Sunday, October 15, 2023

Obituary: Harry Walters (1996)

Obituary from the October 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

Harry Walters, a long time member of the old Paddington branch and its successors died in July after a long a long illness, at the age of 82.

It was not until 1946 when he was aged 32 that Harry joined the Party. Characteristically in registering as a conscientious objector during the war without holding a Party card he had made the task of facing the tribunal that much harder but he had been loath for it to be thought that becoming a member was in any way motivated by it being to facilitate his avoidance of joining the killing machine. His time in jail in this context substantiated the fact that he truly was a man of principle. Contrary to the popular sentiment about COs, Harry was no namby-pamby weakling. Indeed, there was a famous occasion when a mid-week Hyde Park meeting arranged by Paddington Branch was being broken-up by thuggish opponents and his still remembered pugilistic skills saved the day.

Harry was a painter by trade and worked many years at the Elstree Studios, painting scenery for films where he built up a formidable reputation as a UCATT shop steward, never compromising the interests of his workmates out of political considerations as was often the case with his Labour and Communist Party opposite numbers.

Harry had a remarkable flair for handling and conveying scientific ideas and became very well read in anthropology and kindred fields. Sound as a rock on Socialist essentials, he never lapsed into any kind of dogmatism and was prepared fearlessly to get into the thick of debate at all levels. I shall  never forget when he went along to one of the New Left meetings at their Oxford Street venue with its audience of 500 chaired by the shamefully biased Raphael Samuel. It is true that Harry's argument was going to require his full quota of time plus a bit. When, after only about two minutes, the chair signalled time Harry, who had only got as a far as the ice-age, was thrown off his stride and said surely he had not gone over the limit. Mr Chairman, he appealed, how long have I been speaking? A voice from the back of the hall answered, ten thousand years! And brought the house down in laughter.

Party members attended the funeral at Golders Green Crematorium at which Comrade Grant gave the address and Comrade Easton played IWW songs on the organ.

Letters: 'Workers living like lords today' (1996)

Letters to the Editors from the October 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

'Workers living like lords today' 

Dear Editors,

Pieter Lawrence in his article "Capitalism is Obsolete" (August Socialist Standard) tells us that it would be foolish to deny that at one time the capitalist system was a progressive development of society.

But he does not tell us when it ceased to be a progressive development of society, that is, when it became obsolete.

For instance, does he believe that the capitalist system was obsolete at the time Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto, and. therefore, ripe for being replaced by a socialist system?

If so he must be extremely naive, because capitalism at that time was only in its early stages of progressive development.

And that was 148 years ago when Marx thought capitalism was no longer progressive, and advocated its overthrow.

But what was missing was his class-conscious proletariat to do that. Why? Because capitalistic economic conditions did not produce it, that's why.

And capitalism is still with us today without any class-conscious proletariat to overthrow it.

And the workers are living like lords today compared to the workers at Marx's time.

They have motor cars, bathrooms in their houses, TV, holidays with pay, income support if unemployed, a longer span of life than in the past, home helps, and many more goodies under capitalism.
So the workers do not think capitalism is obsolete, and they have no desire to get rid of it.

They never ever had, and probably they never ever will.
R. Smith, 

Thank you for your letter, for which we feel the word complacent might well have been invented. You appear to agree that the emergence of capitalism was a progressive development of society. Though it was still based on exploitation, the escape from serfdom and other forms of feudal bondage brought greater freedoms for the producers. This included the ability to sell their labour in the labour markets, and within limits this gave workers more say in their conditions of life. This became stronger when eventually workers were able to form trade unions.

Then as capitalism developed workers were able to win the vote and other democratic rights. This was of vital importance because it became possible for workers to get control of the state and change society. None of this was possible under feudalism.

Also, capitalism is a more dynamic system because it brought about technical advance, communications of every kind and rapid development of the means of production. Through higher productivity it increased the amount of goods and services allowing workers to negotiate more for their own consumption. This is the source of the increased living standards to which you refer.

But you ignore the feet that goods and services are only produced by labour; when workers get more it is still only part of the extra wealth which they alone have produced. The rest is taken by the capitalists in line with their class role as economic parasites. Your letter also ignores the conditions of millions of families who suffer the insecurities, anxieties, problems and stress of life under the modern market system. You could ask one of the families which has been kicked out of their home under re-possession if they feel they are "living like lords”. None of this is necessary.

