[Book] Ted Grant Writings: Volume Two


Tory post-war plans

[Socialist Appeal, Vol. 7 No. 3, April 1945 - not signed]

More sweat, toil and tears for the workers

Churchill’s speech at the Conservative Party conference on March 15th was an indication of the policies and tactics of the ruling class for the general election and the post-war period.

The Tories are moving forward in cunning fashion in order to confuse the electorate and ensure a safe Conservative majority at the polls.

As Churchill has hinted, the general election will not be long delayed after the fall of Hitler and the close of the San Francisco conference.

Had there been a serious opposition to the Tories the prospects of their coming back to power would be virtually impossible. Yet Churchill is not unduly disturbed.

One of the trump cards Churchill indicated the Tories would use, is to disguise the ruling class control under the cloak of a “national” administration, it would be difficult for the Labour Party to expose this fraud and sham for what it is, after their participation for five years in a similar masquerade.

In addition to this the Tories have been demagogically attacking “controls”.

But the best weapon in the arsenal of Churchill and the Tories lies in the fact that the main platform on which they will fight the election, will be almost indistinguishable from that put forward by the Labour leaders. It will be difficult for the non-political electors, and even the politically conscious to see the difference between the Tory and the official Labour policy.

No wonder Churchill remarked derisively:

“Our socialist friends have officially committed themselves – much to the disgust of some of their leaders – to a programme for nationalising all the means of production, distribution and exchange.”

The vague speeches of the Labour leaders on “controls” instead of a bold fight for outright nationalisation without compensation, demonstrate the sound basis for Churchill’s contempt for them.

What the Labour leaders fear is the effect of such revelations on the rank and file – thus their weak protestations. Churchill pulled out the usual confidence trick of the Tories in his statement:

“The Four-year Plan will require our utmost effort, and whatever government is in power will not only have to turn White Papers into Acts of Parliament but to make the Acts of Parliament a living, active, and harmonious part of our social system. On all this we must march ahead even while the Japanese war continues and even while the process of bringing back the armies and rehabilitating our trade is incomplete. Never was there a time when so much was planned and projected and so much remains to be turned from paper into action.”

Never was there a time when so many cheap promises were committed to paper – that the capitalist class has no intention of translating into action. British capitalism, which was old and feeble when the war began, has suffered a catastrophic decline in her world position during the conflict. As Churchill soberly expressed it, “victory” for British capitalism, “with all its brilliant trappings appears to our strained and experienced eyes as a deliverance rather than as a triumph.”

Britain has lost her place as the dominant power in the markets of the world. Attempting to put a good face on the hard realities, Churchill casually revealed:

“We, [i.e. British capitalism – EG] have freely sacrificed our foreign investments which brought a large income into this country and helped to redress our trade balance.”

He might have added that British capitalism has lost more than half her shipping, her insurance and banking: that Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa are now competitors in goods they formerly imported from Britain; that America has largely grabbed the markets lost by Britain and intends to hang on to them; that British imperialism is in a worse position than she was after the last war.

Churchill’s half-panic, half-defiance in relation to his Trans-Atlantic “ally” and her dominant position after the war, is indicated by his references to America without naming her.

“We do not wish to live on the charity or generosity of any nation. We have given our all in the common cause and may claim assistance to recover our normal economy from those we have helped to victory. But we must never agree to found our economic life on the indulgence or favour even of the allies we most dearly cherish.”

The worsened position of British capitalism after the last world war turned Lloyd George’s promises and schemes into the realities of capitalism – mass unemployment, slump, the dole, starvation wages, misery and insecurity.

But today with the loss of Britain’s investments abroad, the position of British capitalism is even more critical. The profits and tribute they gained from abroad are gone. They must squeeze it out of the toil and suffering of the British workers. If British capitalism is to survive and compete it must reduce the standard of living to a lower level than anything endured by the British workers for decades!

And Churchill, while using glittering phrases intended to fool the workers in one section of his speech, used others to convey the situation to his audience of bankers and capitalists, officers and pampered youth.

“Let there be no mistake about it, it is no easy, cheap-jack utopia of airy phrases that lies before us. This is no time for windy platitudes and glittering advertisements...”

And in another passage:

“Blood, sweat, toil, and tears! There may be less blood and fewer tears, we thank God for that hope. But mental toil and physical sweat, the conscious, united resolve of every man and woman to give all that is in them, will be required of us long after the last bomb or cannon has ceased to thunder.”

