Parliament: from William Morris to Owen Jones

In Uncategorized on August 2, 2016 by kmflett


I’ve posted elsewhere about Owen Jones recent blog which asked a number of questions about Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour- primarily focused on how he planned to win the next Election. I am an extra-Parliamentary rather than an anti-Parliamentary socialist, so while I see the importance of winning Elections I also see the importance of campaigning and organising outside Parliament. This was once known as ‘pressure from without’.

That said I think that the anti-Parliamentary tradition on the British left, a real one historically if a minority, seems to have got missed entirely in recent discussions. That is a pity because even if you don’t agree with it (and clearly many wont) it provides a useful context for arguments about the importance of Parliament.

Below is a brief extract from William Morris’s News From Nowhere. Morris wrote this in his anti-Parliamentary phase (he wasn’t always  against standing socialist candidates in elections, certainly for propaganda purposes) and before anyone could really conceive that it would be possible to have a Labour Government.

Still on the basis that Morris was one of the greatest ever left-wing beard wearers his words still have resonance

you have turned your Parliament House into a dung-market..where do you house your present Parliament?

The old man answered my smile with a hearty laugh, and said: ‘Well,well, dung is not the worst kind of corruption; fertility may come of that, whereas mere dearth came from the other kind, of which those walls once held great supporters. Now, dear guest, let me tell you that our present parliament would be hard to house in one place, because the whole people is our parliament’.


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