Ted Grant

Labour To Power

Source: Socialist Fight (September 1959)
Transcription: Francesco 2009
Proofread: Fred 2009
Markup: Manuel 2009

With cunning calculation the Tories have decided to precipitate the election, at a time when the full results of their policy will not be apparent to the mass of the people. The 8 years of Tory Government have been similar to the 8 years of disguised Tory rule under the National Government from 1931 to 1939. That period ended in catastrophe. What will the result of a further period of Tory rule? The joy of the Stock Exchange sharks and take-over merchants at the prospect of Tory continuance in power is the answer to that.

The Tory Party is the Party of Big Business and the monopolies never have they “had it so good”. Profits have risen, while the taxation of super profits has dropped. Prices of food and raw materials imported into Britain dropped by 8 percent in 1958. But the prices of food, and other necessities still continued to rise in the shops. Who derived the benefit? Naturally the paymasters of the Tory Party, the millionaires, the monopolies: Big Business.

Fortunes involving millions and tens of millions of pounds are being made in take-over bids, property deals, and share manipulations. Through rigged expense accounts the directors of big firms dodge income tax and conceal their real incomes. All this wealth has been created by the labour of the working people. They have derived very little benefit from it. In the last five years standards of living have risen far faster in Eastern Europe than in Britain.

Industry in the last few years has been virtually stagnant. Production has been only 80 to 85 percent of capacity! In their greed for profits the capitalists have not produced goods to the tune of £3,000 million last year alone. Production is not for the benefit of producers but for the owners of capital. If more clothes, food, building materials and machinery to the amount stated above were to be produced it could mean the raising of the standard of living, helping the old people, re-housing the slums, improving the social services, modernising machinery and factories, hospitals and schools. Britain could be transformed.

The Tories are not interested in maximum production, only the maximum profit. But it would be wrong to accuse the Conservatives of being only the party of the industrialists, they are also the representatives of the landlords! Hence the Rent Act which gave £200 million a year to the landlords in increased rents. No wonder the Institute of Directors, the Steel barons and the capitalist press have conducted a campaign against nationalisation. They have what amounts to a lovely racket. The Big Steel capitalists the bankers, insurance tycoons and monopolies make millions. Even the Times has admitted that the biggest share of the profits of industry go to a handful of giant monopoly concerns. They are all meshed together with the Tory Party in Parliament. Many of the Directors sit on each others’ boards and as Tory M.P.s as well.

They pursue a shameful campaign of misrepresentation, distortion and downright lies, pretending that they wish to defend “freedom” when it is the right to exploit they are defending. At the same time they milk the State for their own benefit. Only the profitable parts of Steel and Road Transport wore denationalised. The railways and other derelict industries are left as a burden on the State as a whole. The Steel Companies receive huge subsidies. The Cunard shipbuilding concern is asking for a subsidy, the Aircraft industry is subsidised. The State provides the money the capitalists make the profits. Atomic energy is nationalised. but private firms are provided with lucrative contracts for the supplying of equipment to the atomic establishments and other nationalised under-takings, the railways, electricity, drugs for the hospitals and prescriptions under the National Health Scheme.

The Tories according to their own statements have now become the Party of Peace. But their actions demonstrate that they are concerned solely with the interests of British Imperialism. The war on Suez, the suppression of the people of Cyprus and Nyasaland show their real motive. The Arms bill amounts to £1,500 million per year, 10 percent of the national income. This means that the average family pays £2.10s.0. [A] per week. Also there must be taken into account the waste of resources which could be used for productive purposes. This could add immensely to the real wealth of the country.

Now the suggestion is made that Summit Talks, with Macmillan, Eisenhower and Khrushchev will inaugurate a new epoch of lasting Peace. But all the conferences and agreements between the Powers for the past hundred years have always ended in catastrophe. The First and Second World Wars were preceded by endless Conferences. The cause has not been the wickedness of this or that individual statesman, but the impasse in which the capitalist system has been involved. The capitalist states have endeavoured to solve the problem at each others’ expense by force. Agreements between the Powers can only be temporary truces, so long as the basic causes of war have not been removed. The private ownership of the means of production of factories, banks, insurance companies, cement, docks and other means of life, mans that the producers do not receive back in wages sufficient to buy back all the goods produced. This causes the capitalists to compete for markets at home and abroad. Above all hangs the menace of the H-Bomb if the problem of war is not solved.

What future can there be under the Conservatives in the next period? They have been lucky in the changing of the terms of trade in favour of Britain. But this situation cannot endure forever. As soon as the economic situation changes the real face of Toryism will be exposed. Once the election is won they can launch attacks on those sections not yet affected by the change in the Rent Acts; attacks on the rights of the Unions have been threatened; they can then turn on the middle class, professional people and small business people they claim to represent.

The Labour Movement with all its faults has been built by the pennies and sacrifices of the workers. It is responsive to the pressure of the workers. The class-conscious workers will bear the brunt of the attacks of the Tories. Let they bend all their efforts for a Labour victory.

The Tories are boasting about the number of television sets and second-hand cars there are in Britain at the present time. But beneath the surface prosperity lies the under-lying insecurity and anxiety of the people. The people are producing more in proportion than pre-war. Consequently the employers have increased the profits wrung from the workers. And the real inequalities remain even more than before. If some of the workers can buy second-hand Fords, it means that the employers can buy Bentley and Rolls Royces. This Government remains the Government of privilege and inequality. While luxury flats are going up housing remains meagre. After a lifetime of toil the workers in their old age are left to rot on a semi-starvation diet. The real outlook for the workers is shown by what has happened to cotton and coal. Yesterday they were demanding more workers for the mines, now they are closing the pits. Yesterday they were exhorting the workers to greater endeavour in cotton, now they are making 50,000 redundant. The employers receive £30 million in compensation for scrapping machinery, the workers receive £4 million. The workers receive £80 a head on the average after years of toil. Eleven directors replaced in take-over bids receive from £20,000 to £50,000 in compensation. A slight difference!

Now automation, which should be a means of increasing leisure and standards of living, threatens the jobs of engineers, office workers and other sections of the people! Isn’t it time to get rid of the authors of these misfortunes? A world of Security and Plenty, 0f peace and prosperity can only be secured by the overthrow of the capitalist system and the inauguration of a democratic Socialist Britain.


[A] i.e. two pounds and ten shillings, or £2.50 in decimal currency