Saturday, August 5, 2017

Blood in the Mud (1958)

Film Review from the December 1958 issue of the Socialist Standard

I don't like war films. But a Socialist will find much to interest them in "Blitzkrieg," even though it is the latest propaganda effort from Germany.

This film does not tell you anything about why the war arose. Nor does it ask how war can be avoided. But it gives, nevertheless, a devastating picture of what real war is like.

Propaganda films are interesting for one who does not take them at their face value, but recognises them as such. These pictures are made with the intention of making us think, and feel along certain lines. Knowing this beforehand, we can study the methods used by those who hope to influence us.

The makers of “Blitzkrieg” are “good German”a patriots. And, though they have used real news films from all countries in its production, their commentary (in English) is an alibi for their actions and for their defeat: Why did we Germans lose the war? Because of the mud and unending snow which trapped our tanks in the steppes of Russia: because the distances we had to cover were too vast; because of American superiority in production: because our allies—the Italian, the Hungarian and Rumanian troops—fought badly on the Eastern front; because Hitler was a very bad general, and a fanatic, whose strategy was disastrous: because he interfered constantly with the experts of the High Command: and because the Reds outnumbered our soldiers ten to one.

But—as we are incessantly reminded throughout the film—the brave German army and its heroic soldiers were never really defeated. They proved their worth . . . One German soldier is worth several Russians or Italians . . . one can almost hear the commentators say “ Wait till next time; when we try again—with the lessons in snow warfare which we have learnt at such a cost, and with the armed might of Britain and America behind us instead of against us—we shall beat the Russians.”

What caused the war? What were the interests at stake that persuaded the British and German ruling classes to spend so much money fighting each other?

For the Socialist the essential lies in what the film conveniently omits to tell us: How the German Capitalists, undoubtedly with the approval of a good many German people, exterminated millions of Russians, Jews, and Gypsies—and why; how they terrorised and tortured and murdered tens of thousands of German and other Communists, pacifists, and other opponents. It does not tell us of the huge numbers of patriotic men who returned from the war legless, armless, and worse; nor are we shown how the leaders of each country, Nazi and Labour Party leaders, Communists, Christians, Conservatives and Fascists enthusiastically urged the peoples of the world to butcher each other.

What we Socialists are opposed to are the implications that are behind these war films. They are an attempt to justify a past war in order to make a future once more acceptable and they do so by playing on the emotions of the filmgoer. The film is good. But the better it is the more dangerous it is to human well-being. War films are made to glorify war. The majority of those watching no doubt identify themselves with the hero, whether the hero be an individual or army. It is they who, in imagination, perform those deeds of valour, which stripped of their glory, are nothing but killing and terror. This picture is no exception to the rule, and is essentially similar in outlook to British and American war films.

War films reinforce thinking in terms of nationalism and the fake ideals for which fie various countries profess to fight. Films such as this help to prepare people for war, and educate them in its basic ideas: they justify the struggles of the ruling class and they present war as inevitable. And, when they shout “Égalité, Fraternité, Liberté! ” they mean “Infantry, Artillery and Cavalry."
H. L. R.

Seven Days for Socialism (1967)

Party News from the January 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard


The main meeting of the week was a “Four Party Forum” on Monday, 19th September at head office in Clapham. About forty people came along to hear H. Baldwin speak for the SPGB in opposition to a local Tory councillor and the National Chairman of the Young Liberals. The Labour party speaker failed to attend. Reports of this meeting appeared in several South London newspapers.

Outdoor meetings were held each night from Monday to Friday at Earls Court, these being supported in turn by West London, Greenford, South-West London and Paddington branches. A consistently good turn-out by members resulted in over 150 Socialist Standards being sold at these meetings.

In addition there were the normal weekly meetings held at East St., Walworth (Sunday), Lincoln’s Inn Fields (Monday), Tower Hill (Thursday) and Hyde Park (Sunday). In this same week SPGB speakers also addressed a number of youth political organisations, such as the Kingston and Malden Young Socialists and the Southend Young Liberals.


