CRITICS WHO ARE AT SEA
TWO letters appear this week in our correspondence columns (page 2) supporting Jim Slater's candidature for the general secretaryship of the National Union of Seamen, and criticising me for making a point of the support he is getting front Communist and other left-wing sources.
Mr. Paddy Neary's claim that 10,000 Catholics of the port of Liverpool are also backing Mr. Slater is easily answered:— I. Even official sources find it almost hopeless to assess the numbers of seamen "grounded" in any particular port; theirs is the most "floating" of all popuwlaotird.son., in every sense of the
2. if there are 10,000 seamen in Liverpool (in some sense), they are certainly not all Catholics. 3. If Mr. Neary is speaking for his unofficial Seamen's Reform Movement. I doubt whether it has 10.000 members in the whole country. 4. If he is not, then 1 cannot for the life of me see how he knows what is going on in the minds of 10,000 seamen scattered all over the globe!
Mr. Rowe must give me credit for having my own sources of information, and for not having to rely on other publications or "interested parties". I am not running Jim Slater down as a man. I do not sugecst that he is a Communist or any sort of "subversive". If he were. his chances among the seamen would be nil. This is all the more reason why he might be useful to the Communists, however embarrassed he may be by their support. The plain fact is that the CornI munists are backing him — they literally rushed to do so in the Victoria and Albert branch. I suggest that the reason is simply that Mr. Slater is very inexperienced, and would have to turn to his nearest supporters for advice and guidance in doing the job, and making appointments. .
This, coupled with the tendency of the seaman not to be a political animal, which makes him more easy to lead, would suit the Communists down to the ground.
JIM SLATER makes no bones about the fact that for 20 years he took no interest in union affairs at all, It was only in 1960 that he came to the fore when he was a Tyneside leader of the unofficial strike. As a seaman, moreover. his more recent experience has been largely confined to coasters. Two years ago, there was a case for a dissident movement in the searner's union. But the unconstitutional and irresponsible methods of the Reform Movement suggest the folly of supporting candidates closely associated with it.
In any case, the tele Jim Scott succeeded in snapping the Seamen's Union out of Its sluggishness, and Mr. Hogarth, the experienced assistant general secretary, who is Jim Slater's prime rival for the senior post, is likely to be even more keen than Jim Scott was on bringing the rank-and-file more fully into the work of policymaking. Communists and their sympathisers are undoubtedly prominent in the Reform Movement. The Communist-dominated Australian Seamen's Union has been collecting money on its behalf, and it has received money from the Canadian branch of the Seamen's International Union, whose policies may in the long run be detrimental to British shipping. It is also known that Communist Party headquarters are keenly interested in the re-solutions coming up for the NUS annual con ferenee. I do not know what Mr. Rowe means by his assertion that Mr. Hogarth was supported for his present job by the Reform Movement. Certainly, they ran no major campaign for him as they are doing for Mr. Slater. What is even clearer is that they turned on him after he came into office.
HELSINKI I NDUSTRIAL apprentices may I NDUSTRIAL apprentices may find some pressure on them, in certain trade union circles. to urge their various social and religious groups to send representatives to the. 8th World Youth Festival, due to be held this July in Helsinki. I vividly remember writing up an interview with the Scot who went to the 7th Festival. in Vienna. two years ago. and ended up by being kicked, in the stomach by fraternal enthusiasts shrieking "Peace, friendship and goodwill ..."
The Communists have learnt from the Vienna experience that It was a mistake to choose a location open to free world Influences. Finland, as a neutralist country, avoids the taint of an Trott Curtain country, and is also well away from the nonCommunist European countries. Finnish youth groups arid newspapers have risen in anger at the prospect of having the Festival on Finnish soil, and they have been backed by the Council of Britain's National Union of Students.
Nevertheless, with a chance to travel to an interesting country on a cheap ticket, many young people may be tempted to take a chance.
Two years ago, it was necessary to warn even some Catholic groups about the subversive purposes this high-sounding Festival. In case anyone is still in any doubt, here are some salient facts: WHO RUNS THE FESTIVAL? The basic sponsorship comes from Iwo Communist front organisations, the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) and the International Union of Students. They merge in the work of an International Preparatory Committee, whose Permanent Commission is a cadre of hardened Communist organisers, with a Festival Secretariat in Helsinki.
WHO SERVES ON THE SECRETARIAT? Its members include Boris Konavalov (of the USSR Youth Organisations). Wiktor KIneckl (Polish official of WFDY). and J. Garcias (a French Communist, and an organiser of the Vienna festival in 1960).
LOCAL ORGANISERS: The Youth Festival Committee here is proscribed by the British Labour Party, is supported by the Young Communists' League and a number of Communist dominated bodies, such as the Youth Peace Campaign and Student Labour Federation.