First published in International Socialism (1st series), No.9, Summer 1962.
Reprinted in Tony Cliff, In the Thick of Workers’ Struggle, Selected Writings Vol.2, Bookmarks, London 2002, pp.1-21.
Transcribed by Artroom, East End Offset (TU), London.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Proofread by Anoma Cartwright (May 2008).
The aim of the present article is to try and discover what makes the Labour Party tick. The British Labour Party is unique among social democratic parties in its structure and embraces a number of contradictory phenomena. It has a membership of millions of workers throughout the country, and the allegiance of further millions – it is thus a mass party. At the same time it involves actively only a tiny minority of its supporters. Its base is in the industrial working class, but its leadership is a coalition of top trade union bureaucrats and middle class MPs. Its function is in the main that of an electoral parliamentary machine, but its spirit is that of industrial militants, rebel youth and Aldermaston marchers, whose central theme is not delegation of responsibility, but “do it yourself”. Its thousands of loyal industrial militants expect – and get – hardly any help from it in their daily struggle against the boss on the factory floor. Its leaders are bound hand and foot to an ideology of class collaboration, and strive for Lib-Lab conformism, while its millions of rank and file supporters are grouped around shop stewards committees and trade union branches, the elements of the labour movement that capitalism cannot discipline and integrate completely into itself. Its ideology covers a wide spectrum, its facets tracing their origin to the oft opposing elements that fused to form it, from the socialist ILP to Lib-Lab trade unionists.
In a way the Labour Party is a replica of British capitalist society. Its oligarchy is centralised and its masses, while alienated and rebelling against the system, nevertheless still accept its main values. If the workers rejected all capitalist values – if they insisted on complete involvement in, and complete control and management of, their own affairs – the Labour Party hierarchy, as well as that of the trade unions, would be isolated. If, on the other hand, the class struggle did not break through to express itself in the party, the permanent tensions between the ranks and the leadership, between left and right, expressing themselves in recurring rebellions inside the party, would not exist.
The Labour Party is the political focus of the working class. But the class struggle and the political struggle do not necessarily run along parallel lines. While it is true that “politics is concentrated economics”, the two elements may not be complementary to each other, but substitutes or alternatives for each other. Labour Party history has a rhythm in which workers move towards political interest and activity not because the industrial struggle has reached a high level and the movement must go beyond it, but as a substitute for industrial struggle when the workers feel they are defeated in that field. At such times the political struggle, spurred on by defeat, will be modest and lacking in militancy. At other times there is a high level of activity in both political and economic fields; at yet others despondency and passivity prevail in both.
A first step to understanding the Labour Party’s laws of motion is to know what the different and opposing forces within it are. The next is to see how they change in quantity, discover the points at which they alter in quality, and examine their mutual influence.
As the Labour Party is enmeshed in the life of millions, its development reflects the economic, social, ideological and political forces propelling the whole of British society. To a large extent, what makes the Labour Party tick is what makes the British people tick. We shall, therefore, in this article, have to give a potted history of the British labour movement, and analyse its structure and working. In doing so a certain isolation of elements will be necessary, and then to put them in perspective will involve some unavoidable repetition. It is hoped the reader will bear with this.
In February 1900 the forerunner of the Labour Party – the Labour Representation Committee – was formed as the result of the coming together of hitherto Liberal-supporting trade union leaders and the socialist Independent Labour Party led by Keir Hardie; 353,000 trade unionists, or a little less than a fifth of the total at the time, joined. For them the move from Liberalism to independent Labour representation in parliament was a great step forward, as in the main they were radical Liberals with very little sympathy for socialism. On joining the Labour Representation Committee they did not change their ideology greatly, but merely expressed the need, on the basis of their experience over the past decade, for parliamentary representation to defend the rights of trade unionists then threatened by the government and the law. The new body declared its purpose to be the representation of working class opinion “by men sympathetic with the aims and demands of the labour movement”.
The conference at which the decision was made gave short shrift to the attempt of the Marxist Social Democratic Federation to turn the Labour Representation Committee into a socialist organisation. The SDF wanted the LRC to declare that “the representatives of the working class movement in the House of Commons” would form there “a distinct party based upon the recognition of the class war, and having for its ultimate object the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange”. However, Keir Hardie and the ILP, the architects of the Labour Representation Committee, were consciously ready for compromise and retreat. With only some 20,000 members in their party, they knew that a mass movement with a socialist programme was not possible at the time. Keir Hardie’s retreat was smoothed over by the fact that he and the party he led were not Marxists or revolutionaries, but militant reformers who believed that one of the main, if not the main, arenas for achieving reforms was parliament. In order to get into it the maximum number of votes had to be won. This, in Keir Hardie’s eyes, justified a compromise. And the extent of the compromise was decided by the level of consciousness of LRC and later Labour Party supporters, for great numbers of whom independent representation in parliament was a big step forward.
This was the first of a long series of compromises of varying magnitude made by Labour Party leaders with bourgeois liberalism. Keir Hardie’s compromise made possible a step forward for the real mass movement – others did not, but fettered and retarded it. Gaitskellite revisionism comes into its correct perspective when viewed against their background. The traditional picture of the Labour Party drawn by many on the left is that of a socialist party with a glorious socialist record, betrayed only now and again by a MacDonald or a Gaitskell – a couple of aberrations in an immaculate story. A few illustrations will help to destroy this illusion:
In fact, the history of the LRC is largely the history of political manoeuvres to reach electoral accommodations with the Liberals. That this often involved the support of “moderate” Labour candidates in preference to socialist ones was something which the strategists of the LRC found it relatively easy to accept. After protracted and secret negotiations, MacDonald and Keir Hardie reached an understanding in 1903 with Herbert Gladstone, the Liberal chief whip, under the terms of which the Liberal leaders agreed to use their influence to prevent local Liberal opposition to any LRC candidate who supported “the general objects of the Liberal Party”. In return, the LRC was to “demonstrate friendliness” to the Liberals in any constituency where it had influence. Save for Keir Hardie, MacDonald’s colleagues on the LRC had known nothing of the negotiations, nor did the labour movement at large know anything about the agreement after it had begun to operate in the constituencies. Indeed, both Keir Hardie and MacDonald denied that there existed any compact with the Liberals at either national or local levels. 
Again the Parliamentary Labour Party did in fact act after 1906 as a more or less radical appendage of the Liberal Party in parliament. 
