J. T. Murphy

John Wheatley and Civil War

Source: Workers’ Weekly, August 14, 1925
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: David Tate
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.


In the Forward of August 8 Wheatley comes forward with a striking tribute to A. J. Cook and a definite call to get ready for civil war. We welcome both the tribute and the call.

But it is necessary to say one or two things more about the meaning of the rise of Comrade Cook and to carry the logic, of Wheatley’s article somewhat further. We wish Wheatley had done the job himself, though what he has already said must be making the I.L.P. feel sick.

After describing the state of the Labour Movement as he saw it prior to the “Triumph of Cook,” he writes:

“But the mineowners reckoned without their Cook. From a very low beginning a new force had been steadily rising in the ranks of Labour. When Mr. A. J. Cook was elected general Secretary of the Miners’ Federation, there was a widespread feeling that the post had been filled by a very ordinary person. He had none of the ‘intellectual’ claims of certain rivals, etc. But Cook had great qualities. . . . He began to preach a very old and now neglected doctrine. ‘Workers Unite.’ . . . .”

From whence this “new force” and what is the “new force”? Now it is general public knowledge that Comrade Cook owes his election as miners’ secretary to the organised work of the Minority Movement and the Communist Party.

Comrade Cook recognises this fact, publicly acknowledges it, and does his utmost to build up the Minority Movement because he knows its work is not finished.

Nobody knows of any other “new force” responsible for the revival of the neglected doctrine “Workers Unite.” Then why does not Wheatley say so quite frankly and line up with it?

It would certainly help very much to clear the air in Labour politics and not a little to prepare for the second round of the miners’ fight. Certainly it would be better than trying to water down a Communist triumph to some mysterious “now force.”

Now for the call to prepare. We feel confident that anyone reading the following will recognise the Communist message and not an I.L.P. message.

“ We have now got nine month’s truce. . . . The Capitalists will get their Fascisti ready to carry on a transport system. . . .

“The Navy will be ordered to man the mines. The soldiers and police will be drilled to keep the locked-out mob in order, while starvation forces them to subjugation.

“It looks like evens on a clash. IF WORKING-CLASS SOLDIERS CAN BE RELIED ON TO SHOOT DOWN WORKING-CLASS STRIKERS, Capitalism will get a new lease of life by making Britain a land of coolies. If the working-class soldiers should fail, then all is lost for Capitalism.

“One thing is clear as noon-day. For the next nine months the workers must prepare on a new scale and on new lines for the greatest struggle in their history.”

This is excellently put. Now will Wheatley and those who approve of his message follow it up and say exactly what the “new lines” are other than those the Communist Party have already put forward?

It seems logical to us that if the issue depends upon whether “working-class soldiers can be relied upon to shoot down working-class strikers” that at least Wheatley will take the elementary step striving to get the trades unions and the Labour Party to conduct an agitation among the soldiers and sailors, to win them to the side of the strikers.

There is a resolution on the agenda of the Labour Party Conference demanding that this should be done. Will Wheatley support this resolution and join with the Communist Party in this effort to create solidarity between the working-class soldiers and working-class civilians?

We wait with interest to see if Wheatley follows up with action along the lines his words demand.