50 Years Ago: T.U.C. Resolutions

The resolutions passed by the Congress consisted in the main of the usual appeals to the Capitalists to make a few concessions to their ever humble and obedient servants, the “organised workers” of the Kingdom, and their petitioners will ever pray. Of course they will, just as the petitioned will refuse to answer the prayer until they have become convinced that their class interests demand, that concessions, for what little they are worth, shall be, and can safely be, made.

There was the resolution concerning fiscal policy, in which it was declared that “any departure from the principles of Free Trade would be detrimental to the interests of the working-classes . . . and injurious to the prosperity of the national as a whole.”

This was ultimately carried by 1,253,000 votes to 26,000 and alleged Socialists, prominent members of organisations claiming to be Socialist, spoke and voted for it, despite the manifestoes issued by their organisations in which it has been rightly pointed out that under Capitalism the working-class must be plundered by either Free Trade Crows or Protectionist Kites. For those claiming intimate and first-hand acquaintanceship with the condition of the people, to talk of the “prosperity of the people” is bad enough, but what can be thought of those claiming to be out for independent and anti-Capitalist political action deliberately playing into the hands of the Liberals as they did. If the maintenance of Free Trade is of such vital importance to the working-class, then it is of vital importance that those who are in favour of altering our Fiscal System should be kept out of the House of Commons, and that those who are against “any departure from the principles of Free Trade” should be put in. The Trade Unionists are therefore bound, in honour, to support Free Traders, i.e.—the Liberals—as against Tariff Reformers— the Conservatives. No wonder the Liberal Press was-so jubilant at the voting.

From the October 1905 issue of the Socialist Standard.