What contemporary militants thought of the Parliamentary Labour Party is clear from the words of Ben Tillett, of 1889 dock strike fame, when in 1908 he published a pamphlet with the suggestive title Is the Parliamentary Party a Failure? in which he denounced the parliamentary leaders as “sheer hypocrites” who “for ten and five guineas a time will lie with the best” and who repaid “with gross betrayal the class that willingly supports them”. 
When the First World War broke out, Keir Hardie, who still has the reputation for pure, consistent socialism, wrote:
A nation at war must be united, especially when its existence is at stake. In such filibustering expeditions as our own Boer War or the Italian war over Tripoli, where no national danger of any kind was involved, there were many occasions for diversity of opinion, and this was given voice to by the Socialist Party of Italy and the Stop the War Party in this country. Now the situation is different. With the boom of the enemy’s guns within earshot, the lads who have gone forth to fight their country’s battles must not be disheartened by any discordant notes at home. 
The parliamentary atmosphere undoubtedly had a strong corroding effect on the socialist morale of Labour MPs.
David Kirkwood, one of the “wild men”, wrote later that, before he entered the House of Commons in 1922, he knew little of “the Great Ones, the Powerful Ones, the Lordly Ones” but felt that “they and the world they represented were crushing my fellows down into poverty, misery, despair and death”. When he entered the House, however, he found that “it was full of wonder. I had to shake myself occasionally as I found myself moving about and talking with men whose names were household words. More strange it was to find them all so simple and unaffected and friendly.” Violently attacked over unemployment, Bonar Law “showed no resentment”, and expressed pleasure at hearing Kirkwood’s Glasgow accent; denounced as a “Uriah Heep”, Stanley Baldwin, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was gently reproachful and thus “pierced a link in my armour that had never been pierced before”; and a Conservative member, having heard Kirkwood make a “flaming speech” about the poverty of crofters in the Hebrides, told him, so the latter records in wonder, “I could not vote for you, but I should like to help those men if I may,” and gave him a £5 note. 
Similarly, the former militant miners’ leader, Robert Smillie, subsequently an MP, could write in 1924, “In my young and callous days I was probably a little prejudiced in favour of my own class, and hot with resentment against those whom I regarded as their oppressors. But experience teaches, and I now know that a gentlemen is a gentlemen, whatever his rank in life may be, and may always be trusted to act as such”. 
The greatest depth of submission to their “betters” was shown by the ministers of the first Labour government (1923-24). Thus, for instance, the minister of war, Stephen Walsh, was supposed to have told the generals, “I know my place. You have commanded armies in the field when I was nothing but a private in the ranks”.  Another account has it that he opened the first meeting of the Army Council with the words, “Gentlemen, always remember that we must all be loyal to the king”. 
J.H. Thomas, the new colonial secretary, was said to have introduced himself to the heads of departments at the Colonial Office with the statement, “I am here to see that there is no such mucking about with the British Empire”.  Beatrice Webb describes a luncheon party at which “we were all laughing over Wheatley – the revolutionary – going down on both knees and actually kissing the King’s hand.” She also noted that “ Uncle Arthur [Henderson] was bursting with childish joy over his Home Office seals in the red leather box which he handed round the company”. 
A further chapter in the betrayal of the working class by the leadership of the Labour Party was recorded during the General Strike:
When the railway workers struck in 1919 an elaborate emergency supply and transport system was worked out under the control of Sir Eric Geddes, at that time minister of transport. This system was not fully tested at the time, and in the following years it lapsed almost completely. In 1923 the task of reviving it was put into the hands of J.C.C. Davidson, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. A groundwork had been laid, no more, when the first Labour government came to power, and Davidson, handing over to Josiah Wedgwood, asked him not to destroy what had been done ... When the Labour government went out of office and Wedgwood handed over again to Davidson, he said, “I haven’t destroyed any of your plans. In fact I haven’t done a bloody thing about them.” The plan remained a skeleton until Red Friday taught the government a lesson. 
These emergency supply and transport schemes were used a couple of years later to defeat the general strike.
On the eve of the government’s preparation for a showdown with the workers, “The leaders of the Labour Party seem to have been unaware of the preparations being made – or perhaps, of course, they silently approved of them”.  “All of these leaders – MacDonald, Snowden, Thomas, Clynes, Henderson – were unequivocally opposed to the idea of a general strike ... If they feared that defeat of the strikers would be a blow for Labour, they perhaps feared even more that a victorious strike would be a harder blow for the Labour leadership”.  On 29 April 1926, at a conference of trade union executives, Ernest Bevin, who was certainly no revolutionary, made “a savage attack on the Parliamentary Labour Party for its cowardice in failing to make a statement in the House of Commons about miners’ wages”.  A few days earlier the Labour Party leader, Clynes, declared that the strike would be “a national disaster”.  So much for solidarity with the meagrely paid miners! “MacDonald emphasised his respect for the constitution and his desire to see fair play and justice, loftily adding that ‘with the discussion of general strikes and Bolshevism and all that kind of thing, I have nothing to do at all’.” 
One of the worst indictments of the Labour Party leadership is its behaviour towards the unemployed during the second Labour government (1929-31):
In their evidence before the Blanesburgh committee on unemployment insurance in 1926, the TUC and the Labour Party had jointly proposed an increased scale of unemployment benefits of 20 shillings a week, with ten shillings for a dependent wife and five shillings for each child, and “to that scale it adheres”, Labour and the Nation had said. That these pledges would be fulfilled must have been the expectation of many who had voted for the return of a Labour government in 1929.
However, when the government introduced its Unemployment Insurance Bill in November 1929, the bill was found to leave the unemployment benefit for men at 17 shillings a week, and the allowance for each child at two shillings. Only the allowance of the wife was raised from seven shillings to nine shillings, and the benefits for unemployed juvenile workers were also slightly increased. 
Of the Parliamentary Labour Party of 288 members, only 32 voted against the bill. And the policy of the government towards the unemployed was confirmed at the Labour Party conference in October 1930 under pressure of the block vote (by 1,803,000 votes to 334,000). The number of insured workers unemployed, which was 1,164,000 at the time Labour took power, rose in July 1931 to 2,800,000! The Labour government even went so far, on the eve of its collapse, as to agree to lower benefits and increased contributions. The bill to this effect was passed through parliament with the support of Liberals and Tories, against the vote of left Labour MPs.
