50 Years Ago: Lloyd George’s Budget

Judging by the noise made about the land-tax clauses in the Finance Bill, one might think that something vital were at stake, yet it is all nothing more than a squabble between sections of the capitalist class as to what share each shall bear of the cost of their class government. It has long been the policy of one section in these semi-comic scuffles, to squeal “Revolution!”, “Socialism!”, “Confiscation!”, when called upon to pay its share by the majority for the time being; but only the ignorant are duped by it. We are also becoming accustomed to finding the Labour Party, the tail of the Liberal cur, out-doing the regular representatives of the Masters in spreading confusion among the workers. And now because there is a pretence of taxing unearned increment on land values for the support of capitalism, these “Labour” members hail it as Socialistic. They ignore the fact that all taxation imposed by capitalists on themselves is a taxation of unearned increment. The Masters have already squeezed the workers dry in the factory, so to pay for their new Dreadnoughts the propertied class have, perforce, to tax themselves. That, indeed, is all the budget amounts to; and in what, pray, is it Socialistic? . . .


Yet Mr. Victor Grayson said (according to the Daily Telegraph of June 23rd) that the Finance Bill contains “a good chunk” of his personal principles. Mr J. Ramsay MacDonald stated that if need be he would go into the lobby to support the Chancellor of the Exchequer. And Mr. Keir Hardie, consistent with his denial of the class struggle, said, “Labour men and Socialists would be cowards if they did not tell Mr. Lloyd George that they stood solidly behind him”


From the Socialist Standard, July 1909.