2010s >> 1909 >> no-63-november-1909
Waste Paper and Old Tins
“Capitalism, with all its attendant evils of poverty and distress, is doomed. The dawn of the Cooperative Commonwealth is even now at hand: be it yours to vote and work to hasten the noontide of the happier day it promises for us all. . . . I have, as you know; always stood as a Socialist, in favour of a definite programme and policy on Socialist lines, because I am convinced that by the realisation of Socialism alone can the many injustices and inequalities of social and industrial life be redressed.”
The above is culled from the election address of Mr. Dan Irving, issued this November to the electors of Burnley. It is the theoretical, the word-stuff specifically coined to catch flats. Now for the real—and the anti-climax.
The “Burnley Express” of October 9th contained a report of a Council meeting, the star turns “Socialist” councillors Irving and Lees being present. A question of vital importance to the worker was under discussion, not one of your puny palliatives, but a knotty administrative, collective ownership, municipal enterprise problem. “To institute a system of collecting waste paper and cardboard, apart from other refuse, from tradesmen; and also to recommend the purchase of a tin-crushing machine” (to smash with lightning celerity dilapidated salmon tins). Harry Lees mentioned paper collecting systems at Bury and said that this method kept the streets tidy and the tips sightly; and the tin-crushing machine took up very little room and would cost but £100. and the saleable value of the tins would be increased four or fivefold. Liberal councillor Race suggested that the tins might after all be crushed by the steam roller, but ridiculous! responded Lees, who pointed out that Nelson (which boasts a Labour council and mayor) made a profit of £25 a year by tin crushing. Dan Irving submitted that if they collected waste paper from shops less would get into the streets. But by a vote of 18 to 8 it was decided that a tin-crushing machine was not required, and another example of municipal “Socialism” was ruthlessly crushed in the bud. £25 profit in a year! Could it not have been used to lower the rates, or to cover the expenses of a deputation to Guernsey to investigate the market building scheme?
And this is what the Social Democratic movement in Burnley has culminated in. Men and women who have been in the thick of the fight, who have been victimised by ruthless employers and compelled to seek fresh fields and pastures new, or have given gratuitously time and energy to street corner agitation and converse with their mates in the workshop, those who have canvassed and paid and worked and borne obloquy—all receive their reward in such laughable and petty administration. Those who have worked and remain S.D.Pers, those who have worked and ratted, those who have worked and tired.—we ask one and all, is this what you have worked for? If not, come outside and join the only Socialist organisation in Great Britain.
John A. Dawson