A first characteristic of any revolutionary is to wish to free himself from the prevailing bourgeois ideology. Neither the present leaders of the Labour Party nor their predecessors showed any inclination this way. The ideological sources of inspiration of the Labour Party leaders in the “heroic” past were not Marxist, but bourgeois-liberal. The following is quite instructive:
After the general election of 1906, W.T. Stead, the editor of the Review of Reviews, sent a questionnaire to the 51 Labour and “Lib-Lab” members of parliament, asking them to set out what books they had found most useful in their early days. Of the 51, 45 replied. The most interesting feature of the answers, in the present context, is the paucity of books mentioned which are concerned with socialist theory. The answers of only two members, J. O’Grady and particularly Will Thorne, both of the SDF, suggest any grounding in it. For the rest, their main intellectual influences appear to have been the Bible, and writers ranging from Shakespeare and Milton to Carlyle, Ruskin, J.S. Mill and Dickens. 
With such teachers, what wonder that Keir Hardie, in 1909, could describe MacDonald as “the biggest intellectual asset which the socialist movement has in this country today”.  A review of the Labour Party leaders’ record inspires amazement at the tenacity with which millions of workers continued to vote Labour, and the fact that no socialist party competing with the Labour Party managed to get the allegiance of the working class to any significant extent. On the contrary, after betrayal by the leadership, the Labour vote often increased. Thus after Black Friday (1921), when the miners were let down by the leadership and left prostrate before the mine owners, the Labour vote in 1922 was 2 million larger than in the general election of 1918. Again, after the demise of the first Labour government which had had such a pitiful record, the Labour vote in 1924 rose by well over a million above the previous election. The betrayal of the miners in 1926 did not prevent the Labour vote from rising in 1929 by nearly 3 million above the former maximum. After the bankruptcy of the second Labour government, with the main leaders of the party – MacDonald, Thomas and Snowden – joining the Tories in a National Government, the Labour vote declined radically by 1.7 million, but returned to the 1929 level in 1935.
While the leadership betrayed, the working people remained absolutely loyal. This loyalty was rooted deep in the feeling that the Labour Party alone was the political organisation of the class. Without avowedly recognising the class struggle, the Labour and Conservative parties have become more and more congruent with the division of British society between Labour and capital.
The loyalty of the workers is of course affected by the policies of the leadership, and it could be broken if the betrayals went beyond a certain point. Their effect depends on a number of factors: first, the extent of the workers’ feeling of being a class, if not with positive socialist aims at least with negative anti-boss attributes; secondly, the extent to which the workers’ aspirations are limited to reforms in the framework of capitalism, and the extent to which these are realisable in the framework of the system, so that tinkering with capitalism by the Labour Party leaders does not come into headlong collision with their aspirations; thirdly, the extent to which the workers’ desire for reforms flows into channels of parliamentary politics so that parliamentary reformism is relevant to it. By and large the leaders, while far from fully expressing the wishes of the rank and file, have not gone beyond what they would take.
Although no Chinese Wall separates the economic or trade union struggle from the political, one can find, over the 60 years of Labour Party history, recurring waves of change in emphasis between the two. To a considerable extent it was the failure of the trade union arm of the labour movement to deliver the goods single-handed that led millions to look for a political solution (1880-1900). And again, the disappointment with the latter led to a swing of the pendulum to the other side – emphasis on industrial activity with widespread political apathy (1906-21). The process was reversed again, this time with a declining curve of self-confidence and activity in both arenas, a process that went from 1922, with ups and downs, until the outbreak of the Second World War. After that the relation between the two arms underwent a variation. But that is to anticipate.
Until the late 1880s only a small minority of skilled workers were organised in trade unions. In 1888, however, the Miners’ Federation (now the NUM) was established. Then in 1889 the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Workers’ Union (now the TGWU) and the Gasworkers’ Union (now the NUGMW) were founded, ushering in the New Unions which made the organisation of the unskilled and semi-skilled a permanent feature of British trade unionism. In the 1890s, however, the New Unions were struggling in rough seas for their very existence.
So long as only skilled workers were organised, the need for political action did not arise. The trade unions could rely on the skill of their members as a strong bargaining weapon. The New Unions were in a very different position. They were always, even in times of fair trade, subject to the pressure of the mass of unemployed. While scab labour was not a problem for the skilled workers, it was very much so for the newly organised unskilled. In the 1890s a strong offensive was launched by the employers against the dockers, seafarers and other sections, and all the New Unions lost heavily in membership by the middle of the decade: “An important contributory factor to their decline was the worsening economic situation, and the growth of unemployment, after 1890”.  Strikes were broken by organisations of scabs, helped widely by the police and military:
When, as from the middle years of the decade, the decisions of the courts began to echo the hostility of the employers and the prejudice of the politicians towards trade unionism, the working men found themselves in a world in which their accepted position was being rapidly undermined. Their last refuge was the law as enacted by parliament, and this, by judge-made decisions, was now being turned against them. 
The culmination of the attack was the Taff Vale decision of 1901, which made trade unions liable to heavy charges for any actions arising out of their activities:
Inevitably the leadership of the trade union movement, however slowly their rank and file appreciated the position, were pushed into political action to remedy the situation by legislation. The strengthening of the Labour Representation Committee, the greatly increased independent labour representation at the general election of 1906 and the Trades Disputes Act of 1906 were the short term results. 
Thus from the practically pure trade unionism of the late 1880s and 1890s, the pendulum swung over to political action. But it did not stay long in this position.
Two decades of great effort on the part of the active members of the labour movement to establish an independent Labour Party produced disappointing results. The hope that the Parliamentary Labour Party would bring legislation shortening working hours and the establishment of a national minimum working wage for various industries was unfulfilled, while at the same time the urge for parliamentary activity became blunted as a result of the more favourable Liberal trade union legislation of the time. The Labour Party in parliament acted as the tail of the Liberal Party. Meanwhile the conditions of working people were deteriorating. “The official figures show that whereas retail prices had risen by 16.5 percent from 1900 to 1913, wage rates had increased only 6.5 percent”.  This, accompanied by increased employment, encouraged a swift increase in trade union membership (from 1,972,000 in 1900 to 4,145,000 in 1914 and 8,334,000 in 1920). The success of the dockers’, seafarers’ and sweated trades strikes in London in 1911, as well as the relative success of the miners in 1912, also encouraged workers to look to industrial action. And the years 1910-22 saw widespread industrial unrest, almost every industry being affected. Strikes were fought with greater bitterness than ever before, and some of them threatened to paralyse the national economy. The war stopped the rising industrial wave for only a short time. Immediately the war was over large numbers of mass strikes occurred, and the four post-war years were (except for 1926) years of the most widespread industrial action. (The annual average of working days lost in industrial conflicts in the decade 1898-1907 was about 3 million, and in the years 1910-13 over 18 million. In the years 1919, 1920, 1921 and 1922, there were 36, 28, 82 and 19 million working days lost in industrial conflicts.)
