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International Socialism, Autumn 1960


Len Bishop

Reformism re-affirmed


From International Socialism (1st series), No.2, Autumn 1960, p.34.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Political Quarterly
July-September 1960
Stevens. 8s. 6d.

The sharp discussions which have taken place in the Labour Party since October have produced a number of ‘arguments’ from the so-called new thinkers. These range from the recruitment of more advertising men by Transport House to changing the name of the party. Until now nobody has troubled to produce a handy reference book containing the amalgamated wisdom of our new saviours.

The current edition of the Political Quarterly remedies this defect with a vengeance. We are treated to eleven articles by what are described as ‘the younger generation of Labour supporters’ (a member of the younger generation apparently being anyone under 40).

The scene is set by an editorial entitled Let Us Face the Future (a somewhat twisted humour, this) which is a preçis of the classical right-wing arguments, from opposition to ‘blanket nationalization’ to a call for all power to the Parliamentary Party.

After this gay beginning we are treated to a rapid survey of the political scene. Mrs. Shirley Williams, writing on The External Setting tells us of ‘the unrealism of those on the left who became involved in the futile debate on German rearmament’. Mrs Williams now apparently regrets her erstwhile opposition to official policy and has discovered that the matter was of little importance, in any case.

The real character of new thinking is revealed in an article by J.E.M. McKitterick on The Membership of the Party. The author is well known as a witch-hunter, whose major claim to fame was his speech at Scarborough in 1958. With a special dispensation from the platform (Driberg claiming his speech to be of “exceptional interest”) McKitterick was allowed to run seven minutes beyond his allotted time in his virulent abuse of the left in Holborn and St Pancras South. His present article is in the same vein, only this time his spleen is vented on the activists in the constituencies. In his opinion the rank and file know nothing about political issues. This attitude of complete contempt for the rank and file, and indeed for the working class, typifies the whole attitude of our ‘new thinkers’.

An interesting article by one Bernard Crick on Socialist Literature lauds the literary and political abilities of Crosland and savagely attacks the New Left. This article is completely devoid of any serious political content (an unusual inclusion, perhaps, in the Political Quarterly). The very mention of E.P. Thompson’s name appears to bring our Mr Crick to the verge of apoplexy.

Cosily winding up our tour, Peggy Crane tells us in Labour is its own Worst Enemy that ‘more than ever our society needs a sense of direction’. This peculiar symposium from aspiring careerists does not provide it.

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