World Significance of British General Election
Socialism vs. Capitalism in Democratic Britain
The World is looking to results of the British general election of Feb. 23, 1950, for an answer to the question whether experience under state ownership strengthens or weakens popular support for Socialism in a democracy. The present government in Great Britain, unlike the two preceding Labor governments, has initiated a comprehensive program looking toward the transformation of Britain into a Socialist state. The 1950 election is essentially a referendum of the British people on results of that program to date.
The British Labor Party calls the type of Socialism it represents a “third force” between Communism and capitalism, while Soviet propaganda maintains that no midway position can be consistently held in the long run between those two ideologies. A victory for Labor in the coming contest will be called by the British Socialists additional proof that Communism need not be embraced by any person determined to repudiate capitalism; a defeat for Labor will be hailed by Moscow as new evidence that the only practicable method of repudiating capitalism is by adhering to Communism.
Defeat of pro-Socialist governments in the New Zealand elections of Nov. 30, 1949, and the Australian elections of the following Dec. 10 led to predictions in many quarters that the appeal of Socialism would now steadily decline throughout the democratic world. Socialist representation in the several national parliaments decreased after popular elections in France in 1946, the Netherlands and Sweden in 1948, Belgium and Austria in 1949. On the other hand. Socialist gains were registered in elections in Denmark in 1947 and in Norway in 1949. In the elections in Western Germany in August 1949, the Socialists (Social Democrats) ran second to the Christian Democratic Union.