Our Election Manifesto
We are reprinting below our Manifesto on the General Election which, with the necessary addition of a direct reference to North Paddington and our Declaration of Principles, was issued as the address of our prospective candidate, Clifford Groves, in North Paddington.
1st June. 1945.
Once again you are called upon to register your vote in a General Election. Before you vote this time think very seriously about what you are doing. Pay no attention to glib promises or airy phrases about a New World built out of the same sordid material as the old. The well intentioned, the knave and the fool can all give you promises. You must look behind promises to facts.
Why are you voting? Because you want an improvement in your conditions of life. You and your forbears have been voting for this purpose for a hundred years and how much better off are you? Apart from some niggardly and hard won reforms you are still as your fathers were, forced to work for a wage that at best does little more than keep you and your families on a poor standard of living. And all the time you are worried by the possibility of unemployment and a descent into the depths of misery. For many of you unemployment has been a constant feature of your lives since the end of the last war, which was also going to bring you a bright new world. When you are old most of you are forced to depend upon your children to keep you out of their meagre earnings as old age pensions don’t go far, when you get them.
Your grandfather can tell you the same story, and yet all the time politicians have come forward with the same threadbare promises and long lists of reforms. A leader of the Conservative Party gives support to this view. In the Evening Standard (11th May, 1945), Mr. Peter Thorneycroft, chairman of the Tory Reform Committee, wrote an article under the heading “My Creed for a Tory,” In this he writes:
“Social security is the chief bastion against misfortune in our homes. Great though his contribution to the problem, it is not the private preserve of Sir William Beveridge. One hundred and fifty years ago William Pitt was urging social reforms not dissimilar to those we discuss to-day.
Other Tories—Disraeli, Shaftesbury and Lord Randolph Churchill—have led the struggle to improve the conditions of the people.”
After a hundred and fifty years during which the Tories have exercised most of the governmental power you are still waiting for a real improvement in your conditions. Now they have given the bottle a new label, “Social Security/’ but it still contains the same dirty water.
Tory, Liberal and “Labour” candidates have come and gone, each have had their turn as the government with all the opportunities that government gives, and still you remain where you were. Since the last war the Communist Party has bobbed up but they also have the old familiar list of reforms, no different in essentials from those of the other Parties. They also continually change and twist their party line to the needs of the tortuous foreign policy of Russia. In the course of the war the Communist Party changed its attitude towards the war four times.
The Commonwealth Party is a new arrival in politics but it also asks for votes on a policy of reform. If reforms could have helped you then you would not be where you are, because you have been deluged with reforms of all kinds.
There must be something fundamentally wrong somewhere. What is it? Let us examine a little closer your position in present day life.
In order to get your living you must get a job. It does not matter what work you do, whether you have to wear dungarees, a uniform, or a black coat and striped trousers, you must still get a job in order to live. To whom do you generally apply for a job? To a company, or a state concern. In working for companies and state concerns you are doing the work needed to feed, clothe and house the population. You are doing all this work as miners, mechanics, railwaymen, bakers, or anything else, including the relatively better paid jobs directing industry. That is why you are called the working class. You are the class that works, that depends for a living upon selling mental and physical energies for wages or salaries.
These are the facts. You know they are because you experience them. Let us go further.
All the time you are at work you are haunted by the fear that you may lose your job and maybe not get another for a long time, or even be thrown on the scrap heap of those whose working days are finished. On account of this you struggle with each other for jobs, try to beat the other man even though you think that he is a decent chap and has a wife and family dependent upon him. You humble yourself in ways that make you squirm and are respectful and subservient to those above you, and to the wealthy class in general, because you want to get or keep a job. You hurry to work in packed buses, trams and tubes fearful lest the hooter go or the line be drawn before you get there. What a Life for a “Free Born Briton” !
This is all true. You know it is however you may try to pretend to yourself that you belong to a higher type of worker. Now let us look at another part of the picture.
What are the companies and the state concerns to whom you apply for jobs? They are the owners of practically all the land, the factories, the machinery, the transport and everything else necessary to produce and distribute the things we need. But who in fact really owns these organisations? The people who invest money in them and direct their policies. That is to say they are owned by The Capitalists who invest money with a view to making a profit out of their investments. Very few of you ever have any money to spare with which to buy shares, and those who do can only buy so few that it is not worth talking about. But just as you live by selling your working power so the capitalist lives by the dividends he receives from the capital he has invested. This also applies to Municipal Undertakings which provide investors with interest on municipal stock they purchase.