The increased powers of production which have been developed has widened the gap between what could be produced for needs and what is actually produced for profit under the money-grubbing, class-riven system of capitalism. It now operates as a barrier against the use of productive powers for the benefit of all people. This is one of the reasons why it is now an obsolete system.

You ask when did it become obsolete? Rather than argue about a precise date it would be more useful to say what the conditions for the establishment of socialism should be. Because wage workers are the only class with an interest in establishing socialism and because this must be democratic, it follows that they should be in the majority.

Applying this to Marx’s time, certainly workers were in the majority in England but it is doubtful, if they were in Europe as a whole, not in France or Germany and certainly not in the world. But that situation is long gone and now, overwhelmingly, the world's population is now dominated by capitalism.

Also, the powers of production should be sufficiently developed to provide a material basis for socialism. We now have available fantastic powers of production which are distorted by waste and militarism, and crippled by the artificial scarcities of the market.

In addition we have a worldwide administration and communications which at present serve a world divided by rival capitalist states. All the conditions are ripe for sweeping way capitalism and replacing it by a system organised solely for the benefit of all people.

You make the obvious point that we do not at present have a class-conscious working class to overthrow capitalism. This is disappointing but the arguments in favour of socialism do not relate to any such disappointments nor to any time factor. They should be judged solely from whether or not they represent a true analysis of working-class problems and whether they include a policy of change which could solve them.

Whilst we take little comfort from our few numbers there is no doubt that our arguments have been vindicated time and again throughout this century. We argue from a body of knowledge which has proven powers of prediction and which can say with accuracy what is possible and what is impossible through political action. Against all the unfortunate experiments with reformism, and all the time wasted through the support of pseudo-socialists and so-called revolutionaries of every kind, the one incontrovertible fact to emerge from this experience of discontent, struggle, failure and disillusion, is that nothing short of a world-wide change from capitalism to socialism can solve the problems of society.

Calling the Pot black

Dear Editors,

John Bissett's article in the August Socialist Standard was excellent. There was a curious parallel between the Ceausescu and the Pol Pot dictatorships at the time they were being given Western aid and tacit approval. Not only did the Queen dub the Rumanian ruler, Sir Nicolai but the British press was encouraged to spell his country as Romania so as to emphasise its historic link with Rome. Similarly newspapers began to spell Cambodia as Kampuchea as a sop to Pol Pot. This policy was quietly dropped when the scale of the Khmer Rouge massacres became more widely known. However, the public abhorrence of the Pol Pot regime has been insidiously used by defenders of the oppressive system operating in Vietnam founded by Ho Chi Minh. These people are loud in their condemnation of the Khmer Rouge but have maintained a fifty-year long silence with regard to Ho’s initial task on behalf of his masters in the Kremlin. That was to murder the entire leadership of Indo-China's substantial Trotskyist movement in the interregnum between the collapse of the WWII Japanese occupation and the re-establishment of French colonial rule.

Later, when the French were finally defeated at Dien Bien Phu, the Vietcong began their slow but sure mastery over the independent states that came into being in the wake of France losing her South-East Asian territories. American intervention in the Indo-Chinese civil war certainly introduced a massive increase in the technology of destruction but there was little they could teach the Vietcong by way of the cruel and treacherous methods of guerrilla warfare in which they eventually proved victorious.

Rivalry between Vietnamese and Cambodian nationalism goes back a long way. But a bone of contention which has been little commented upon by Western specialists on Asian affairs is the way Pol Pot claimed that his savage treatment of the population under his control was laying down the pre-conditions for a moneyless Communist society with no private property whatsoever. In my opinion these claims must have been a major irritant in Leninist circles where to be reminded of what their original aim was supposed to be was very uncomfortable indeed. Stalin sent people to Siberia for less!
Eddie Grant, 
London NW4

Not peas in a pod

Dear Editors,

I am very disappointed with Graham Taylor’s interpretation (August Letters) of my letter to the July issue.

Not once in my letter did I say that I supported the Newbury rallies, and I do not believe it is very comradely either to suggest that I might hold Trotskyite or SWP views.