But again this wave of industrial action broke on the rocks of capitalist resistance. The end of 1920 witnessed the beginning of a deep slump. In 1921 and 1922 the miners, the engineers and some other sections of the working class were routed in great industrial battles. (Engineers’ wages were cut by as much as 16s a week in 1921, and then further after the lockout in 1922.) The employers’ offensive against workers’ standards continued during the long, widespread unemployment of the 1920s and 1930s. Trade union membership fell considerably (from 8,334,000 in 1920 to 5,522,000 in 1925, 4,804,000 in 1928, and 4,392,000 in 1933). The unions had to concentrate on the defence of wages, hours and working conditions. The unemployed could not look to industrial action to mitigate their hardships, and workers were very wary of taking industrial action under the prevailing conditions. Hemmed in as a class, the workers turned, with however dimmed hope, to the political wing of the movement.
A new swing of the pendulum occurred with the full employment brought about in the wake of World War Two and the radical mood of its aftermath.
Thus we see that radical changes in the economic and social routine, whether because of depression, rising prices or war, led to mass upsurges. There is no formula to explain why sometimes these led to purely industrial action while at other times they led to political action after labour was thwarted on the industrial field, while at others to both courses of action, and at yet others to apathy and passivity.
In spite of the Labour Party leadership’s long record of opportunism, the influence of revolutionary socialist ideas in the working class is still quite small. We live in a critical period for civilisation. During the last half century humanity has suffered two terrible wars and is now living in the shadow of total annihilation. The present generation has witnessed mass unemployment and hunger, fascism and the barbarous murder of colonial peoples in Kenya, Malaya, Algeria and Korea. However, in the midst of these terrible convulsions, the working class of Britain, as well as of other countries of the West – the United States, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Denmark, Germany and others – shows a stubborn adherence to reformism, a belief in the possibility of major improvement in conditions under capitalism, and a rejection of the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. Why is this so?
As long as some 50 years ago Lenin believed that British reformism had weak foundations. Lenin was without doubt the most important Marxist to define the roots of reformism. In 1915, in an article entitled The Collapse of the International, he explained opportunism, as he called it, thus:
The period of imperialism is the period in which the distribution of the world amongst the “great” and privileged nations, by whom all other nations are oppressed, is completed. Scraps of the booty enjoyed by the privileged as a result of this oppression undoubtedly fall to the lot of certain sections of the petty bourgeoisie and the aristocracy and bureaucracy of the working class.
How big was the section of the working class which received these “scraps of booty”? The answer: “These sections represent an infinitesimal minority of the proletariat and the working masses.” And in line with this analysis he defines reformism as “the adherence of a section of the working class with the bourgeoisie against the mass of the proletariat”. The economic foundation of the small “aristocracy of labour” is to be found, according to him, in imperialism and its super-profits. An inevitable conclusion to his analysis of reformism was that a small, thin crust of conservatism hides the revolutionary urges of the mass of the workers. Any break through this crust would reveal surging revolutionary lava. The role of the revolutionary party is simply to show the mass of the workers that their interests are betrayed by the “infinitesimal minority” of the “aristocracy of labour”.
From this evaluation Lenin came to the following conclusion regarding tactics of communists in the British labour movement: “I am personally in favour of adhesion to the Labour Party on condition of free and independent communist activity.”
These tactics could only be realised if the grip of reformism on the Labour Party was so very weak that the communists could get in as an organised body, and could easily expose the Labour Party leadership to the fighting masses who really desired a revolutionary change.
The entire history of the Labour Party since that time shows the two assumptions to be totally unfounded.  The history of reformism in Britain, the United States and elsewhere over the past half century – its solidity, its spread throughout the working class, frustrating and largely isolating all revolutionary minorities – makes it abundantly clear that the economic and social roots of reformism are not in “an infinitesimal minority of the proletariat and the working masses”, as Lenin argued.
During the 1930s, in the face of the deep world slump, unemployment and fascism, it looked as if the foundations of reformism were undermined for good. In that period and making a prognosis for the future, Trotsky wrote, “In [the] epoch of decaying capitalism, in general, there can be no discussion of systematic social reforms and the raising of the masses’ living standards, when every serious demand of the proletariat and even every serious demand of the petty bourgeoisie inevitably reaches beyond the limits of capitalist property relations and of the bourgeois state”.  If serious reforms are no longer possible under capitalism, then the knell of bourgeois parliamentary democracy is sounded and the end of reformism is at hand. The war, as a sharpener of contradictions in capitalism, would, according to Trotsky, lead to the acceleration of these processes.
But the obituary was written too soon. War and the permanent war economy gave a new lease of life to capitalism and hence to reformism in many of the Western capitalist countries.
That its increasing dependence on the permanent war economy shows reformism’s bankruptcy and the need for a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism is true. Equally true, however, is the fact that this bankruptcy is not yet apparent to the mass of the workers through their daily experience.  So long as capitalism is expanding and the conditions of the workers are improving, and are seen to be able to be ameliorated within the framework of the present social system, reformism has stronger roots than revolutionary socialism. It was on this rock that the waves of political militancy beat time and again, whether within the Labour Party or without. A glance at the record will show that socialist parties outside the Labour Party made very few inroads into the labour movement. Thus, for instance, if parliamentary elections are used as a record of political influence: in 1922 the Communist Party put up seven candidates of which two were elected (one standing as an official Labour candidate); in 1923 they lost their two seats; in 1924 one member was returned; in 1929 none; 1931 none; 1935 one; 1945 two; 1950 none (with 97 out of 100 candidates losing their deposits); 1951 none; 1955 none; 1959 none. Undoubtedly members of the Communist Party have had quite a large influence on different sections of the labour movement at different times on the industrial front. They controlled, for instance, the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement, had important positions in the AEU, NUM, ETU, etc, etc. But the political influence of the party as such was very small, as the election figures testify. Some 31 years after it was made, the prophecy of R. Palme Dutt is not yet realised: “The workers have lost confidence in the Labour Party, and seek elsewhere! The labour movement, the old labour movement, is dying. The workers’ movement, the independent workers’ movement, is rising”. 
