J. T. Murphy

Straight from the Dock

Source: Workers’ Weekly, December 4, 1925
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: David Tate
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). 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.

[Before leaving the Old Bailey for Brixton Prison our Comrade J. T. Murphy managed to convey to a representative the following stirring appeal.

Written actually in the dock it forms as an historic document every worker should value.]

THE “trial” is over. The sentences are delivered.

A jury which understood absolutely nothing about politics and was selected only because of its property qualifications, has performed its role. The Tory prosecution has secured its end.

Using the laws based upon property, designed to protect the interests of the propertied classes against the working class, they have pilloried a body of opinion in the vain hope that it will stop the progress of these ideas.

What folly!

What stupidity!

The very attempt to carry out this idiotic policy in relation to a class rising to power damns the efforts of the oppressors and proclaims to millions of workers that the law is an instrument of class oppression.

Nothing throughout the trial has been more obvious than that.

The people of no property were in the dock. The witnesses were the paid spies of the propertied class.

How splendidly our comrades Campbell, Pollitt and Gallacher riddled them until they (the prosecution led by the unscrupulous Hogg) looked the most despicable creatures ever exhibited.

And how “impartial” the sleek judge! How determined he was that the Ulster rebellion should not be brought into court!

Justice indeed! The judge, the jury, the prosecution have stripped the British variety naked.

She stands revealed as a fraud. She can no longer pose as above the classes. Her scales are weighted with property. Her sword is the sword of class dictatorship.

We have been on trial. That is true. But we in our turn have put others on trial in this case.

The whole fabric of capitalist law, and its administration have also been on trial.

When the judge passed sentence on us who are now in prison he proclaimed to all the world that the capitalist class could no longer afford to cover its dictatorship with the cloak of democracy, that it was fearful and afraid of the working-class.

But what folly they display in their fearfulness!

They have forgotten that the attempt to suppress a class rising to power only stimulates that class to new endeavours, steels it for greater battles, equips it with courage and daring, drives it to realise what are the necessary weapons of victory.

We have not forgotten.

We have read history and read it aright.

This act of persecution cannot and will not be thought by the workers as something apart from the treatment meted out to the Fascists, the organisation of the O.M.S.; the isolation of Labour as the enemy of the “community”; the threatened attack upon the political levy in the trade unions; the cutting of the standards of unemployed relief; the attacks upon wages and hours.

Nor are they something apart.

Every worker can see and will see that we have been selected for persecution because the party we lead expresses most sharply and clearly the interests of the class under attack. Seeing these facts they will rally to our aid, build our party, and unite more closely the whole Labour movement. Thus will the class which holds the future in its hands answer the challenge of the judge, the jury and the law. Thus will history be made and the dictatorship of capitalist law be forced to give way to the dictatorship of the workers.

Comrades, to those of us who have dedicated our lives to the Communist movement because we know it alone leads the working-class from the miseries and degradation of wage slavery to the classless social order, a period in prison is an episode in the war of the classes. To the working-class as a whole it is a landmark, a challenge, a call to action. Let the men and women of courage who feel this challenge and this call to action, answer promptly. Join the Communist Party!