I am a member of the Socialist Party because I sincerely believe in the abolition of the capitalist system. The other views I expressed in my letter are quite clear, that I think some Socialists appear to make a fetish out of not demonstrating or showing solidarity with other workers. Socialists are people, individuals, not so many peas out of the same pod.
Heather Ball, 

Hauling in the net

Dear Editors,

In "Capital hauls in the internet" (August 1996) The Scavenger seems to view the £2  million investment by BT and MCI in a new internet network as signalling the end of the "global mutual help" that the internet has encouraged. As socialists, we should indeed be questioning how far such new technology is being used in the interests of the working class. However, the arrival of a new network, however large and profit-orientated, does not exclude organisations such as ours from using the internet to our advantage, facilitating co-operation and the sharing of information. We are soon to expand our site on the World Wide Web which will represent us as a global movement. It is already possible for anyone with an internet connection to access information that we provide free of charge. While a majority of the world’s working class are denied access to this technology. it is still an important opportunity for us. (For example, around 70 percent of the US population have access to an internet connection.) We should leave to others the task of worrying how the net might possibly be regulated.
Daniel Greenwood, 

SLP backs down

Four members of our Colchester Branch attended a meeting of the Socialist Labour Party in Ipswich on 25 April at which Arthur Scargill declared that he "would debate with anyone". We publish below the exchange of correspondence which followed:

"Dear Mr Scargill,
At a Socialist Labour Party meeting in Ipswich, in early May, you offered to debate with any organisation. Colchester Branch members of this Party who were at the meeting would like to take you up on that offer.

The Socialist Party would welcome such a debate and could arrange for it to be held in the East Anglian area or in Central London.

We hope to hear of your acceptance in the near future when a date and venue can be arranged.
Janet Carter, General Secretary, 
The Socialist Party. 
16 June 1996.

"Dear Ms Carter,

Thank you for your letter regarding a debate between yourselves and the SLP.

Our policy at this time does not include such a meeting.
P. Sikorski, General Secretary, SLP.
I 3 August 1996."

We will keep readers informed of future developments. 

The Road to Nowhere (1996)

TV Review from the October 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

If you are unlucky enough to be reading this in the middle of the British party conference season, spare a thought for those who stayed up into the middle of the night a few weeks back to watch the Republican and Democrat conventions in the US choose their Presidential candidates. Ignoring wiser counsels, this reviewer stayed up till four in the morning in an attempt to understand the alleged significance of it all, but to little avail.

In one sense it was an education — it certainly taught me a lesson. But in virtually every other sense it was at best a badly acted pantomime. The purpose of the BBC’s Road To The White House coverage (BBC1, 1 a.m., various nights) appeared to be to convince British viewers that mainstream politics over here does really have a purpose and is really about issues, in obvious distinction to its American counterpart. If so, it almost succeeded — but not quite, for the obvious similarities between the two served to override any superficial differences. Most notably there was an unashamed party of the Right opposed by a party heading at a rate of knots to meet it from the other direction. taking all the liberals and reformists with it. Then there was the glitz, choreography, leader-adulation and even much of the phraseology that was used which could so easily have graced Blackpool or Brighton just as it graced San Diego and Chicago. And to the extent that any issues were addressed— however fleetingly—they were the same too: jobs, mortgages, crime, education, health care, war and the other problems that flourish under the market economy. The "solutions" offered were little different — tax-breaks and subsidies, the restoration of “family values", and economic growth as a panacea without the first idea where it was going to come from.

Deep doo-doo
This was all as bad as it was familiar. But there was worse—much worse — and it would be possible to fill a whole edition of this magazine with examples of it. For those of you who missed it, there are just three samples of the political excrement served up at the conventions, and which will no doubt be manifesting itself here in some form or other shortly as the General Election campaign gets underway.

1. The pathetic sight of former Superman Christopher Reeve, paralysed from the neck-down and barely able to speak, wheeled on stage at the Democratic convention during TV prime-time to boost Clinton’s re-election chances with a halting plea for more compassion for the poor and disabled. Though Reeve isn’t actually a member of the Democratic Party, his appearance was exploited to the hilt by the Democrats’ spin doctors and even made the headlines on British TV news bulletins. Hasn't anybody told him the Democrats— like the Republicans—aim to crack down on welfare expenditure not increase it? Or that Clinton has in this very policy field just signed one of the most anti-working class pieces of legislation to be passed through Congress in recent years?

