Jack became a socialist during the general strike. Frankie, who may not have thought about politics much before she met Jack, was immediately sympathetic to his ideas, though she probably restrained him from becoming a communist. She always said that he probably would have gone to Spain if they had not got married when they did. One large section of their friends had left wing politics and Jack later was made a Labour peer by Harold Wilson in 1967 and served in two ministries – Northern Ireland and the Arts. They had to exercise a certain discretion during the war as many people from the left, especially members of the communist party, were sidelined because of their left wing politics.
16.1.41 Phil (Phil Dunne) came in & had a long talk with me about how he & Bob were more anti-communist than anti-fascist & if there was any question of winning the war by social revolution in Europe they would rather lose it, & were getting ready to fight any social revolution in this country after the war. I kept my temper well but said if they wanted to avoid social revolution they were setting the wrong way about it, as I for one was not particularly out for a revolution, but if there was any question of rule by a military faction led by him & Bob or Hinch & his lot or any other little lot with the same ideas I would fight to the last drop & so would everyone else who was not a member of Bucks Club or the 400.
(the 400 Club in Leicester Square had catered to the upper classes at night time. Bucks Club was said to be the model for the Drones Club of P G Wodehouse)
In this connexion I am sending you The Times pamphlet. I think it is staggering. I must repeat that it is not what it says which is astonishing but that The Times should say it. Ignoring with most superb complacency its record at Munich etc. & all the interests it has always stood for and adopting its usual all-seeing & all-knowing tone it proceeds in a series of extremely lofty articles to explain to the world in general that our present circumstances are due entirely to the lack of willingness we have shown to accept the principles of what, by any other leader writer, must be called socialism; & our only chance in the future is no accept them now. How about the following examples for a couple of peaches?
‘The first step towards the creation of a new European order will be to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked & to house the homeless. No frontiers, no national rivalries can be allowed to impede this essential task. The old motto “to each according to his needs” is the only criterion which can be applied.’ Can one assume that the eminent leader writer of The Times knows where this dear old motto came from?’
From each according to his ability, to each according to his need (or needs) is a slogan that Karl Marx made popular in his writing Critique of the Gotha program. It is commonly used by the socialist movement. I think its first use was actually in the bible (the phrase “distribution was made unto every man according as he had need” ), but as someone remarked to me the other day, the bible, or Jesus at least, was pretty communist in spirit. We have talked our way out of it by calling it allegorical.
She continues: ‘Then how about this one?
In 1940 the manufacturer forgoes his profits, the worker forgoes trade union restrictions on conditions of employment, the consumer forgoes luxuries & lends to the Government to finance expenditure from which no material gain is asked or expected. In 1930 a small fraction of these sacrifices would have sufficed to avert the unemployment crisis of the ensuing years &, at the same time, to bring to countries involved in war better housing, more ample nutrition, better education, & more amenities for the leisure of the masses.’
Really? Do you really think so? Then what can it have been that we were arguing about? I think it is their complete ignoring of the fact that they so willingly & eagerly represented the class which made 1930 possible, which seems so barefaced. What should one think of this now? Do they mean it? Or do they think it is good propaganda in America & elsewhere?
In March 1942 she writes: ‘I read in the Tribune that the Times has a new editor. I think it must be true as it is now an excellent paper and produces the most staggering leaders and articles and is becoming my bible.’