Glasgow branch started their campaign with a meeting at the McLellan Galleries on ‘The Challenge of Socialism’. About sixty people came along to hear the socialist case. On Tuesday, 20th September there was a literature drive in Ruchill ward and this was followed on the next day by a very successful indoor meeting at the Dixon Halls, Cathcart.

On top of this Glasgow members were busy bill-posting and distributing leaflets. Over the weekend period four outdoor meetings were held in Glasgow' and another two in Edinburgh. 120 Socialist Standard and Western Socialists were sold during the week.


Our comrades in Swansea were less successful. Despite advertisements in the local press, only ten people turned up to the indoor meeting they had organised. Nevertheless, our comrade Ambridge spoke on the subject of socialism to this small but interested audience.


The Belfast branch of the World Socialist Party of Ireland made its usual herculean efforts to get the most out of their campaign. Literature drives covered the Duncairn, Falls, Stranmillis and Ormeau districts of Belfast as well as Larne. A number of indoor meetings were held despite the attempts of religious bigots ("devout believers in capitalism", as one Belfast member put it) to wreck these. Unfortunately, it was impossible to organise any outdoor meetings because these are at present banned by the city authorities. However, the branch did prepare and distribute a special ‘Seven Days for Socialism’ leaflet.

In all a worthwhile effort and a useful limbering-up for the week of activities which is proposed for May, 1967.
Propaganda Committee

The Extent of Poverty (1967)

From the February 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

Let us get one or two ideas straight first of all. Poverty is a conditions from which all workers suffer to some extent or another. It is a basic factor of working class existence, whether you are comparatively high or low-paid. Take the word at its full meaning “want of means” and you will see that our claim is justified, for any person who has to depend on a wage or salary for a living must have a restricted access to the means of life, and can never broaden the access sufficiently to enable him to live without the need to work if he wishes. “If poverty is relative” said Professor Townsend recently, “standards are largely determined by the income, wealth, living standards and expectations of the rich.”

How right he was. Yet because of a mixture of ignorance, confusion and petty snobbery, this important fact has been overlooked. And matters have not been helped by the arrival of ‘social security’ schemes since the end of the second world war; to the popular mind, poverty has become synonymous with destitution. The Labour Party must take no small share of the blame for fostering such an attitude. Their policy statement Labour and the New Society, published in 1950, carried the claim, for example, that “Destitution has been abolished.”

Well let us see how such a statement stands up to examination in the capitalism of the sixties. The Board of Inland Revenue report for 1963-4 showed between six and seven million people with a yearly income, before tax, of less than £275. Another 4½ million received between £300 and £500, and ten million were in the £500-£l,000 range. At the other end of the scale, about ten thousand people enjoyed (there is no other word for it) a yearly income of £15,000 or more. In fact an appraisal of the Board’s figures made by The Economist (26.2.65), suggested that two thirds of Britain’s population had no wealth worth reckoning at all.

So much for the cold hard statistics after centuries of reform and a post-war national insurance scheme, the like of which we have never seen before in this country. Now what does it all mean in terms of human suffering and degradation? You can take your pick from a mass of material appearing in the national press over the past year or two, which seems to have touched on most aspects of the misery of being poor. Running like a thread through all these articles, incidentally, is an implied astonishment that such problems still exist. Only the Socialist does not share the astonishment. The Guardian (18.7.64) for example, spoke of ‘a surprising number' of schoolchildren in some areas needing free meals at school; it mentioned also an increasing demand for local authority handouts of free clothing and shoes. Taking the Don Valley area of Yorkshire as only one instance:
In 1958-59, 200 applications for clothing and shoes were granted; in 1963-64 the figure was 500. In 1961, 2,325 children were receiving free meals; in 1962 this figure rose to 2,500.
It has been found that many truancies from school have been because the children had no shoes to wear. Having grown out of their old ones, their parents were often too poor to buy them a new pair. This point was made in The Poor and The Poorest, a report published at the end of 1965 by Professors Townsend and Abel-Smith. They defined poverty as ‘less than 140 per cent of the basic National Assistance scale, plus housing and other costs' and on this basis, estimated the number of poor people at nearly seven millions —a rise of two per cent in the ten years ending 1960.

