Robert Tressell

Dear Editors,

I was interested in the article “Tressell and the Ragged Trousered”, in the December issue. I have a copy of the 1914 version of Tressell’s book, with a Preface by Jessie Pope, in which she writes:

“With grim humour and pitiless realism the working man has revealed the lives of his mates, their opinions of their betters, their political views, their attitude towards socialism . . . “In reducing a large mass of manuscript to the limitations of book form it has been my task to cut away superfluous matter and repetition only. The rest practically remains as it came from the pen of Robert Tressell, house-painter and sign-writer, who recorded the criticism of the present scheme of things, until, weary of the struggle, he slipped out of it.”

My copy of the book, which has his signature, Frank Newell, written on it, was given to my father by Nellie Payne-Price, a secret supporter of the British Communist Party who was, in fact, a capitalist and court milliner in Sloane Street, Chelsea. Interestingly, she together with my own mother, who was first an employee and later a partner, made hats for the wife of Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, and members of the British and German royal families. They would have been horrified had they known, that their milliner had supported a Bolshevik coup, the Communist Party – and had a copy of Tressell’s book!

Peter E Newell, Colchester, Essex

State capitalism for Denmark

Dear Editors,

Internationale Socialister – the Danish sister party of the SWP – say they stand for socialism. Like their big sister, they are notoriously coy about saying what Socialism means to them. Every now and then we get a little glimpse.

The December 2003 issue of Socialistisk Arbejderavis was a case in point. It had an article about (Danish Multinational) A. P. Møller’s oil interestsin the North Sea. According to the paper, the oil should belong to Danish workers. Thus, the fields and machinery should be nationalised in order that: Denmark becomes self-sufficient; to provide cheap energy for Danish workers; and that any excess oil be sold.

The IS scribe calls this good economics and mentions capitalism puts profit before needs, whereas nationalised oil would be used to provide cheap energy in the interests of the majority.

This is, of course, a formula for State Capitalism. No wonder they keep quiet about Socialism!”

Graham Taylor, Brabrand, Denmark.

Leave a Reply