Page 5, 25th April 1941

25th April 1941
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Page 5, 25th April 1941 — NOTES AND COMMENTS
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NOTES AND COMMENTS

BAD NEWS FROM GR.EECE

THE news from Greece is bad, and, tin

less the unexpected occurs, we must prepare for an eventual withdrawal and the surrender of Greece to an overwhelming superiority both on land and in the air. As has been &aid in these columns, defeat in the Balkans is not comparable to defeat in Lgypt where. luckily, the conditions at present are more in our favour. None the less, it may be taken for granted that Hitler will not halt in Greece. but by one means or another, make use of an isolated Turkey as a bridge between Europe and our positions in the Middle East and North Africa. The landing of strong Imperial forces in Iraq is clearly intended both to help Turkey and, in the last resort, to check a German offensive. Hence the whole situation is one of the utmost gravity, and it is likely that an inquisition, comparable to the one held last year after the Norwegian defeats, will be demanded.

The only question is whether it will go deep enough and whether any constructive alternative can be thought out. Looking back, it would seem that we should have been better advised to maintain ourselves wholly on the defensive in the Eastern Mediterranean, until we had had time to strengthen our forces sufficiently with American and Imperial help. It has often been said that only the successful invasion of this island and the cutting of our Atlantic life-lines can bring about defeat, and it will be said a good many times more in the future. If that is true, a policy of defence at the vital junctions of our Empire, together with a concentration on the defence of Britain and the Atlantic might have left us in a better position than we find ourselves to-day. It may be, too, that historians will cite the Duce's attack on Gieece as having had, after all, a decisive importance, since it opened up the way to Hitler's Balkan adventure. On the other hand we have to our credit the virtual defeat of Italy by land, sea and air—a defeat which however is largely reparable by land and air with German help.

THE GRAVEST QUESTION

wE must face the fact that the defeats

in the East will once again unsettle the attitude of France, Spain and Portugal. It may seem to us obvious that these countries should realise how their future prosperity is intimately linked with our victory, and we have no doubt that the majority of people in these countries desire a British victory. But we must understand that the chief factor influencing them is their judgment as to which side will win, they themselves meanwhile doing all they can to keep out of the

ring. The moment they become convinced that Germany cannot be defeated, nothing we can do will prevent them seeking the best terms for themselves in the light of the new situation. And throughout the war this has in fact been their basic concern. Ultimately then, for them as for us, the two vital questions are; (1) Can we hold out in Egypt and Iraq? arid (2) Can America help us sufficiently to put us in a position to defy and ultimately defeat Hitler's stranglehold on the Continent? Two seconeary questions arise, namely the intentions of Japan in the Far East and the possibility of an attempt on the part of the Soviet to redress the balance in our favour. It seems to us that all these questions must be faced realistically by a British Government that is sufficiently aware of its responsibility to the British people. In our armed forces, never so strong as to-day, and in the help of America, we still possess formidable assets. But what exactly are they capable of in the present

circumstances? There is the gravest question to which we must now find the right answer. The wrong one may leave us and the whole world at the mercy of Hitler.

INDUSTRIAL ABSENTEEISM AND FAXIGUE

IT is unfortunately all too clear that the problem of absenteeism in industry is becoming a serious one. kir. Frank Hodges recently declared that absenteeism cost the country the equivalent of an annual output of 13,000,000 tons of coal which is about one-half of the extra output now required by the Government. This is only one example of a widespread disorder. Selfishness and irresponsibility on the part of certain workers may in a small measure be responsible for the trouble, but, as we pointed out in a previous note, a much more potent cause is unscientific factory management arid the unintelligent use of labour. There are still all too many employers ridden by the Masochistic conviction that the easy and pleasant way of doing a job cannot possibly be the most proficient and productive way. Long hours and inadequate breaks are Co such people almost ends in themselves and suggestions that gross weekly output may actually be increased by shortening hours and the more liberal injection of " breathers " are derided by them as the superstitions of the faddist. We have recently heard a suggestion that men on night shift should be given the opportunity of lying down if necessary on the floor by their machines for twemy minutes, or perhaps half an hour in the middle of a shift. We should very much like to know if this experiment has ever been tried and if not, why not? There has, we believe, been some admirable laboratory research on the problem of fatigue, yet there does not appear to be any evidence that the knowledge thus gained has been adequately disseminated and applied. An even more crying need for the application of scientific methods and one intimately connected with the problem of fatigue, exists in the matter of food. The bald fact of the matter is that the feeding of the nation may become quite inadequate to sustain the effort required of it unless counter measures are taken. And this can be done. Our knowledge of nutrition is to-day such that we can dispense with bulk foods to an extent which a previous generation would have found incredible. We compensate the loss in .other directions by a better use of existing resources and by taking vitamins in concentrated form. Yet beyond a few occasional chatty talks on the wireless which may, or may not, be listened to, nothing whatever is being done. Too many workers, particularly those in billets, are living very largely on denatured white bread. There is no adequate supervision of the nation's dietary. and a complete shirking of the huge educational work that must necessarily be undertaken. It is from these angles that the problem of absenteeism should be approached.

