50 Years Ago: Mr. Cousins Damp Squib
The Labour Party is in a turmoil—and the General Election is near. Mr. Cousins of the Transport and General Workers Union has thrown a spanner into the works. He has been making quite a stir in the news by his opposition to the official attitude of the Labour Party on the H-Bomb and nationalisation.
Mr. Bevan has now become quite respectable as an official spokesman. Mr. Cousins has replaced him as the Labour Party rebel—the ” leftist.” It is only farce that is played out every now and then with only a change in the personnel. Is there really any fundamental difference between Mr. Cousins and the leaders of the Labour Party?
He objects to the H-Bomb but supports the Labour Party, which is pledged to a defence programme. Millions were killed in the last war without the H-Bomb being used, but he does not support the only policy that will end war. He believes Mr, Gaitskell is sincere but that his policy on the H-Bomb will not be effective.
At the Transport and General Workers Conference in the Isle of Man Mr. Cousins dropped his bombshell. He is also reported as follows: “I have never believed that the most important thing in our lives is to elect a Labour Government. The most important thing is to elect a Labour Government that is determined to carry out Socialist policies.” (Daily Express, 10th July, 1959.)
Now what does he mean by ” to carry out Socialist policies “? To him it means nationalisation—state capitalism. He objects to the official line on nationalisation— buying shares instead of the state taking over the industries. But to him, just as to them, state ownership is equivalent to Socialism. In other words, in spite of the long experience of state capitalism, he blindly accepts it as the fundamental aim, despite the disillusion and unrest in state owned or state controlled concerns and the labour struggles in them for better conditions.
Thus what Mr. Cousins is after will leave the workers just as they are, the wage slave victims of capitalist conditions and subject to the threat of terrible wars, with or without the H-Bomb.
(from front page article by Gilmac, Socialist Standard, August 1959)