From Workers’ International News, Vol.2 No.6, June 1939, pp.6-7.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
After the Socialist Party conference at Southport had, by an overwhelming majority, confirmed the expulsion, of Sir Stafford Cripps and his associates, the expelled leader of the British Popular Front added another item to the list of surrenders that have marked his political career. He offered, in effect, to sign any undertaking placed before him by the victorious Executive.
His entire case was based on the argument, a very sound argument, that it was his right to circulate to the members of the party any statement which sought to persuade them to his own point of view. The bureaucratic Executive tried to gag him, and when he would not accept the gag they expelled him. The all-powerful card vote in the hands of the big trade union functionaries has now confirmed the expulsion. And Sir Stafford, after passionately defending his democratic rights to address his fellow members almost to the last, now knuckles under and tamely submits to the gag.
This miserable truckling attitude further emphasises his claim to be the leader of a British Popular Front. The Popular Front is in its essence a capitulation to the boss class and Sir Stafford has once more proved how adept he is in the art of capitulation.
The card vote was again swung into operation to inflict a crushing defeat on the Popular Front. But the Labour leaders, who prate so glibly about their adherence to the principles of “pure” Socialism, immediately proceeded in the debate on Defence and Foreign Policy to prove that their attitude in no way differs from that of the Liberals and the dissident Tories. They outshone these avowed defenders of capitalist Britain in patriotism. They refused to put up any struggle whatever against conscription. They reasserted their determination to give all assistance to National Service. In practice, their “pure” Socialism boils down to the defence of the profits, the markets, the colonies, the plunder of British imperialism. With unparalleled cynicism, Mr. Ernest Bevin identified himself and his brother bureaucrats with the imperialist bandits. “We pinched most of these territories, either for raw materials or for strategic purposes,” said Mr. Bevin, “and all the talk about the interests of the natives is just a lot of bunk.”
In speaking in this sense of “we,” Mr. Bevin reveals that all the talk about pure Socialism is just a lot of bunk. The truth is that the Labour leaders have no need at this stage for a Popular Front. Until the masses start to move they are quite content to go on enjoying the power and the privileges they hold.
But when the masses do get on the move, (and the series of unofficial strikes are the warning signs of mass restiveness) they will be prepared to use the Popular Front as a strike-breaking instrument. In preparation for that day, avowed Popular Fronters have been voted back into the Executive, and there can be no doubt that Sir Stafford Cripps will he re-admitted into the party once he has signed a promise not to get too much in advance of the others again.
The Southport conference has shown that, in spite of the apparent crushing defeat of the Popular Front, the struggle is only beginning. The disasters which Popular Frontism brought upon the Spanish and French workers still threaten their brothers in Britain. Revolutionary socialists must continue the fight to force the Labour Party on to the path of militant working class struggle for Socialist demands. This is the only alternative to capitalist reaction and Popular Front treachery.
Last updated on 12.10.2005