Source: The Woman Worker, August 1926
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2009). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
To the women in the coalfields, whether wife, sister or mother of the miner miner, the present situation gives food for thought.
Along with the menfolk; she has faced hunger, uncertainty and the knowledge of debts mounting up and of health and strength going down. Her own hunger has been bad enough, but that of her children has been infinitely more terrible.
Sunshine and the company of her fellows in meeting or demonstration;has kept alive in her spark of hope. Financial, help from workers in all lands, especially from Soviet Russia has proved to her the fellow feeling of the international working class. Red Friday of last year had encouraged her to hope, that the bitter lessons learned by the 1921 betrayal (Black Friday), and the subsequent reductions of all workers’ wages during 1922 (£,600,000,000) had been effective.
Whatever the leaders of the General Council may say, the fact remains that the magnificent solidarity shown by the organised workers during the nine days of the General Strike, was in support of the miners’ slogan, “Not a pehnny off the Pay. Not a Minute on the day.” They had learned that if the miners’ conditions were worsened theirs would follow as in 1922. The magnificent solidarity shown during those nine days gave promise of the struggle being, short and decisive. The calling off of the strike and the subsequent weeks of slow torture and suffering of the miners, their wives and children, are something that will go down in history as an infinitely greater betrayal than that of 1921. Not only was it a betrayal of the miners,’ but it was a gross betrayal of the whole Trade Union Movement. If Thomas and the other members of the General Council thought the Strike was wrong why did they not denounce it? Why did they not resign before leading their men into it? And why, having led them into it and having definitely promised in their directions sent out that—
“The General Council further direct that Executives of the Unions concerned shall definitely declare that in the event of any action being taken and trade union agreements being placed in jeopardy, it be definitely agreed that there will be no general resumpution of work until those agreements are fully recognised.” (Memorandum sent out by T.U.C., 30th April, 1926; signed A. Pugh, Chairman, Walter Citrine, Secretary.)
Why, having made this promise, did they allow their members to be humiliated by signing in their name the most grovelling and humiliating terms of peace, while still in a position to gain honourable terms.
The General Council of the Trades Union Congress, in order to save their miserable faces and to whitewash themselves, must needs find a scapegoat and put their sins upon it and send it out into the wilderness—and they foolishly imagine that in their recent attempt to vilify the leaders of the miners, they have as easily hoodwinked the British workers as the children of Israel fondly imagined they could hoodwink their God. Well, it won’t just work, and the day of reckoning is approaching!!! The rank and file of the workers did not betray the miners, neither in the General Strike, nor even in the present situation which calls for an embargo in handling of all coal. Again, it is the weak and vacillating, leadership which is proving itself Capitalism’s most valuable ally. Baldwin must go, and so must his allies.
If Cook could be made to hear the voice of the whole working class, who are solidly behind him and the miners, they would never hesitate. Only the operation of the embargo without waiting for a decision by the men who betrayed the General Strike will assure them of this support.
The leaders, like Clynes, MacDonald Thomas and Cramp, declare that the workers are not ready to give active support. This is not true. The workers are always in front of their Right-wing “leaders,” and the Dockers’ Strike in Plymouth and Boulogne, the Railwaymen’s Delegate Conference in South Wales, the resolution of the Manchester Railway Shopmen, have all shown that the mass of workers are profoundly dissatisfied with the unjustifiable calling off the Strike before justice was secured for the miners, and the other workers safeguarded against victimisation.
The workers realise that if the miners go back to work with lower wages and longer hours that will be only the first of a series of defeats inflicted on the whole working clsss. Next it will be the turn of the railwaymen, then the transport workers and dockers. Only a victory for the miners will protect wages. only the embargo will enforce a victory for the miners.
And now the Bishops have appeared on the scene. Have they come to tell their fellow Bishops, who live largely on mining royalties to disgorge their ill-gotten gains? (The Bishop of Durham has £7,000 a year.) No, again it is the Baldwin slogan set to celestial music. “ The wages of all workers must come down” and again the miners must be the first victims. Arbitration and a promise to submit in advance to the findings of this arbitration court, is more dangerous ground than the workers have hitherto been called to traverse.
We Communists believe that capitalism can only continue to exist at the expense of the increasing misery of the working class. We also believe that only by loyalty and solidarity and organisation, can the workers triumph. The Bishops “whether consciously or unconsciously” to give them the benefit of the doubt, are simply another move in the capitalist game.
To you, women, the dark night seems long. But the organised might of the working class, under the courageous leadership of the Communist Party alone can bring the dawn and freedom to the struggling working class internationally.