2. Bob Dole during his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination declaring that anyone in his party with racist views "knows where to find the door marked Exit". This of a party supported and funded by people who think the United Nations is run by an international Jewish cabal, whose candidates for office have included former (and unrepentant) leaders of the Ku Klux Klan, and half of whose membership believes that anyone without faith in the Christian god will burn in hell for all eternity (quite literally). Oh, and Dole’s party supports tougher immigration controls against the Mexicans, courting the Southern Redneck vote with all the subtlety and aplomb of an old-fashioned lynch mob.

3. Vice-President Al Gore, bringing tears to the eyes of the would normally have been expected to be in a catatonic trance during one of his mind-bogglingly tedious speeches. The reason for this unexpected bout of audience participation? The Veep's stomach-churning display of ham acting over his sister’s death from lung cancer caused by smoking cigarettes. This was so wooden and contrived that it would have been sufficient grounds to have him removed form even the most mediocre of amateur rep companies. If you are tempted to think this assessment is just a touch harsh, remember that Gore's wealthy dynasty of a family made much of its fortune through its ownership of Tennessee tobacco farms . . .  a fact which he didn't mention once.

There was a lot else besides worthy of comment from Pat Buchanan’s sinister appearance on the Republican platform to the sickening parade of rat-bag Kennedy’s for the Democrats, each one feted like royalty. But BBC pundits Charles Wheeler and Gavin Esler summed it all up quite nicely in their comments that the conventions really are too long these days, with viewers turning off in their millions. The fifty percent-plus of American voters who refuse to go to the polls in November will be demonstrating a similar contempt for a political process which increasingly relies on ignorance, trickery and blind acquiescence to sustain it. One day—just one day—they might turn their passive resistance to this nonsense into something more energetic and vibrant, and leave the political tricksters to play with their placards and balloons to their heart’s content, just like a baby shakes its rattle while grinning inanely at passers-by. They and the rest of the world who have seen through these fakers can then get on with doing something really useful—shaping a world truly fit for intelligent human beings to live in.
Dave Perrin

Next month's Theatre Review (1996)

Notice from the October 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

In next month’s Socialist Standard Michael Gill will review the play Wallpaper which will be running from the 8th October to the 2nd November (except Mondays) at the Bridewell Theatre., Bride Lane, London EC4 (0171 936 3456). The play is described as ‘A Shavian melodrama portraying the adventures of Mr William Morris, Miss Eleanor Marx and Miss Eliza Doolittle’ and an intriguing cast has Freddie Demuth (Karl Marx’s son by Helene Demuth) down as an "East End Tough’.

We are giving notice of the coming review of this play as we have been notified by the Theatre that those bringing along a copy of this issue of the Socialist Standard will gain a concession on the admission price.

Blogger's Note:
Wallpaper by Sophia Kingshill was reviewed in the November 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard.

SPGB Meetings (1996)

Party News from the October 1996 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Communists and the Labour Party. How Moscow Helped MacDonald. (1931)

From the October 1931 issue of the Socialist Standard

Young workers attracted to the Communist Party by its denunciation of the recent Labour Government and of the Labour leaders in the National Government, are often unaware that the Communist Party for years supported the Labour Party and urged the workers to place power in their hands. The Communists now wish many of their past activities forgotten. They do not want the workers to remember that the Communist Party willingly associated with the MacDonalds and Hendersons in the anti-working-class policy of preaching that the way to Socialism was through “Labour” Governments and capitalist reforms. But it is important that these activities should not be forgotten, nor their lessons overlooked. The hold that MacDonald and Henderson, Thomas and Clynes, and the other Labour Party defenders of capitalism have over the minds ot the workers has been strengthened by the work of the Communist Party and the Communist International in the past ten years. Below is a brief record which will show that this serious charge against the Communists is founded on indisputable evidence taken from their own official publications.

