50 Years Ago: Unemployment and the General Election

It has been agreed by the Conservatives, the Liberals and the Labour Party that the main question on which the election is to be fought is unemployment and the possibility of finding a cure for it.

Mr Baldwin in a speech at Bristol on April 25th was content to point out that even if some 10 per cent of the workers are unemployed there is great comfort to be derived from the knowledge that the other 90 per cent are working and “are enjoying a higher standard of life than has ever been enjoyed before.” He also expressed a modest hope that given freedom from social “hurricanes and cataclysms” unemployment will be “reduced to normal by a natural process in three or four years”.

The Liberals, knowing full well that they are not in the least likely to receive a majority of seats in the new House of Commons, are fighting on Mr Lloyd George’s schemes for providing work for the unemployed.

The Labour Party have pointed out that neither in principle nor in details, is there anything new in Mr Lloyd George’s schemes. The Labour Party, with a much better prospect of securing a majority than the Liberals, are equally confident that their development schemes, coupled with nationalisation of various industries and transport services will secure even more than a mere reduction to normal. They will not be content with anything far short of total abolition.

What all three parties and their advisers on economic questions persistently ignore is that the “natural process” referred to by Mr Baldwin operates not in the direction of reducing unemployment; but in the reverse direction.

(From an unsigned article “The parties and the Election”, Socialist Standard May 1929)

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