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Bevin: Imperialist Labor Leader

(December 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 52, 18 December 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The brutal intervention of British imperialism against the Greek people who are seeking the right to determine for themselves the kind of government they want has outraged the labor movement of the entire world. The Greek events Jjave shed some light on what the war is about – and the function of the Atlantic Charter, especially that, section which grants to the oppressed peoples the right to govern themselves.

When the Allies needed the support of these oppressed peoples, no promise was too big to make. As soon as the tide of battle turned, however, the true aims of the mighty powers in the war became more and more obvious.

At the conference of the British Labor Party held last week, Ernest Bevin, British Minister of Labor and leader of the party, spoke out on what was behind England’s actions in Greece. Speaking to the angry and rebellious delegates who wished to condemn Churchill, Mr. Bevin declared:

“The British government cannot abandon its position in the Mediterranean. It is impossible for it to do so.”

Bevin – Partner in Crime

And to guarantee England’s position in the Mediterranean it was necessary to “stabilize” Greece, according to Bevin, which is another way of saying that the only Greek government which England will recognize is one subservient to its “position in the Mediterranean,” i.e., subservient to the needs of the British Empire.

Further, according to Bevin, it was necessary for the British to resort to armed force against the Greek people because “the British Were attacked by guerrillas without uniforms.” The latter statement, of course is a great lie, since every impartial observer has reported that the British fired upon and bombed unarmed and defenseless Greek demonstrators who were presenting their demands to the British-backed Papandreou government.

There is, then, according to Bevin’s own words, a conflict between England’s position in the Mediterranean and the right of the Greek people to govern themselves. Which of these is more important?

The war, you see, is being fought to protect the British imperial lifeline in the Mediterranean and for other such lofty ideals. That is what Mr. Bevin told the Labor Party Conference, if not in so many words, then certainly by implication.

Having revealed that much, you would imagine that the leader of the British Labor Party was going to launch into a vigorous attack upon the government which pursues such policies. Mr. Bevin had something else in mind. He was speaking, not in defense of the Greek masses, not in order to clear the name of British labor, but rather as a stooge of Mr .Churchill. For he, declared:

“The steps which have been taken in Greece are not the decision of Mr. Churchill. They are the decisions of the cabinet. I took part with my labor colleagues in the whole of these discussions, going over nearly four years trying to work out these terrifying problems that would arise at tie end of the war.”

In this way Bevin attempts to place the dirty mantle of imperialism upon the shoulders of the British labor movement – and thus to lighten the attacks which are being levelled at the Churchill government which stands for the defense, at any and all costs, of the British Empire.

The turbulence at the Labor Party Conference, the more than twenty motions of condemnation of the government which were presented by various trade union delegations, show that Bevin does not speak for the British labor movement. Only by offering some sort of compromise resolution and ruling out of order speakers who rose against the Bevin policy was the leadership of the Labor Party able to obtain the endorsement of the conference. But the workers have not yet had the last say.

Ernest Bevin is a misleader, a traitor to the class he purports to represent. He is the man who turned against the striking miners’ apprentices last year. Hie is the man who today stands up to defend the heinous rule of British imperialism. He is the self-acknowledged partner-in-crime of Winston Churchill, His Majesty’s Prime Minister – friend of Kings and dictators. His position flows from the policy of political and economic collaboration of the Labor Party with the direct enemy of labor – the capitalist class and the capitalist government. A complete break with class collaboration and its practitioners is the only way out for British labor.

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