Scotland because the I.L.P. in many constituencies opposed the Labour candidates, and it lost a considerable number of timid Lib.-Lab. votes because the Communists and Stafford Cripps supported it.
 
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During the election the miners’ leaders were asking that the mines be nationalised, like the Post Office, and that miners have a minimum wage of £3 a week. The Postal workers who are already nationalised would like to hear from the miners how this helps them in getting £3 a week, for well over half of the adult Post Office workers get less than £3.
 
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The Co-operative movement excelled itself in the pettiness of its appeal to the electors. Reynolds’s Illustrated News (November 3rd) published an appeal which condemned the Government for the reason, among others, that the tax on Co-operative reserves cost each member 3/5 a year. Imagine Marx’s slogan re-written for Co-operators, “Workers of all lands, unite. You have nothing to lose hut your chains. You have 3/5 per annum, or four-fifths of a penny a week, to win!”
 
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Mr. W. J. Brown, who failed to get returned as an Independent at East Wolverhampton this time, had the backing of Lord Snowden (Daily Express, November 12th). Previously he has been in the Labour Party and I.L.P., hunted with the Communists, was associated with Mosley in the formation of the New Party, but immediately dropped out, and dabbled in currency-mongering and backing a worker-industrial-capitalist alliance against the bankers.
 
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The Labour Party said they were fighting for Socialism. Lord Snowden said they weren’t (The Times, October 3rd). He told Liberals to vote Labour in the absence of a Liberal candidate, provided the Labour man was one of the large number who backed the Peace and Reconstruction Council. In his own old constituency (Colne Valley) he backed the Liberal against the Labour man. One of the erstwhile “revolutionaries ” who went begging for the Peace and Reconstruction vote was Miss Ellen Wilkinson, one-time Communist. But she failed. They would not give it to her.
 
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The Labour Party’s headquarters election fund, most of which came in big donations from the Unions, totalled nearly £20,000 about a week before polling day (see Daily Herald, November 9th). The Transport Workers’ Union gave £2,000. 
 
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Sir Oswald Mosley, for the British Union of Fascists, stated in a letter to The Times (November 7th) that his organisation is preparing for the next General Election, their motto being “ Fascism next time.” The intervening period is to be used for preparing their electoral machinery.
 
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Mrs. Tennant, who fought as National Conservative candidate against  Mr. Jack Jones at Silvertown, was one of the few who stood frankly for the capitalist system. Her reason is that the workers ”would suffer more than anyone else” if the Labour Party’s present programme were to be applied. It is interesting to see Mrs. Tennant admitting that after generations of capitalism (plus a long stretch of Labour rule on the local councils), local conditions as regards housing and unemployment are very bad. Mrs. Tennant also “admits that capitalism, to be successful, ought to be able to provide everyone with a job, and a decent job.” It is surely late in the day for capitalism to be promising decent jobs for all. It has never provided that, and will not do so, however long it lasts, or by whomsoever it is administered.
 
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Lord Allen (formerly Mr. Clifford Allen, pacifist member of the I.L.P.) supported Sir Herbert Samuel, the leader of the opposition Liberal Party at Darwen, on the ground that he is a man of integrity and experience.
 
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The Independent Labour Party was able to boast of one unique achievement in the election. The manifesto of the National Government was signed by one former I.L.P. leader, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald. Two others, Lord Snowden and Lord Allen, backed the Liberals. Others, including Mr. Attlee and Mr. Clynes, led the Labour Party. Sir Oswald Mosley leads the Fascists, a number of ex-I.L.P.ers are prominent in the Communist Party, and others in the Scottish Socialist Party, the Socialist League, and the Independent Socialist Party. Lastly, the small remnant round Mr. Maxton still lead the I.L.P. Another former I.L.P.’er, Mr. Walton Newbold, supported Winston Churchill at Epping.
P. S.

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