Methodism, as well as Marxism, moulded Labour thought in Britain. The chapel and the lodge bred parliamentary talent. The preacher turned to politics. Old-style Labour wanted to build Jerusalem, not the dictatorship of the proletariat. There were more revolutionary elements, and ideologies. But despite the platform phrase, "workers by hand or brain," "intellectuals" were suspect, particularly after the defection of Ramsay MacDonald in 1931.
Mr. Gaitskell, his fellow-Wykhatnist, Mr. Douglas Jay, debonair Mr. Anthony Crosland, and the more plebeian, but equally cultured. Mr. Roy Jenkins. want to align party policy with contemporary needs and moods. But Mr. Frank Cousins, heir to Deakin and Bevin in t!he leadership of the influential Transport and General Workers, and Mr. Shinwell, smiling in joyful mischief, hark hack to that earlier collaboration with capitalism of MacDonald. J. H. Thomas, and Philip Snowdon.
They recall that it was the Trade Unions who saved the Labour Party then. Why, Mr. Gaitskell and his public school and University intellectuals even laid sacrilegious hands on Clause 4 of the Party Objects, untouched since 1918. This demands "the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange."
Yet nationalisation did much to lose Labour the General Election. The nation is not Socialist. It is not the capitalists who have been liquidated but the proletariat! At the General Election Labour only won votes among ,people who were over 65. Its heaviest loss was among the 21-30 age group. One may admire steadfast adherence to a losing cause. But it will not produce an alternative government.
Splits on domestic policy are reproduced in questions of foreign affairs and defenoe. The "fellowtravellers" oppose Mr. Gaitskell and his supporters, of whom Mr. Woodrow Wyatt is one of the bravest and most intelligent, not only for their "revisionism" but for asserting that Britain must remain a nuclear power in NATO.
It is not only the "fellow-travellers" and the pacifists who want to ban the British bomfb. "We defended ourselves very well in the last war without nuclear weapons," said Mr. Frank Cousins. Whether we agree with him or no, this utterance shows that it is not only generals who are fighting the last war. It reveals complete misunderstanding of the concept of nuclear deterrence. The irreverent might, of course, ask what such questions have to do with the T.U.C.i Not even the Wykhamists are at one. Mr. Cousins is among the exponents of the Gaitskell-Crosland philosophy. Itf, he argues in his recent Fabian pamphlet, Labour does not resist the vices of "affluent" capitalism, the Liberals would be preferable as "the main alternative to Conservatism."
Mr. Crossman's brilliant mind sometimes seems to work in spirals but any challenge of besetting materialism is welcome. It is hard to my where the present bitter disputes will can the Labour Party. But if the "Outs" are again to become the "Ins," if indeed the Party is to survive, it must take account both of the twentieth century and of abiding values.
The present situation would seem to gave an opportunity to the Catholic and Christian representation in the Labour Party to give a lead towards the re-establishment of unity on a middle-of-the-way programme, based on Christian values, where the family, political. and social order are concerned.
The clear rejection of Marxist Socialism at home as well as Communism abroad together with a constant emphasis on the rights and opportunities of all in a reasonably egalitarian society and the primacy of spiritual and moral values in international relations and the problem of modern war, not to mention a considerable cleaning-tap of a society where liberty is often interpreted as licence—these are surely the true ideals of a Party born in this country mainly of Christian ideals.