The fate of the Independent Labour Party was sadder still. Its membership, which in 1932 after splitting from the Labour Party was 16,773, dropped to 11,092 in 1933, 7,166 in 1934 and 4,392 in 1935 , and today can be counted in hundreds (or tens) – it is quite inactive. To use parliamentary representation once again as a measuring rod of its influence, it held six seats in 1931, four in 1935, four in 1945, and none since.
Other socialist parties show a similar record. The Commonwealth Party established in 1942 managed to gain a fair amount of support in by-elections – winning two seats during the war in opposition to the “electoral truce” of Labour with the Tories. It managed to get one seat in the 1945 elections, but shortly afterwards its leader, Acland, and other leading supporters joined the Labour Party. The Trotskyist Revolutionary Communist Party, which played quite an active role in a number of industrial struggles during the war, fared no better. The Communist Party managed to survive, despite the indifference of the mass of the workers in this country to it, largely thanks to its international connections which boosted members’ morale. Between reformism and Stalinism, independent socialist parties have had very little chance of survival.
The rock of reformism proved impregnable to a number of internal oppositions, from the ILP which left the party in despair, to Cripps’s Socialist League. In addition, a number of Labour youth organisations were suppressed or dissolved (1927, 1929, 1955).
British social democracy is unique in that the trade unions are part and parcel of the political organisation.
The anaemia, apathy and bureaucracy prevalent in the Labour Party are an indirect derivation of the same diseases affecting the trade union movements. The Constituency Labour Party (CLP) is much less homogeneous than the trade union branch in social composition, which weakens class consciousness, even if the contours of the class and the party are generally congruent. “Trade unionist consciousness”, to use Lenin’s term, grows spontaneously out of the soil of the industrial struggle and is much stronger among the activists in the branch and on the factory floor than among Labour Party activists. Socialist consciousness, on the other hand, can grow only through a grasp of the problems of society at large from the standpoint of the historical interests of the working class. And here the discussion in CLPs and trade union branches, finding their political focus in the Labour Party, is of central importance. The trade unions are, and are not, the Labour Party. The consciousness forged on the one anvil is in a way more advanced yet at the same time lower than the consciousness forged on the other. While militants in the unions attack political reformism from the left, there are other forces threatening it from the right – from the direction of non-political or business unionism. And the balance between the two results in nothing more definite than a directionless drift.
The first and most general factor causing apolitisation of the working class is the expansion of capitalism that has taken place over the last two decades. In a chaotic boom where different groups of workers in different industries and localities manage to squeeze out concessions for themselves, there is a strong trend towards fragmentation – i.e. away from class action.
Another factor is the rise of the white collar workers. Britain, like the other advanced countries, is witnessing a decline in the number of workers in basic industries, which are traditionally strongly unionised – notably coal mining and the railways – and a general decline throughout the whole economy in the importance of manual workers, while employment in service industries and in white collar jobs is increasing. In the US only 25 percent of the workers are now employed in manufacturing. In Britain and Sweden the ratio is about 40 percent.  In industry itself the proportion of staff is rising quickly. Thus, for instance, “In ICI, to take just one example, the number of staff workers has risen by 45 percent in the last ten years and the number of manual workers by 2 percent”.  The immediate reaction of professional and white collar workers to trade unionism and especially to politically affiliated trade unions is, to say the least, cool. They think of themselves as belonging to the middle class, and have middle class aspirations. Thus the rise of the professions and their unionisation must have a blunting effect on the politics of the unions.
Another factor affecting the interest of trade unions in politics is the attitude of the government of the day. Many trade unions look to the connection with the Labour Party as an insurance against repressive legislation or government interference in their affairs. Hence the softer the Tory government in dealing with the unions, and the more access the latter have to the former, the less keen are they on their political association with the Labour Party.
As regards access of the trade unions to the government, “No established right of access to the government was conceded to unions until the Second World War. The long duration of the war and the much longer duration of economic problems encouraged its establishment”.  After the coming to power of the Tories in 1951 the trade union leaders showed no diminution of desire for access to the government and collaboration with it. Thus the general council stated, “It is our longstanding practice to seek to work amicably with whatever government is in power and through consultation jointly with ministers and with the other side of industry to find practical solutions to the social and economic problems facing this country. There need be no doubt, therefore, of the attitude of the TUC towards the new government”.  “Trade union leaders sat on 81 government committees in the year 1953-54, covering a wide range of subjects”.  The most prominent of these committees have been the two general advisory committees, the National Joint Advisory Council to the Minister of Labour and the National Production Advisory Council on Industry.  “The Conservative government until 1955 appointed trade unionists to its consultative committees more than even the Labour government and a fair measure of informal consultation took place, too”. 
The trade unions have direct access to government departments, whatever the colour of the government. In 1946 Arthur Deakin could say, “We have an open door in relation to all state departments, and are thus able to get our difficulties examined in such a way as would not have been possible with any other party in government”.  However, the situation has not changed since:
The Conservatives preserved the system almost intact after 1951, although there is not the same familiarity of contacts with Conservative ministers as under the Labour government. While the TUC might not convince the Conservatives on many major economic issues, there was less difference on the everyday technical level. But the unions’ views were heard. “If I want to talk to the minister,” said a leading trade unionist in 1957, “I just pick up that telephone”. 
In the past the trade unions often looked to parliament to protect them. Now, with their industrial strength much greater, they become more and more reserved about parliamentary intervention in certain fields, and above all in the field of wage negotiations:
Arthur Deakin openly expressed this mood in 1953: “Never be led into the mistake of supposing you are going to get an advantage by people asking questions in parliament affecting your collective agreements, conditions of employment and those things which are more properly dealt with by the union on the industrial level”. 
This is the reason why, “once the spearhead of his union’s industrial-political activity, the trade union MP now stands on the sidelines”.  This is also the reason why the unions send into the House of Commons only their Second Eleven.
A very important factor influencing the trade unions towards an apolitical stance is the decline in the importance of industrial legislation and statutory obligations on employers. Much of the early legislation occurred in the absence of unions or covered matters which unions were unable to tackle, such as workmen’s compensation. Especially with the rise of fringe benefits in individual firms, the role of statutory obligations declined (although it is almost unnecessary to remark that Britain still shows little progress as regards fringe benefits compared with other countries, not only the United States, but even those in Western Europe). 
