Brian Pearce

Constant Reader:

He liked Lloyd George

(September 1959)

From The Newsletter, 12 September 1959.
Transcribed by Christian Hogsbjerg.

THE BRITISH COMMUNIST PARTY seems to be preparing for a return to the halcyon days of ‘Big Three Unity’. The moment Eisenhower signs a piece of paper with Khrushchev we can expect to hear the most amazing eulogies of ‘Ike’ and the whole circle of allegedly pro-co-existence politicians of America and Britain.

It is worth recalling how far the British Stalinists went in buttering up the bourgeois political world in the epoch of Teheran and Yalta. A characteristic statement of that time was Willie Gallacher’s parliamentary oration on the death of Lloyd George. When one recalls the role played by Lloyd George in the First World War and the years immediately following – the years when, in no small part thanks to him, the British revolution did not happen – and recalls, too, the militant activities of Gallacher in that period, the mind boggles at the speech. Yet it was actually made, it was typical of its time, and it gives a hint of the pernicious rubbish we can expect from the same quarter in the near future, if events take a certain course.

It ended thus:

‘Eagerly, anxiously, he sought for understanding and alliance with the Soviet Union. He recognized what a mighty combination that would be in maintaining peace. In this he had a common bond, one of many, with the present Prime Minister [Churchill, then already preparing for the “cold war”]. In the strange drama of life he played many parts, great parts, always with the fervour and intensity of a son of the people, for it was the common people that bore him. It was the suffering of the common people that called him forth to battle against poverty and neglect. But the drama for him is ended. Others must take up the burden and the task. Very quietly, very softly, after all the storm and strife, the curtain has fallen. May he rest in gentle peace.’ (House of Commons, March 28, 1945)

Divided we fall

We have had occasion more than once to point out that the real ‘adventurers’ in the industrial field are those trade union leaders who fail to take steps to bring out all appropriate sections of the workers in support of any particular section involved in a dispute.

By keeping each struggle isolated they bring about their members’ defeat, whereas true trade-union statesmanship would mean extending the struggle and so ensuring rapid and conclusive victory. In their militant days the Communist Party were accused, like the Socialist Labour League now, of being adventurers, and I was interested to come across recently the reply made to this charge in the organ of the National Minority Movement, a reply which expresses perfectly our own view on this question.

‘The partisans of the Red International of Labour Unions and the Minority Movements have never been in favour of striking for the fun of the thing. A strike is a serious thing for the workers with domestic responsibilities. It should never be propagated unthinkingly. It should never be launched without effective preparation. The reformists are continually emphasising to us that it is our last resort when all else has failed. Yet at the moment they are allowing sectional demands to be made some of which may culminate in a strike, without endeavouring to make that careful preparation or trying to secure the effective unity which can alone shorten the strike and gain speedy victory for the working class.

‘Surely the time has now arrived when this haphazard method of playing with the welfare of the working class must give way to scientifically organized action. In rallying the workers around a common demand, in preparing the ground for common action, lies our only way out of our present difficulties.’ (Editorial on The Labour Unrest in The Worker, April 26, 1924)

Last updated on 13.10.2011