In a letter to The Guardian (22.11.66), Professor Townsend severely criticised government departments for the inadequacy of their surveys on the poverty problem, and mentioned specially the question of nutrition. He pointed out that in the lowest income group families (under £15 a week), there was a protein deficiency in their diets of ten per cent and a calcium deficiency of sixteen per cent. In down-to-earth terms, this means meals of baked beans and chips or bread and jam for your children, and virtually nothing for yourself, like the young mother mentioned by Jean Stead (Guardian, 2.2.66):
. . .  who is 28, looks as if she was once very pretty, but now she is worn and undernourished and her top teeth are missing. She lives on tea and cigarettes, like most mothers in poor families, and rarely has a proper meal. Cigarettes kill the appetite.
So we can begin to appreciate the all-pervasiveness of the poverty condition; there is not a single aspect of our lives it will not touch — and degrade — to some extent or another, depending on our particular position in the income scale. Food, clothing, housing, the bare necessities, and the amenities like holidays or a night at the cinema, nothing can escape. The whole quality of our life suffers.

There are those who have even let go of a once-tenuous hold on impoverished respectability and become ‘drifters’, homeless ones often sleeping rough, unable to compete in the struggle to make both ends meet. An official report published last November (which was criticised for being too low in its estimate) mentioned about 13,500 people who were without accommodation when they applied for National Assistance during a week at the beginning of December 1965. With a priggish disdain so typical of that paper, Guardian writer John Fairhall refers to them as ‘derelicts swilling about at the very bottom of the barrel.’

And having told us about the evil in no uncertain terms, what answer have the experts? The usual palliatives are offered and impertinently described as ‘fundamental’ by their authors; yet none of them could do other than keep the poor that way. For example: '. . .  more decent housing for low-wage families at rents they can afford’ (Abel-Smith, Weekend Telegraph, 25.11.66). The truth is that like so many of capitalism’s problems, this one is gigantic. Eighteen per cent of all households in the U.K. are said to be living below National Assistance levels, and such is the depth of their poverty, that it would cost about £500 millions a year just to relieve the effects on their children. In face of such terrifying facts, the “experts” have no answer.

As we said at the beginning, poverty goes hand in hand with wage slavery at whatever income level. True, not every worker suffers as much as those we have mentioned, but capitalism exerts a downward pressure on all of us and no government can do very much about it. Captured in the phraseology of Townsend (a long-standing Fabian and Labour supporter) the score reads something like this:
It will be one of the supreme paradoxes of history if social inequalities become wider instead of narrower, if poverty becomes more widespread, during the term of office of the present Labour Government. Yet the likelihood of this happening is far from remote.
Enough said.
Eddie Critichfield

The Passing Show: Continued . . . (1) (1967)

The Passing Show column from the March 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

Continued . . . (1)

Last month, we published an article on British capital in India, and mentioned the nice fat rake off which U.K. capitalists are getting from the exploitation of the Indian workers. We exposed the myth of foreign 'aid’, and pointed out that money spent in India by foreign or native capitalists was for the good old-fashioned purpose of realising a profit.

This is not the impression which governments try to foster, of course. To listen to the bleats of our statesmen, you could be forgiven for thinking that investments abroad are an act of gigantic generosity, aimed only at uplifting the native workers in a land starved of home-grown capital. But this does not explain why the Indian ruling class have done so nicely out of the transactions, and their workers have remained so desperately poor.

In fact, the Indian capitalist class, who have been talking for some time about massively increasing their share of the world export market (see this column October last), now look like taking a leaf out of their foreign competitor's books. They have begun to invest abroad —in Great Britain of all places. A report in The Sunday Times of January 22nd, informs us of an asbestos-cement products factory to be set up near Edinburgh by Birla Bros of Calcutta.
The plant and machinery, costing about £300,000, is being shipped from India. The factory will employ about sixty people, all of whom will be recruited locally.
It is described as the first major Indian investment project in Britain, and no doubt it will be followed by others, part of the development pattern of any capitalist class sooner or later, in its search for suitable fields of re-investment abroad. Possibly some of the profits from British investment in India could be used in the same way. Having been obtained in the first place from the exploitation of British workers, they then play their part in the same process in India and elsewhere, and the profits which subsequently accrue could find their way (at least in part) back to Britain, to continue the sordid business.