To add to the unions’ disinterest in the political colour of the government is the fact that the Tory government is not more ready to use emergency powers and troops to break strikes than Labour in the past. As one student put it:
The Labour government of 1945-51 always treated strikes seriously and anxiously, and intervened promptly, equipped with emergency measures. The Conservative governments since 1951, on the other hand, have been almost nonchalant in their treatment of strikes, despite some belligerent talk between them and union leaders. They have been less disposed to use emergency powers or troops. 
A whole number of other factors kept, and will continue to keep, alive the interest of the trade unions in politics. First of all, there is the increasing role of the government as employer. The size of the civil service has increased. In 1914 there were 282,402 non-industrial civil servants. The number rose to 387,400 in 1939 and 635,700 in 1957. 
The government has become, through nationalisation, the largest industrial employer, employing more than 2½ million people. Particularly since 1957 it has been using the boards of the nationalised industries to regulate wage standards in the economy as a whole. Under these conditions, the complete separation of economics and politics is clearly out of the question. As Cousins put it on the day the London bus workers started their strike, “We are not prepared to go backwards at the behest or instruction of a government not of our political feeling”.  He added that the London busmen were fighting the fight for all trade unionists. A few months later Ted Hill, general secretary of the United Society of Boilermakers, wrote:
The Tory government has decided to declare war on the trade unions of this country in a more vicious way that any former government. It has decided to use its political power in purely industrial issues, and therefore the trade unions are free to use their industrial power in political issues. 
Secondly, the interest of the unions in politics cannot disappear altogether so long as the government continues in the role of regulator – now using the brake, now the accelerator – of economic activity. In case of a real slump it scarcely need be remarked that the politisation of the trade unions will be quick and far-reaching, especially as the years of full employment after the long and terrible mass unemployment of the 1920s and 1930s must have convinced millions that a slump is not an act of god, and that it can be cured.
Again a number of factors will make the workers unable to defend themselves with industrial means alone, and thus drive them to look for a political solution. First, there is creeping unemployment. Secondly, there are sectors of overcapacity of the productive machine.
Thus it is reported from the United States:
In the year prior to negotiations with the steel union the corporations can – and do – load the warehouses. The union has to strike for six to ten months before management even begins to lose money. And what is true in steel is equally true in rubber, oil, auto, and all other mass production unions. The strike weapon, by itself, is no longer as paralysing as it was 12 or 15 years ago. 
As regards Britain, this is of course largely a song of the future (although the strike in BLSP fitted the model). But it is clear that labour’s striking power under these conditions must be threatened.
It has been pointed out that the immediate effect of the rise of the white collar and professional workers and their unionisation was to dampen trade union interest in politics. But in the long run, the effect may well be exactly the opposite. With increasing automation, accompanied by an increase in the number of technicians and supervisors, the possibility of these people keeping the factory running during a strike will increase, a development that will paralyse the tendency of manual workers to rely on the industrial arm alone to improve their conditions:
Frederick Pollack, a leading German authority on automation, even goes so far as to prophesy in his book Automation (New York, 1957) that in the new era the strike weapon will lose much of its effectiveness. And he gives as an example a 1945 strike of operating and maintenance workers at the atomic energy plants at Peducah and Oak Ridge. A handful of supervisory employees were able to keep up full-scale production during the three-day walkout because the plants are so highly automated. 
Of course, this again is mainly a song of the future in this country.
To the extent that trade union officials feel that the main battles have been won, and consider themselves part of the status quo, their interest in politics must be lukewarm, but there are counteracting forces. In summing up we can say that the relations of the trade unions to politics are much less clear than a generation ago. The picture can no longer be drawn with quick brush strokes. Now more meticulous details and careful shading and nuances make it up. Different and contradictory trends criss-cross one another.
Will the trade unions and the Labour Party separate? This question has been raised from time to time since the 1959 election defeat. The reasons are obvious. With Gaitskell appealing to the middle class floating voter, it is clear that the “image” of the trade unions – alleged to be responsible for strikes, inflation, etc – is an embarrassment. The workers are presumed by the middle classes to take too large a share of the national cake. The party looks like an oligarchic organisation made up of both an irresponsible “fanatic” left and tyrannical union bosses. All this damages the electorally valuable “liberal” image. The trade unions are not even able to guarantee to deliver the votes of their members. So to many a party leader on the revisionist right the trade union connection is a wasting asset.
On the other hand, to many trade union bosses the political connection also does not look very advantageous, first because of above mentioned factors that reduce trade unionists’ interest in politics, and above all because this connection seems to impede the attraction of white collar workers to the trade unions and especially the TUC. The election of a Labour government no longer seems to be the best, or a very important, way to serve the bread and butter interests of the union members. Some such thoughts seem to lie behind several pronouncements of George Woodcock, the secretary of the TUC. In April 1961 he wrote in Red Tape, the journal of the Civil Service Clerical Association, that the members of the TUC “have been driven by circumstances to associate more with one party than the other two, but we are still an independent industrial organisation”. On 30 May 1961, speaking to the association’s conference, he returned to this theme. “We start”, he said, “as trade unionists, and we end as trade unionists. It would be wrong if we started on the assumption that it is the TUC’s function to support one political party. In the trade union movement there are people of all parties, and people of no party”.  A few months later, appearing on television, he said, “Trade unions are concerned with bread and butter issues”, it was a mistake to introduce “issues which divide us”, and as for politics, they were relevant only if they “spring out of your industrial experience”.  In other words, the trade unions should be political, but only in the sense that American trade unions are political – that is, they should help those who help them, but on such things as defence they should take no position.
The deeper the split in the Labour Party on broad political issues, the less do those who are set upon business unionism see any advantage in affiliation to it.
But anyone who visualises a complete break between the trade unions and the Labour Party, at least over the coming few years, will probably prove to be mistaken. As we have seen, although there are forces drawing the trade unions away from politics, there are others pushing in an opposite direction. Above all, so long as the old working class community, which can be seen in the mining village or dockers’ areas, with their deep class loyalties, exist side by side with the more “Americanised” modern working class, the process of separation of the trade unions from the Labour Party cannot be completed. However, the process of trade union withdrawal from politics will probably continue in the foreseeable future, nothwithstanding the countervailing forces, and this will have a dampening influence on the party. The drift will continue. Of course this will change radically when capitalism is shaken by economic or social crisis. 
