News in Review: Rhodesian colour bar
The business interests of the Rhodesian Federation are making slow but steady progress in their attempt to build up a system free from colour bars, and from the inconveniences these cause in trade and industry. In the Northern Rhodesian copper mines, for example, the owners have long wanted to be able to call on the great reserve of local African labour for all the jobs in the mines, instead of having many of them reserved for Europeans. The resistance of the white miners to these proposals led to a long strike by the Europeans in 1958. But after a year’s negotiation between the European miners’ union and six of the mining companies, the latter have at last persuaded the whites to allow at least all the unskilled jobs to be done by Africans. It is significant that the African mineworkers’ union, although it gave a modified welcome to the agreement, took no part in the discussions: it was the owners who argued the case against the colour bar.
Monckton and Tredgold
In the political field, the. industrial interests are also forging ahead in their struggle with the planters’ government under Sir Roy Welensky and Sir Edgar Whitehead. The recent Monckton commission recommended that secession from the Federation should be permitted, even though Welensky only allowed the commission into Rhodesia on Macmillan’s promise that they would not be allowed to judge on the question of secession. But clearly the capitalists of Rhodesia feel that they could count on more co-operation from African governments in Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia than from the present settlers’ government which controls the whole Federation. As they feel their position crumbling, the planters try to bolster their control of the government. Sir Edgar Whitehead has brought in a Law and Order Bill to give himself sweeping powers “to maintain order” (i.e., to silence any opposition which gets out of hand). This has led to the resignation of Sir Robert Tredgold, the Chief Justice of the Federation, in protest. He is to lead a new movement to get rid of Sir Edgar Whitehead. All of which emphasizes the fact that those who support capitalism in Rhodesia are more and more turning on the pressure to over throw the former ruling class, the planters.
When one considers the issues involved in the recent Labour Party controversy one can only wonder just what all the fuss was about. We were told that if Mr. Gaitskell continues as leader of the Labour Party it may mean the disintegration of that party. Mr. Wilson on the other hand was said to have been of a more conciliatory nature and because of this was more likely to have kept the party united. We are not concerned here with the personalities of the individuals involved except to point out that on the question of what started the controversy, namely, conference decisions on Defence, they differed only in their respective views on how best to maintain some appearance of solidarity in the labour movement. It had been said that should the issue have been settled either way it could possibly have meant the end of the Labour Party “as an effective opposition.” Socialists would have had no such illusions. Since the Labour Party’s inception the S.P.G.B. have been pointing out that the Party in question is not so much a party of opposition as an alternative government, having an occasional term of office in an endeavour to solve the same inevitable capitalist problems which the outgoing party have failed to solve. Socialists would be the last to shed any tears should the present controversy bring about the disintegration of the Labour Party.
Unhappy days seem to be here again in the car industry, as heavy redundancies develop in France, Germany and Great Britain. The Canadians have a similar problem and have responded by persuading their government to impose stricter conditions of dumping duty on car imports.
Unemployment is an old working class problem; it is especially ironical that it should reappear in an industry whose product has been the sacred symbol of post-war “prosperity.”
Capitalism, with or without full employment, is a system in which cars, like other commodities, are made only if they can be sold. This—not the policies of parsimonious governments or perfidious car companies—is the root of the troubles in the car industry.
Many workers, with a hire-purchase heap shrouded in balloon fabric at the kerbside, thought that what they called prosperity would last for ever. For these, the redundancies must come as a shock.
Sadly, there is no reason to suppose that unemployed workers are more receptive to the lessons of capitalist society than those who are working. Boom or slump, capitalism is an insecure system and must remain so.
The News Chronicle stuck to what it chose to call its liberal principles like a prim old Auntie watching her hemline. Whatever sordid facts capitalism produced for it to comment upon, the Chronicle’s attitude was always impeccably virtuous.
An innocent could have been forgiven for believing that the newspaper existed only to expound lofty morality.
But the end of the News Chronicle and The Star had nothing to do with principles. Simply, they sold out because they could not balance their accounts: their revenue from sales, advertising and so on did not cover their costs of wages, materials and the like.
The people who sink money into newspapers like to receive a return on their investment, which means that the Chronicle, like any other commodity, was produced for profitable sale. They stopped producing the paper when it became obvious that it had little hope of ever making a profit.
This is the sort of event about which the high-minded Chronicle often had sad and stern words to say. It is ironical that it should have fallen foul of the same commercial necessities of capitalist society.