It's an ironic and sobering thought, and supports a contention we have always held; that capital exists to exploit the working class, not uplift them. The capitalist class of any country will not be particularly fussy about patriotism when it comes to grabbing a profit. They spend their money in any country so long as a profit is forthcoming.

Continued . . . (2)

It seems that hardly have we uttered some words when they are out of date, or at least need supplementing. In ‘Thoughts on Youth and Age’ (last month) we drew attention to the importance of the teenage market to the capitalist class, but we never gave a thought to that of the ‘pre-teens'. And now, The Observer colour supplement (5.2.67) has beaten us to it. “Big business . . .  has discovered that the little mites are big spenders”, says a report by Ruth Inglis.

In America, for example, the market is estimated at £360,000,000 a year. No comparable figure has been worked out for Britain, but all are agreed there’s quite a bit of pocket money to be mopped up there too. So our rulers are not over-squeamish about the ‘innocence’ of childhood, and all that rot. From books to Batman shirts, they will compete for the schoolkid’s half-crown, and where possible will try to bolster demand, perhaps by sophisticating tastes; one cosmetics firm is going to bring out a range of lipsticks for the girls.

Ruth Inglis expresses surprise that “business men in this country too, are starting to discover and exploit the pre-teen market.” But we do not share her astonishment, because you cannot expect capitalist society to work any differently. Everything gets defiled sooner or later. It’s just a matter of trying to guess where the next blow will fall. And just in case you got the impression from our February article that old people have been written off as a market, take a look at some of the adverts in The Pensioners' Voice sometime. They’re even after the few bob you get when you’re on the scrap-heap.


The Duke of Edinburgh’s image—no doubt cultivated assiduously by the publicity boys—is one of an ever-youthful, ever-witty man, ever-pertinent in what he says. It is an ever-irritating picture.

But in his role of glorified travelling salesman for the British capitalist class (‘merchant prince’ he recently called himself), he generally says what is required of him. He must be careful to push Britain’s interests while beaming good humour and making harmless ‘funnies’ on the side. Just occasionally, he might overstep the mark, such as he did two or three years ago when he told us all to ‘get our fingers out’ and work harder. But it passed off without any great fuss, and H.R.H. is still making speeches, probably as many as the Queen herself—or not far short of it anyway.

The Duke is a very useful speech- maker. the image of a modem ‘with it’ Royalty, and as we have said, faithfully echoing current British government thinking in his words. Like his effort on December 20th last at a dinner in Paris, held to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Association of France-Grande Bretagne. (Strange how these dignitaries like to lecture us from the banquet table; earlier he had been de Gaulle's guest at a luncheon in the Grand Trianon at Versailles). He pleaded that “we should have a strong faith in Europe, and confidence in each other, based on knowledge and understanding.” (Times 21.12.66.)

Now you can make what you like of that. Taken by itself it sounds like so much pious waffle, and doesn’t make any worthwhile difference to you and me anyway. But the British capitalist class are having another go at entering the European Common Market and the Duke’s words then fit into the general sounding out of their stubborn opponent. Hence also Prince Phillip’s later remarks:
 “Neither Britain nor any European country can stand alone in the world any more.”
More recently, there was what the newspapers liked to call that ‘hard hitting’ speech on February 9th, when he told five hundred leading British exporters how we are all in the soup together, and that all sections must co-operate to get out of it. There were other remarks, not particularly noteworthy for their originality, such as: “None of us has a monopoly of all the virtues, however much we like to think so.” Blowing his top, thought one paper, but again he said nothing more than what government spokesmen have been saying in one way or another for years.

Yes, a very faithful servant of the British ruling class, the Duke, and a man who takes an obvious interest in his job. Not surprising, though, is it? He’s about the only man in Britain whose interests are identical with those of his employers.
Eddie Critchfield

Greater London Council Elections: Socialism - One People, One World (1967)

Election Manifesto from the April 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

This manifesto is the basis of the election addresses of the Socialist Party candidates in Camden, Ealing, Haringey and Lambeth


In this election, many of you are probably hearing of the Socialist Party of Gt. Britain for the first time, and connecting us with the Labour Party or with state capitalist Russia. First of all, then, a few facts about us.

