From the November 1974 issue of the Socialist Standard
THE GREAT SHAM FIGHT AT THE POLLS
The election, in spite of its heat, was a sham fight, not in the sense that any of the party machines was worked at less than full pressure, but in the sense that there was no issue in dispute worth fighting about. The Conservatives said it was a fight against Socialism, but they left Socialism alone and concentrated their energies on mudslinging and appeals to the most brutal and ignorant prejudices. The Liberals had no time to spare from their task of preventing a stampede among their own sheep. They raised the dear-bread cry to hedge the right wing off from the Conservatives, and the Bolshevik bogey to hold in the Liberal left wing. The result was heavy losses in both directions. The Labour Party was only too willing to take up every trivial challenge its opponents chose to throw down, and avoid not only the question of Socialism, but also what it says are its own principles . . . Socialism itself, even if the word may have crept in now and again to satisfy the left-wingers, was not treated as practical politics.
How often are we told by ‘Socialists’ who join the Labour Party of the magnificent opportunities they will have of carrying on Socialist propaganda. Usually their ‘Socialist propaganda’ consists in helping some place-hunter into the House of Commons by defending a sickening mixture of the platitudes of degenerate Christianity and the exploded nostrums of the trashy Liberal economists of the late nineteenth century, which is all the typical Labour election address contains.
The Communists made themselves ridiculous, as usual. Communists at Deptford were delirious with joy because Bowerman, supporter of a Bill to make Communist propaganda illegal, was returned again. If they received orders from Moscow to do so they would hang themselves.
Only when the workers become Socialists will the great sham fights at the polls give place to a real political struggle between capital and the working class.
From an editorial in the SOCIALIST STANDARD, November 1924. This was the election that ended the first Labour Government in Britain.