The 50 Years Ago column from the May 1982 issue of the Socialist Standard
It is the fate of labour Party reformists always to have their reform demands stolen by the openly capitalist parties as soon as the work of popularisation has been carried sufficiently far to give the demands an electoral value. A particularly cruel theft has just been perpetrated at the expense of the Independent Labour Party by Lord Beaverbrook who is a Conservative.
At the last election the workers showed emphatically that they did not like the Labour Party-1.L.P. programme. This chilling experience caused the I.L.P. to polish up its old reforms and look around for some new and more attractive ones. One of the old demands that appeared to contain promise of being a good vote-catcher was the nationalisation of the banks. But hardly had the I.L.P. published the Report of its Finance Policy Committee, recommending a scheme of state control for banking and credit, than Lord Beaverbrook snatched it up. These are the two proposals for a state bank.
A central bank supervising the issue of credit and currency, international exchange operation and government income and expenditure. A unified banking system, with branches throughout the country, for the local financing of industry and commerce. (New Leader, March 25.)
Send the Bank of England about its business! Let it continue to perform the functions of a joint-stock bank, establish a Central bank, owned by the nation, equipped with all the powers necessary to provide abundant credit and hedged about with all the restrictions required to safeguard the permanence and stability of the structure. (Sunday Express, April 17, 1932.)
Lord Beaverbrook’s article was headed “Don’t reduce wages”, and in it he appealed to the workers to rally round the demand for nationalised banking as the way to prevent wage reductions.
(From an editorial State Control of Banking- Lord Beaverbrook steals some thunder, published in the Socialist Standard, May 1932.)