From whence come the dividends upon which the capitalists live? From the results of the work you do. Let us illustrate this point by taking a particular instance. You and some of your fellow workers are employed by a certain company and that company pays you wages and salaries. Now if the company makes a profit they must make it out of employing you because your class does all the work of producing for the company. In other words you and your fellows produce a quantity of goods that sell at a value which is greater than the value of your wages plus all other expenses. There is a surplus and it is out of this surplus that the capitalists of this country, and the rest of the world, live luxuriously and amass fortunes.
The capitalists pay you as little as they possibly can and urge you to increase the amount of your production, because the more you produce and the less you take the more there is for them. They are helped in this process by the fact that you compete with each other for jobs and those who work most efficiently for the wages they get stand the best chance of getting and keeping a job. Efficiency does not necessarily mean doing the best job. You may be constructing jerry-built houses or doing similar shoddy work. Efficiency under capitalism means producing the greatest possible amount of profit for the capitalist which also involves working at high speeds. Sometimes, as in America, they pay higher wages because they have found they can get more out of you by doing so; that is by exploiting you more efficiently. But such higher paid workers are more rapidly exhausted, and, in the long run, are no better off than those on lower pay.
Another method adopted by the capitalists to increase what they can get out of you is the introduction of new Labour Saving Machinery and methods of production. This increases the amount of wealth each worker produces and reduces the number the capitalists need to employ—Puts many of you out of a job to swell the unemployed army. You will shortly feel the pressure of this more heavily than ever when the new machinery and methods developed during the war are applied to peace-time production.
From what we have said you will realise that present day society is made up of two distinct and opposing classes—the capitalist class who, by their shareholding, own the means of production and the products, and the working class, who own only their power to work and must sell this working power to the capitalists in order to live. The capitalist aims at getting as much out of your labour as possible by getting you to work as hard as you can for as little payment as you can live upon, according to the standard of living in your particular kind of work. You aim at easier working conditions and as much pay as you can get for the work you do. The unemployed army is essential to capitalism otherwise you could demand a wage that would cut out the capitalists’ profit. It is the fear of unemployment that limits your wage demands and your demands for better working conditions.
It is this class ownership of the means of production that is the root of your troubles. This is what is wrong with society to-day. This is why you suffer poverty and insecurity and all the misery associated with poverty and insecurity. No reforms put forward by any political party touch this class ownership of the means of production; at best they only aim at easing some of the worst evils. Even in this they are generally unsuccessful as you know from your own experience. No sooner is one evil eased than another, maybe worse, appears in its place. While you remain dependent on the capitalists giving you a job, in order that you may live, reforms cannot relieve you of poverty and insecurity. The capitalists dare not give you unemployment pay on which you could live adequately because, if they did, many of you would prefer remaining unemployed and at peace rather than slaving at arduous jobs which return you little more. You will find this out once again when new unemployment schemes are put into operation.
Small shopkeepers and the like are inclined to believe that their interests are the same as those of the capitalists, but they are mistaken. In the main small traders are just glorified salesmen for large capitalist concerns and they generally work harder and for longer hours than the higher paid sections of the working class. They are dogged by the perpetual fear of ruin, so often realised, and if they lose in the struggle to keep going they have, for various reasons, a poorer prospect of getting a job than the average worker.
When you organise into Trade Unions you do so to fight for better wages and better working conditions. This is good as far as it goes because you are trying to resist the pressure of capitalism upon you, but in the long run you can do little while the capitalists remain the owners of the means of production. Even when you strike they have vast resources that can outlast your meagre resources, as strikes of the past have shown. But why content yourselves with fighting the capitalists for higher wages? Why not abolish the wage system altogether?
Well, we have pointed out to you what your position is now and if you will give it a little thought you will find that we have done so accurately. What we have stated are the facts of your position as a member of the working class. Can you get out of this position? Yes, you can.
To-day you do all the work of society yourselves. The capitalist does nothing except draw his dividends. He tells you that you cannot get on without him because, according to him, nothing can be done without money and he has the money with which to pay your wages. But money does not make anything and people have made things where money was unknown. Even your ordinary history books tell you about people who made the things they needed without having to use money. It is only because goods are bought and sold that money is needed. If buying and selling were abolished money would lose its function. If you distributed to your, selves the goods you produce you would not need wages.
Just as you produce and distribute goods now at the behest of the capitalist, in return for wages, which only enable you to buy a portion of them back, you could distribute them freely to the whole of the Community, including yourselves, to-morrow, without the need for wages. If all the people who make up society take over the means of production and distribution and own them in common, the work of production would still go on. But instead of an idle class taking for their own enjoyment a large portion of the wealth produced, they would take part in the production of it, and it would be distributed according to the needs of each member of the Community. That is Socialism.
