Ralph Graham

British Workers Break Coalition with Churchill

(2 June 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 22, 2 June 1945, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Falling into step with the leftward-moving workers of Europe, the British working class last week smashed the Tory-Labor coalition government of Winston Churchill.

The end of the coalition came when the annual conference of the Labor Party, which embraces practically the whole of organized labor in the British Isles, voted almost unanimously (there were only two dissenting votes) to break the class truce into which the workers were led five years ago by the faithful lieutenants of capitalism who compose the top leadership of the party.

Churchill had no alternative but to submit his resignation to the King and form an interim Tory government which will hold office until the general elections fixed for July 5.

At the Labor Party conference a year ago, there was a strong rank and file movement favoring immediate rupture of the coalition. But since the war with Germany was in progress, the top leaders – Attlee, Bevin, Morrison – were able to stifle the opposition and win a majority vote to continue their political cohabitation with labor’s Tory foes.

Workers Angry

During the past year, however, a year marked by great strikes of coal miners and other workers which these labor misleaders took the lead in suppressing, anti-coalition sentiment rose. Feeling the angry, rebellious mood of the ranks, Attlee and his cohorts took the lead at this year’s conference in denouncing the coalition which they had themselves erected and perpetuated at labor’s expense.

They did this not without trepidation. The political capital of the Labor Party “leaders” has been woefully diminished by their treacherous policies of class peace. Attlee and Co. feared that a sudden break in the coalition, meaning an early general election, would not allow them enough time to restore their wilted prestige and secure re-election. They value their parliamentary seats above everything else. They therefore sought to postpone the elections until October.

Churchill, himself a smart politician, brusquely rejected a proposal by Attlee along these lines. He naturally seeks to place the Labor Party at a disadvantage. By fixing the elections for July 5, he hopes to convert the popular mood of victory over Germany into votes for himself and the Tory party.

Maneuvers like this will not greatly affect the outcome of the elections, in which class lines will be clearly drawn. Churchill’s government stinks in the nostrils of the British workers. Its reactionary record at home and abroad is only too well known. The cry, “Labor to Power!” is resounding throughout Britain. Even if the Labor Party fails to win a majority of the parliamentary seats, it will add greatly to its strength and may even become the largest party in the House of Commons.

Radical Program

The Labor Party goes into the election campaign with the most radical program in its history. It calls, among other things, for immediate nationalization of the coal mines, inland transport – and even that holy of holies of British capitalism, the Bank of England.

While endorsing this program with acclaim, the rank and file delegates to the conference showed very clearly their distrust of their “leaders.” They forced them to give a public pledge that, regardless of the outcome of the elections, they would never again seek coalition with the Tories. But by special pleading, these labor misleaders were able to keep their hands free to form a coalition with the Liberal Party, thereby laying the groundwork for a new political betrayal of the British workers.

Last updated on 7 November 2018