Page 8, 15th October 1937

15th October 1937
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Page 8, 15th October 1937 — WEEK BY WEEK
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WEEK BY WEEK

THE PARTY MACHINES' " SHOW"

Labour's Missed Opportunity

Amazing Conservative Complacency

B 4 The Editor

HE Conservative and Labour Par ties have held their annual con ferences, and Britain once more

knows what to expect of the two political machines which aspire to rule it. One may be forgiven for suggesting that this year the political machines are even less inspiring than Usual—and that is saying a great deal.

I "IT IS A SHAME I" The Labour Conference might be described as a drawn-out struggle to avoid any acknowledgement of consistent principles and a unified plan of action that could appeal to a rational human being, since every member of the Party knows perfectly well that the moment any such principles are decided upon, the Labour Movement will be split from top to bottom.

The Britisher agrees to being ruled by a machine, once the machine is running smoothly (compare the long rule of the Conservative machine), but even he demands something more human when it is a question of his changing his allegiance. Until the Trade Unions are willing to see that their only chance of capturing Labour, and ultimately ruling in place of the Conservatives lies in bringing into the open the split in the Labour camp, we shall see nothing more than a drift towards the more courageous wing, the Left wing. Ninety per cent. of the voters today would follow the lead of Bevin, Citrine, etc., as against Cripps, Laski and Pritt (the rich men of the Party), if the latter were squarely challenged. Then Labour would then be free to form a sensible alternative to the present Government without the constant contortions and lip-allegiance to foreign socialist movements that are repulsive to nine Englishmen in ten. Alas! instead of this outcome, we shall see year by year a further strengthening of the doctrinaire Left with its cosmopolitanism and universalism until one day even this country will see the translation of ideas into the physical violence that is characteristic of the Left on the Continent and which was dimly foreshadowed at Liverpool in the attack on Mosley. Walking up Oxford Street on Sunday evening, we overheard a worker's comment on the poster announcement of Mosley's injury : " It is a shame; its not English." There spoke millions who would stand firm behind a practical, radical and English Labour Movement, the movement that would shake the complacency of Mr. Neville Chamberlain.

II

PURRING WITH CONTENT Quarrels are at least signs of life, but the perfectly smooth running of the Conservatives, with Mr. Chamberlain's purring accompaniment, is purely machine activity. If this country were enjoying a phase of stable prosperity with every sign of the long maintenance of peace abroad, Mr. Chamberlain's speech might have passed. One might then have joined in the " cheers " which so frequently punctuated the speech, especially at moments when the Prime Minister indulged in his school-boy jokes at the expense of his political opponents. But today! When the industry at home that feeds, clothes, and houses the millions is on the verge of another decline, so far resisted by the hectic production of economically useless armaments; when two major wars are in progress, both of which may involve the great countries of the world and bring our steel and concrete civilisation tumbling on our heads; when thinking men abroad with millions at their heels, are divided by differences of fundamental outlook in many cases deeper than the racial and national unity that keeps them outwardly together!

III

REACTION TO SPANISH FACTS What has Mr. Chamberlain to be satisfied about in regard to his Spanish policy? Here are the facts about Spain. The conflict was the product of pressure from without Spain. For years, foreign ideas and foreign money found their way into that independent Country. They worked among two kinds of Spaniards, the disgruntled who had something to gain from revolution and the ntellectual idealists who, having ceased jto believe in original sin, imagined that men could be perfectly contented eithert! with an omnipotent government of th idealists' own devising or without any government at all. They were never quite sere which. Of the first kind, the disgruntled, enough has perhaps been said by King Alfonso when asked whether the Left leaders were well-known men: " Yes, they arc well-known—to the police." Of the second, the idealists, one can only say that they arc everywhere discredited today as generous-hearted simpletons who do more harm than good. Next, since the war broke out, the side which was sent into battle by foreign propaganda and money has been kept in the trenches by the same means, plus a large number of foreign volunteers who, among other things, saved Madrid from falling and the war from ending months ago. The last fact is that two-thirds of Spain is under Franco's rule, that the Franco currency is now worth four to five times the currency of Madrid (consult any hank, or rather try to sell the two kinds of pesetas to it), and that Franco is morally certain to win the war, with or without more Italian help. What has been our Government's attitude in the face of these brute facts? A series of in ults to the Franco side (the Spain of to orrow) without even the hope of saving th favoured Valencia side. An arrangement with France whereby the whole quest on of intervention has been directed sol ly against Italy, forcing her alone ever ore on to the defensive and thereby doi e everything possible to widen the split tween the democratic and totalitarian States. A reasonable (though unjust and hypocritical) policy, if England, and France and Russia are prepared to fight Italy and Germany and be done with them. But ngland at least is not.