There are people who will tell you there will not be enough wealth to go round. The answer to that is simple. For six years of war workers on the whole have lived no worse than in peace times and the capitalists have lived well, they have had plenty of wine to drink and plenty of money to spare for other luxuries. Yet huge armies, navies and air forces have been fed, clothed and housed; an enormous amount of labour has been wasted on armaments of all kinds; and hosts of officials have been kept on jobs that have no influence on wealth production. If all these people were engaged in useful occupation under a system of production for use only and not for profit there would be far more than enough to fulfil the requirements of the whole population, and no one would go hungry, poorly clothed, or badly housed.
Nothing short of socialism can alter your condition of life for the better.
Not only does capitalism doom you to a life of poverty and insecurity but it also causes wars, like the one you have just passed through with all its suffering and horror.
As long as goods are privately produced for sale at a profit, markets have to be found in which to sell them. The fight for markets helps to cause war. Capitalists with money invested in armaments stir up trouble to help sell their engines of war. This also helps to cause war. Sections of the capitalists struggle with each other for sources of supply of raw materials, like oil, and for Trade Routes. You are already witnessing this struggle commencing over air lines and shipping. These struggles help to cause war. In fact it is the profit seeking nature of capitalism that is the sole cause of Modern Wars. Let us hear Mr. Thorneycroft on the subject m the article from which we have already quoted.
This is what he says:
“Security against want is in the long run less important than security against war. No man could lay his hand upon his heart and swear that he could give the latter.
“Let us tell the British people bluntly that if they want security in any form they must remain a nation in arms. Whether the United Nations succeed or fail in establishing an international organisation, arms are needed. Our foreign commitments must be balanced with our military power.”
There you have the admission of a prominent member of the Tory Party that the same old source of military conflict will remain, in spite of all the soothing promises about the end of all wars. And he is quite right. As long as capitalism exists war is always on the horizon. The only way to abolish war is to abolish its cause—capitalism.
If you will give the facts we have put before you careful consideration you must agree with us that Socialism is the only solution to your problems. We Socialists are neither dreamers nor good natured idealists. We are working men and women like you are. We are faced with the same Problems as you are; our interests are the same as yours. We have found the only solution to our troubles and we want you to join us in helping to overthrow capitalism and establish Socialism.
How can this be accomplished? Here is the answer. Society is controlled through Parliament. Parliament makes and administers the laws. It does so at present on behalf of the capitalist. That is to say laws are made and administered on the basis of the private ownership of the means of production. The laws are made to protect this private ownership. But you and your fellow workers are the people who have voted the nominees of the capitalists, and others who support the continuation of the wages system, into power at each election. Therefore if you want to abolish capitalism you must vote into Parliament delegates whose sole business will be to abolish capitalism and introduce socialism. This they can do as soon as a majority of workers like yourselves become convinced that Socialism is the only remedy for social ills and vote a majority to Parliament to introduce it
In this election you in North Paddington will have an opportunity for the first time of putting into Parliament a delegate for the purpose of helping on the work of establishing Socialism. The Socialist Party of Great Britain are putting me forward as a candidate with this object and your vote will show how far you have progressed in understanding your position as wage slaves tied to the wheel of capital.
The position we have outlined above we have been propagating for many years, but like you we belong to the working class and consequently we are poor. Our poverty has limited the amount of propaganda we could do. Our Literature will show you how steadfastly we have adhered to the same position since we first formed our party. Our Funds come out of our own pockets and those of our sympathisers. We have not, and we do not want, any rich benefactors, who might try to influence our policy. Our party is ours and it can also be yours. Now at last we have gathered sufficient funds to begin the attack on the foundations of capitalism through Parliament and it rests with you how soon we will be successful.
Remember we are not going to do anything for you, and no “leader” can get you out of wage slavery. It is you who must do the job yourselves. It is the working class itself that must take charge of its own destiny and Build a new society worth living in.
Do you want to live under a free social system, owning your own means of production and using them for the equal benefit of all, or are you content to remain a human beast of burden, fettered to the insecurity of life as a wage worker?
The choice is before you and your vote will register it.
Clifford Groves is the officially appointed representative of the Socialist Party of Great Britain.
Here are some facts about the Socialist Party of Great Britain
The S.P.G.B. is an entirely independent party.
The Socialist Party of Great Britain is an organization which was formed in 1904 because of dissatisfaction with existing organizations. It is an entirely independent organization, and only by recognizing this fact, and appreciating the reasons for it, will the party’s case be understood. The S.P.G.B. is not affiliated to, or associated with, the Labour Party or any other organization in this country. Its only association is with identical parties in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the U.S.A.
It follows therefore that the S.P.G.B is not in any way responsible for the actions or policies of the Labour Party or any other party in this country.
The reason for this principle of independence is that the S.P.G.B. takes a fundamentally different view of economic and political questions from that taken by various parties in this country which claim to be interested in Socialism. In our view the Labour Party and other organizations are not following a path which will lead to Socialism.