Tawney on Labour

“The Labour Party can either be a political agent, pressing in Parliament the claims of different groups of wage-earners; or it can be an instrument for the establishment of a Socialist Commonwealth, which alone, on its own principles, would meet those claims effectively, but would not meet them all at once. What it cannot be is both at the same time in equal measure. It ought to tell its supporters that obvious truth It ought to inform them that other interests must be subordinated to that primary duty. It is objected that, by taking that course, it will alienate many of them. It may, for the time being; New Models are not made by being all things to all men. But it will keep those worth keeping. And those retained will gather others, of a kind who will not turn back in the day of battle.”

From “The Choice Before the Labour Party”, 1934, collected in The Attack and Other Papers (Nottingham: Spokesman, 1981).


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