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The challenge which the ruling class had thrown down to the working class was that the working class's political party should prove its ability to carry out its programme. This ability clearly involves the use of force. The fact that the 1924 Labour Government was a minority government was not necessarily an insurmountable obstacle. In 1831 the Whig Government had found that the Reform Bill would not be passed through Parliament. The moment this became clear, they dissolved Parliament telling the country that they had been forced to dissolve because the Bill, which represented the wishes of the people, was being obstructed. The General Election, held with an unreformed electorate, produced a spectacular turnabout in Parliament. A vast Whig majority was elected for "The Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill". Organised political and physical pressure by the working class throughout the election campaign and at the actual vote by the unreformed electors ensured that the people's wishes were upheld.

An unwilling Parliament was forced to pass the Ten Hours Act of l847, the 1832 Reform Bill, the l867 Reform Act, the l87l, l875 and 1906 TU Acts because of organised political pressure from the working class, from without. The ability to enact change through Parliament has always depended on the organisation of conscious political pressure outside Parliament, conscious because it is pressure that is applied with immense tactical skill and has great determination and discipline in the working class. It is not. blind, unthinking revolt or reaction to events, but disciplined force used for the attainment of a definite political end. The Labour Party's ability to enact its socialist programme depended on the party's relation to the working class. It would have to set into motion the organised force of the class for definite socialist measures (not vague rhetoric); nothing more and nothing less would move Parliament.

It would only be possible for the Labour Party to call on the active, conscious and disciplined force of the working class if it had explained to the working class the necessity for socialist measures. The Labour Party had been elected as a Party which stood for socialism as a principle; it would now be necessary to take that principle seriously. All previous changes enacted by Parliament had involved the curtailment of the political power of a section of the bourgeoisie which no longer had the economic power to sustain its political importance. They had involved the change in "the people's will", in the consciousness of the classes. The Labour Party would have to translate its principles into the working class's consciousness.

The working class and its leaders had learned to use the political forms of Parliament well enough, i.e. they had understood that law depended on the use of organised force. The Ten Hours Act, passed against the resistance of the bourgeoisie, shows this as do the TU Acts. But, this understanding had not extended to the experience of governing or embarking on changes in the relations of production. It had been developed for occasional grievances or demands which the working class saw as its just interests within a consciousness determined by bourgeois democratic politics.

The socialists of the 1890s-1914 had been telling the working class that there were no obstacles capable of stopping the working class in its assertion of socialism, that the socialistic principle was right and ought to be acknowledged by the nation. They had spoken with the first flush of enthusiasm of a class just becoming conscious of its own power. They had not understood and therefore not explained to the working class that a whole epoch of struggle was necessary to bring to fruition the socialistic principle. They had not explained that it was a struggle between the capitalist mode of production and the communist mode of production which constituted the reality of socialism. The ILP (and at this time the ILP meant literally every conscious member of the Labour Party and the Trade Unions) believed that it was the force of ideas which would establish socialism. Once a Labour Government was elected, it was a simple process of getting the bills through Parliament.

The 1924 Labour Government took a conscious decision not to enact socialist measures. The Parliamentary Labour Party saw the obstacles of the political forms (minority government, the necessity for another General Election the moment a socialist measure was introduced) as being insurmountable and therefore did not attempt the "feat" (see G.D.H. Cole's History of the Labour Party. Cole sets out very clearly the choices open to this Government and states that the Party was well aware of these choices). 

The obstacles in the political forms can be surmounted only when (l) there is organised, conscious political pressure from without Parliament, and (2) within Parliament, the proposers of change can sustain their measure through full-scale Parliamentary battle. It is important to understand the utility of such battle, i.e. debate and discussion. It forces the proposers to make a case for change, to prove why the change is just, right and possible. The opponents may not be convinced; but because the MPs take this struggle seriously, i.e. not just a rubber stamp or talking shop, it ensures that the change must be thoroughly understood by its proposers and not just approved on principle or for party loyalty. It is a real and sustained attack by the Opposition which the proposers must be capable of repulsing on the merits of their case. Tory opposition is on the basis "there is no necessity for change" and "change is not practical". These arguments must be answered.