The Socialist Party was formed in 1904. We are completely independent of all other parties, except for our companion Socialist organisations abroad. We are, and always have been, opposed to the other parties, including the Labour Party and the so-called Communist Party. There is a very simple reason for this. They, whatever they say, stand for capitalism — where the means of living are the property of a privileged class. We, on the other, stand for Socialism — a world society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution, where wealth will be produced solely for use.


Firstly, the Socialist Party is a political party — we have an object which can only be achieved through political means. Political power is controlled, of course, through Parliament but local councils play an important part in applying many of the laws which are made in Parliament and they can make by-laws. Councils, in other words, are part of the machinery of political power which the working class must take over to establish Socialism.

Secondly, the social change from capitalism to Socialism can only be brought about by democratic means. The vote is not a mere scrap of paper. It can be the means to bring about this change when once a majority of the working class want it. For, until a majority want Socialism it is out of the question.


This manifesto is addressed to members of the working class — all those men and women who are forced to work for wages or salaries in order to live.

Everyone is familiar by now with what the other parties promise — a solution of the housing problem, more roads, more hospitals, better schooling. We also know the results of these promises.

The housing situation is as desperate as ever; slums are forming faster than new houses are being built, there are thousands of homeless families broken up in hostels and homes, many councils have closed their housing lists with thousands of families still unable even to get a place in the queue. One fact which no other party makes clear, however, is that housing is a problem which only affects the working class; it is part of their poverty. Rich people simply do not know what it is to plead for a home, nor to live in the inferior, poky boxes which are considered fit for most members of the working class.

The roads are becoming increasingly congested and the motor car continues to encroach upon our environment. There was once a plan — the Buchanan Report — which put forward some ideas about tackling this problem but its suggestions would have cost a lot of money — nearly as much as the government spends each year on armaments and the armed forces. But even this makeshift has been forgotten.

Hospitals are still inadequate, many of them in ancient buildings run by overworked staff. No wonder the waiting list is so long, with so little hope of it ever being broken down. Here again, the rich person does not have the same problem; money can easily buy prompt and expert medical attention, in a private ward and with privileged treatment.

It is a similar story with education. Working class children are taught enough for them to take their place in the factory or the office, at the drawing board or in the laboratory. They often get their schooling in out of date buildings in an overcrowded classroom under an overworked teacher. The children of the rich are educated in expensive schools where they are given every chance to develop their abilities.

The other parties fail to solve these problems, not through any lack of sincerity. They are pledged to support capitalism, which has its own system of priorities. Roads and schools and houses and hospitals may be very desirable but capitalism produces primarily for profit, which means that human interests come a long way down the queue.

Socialism will end this. It will be a world of common ownership where human interests take first place, where wealth is made for people to enjoy it. It will be a world where goods and services will be in a common pool from which everyone will be able to draw freely to satisfy their needs without the intervention of money or any other means of exchange. Socialism will end the poverty which degrades people today and which restricts the majority to live in insecurity. It will end the economic rivalries which cause modern war. It will be a world with one people co-operating to run a society fit for human beings to live in.


Many blame working class problems on the presence of immigrants. In fact, there was a shortage of housing, hospitals and so on before the immigrants came; these social problems have their roots in capitalist society and exist all over the world, whether a country loses people as emigrants or accepts them as immigrants. The pseudo-scientific nonsense which some parties use to support their racialist arguments have no evidence in their favour. Finally, racialism is an insidious trap for the working class; the problems of capitalism are international and can be solved only by all workers, whatever their colour, co-operating to abolish capitalism and to replace it with Socialism.


Socialism can be a reality if, and only if, you want it. The Socialist Party makes no promises; we do not offer ourselves as leaders; we do not claim to be able to do anything for you. Nor do we cadge for your vote. Let us be clear on this: Only when the working class understand what Socialism is, will capitalism be abolished. So vote for the Socialist candidates only if you understand and want Socialism.

