Source: “The Miners Next Move”, The Call, 23 October 1919, p.3, (1.301words)
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Chris Clayton
Copyleft: John MacLean Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2007. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License
Events this year have proved that no organisation in Britain has a greater influence than the B.S.P. on the policy of the working class. We in the end are going to triumph as our Bolshevik comrades in Russia have triumphed, simply because we apply the materialist interpretation of history to events as they occur, and use it to find out what next great events are liable to take place so that we may suggest to our class the tactics to be pursued. The British governing class as represented by the permanent officials supervised by Cabinet ministers are materialists, too, and adopt tactics similar to, those we apply.
With the agents at their command who, from the inside as well as the outside of the working-class movement, bring them exact information as to what we are thinking and planning, this governing class are in a better position than we to estimate correctly the situation at the moment and to camouflage it dexterously to throw us off their scent. Still, we of the B.S.P. hampered as we are, have fairly estimated the course of events, and have been able to give a fairly fine lead to Labour. Our miscalculations we have been easily able to rectify, as we more easily will in the future.
It is our business, therefore, to review the situation as we find it after the Trades Congress deputation to Lloyd George and Bonar Law, not in the “practical” way that Smillie and his colleagues may view it, but as revolutionary Socialists, who see in this year’s great class struggle the necessary winnings of the economic revolution that will lead us into the real “New World.”
The Coalition gang in December stemmed the political ambitions of Henderson, Macdonald, and Co., expecting thus to stagger Labour. This but cleared the way for “direct action,” prepared for by the Miners’ Reform Committees and the Shop Stewards’ Movement. The Forty Hours’ strike set the ball rolling in January, with the miners threatening action immediately after. The B.S.P. members played their part in the conflict to save Russia and thus pave the way for the Revolution here.
The Government was forced to offer the Coal Commission and the Industrial Peace Conference in order to prevent a general strike, until the Bolsheviks and the Spartacists were crushed and the Peace Treaty moulded in favour of Britain. By this means it prevented strikes whilst it set itself by victimisation and sabotage to break up the unofficial rank and file movement. To continue the miners’ negotiations on nationalisation the Government threatened to put an end to the Coal Commission if the miners struck against the first Sankey award on hours and wages. Only till the Peace terms had been almost agreed upon did the Government sweetly submit to Smillie’s lunges at dukes .and capitalists. Then came the attack on Smillie, the attack, on the miners’ alleged ca-canny policy, and finally the 6s. on the ton of coal — as a prelude to the Government’s proposal to trustify the mines.
People, however, rallied to Smillie, and the miners, who are bent on united working class action on nationalisation, skilfully rolled up inside withdrawal from Russia, conscription, and military intervention in strikes. They relied on Trades’ Congress support. To sicken the miners of direct action the Government induced the Yorkshire miners’ strike over the 10 per cent. increase on ton rates with lavish praise of Herbert Smith, M.P. This the Government followed with a rumour of a General Election this year.
But all this failed to prevent the miners carrying the day at the Congress. The Government reply was the attack on the N.U,R., in the hope that Bromley’s men would scab, that Thomas would succumb to show of military force, and that fear of starvation would rush the workers over to the side of Lloyd George. If the Government, with its middle class scabs and its National (Black) Guards had won, “direct action” would have been at a heavy discount, and the Government could safely have flouted the Parliamentary Committee and the Miner’s Executive. The Government lunge at the same time meant a general break in wages and spirits during the winter, with a safer onslaught on Russia in the springtime. Russia seems safe for the winter; Mannerheim has been knocked out, and is in London intriguing; Paderewsky’s Poland is shaky and he too, is in London intriguing; Von der Goltz is keeping up a Barons’ War in Lettland and Lithuania; Petlura in the Ukraine is breaking up Denikin’s rear; Britain can do nothing serious this winter in Russia except apply the starvation blockade; therefore crush Labour at home.
Since the railwaymen’s wages could not be broken, then let prices go up. During the strike milk and beef prices went up. Now we are this last week told woollen cloth is going up and rents must rise drastically: naturally, as the strike has forced a further £4,465,000 issue of paper-notes, raising the great total to £339,486,000. The Government is thus bent on depriving the workers of the great strike victory with immenser profits for the profiteers. The Profiteering Committees are sheer camouflage whilst the fleecing of the worker proceeds.
We of the B.S.P. must use this new development to make our class still more united and determined than it was at the strike, and we must persist in showing that nothing short of Communism will solve the bread and margarine question. Before the people fully realise the situation winter will be well begun, and therefore, from this and the Russian point of view we can afford to urge continued negotiations and agitation until the people are thoroughly united for a mighty class effort.
I am aware that in the meantime there is a magnificent rush in the oil industry. It looks as if the Government and the trust capitalists are buying up spot and future supplies of oil in case of a miner’s strike. This is probably a move to hustle the miners on to precipitate action. Can the miners afford to wait a month or two, until March if need be? I believe they can, if they apply the ca-canny policy and are backed up similarly by other workers.
Time tells in our favour. The miners are rightly starting off on a publicity campaign. Let them perfect their organisation, and see to it that a Central Committee of Labour is at once established, whilst the Unions amalgamate along the lines of industry.
Let the unofficial movement also play its part in furthering the workshop committees with appropriate district and national committees. Let them also adopt a united programme round which all workers can rally.
At this stage we of the B.S.P. can play a supremely important part. We can call into being workshop committees with a right class bias; we can provide them with a programme identical with that of our South Wales comrades for the mining industry.
Let us urge full socialisation of mines and other trustified industries, full industrial control by the workers involved though modified to permit of the use of the co-operative movement, control of the education of the workers, a thirty hour week, fifty per cent. increase in wages, communally produced houses, withdrawal of British troops and aid from all parts of the world, the abolition of the army and the navy and the establishment of a workers’ defence force, and the transfer of the functions of Parliament to Labour’s Central Committee.
Let us now issue a manifesto declaring our policy for the guidance of our class, realising that capitalism is in the last ditch and that we can rally our class to the delivering of the knock-out blow. Was I wrong when I urged as Labour’s prayer — “We shall this year kill capitalism”?