IV THE LEAGUE'S CIFINTRADICTION In regard ko the 1-ar East, the Prime Minister at least acknowledged that the brutality displayed in the war there was the necessary outcome of a deeper evil, but from this acknowledgement he drew no conclusions. The troubles of China and Japan, of Italy and Abyssinia, of Germany and her colonies are all closely related to the history of Geneva. But the League 'itself, its deeIline and its need for reform, questions fraught with immense consequences either for peace or war, were so far from Me. Chamberlain's mind that he succeeded talking four Times columns full with scarcely a reference to the League, For those sufficiently interested to wish to know exactly how far and in what way the League has affected the peace of the world since 1919, we recommend the reading of "Shanghai and the Geneva System," an article by Mr. Douglas Jerrold in the current issue of the Nineteenth Century (obtainable in any Public Library). The propaganda value of the League lies, as Mr. Jerrold shows, in the assumption that it applies to international questions the " rule of law," instead of rule of force. Does it? Mr. Jerrold explains what would happen to our rightly vaunted " rule of law " within our own frontiers if the League legal system were put in its place. " If we had here the rule of law as we wish to apply it at Geneva, we should have only a Statute book, the police and the Army; we should have to obey the laws we had, or be shot." He further accuses the people who advocated military sanctions against Italy of intending to violate the Kellogg Pact as certainly as Italy violated the Covenant for the High Contracting Powers agree " that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which arise among them, shall never he sought except by pacific means." "It is discreditable, but not curious," comments Mr. Jerrold, " that in recent years no reference has been made in the English Liberal Press to the Kellogg Pact."

V

IGNORANCE But perhaps the inability of the Conservative machine to grasp the facts and fundamental issues in the non-English world is redeemed by its adequacy to deal with home problems. Here a dilemma stands out. If we are banking on ultimate peace, then the rearmament programme which alone stands between us and another slump must soon come to an end. What preparations is the Government making towards organising our industrial activities and maintaining our people in employment when the armament boom ceases? Compare here the economic planning in this country with the planning in Germany and Italy, countries that are a perpetual scandal to our financiers because they have succeeded in maintaining a high employment figure and an immense industrial activity on the basis of labour and brains as wealth, instead of cash. lf, on the other hand, it is to be war, then what efforts are being made to render the country reasonably self-sufficient so that at least its vast armaments may be .41g to defend living and not starving men? What does the Prime Minister offer? A National. Health Campaign! Health without food in war, and without employment in peace!

Whether it be peace or war, the country should and can be made reasonably selfsufficient, if its economy is planned as a whole in the interest of the great majority of its inhabitants. Why is this not done? Because the machine fears too much two classes of people : the rich whose present investments would suffer badly, and the demagogues who think they can always win an election on the cry " Your breakfast will cost you more." But the present drift, which among other things involves the

death of our agriculture, must ultimately, whether it be peace or war, mean bath loss on investments and dearer food—but without the compensation of a secure, employed and wealthy (in the true sense) people.

There are immense difficulties in such an ideal, but our quarrel with the Party machines is not that they have not discov ered the answers, but that they have not even realised the existence of the questions.




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