“Were the working class as a whole imbued with the idea of control and endowed with the power that idea gives, nationalisation would no longer serve the capitalists’ ends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“The introduction of State management will be the signal for a long battle between bureaucracy and freedom”. G. D. H. Cole, Self Government in Industry, (1917).
“One must be exceedingly careful not to ascribe to public ownership as such possibilities which really spring from a different political system which we have no intention of adopting”. Hugh Gaitskell, Socialism and Nationalisation, Fabian Tract 300 (1956)
the labour Party is in favour of Industrial Democracy. Clause 4 of the Party Objects as adopted in 1918 called, not merely for common ownership of the means of production, but for “the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service”. Finding that this statement needed to be “reaffirmed”, “amplified” and “clarified”, the National Executive on 16th March 1960 called upon all its reserves of lucidity and added that the Party “stands for democracy in industry, and” (“and”, mark you!) “for the right of the workers both in public and private sectors” (note it well!) “to full consultation in all the vital decisions of management, especially those affecting conditions of work”.
Just as Lenin could remark in 1915 that “Absolutely everybody is in favour of peace in general including Kitchener, Joffre, Hindenburg and Nicholas the Bloody”; so it is3 true today that “absolutely everybody” is in favour of industrial democracy. At any rate this,
“any theory or scheme so long as it is based on a genuine concern for the rights of the workers in industry, particularly their right to a share in the control of industrial decisions” (p. 3).
In our society the workers are effectively deprived of all part in deciding what to produce, when, where and how. But, through collective bargaining, they do have a share in making those industrial decisions which are concerned with wages, hours and conditions of work. Thus, every employer who recognises trade unions and engages with them in collective bargaining through established negotiating machinery is, on this definition, taking part in industrial democracy. This is, indeed, the main thesis of Clegg’s book. Industrial democracy is less an objective still to be attained than an achievement which must be preserved at all costs.