1921—Opposition to the Labour Party.
In March, 1921, the Communists opposed Mr. J. R. MacDonald, then standing as Labour candidate at Woolwich East in a by-election, and in August of the same year they ran a candidate, Mr. R. Stewart, against the Labour candidate, Mr. Morgan Jones, at Caerphilly, Glamorgan. On both occasions the Communists denounced the Labour candidates and the Labour Party in the most downright manner. Mr. R. Stewart made the accusation that leading members of the Labour Party were “responsible for the . . defeat of the miners” in the lock-out which occurred that year. He justified the Communist Party’s opposition to the Labour Party in quite simple and straightforward terms. In an article in the Communist (August 20th, 1921) he wrote :—
“But, it may be asked, why do the Communists oppose the Labour Party at Parliamentary elections? We oppose the Labour Party for the simple reason that it is not a Labour Party at all.” (Italics his.)
He faced up honestly to the charge of “splitting the vote,” and gave a direct answer :—
“The answer to all that is that the Communist Party is splitting not the “Labour Vote”—whatever that may mean !—but the voters in two important divisions—those who understand the need for the overthrow of capitalism and those who do not. We leave these latter to the Labour Party.” (Ibid.)
1922—Trying to join the "Labour" Circus.
In 1922 the Communists completely reversed their policy. They were applying for affiliation with the Labour Party. The Executive Committee of the Labour Party asked whether the Communist Party “proposes and intends to become a loyal constituent of the Labour Party, conforming at all points with its constitution and working for the promotion of its objects.”

The answer given by the Chairman of the Communist Party on their behalf contained the following :—
“The answer to this question is that the Communist Party in the event of affiliation intends to conform to the constitution of the Labour Party, without prejudice to its right of criticism on policy or tactics in common with all affiliated bodies.” (Communist, June 10th, 1922.)
In other words, they were now seeking to join a party which they declared was “not a Labour Party at all.” The application was rejected.

There was a General Election in November, 1922. The Communist Election Manifesto (Communist, October 28th, 1922) urged the workers to give “conditional” support to Labour Party candidates; that is to say, support only if they pledged themselves against any alliance or understanding with any “Capitalist Party,” and if they pledged themselves to vote against all war credits, etc.

In practice this demanding of pledges was disregarded, and the Communists voted for even the most reactionary of the Labour Party candidates. Thus at Gorton the Communists put forward Mr. Harry Pollitt as Communist candidate in opposition to Mr. John Hodge. Then they withdrew him and asked Mr. Hodge for “pledges.” Mr. Hodge did not pledge himself to vote against war credits, and even on unemployment he declined to satisfy his Communist questioners. The Communist Daily (November 13th, 1922) said : “It is not clear from the Labour candidate’s reply whether he agrees this point in the Communist Party’s programme or not.” Nevertheless Pollitt withdrew his candidature and supported Mr. John Hodge.

Mr. R. Palme Dutt, a prominent Communist, writing on the Labour Party’s election address, said :—
“There is not a single working-class issue in this international policy of the Labour Party Executive.”
With regard to that part of the Labour Party Manifesto dealing with home affairs Mr. Dutt said :—
“Their programme is a programme of Reconstruction, but it is the Reconstruction of Capitalism.” (Communist, November 4th, 1922.)
Among the Labour Party candidates, whom the Communists supported at the 1922 General Election, were Mr. Morgan Jones at Caerphilly and Mr. MacDonald at Aberavon.

1923—Helping “Ramsay Mac.”
At the 1923 General Election all pretence about “conditional support” was dropped. Now the Communists were not only willing supporters, but were almost lyrical in their enthusiasm for the leaders of the party which they said “is not a Labour Party at all.”

MacDonald they had formerly described as a “lackey of the Bourgeoisie” ; now they felt so friendly that the Workers’ Weekly (December 7th, 1923) affectionately called him “Ramsay Mac.” Their local branch secretary reported on their activities :—
“We Communists here are doing our best to help Ramsay MacDonald to beat the capitalist candidate.”
The Workers’ Weekly described the election campaign as follows :—
“ …. local organisations of the Communist Party are working for Ramsay MacDonald in Aberavon, Bromley in Barrow, Ernest Hunter of the I.L.P. in Hackney, J. R. Clynes in Manchester, and in hundreds of other constituencies.” (Workers Weekly, December 7th, 1923.)
In Barrow they were helping J. Bromley, the Labour Candidate. Their Secretary wrote :—
“All our illusions and theoretical deductions have been hung out on the clothes line to dry.”
The Workers’ Weekly article continued :—
“Working-class unity is being forged in the fight. The Labour Party has officially endorsed as its candidates both Comrade Paul in Rusholme and Comrade Vaughan in Bethnal Green. There are now four Communist candidates officially supported by the National Labour Party. . . .”
Mr. W. Paul’s trump card at the election was a letter from Mr. MacDonald assuring the workers that Mr. Paul was a fit and proper person to be a Labour M.P. !

