From the April 1936 issue of the Socialist Standard
We Socialists are out for the common ownership and democratic control of the means of life, by, and in the interest of, the whole people. This is to be brought about by the education of the workers in Socialist principles, to the end that the workers will organise with us to capture the political machinery, and so be in a position to control the armed forces, and thus be able to dictate terms to the capitalist class. When we tell people this we are by many called dreamers, or told that such a proposal is too far-fetched, or too far off.
We are told that a more “reasonable” way, and one getting “better” results, is to lay such an object aside and go in for “something now,” and so gradually "build up” Socialism. This is a favourite method of the Labour Party, the I.L.P. and many ex-Liberals. They say that industry is to be gradually taken over and the owners compensated or given a guaranteed dividend, and their previously competing concerns amalgamated and run as a public utility corporation, responsible to nobody but themselves. This, we are told, is achieving “Socialism in our time.” Let us see how this pans out from the people’s point of view.
Some little time ago the various transport undertakings within 25 miles of London were absorbed into what is now known as London Passenger Transport Board, and a certain Mr. Morrison, Chairman of the L.C.C., played quite a part in “welding up” this concern, so much so that it is often referred to as "Morrison’s Child.” The scheme was initiated by the last Labour Government. Since it has been in actual operation, time and again the workers! conditions have been tightened up. Frequent stoppages have taken place on Green Line, trams, ’buses and trolley-’buses, so it may be taken for granted that the labour conditions are not all they might be. But for the owners, “the Board,” what a difference: No competition, no fare cuts, no “redundant” services now. Let the public wait and travel when and how we like; all fares now come in to us, and our income is more secure than before. That is how two out of the three parties stand.
Now for how the ”customers,” the public, are served.
There is no need to labour this point to Londoners. They all well know the morning and evening scrambles, and queueing up, and the delays in the centre through volume of traffic, and delays in the suburbs through depletion of services. A writer in Reynolds's (February 6th, 1936) gives details as to where the services have been cut down and "re-organised” since the amalgamations. He went to Broadway House for some explanations. He got them. This is what “the Board’s spokesman” told him: —
“Our first duty, imposed by Parliament, is to our shareholders.”
“To achieve the necessary financial results, we want to make sure that every train, tram and ’bus is filled as nearly as possible. Our idea is that there should be no empty seats. We want paying loads only.”
So that accounts for the delays and scrambles. Wait till they get a “paying” (profitable) load. As for your “getting there,” well, when we are ready, and don’t forget “our first duty is to our shareholders,” the capitalists, the owners.
That is a bit of Herbert Morrison’s “Socialism in the making,” and ’twere best left alone. The position is much the same with the Electricity Board and the Grid.
It is quite futile to waste time on such reforms and the parties which sponsor them. Organising for straight revolutionary Socialism alone is worth while for the working class, and to this end we ask you to join us.
C. V. R.