GLC Elections 13 April 1967 (1967)

Election News from the April 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Socialist Party of Gt. Britain is planning to contest 14 seats in the coming GLC elections; the full numbers of candidates will be put forward in the following areas; Camden (3), Ealing (4), Haringey (3) and Lambeth (4).

At a much lower cost, this affords the Party an opportunity of putting its case before thousands of people. This requires money and effort. Please send all donations to E. Lake, 52 Clapham High Street SW4—marked ‘Election Fund.' Now, as regards the effort 80,000 envelopes have to be addressed to take our literature. Canvassing is always a vital part of our election campaigns. Meetings are being held and need support It is now up to members and sympathisers to make the venture successful.

The bulk of the work will be done by the branches in the areas concerned. These are Paddington and Bloomsbury (Camden); Greenford and West London (Ealing); Haringey (Haringey); and South West London (Lambeth). Those interested in further details can contact the secretaries of these branches.

Candidates: W. Buchanan; T. Giles; E. Grant.
Agent: C. May.
For information: WIL. 3437 (Evenings only).

Candidates: L. Cox; P. George; W. Rose; A. Waite.
Agent: M. Edwards.
For information: SOU. 8584 (Evenings only).

Candidates: A. Buick; J. Carter; M. Davies.
Agent: J. Vein.
For information: EDM. 1530 (Evenings only).

Candidates: H. Baldwin; J. Garnham; V. Phillips; M. Sansum.
Agent: J. Crump.
For information: MAC 3811

Election Meetings

Monday April 10th 8 pm 
Central Library, Swiss Cottage 
The Socialist Candidates will be pleased to answer your questions.

Monday April 10th 7 30 pm 
Ealing Town Hall

Monday April 3rd 8 p.m.
52 Clapham High Street, SW4 
Local Problems and Socialism (Housing, Education etc.)

Monday April 10th 8 pm 
Lambeth Town Hall 
The Socialist candidates will speak on Capitalism and Socialism

Wednesday April 12th 8 pm 
52 Clapham High Street, SW4 
Eve of Poll Meeting


London goes Tory (1967)

From the May 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Tories have won complete control of London government. Not only have they captured the Greater London Council by 82 seats to 18 but they will now also control the Inner London Education Authority. Labour lost 46 seats and has been reduced to only six boroughs in the East of London. No wonder the papers spoke of a massacre.

People are obviously fed up with Labour rule, with what Labour has had to do in running capitalism on the national level. Labour failed to honour its promises and, worse, took steps to cut living standards. At best the results show that there is a limit to the extent the working class will allow themselves to be pushed around by any government. Though it is sad to think that this takes the form of returning the Tories, the traditional party of social inequality and privilege.

For the record, let us set down some of the Tory promises. They say that they will, among other things
—improve road and traffic conditions,
—take realistic action to solve London’s housing problems.
—provide better educational opportunities for our children.
We can safely say that the Tories won’t be able to do these locally any more than Labour can nationally. To the sceptic we can only say: wait and see.

A notable feature of this election was that some three quarters of a million people were given the chance to show if they wanted Socialism. Only a few thousand indicated that they did and many of these, like the supporters of the other parties, seemed to have been confused by the long list of names without party labels on the ballot papers.

The results for the four boroughs in which the 14 Socialist Party of Gt. Britain candidates stood were:

HARINGEY (3 seats)
Rains (Con.) 35.073: Gilley (Con.) 34.635: Malynn (Con.) 34.437; Remington (Lab) 27,057; Vitoria (Lab) 26,599; Dimson (Lab) 25,878; Goode (Lib) 3.493; Lambton (Lib) 3.451; Parker (Lib) 3,100; Ramsay (CPGB) 2,820; Buick (SPGB) 1,277; Carter (SPGB) 1,191; Davies (SPGB) 1,067.

CAMDEN (3 seats)
Butterfield (Con.) 32,375; Townsend (Con.) 32,216. Mansel (Con.) 31,587; O’Connor (Lab) 28,504; Campbell (Lab) 27,923; Bondy (Lab) 27,284; Willett (Lib) 4,911; Bevan (Lib) 4,269; Cook (Lib) 4,187; Nicolson (CPGB) 2,133; Buchanan (SPGB) 907; Grant (SPGB) 419; Giles (SPGB) 411.