So the “revolutionary” Communists were united with a party which “is not a Labour Party at all” just for the sake of trying to get four candidates into Parliament.

1924—Relying on Maxton.
After the 1923 General Election the Labour Party entered office for the first time as the Government. (They had, of course, been in the war-time Liberal-Labour-Conservative Coalition). Promptly the Communist Party issued a “Call to All Workers” (February, 1924), in which they complained because the Labour Government did not include “tried and trusty fighters like Lansbury and Smillie” ; and Mr. Tom Bell, in the Communist Review (January, 1924), was assuring us that working-class interests were going to be looked after by Wheatley, Maxton, Johnston and Kirkwood !

Supporting the English Kerensky.
Soon afterwards the affection of the Communists for their friend, “Ramsay Mac,” turned again to hatred. Yet, in spite of that, the General Election in October, 1924 (i.e., after the Labour Government), found the Communist Party again supporting all the Labour Party candidates.

The Workers’ Weekly (October 17th, 1924) said :—
“The Communist Party declares that the task of the moment is return a Labour majority in the present election, in reply to the challenge of the capitalist class.”
They did this in spite of their own admission that the 1924 Labour Government—
“have behaved just like Kerensky in 1917. Instead of using their position to help the workers, they used it to help the capitalists.” (Workers’ Weekly, November 7th, 1924.)
Among the candidates they supported were their old friends, Mr. MacDonald at Aberavon and Mr. Morgan Jones at Caerphilly !

1926—Helping the betrayers of the General Strike.
In 1926 occurred the General Strike, It was claimed by the Communists that that strike failed simply because of the failure of and betrayal by the Labour leaders. (See Labour Monthly, July, 1926.)

Yet, in face of this belief, the Communist Party continued its own betrayal of the interests of the workers by urging them to vote for these same Labour leaders. A Communist Party pamphlet, “Communism is Commonsense,” published in July, 1926, i.e., two months after the failure of the General Strike, contains the following- :—
“. . . Communists urge the workers to support Communist and Labour candidates, even if the latter are Right Wingers, in the hope that they may reflect at any rate to some extent the needs of the masses, and that they will, when the present Labour leaders have got sufficient support in Parliament, form another Labour Government and by its futility prove the uselessness of relying on Parliamentary reform for the achievement of Socialism.” (Page 18.) (Italics ours.)
At the Hull By-election in November, 1926, the Communists issued a leaflet telling the workers to vote for Commander Kenworthy, a recent recruit to the Labour Party. An amusing feature of this was that Kenworthy declared that he had not dropped his Liberalism, but was joining the Labour Party because that Party had taken over the mantle of Liberalism.

1928—Communists still support MacDonald
In February, 1928 (see Communist Review of that date), the Communist Party published a thesis giving its reasons for continuing to support the Labour Party. In the course of the article we are told :—
“Even in the case of MacDonald, Thomas, Henderson and Co., the party cannot (1) advise the workers to vote Liberal or Tory, (2) advise mere abstention, (3) put up a candidate who would let in the Liberal or Tory.”
It will be noticed that the Communists had now deserted their 1921 attitude of defying the charge of splitting the Labour vote.

Finding it hard to fight for their own programme, they had given up the fight. In 1921 they were optimistic and thought that they would receive the support of great numbers of workers. As soon as they found that the number of workers prepared to support them was very small, too small to give them Trade Union and Parliamentary positions, the Communist would-be leaders turned over to the policy of supporting Labour Party candidates so that they themselves could get the votes of workers still intent on voting for capitalism. The Communists were no longer of Mr. Stewart’s early opinion that it was desirable to “leave these latter to the Labour Party.”

