Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Scottish Workers' Congress: Curious Stuff from Glasgow (1944)

From the June 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard

An organisation calling itself the "Scottish Workers' Congress" called a preliminary meeting at Central Halls, Glasgow, on May 21st. What took place at the meeting we do not know at the time of going to press, but, judging from the explanatory leaflet issued beforehand, it is a curious re-hash of reformism, Scottish nationalism and anti-political activity. The 10-point programme contains some of the stock demands of the reformist parties, such as a minimum wage of 3s. an hour, a 30-hour week, double income-tax allowances on all incomes under £600 a year, immediate provision of sufficient decent houses "by prefabrication and other means in Scotland" (our italics), “democratic workers' control of Scottish industry," and “equal pay for the job for both men and women."

Although the leaflet appeals to "all workers to speak and act directly for themselves" (our italics), the 10 points are directed to Scotland and Scotland only, and among them are such points as "an end to the closing down and shifting south of our industry " (our italics).

On its political attitude the leaflet says only that “the Committee is non-sectarian and non-party," and its task "cannot be undertaken by any of the existing organisations. They exist for other purposes."

How it proposes to achieve its aims is not very clearly indicated, though as it apparently rejects political action, and as point 5 wants the factory committee to "take over the workshop where closing down is threatened," we may assume that the Committee intends that the workers shall take "direct action," thus reviving once more the old delusion that working-class political action is unnecessary.

As the 10 points imply the retention of the wages system and minor modifications of the income tax, it is obvious that the Committee does not aim at the abolition of capitalism and the institution of Socialism; which is, of course, made unmistakeable by the narrow nationalist point of view that stands out in all the 10 points.

How thorough-going is the Committee's acceptance of capitalism can be seen from the points relating to minimum wages and to the income tax. It seeks to raise “the standard of living”—but not too much; for not only does the point about income tax envisage some people having more than £600 a year and some having less, but the minimum wage of 3s. an hour for a 30-hour week only means a minimum wage of £4 10s., or £235 a year.

We await further details of this curious organisation.

Editorial Committee.

1 comment:

Imposs1904 said...

I'm guessing you subscribe to the Socialist Standard Past and Present feed so you get the blog's posts in your inbox but you really should occasionally visit the blog itself because, from time to time, I provide further information about the detail of the post in the comments section. That was the case with this article.