50 Years Ago: Fifty Years Mark-Time

Mr. Francis Williams, one-time Editor of the Daily Herald, has written a history of the Labour Party. “Fifty Years’ March, The Rise of the Labour Party”, published by Odhams Press, Ltd. We suspect that Mr. Williams wrote with a distemper brush. He has certainly given the Labour Party an unblemished white-washing. The main theme of this history is summed up by Mr. Attlee in the foreword to the book. He says:-

“It is a story very characteristic of Britain, showing the triumph of reasonableness and practicability over doctrinaire impossibilism.”

(. . .) One thing the author does make clear, although possibly without intending to do so. That is, that the founders of the Labour Party wanted to build a Political Party with a substantial numerical strength and they were quite prepared to sacrifice their respective “Socialist” principles at the altar of a large membership. He tells that most of the prominent early workers in the Labour Party were far-seeing enough to build an organisation with numerical and financial strength and a firm foundation of mass support. He proceeds to show us throughout the pages of the book, how the so called Socialists of the Labour Party have had to compromise, twist, wriggle, turn, betray and mis-lead the non-Socialist mass support in order to hold it together. And after studying that sort of thing for years, seeing the struggle between the mass support and the leadership, the desertions, the betrayals, the collapses, and the failure to prevent the evils of capitalism, Mr. Williams still thinks that the Labour Party is a Socialist Party. He still has not learned that the strength of a working-class Party lies not just in its numbers but in its understanding of its objective and its determination to achieve it.

(From an article by W. Waters, Socialist Standard, February 1950)

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