Moscow gives its orders.
But at this point Moscow stepped in and ordered the British Party to reverse its policy. They were instructed to run candidates in opposition to some of Labour Party candidates, but to support others. (See Workers’ Weekly, February 24th, 1928.)

In the 1929 General Election the Commmunists ran 25 candidates of their own—all of them unsuccessful. By opposing Mr. Morgan Jones at Caerphilly and Mr. MacDonald at Seaham, Durham, the Communists had, after a long and costly detour, “progressed” almost back to their attitude of 1921. But whereas 1921 their candidate at Caerphilly polled 2,592, in 1929 the Communist polled only 809. Counting only the election expenditure officially returnable, and including the lost deposits, the Communists threw away over £9,000 at that election.

1929—Still prepared to support Labour Party candidates.
Their attitude in 1929 was still not one of straight opposition to the party “which is not a Labour Party at all,” for they were prepared again to stage that piece of deception which they called asking Labour candidates for “pledges.”

In a statement issued to the Press on April 13th, 1929, by the Political Bureau of the Communist Party, this crooked policy was explained :—
“A Labour Government at the present day would be a Government of capitalist rationalisation, only differing from the Tory and Liberal Parties as to the best methods whereby rationalisation could be brought about at the expense of the workers.

It is, therefore, no longer possible for Communist Party to advise the workers to give unconditional support to Labour candidates, even in constituencies not being contested by the Communists.

The Communist Party is advising workers only to vote for such Labour candidates as are prepared to accept a policy of minimum working class demands, involving the repudiation of Mondism, of imperialism, and of the policy of trade union disruption now being actively operated in the trade union movement.

Unless these demands are accepted the Communist Party will advise the workers to refrain from voting,” (See Sunday Worker, April 14th, 1929.)
Yet they admitted in their 1929 election pamphlet, “Class against Class,” that :he Labour Party “is the third capitalist party. It … has nothing to do with Socialism” (page 8).

Explaining away the past.
They also tried to explain away their “changed attitude to the Labour Party.” “Class against Class” contains this tortuous explanation :—
“Prior to the formation of the Labour Government in 1924, the Communist Party, although the leaders of the Labour Party were as treacherous then as now, advised the working class to push the Labour Party into power whilst sharply criticising and exposing the leaders of the Labour Party. To-day this policy is no longer possible for the following reasons.

The situation of 1929 is entirely different from that of the years prior to the General Strike and the Labour Government of 1924. In the years immediately after the war the Labour Party . . . was a federation of trade unions and parties offering facilities for criticism from within and a means of struggle for our Party to battle against the middle-class leadership and to strengthen the working class forces within it.

The Labour Government exposed the Labour Party leadership completely. It proved the Communist Party criticism to be correct. The “Minority” Labour Government was nothing more than a coalition with the Tories and Liberals. The Labour leaders “led” the General Strike only to betray it in the face of the challenge of the State.” (p. 9.)
But, by going back over the statements and actions of the Communists during the past ten years, we can see how utterly dishonest this so-called “explanation” is.

The Communists, it will be noticed, justify their support of the Labour Party up to 1924 on the ground that “immediately after the war” the Labour Party was different. Yet, as we have seen above, they opposed it in 1921 for precisely the same reason as that which they give now. When Mr. Stewart declared in 1921 that it was “not a Labour Party at all,” he was speaking truly.

They claim that the situation was different after the 1924 Labour Government. But, as we have also shown, they continued to support the Labour Party after the 1924 Labour Government. And was not the war-time Coalition alone a sufficient reason for opposing the Labour Party before 1924 ?

They claim, too, that the General Strike altered the situation and that the Strike was betrayed by the Labour leaders. Yet we have seen that after the General Strike they were still supporting these Labour leaders, “even if the latter are Right Wingers,” including a professing Liberal like Commander Kenworthy. And they would have continued to support all the Labour leaders, “even in the case of MacDonald, Thomas, Henderson and Co.,” if Moscow had not ordered otherwise.

This is the record of political tricksters who claim in “Class against Class” that “No Party can serve the robbers and the robbed at the same time,” and that the Communist Party is “the only Party of the workers.” They have known all the corrupt arts of the political job-hunters except one ; they have not known how to capture the glittering prizes. They should learn that some show of consistency and sincerity is required even in the most opportunist politician if he is to be successful.
Edgar Hardcastle