Sir Stafford Cripps has made clear his policy of bringing together political parties and individuals on the basis of a limited programme of reforms and the defence of democracy, but what will happen now that the Labour Party Executive have expelled him and are threatening his supporters in their ranks is not easy to decide. The News Chronicle, which backs Cripps, claims that he is receiving a big volume of support inside and outside the Labour Party and trade unions. The Daily Herald, which opposes him as a disruptionist, stresses the solid block of opposition from the ranks of most of the big unions. He has made one thing clear, his opposition to the formation of a new party. Speaking at Birmingham on February 10th (News Chronicle, February 11th), he is reported to have said that he had received thousands of letters urging him to start a rival organisation, but, in his view, “that would be the most tragic folly.”
It certainly would be a strange way of securing unity to divide the Labour Party just before a general election. Whatever Sir Stafford Cripps’ present intentions are, he may find himself pushed or persuaded into forming a rival party if the Labour Executive succeed in getting a conference vote against his policy.
In view of his skill in Parliament, and his personal popularity in East Bristol, it certainly seems that he can safely depend upon holding his seat there against the Labour Party Headquarters if they put up a rival Labour candidate. In many respects, Sir Stafford Cripps resembles another onetime leader of revolt against the Labour Party Headquarters and the trade union executives—Mr. James Maxton. Mr. Maxton has equal popularity in his own constituency and equal skill as a Parliamentary and platform orator. Maxton, too, tried to combine the leadership of revolts with a determination not to split the ranks of the Labour Party. He found himself in due course outside the Labour Party and fighting against it in the constituencies. But after several years in the “political wilderness,” faced with declining popularity and membership, Mr. Maxton and his remnant of the I.L.P. are now on their way back into the fold. Every new experience of this kind confirms the soundness of the attitude of the S.P.G.B. in recognising that there are no short cuts, no advance to Socialism without Socialists.