Thus the reward for the terrible exertions and patient endurance of the masses in the war is... further intensified toil and sweat! And at the end of the toil and sweat? A third imperialist war! Already the imperialists of all lands are preparing for the naked struggle for markets, raw materials, colonial spheres of influence, and strategic bases which must inevitably culminate in in armed struggle! Britain announces she must double her exports or more. America replies by a programme of trebling hers. The competition between Britain and America for the markets of the world will be more intense than the embittered competition between Britain and Germany, which led to the present war. The armaments race is on. Bevin announces that Britain must have an army of 4,000,000 men after the war. ARP is to be continued[1]. While in the past the misery in the distressed areas left the capitalists unmoved, now they have a plan to spread industry over the country – for strategic reasons! Lennox-Boyd, under Secretary for Air, declared bluntly at a meeting of workers that a factory in south-east London had to be removed because it would be a vulnerable target in the next war!

Thus the farce to be enacted at San Francisco is merely designed to smooth out the minor differences between the great powers, keeping the small powers in order, and lulling the masses into a false sense of security until they are thrust into the next war!

These are the outlines of the future world which British and world capitalism are preparing. One word of good advice was given by Churchill, which although put forward hypocritically, the advanced workers would do well to adopt.

“All my experience of the British people, which is a long one, convinces me that never at any moment more than this have they wished and meant to face realities, and woe betide those public men who seek to slide into power down the slippery slope of vain and profligate undertakings. This is no time for humbug and blandishments but for grim stark facts and figures...”

If the Labour and trade union leaders accepted this idea as a basis for their policy, Churchill and the Tories would be snowed under in the coming general election, and Labour would gain an overwhelming majority at the polls. All that would be necessary would be to tell the workers the truth! Give them the grim facts and figures! Give them too, a fighting alternative. A socialist Britain and a socialist Europe! An end to the nightmare of unemployment, hunger, want, fascism and war winch are inevitable if capitalism survives!

At no time have the Labour leaders warned the workers of the real critical situation of British capitalism. Morrison makes speeches chiding the capitalists for taking too gloomy a view of the future. The capitalist politicians do not hide the facts from their class; but the Labour leaders do all in their power to hide the truth from the working class. Instead of demonstrating the impossibility of improving the conditions of the working class while the capitalist system remains, they are offering a programme of reforms (which in any case would not substantially increase the standards of living for the workers) such as Beveridge, Housing, etc., etc. Indeed, they have made the statement that whoever comes into power after this election – the Labour Party or the Tories – will have to implement these so-called reforms projected by the present government – and that both sides will expect loyal co-operation from the opposition.

Attlee, Bevin, Morrison and Greenwood issue speeches in anticipation of the mood of the workers, urging discipline, forbearance and patience. Instead of showing the workers that without action against the landlords there cannot be an effective housing scheme; that without the nationalisation of the factories, far from full employment, there will be 4 to 7 million unemployed; that without a plan in which the workers and technicians organise and control, there can not be prosperity but only economic chaos; that without strong action against the combines and monopolies, the standard of life for the working class will fall catastrophically.

Who can doubt that if the Labour and trade union leaders explained the situation to the workers they would respond to a fighting socialist lead? But these cowards and traitors prefer to deceive the workers. They don’t want to win the next election! They are leaving Churchill to decide when to break the coalition at a time suitable to himself! They are not exposing the fraud of the Tory “reforms” and how can they, when they have helped to put them through Parliament?

If the Labour leaders wanted power, they would immediately break the coalition and wage a campaign of enlightenment throughout the country, showing the workers the only progressive alternative. But they dread the prospect of taking power with a majority because it would show the workers that the Labour Party programme cannot solve a single one of the major problems with which the masses are faced.

The Revolutionary Communist Party believes that only the programme of Marx and Lenin, the programme of revolutionary communism can solve the problems of the workers. But even today there are millions and millions of workers who still cling to the hope that the Labour leaders will improve the conditions of the workers and even introduce socialism if they came to power. We say to these workers: demand that your leaders tell the workers the truth, cease collaborating with the enemy and fight for power on a socialist programme.

We will fight side by side with the Labour workers on this basis in loyal co-operation and comradeship to return a Labour government so that the workers can learn from their own experience that the policy of the Labour leaders has nothing in common with socialism or communism.

Already Churchill has been talking of a post general election coalition. His Communist Party lackeys are supporting him in this. The Labour leaders have not decisively and unequivocally rejected the idea of a new coalition with Churchill.

Workers! Demand that your leaders end the coalition now! Demand that they fight for power on a socialist programme! Support the Revolutionary Communist Party!


[1] Set up in 1924 the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) was an organisation responsible for the issuing of gas masks, building air-raid shelters, up-keeping of local public shelters, and the enforcement through patrols of the blackout.