While reformism is being undermined from the right – from bourgeois influence which tends to dissolve the class content of the movement – other forces, connected with them, challenge it from the left. These are also rooted in the economic boom of the last two decades.
The vulgar “Marxist” view sees in poverty only a cause for rebellion, and in reforms only a numbing of fighting ardour. Actually empty stomachs may lead not to rebellion but, especially if it is the stomachs of workers’ wives and children, to submission. On the other hand, a full stomach may lead not to contentment, but to self-confidence and assertiveness. The British workers of the 1920s and 1930s had a much clearer feeling of belonging to the working class than at present, but this did not prevent them, misguided by the leaders of the TUC and Labour Party, from standing aside while more than a million miners and their families were starved into submission during the 1926 strike. Nor did hunger lead them to industrial action in support of the millions of unemployed. Threatened by unemployment themselves, they were docile and disinclined to act in solidarity with other members of their class.
Workers today are far more self-confident. They will not allow themselves to be pushed around. They go so far to resist the sacking of their mates, invading the prerogative of management regarding hiring and firing, fighting for an element of workers’ control in the midst of capitalism. (How different to 1922, when the engineering employers fought the workers on the question of management prerogatives, and sacked thousands of shop stewards!)
Even the assertion of many workers that they are no different from the middle class is not only a negative, damaging element from the standpoint of socialism. No, workers declare thereby that they are not inferior to other people. The idea of “the deserving poor” is gone – no more “the rich man in his castle and the poor man at his gate”, the idea that our “ betters” are born to rule.
With self-reliance comes also a much greater generosity of spirit, so clearly shown in the sympathy strikes of thousands of lorry drivers, dockers and engineers in support of the nurses’ pay claim this May.
When it comes to wider social questions, again the workers show much more daring in facing up to issues than in the past. Hardly a worker thought that it was up to him even to take a position on the Boer War 60 years ago. Today a Gallup poll shows that 24 percent of Labour voters are for unilateral disarmament. 
But this great move forward is against a background of the general reformist ideology. Reformism is both in conflict with capitalism and accommodating to it. Its dual nature is a replica of the dual impact of expanding capitalism on the working class. Capitalism and modern industry, as Marx showed, unites the workers into disciplined armies. However, it also disciplines them to authority from above, whether from the employer or the Labour bureaucrat. The very strength of the labour movement that wrests reforms from the bosses, from capitalism, also makes it very conservative and resistant to the rank and file.
The different militant sections, whether workers on strike or Aldermaston marchers, etc are part of a large army struggling against the establishment and fighting capitalism. The fight against sacking is an element in the struggle for collective workers’ control over production – CND is a movement for collective control over our lives. The partial struggle is part of the whole – that is, the struggle against the bomb is a struggle against the boss and vice-versa. But so long as capitalism is expanding, and reformism is the prevalent ideology in the working class, the partial struggles cannot be completely fused. If millions of workers are not ready for industrial action for political ends, the actual fusion of the fight against the boss and the bomb cannot take place. Without a working class unified in a revolutionary struggle, the tie-in between different sections of militants must remain weak.
The partial struggles also lack a unifying political focus. The militant industrial workers may rely on their own organisation on the factory floor to improve their conditions, while their involvement in trade union branch activity, trades councils and Constituency Labour Parties is very small indeed. Party activists are more involved in anti-Tory electoral activities than in anti-boss industrial struggles. Many of the Aldermaston marchers are neither in industry nor in the Labour Party. Above all, while the Labour Party and the trade unions remain deeply reformist, they cannot unite and channel revolutionary struggles directed against the capitalist order. One could describe the relation between the different militants in struggle as a number of interlinking circles with a very small overlap. Millions vote Labour, but only a minority are active politically. Millions are in the trade unions, but only a minority are militant. CND embraces only a tiny minority of trade union members and Labour supporters. So long as reformism keeps its strong hold on the labour movement, the fragmentation and lack of coordination between different sectors of the struggle against the establishment will continue. To the extent that there is, and can be, a political focus for all these segments, it is only in the left of the Labour Party.
One question raised again and again on the left over decades is the possibility of a split of the party into two separate organisations, the left moving out.
This is not on the cards. It is true probably nothing would make Gaitskell happier than that the left should leave. But the structure of the party, based as it is on the trade unions, is such that without the unions splitting the left would be out on a limb. The trade unions themselves are too strong, and have too much in common on bread and butter issues, to split for any issues of ideology (as the much weaker trade unions have done in a number of continental countries). Again, the British parliamentary electoral system must deter the left from splitting (and as yet politics is in the main on a parliamentary level). The sterility of the CP, ILP, etc must also serve as a warning.
If the left cannot, and should not, split from the Labour Party, is there any possibility of its taking over and transforming the party from a reformist to a revolutionary organisation?
The answer must be negative. The prevalence of reformist ideology in the mass base of the party makes its transformation into a revolutionary party inconceivable. Even if a conference passes good left wing resolutions, like Scarborough’s unilateralist vote, the right wing is always able to mobilise to its support the mass of inactive, backward supporters. The reserves of the right are at present incomparably larger than those of the left. (Hence any election in the trade unions with a high poll ensures a right wing victory. Likewise ballots usually give a much worse right wing result than trade union conference decisions.)
The Marxists in the party would like to (a) make the right split from the party, or (b) compel it to submit to the democratic decisions of conference, and stop toying with Lib-Labism. Neither can be achieved in present conditions. The right, at the same time, would like (a) to make the left split from the party, or (b) to compel it to cut its connections with the rebel “do it yourself” movements like CND which are independent of the bureaucratic machine. This, again, the right will not be able to accomplish. The left well knows that to split from the party is to commit suicide. It knows too that everything alive and pulsing in the movement is generated from those sections of it that are independent of the bureaucratic machine. The “cancer” of unilateralism is too widespread in the labour movement generally, including a number of top officials in the trade unions, for surgery by Transport House to be successful. This does not mean that Gaitskell is not tempted to carry out such amputation, nor that the left should be careful not to play into his hands. The temptation for Gaitskell and Brown is particularly great, if they cannot cut off the big limbs – the Cousins, Horners, Russells – to compensate themselves with the small, like Keep Left.