A JARRING NOTE

DR. Henry Wilson, Bishop of Chelmsford, has published a criticism of the Pope and the Vichy authorities. in his monthly letter to the diocese he writes: " The Pope has made a pronouncement recently which discloses that he has discovered that Nazism is the enemy of Christianity. Most of us discovered this several years ago. We may fervently hope that the doubleshuffling and thimble-rigging politicians of Vichy will lay to heart the somewhat belated pronouncement of the Pope. and, instead of aiding the enemies of Christianity, show a little loyalty to the faith they profess and to the earthly head of the Church to which they belong." Coming at a time when the best endeavours of the most responsible religious leaders in England are bent towards that measure of co-operation between Christians without which the outcome of the present upheaval is likely to be chaos, Dr. Wilson's discourteous remarks are doubly to be condemned.

They display not only the ignorance of papal pronouncements and policies on which English gentlemen formerly prided themselves, hut a woeful, almost mall cious misinterpretation of those papa statements that are as it were by accident forced on his attention. Of Pope Phi. XI's Mit Brennender Sorge are Pius X1I's Summi Pontificatus, Dr. Wi! son seems as culpably ignorant as he i incapable of recognising the duties of [ht. French Government to govern France primarily in the interests of the French.

FAMILY ALLOWANCES

WING Commander J. A. C. Wright, M.P., who presided recently at a House of Commons meeting on a National Scheme of Family Allowances attended by M.P.s of all parties and who is leading a group pressing for an early debate on the subject, made a good point in this connection in a letter to the Time:. He wrote:

"I wonder how many people realize what the position is to-day. It is this: Everyone who is lucky enough to be earning £4 a week or more is paid by the Chancellor of the Exchequer a weekly allowance of 6s. 6d. for every child he or she may have. It is only the very poor who are denied this grant. Can there be any reason, logical or moral, for giving cash allowances to those who are comparatively well off and refusing them to those whose circumstances prevent them from providing the nourishment their children need? "

All Catholic M.P.s ought to support this new effort to induce the Government to establish some national scheme of family allowance, and, putting aside all specious arguments concerning "mere palliative" and " the wage for the job," unite to give support to those anxious to vindicate this case for the poor.

E.P.T. AND MEANS TEST

THE amomalies and the injustices from

E.P.T. have to a large extent been done away with by the Budget, but they have not been done away with altogether, and those sections of the Press which represent the investor have not been slow to draw attention to the fact. Indeed, that is an under-statement, for they have in some cases veritably howled their protests to high heaven, It is, of course, eminently desirable that justice should be done to all, to the owner of unearned increment as much as to anybody else. But we cannot help noting a curious contrast between this indignant clamour and the tolerant attitude towards the recent imperfect reformation of the Means Test. Here the attitude even of Labour members seems to have been that you cannot expect too much of fallen human nature (as exemplified by the occupants of the Treasury Bench),. and that the veriest fraction of a loaf is better than no bread. We admit that payers of E.P.T. are still in many cases suffering what might in the juridical sense be termed hardship, but we venture to think that the hardship suffered by the unhappy people who are compelled to resort to the offices of the Assistance Board is a very different affair. We should like to see a little less emphasis in the one instance, and in the other a little less resignation by our public men to what is not the will of God, hut the very considerable ineptitude of man.

THE DESTRUCTION OF FOOD

THE decision to stop banana imports into this country has had such a serious effect upon Jamaican planters and workers that the British Government has been forced to take some steps to alleviate the situation, and has now offered to purchase from this colony £1,800,000 worth of bananas, none of which, however, will be shipped but will either be processed for commercial purposes or destroyed. This is one of the muddle effects of war, but it is well to remember that it was also a feature of peace. It was then quite a regular feature of our capitalist-ridden economy which used the destruction of the fruits of the earth as a legitimate method of maintaining price levels at a profitable height. Thus, for this reason. in August, 1933, between England and Spain 1,500,000 oranges were thrown into the sea deliberately. Even more disgraceful has been the pouring into the river Clyde of gallons of rich milk obtained from Irish cows imported and landed at Glasgow. And, of course, the burning of coffee in Brazil is quite well known, although perhaps it is not generally realised on what a gigantic scale this has been done. Between 1931 and 1936 about 40,000,000 bags have been destroyed— equivalent to two years' production and enough to supply the whole world for nearly a year and a half. Any peace settlement which still tolerates the destruction of food while men starve or remain undernourished will be a devil's peace.




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