Editorial from the July 1936 issue of the Socialist Standard
Those who measure events by the amount of space devoted to them in the daily newspapers will have supposed that the tribunal on the giving away of Budget secrets was of supreme importance. Day by day, spread over whole pages, were reports of how our industrious propertied class gamble on horses, and speculate on stocks, shares and commodity prices, to the tune of thousands of pounds, without anybody objecting. It is not for these luxurious parasites, but for the workers that the ruling class institute organisations with highly paid staffs preaching thrift, economy and sobriety. The Budget enquiry tribunal was not concerned with speculation itself, but with the complaint that Budget secrets, contrary to the law, were communicated to speculators so that they could profit by having information about income tax and tea duties before it was published.
We say that the whole affair did not matter one jot to nine-tenths of the population. They had no interest at stake, and would not be affected, directly or indirectly in any way at all. Not that it was of no importance to anyone, but that the only people affected were the ruling class, not the ruled. Any kind of organisation has to keep within bounds the extent to which an individual may be allowed to exploit his position for his own ends.
The S.P. G.B. provides no career for any individual, but some organisations, the capitalist political parties, for example, normally allow their political leaders to use the party machine as a means of carving out a career full of honours and wealth. Yet even they could not tolerate such an attitude beyond more or less clearly understood limits. Much more then must this be true of the Government, the executive committee of the ruling class. The Cabinet, representing the outlook of the capitalist majority in Parliament is the servant of a minority of the population, the minority which owns and controls die resources of the country to the exclusion of the mass of the population. This state of affairs will continue until the workers cease sending defenders of capitalism to Parliament.
The Government then represents the collective interests of the capitalist class. The principal part of its task is to keep the propertyless working class from challenging the position of the exploiting class. The workers must, in other words, be fobbed off with promises, bemused with fine-sounding, but empty, phrases, bought off with petty concessions, and—if everything else fails— beaten down by force in the name of the law. What, then, is the first qualification of the politician who wants to be useful to the ruling class? Obviously it is that he shall have the confidence of the workers or at least of a large number of them. He must be popular. Only so can he misdirect the sheep on behalf of the wolves, who are his paymasters. Like the quack doctor, he must have patter. He must speak the language of the factory and market-place. He must be able to dress up his capitalist nostrums in phraseology which makes them look like the real thing for the workers. That is why the ruling class all over the world has seen the necessity for employing ex-Labour leaders and others reputed (though falsely) to have been Socialists.
As with the man so with the institution. The politician and the Cabinet must be trusted and respected. No breath of suspicion of personal self-seeking must be allowed to blow on them. In order to serve most effectively as cover for the brutal methods of factory exploitation and the tortuous ways of finance, the political institutions must stand forth as beacons of purity and unselfishness.
That is all there is to it. The affair was of concern to the ruling class, and to them alone.