The 50 Years Ago column from the October 2014 issue of the Socialist Standard
In the 1964 General Election, as in those of the past, the capitalist political parties have encouraged us to believe that fundamental issues are at stake.
This is far from the truth. The Labour and Conservative Parties are argue over trifles—the fight between them is sham. On the vital issues of the day are one.
This is reflected in many ways. It is reflected in the basic agreement in the parties’ policies. It is reflected in the fact that, although each side presents its leader as a paragon of honesty, knowledge and strength, none of them take the fundamentally different stand of opposing leadership in principle.
Home or Wilson? Landed aristocrat or Grammar schoolboy made good? Amiable elegance or rumpled, chubby purpose? The voters are asked to make their choice between these two representatives of capitalism, on the assumption that leaders are necessary, because without them we poor dunderheads would lose our way in the treacherous maze of the wicked world.
It is not difficult to penetrate this sham. The most casual investigation of leaders past and present reveals them as hard, cynical men dedicated to the ruthless administration of the capitalist system. It also shows up the game of leadership as a dirty business.
Sir Alec Douglas-Home has recently joined in the game for whatever advantage his party can get out of it. On the other side Harold Wilson has shown that a leader’s most valuable asset is a cold, professional determination.
It is no coincidence, and not entirely due to the General Election, that since Wilson became leader the Labour Party has kept its splits plastered over. So smooth has his political handling been that his public relations men are trying now to dispel the image of him as too clever, as the cocksure, calculating political climber.
(from editorial, Socialist Standard, October 1964)