EALING (4 seats)
Fletcher (Con.) 53,539; Gaffney (Con.) 52,965: Grahm (Con.) 52,142; Leach (Con.) 51,912; Franks (Lab) 35,468; Anderson (Lab) 35,379; Higgins (Lab) 35,141; Palmer (Lab) 34,512; Garden (Lib) 5.201; Lewisohn (Lib) 4,937; Stewart-Deane (Lib) 4,753; Smith (Lib) 4,643; Bean (National Front) 2,164; Holbrook (National Front) 1,690; Kemp (National Front) 1,665; Downton (Union Movement) 1,290; Tank (CPGB) 1,274; Cox (SPGB) 1,250; George (SPGB) 1,107; Rose (SPGB) 611; Waite (SPGB) 441.

LAMBETH (4 seats)
Gumbel (Con.) 45,371; Livingstone (Con.) 45,140; Vaughan (Con.) 44,912; Pattie (Con.) 44,438; Humphrey (Lab) 32,332; Mishcon (Lab) 31,706; Melman (Lab) 31,220; Serota (Lab) 31.079; Dudley (Lib) 4,428; Hawthorne (Lib) 4,267; Monteath (Lib) 3.580: Wagman (Lib) 3 457; Hope (CPGB) 1,620; Garnham (SPGB) 1,362; Styles (CPGB) 1.361; Baldwin (SPGB) 1,202; Phillips (SPGB) 970; Sansum (SPGB) 806.

Obituary: Alex Shaw (1967)

Obituary from the June 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

The death occurred late last year of Alex Shaw, veteran member of Glasgow Branch. Alex joined the party over 40 years ago and was an active member for most of that time.

Alex was particularly active during the “Red” Clydeside era. and so much was he associated with the Party here in those days, that wags dubbed us the “Shawcialist Party. Indeed Alex Shaw was still speaking publicly up to the last, and Glasgow members heard him in excellent form only two days before his death.

The stories concerning Alex are legion and although well worth the telling there is not the space here. Suffice to say he was the most humorous speaker this writer ever heard.

We, in Glasgow, will always remember his contribution to Socialism and extend to his widow and family our deep sympathy.

Poverty (1967)

Pamphlet Review from the July 1967 issue of the Socialist Standard

Poverty, Socialism and Labour in Power by Peter Townsend (Fabian Society.)

This Fabian tract is based on a lecture given in November 1966 by Professor Peter Townsend of the University of Essex. It gives ample evidence of the existence of poverty—and worse—says absolutely nothing about Socialism and demonstrates the failure of Labour in power.

Reviewing a wide field—income distribution, retired persons, fatherless families, the sick, the unemployed—Townsend examines housing, education and nutrition. “Not only are the numbers of poor large,” he says, “they are almost certainly growing.”

In Townsend’s view, “By the late 1950’s the Labour Party had begun to develop a coherent strategy for dealing with poverty. Of the statements published . . .  before October 1964 the most radical was probably Signposts For the Sixties.” His proposals are similar to Labour’s: increased family allowances are “most urgent”; he wants general pensions and allowances for “the long term sick and those disabled in civil life”; regular state allowances for fatherless families; the end of the “wage stop” in supplementary benefits and earnings related unemployment and sickness schemes.

Leaving aside the matter of why the Labour Party has failed to solve the problem of destitution, let us ask the question; would the complete introduction of their programme—indeed of Professor Townsend’s — abolish poverty, abolish the economic and social problems of the working class? The answer is no.

Poverty is suffered by all workers, to a greater or lesser degree. Sometimes it comes as bad housing, malnutrition, inferior schools, inadequate clothing or as fear of what the future holds. These problems, which are unknown to members of the capitalist class, spring from the class division of society.

What has Townsend got to say about this? “Structure determines poverty” — without apparently recognising what that structure is. In 1936 (see The Distribution of National Capital — Daniels and Campion) five per cent of the population owned 80 per cent of the national capital; according to Townsend “Real income re-distribution does not seem to have markedly changed since before the war.” Since the cause of poverty is still there, then, the problem will continue.