The crisis in the Labour Party will go on. On the one hand, the pressure towards Americanisation of the labour movement, away from traditional reformism to Lib-Labism, and on the other the pressure towards unorthodoxy, militant, revolutionary activities will go on for years to come. There is a double crisis for traditional reformism, something that distinguishes the party at present from the past. And so long as there is no radical change in the objective conditions, i.e. in the economic, social and political environment in which the working class finds itself – as well as in the mass consciousness existing and inherited from the past – the crisis will go on, and the drift continue.
Given no major changes in the movement generally, what are the methods of work open to Marxists in the Labour Party?
They should keep the bridge open between the left inside the party, and the militants who cannot be assimilated and controlled by the trade union and Labour Party bureaucracy. In this connection the organisation of CND/Labour Party militants in factories and trade unions is of special importance. Papers serving the purpose of bridge-building are also of immense value – after all, there are many more militant party supporters in the factories than people who attend wards or general management committees.
Marxists should not set themselves up as a party or embryo of a party of their own. They should remember that the working class looks to the Labour Party as the political organisation of the class (and no doubt when a new wave of political activity spreads among the working class millions of new voters will flock to its banner and hundreds of thousands will join it actively). Marxists should never forget that consciousness of the aims of socialism on the part of the mass of the workers is a necessary prerequisite for the achievement of socialism.
Marxists should strive to unite with the centrist left in activity in defence of the traditional working class content of the party (as on the issue of Clause Four, defence of conference supremacy, etc) against right wing attack, trying to isolate the Lib-Lab revisionists.
Above all the Marxists should help to build bridges between the different sectors of the struggle, in industry, CND, etc, with the clear knowledge that political struggle is meaningless without a political organisation to channel it, and that the only party the working class in Britain thinks its own, with all its defects, is the Labour Party.
1. R. Miliband, Parliamentary Socialism (London, 1961), pp.19-20.
2. R. Miliband, Parliamentary, p.22.
3. R. Miliband, Parliamentary, p.28.
4. R. Miliband, Parliamentary, p.44.
5. R. Miliband, Parliamentary, pp.95-96.
6. R. Smillie, My Life for Labour (London, 1924), p.133.
7. R.W. Lyman, The First Labour Government, 1924 (London, 1953), p.106.
8. H. Dalton, Call Back Yesterday (London, 1953), p.147.
9. R.W. Lyman, First, p.106.
10. M. Cole (ed.), Beatrice Webb’s Diaries, 1924-1932 (London, 1956), p.2.
11. J. Symons, The General Strike (London, 1957), pp.23-24. On Red Friday 1925 the main unions backed the miners’ stand against pay cuts and threatened a general strike. This forced the Tory government to grant a nine-month wages subsidy.
12. J. Symons, General, p.26.
13. J. Symons, General, p.40.
14. J. Symons, General, p.42.
15. J. Symons, General, p.115.
16. J. Symons, General, p.116.
17. R. Miliband, Parliamentary, p.164.
18. See The Review of Reviews, vol.XXXIII (June 1906), pp.568-952; R. Miliband, Parliamentary, p.33.
19. 1909 ILP Annual Conference Report, p.49. Quoted in R.T. McKenzie, British Political Parties (London, 1955), p.345.
20. J. Saville, Trade Unions and Free Labour: The Background to the Taff Vale Decision, in A. Briggs and J. Saville (eds.), Essays in Labour History (London, 1960), p.340.
21. J. Saville, Trade Unions, p.341.
22. J. Saville, Trade Unions, p.350.
23. B. Pribicevic, The Shop Stewards’ Movement and Workers’ Control, 1910-1922 (Oxford, 1959), p.161.
24. For some 40 years the Communist Party repeatedly applied for affiliation to the Labour Party, but to no avail. The fact that at least to some extent the CP leadership’s sectarianism on the one hand, and open dependence on the Kremlin on the other, made it easier for the right wing to reject the application is one thing. But to say that this was the only, or even the main, reason why they managed to do this is another. After all, Cripps’s Socialist League did not manage to survive the persecution of the right.
25. L. Trotsky, The Death Agony of Capitalism (1938).
26. From his view that any serious reforms in the framework of capitalism could not be achieved, Trotsky concluded that any struggle for reforms had an immediate revolutionary potential. This was the essence of his Transitional Programme. That future reforms snatched by the workers would help stabilise capitalism was the last thing he would have said. Of course Trotsky’s views on this point – at the time, they were shared by the present writer – were rational for the 1930s. However, they sound ridiculous when repeated parrot-wise in the 1950s and 1960s by those who publish his Death Agony of Capitalism without comment or criticism. Parrots have never made a revolution.
27. Quoted in H. Pelling, The British Communist Party (London, 1958), p.68.
28. H. Pelling, British, p.77.
29. M. Shanks, The Stagnant Society (London, 1961), p.71.
30. M. Shanks, Stagnant, p.71.
31. V.L. Allen, Trade Unions and Government (London, 1961), p.12.
32. V.L. Allen, Trade Unions, p.23
33. V.L. Allen, Trade Unions, p.34.
34. V.L. Allen, Trade Unions, p.35.
35. V.L. Allen, Trade Unions, p.304.
36. M. Harrison, Trade Unions and the Labour Party since 1945 (London, 1960), p.294.
37. M. Harrison, Trade Unions, pp.294-295.
38. M. Harrison, Trade Unions, p.295.
39. M. Harrison, Trade Unions, p.296.
40. See International Wage and Fringe Comparisons, Trade Union Affairs, Spring 1961.
41. V.L. Allen, Trade Unions, p.128.
42. V.L. Allen, Trade Unions, pp.71-72.
43. Manchester Guardian, 5 May 1958; V.L. Allen, Trade Unions, p.206.
44. November Circular to Members of the United Society of Boilermakers, in V.L. Allen, Trade Unions, p.110.
45. S. Lens, American Labour at Dead End, New Politics, Autumn 1961.
46. W. Glazier, The Automation Problem, in C. Cochran, American Labour in Midpassage (New York, 1959), p.123.
47. New Statesman, 14 July 1961.
48. New Statesman, 8 September 1961.
49. The establishment of a Labour government, if followed by serious economic difficulties, resulting in a headlong collision between government and unions, may well accelerate the process of separation of the trade unions from the party. But in this case it will not lead to a politicisation of the labour movement, but the opposite. However, this is at present speculation.
50. Gallup Political Index, Report No.9, September 1960.
Last updated on 2 March 2010