1940s >> 1945 >> no-485-january-1945

Editorial: Tory-Labour Agreement On Capitalism

Everybody knows that the Conservative and Liberal Parties stand for capitalism and have no intention of seeing it abolished or undermined, but many people are confused about the intentions of the Labour Party. They think that the Labour programme of nationalisation or public utility boards under Government control and the programme of social reforms mark off the Labour Party from the others and prove that it is a Socialist party. Socialists are under no such illusion, nor are the more astute representatives of capitalism. Three recent pronouncements show this unmistakably. One is a statement made by Major-General G. S. Szlumper, Director-General of Supply Services of the Ministry of Supply and former General Manager of the Southern Railway. Speaking in Cape Town, he said:


  After the war all transport in Britain should be run as a sort of public corporation with pooled funds. It should have neither exclusive Government control nor be run by private companies on competitive lines. (Daily Express, November 5th.)

The second is a declaration made by Mr. Dingle Foot, Liberal M.P., and Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Economic Warfare, in a speech to the London Regional Branch of the Liberal Party. The News-Chronicle reported him as follows :—


  Liberals were not afraid of nationalisation in particular cases. . . . It was a matter of expediency and not of principle where a line was drawn between public and private enterprise. (News-Chronicle, October 30th, 1944.) .


The third is u pledge given in the House of Commons (December 1st. 1944) by the Conservative Foreign Minister, Mr. Anthony Eden. He declared that if the present Government’s “great social reform programme” is not completed before the general election, and if a Labour Government takes over, the Conservatives will back the Labour Government to see the programme completed :—


  I have no doubt that if there were an election and if a Labour Government were returned, that Government would put through what was outstanding in that programme, and I can say, on behalf of my right hon. friend, the Prime Minister, that we, as members of the Conservative Party, would give them support in putting through what remains of that programme, to which members of both parties have put their names.

He went on to say that if a Conservative Government came in at the election, they would likewise “feel that we had the right to ask the gentlemen opposite to give us their support.”


In other words, the forthright upholders of capitalism are quite prepared to join with the Labour Party in backing social reforms because they know the continuity of capitalism would be preserved by that party. We need not labour the obvious point that the Conservatives and Liberals would not help the S.P.G.B. to carry out its programme of introducing Socialism.
Before leaving this speech of Mr. Eden’s we would like to mention the way in which William Barkley, the Parliamentary reporter of the Daily Express, reported the matter. It suits the Express always to refer to the Labour Party as the Socialist Party, although the latter is not its own chosen title—(indeed, a resolution to adopt that title was many years ago not accepted by a Labour Party conference)—and although the Express is fully aware that the Labour Party does not stand for Socialism.


For example, in an editorial on October 1st, 1936, the Daily Express admitted that the Labour Party is not a Socialist party, declaring that though hostile to Socialism, the Express was not hostile to the Labour Party :—


  The Daily Express is not the enemy of the Socialist Party, though Mr. Bevin and others profess to think so. The Daily Express, it is true, opposes Socialism, but that is a very different thing. If Mr. Bevin, or Mr. Morrison, or Sir Walter Citrine, came to power here the Daily Express would not tremble at these men nor fear their policies.


Yet when Mr. Barkley reported Eden’s speech in the Daily Express on December 2nd, 1944, and although he put the statements in quotation marks to indicate that the words quoted were supposed to be those actually used by Eden, where the latter used the word “Labour ” Mr. Barkley rendered it “Socialist.” Is Mr. Barkley an incompetent reporter, or did he alter the words deliberately? And, if so, was it by his own choice, or is it the policy of the Daily Express that reports should be handled in this way ?