The Enemy on the Left Column from the February 1973 issue of the Socialist Standard
A regular column dealing with the antics of those who call themselves socialist but in practice do nothing but harm to the cause.
The antics (no other word will do) of the pseudo-socialists of the world — needless to say they are by no means confined to this country — fill just about half the acreage of every day's papers, so it is difficult to pick one or two items out of the available abundance for discussion in this column. If one sees something particularly gruesome from, say, Foot or Wilson or Nyerere (they are all socialists now, of course, even the grotesque Amin) one knows that tomorrow's press will produce something even more heinous. However, it should be instructive if this month we look at an item from one of the best-known left-wing papers in this country.
Tribune has of course been associated since its foundation with all the best Labour lefties from Nye Bevan (late, but I fear, unlamented) through his successor at Ebbw Vale, Foot, along with Atkinson, Allaun, Heffer and the rest of the menagerie. A few weeks ago they ran a piece getting all hot under the collar about a remark made by Reg Prentice who is on Wilson's front bench and is in fact his Minister for Unemployment designate. It seems that this pseudo had the impudence to say that a figure of 400,000 unemployed was "acceptable" and the Tribune pseudos were quite ready to tear him to pieces over it. First let us just have a think about the statement itself (which was not repudiated by Wilson or any other front-bencher to my knowledge). If one includes dependents, it means that about a million members of the British working class must find it acceptable to be members of the non-working class (I know they would find it acceptable if they were made members of the real non-working class, the capitalists, but I don't think that's what Prentice meant.) It appears, therefore, that the Labour leadership find the fate of a million people living on doles and social security in our so-called affluent society to be acceptable. How jolly of them. Whether it is acceptable to the million poor devils themselves, or whether anyone but a lunatic should support a party which finds this sort of thing acceptable, well, you don't really expect Labour politicians to lose sleep over that as long as they're all right Jack.
But the Tribune types are different? You could have fooled me. The Foots and the rest were all there at Westminster keeping their Labour government in power a few years ago when the unemployed figure was not 400,000 but 600,000. Acceptable or otherwise, Tribune MPs had to accept it, didn't they? And of course there was only one reason why the figure did not rise to a million (i.e. at least two million people suffering from the pernicious disease of capitalism) while Labour was in power. And that was that in 1970 the electorate threw them out, so that the honour of achieving the million was won by the Tories. It has long been clear to all but the wilfully blind that capitalism will produce its ups and downs in unemployment along with the other evils which afflict society, irrespective of whether the capitalist managers call themselves Tories or Labour (or, god help us, socialist). And it is just another of the crimes of the lefties that they hypocritically deride the Tory government for doing exactly the same sort of things which their own party did before them.
L. E. Weidberg