Why do different workers suffer different degrees of poverty? All of them have the same problem—of getting the best possible price for their mental and physical energies. If they can’t sell those energies they are unemployed. If they can sell, in the long run their wage is fixed by the value of their labour power. Highly skilled surgeons and erudite professors of sociology are paid more than farm workers and builders' labourers because more effort is needed to produce their particular types of skill.

Workers who suffer extreme poverty —destitution—are those who are unable to work, or whose energies are not in any great demand. Townsend’s solution is to pay lower wages to highly skilled managers and “professional” workers who, he asserts, gain at the expense of the low-wage earners, the children in large families and the sick and disabled.

The short term effect of this can only be, as we said in our pamphlet Beveridge Reorganises Poverty, “a redistribution of misery”. The total poverty of the working class would remain the same. Why does not Townsend suggest rent, interest and profit as a source for redistribution, for increasing low income? Perhaps he recognises these as the source of new capital, so vital to capitalist society.

Townsend does not recognise that the problems of capitalism spring from its basic structure. His tract is but another contribution from one who wants to reform or modify some aspects of capitalism. The only thing to recommend it is the fact that it provides valuable evidence, from a supporter of the Labour Party, that all is not well in Harold Wilson’s heaven. It shows that a Labour government has not eliminated destitution, that “social security” has failed and it supports the case that as long as capitalism lasts poverty will be widespread.
Ken Knight

Russia 1917: As We Saw It (2017)

From the August 2017 issue of the Socialist Standard
By the time the piece on General Korniloff was published, he had staged, in August, a failed putsch to overthrow Kerensky who by then was Prime Minister.
The tit-bits that appear in the newspapers here regarding Russia and the revolution are of a very contradictory nature. However, some very interesting quotations do occasionally creep into the columns of the Press, as instance the following:
'The organ of the Council of Soldiers and Workmen's Delegates, after quoting two English newspapers to the effect that the declaration of the Provisional Government and the pronouncements of the revolutionary leaders show that the Russian peace formula coincides with the British and French war aims, says:
"You are deceiving yourselves, gentlemen, or, rather, you are vainly striving to delude your fellow-countrymen concerning the real policy of the Russian revolution. The revolution will not sacrifice a single soldier to help you repair "historic injustices" committed against you. What about the "historic injustices" committed by yourselves and your violent oppression of Ireland, India, Egypt, and innumerable peoples inhabiting all the continents of the world? If you are so anxious for 'justice' that you are prepared, in its name, to send millions of people to the grave, then, gentlemen, begin with yourselves."―(Daily News, May 30th, 1917)
After well chewing this delectable morsel I can quite conceive the need for sending the decoy ducks, Thorne, Henderson & Co., to Petrograd to counteract this rather frank statement of Russian opinion concerning the aspirations of their British and French Allies. Ireland, India, and Egypt! A hit, a palpable hit, my masters! 
(Socialist Standard, July 1917)

'Quite recently one of the regiments of Siberian Rifles, which had fought so splendidly at the beginning of the revolution, abandoned the Riga front, and nothing else but the order to exterminate the whole regiment availed to make it return to its positions'—(General Korniloff, Russian Commander. in-Chief, at the Moscow Conference).
A side-light, this, on the way "heroes" are made. Had these men stood out against the order of "Comrade" Kerensky's colleague in butchery and been exterminated, the world's skunk Press would have been howling "cowards! traitors!" over their reeking corpses. But they chose the un-heroic part, and so will yet become ''heroes'' and ''high-souled patriots," "going into battle with joy," and "making the great sacrifice" for Holy Russia. So it is in all countries. Apart from individuals, the highest courage is to be found farthest back from the trenches. It reaches a high level at "Staff Headquarters," where ornamental soldiers of blood "win their spurs" without losing their lives, and it reaches sublimity as far back as Fleet Street and the Cabinet chamber. But the nearer the front it is the more it has to be manufactured by making the soldier more afraid of his own tyrants than of the "enemy".
 (Socialist Standard, September 1917).